Icarus Studios and Fallen Earth sent over this text dev diary describing the formation of FPS-MMO Fallen Earth and its setting, and we thought you might want to have a look. Read on to find out, in the developers’ own words, the how and why of Fallen Earth’s genesis.As you may or may not know (you soon will) Fallen Earth, released in September of 2009, is a post-apocalyptic massively multiplayer online game combining unique aspects of a first-person shooter with role-playing game design. Players are thrust into a post-apocalyptic environment, forced to craft, trade, scavenge and fight for their survival!
Base ideas for Fallen Earth were formed in 2001, the early team being a small group of just three masterminds. However, within the first six months of planning, the team had grown to five, all working to lay out the foundation while planning—tool-set wise—for the game. By 2003, FALLEN EARTH, LLC was formed and by 2005 the team had grown to about 20. Our Lead Designer, Lee Hammock, had joined the team around this time and by 2006 Fallen Earth was in a strong production cycle.
Early on, the team took note of the mass flood of fantasy games on the market and wanted to create something more unique — it didn’t take them long before they began looking at other genres. The post-apocalyptic setting was one that stood out, having not yet really been tackled in the video game world and making for a very interesting environment. The setting provided lots of conflict — a darker, much grittier and edgier world, not full of fantasy. It was a setting that they believed would resonate with the players. After all, it would be closely relating to their day-to-day lives and create a deep world for players to enjoy. The post apocalyptic setting provided the early team a blank canvas to build upon.
During this time, several popular post-apocalyptic movies had come out, for example Mad Max, the Postman and the Matrix and it would be hard to say that some of the inspiration for Fallen Earth didn’t come from such films.
Once it was decided on the post-apocalyptic setting, the early team played around with many concepts that would have led to the Fall, for example an asteroid. However, the one that made the most sense to the team was a virus— it’s interesting, it would resonate with players and it played into the concept of mutations and alteration. There’s always the danger of a pandemic and again, the Shiva Virus helped build on that realistic feel. A modern day plague is not something that is inconceivable.
So why the Grand Canyon, you ask? Well, what are places that are going to survive after such a Fall and where would survivors go? Hoover Dam came to mind as a place that would have both ample amounts of water and energy—it could potentially be a place where survivors could retreat to after such a downfall. But it wasn’t just the resources that brought us there; we also wanted an epic feel to our location and the Grand Canyon provided that epic feel. It’s in close proximity to Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam really made it iconic. Again, keeping the game grounded in reality (or at least to extent that we could), we chose to use a real map of the Grand Canyon to build our Sectors upon.
To help give that real world, survivalist feel, Fallen Earth players join in on a single server. The last bastion of humanity, survivors are in touch with only those around them. Adding to that real feel, we realized scavenging and harvesting would be extremely vital in a post-apocalyptic world and built a substantial crafting system around that. We aimed to include all sorts of content that played into the post-apocalyptic atmosphere, creating a rich and believable world.
We really wanted Fallen Earth to be different than what was already out, and one of the more unique aspects of the game is the mixture of RPG with FPS gameplay, which was quite a task to execute (especially in sandbox-style gameplay). No one was combining these elements when the early team began to lay out the foundations (although now of course it’s become more popular), and we wanted Fallen Earth to be not only more visual, but challenging.
There are no elves, wizards or knights in the apocalypse. Every man is for himself, or, if he’s lucky, he might find a trustworthy band of clan-mates striving for the same ideals. While very little is certain in the apocalypse, survivors are sure to make advancements, uncover old truths and traditions, and our developers are always working to expand content in the wasteland.