firefall

Official Site: Firefall
Studio: Red 5 Studios
Launch Date: July 9, 2013
Genre: Sci-Fi shooter
Business Model: F2P (Cash Shop)
Platform: PC

Mark Kern's Em-8ER on omniframe classes, THMPR animations

Mark Kern's crowdfunded MMO-shooter Em-8ER has a slew of new videos out this week featuring animations for the THMPR, finishing off the mech's "basic animation set."

"Next up is our test terrain and skybox, then importing the animations into Unreal and wiring everything together," Kern says. Over the weekend, he also posted a "draft spec" on the powered armorsuits in the game known as "omniframes." They're basically the game's equivalent of classes; Kern likens them to building a deck in a collectible card game. Warframe-ish, maybe?

Back in February, we covered how the name "Em-8ER" came to be, but that's probably not going to stop you from snarking, is it? Kern himself is well-known to the MMORPG genre thanks to his involvement with Firefall and the vanilla WoW community. He has previously discussed his plans for this shooter, including "serial Kickstarting" and a Firefall-esque foundation that doesn't "drift over to 'WoW with guns' again." Studio Crixa has raised $23,000 to date through crowdfunding and has since offered Firefall players credit toward the new game.

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The Soapbox: What the Mass Effect Andromeda kerfuffle ought to teach us about games criticism

Today is the official release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, which was preceded by the frankly baffling decision to allow people access to an early build of the game ahead of time. Or perhaps the final build without everything enabled? The point is that you could play a bit of it if you were willing to drop some money. That seems like a bad idea that we've been dealing with in online-game-land for a long time, but regardless, it gave people the opportunity to see some of this RPG ahead of time.

This, in turn, allowed the typical internet trolls to find any and all animation flubs and then happily declare that it was all the result of one woman working on the game and handling all of the animations. Which, you know, is a conclusion that would be helped significantly if the woman in question actually worked in that role on the game, which she did not.

Obviously, the game under discussion is not an MMO. But it is symptomatic of two all-too-common problems in gaming culture that are worth noting to people who do not have balls of spiders in place of a soul. So let's talk about those.

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Mark Kern's Em-8er lore combines Nazis, ghosts, and terraforming

"Welcome to the world of Ember, or as star charts designate it, Em-8ER ('E-M-Eight-E-R')," says a new dev blog from Mark Kern's Em-8ER MMO shooter. Yes, it's a lore blog, which is going to make teasing it for its '90s leetspeak name that much harder. It turns out that Em-8ER is the code name for a newly discovered planet in a vast network of systems discovered through humanity's use of D-shift travel gates -- and Em-8ER is haunted by and home to a hostile and ghostly sentient species.

The lore piece is massive, clocking in at just under 7500 words, and worth a look if you're into spooky sci-fi built atop WWII alternate history where the Nazis win (or just wanted some assurance there's more to the game than navels and guns).

Kern is a decidedly controversial (his word) figure to MMORPG genre veterans thanks to his involvement with Firefall and the vanilla WoW community, among other internet movements. He has previously discussed his plans for this shooter, including "serial Kickstarting" and a Firefall-esque foundation that doesn't "drift over to 'WoW with guns' again." Studio Crixa has raised $23,000 to date through crowdfunding and last month offered Firefall players credit toward the new game.

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Mark Kern offers Em-8ER credit to Firefall players and founders

If you're a former Firefall player -- or a current one, since technically it's still alive -- and you are looking forward to Mark Kern's next big thing, then there might be something in it for you.

Crixa Labs today announced a "Firefall Founder's Credit Program" for Firefall players migrating to the upcoming "massive planetary wargame" Em-8ER. Kern was a founder and CEO of Firefall's Red 5 Studios until his own board voted to oust him in 2013. He offered to buy the game from The9 last year; in the meantime, he's building and crowdfunding Em-8ER.

"We are offering you a full credit on your original Founder packs for Firefall towards Em-8ER," says a newsletter blast today. "Also, any Firefall player prior to the end of 2015 can receive a $10 credit by verifying their account" -- on a validation page provided by the studio.

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Mark Kern's Em-8ER posts a new THMPR modeling video

Em-8ER, the Mark Kern-led "massive planetary wargame" shooter formerly known as (and still pronounced like) Ember, has a new video out today showing off the THMPR -- don't look at me like that -- model in Unreal Engine.

"The model you see here is being rendered in real-time in the Unreal Engine. We use a texturing/material technique called PBR or Physically Based Rendering to make materials like metal look much more realistic," the team writes in the blog post. "Now that the THMPR is modeling, we’ll need to animate it and build a background scene."

Kern is a decidedly controversial (his word) figure to MMORPG genre veterans thanks to his involvement with Firefall and the vanilla World of Warcraft community, among other internet movements. He has previously discussed his plans for this shooter, including "serial Kickstarting" and a Firefall-esque foundation that doesn't "drift over to 'WoW with guns' again." Studio Crixa has thus far raised $23,000 in the first of its planned miniature crowdfunding campaigns, exceeding its goal.

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Firefall: The dead game that won't die

2016 was not Firefall's year.

I'm not sure which year was its year, honestly, what with the e-sports bus fiasco and suspension of PvP and former CEO Mark Kern hoopla and "pre-launch reorganization" in the lead up to launch. Maybe it was 2014, when the best thing we could say about it was that it was "finally a real game."

But 2016 was definitely not it.

Back in December 2015, rumors began to circulate that Red 5 had missed payroll, followed by a brutal company meetinglate salaries, and the inevitable “reorganization” layoffs and departures. The studio shakeup was itself followed by a hurried and bug-laden Razor’s Edge patch. In May of 2016, Chinese conglom The9, which by then effectively owned Red 5 Studios and has injected it with the cash to launch, traded part of its stake in the studio to a Cayman Islands cashmere manufacturer and announced mobile and console ports for Firefall, but that company's stock crashed soon after and trading was suspended. Mark Kern even resurfaced to offer to buy the game that fired him.

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Perfect Ten: Biggest MMORPG surprises of 2016

Back at the beginning of December, I posted a list of what I considered to be the biggest MMORPG stories of 2016. However, there were notable exceptions in that list of news that fans thought should be included. Unbeknownst to them but knownst to me, I had a second list in the works: the biggest MMO surprises of 2016.

That's right! Today we're going to revisit all of the big news that pretty much nobody saw coming (and if they say they did, they're lying, but let them have it - it's what they live for in this internet age). Being surprised by this genre is one of the reasons why I love writing for Massively OP -- you never quite know what will pop up on any given day.

Sure, some surprises are sour and unwelcome, but others can be delightful and exciting. We've got both on this list, so let's wrap up this year by seeing what stories gave us double-takes and were the buzz on everyone's lips!

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MMO Year in Review: Pokemon madness (July 2016)

This year, we’re taking a time-machine back through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we head into 2017.

Everyone saw Pokemon Go coming, but few people anticipated just how huge it was going to be this summer. We actually resorted to daily roundups of Pokemon Go news as mainstream media, never mind gaming sites, began covering it as a cultural phenomenon around the clock.

Meanwhile, July also saw WoW Legion rumblings, the launch of Guild Wars 2's third living story season, and another panic moment for Firefall.

Read on for the whole list!

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MMO Year in Review: Blade & Soul reaches western shores (January 2016)

December's many article roundups and awards always remind us that it's hard to remember what happened last month, let alone what happened way back at the beginning, so this year (as last year), we decided to poke through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we launch into 2017.

January 2016 was dominated by the launch of NCsoft's Blade & Soul in the west, but we also got our first teases of Guild Wars 2's gliding, mourned The Repopulation's engine switch, watched Firefall continue to unravel, peeked into Black Desert's beta, and saw Smed announce Hero's Song only to abruptly cancel the Kickstarter not long afterward.

Read on for the whole list!

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG developer has the best communication with players?

MMORPG developers come in lots of flavors of communication, with PR and community teams that run the gamut from "oh, we still pay for community managers?" to "information overload, but seriously, stoppit." We've got MMOs with exhaustive weekly newsletters and dev shows like Shroud of the Avatar and Star Citizen, and then on the other end, there's literally Firefall, which is still online in spite of the fact that (probably?) no one is actually working there or talking to players at all.

So for today's Daily Grind, inspired by readers Agemyth and Jackybah, we ask you: Which MMORPG -- be it released or unreleased -- maintains the best developer communication with its playerbase?

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Mark Kern renames Ember to Em-8ER, picks up Nostalrius programmer

Earlier this month, Mark Kern's "massive planetary wargame" shooter Ember got a new name and logo: Em-8ER.

"While still pronounced 'Ember,' we changed the official name to Em-8ER after other companies came out with games called 'Ember' on mobile and on Steam," Kern told followers of his new website. "We wanted to avoid any confusion and carve out something unique for our own name."

More recently, the game's team picked up a member of the Nostalrius WoW emulator team, Etiakor. "Hiring Etiakor was made possible by Em-8ER exceeding its prior milestone funding goal by 467%," explains the introductory dev blog, referring to the game's recent Indiegogo campaign, which raised $23,000. "With a server programmer on board, Em-8ER will be able to begin laying the foundation for multiplayer, which is scheduled post-Kickstarter early next year."

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Global Chat: Is Destiny's Rise of Iron any good?

If you don't have a console but were still interested in hearing whether or not Destiny: Rise of Iron was any good, fret not: MMO bloggers have you covered with some hands-on first impressions from the expansion.

"Destiny always hints at its incredible universe of lore, and Rise of Iron is no exception," Sagacyte notes. "References to warminds that could be much more, challenges to come, and secrets yet to be revealed, all forming the year that will lead up to Destiny 2 (or whatever it’s called). For now, I am still gearing my other characters and am having a blast doing it."

Belghast generally liked it but had one critique: "The only disappointment is that the new story elements were pretty short [...] The truth is the amount of content contained within Rise of Iron feels like a DLC addon and not an 'expansion' in the terms I am used to think of it from my MMO roots."

We've got more MMORPG discussions and blog posts after the jump, including the debate around WildStar's raid lockboxes, a trip back to the first Guild Wars, and something called "social dungeoneering."

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Battle Bards Episode 83: Triumphant Victory!

Triumph and victory — are they the same thing? Sometimes, but not always. On today’s breathtaking episode of Battle Bards, the team tackles triumphant (and victorious!) themes from MMORPGs, trying to nail down what, exactly, makes a track fit in this category. Also, Syl totally breaks the rules of the show’s format and she doesn’t even apologize. That’s how much of a rebel she is.

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

We’ve got Episode 83: Triumphant Victory and the show notes for you after the break!

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