Masthead Studios announced Earthrise earlier this week, a skill-based, PvP focused science-fiction MMO slated for launch in 2009. We spoke to Masthead Studios CEO Atanas Atanasov about the game, why he believes they'll deliver on their ambitious design and more.
Answers by Atanas Atanasov (CEO of Masthead Studios)
Questions by Dana Massey
WarCry: For those unfamiliar with the project, give us a basic overview of who you are, the origins of Masthead and what Earthrise is all about.
Atanas Atanasov: Masthead Studios was founded in 2005 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Our goal was to create a top quality game development studio, consisting of the best graphic artists and programmers in our region. There are a lot of IT specialists and graphic artists in our country who are involved in outsourcing; all we had to do was to pick the right people for the right job.
Being a MMORPG fan since Ultima Online and knowing that virtual worlds are the future of PC gaming, it was an easy decision for us to focus on the realization of Masthead's first project - Earthrise.
WarCry: Obviously, as a skill based, classless MMO, you're not out to clone WoW. What were your major inspirations in the design of Earthrise?
Atanas Atanasov: Our team has played a lot of different MMO games including all major titles released up to date as well as some free to play Asian games. During the design stage of Earthrise we wanted to focus on getting the best out of the existing titles and at the same time to implement some new ideas not seen in other MMOs.
If I have to name some game titles UO, EVE in terms of gameplay and Crysis and Gears of War in terms of visuals were major inspiration for us.
In terms of philosophy that stands behind Earthrise, movies such as Equilibrium and Aeon Flux inspired our writers and game designers.
This does not mean that the game will resemble some of the titles mentioned. We will present our interpretation of a futuristic sci-fi world in a post-apocalyptic setting. However, don't expect to see just the typical dark, devastated environment, there are many different places to explore in Earthrise.
WarCry: You mention your inspiration for a sci-fi MMO is because the genre is underdeveloped and there are some interesting moral questions you can explore. How do you hope to explore current day morality in a way that is fun, original and not preachy?
Atanas Atanasov: Games are made to be fun and the fact that some companies and government institutions are planning to develop educational MMO titles makes me believe that such virtual worlds are actually reflecting our society as a whole. Avatars in those games are real life people and they react naturally, there is no AI standing behind this.
In regards to Earthrise, we will see what may happen if such scenario as described in the game story becomes a reality. Cloning and nanobotics are already a reality. Most weapons in the game are either existing or being prototypes and will be widely used in the near future.
In Earthrise we will see what will happen if several thousand humans are left in a close environment facing the danger of extinction. The game will offer them all available technology which is theory at the moment and they will react according to their human instincts. We will see what will happen :)
WarCry: You mention a focus on meaningful PvP in Earthrise, can you expand on this?
Atanas Atanasov: If you take a close look at most MMORPGs available on the market today, what they offer as PvP is often about friendly and in many ways regulated competition between players for fame, glory and rewards provided by the designers of the game. While such rewards are important incentive for many participants, for a sizable audience that we strive to attract, it has nothing of the cutthroat competition and the sense of risk associated originally with the PvP experience. The PvP in Earthrise is going to be not just about winning valuable resources that you as a player, your guild and even your faction need to survive in the highly competitive world of Enterra; it is about protecting these same resources from everyone else, because all that can be won can be lost and the success of PvP is going to be determined by striking the perfect balance between aggressive offense and thoughtful, often paranoid defence. This sense of danger and risk will run on many levels - from the personal rivalry between players to faction wars and the grand territory conquest that will shape the ever-changing military, political and even economic balance between Continoma and their Noir rivals.