Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September State of the Game

Fall State of the Game

Happy 2nd anniversary! A lot of exciting things going on around the offices – first and foremost being the September push.

We will be celebrating our anniversary with a live event we’re tentatively calling “Faction War”. There will be PvP, PvE, and RP components to the event, and everyone who participates will get an item that truly displays their faction loyalty to everyone. We’ll be running the event at EU and US friendly times as well as hanging out and celebrating throughout the day. This looks like it’s shaping up to be one of our most exciting live events yet.

The other major component of the September patch is part one of the Economic changes. We started by focusing on the largest issues present in the existing economy - specifically the inconsistent implementation of rarity in both recipes and node placement and the overabundance of cooking components and their application in recipes. Solving the first major issue actually went a long way towards the cooking problems as we were able to either reclassify components as uncommon or rare or create new components to fill those roles in recipes. We have also redone the placement of most of the nodes in the game- uncommon and rare components will now be found in higher risk areas, especially PvP zones. This may sound scary at first, but it’s important to remember that their being in PvP areas doesn’t make them impossible to get – they can still be found in non-PvP areas, but now we’re taking the first steps into making good on our promise to provide tangible motivations for engaging in PvP.

Many recipes have been changed to reflect the new rarity. Base recipes will now use common components, improved will have uncommon, and advanced will include rare components as well. To complement this system, we have also added components that can only be found at some merchants. These changes were made to ensure the value of the finished item would work with the value of the components.

We will also be removing finished gear merchants as well as pulling rare and uncommon components from merchants. This is an important change is it brings us closer to a player driven economy.

The second part of the economic changes will begin immediately after the push as we continue to adjust pricing and availability. Once we have completed the transition to Free2Play in October we will be able to finalize any adjustments.

Also with the Free to Play patch we will be releasing the World Event system. It was originally scheduled for September, however we wanted to put the full focus of the entire Fallen Earth dev team on both systems , necessitating a transition on the schedule from late September to early October. We want to raise the standard of quality for all of our releases – this will help us do that.

World Event system which will create random events throughout the world for players to participate in, from defending towns from hostile factions to healing sick and injured townspeople, these events will provide more content across the world while giving the canyon more life and a bit more excitement. The system used to create the events is a pretty robust one, so we will be able to create more sophisticated ways of delivering and unlocking content for players as we go forward.

Late October we should be seeing the return of a long lost friend, who can help us test these new systems. One I’m sure you’ve missed as much as we have.

Next month I’ll be able to go into detail on territory control and the direction of faction warfare. Until then, thanks for making these past two years so much fun, and here’s to two more!!

See you in the wastelands,


Monday, September 19, 2011

Free2Play Questions Answered

Thanks everyone for your input on the Free2Play reveal! Everyone on the team is thrilled to see that the overwhelming reaction to Fallen Earth's Free2Play/Premium benefits was positive; you build up a certain amount of anxiety as you hope that what you feel is right and fair turns out to actually be right and fair in everyone else's eyes...and yet still be compelling enough to make anyone want to buy it. We're confident we've struck a nice balance here but, as always, we're interested in as much feedback as you're willing to give us.

We're having a lot of fun gearing up to go Free2Play, but I'd like to take a moment and answer some of the questions that we're seeing on a regular basis.

What happens to my existing subscription when the game goes Free2Play on October 12th?
On the day of the conversion, the remaining subscription days in your current billing cycle will automatically be upgraded to the Commander Premium level for free; enjoy! This will last until your next bill date, at which time it will revert to the Wastelander level (which costs the same as your current subscription, but provides increased benefits). 
For a more concrete example, if you're on a monthly recurring subscription and you have 25 days left when the Free2Play conversion happens, then you'll have Commander Premium for 25 days.
This also holds true if you have one of the longer term subscriptions; your account will be automatically upgraded to Commander for free regardless of if you have 5 days, 90 days, or 300 days of subscription left on your account. 
One important distinction: The free upgrade affects in-game benefits only; Reward Points already given out for purchases made prior to the conversion will remain unchanged.

Since free players only start with one character slot, what happens to my existing characters if I go Free2Play or Survivalist? If I already have four, will any be deleted? Will I have to choose which character(s) I want to keep?
Absolutely not. If you had ever bought the game or paid for a subscription, those character slots were included with your game, so they belong to you regardless of the change in business model. No characters will be deleted, and you will not have to pick your favorite one or anything silly like that. When the game goes Free2Play, you can play all four.

Will free players be able to access the auction house? Mail? Use trade?
Yes. We are taking a risk here, so we're going to constantly evaluate this and if we ever have to change it, we will. We want to take this risk because we believe that using the Auction House, being able to trade with other players and send and receive mail are functions that are integral to getting the full Fallen Earth experience. Traditionally, however, these functions (trading, etc) are prone to abuse in Free2Play games, and restricting it is the first line of defense against gold farming. We think these functions are vital enough, though, that we'd rather prioritize finding other ways to limit gold farming (such as the chip limit on accounts that have never paid). So right now we're hoping for the best and planning for the worst; we'd like free players to be able to permanently use the AH, mail, and trade, but if gold farmers get totally out of control we may have to change this.

What will the chip limit be for free players?
Currently the chip limit for free players is set at 10 red chips. We feel this should be sufficient for experiencing the game and doing what you need to do, while also protecting against rampant gold farming. This limit goes away if you ever buy anything, so even if you don't want to get a subscription, you can buy something small just to prove to us you aren't a bot and then you can amass as much wealth as you want!
It probably goes without saying, but if you are a former Fallen Earth subscriber then you of course won't be subject to this limit (since you already have paid at some point).

What price will vets have to pay for a Commander Premium subscription?
All players who had ever redeemed a Product Key (ie, bought the game) prior to the transition to Free2Play will see a price of $19.99 for Commander Premium. Thanks for sticking with us and helping make Fallen Earth great! We couldn't have done it without you :)

Will I still be able to subscribe, or do I have to buy a new Premium every month?
You will still be able to initiate new recurring monthly subscriptions to any of the three Premium Subscriptions (Survivalist, Wastelander, Commander) available.

What happens to free players' crafting queue if they try to craft for longer than eight hours?
If you're on a free account, after eight hours of crafting your crafting queue will pause. Your queue will automatically resume at the beginning of the next 24 hour period regardless of whether or not you log in to check on it. For instance, you can queue up 24 hours worth of crafting and leave for three days; when you come back on the fourth day everything will be done (and you'll of course still have your eight hours for that day to use as well).

I don't think Commander is worth the price you're asking, and I'm not going to buy it! Don't you want me to change my mind?
Not at all! Free2Play games are all about deciding what your experience in the game means to you. To some, it means a great deal; to others, it means a little; and others just flat out have different things they want to spend their hard-earned money on. That's all OK! We created Commander specifically to deliver an abundance of "stuff" to those who will truly value that stuff, including the 500 Reward Points and the Commander aura. If these things don't matter to you, then it stands to reason that you won't purchase this package. And you certainly shouldn't feel like we're trying to make you! 
If you're cool with Wastelander or Survivalist, or nothing, we're cool too. All we ask is that if you do find yourself having a great time with Fallen Earth, to maybe consider buying something as a token of appreciation :)

What's in that teaser image?!
Keep an eye on the blog this week, as Marie is going to drop some knowledge on y'all with a new State of the Game including details on the events planned for Fallen Earth's Two Year Anniversary, the upcoming economy changes, and might let something slip about the upcoming World Event system content patch!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Free2Play Details and More!

Fallen Earth goes Free2Play October 12th! 

In this issue: 
Free2Play secrets revealedVeteran Appreciation • World Events Detailed Two Year Anniversary Events
(This is a long post, so make sure to click "Read More" at the bottom)

On the morning of October 12th, 2011 Fallen Earth will go into its regularly scheduled maintenance. When it returns, the game will officially be transitioned to Free2Play. This means that all current and former accounts (that have been linked to a GamersFirst account) will be able to play for free!

Here is an image showing the mostly-finalized* structure of free accounts and Premium Subscriptions, with a description below of each of the packages and who might choose them:

*Finalized but still subject to balance tweaks. Veteran pricing on Commander Premium Subscription is intended to be discounted, details of which are coming soon.

This is a free account, the default starting level for all new accounts. This is for those who are new to Fallen Earth, or returning players that aren't sure what to expect. You'll have access to 100% of the game content from level 1 to max level. The efficiency at which you advance is not quite comparable to subscribed players, there is a limit to how many hours per day you can spend crafting, and how many chips you can have (this is to limit gold farmer impact, and goes away if you ever subscribe or buy anything, which essentially just "validates" your account). You do receive Reward Points each month, which you can take straight to the Reward Points merchants and spend right away, or save up for something bigger. Your primary reasons to purchase a Premium subscription will be to maximize your rate of advancement, to
get unlimited crafting time, more character slots and reward points, and because you want to show support for Fallen Earth's continued development :)

The entry level Premium Subscription, Survivalist, is directly analogous to the game current subscribers are playing in terms of Reward Points and rates of advancement (except for the addition of a 5% marketplace discount), but costs $9.99 -- $5.00 less than the current subscription. You probably want to go Survivalist if you're into playing Fallen Earth enough to want to remove the minor restrictions to which "Scavenger" accounts are subject, and don't mind playing at the current default advancement rates. Your biggest reason to upgrade is that you want to improve all of the aforementioned gain rates plus you want a bit more Reward Points to spend at the Reward Merchants (which isn't a bad idea, as we're adding more stuff to them all the time).

This costs $14.99 -- the same as a current subscription -- and provides dramatic increases your harvesting and crafting speed, as well as the rates of gain of EXP, AP, Death Toll, and faction. You want to go with Wastelander if you're a current player who understands the game and wants to benefit from the efficiency increases this Premium subscription provides. If you're truly a solo player, this is all you need -- it comes with a 15% discount in the Marketplace and 300 Reward Points (versus the current 100 Reward Points you already get with a subscription). Note: If you have an existing subscription, it will transition to Wastelander without your having to do anything.

The Commander Premium Subscription is what you'll want if you're someone whom others look up to as a leader. While it is in most respects similar to Wastelander, the key difference here is that this package includes the Commander aura, a stackable buff that increases salvaging speed, EXP, Random AP, Death Toll, and Faction gain rates for all players in the Commander's group. It also includes a massive 500 Reward Points. You probably want to go Commander if you have friends that you want to help out with your aura, and/or you plan on buying a lot of items from the Reward Shop (which includes marketplace items as well).