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Interview: Fallen Earth's Marie Croall

Last week we took some time to interview Marie Croall, the Content Team Lead for post-apocalyptic MMO, Fallen Earth. The question and answer exchange covers some detail about what to expect from the game world, including PvP and "classless advancement", as well as a word on why it's important for low-budget boutique MMOs like this one to aim low and stay fun for a core audience. I've posted the recent trailer again too, so you can glimpse the thing in action.

RPS: Can you describe the scope of Fallen Earth for us? What sort of area can players expect to explore? What sort of environments have you created?

Croall: The game takes place in the Grand Canyon 150 years in the future after the government sold off the land to a private company "GlobalTech” and a plague known as the Shiva Virus has wiped out most of life on Earth.  The remains of civilization have holed up in the Hoover Dam under the rule of Alec Masters, a cruel and vicious dictator. When the player enters the game with the tutorial they are dropped into the Dam in the middle of the CHOTA revolt. After the tutorial they awake in a LifeNet pod in the Grand Canyon, four years after the fall of Hoover Dam, ready to explore what's left of life in the Grand Canyon.

Because GlobalTech owned the Grand Canyon the terrain has been modified from its current state. They’ve added farmland, suburbs, mines and multiple subterranean labs and research facilities, giving players a variety of places to explore.

RPS: What can players expect to get up to as they explore? What sorts of quests/missions do you have in store? (And to what extent will players be setting goals for themselves, collecting resources and such?)

Croall: Players can expect a wide open world filled with potential allies and enemies. Every town the player discovers has a unique storyline that pits the player against enemies like raiders, mutated plants, or chupacabras. As they progress through the sectors they will be able to uncover the large game-wide stories that tie everything together.

The player's experience is very much up to them, from the town they start in to the attributes and skills, mutations and tradeskills they can learn. The crafting system is a great example of the freedom the players have, after the first skill book they purchase the player can progress to the top tiers without ever talking to another merchant or trainer.

RPS: What are the six factions in the game and how do they impact on the experience? Can we expect to see any PvP between these factions?

Croall: The six factions are the CHOTA, a collection of tribal “mad max” style barbarians, who value freedom over almost anything, including human life. The Enforcers are made of the remains of the old world law enforcement. They range from friendly neighborhood police officers to the jackbooted fascist thugs. Vistas are a group of naturalists turned Eco-warriors who sometimes go to extremes to make their point. The Techs are students, doctors and scientists dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, at any cost. Travelers are post-apocalyptic mobsters, salespeople, and assassins. The Lightbearers are monastic mutants who specialize in both the healing and killing arts.

The factions have shaped the world after the fall, molding the territories they control into their image. The player can join a faction and help them and their allies rebuild or continue to tear down civilization. Each faction has different story lines, missions, mutations and skills that the players can explore.
The PVP is centered on the factions and their struggle for control over towns and resources. Each faction has two allies, one rival faction and two enemies, giving the players plenty of targets, and some interesting ways to relate to other players.

When a CHOTA allied player kills an Enforcer, they lose points with the Enforcers and their allies, the Tech and the Lightbearers. When a CHOTA player kills a Lightbearer they will lose points with them and their allies, including the Vista, who are also a CHOTA ally. This creates a really exciting PVP dynamic in our conflict towns where all the factions are fighting each other or control.
RPS: Could you explain the "classless advancement system" to us? How does that work?

Croall: Players earn two "AP" every tenth of a level and through certain storyline missions allowing them to modify their stats, skills, and mutation paths as they progress. The players are free to spend AP in whatever attributes, skills, and mutations they choose, allowing them to customize their character to fit whatever roles then want to play.

RPS: Plenty of MMOs in the past couple of years have aimed too high and ended up coming crashing down to earth - how do you intend to avoid that fate? 

Croall: We've set realistic goals for sales and subscriptions. We're not trying to be a WOW-killer, we just want to put out a really fun solid game.  So rather than going for a big blockbuster opening and risk a sharp drop off, we want to build a strong audience over time. We've take a lot of time making sure the content we have is solid and fun to play while adding enough stuff to keep players hooked.

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