Massively Exclusive: Earthrise's Atanas Atanasov on PvE, banking, chat, and more

Jef Reahard
J. Reahard|10.12.10

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Massively Exclusive: Earthrise's Atanas Atanasov on PvE, banking, chat, and more

Earthrise is a title shrouded in a certain amount of mystery. Massively began covering the game way back in January of 2008, and since then, the information flow from Bulgaria-based Masthead Studios has alternated between a vacuum and a trickle. Recently, thanks to a wave of interviews and screenshot releases, interest in the game has started to simmer, and comparisons to older sandboxes like Star Wars Galaxies are commonly heard.

Masthead boss Atanas Atanasov was kind enough to grant us our second interview exclusive in as many months, answering several of our burning questions. Join us after the cut as we talk about everything from the game's friendliness towards PvEers, to skill progression clarification, to universal banking and more.

Also be sure and check out the latest pair of Earthrise screenshots in the gallery below. They feature two new creature types: the burzun (one of Enterra's top predators) and the leapers (ape-like mutant pack-hunters who love to ambush their prey).
Massively: While we know much of the game is based around PvP, many of our commenters have expressed concerns that FFA ganking will override the otherwise desirable elements of a sandbox. What kind of system is in place to encourage meaningful PvP, and how would you define meaningful PvP?

Atanas Atanasov: When designing Earthrise, we wanted to make it a complete sandbox experience including PvP systems, which gives players much more freedom compared to the average MMO on the market. This is a challenging task considering the risks associated with a FFA PvP system. For us, the best way to encourage meaningful PvP would be to balance not only risk and reward, but also freedom and penalties in the system. Earthrise features player insurance, which allows players to protect their gear if they are killed. Player killers will be penalized with limitations being placed on their access to some locations in the game, and also on their instant travel ability. There will also be PvP protections for new players as well as players who have been recently resurrected or teleported which are designed in a way that will limit the possibility of exploits.

Speaking of meaningful PvP, players killing members of opposing factions, Continoma and Noir, are not penalized. On the contrary, they're encouraged to do so because their faction affiliation will increase, which will open the possibility for faction rewards. Another form of meaningful PvP included in Earthrise are the territory conquests, where players fight for control over the island's resources, which is critical to success in Earthrise.

Is there any notable PvE to speak of aside from crafting?

At launch, the game's content will be comparable to a MMO with PvE-oriented gameplay [...] Also, Earthrise will be heaven for explorers due to the enormous size of the world of Enterra.

Earthrise features thousands of quests and hundreds of unique creatures, which will definitely satisfy the PvE-oriented player. At launch, the game's content will be comparable to a MMO with PvE-oriented gameplay, which is something we currently rarely see. Also, Earthrise will be heaven for explorers due to the enormous size of the world of Enterra.

Similarly, how realistic is it for someone who hates PvP to play Earthrise and have a good time, via crafting or other mechanisms?

I think it is very realistic. There will be a few safe locations in the game, which will offer content for players who don't want to engage in PvP. The most essential items in the game like armor, weapons, devices and consumables will be produced only through crafting. Players who want to focus mostly on crafting will feel significant in the game because everyone will rely on their production.

Earthrise is rumored to resemble pre-NGE Star Wars Galaxies in some respects. Do you encourage this line of thinking and, if so, what aspects of that game influenced Earthrise?

I think players will find similarities with [pre]-NGE Star Wars Galaxies and other similar games of that type, such as the sandbox open world, skill- based system with no classes or levels, and the complex crafting and economics based on player-made goods.

Are there plans to include any type of cover system, or any sort of crouching/prone mechanic when it comes to ranged combat (or ranged combat avoidance)?

We don't currently have plans for this to be available at launch.

How do vehicles work in Earthrise? We know that vehicular combat isn't the focus, but are there multi-passenger craft? Can different variations of vehicles be crafted?

Vehicles in Earthrise will be created by crafters, and there will be many variations in power and design. Multi-passenger craft are also under consideration for further development after initial launch.

We've heard tell of equipment-use skills that increase the power of your skills/abilities. Is this, in effect, the game's leveling/progression system even though character advancement is technically skill-based? Can you give us specifics on how this system works?

It is not exactly like that. There are skills embedded in Earthrise that allow players to equip better armor and weapons. Buying a weapon or armor skill does not increase the power of the player because he still needs to find and equip the right weapon or armor for the updated skill. After he equips the new weapon or armor, only the weapon and armor stats will be upgraded, which will also upgrade the player stats derived from them such as stamina and health. There will be no upgrade on the other skills of the player, which means that the power of other skills/abilities will remain the same.

How will chat channels work in Earthrise? Is there a form of global chat or will the game stick to local chats and personal tells?

The concept of including global chat is a tricky one, and one that we know has many positive benefits and negative side effects. We have been analyzing feedback from our community and testers on this topic, but we are currently leaning towards not implementing global chat (although this may change before launch). Fortunately, communication will not be a problem – chat channels in Earthrise will work much like those in other MMOs. There will be guild and party channels, "says" and "whispers," "yells" and "replies."

How does the banking/inventory system work? Specifically, are there local or universal banks (i.e., can you retrieve items from any bank in the world regardless of where you originally banked them)?

There will be bank access terminals across the world, where players can store and retrieve items. It will not matter where this terminal is located.

Are there any noteworthy fluff systems in the game (player housing, appearance slots, pets, etc.)? If not, any firm plans for such?

After release, one of the fluffy items that will definitely be in the game is item painting through crafting. Players will be able to pick colors for their armor, weapons and vehicles. We also have plans for pets to be incorporated in the game.

Thanks very much for your time.

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