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Massively Exclusive: Dilov & Hristov on the systems of Earthrise

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With an open PvP model, a rich crafting system, and a sumptuous art style, Masthead Studios' upcoming sci-fi post-apocalyptic game, Earthrise, has been gaining more and more interest from our readers. From everything we've seen of the game to date, this title will offer some interesting options in terms of how one chooses to play through the world. That's why, when we were given the chance to ask some questions of Momchil Dilov, Lead Writer and Plamen Hristov, Senior Game Designer on Earthrise, we were happy to do so.

For those not familiar with the game, you'll want to check out the interview noted yesterday, then join us behind the break as we ask about different systems such as crafting, PvP sieges, the importance of guilds, customization, character penalties, and more!

Massively: Since there is no leveling system in Earthrise, you've also noted that there's no level-cap. Is there a point at which players will be unable to increase their skill choices, effectively capping them, or will players be able to continue getting skills however long they're playing?

Momchil Dilov, Lead Writer and Plamen Hristov, Senior Game Designer: We never designed nor implemented such a cap. Players will be able to gain as much experience, both in combat and crafting, as they want. Earthrise isn't level based and players' skill points won't come from gaining a new level or similar limiting mechanics. If the player wants all of the skills in Earthrise, they will just have to play the game long enough to earn all of them.

Considering the game's heavy focus on PvP, what mechanics are you putting into place to enable newer players to be able to compete with older players if there's no end to the skill points you can accrue?

The reason a newcomer is weaker than a veteran is not the difference in the skill points gained by both. As mentioned above, the game isn't level based -- a new ability purchased doesn't mean a new level attained, and you won't gain an automatic stat increase. The abilities in Earthrise aren't intended to make a player the most powerful person on the server once they have gotten them all. A player can't expect to gain the most powerful ability and spam the button for it and make the body count roll up. By gaining more skills, players gain more tools and become more versatile. The ability to think, coordinate with others, and adapt to the game is what will make players stronger.

We got a teaser screenshot showing the crafting interface. Can you give us some more details on how, specifically, the crafting system will work in Earthrise?

The Earthrise crafting system consists of two major parts: the process of converting materials into resources and the production of items from these resources. All useful items in the game are player-created, which has a significant impact on the combat and economy system of the game. Players will have to learn how to find and hold resource sites, how to team up to conquer and protect the sites, and how to supply a thriving player-driven economy process. This is the key to creating and maintaining a strong guild.

The processing of resources is based on recycling scrap or unused items, thus generating raw resources. Most resources must be processed to become suitable for manufacturing. The quality of resources and ingredients is a primary factor in manufacturing a better final product in Earthrise. That quality can be further improved by crafting at the best factory for a given product. We place great importance on quality and the control players have over it. The most valuable factories are heavily defended by creatures and bandits, protected by other players, or very hard to reach. In other words, the best crafters should not only have the proper skill level, but also knowledge of the world and friends to support and protect them. Unified efforts will always provide the best results.

How much customization of character/armor/weapons/etc. can players expect, beyond the differences that will crop up from basic crafting? Can you color weapons/armor/etc. to match other pieces, or are you set with only the colors they are created with?

We have plans to include armor painting as part of the crafting system, but we are not ready to announce whether players will see that feature upon release or a short time after.

Weapon customization is also similar to the armor customization. Apart from different statistics that come from the crafting process, the weapon color can be changed as well. We can't guarantee that this feature will be available upon release.

Character customization in Earthrise will be very similar to the other MMO games, where you can pick gender, race, skin color, face and hair.

Is there a tag or note system implemented that will allow crafters to mark what they create, so that anyone who purchases a high-end weapon will know who made it and where to go to get another? (Especially useful, as you've said that eventually items will break down into being unusable.)

We intend to add a similar mechanic to the game in the future. Right now, we are focusing our efforts on the major features that will make Earthrise the compelling game that we want it to be.

We've read that you're putting a great deal of importance on the weapon type, and how damage will scale with optimal distance. (For example, melee will shred at point-blank, shotguns are short distance, rocket launchers are primarily effective at long distance.) What are your plans to keep this mechanic fun for everyone, as opposed to having people get frustrated when their weapon is suddenly less effective due to being at the incorrect range?

The combat in Earthrise is about being versatile and active. We allow players to carry more than one gun and switch them according to the situation. Also, every weapon and related abilities enables players to deliver their own specialized gameplay style. Ranges are all about emphasizing the strengths of each weapon and further define its combat role. Shooting with weapons won't result in drastically reduced damage at different ranges, but their melee attacks aren't point-blank shots that obliterate the enemy -- they are stock attacks that are seldom effective against high-tech shields and armor. It's not about making players feel miserable with their weapon, it's about feeling the combat in Earthrise more fluently.

Can you update us on how the plans are proceeding in terms of what players can expect for city building, sieges, and other forms of territorial combat? Will players be able to PUG takeovers, based on a factional bent within the storyline, or are we looking at strictly guild takeovers/defense?

The siege mechanic in Earthrise is quite complicated due to the fact that we are trying to achieve real -time, non-instanced sieges with the option to attack and defend multiple territories as part of one persistent world - something new on the MMO scene. The player relations in other MMOs are somewhat unpredictable, and we are currently still determining how the siege rules in Earthrise will affect the gameplay.

Based on those thoughts, we are still a bit hesitant to disclose too much information on the territorial combat. We don't want to promise features that will not be seen at the release of Earthrise.

Speaking of the PUG questions -- the short answer is that it has not been decided if a PUG can take over a territory.

With a purely player-created and directed economy, control of rare resources is important. What mechanics (if any) are you putting into place to see that resources aren't controlled in full by particular groups, or is that the idea?

We won't add any restrictive mechanics aimed to keep players from being able to control the rare resources in Earthrise. We welcome players that have the ambition to become leaders of powerful guilds and that have the motivation, resources and members to achieve total domination.

Since you've stated that players will not be able to buy anything at a vendor that is player-created, how are you handling player-created item sales? Will players be able to set up their own shops, or will this be handled through a centralized auction house type system? If a centralized system, how common will these hubs be?

The player trading will be accomplished by using a unified market system. With a vast world and a player-driven economy, it is essential for the players to have a set of good tools to quickly manage the tons of player-supplied resources and items. There will be several access stations throughout the major cities.

Also, are you enabling players to be able to buy back items mistakenly sold, or perhaps even items other players may have sold vendor NPCs? (such as raw materials a non-crafter wouldn't want, etc.)

Yes and no. A player will have the buyback option when bartering with an NPC or a console vendor. There is no such option for buying back items from other players.

"The combat in Earthrise is about being versatile and active."

You mentioned player bankruptcy - where a player could theoretically be out of money, wind up with broken gear after a death, and be able to "rent" new gear to continue - can you go into that system in greater detail? How far into bankruptcy can a player go before they're cut off from needed supplies and forced to rely on other methods of making money?

Players can literally run out of cash and items in Earthrise. In such cases, there will be locations in the world where a player can get armor and a weapon. Those items will be quest items, which cannot be sold or exchanged. They will be very ineffective in combat, but good enough to help the player get back on his feet and start to earn money and items again.

What are some of the other methods of making money if one's in the red, so to speak?

If the player does not feel comfortable entering combat, he can always engage in crafting and trade. The major hub zones will be safe locations where players who are broke or don't want to fight can try to gain income.

With a heavy focus on PvP, what types of systems have you built into the game for players to gain those basic crucial skillpoints without having to sit and macro/grind/etc. or alternatively, wind up frustrated due to being repeatedly ganked by players with significantly higher skillpoints?

Earthrise is player-driven, and the most rewarding and challenging moments in the game will come from interactions with other players. Currently, the focus testing in the beginner areas of the game is directed towards creating a level of safety that wouldn't prevent the other players from interacting with you. The measures will range from temporary effects to guard systems, but currently we are reluctant to give any detail on that.

Have you made any decisions in regards to teleportation safety and how to combat potential camping as yet?

Yes, we have implemented several mechanics that will keep you safe after teleporting and/or resurrection. One type of safety measure is the demilitarized zones, where combat is prohibited and players gain protection from damage. The other mechanics are the temporary post-resurrection effects that protect players for a limited amount of time after reviving.

Thanks so much for your time! We look forward to hearing about more on Earthrise.

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