Earthrise (video game)

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Earthrise - MMORPG
EarthriseBoxArt.jpg
Developer(s) Masthead Studios
Publisher(s) Iceberg Interactive
Engine Earthrise Engine
Platform(s) Windows
Release date(s)
  • NA February 4, 2011
(Service closed on February 9, 2012)
Genre(s) Science fiction
Mode(s) MMORPG

Earthrise is a science fiction Player vs Player MMORPG by the independent Bulgarian team Masthead Studios released on February 2011, it is Masthead's first video game.[1]

The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting where the surviving population of the Earth has built a new society ruled by a totalitarian government while armed factions fight for resources and power within the new system. Among other features, a few of note are a skill-based advancement system, a player-driven economy and an emphasis on free PvP.[2] The game uses the Earthrise Engine, an engine that was to be used for the cancelled Fallout Online.

Citing that the game was released "too early" and that it "did not meet the expectations of its fans", Masthead Studios shut down the Earthrise servers on February 9, 2012.[3] A press release was sent to many of the gaming sites along with a post on the official forums giving additional details. The announcement also mentioned that the previously planned conversion to a free-to-play model[4] is now dependent on future investor and/or publisher interest.

Plot[edit]

At the end of the 21st century, the continuing exhaustion of Earth's resources sparked a furious struggle for dominance, ultimately leading to an all-out conflict. Billions perished as the Third World War raged across the globe.

As nations crumbled and civil society was in its death throes, a group of cooperative leaders and scientists began work on the "Continoma Project" - a massive, self-sufficient DNA database capable of storing the genetic information of every living thing on the Earth, including humans. Members of the Project considered themselves the world’s stewards, and began taking liberties within the database, removing the genetic code of the people responsible for the war's most heinous crimes against humanity. However, many of those war criminals exploited certain Project members' greed and bought their way into the project, guaranteeing themselves perpetual life.

Humanity outside the Continoma Project all but destroyed itself - the great societies that once warred between themselves were reduced to nomadic tribes and eventually mutated or died out, long before the irradiated world could become habitable again.

After a few hundred years passed, scientists started to clone the first wave of survivors, called the Pioneers. Faced with mutated man-eating plants and animals, as well as aggressive descendants from the last naturally-born humans, the Pioneers were only able to carve out a living on the island of Enterra. It was here that they founded Sal Vitas, City of Salvation, where the Continoma leaders formed a new government, an engineered social and political regime of utopian proportions that promised to erase the painful memory of the past.

During the first twenty years, the city's construction required a huge workforce. As more people were cloned, society divided in groups and factions, each with their own agenda and goals. Some of them revisited the darker side of the human nature, exploiting fellow citizens much the same as before the death of civilization. Continoma created a draconian police force to fight crime, which kept much of the citizenry safe but did little to eradicate the growing criminal underworld.

In the wake of Continoma's harsh reaction to the increase in crime, young intellectuals and students formed a loose organization originally intended to keep Continoma in check through civil action. It was not long until the informal organization took on a new role – armed resistance - and a new name: Noir.

The Noir resistance began with a massacre. Shortly after its conception, seven of Noir’s founding members were captured by the Continoma police force. Their DNA was pulled from the cloning database, sentencing them to a death humanity was no longer supposed to experience. The remaining six members were driven from the city. Luckily for Noir, a scientist within Continoma, a follower of the group's ideals, managed to save the founders' DNA and deliver it to those who fled Sal Vitas. The restored leadership began a guerrilla war against Continoma.

In the midst of the growing insurgency, a number of high-ranked bureaucrats within Continoma mounted a coup and seized control over the cloning technology. The new autocrats immediately began threatening Noir’s supporters within the populace with removal of their genetic code from the database.

Noir continued the fight, its numbers increased by the dictatorial new regime’s policies, but without cloning technology, defeat seemed certain. Only a counter-coup, led by Synthia Harvington, saved Noir. Harvington negotiated an agreement with Noir that exchanged cloning technology for their assistance in her counter-coup. When Harvington restored the government, Noir and Continoma found a temporary and uneasy peace.

Continoma and Noir continue to share the island of Enterra today. Continoma spreads its control across the island and boosts its industrial power by exploiting the island's natural resources. Noir exists in an underground network and works to disrupt the current regime’s plans. The ceasefire is already breaking.

Mutants still abound on the island, but most of them have gathered around and inside the Old City, the remains of a community that thrived before war. Intelligence reports on both sides of the political battle claim the mutants are growing … something … inside Old City's sewers. The zone is currently under quarantine until Continoma can make a better-informed decision about how to proceed, and Noir operatives are discouraged from entering the area.

Gameplay[edit]

Character progression[edit]

The character progression in Earthrise is conducted entirely online.

Skill System[edit]

The number 100 indicates total skills, abilities and tactics available at launch. While many of them are combat oriented, a sizable amount will cover crafting and social aspects for each character. The three types of game elements – skills, abilities and tactics, are closely related to each other and will allow for numerous possibilities for customization of the character. Tactics are the key to customization – these meta-enhancements will be compatible with wide variety of abilities and will change their effects to suit player’s style of play. Players with similar skills may have a completely different style of fighting thanks to enhancing them with tactics.

Combat[edit]

The outcome of battle in Earthrise will rely more on the traditional RPG system, where avatar skills and equipment are important. However the combat will be more dynamic, resembling a third person shooter. The game will require a certain level of player skill in movement and targeting that is becoming increasingly popular trend in current wave of MMOs. Still, not every action will have the same requirements. Some actions will require proper targeting of the opponent, while others will require only having it in sight and then there will be actions that can be executed even if the player doesn’t have its target in sight but within range.

PvP[edit]

Close combat vs ranged weapons, introduced by Earthrise's gameplay video

Players will have the opportunity to kill other players (including from his faction) – but not without consequences. Killing people of the same faction is one of the worst crimes, prosecuted by members of both Noir and Continoma. It will be very difficult for someone to clear the damning effects of such a crime, though not impossible, and his space of operation would be greatly limited in the wild, less secure areas - where he himself would taste his own medicine by being open target for other criminals. Each player's criminal actions, once reported through the Continoma SVS Network will affect the behavior of every guard the player encounters. There will be cases when despite guard activity, the actions do not get reported island-wide. For the most prosecuted player killers that means that their life in a sizable portion of the game world will be constant game of cat and mouse, and other players will certainly benefit from joining in as there will be rewards to take a criminal down. Stealth abilities will be almost a requirement for survival. We won't force that sort of gameplay on players and it would be easy to get on good terms with the government. Player who has killed another player opponent would be able to loot his possessions. There will be available equipment protection, but its viability will vary based on character's affiliation and actions in the game. Characters who play "against the system" should learn to protect their gear well. There will be some high security areas in Earthrise, where guards will attack on sight everyone else who tries to attack another player. People, who don’t want to engage in PvP will feel secure in these zones. At the same time, the most dangerous parts of the island will feature free for all PvP.
Another PvP aspect in Earthrise will be guild rivalries. Guilds will be able to declare war on each other and fight for power and resources. Such wars will be prohibited in the security zones, but will not be punished in the other territories. Guilds will be able to conquer their own part of the island, gaining access to resources and a territory where they can impose their rules. There will also be arenas and other types of PvP competitions with rewards. People who do not want to engage in PvP will not feel alienated in Earthrise. There will be certain areas in the game, where PvE skills will be more important than PvP. Quests, crafting and trade are other examples of the non-PvP gameplay in Earthrise.

Crafting[edit]

Crafting in Earthrise is a complex process that is easy to understand but ultimately difficult to master. The basic rule of crafting is that every item is made of components and every item can be broken down to its composites. Some components are used for specific items, others are used in a wide array of items – for example, a hand gun grip can be used in the creation of various hand guns, while electronic chipsets can be used to create specific devices. Players often will break down items to their components in order to combine some of them with other components to produce new, different items. Crafting and salvaging requires specific skills, depending what item is created or salvaged down, and players will have access to dozens of skills, covering mechanics, electronics, engineering, construction and programming in several futuristic industries.

Transformation of one type of item to another - either through crafting or salvaging - has damaging effect on the used resources and the final item will always have lowered quality value compared to the input components, depending on player's crafting skill. This renders impossible the infinite transformation of items - even for a true expert, constant crafting and salvaging of the same item will make the resources useless and any item made of them prone to quick damage and lessened effect. This is when items will "break" completely - when they cannot be any more repaired, or effectively salvaged to craft a new useful item.

Factions[edit]

The game is based on a clash involving two factions. One is the corporate government that controls every possible aspect of its citizens' lives. The other is Noir, a rebel group sworn to oust the authoritarian order.

Playable Factions[edit]

  • Continoma - They are the saviors of humankind on the island of Enterra and have established the new society and government, hosted in the city of Sal Vitas. They have some negative traits associated with the great governmental power, but are not necessary evil and succeed to provide their citizens with security and technological prosperity.
  • Noir - They fight for freedom against the chains of Continomian laws, but their means of resistance are often radical and cause innocent people to suffer in the name of their cause.

NPC Factions[edit]

  • Alpha Sisterhood - This organization is composed of female scientists, who train their minds and emotions through consuming training to achieve the ability to control energy currents with a psychomorphic interface. Their studies over emotive interfaces have allowed them to create a new direction in armament, called Cybermentalism. Their goal is to achieve a new level of evolution, falling in line with the Continoma politics.
  • Seeyen - A subculture of people with incredible psionic gift, the Seeyen have chosen a life of seclusion far from the prying eyes of the rest of the citizens in a village located at the western beach of the island. While they cooperate with Continoma, they do so only to ensure their comfort and security. They are aware that for Continoma their village is a test bed of studying the psionic potential of the human mind.
  • Consular Guard - The Consular Guard are defenders of the Continoma cause, although not directly under its authority. They believe in law and justice, at any cost. Gathered at first from SVS officers, they attract promising subjects from the civil population and through long and hard training they maintain an elite combat division, directly funded by Continoma to fight against criminal activities across the island.
  • Enforcers – A group of veteran soldiers united by their dark and criminal past make up the Enforcers. Once they sided with Continoma as mutant extermination squad- sent on the worst assignments where they were supposed to eliminate all “inconvenient” subjects to the current regime. When they became the “inconvenient” ones, they left Continoma and went independent, siding with Noir and even the criminal Syndicate. As coldblooded killers, hardened through fanatic massacres against mutantkind, these renegade soldiers believe in brute firepower and intimidation.
  • The Codiax - One of the strongest allies of Noir, the Codiax is composed of rebel biology scientists who initiated a coup against Continoma and were backed by the military and economic opposition at the time. When their direct assistance is not needed by Noir, The Codiax works on secret experiments over genetics and biologic weapons based on whatever knowledge they can extract from the mutants. These experiments are seen as "troublesome" by some, however the organization still persists.
  • The Phoenix – The Phoenix are a union of renegade scouts, many of whom have shown support to Noir in the days before and after the Coup. As secretive as any spy organization could be, in politics the Phoenix leans towards Noir mostly because any links to their previous position of glory in Sal Vitas have been severed. They currently trade with stolen technology and information from their secret agents in the great metropolis, and in turn sell it to Noir - as long as they pay well. Should Noir ever fail to deliver on payments by accident or design, they can expect to find themselves having to procure another source quickly.
  • The Syndicate - When Continoma deserted the less promising population within The Nest that did not follow fanatically the political propaganda they put out, they did not expect what became of the first pioneer settlement years later. After the destruction of the old world, the area became a cesspool of criminal activity ruled by the Syndicate, an organization built on the same merciless principles and tightly woven underground connections as a current day mafia. They set the laws of conduct between the many criminal organizations and bandit squads that roam the island, killing and pillaging. A group with unclear long-term goals, The Syndicate are always trying to stay on the winning side in the conflict between Continoma and Noir.
  • The Red Dragons – Wielding the power of Law and Order in the Eastern Garden, the Red Dragons are in firm control of the underground black market. Placed in a very powerful position to trade not only with restricted and prohibited technologies, they also enjoy the power of having connections with all other organizations. Few organizations can afford to call The Dragons their enemy. Honor is paramount to this organization; if anyone dares to take it away, they strike back with brute force and primal aggression. They work hard to keep their neutral status, maintaining a careful balance between Continoma and Noir.
  • The Nathurians – Group of eccentric scientists who stray from all senseless political struggles on the island, as they often relate the conflict between Continoma and Noir. They follow a nearly religious belief of balance and symbiosis with the nature, picturing the mutated ecology of the island as a precious ally in the mutual goal of survival rather than an enemy that has to be destroyed. For them, every direct intervention in the ecologic biosphere is a barbaric act that would repeat the ecologic catastrophe of the war, in their eyes a mistake that cannot be repeated.
  • Tech Collective – The Tech Collective is a professional organization struggling to defend the rights of a large group of scientists, inventors and manufacturers against the selective censoring of research by Continoma. While they are responsible for the rapid technological advancement of the new society, almost all organizations call them an enemy due to their incredible potential in the arms race in the private sector. As an example, the Tech Collective invented the use of mechanical exoskeletons, whose primary construction purposes were quickly refashioned for military means by the mutant extermination squads and used later in the conflict between Continoma and Noir.

Enterra Island[edit]

The island of Enterra is a small landmass that survived the brunt of the horrible cataclysms that left the rest of the planet uninhabitable, though its local flora and fauna have become severely deformed and mutated. However, the precious natural resources on the island remain easily available for extraction and exploitation, which allowed the island to become a suitable home for nascent human society.

Sal Vitas[edit]

Sal Vitas

After leaving the Protogenetic Asylum, those elected for the restoration of humanity founded the prosperous city of Sal Vitas. As a second chance for humankind to reclaim what was lost, the new society aimed to shake off its earlier mistakes and prevent such in the future. Careful planning of actions and their effect was the primary concern of a leadership that strived for enlightenment.

Sal Vitas promises a society void of corruption or crime existing without wars, famine or poverty. Every hard-working citizen is given access to all benefits, including private protection and full property insurance, a clean and healthy environment to live and develop, and most of all personal achievements fairly evaluated. And while all residents work for themselves, they do so to provide common welfare to all. This is seen as the only way for the society to strengthen its bonds, and resist any risk and harmful influence that could undermine the structure of the city. Humans have learned their lesson, or so it seems.

The pride of Sal Vitas is its monolithic architecture. Considered a work of art, the image of the megalopolis is composed of imposing skyscrapers emerging out of a futuristic dream. Built with imagination and style, Sal Vitas stands as a monument of modernism, where glass and concrete meet with lush green parks. Gliders whiz silently among the pedestrians on sterile streets. With culture and fashion now uniform, all citizens resemble each other in both clothing and manners.

Old Town[edit]

A series of ruined residential, industrial and administrative complexes, Old Town was once home to a thriving community of the pre-Purification age. Oblivious to the impending cataclysm, the people of Old Town were unaware of the construction of the secret Protogenetic Asylum, which at the time was disguised simply as "standard mining operations."

During the catastrophic events of the Third World War, many people tried to reach Old Town for sanctuary. The residents turned them away, keeping the already scarce resources for themselves. Not every group of refugees was willing to give up so easily, and they attacked Old Town. Ruined shells of primitive bunkers and defensive obstacles are all that remain to mark the effort to keep the now demolished city.

Thousands of inhabitants died in the conflicts. The descendants of the survivors gradually mutated, developing new traits that ensured their adaptation to the new environment, however corrupting their human nature in the process. All technological knowledge was lost to more primal needs.

Old Town is one of Continoma's sore spots, but the corporation and the Tribunal have designed a solution. They've developed a plan to solve the problem in two stages: restriction and annihilation. The first stage has already been set into motion. The Old City is now fenced off to prevent the spread of a virulent mutant infection, but aggressive groups of mutants have already breached the perimeter at several points, where violent battles are common. The second stage will be a total demolition of Old Town and the complete extermination of its inhabitants.

Exodus Island[edit]

Southeast of Sal Vitas is Exodus Island, a small island off the coast the first settlers originated. Huge investments saw the establishment of an underground facility at the base of an active volcano, at its core was the Human Consciousness Data Storage center, known commonly as the Librarium, Adorning the entrance of the complex is an inscription that has become a symbol both of the rebirth of humanity, and the reason that humanity has overcome the madness and destruction of the past: "Humans learn to fly not when they deny gravity, but when they realize it, accept it and learn to overcome it."

Miles of underground corridors, storehouses, laboratories and machinery have been constructed for the project, though today the island is deserted. All information from the Librarium has been transmitted elsewhere, and new, more advanced archiving technology is being used. The vast underground network that once teemed with the hope of mankind reborn now lies abandoned, and unknown perils lurk within, preying on the wayward visitor. The cradle of neo-humanity is all but forgotten.

Industrial Area[edit]

The Industrial Area was created as part of the major expansion plans of Continoma. Construction began during the first waves of the Resurrection as the Pioneers built the first installations from basic modules and metal scraps and endured hellish working conditions in their push for completion. Without their heroic efforts, the marvelous city of Sal Vitas or the immense projects of the Concession Territories would have been left on the drawing board forever. advertisement

During the next several decades, the Industrial Area grew bigger and the majority of the industrial production on Enterra was concentrated within this area. Riding a short wave of triumph, the technologists and operators soon learned of a massive scientific breakthrough that introduced the new industrial nanocultures - allowing the fast, effective, and clean production of industrial goods. The new nanofactories were created in regions close to the control of Continoma and the orders of goods produced in the old Industrial Area were stopped.

The Industrial Area remained operational, even when the managing employees of the Government were withdrawn. It was a time of crisis, but also an opportunity to establish their own, independent structure and proceed with their work and inventions without the rigid control of Continoma. Now known as the Tech Collective, they kept the old hierarchical structure from the factories and named Coordinator Jared as their leader. They used all of their remaining political influence in order to negotiate the Government into letting them operate and protect themselves on their own. The leaders of the Tech Collective craved independence, but they needed a powerful ally that could help them gain economical sovereignty, placing them away from the axis of Continoma.

Sadly, Coordinator Jared and his men were great scientists, but poor diplomats. They found the worst kind of economical ally in the face of the Syndicate, who forced them into signing a beguiling contract relinquishing control over the industrial production and the operation of the installations of the Collective. In a matter of weeks, the shady elements of the Syndicate teemed in the Industrial Area, taking "temporary control due to terms of agreement" over the immense industrial plants. The Tech Collective was forced to watch helplessly while the bandits overstretched the production capabilities of the Industrial Area, ending in fiery destruction.

It was too late when Jared realized his mistake. He could not break his contract and calling in help from the government was out of the question - both actions would prove his incompetence in governing his property and taking responsibility for his actions. The Coordinator and the Tech Collective are now in need of serious help from brave adventurers that wish to work beside them in reclaiming the Industrial Area.

Eastern Gardens[edit]

The Eastern Gardens was founded during the dawn of Sal Vitas. A chain of unfortunate decisions led the government’s creation of a neighborhood based on cultural differences, rather than around the fledgling uniform cultural paradigm. After the resurrection process reached its peak, cultural tensions were high. Citizens of Asian origin felt detached from the new society and wanted to form a new community apart from Sal Vitas.

The government acquiesced, asking only that the residents continue to support the government. The diligent population happily fulfilled their part of the deal.

Known as one of the most exotic places in Sal Vitas, Eastern Gardens truly has it all, as their inhabitants proudly would attest. A new black market has become a bone of contention for the residents and the government, however. A once perfectly organized community has become a hive of thieves, with numerous newly formed gangs all vying for a share of the market. At first, the government deployed additional SVS patrols to maintain order, but this soon turned futile, as new gangs continued to emerged during the conflict, stronger and more influential, and the black market reached a peak in development and activity. This left the government no other choice but to conduct major operations that sent the criminal activity into distress. The illegal exchange temporarily ceased, and many gang members either had their crystomatrix data destroyed or were put in psychological detention. With the threat of more extreme action, the gangs secretly signed a truce and established the Feast, an organization to control all illegal activity within set boundaries.

The Nest[edit]

The original settlement of the Pioneers on the main island, the Nest was built in a short time, with no consideration of comfort or luxury. The Founders needed little else besides shelter from the hostile environment and a place to call their own. It received its name from its wide platforms perched atop giant columns upon the floor of a deep crater, a giant scar left on the island from the days of an equally ancient war.

After the Sal Vitas began to gradually develop and grow at the center of Enterra Island, the settlers moved on; only a small number of laborers and technicians remained behind to support the Nest. Gradually, tension started to rise among the Nest population, a belief that those left behind were expelled from the new society. Still others chose to abandon Sal Vitas of their own will. The Nest became synonymous with a safe haven for adventurous hearts as much as a cesspool for useless individuals.

When animosity between the Nest and Sal Vitas reached a critical point, the Sal Vitas government withdrew its support for the Nest. Contrary to the modern society's expectations, the inhabitants of the Nest proved to be resourceful and resolute.. Gradually, from the primitive hostels, mess halls and warehouses peppering the area sprang bars, brothels and black market stores. These became the building blocks of the Nest, profitable sources of income, power and information. Rampant violence soon became the entertainment of choice in the Nest; fighting pits attract the bloodthirst and coin of men and women alike.

The criminal activity in the Nest is controlled by one man, the Bird of Prey. Few things pass unnoticed under his sharp eyes. An enigmatic figure, his word is law for the thousands of thugs and enforcers who do his bidding. By his hand the Nest has turned into a gathering point for many criminal organizations, acting as the primary base of operations for their dealings throughout Enterra.

Critical reception[edit]

MMORPG.com rated the game 5.5/10 and wrote that the game was bland and uninspired, lacking a true sandbox environment and offering "little more than grinding combat and crafting" while also noting that the game suffered from performance issues.[5] GameFront rated the game 65/100, praising the game's art direction but stated that the game offered slow progression and lacked a sizable playerbase.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Earthrise". Gamespot. Archived from the original on 2011-02-02. Retrieved 2011-01-26. 
  2. ^ Tom Magrino (2008-01-23). "Masthead spots Earthrise". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2011-02-02. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  3. ^ Atanasov, Atanas. "Earthrise shuts down its servers". Masthead Studios. Retrieved 10 February 2012. 
  4. ^ Atanasov, Atanas. "EARTHRISE BECOMES FREE TO ALL ITS CUSTOMERS (Free-to-play model will come in effect in 2012)". Masthead Studios. Retrieved 10 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "Earthrise review". MMORPG.com. Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  6. ^ Miozzi, CJ (2011-02-06). "Earthrise Review". GameFront. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 

External links[edit]