Whatever happened to Mark Kern’s crowdfunded Firefall-successor Em-8er?

    
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We’re taking a trip back to the halcyon days of Firefall to set the stage for this piece, so hop aboard the esports bus and let’s find out what happened to Mark Kern and his next big thing.

Kern has been a controversial figure in the MMORPG genre for years. He was probably most notable for his work as a developer on Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, which he flamed repeatedly after his departure. He then founded Red 5 and Firefall, from which he was removed in 2014; readers will recall that his own employees trashed his behavior and the infamous esports bus. He then became involved in raising seed money for a presumably defunct VR MMO, promoting weird petitions, proclaiming he’d buy Firefall if it sunsetted (denouncing the final product as “a complete disaster”), and centering himself in the now-antique Nostalrius vanilla World of Warcraft emulator debate.

That brings us to 2016, when Kern floated a new indie game called Ember (now Em-8er), which was marketed as “spiritual successor” to Firefall based in the same sci-fi lore as his separate tabletop game; the idea was to make a game with a Firefall-esque foundation that doesn’t just become “‘WoW with guns’ again.” To fund the game, he proposed a type of “serial Kickstarting,” and since then the game has gone to Indiegogo twice, raising $23K and then $107K on Indiegogo from over 2000 combined backers. Additional funding is now being carried out through a custom shop; it looks like the cheapest buy-in is $35, though there’s a monthly subscription option too.

The last time we checked in on the game was in 2018, when the developers said that most of the characters for the game demo were complete. But updates – in the form of “milestones” for the “vertical slice” mockup of the game – actually have marched on, to our surprise, with demos for movement, multiplayer, weapons, missiles, spawning, resources, mining, grappling, and first-person play rolling out to backers, in addition to lore. The developers are still calling Em-8er a “massive planetary wargame” and “Mech vs Kaiju open world MMO FPS/TPS” and promising “grand invasions and counter-invasions that rage across the planet” on a “massive persistent battlefield,” though the website has no official release window and still refers to the game as being “in the beginning stages of development” almost five years in.

Most recently, the team has been working on a demo for the Tsi-Hu enemies’ combat, which reportedly launched last week.

“This is the demo that you’ve always dreamed of, we knew it from the start. You’ll find the Tsi-Hu are fighting back, and they’ll rip out your heart. In the next Em-8er demo build from Crixa labs, the Tsihu will be moving, reacting, and FIRING at the players with their own firearms. The world of Em-8er has never been more dangerous. This build will be ready to download this Friday, March 19th, for all eligible backers. […] In this build-
– The Tsi-Hu will be out in force fighting the Reaper teams with everything they’ve got!
– Reapers will be Scanning for resources and mining them with THMPR mining mechs!
– Don’t forget to take a look at your personal inventory of resources!
– Use the glider to escape and engage or slide around in your omniframe firing with style!”

So there you go: Em-8er is still around, still being funded, and still being worked on.

Get caught up on the whole saga:

We’re tucking in a few of the more recent videos too, including a run-down of the sub.

Oh fine, obligatory photo of the esports bus.

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Sorenthaz

Well a mech vs kaiju game would be great to see but this seems like such a pipedream of a game to where right now buying into it seems to more just be supporting the concept demos than an actual game.

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angrakhan

Good ol Em-ate-her. The Firefall dreadnought was some of my favorite gameplay memories of all time. Pity the rest of the game was a colossal failure. Part of me hopes this effort will eventually bear fruit where Firefall crashed and burned, but with Kern at the helm I’m not holding my breath.

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Bryan Correll

Your game’s name is bad and you should feel bad!

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Sean Barfoot

I imagine Mark Kern happened to it.

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Jeremy Barnes

All of his other issues aside, I don’t think I can really get behind someone who wants combine MMOs with “esports”.

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Utakata

Game looks as janky and incoherent as his views…

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Stormwaltz

… “e-mater?”

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Schlag Sweetleaf
in a 8us ,down by the river.jpg
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Crowe

he’s living in an eSports bus down by the river — beautiful!

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Love it.

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Bruno Brito

What blew my sides was the shopping cart.

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Paragon Lost

lol, right? When I glanced right and took that cart in… that’s when I actually laughed out loud. Schlag has a gift and I’m glad they share it with us.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

in all honesty, the cart came with the original art work. I just brought the Esports winnebago and kerns twitter avatar to the party.

scary to think that’in a van, down by the river’ is almost a 28 year old reference…

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Paragon Lost

Ah, I see. Still your choice of the base picture was spot on. 👍😀

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Danny Smith

So is this still just the same “protect the thumper as it mines” stuff? that seems like a kind of bland thing to spend so many years trying to repeatedly put out.

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Jo Watt

Ember: a small piece of burning or glowing coal or wood in a dying fire.

Doesn’t sound good to me.