WarCry: Many games have touted PvP as a focus and time after time, they seem to fall short of market expectations. Why do you believe Earthrise can succeed as a PvP game where others have failed?
Atanas Atanasov: The PvP experience is the ultimate challenge for every MMORPG designer not because of technical limitations or balance issues only, but because of the practical impossibility to please every segment of the genre audience with a single implementation. Those who have tried have failed so far to meet the high expectations, especially of the more hardcore (and for many reasons, most vocal) group of PvP-oriented players. At Masthead Studios we believe that we can create a truly exciting, challenging PvP that will satisfy those players. Earthrise will have a meaningful PvP with consequences in the world.
At the same time we do not want to focus only on mindless PvP and miss the fun part in any classical MMO - socialization and roleplay.
There will be some territories in the game, suitable for those who don't want to engage in PvP, in other words, every casual player can find his place in Earthrise.
WarCry: Your FAQ says you'll launch in 2009. How long has Earthrise been in development and why do you feel that launch target is realistic?
Atanas Atanasov: Earthrise has been in development for 2 years. We have some short term and long term milestones, which we meet for the time being. This makes me believe that 2009 launch is realistic.
WarCry: Crafting, a market based economy and customizable items are a huge part of Earthrise. Tell us about these systems and how your game will distance itself from its competitors through them?
Atanas Atanasov: Crafting is going to be the foundation of Earthrise economy system, period. This means that almost all useable items in the game, from the stock handgun to the most powerful items available in the game, will be available for crafting by the inhabitants of Enterra island. Item rarity will not be based on how many times players can kill the grand boss of a raid, but rather how many people exist who can excel in both design and manufacturing. We believe that this will create an unprecedented economy where crafters will not feel like they are doing a boring chore, but that their knowledge and hard work actually benefit the whole game world by creating unique item configurations that gives them and their guild a competitive edge. What makes Earthrise crafting system different from all other games currently on the market is the emphasis on item customization by the item's designer and manufacturer, not just the player who is going to use that item. By creating unique designs and modifying items for specific purposes, truly talented crafters will entertain an unprecedented influence on the game economy and will be able to exert that power upon others in both political and economic sense.
WarCry: Bulgaria is often seen in a less than positive light among fans of video games, largely due to incidents involving unrelated projects. What can you say to reassure people intrigued by your idea that you're really in this for the long haul?
Atanas Atanasov: Our country has a lot of local talent. With proper management and clear goals, this talent can be focused in creating a great game with up to date graphics and technology.
It is not unusual for a small country to ship a great game. Example: Iceland and EVE Online
WarCry: The last few subscription based games to launch have had some difficulty attracting audiences. Why do you want to go that route vs. a free-to-play microtransaction or advertisement supported model?
Atanas Atanasov: By introducing subscription based model we want to point out that Earthrise will be a high quality game with lots of content, which will be available to everyone who plays the game, rather than those people who have the money to pay for items.
In addition we want our fans to expect that Earthrise will be comparable to any popular subscription based game currently on the market in terms of player experience.
WarCry: Your listed system requirements seem to be lower than most big AAA MMOs. Was this done on purpose and what are you doing to ensure that this game runs smoothly on a large number of PCs?
Atanas Atanasov: We are still working on and improving our engine. Hardware requirements are not final yet. Earthrise engine is designed to scale and take full advantage of the hardware and to support wide range of configurations and adapting parameters to achieve the best experience. The engine will support and use latest features, such as newest versions of Direct X and multi-core processors, but the game will look and play good on mid-range hardware too.
Editor's Note: For full disclosure, it is important for us to note that Masthead Studios is a client of TAP Interactive, who is owned by the same parent company as WarCry.