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by Matt Mihaly, CEO and Creative Director of Sparkplay Media
Earth Eternal first caught our attention as a unique take on the newly
based MMOG genre. We were able to continue our conversation with CEO
and Creative Director of Sparkplay Media, Matt Mihaly, and get some
more answers about what has been going on with EE since our last
conversation. The company was able to raise some venture capital last
year and has fleshed out their game even more. We discuss those
additions as well at look at what makes href="http://www.eartheternal.com/" target="_blank">Earth
Eternal different from other
free-to-play games on the market today.
style="font-style: italic;">Earth Eternal will be a
3D MMOG in a browser
Ton Hammer: We’ve
seen a few
browser based MMOs pop up since we did our first Earth Eternal
interview in 2007, most notably FusionFall and Free Realms. How has the
concept evolved in the past few years, and what would you say are
EE’s most unique attributes?
Well, I’m thrilled EE’s scope has evolved immensely
in the last two years. We’ve been able to create a much
larger world with more features than we had originally intended, due to
raising venture money in early 2008.
We differ pretty significantly from FusionFall and Free Realms in that
we’re creating a ‘real’ 3d fantasy MMO in
a browser. I don’t mean that as a slight to the other two
games (both of which I admire), but those who play many MMOs will find
Earth Eternal more closely resembles the sophisticated MMO experience
they’re familiar with. .
Our most unique attributes are probably
the range of customization available in a browser MMO, and the
potential in our Groves feature, which will launch a few months after
we go into open beta. Groves will let players control and customize
private areas, either alone or with their clans, with options from
placing buildings and forests to altering the terrain itself to
populating it with monsters or NPCs.
Ton Hammer: Earth
Eternal is billed as
a free-to-play MMO with paid-for benefits. Typically among F2Ps, these
benefits are consumables (potions, etc.) and cosmetic items - things
that don’t affect gameplay. Are you sticking pretty close to
these guidelines, or will players be able to buy more with their Earth
I don’t agree with the premise
of the question, but don’t want to appear to get in an
argument or disagreement
with you. Most F2P games do allow for things that affect gameplay, from
potions to +xp potions to stat-altering potions, etc.
to answer some variation on this question that doesn’t
presume the above though. Here’s an explanation of what we
“We sell a combination of cosmetic and functional items.
Players can buy armor appearances which can be transferred onto any
item, giving players the ability to really customize what they look
like without sacrificing the stats they want.
We also sell some functional items. For instance, larger backpacks than
you can buy with gold in order to expand your inventory space or speed
potions that increase your running speed. “
Ton Hammer: Do the proposed classes of knight, mage,
druid, and rogue compare closely with the typical MMO archetypes
with (tank, ranged DPS, healer, melee DPS)? How are they different?
Sort of. For instance, Druid is
much more of a jack-of-all-trades than a healer, and because you can
abilities from any class you can customize your build pretty
Ton Hammer: Earth Eternal boasts an incredible number
of races: 22 in all, covering most of the animal kingdom (the land
anyway). What makes each race different or special, given that none has
gameplay advantage over another?
is different in terms
of functionality. We made the decision to allow players to choose their
look and divorce it from their function. We wanted to ensure that if
to be a Mage, for instance, you didn’t have to be one of a
few races in order
to be an effective Mage. We may implement non-functional differences
races, like race-specific emotes, but we
don’t intend to
differences between the races
are a unique take on player housing. What are they, and how will
able to modify them when they’re added to the game some time
Groves are an entire valley,
forest grove, island, etc that can be owned and customized by a player
or by an
entire clan. They can earn items, place them, customize the terrain and
mountains, valleys, fields, lakes, plateaus, and more. Eventually,
be able to embed mini-games into their Groves, so they can create their
arenas, create city services like merchants and banks, and more. Groves
likely to be released in stages as well, with more basic functions in
others added later.
style="font-style: italic;">The raid size cap will
be five players.
Ton Hammer: Does
Earth Eternal have player vs. player combat? If so, is there a story
We’re still tweaking PvP, so we’re
not going to go into open beta with PvP enabled. It’s going
to be one of the
first things we focus on after we stabilize EE post-launch. At first
PvP is not
likely to involve a story angle, but it’s something
that’s near and dear to my
heart, so is going to get a lot of attention.
Ton Hammer: What
sort of gameplay opportunities exist for groups and clans? Is there
equivalent to dungeons and raids?
Mihaly: We’re more
solo-focused than most MMOs, but we have both clans and dungeon raids.
What we don’t have though are 25 man raids. That’s
just too hardcore for the game we’re making. Instead, our
dungeons cap at 5 man raids right now. There are a few dozen dungeons
available, ranging from small to very large. style="font-weight: bold;">
Ton Hammer: It's been stated that Earth Eternal will be released on Mac
OSX, but not at launch. If EE is truly a browser-based game, shouldn't
it be OS-agnostic?
are not inherently platform-agnostic, and just like you have to have
the Flash plugin installed to run Flash content
you have to have our plugin installed to run our content. We would have
loved to have built Earth Eternal in Flash, but Flash isn’t
will be Mac-compatible and
have been engineered from the ground up for it, but it won’t
be ready at
Ton Hammer: What’s
your target audience? What does Earth Eternal have to offer, say, a
MMO gamer who has over a dozen hours a week to play but expects to
have a new carrot on the proverbial stick?
Our target audience is anyone
who is looking for a friendly, approachable 3d fantasy MMO, but
explicitly not trying to attract the hardcore MMO players. If your idea
awesome is Eve Online, we’re probably not for you. On the
other hand, if you’re
looking for something fun and whimsical with no subscription cost
got a ton of depth, EE might be for you.
Ton Hammer: What aspect of the game are you most
looking forward to, in terms of watching how players take hold of it
it their own?
of the most fascinating parts of MMOs to me is watching players start
to form their own communities and compose their own jargon.
I’m already watching players create
clans and start seeding the game with their own stories.
also really looking forward
to us getting Groves out in the future, and seeing what players do with
Ton Hammer: Thanks
again to Matt for more excellent information on Earth Eternal!
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Earth Eternal Game Page.