Exclusive Interview with Lee Hammock

Today we debut Fallen Earth on WarCry with a brand new interview. Recently, Fallen Earth Lead Designer Lee Hammock took time to answer some questions from our own Max Taha about the Icarus Studios developed post-apocalyptic MMORPG.

WarCry Q&A: Fallen Earth
Answers by Lee Hammock, Lead Game Designer
Questions by Max Taha

imageWarCry: Icarus Studios have been working on Fallen Earth for the almost 6 years as their premier debut in the MMO scene. Can you tell us about the inspiration and driving force for a post-apocalyptic MMO?

Lee Hammock: The post-apocalyptic genre has largely been left out of the MMO market, with the exception of some non-standard MMOs like Auto Assault. The idea of surviving in the world after the collapse of civilization is a powerful one that has gripped people for centuries. It’s such a fertile ground for storytelling and conflict that we thought it would make an excellent genre for an MMO. We tap into the same fascination with a ruined world that keeps movies like The Road Warrior so strongly in the cultural zeitgeist even though it’s over twenty years old.

WarCry: With so many Massive Multiplayer games being developed, how is Fallen Earth going to stand out, and which innovations will be featured?

Lee Hammock: In addition to our setting, one of the big things that will make us stand out is Fallen Earth’s first-person-shooter style combat system. Players will have to aim their attacks for them to hit. Combat will be more about staying in motion, taking cover, and watching your ammo supply than other MMOs.

Our classless system allows players to build characters to do whatever they want, and it allows advancement solely by crafting if desired. We also have a very developed PvP system, vehicles and mounts that can be used in combat, and a highly detailed, in-depth crafting system.

WarCry: What is your target audience for Fallen Earth? Is it the fast-paced FPS or the more traditional RPG players?

Lee Hammock: Both groups will find enough familiar game play elements in Fallen Earth to get them interested, and we think they’ll love the features as a whole once they see how it all works together.

WarCry: How important is the story arc in Fallen Earth? Does it evolve and shape the world as players advance their Faction causes?

Lee Hammock: Story arcs are hugely important in Fallen Earth. We don’t have one single story arc, but instead dozens that wind together into a coherent narrative. As the players progress, they’ll find out more about the world, their factions, and themselves, as they learn why the world is the way it is. We want to make the story as immersive as possible, so we have in-game explanations for why some areas aren’t PvP-active, how players come back from the dead, and so forth. It all ties together in one cohesive whole.

imageWarCry: Will Fallen Earth feature a solo-friendly mission system? Is group play necessary for advancement?

Lee Hammock: A solo player will be able to experience most of the content in the game, but getting into most of the larger levels (prisons, missile silos, mines, etc) requires multiple players due to the density of the creatures in these areas. Some story-related levels require multiple players or even multiple groups of players to complete, as the players have to carry out several tasks at once.

WarCry: What are the advantages of PvP for players (Loot, Leaderboards, Fame)? Is PvP considered the “end-game” for Fallen Earth?

Lee Hammock: Most PvP activities are going to be concerned with taking conflict towns, which can switch hands between the factions. If a faction takes over one of these towns, they gain access to resources, items, and missions that the other factions are not able to access. We also have arenas, raid targets like rescuing important NPCs from enemy strongholds, and mission-based PvP. PvP will occur through the entirety of the game, rather than being an “end-game” activity. Higher level players will be actively barred from taking part in PvP in lower-level zones.

WarCry: Which features will be available for clans/guilds? Which Role Play features will be available? (Apartments, Clan HQs, Emotes)

Lee Hammock: Clans will have much of the standard functionality you can expect from an MMO, such as guild chat, rankings, etc. Many of the specifics of the guild management system are still being finalized, so we don’t want to go into a features list.

imageWe plan to have player-built housing and towns, but it will not be something players can access quite some time. Players have to collect the resources to build a settlement, and that can take some time. We also have a huge range of emotes, including the ability to set a mood such as Angry or Sad, changing your facial expression.

WarCry: How important and extensive will Crafting be? Are there plans for an Auction House/Mail systems?

Lee Hammock: Crafting will be hugely important. 95% of the items in the game are craftable, and the best way to get equipment is through crafting. The best gear in the game may require components that drop off of high level creatures, but in the end acquiring the item requires the participation of a crafter. Crafters will be able to make gear above their level while most items that drop will be equal to or under the level of the character.

imageWarCry: What is the long-term plan for updates? Will there be storyline advancement? Map/content expansions?

Lee Hammock: We’ll release additional content to expand the game regularly, such as adding more sectors with new story content to explore, expanding the boundaries of existing levels, and adding new content to existing areas. We will also release expansion packs that take the players to new regions beyond the Grand Canyon Province.

WarCry: Now the big Q! The Fans are crying out loud: When is estimated Beta/Release coming up? (Q3, Q4 of 07?)

Lee Hammock: We’ll be having closed Beta this year, and ideally open Beta as well. We can’t be more specific than that.

We encourage players to visit us at www.fallenearth.com. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to speak with WarCry.

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