RPGamer recently had the chance to interview Eric Wang, the senior producer of Earth & Beyond, Westwood Studios' upcoming massively multiplayer online RPG.
RPGamer: How much of the story will the player be presented upon beginning the game?
Eric Wang: Because this is a massively-multiplayer game, we do have a robust and ever-changing story, but the player will ease into it gradually. Upon beginning the game, players will choose their race and profession, and through the tutorial will learn a bit about their history and their place in the story and the universe. As they progress through the game, they will speak to NPCs and go on missions that will reveal more and more of the story. In addition, we plan on introducing a race of bloodthirsty aliens a few months into the game that will dramatically alter the landscape of the game.
RPGamer: Will there be a set limit to the storyline, like other online RPGs have, or will the game's story continue indefinitely?
Eric Wang: The story will continue to change and evolve in the months and years after the game is released, and we will have a staff of game masters on hand during that time to help shape the story and interact with the players. In fact, we have a very definite idea of how the story will progress for the next six months, and a general idea of what how it will go for the next two years.
RPGamer: Will players be forced to choose between groups within their chosen culture, such as the four houses of the Terrans, or will there be other houses they can create, or be independent of any affiliation?
Eric Wang: Players will be able to ally themselves with any of the polictical groups that exist within Earth & Beyond. The players' faction choices will be determined by their actions. There are currently no plans to allow players to create unique factions, but they will be able to create and join guilds which will have their own set of rewards.
RPGamer: Will the estimated 3,500 players per server be a max cap or simply an estimate? If an estimate, is there a cap?
Eric Wang: The 3,500 players per server is the estimate of our max capacity.
RPGamer: Will multiple people be able to participate in battle at once, either as a party or against each other?
Eric Wang: Yes, in fact the game is designed to encourage people to work together, whether participating in a battle, trading goods, or exploring the universe. Each race/profession brings specific benefits to group situations, and players will find that they will advance through the game faster when they play in group situations.
Right now, we have no definite plans for PvP, but we are exploring all options.
RPGamer: Will there be missions designed specifically for groups or perhaps entire guilds?
Eric Wang: Most definitely. As I said, the game is designed to foster group situations, and we are implementing missions and quests specifically for groups, both large and small.
RPGamer: How will the territory system work? Will players be able to own space personally?
Eric Wang: From the beginning of the game players are given property -- their very own starship that they can completely customize...from the shape and the colors, to the decal and even the name. Beyond that, players can't own a "piece" of space right now, but we are exploring options in a possible expansion.
RPGamer: Will there be any mini-games within the Earth & Beyond universe?
Eric Wang: Aside from missions and questions, there are currently no mini-games in Earth & Beyond.
RPGamer: Are there any plans for an add-on in the future? I know there are usually features that could not be included in the first release of the game, or features that cannot be added yet due to storyline, like playing as an alien race, that could be included.
Eric Wang: Westwood evaluates all its titles for possible expansions, and we'll make that decision once the game is released. We have lots of ideas floating around though, so we definitely won't lack for content if we decide to do one.
Thanks to Eric Wang and Westwood Studios for taking the time to talk with us. Earth & Beyond is currently scheduled to be released on the PC later this year.