Developers CornerFallen Earth Dev Diary: Villains We Love to HateDevelopers Corner - RSS 2.0
WarCry is pleased to host the bad boys in the Fallen Earth universe. In a developer journal by Grace Hagood, a writer and game developer for the upcoming post-apocalyptic MMO, Fallen Earth, fans learn about the development of some of the villain factions in the game. In the first part of the series, Grace discusses the first villain faction that players encounter in the game, the White Crow Battalion.
Hannibal Lecter. Darth Vader. Sauron. Villains are critical to the stories we tell. As we developed Fallen Earth, we wanted to provide interesting, complex, and colorful villains for the players to fight. And we wanted players to contend with them from the beginning of the tutorial.
The player awakens into the world of Fallen Earth in the midst of a battle. Hoover Dam, the stronghold of the dictator Alec Masters, is besieged by a large force of CHOTA, Vistas and Lightbearers. The player grabs a weapon from the corpse of a fallen civilian and navigates through the chaos following the radio transmissions of a woman called Elena. Armed and ready, the player opens a door and discovers the first enemy- a member of the White Crow Battalion.
Elena, our tutorial narrator, describes the White Crow Battalion as a mercenary company working for Alec Masters. From their earliest conception, the White Crow have been hired thugs. Though their role expands and becomes more complex through the game, the Crow remain true to their core concept as mercenaries with a mission. What that mission is and how they plan to accomplish it is one of the overarching stories available for players to explore.
The White Crow were initially created as a foil for the Enforcers. Where the Enforcers were trying to revive the vestiges of the U.S. military as an agent for order, the White Crow were a paramilitary force dabbling in protection rackets and bullying easy targets. The Crow supplanted the original Enforcers as Masters' loyal soldiers, ensuring that when the Enforcers finally rose against Masters, the White Crow would become their natural enemy.
The problem was that the back-story didn't leave room for the White Crow to form a personality of their own. Then, as we continued to develop Fallen Earth, we devs started using the White Crow as a catch-all. "We need a bad guy who did something bad. Uh... okay, he's a White Crow merc." I believe that motivation is an important part of writing interesting villains. The player (or reader or movie-goer) doesn't have to know the totality of the villain's motivation, of course, but the writer should have a pretty clear idea of why a character acts or thinks in particular ways. When I started looking at the White Crow's motivations, I realized that their actions didn't have consistency, and often didn't make sense in light of things they were doing elsewhere. Why were they working with a particular group in one town and fighting against them in another? If they're mercenaries, who's paying them to do these things?
I began toying with the idea of overhauling the White Crow's background. I wanted to stay true to the original concept of the White Crow as the Enforcers' arch-enemy. Almost every villain faction in Fallen Earth acts as a counterpoint to one or two player factions in particular. I also remember thinking a great deal about their name, what it meant, why they chose it. Maybe I over-think these things, but as a gamer, it's something I notice. If you've got a group with an unusual name -- the Purple Robins or the Albino Albatrosses -- you'd better be prepared for people to ask why. Finally, I wanted a back-story for the White Crow that differentiated them from other groups but still fit into the world of Fallen Earth.
Often, these kinds of problems will niggle at me until I wake up at 3:00 a.m. with some weird idea. And that's pretty much what happened with the White Crow. I had been reading up on conspiracy theories for another villain group when I came across a couple of interesting theories involving the remnants of the White Army, the forces that opposed the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War in the early 1900s. The idea that a modern paramilitary group would adopt some of the rhetoric and styling of a former army appealed to me. I found a larger purpose for the group while maintaining its role as a mercenary band and adversaries of the Enforcers.
I won't spoil any surprises by saying more about the White Crow's new background; play Fallen Earth and discover it for yourself. Enjoy killing them in the tutorial. As Elena will tell you, they get what they deserve. After the tutorial, you can pick up the story of the White Crow starting in Old Kingman, one of the early towns in Sector 1, and follow the trail all the way through the game.