Edit - comments closed on this because it's attracting an insane amount of spam, for some reason. If anyone desperately wants to add a comment to this story, just lemme know and I'll open 'er up again.
All eyes are on Conan and Warhammer, MMO-wise, at the moment. While both are undeniably exciting, they're still clinging onto the same fantasy lifeboat as their established competition. Rippling muscles, mystic blades and snickering goblins - pah, I say. Pah. With Tabula Rasa proving that you can make a classic-model MMO that's built around shooting instead of stabbing, there's clearly room for a few more science-fictional efforts.
The announcement of Earthrise earlier this week is surely good news for laserbrains, then.
It's the first game from Bulgarian developer Masthead Studios, who I pray one day merge with Flagship Studios in order that we might then have The Most Nautically-Named MMO Developer In The World. Until that happens, Masthead are at least Bulgaria's largest game development company, they claim.
Earthrise apparently looks like this:
And apparently it's going to be awesome because:
“This will change the way we play sci-fi MMOs. Our team is creating a game that will introduce the next innovative approach to the genre, and we feel to MMOs themselves. We based the game in a vision of society’s future, where the technology and economics of today have ensured an unavoidable cataclysm. Earthrise won’t be just an MMO, but an experience in a new, never-before-imagined post-apocalyptic world.”
-Atanas Atanasov, CEO of Mast-head Studios
Well, we'll have to take his word for it on that. Confident chap, innee? The screenshots carry a faint tang of bullshot, but it's a year off yet, so let's give them the benefit of the doubt. The setting is post-apocalyptic, which always makes me prick up my sticky-outy ears, but it's far-future post-apoc rather than the Mad Maxian or steampunk variety. This means power-armour, big guns and, enticingly, big robot exo-skeletons. And something to do with cloning, which is always a convenient excuse for dealing with that tricky death problem in MMOs.
There aren't many details on how the game will play, though there are vague promises of skill-based advancement, no fixed classes, a player-driven economy and a PvP emphasis that might suggest Masthead have been playing Eve. There'll also be vehicles and robo-pets. In fact, it's kind of an MMO player wish-list, which immediately makes me worry it's far too ambitious, and that there's no way it can possibly make its 2009 release date and keep all those promises.
I'm certainly curious, though. A bold MMO based on a fresh IP and from a new developer is cause for cautious celebration. The newly-launched website does a remarkable job of scattering many gobbets of information across its various ornate pages while failing to give a concrete sense of what the game will actually be like, but it's well worth checking out to help form an early opinion about this young upstart.