Staff Writer Nate James got the opportunity to interview Fallen Earth’s writer and designer Wes Platt with plenty of juicy details! Hit jump to read the interview and keep an eye out for more Fallen Earth to come!
The MMO Gamer: Could you begin by introducing yourself and telling us what you do at Fallen Earth?
Wes Platt: I’m Wes Platt. I am one of the content design team leads. I’m responsible for the Traveler faction and I’ve overseen the development of numerous towns in the game, including Depot 66, Oilville, Terance, Zanesville, Trailer Park, Credit Bend, Picus Ridge and New Flagstaff.
The MMO Gamer: One of the things I really like is that the Fallen Earth dev team has been giving interviews to their own forums and giving a sort of Q&A. It’s really nice to get to know people behind the games and their opinions. Why did you decide to be more candid than a lot of the other MMOs out there?
Wes Platt: We’re a scrappy bunch of upstarts making an MMO in a market dominated by monster corporations. We’re excited to be more accessible to our fans when time allows. So, through the Q&As, developer interviews, play-with-the-devs testing days and monthly IRC chats, we do what we can to mingle with our audience. It keeps us more in touch and encourages them to give productive, useful feedback.
The MMO Gamer: I know that you guys are using the Icarus Tool Suite to develop Fallen Earth. Are there any positives or negatives to this suite that you’d like to elaborate on?
Wes Platt: It’s great to be able to customize and set up creatures, missions, character conversations, armor, weapons, gadgets, and mutations all in one handy toolset. Then we jump into the game, check our work and make tweaks on the fly as needed. The tools come with a bit of a learning curve, but they’re worth the effort. We can do all these changes without scripting or coding, so it makes it easy for us to focus on writing, design and story instead of technical issues.
The MMO Gamer: As a game setting, the post-apocalyptic genre was chosen to set you apart from a possibly over saturated fantasy market, but with the recent success of Fallout 3 – quite a few companies have turned to this genre. What will set you apart from the future contenders?
Wes Platt: Our game has the advantage of being set in the American Southwest, around the Grand Canyon, on good old planet Earth. It gives people a real frame of reference for saying “Wow, I’ve seen that place in the real world and man does it look messed up!” Also, we’ve got a great crafting system – players can make 95 percent of useful armor, weapons, and consumables in the game – and fun PvP conflict areas.
The MMO Gamer: Certainly this next question doesn’t apply to a majority of our readership but it’s a question I wanted to ask: The casual gamers that have started their MMO careers with World of Warcraft have gotten used to that type of interface. As Fallen Earth combines FPS with a class-less system; do you think it’s too different for this new breed of casual gamers to get into?
Wes Platt: Too different? I’m not sure there is such a thing. Why try to mimic World of Warcraft when WoW already does WoW just fine? I’d be more worried about being too similar. The FPS element will take some getting used to for players who are used to more automated PvE combat styles, of course, but the learning curve ought to be worthwhile. It’s not really a question of similarity or difference, more of one of effectiveness. If it’s a well designed game that teaches people how to play the difference doesn’t really matter.
The MMO Gamer: I took a long look at your faction wheel. I’m also a trading card game player, and I noticed that the faction wheel is very similar to Magic: The Gathering’s color wheel. Were inspirations taken from that? If so, what was the decision process in coming up with that as opposed to a more free-range faction system?
Wes Platt: No, we really didn’t draw any inspiration from Magic: The Gathering (though there is a weekly Magic group that meets in the office from a few of the departments).
What we did in designing the factions was set up polarities and shades of gray. You’ve got six factions. The Children of the Apocalypse (CHOTA) and Enforcers are polar opposites – the CHOTA are all about better living through chaos, while the Enforcers do what they can to impose order in the aftermath of the Fall. The Travelers believe in the healing power of the profit motive and cut-throat business practices, while their foes the Lightbearers try to encourage a more altruistic and selfless worldview.
The Vistas want to repair the damage done to the world and prevent further technology-driven catastrophes, while the Techs want to use science and gadgetry to rebuild the world to its pre-Fall glory (and beyond). So, those are your black-and-white dichotomies. But Travelers can be friends of the Techs and the CHOTA, while Techs are friends with Lightbearers and Enforcers. When you pick a side, what you do can determine how you’re judged by allied factions to the left and right of your home on the wheel.
It’s also actually rather free ranging: Players can work their way around the wheel, given enough time and determination. Further, we’ve got neutral factions, such as the Bankers and Franklin’s Riders, who provide missions and rewards if they like you enough.
The MMO Gamer: Clans. Leveling up. Clans leveling up. I think that this concept of bringing players together to achieve a goal is very fascinating. So far we’ve heard about the explorer bonus and the guild-wide abilities. How hard is it to create a clan and what are some specific clan-wide abilities that can be obtained? Will more abilities and bonuses be applied after launch?
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