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Earth Eternal

[Updated] Stress test Earth Eternal, get a cool hat

Betas, News Items, Free-to-Play, Earth Eternal, Giveaways

Are you a big fan of fantasy? Like exclusive items? How about helping to stress test games? If you answered "yes" to all three of those questions, then listen up! Our friends over at SparkPlay Media have sent over another shiny batch of 1,000 beta keys so those people who are interested can get involved with a new round of beta testing in Earth Eternal starting at 12:00 PM Pacific tomorrow. As a thank you for making it online, testers who are in at 2 PM Pacific (Saturday, September 26th) will get this special Earth Eternal hat that we think looks sneakingly like the stylish one worn by Tim the Enchanter. We're told the EE logo on the front sparkles too, so be sure to get there early!

All you have to do if you want in on all the fun is to head over to the Massively code-giving-out-site-thing, read the instructions, and click the button. Or click the button and then read the instructions. It's really not too terribly hard to do - and hey, it gets you in to the Earth Eternal beta! Then show up tomorrow at 12 PM Pacific (3pm Eastern) and hang around until 2:00 PM Pacific (5pm Eastern) to net yourself one of these funky hats. With your new hat, you can then run around warning everyone about those killer rabbits and their nasty sharp pointy teeth. Hopefully they'll believe you, unlike those who doubted the word of Tim.

[Edited to show updated times]

Come test Earth Eternal tonight, get a special beta gift

Betas, Fantasy, New Titles, Casual, Earth Eternal, Giveaways

There's nothing we love here at Massively more than giving our devoted readers the chance to get into betas whenever we can. That's why when Sparkplay Media contacted us today to ask if we could help them fill their servers to bursting with gamers who were interested in their upcoming anthropomorphic fantasy game Earth Eternal, we knew just what to do. So, we asked for a bunch of beta keys to give out! They were all too glad to give us a large bundle, which we've now set up on our beta key server for you to grab.

But if free beta keys weren't fun enough, Sparkplay decided to make the deal even more interesting by offering a very special beta item available to any and all testers who log in tonight at 5PM Pacific (8PM Eastern). All you have to do is play some Earth Eternal and help them push the servers hard. Testers who show up and give them a hand during that time-frame will get a special "Beta Beast" Earth Eternal banner to display. So if you've been curious about this casual-friendly fantasy MMO, then be sure to go snag one of the beta codes and pop by tonight at 5PM Pacific to lend a hand.

Fileplanet wants you to play Earth Eternal really badly

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Earth Eternal, Humor

What's this taking up one of the center links on Fileplanet? Is it the upcoming MMO Earth Eternal? Why yes it is! Sparkplay Media's Earth Eternal has made it to the top of the free games listing... except for the fact that EE is still in closed beta.

Fileplanet's link, while enticing, will not get you instant access into the closed beta. What it will do, however, is sign you up for an account that will let you be eligible to be selected for the closed beta. It will not let you play the game immediately, but it will certainly net you a chance at playing sooner rather than later.

According to Sparkplay Media, Fileplanet will be involved with getting the game and the word out there, but it seems they've jumped the gun in releasing their link for the game. It's cool, we all make mistakes.

As to what special in-game items Fileplanet members will be receiving for signing up and playing, well, that's still a secret to everybody.

Matt Mihaly talks microtransactions and Earth Eternal

Fantasy, Business Models, Culture, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Earth Eternal

It looks like we're not the only ones on the block to talk to Matt Mihaly, as Gamasutra has recently sat down with the Sparkplay Media CEO. The topic of the conversation: microtransactions.

Matt's no stranger to microtransactions, having utilized them back with Iron Realms Entertainment and their many MUD games. His talk with Gamasutra starts out focusing on how microtransactions can generate a very modest income, but mainly center on a small segment of the game's population paying the most to play the game.

Beyond microtransactions, Matt gives a few very interesting details about the development of Earth Eternal and how it reached the form it's in today. Did you know that originally Earth Eternal was going to be a hyper-violent and hyper-sexualized fantasy MMO before it evolved into the playful multi-race animal/fable theme? No? Then you might want to check out the full article, as there's more where that came from regarding the game's evolution.

Meet the Sparkplay Media team: Part Two

Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Browser, Earth Eternal, Interviews (Massively's)

Yesterday we introduced you to the lead designer and concept artist from Sparkplay Media, the makers of the upcoming free-to-play MMO Earth Eternal. Today we have more behind the scenes action for you as we continue our "Meet the Sparkplay Media Team" feature and introduce you to the lead writer and one of the programmers that work so diligently on this new MMO.

In today's feature we get the inside scoop on the microtransaction store and story from Sparkplay's CEO and lead writer of Earth Eternal, Matt Mihaly. Plus we're also getting a peek inside what goes on during the coding of Earth Eternal with Ryne Anderson, one of the programmers.

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Meet the Sparkplay Media team: Part Two, pg. 2

Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Browser, Earth Eternal, Interviews (Massively's)

Massively: Is there any MMO that has influenced your work on Earth Eternal, and if so how did it influence you?

Ryne Anderson, programmer: Absolutely! One of the most enjoyable aspects in working with games is digging into the titles that you really enjoy and seeing if you can't make them a bit better by throwing your own unique spin on them. Of note, World of Warcraft has been my shining beacon throughout the project. The simplicity of getting a player into the action opened the floodgates to people who might have previously been intimidated by the stigma that MMO's were for 'hardcore' players. Earth Eternal aims to not only meet, but exceed the accessibility of the current 3D MMOs, by not requiring a monthly subscription or up-front payment to play– all within a very polished game world that you can play in a browser.

What Earth Eternal race represents you the best and why?

Ryne: Being a technical guy myself, it is without a doubt the Clockwork. First and foremost, his look is amazingly different from all of the other races in Earth Eternal. Secondly, let's face it: robots are awesome! (Unfortunately though, I can't be a robot ninja in Earth Eternal...yet.)

If you could pick out your favorite part of Earth Eternal, what would it be and why?

Ryne: As hinted above, I'm really into accessibility for any type of player. To me, if we can get a player, from seeing our webpage, to in the game killing monsters in five minutes or less, that's a huge win for both us and the player. I believe we have succeeded in this, as our intro area not only looks beautiful, but gets players into the action right away.

What has been the most difficult obstacle for you to overcome in your work on Earth Eternal?

Ryne: Making any sort of game is always a learning process, and sometimes simple issues turn out to be much larger when you try to lay out all the details. For me, the most difficult part of making an MMO is keeping the client and server in sync at all times. It's a trade-off between being responsive to the commands issued by the player and validating that they are actually allowed to do those commands on the server.

What are some of the limitations/problems you encounter when coding for both a client and a browser-based game? How have you guys overcome that?

Ryne: Honestly, getting the game running in the browser isn't a monumental task. It requires a bit of touch-up every time a new browser version comes out, but the plugin we have is fairly solid. The difference between the browser and client version are pretty minimal. Having said that, since we are running in a browser we want the game to be able to run on as many computers as possible, and optimizing for all sorts of different configurations is always quite a challenge.

Thank you so much to the Sparkplay Team for lending the time to answer our questions! If you're interested in Earth Eternal or would like to put your name into the hat for the closed beta, stop by their website!

Meet the Sparkplay Media team: Part One, pg. 2

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Browser, Earth Eternal, Interviews (Massively's)

Massively: Is there any MMO that has influenced your work on Earth Eternal, and if so how did it influence you?

Alex Madrigal, Concept Artist: I've been pretty active with MMOs for about seven years now. I've played Final Fantasy XI the most, but I've spent a serious amount of time in World of Warcraft as well. I've dabbled in Everquest 2, Lineage II and most recently Dragonica. Artistically, I've picked something up from each of the games I've spent considerable amounts of time with.

What Earth Eternal race represents you the best and why?

Alex: I'd have to say that I'm probably most like the Ursine. I'm big, tough and hairy. Also...not so much tough, but definitely cuddly!

If you could pick out your favorite part of Earth Eternal, what would it be and why?

Alex: My monster designs. That will probably (definitely) come across as conceit, but the time spent with the team discussing, designing and fine tuning the monsters was probably the most fun I've had working on this game. To take something from a simply stated verbal concept and then see it grow through the stages of development is always exciting. Getting to draw strange things and seeing them show up in a 3D virtual space is a hoot. Plus it does my ego good when I hear people say that they think the designs are cool. And if you manage to find monsters you think aren't so cool – I didn't do those. [Laughs]

What has been the most difficult obstacle for you to overcome in your work on Earth Eternal?

Alex: Doing user interface work. Having come from an animation background, jumping headfirst into designing a UI was a hell of a hurdle. Dealing with a whole new set of technical limitations and rules was difficult at first. For my first UI, I'm pretty happy with the end result, but I prefer the pencil and paper/Photoshop route instead of shifting around tiny pixels.

What has influenced your art style for Earth Eternal? Why this art style?

Alex: I wish I could say that I was on the ground floor to help decide the artistic style for the game, but I actually came on as the concept artist about a year after the game's development started. I've been following a style set by another group of artists, but I have taken the opportunity to slather it in a healthy coating of my own personal style when possible. I'm heavily influenced by European graphic novel artists, and I really enjoy classic fairy tale illustrations. Things with visual texture and very rhythmic line work. Earth Eternal has rich lore and to me, it feels like a fairy tale world. I try to implement that kind of stuff wherever I can.

Come back tomorrow for part two, when we get to speak with the lead writer, Matt Mihaly, and one of the programmers, Ryne Anderson!

Meet the Sparkplay Media team: Part One

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Browser, Earth Eternal, Interviews (Massively's)

Here at Massively we recently got the chance to sit down with a couple members of the Sparkplay Media team and pick their brains about their upcoming MMO, Earth Eternal. However, these guys had a lot to say to us! So much so that we couldn't fit it into one of our standard interviews!

So that's why we're bringing you "Meet the Sparkplay Media Team," a two part feature article with all of the info and answers that we've been exposed to. Today and tomorrow you're going to get to know the lead designer, a concept artist, lead writer (and moonlighting CEO), and one of the programmers behind Earth Eternal.

Today we're sitting down with Greg Chapman, the lead designer, and Alex Madrigal, one of the concept artists. If you wish to comment on today's interviews, please do so on page two of our interviews. Otherwise, hit that continue reading button and come on in!

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Massively speaks with Sparkplay Media's CEO on Earth Eternal pt. 2

Fantasy, Business Models, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Earth Eternal, Interviews (Massively's)

How have the launches of FusionFall and Free Realms affected Earth Eternal? Have you changed your development or goals in any way because of the success of those two games, or have you stayed the course and continued to build things your way, disregarding those two games?

Not really, no. Games like Runescape and Habbo have had more influence on our plans than either of those two games, simply because they're so much bigger. FusionFall and Free Realms have gotten a lot of press in the last year, but neither of them have achieved the level of success that games like Runescape and Habbo have.

Actually, nobody really knows how Free Realms is doing outside of SOE. Three million registrations doesn't tell you much about how many active players they have as you don't know how quickly players are churning out of the experience. With the massive dollars they spent on marketing too, it'd be surprising if they couldn't get a few million registrations. The challenge for them (and everyone else in this space, including us) is to convert that fleeting attention into long-term, loyal players.

"We're more in the vein of a classic fantasy MMO than a collection of minigames."

How will Earth Eternal separate itself from the growing free-to-play genre in America? What will make this game stand out?

We're a different kind of experience from FusionFall or Free Realms. We're more in the vein of a classic fantasy MMO than a collection of minigames. I think where we stand out is by offering the best browser-based fantasy MMO out there. We've made the decision to have no humans, elves, or dwarves (or gnomes, hobbits, or anything else too close to human), preferring instead to offer everything from humanoid lizards and falcons to the Clockwork and Yeti. We're definitely fantasy but we want to stay away from the pack, almost all of whom have the humans/elves/dwarves thing going on. We've also got an enormous number of races for players (unlike the two games you mentioned) – 22 at launch.

Considering all of Earth Eternal's development, what part of the game are you the most proud of? What is that one feature you can't wait to show off?

The number one thing I'm proud of is how much our team has managed to do on relatively little funding for an open world 3D MMO (about five million dollars.) As far as game features go the biggest feature I'm looking forward to showing off is our Groves system, which will be introduced at final launch, a few months after we go into open beta.

Thanks so much for your time, Matt!

Massively speaks with Sparkplay Media's CEO on Earth Eternal

Fantasy, Business Models, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Earth Eternal, Interviews (Massively's)

With Sparkplay Media's first game, Earth Eternal, going into beta, we got the chance to sit down with the CEO of the company, Matt Mihaly, and pick his mind on a variety of things related to setting up shop in the free to play genre.

Matt's no stranger to the massively multiplayer space, holding a strong background as the CEO and founder of Iron Realms Entertainment, a company dedicated to creating multi-user dungeons (MUDs) including Imperian, Aetola, Achaea, and Lusternia. If that wasn't enough, Achaea was one of the first games to introduce the sales of virtual goods, making him one of the pioneers of the base that free-to-play games now stand on.

So what's his thought process behind Earth Eternal? What are some of the things we can expect from the MMO that's sporting over 22 races? Hit the continue reading link, and find out!

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Earth Eternal opens sign ups for closed beta test

Betas, Fantasy, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Earth Eternal

Interested in running around a browser-based MMO fantasy world filled with over 22 races? Yes? Then you need to get over to Earth Eternal's website and sign up for their recently announced closed beta test!

Earth Eternal is an an MMO that's all about what happens when humanity ceases to exist and the Earth is roamed by beasts of myth once more. It's also free to play and will run on almost any computer thanks to a client that runs inside of the browser, similar to Cartoon Network's FusionFall. Players will find a wide variety of features available, including multi-classing abilities, customizable housing in the form of "groves," and a design emphasis on small groups rather than huge raids.

There's still no release date announced for Earth Eternal, but we're guessing that with the closed beta happening so soon, there can't be much time left before the release date is fully confirmed.

Earth Eternal beta draws nearer

Betas, Fantasy, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Races, Earth Eternal

Furry free-to-play MMO Earth Eternal has hit their fans with a newsletter, and they bring word that a beta phase of testing is not far away now. Even better, they are offering a way for people to get into their beta pre-selection pool. By signing up at the game's website and completing their Earth Eternal Spring 2009 Survey, you'll have a chance of being chosen to participate in the closed beta. The survey closes on the 25th of May, and no further entries will be taken after that point.

Website users can also earn community points by posting, taking part in polls, rating art and playing a mini-game called Shroomie's Search. There is a new Race Gallery featuring a staggering 22 playable animal and monster races, and each entry includes a "Creature Info" section revealing the background of said beasties. If this community ever has a get-together, there'll be one heck of a diverse cosplay gallery to show for it.

Sparkplay LF Community Manager, PST

MMO Industry, News Items, Earth Eternal

If you've been looking for a game that offers something off the beaten path - or a job in a gaming startup with potential in San Francisco - then you may be interested in the opportunity over at SparkPlay Media. According to a recent posting on their website, they're looking for a Community Manager for their upcoming MMO, Earth Eternal. They're looking for the normal medley of things for anyone who will work heavily as a liason between community and the internal customers; creativity, organization, communication, experience and excitement.

That said, if you're in the Bay Area, have games industry experience, and are looking for a way to get into the MMO side of things, be sure to check out their job posting. For the rest of us who are just a wee bit too far away for the commute, we'll have to content ourselves with a gallery of tasty screenshots from Earth Eternal for now.

Gallery: Earth Eternal

F2P Earth Eternal gears up for 2009 launch

Fantasy, Business Models, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Earth Eternal

Here at Massively, we understand that free-to-play games are gaining in popularity lately. This is a trend that might just rise before it ever fades away. The business model of F2P makes sense to some (not all), and the icing on the cake for a casual player is a browser-based environment. Marry the two and you have games like RuneScape, but what if you're looking for something more... updated?

Enter Earth Eternal. We haven't heard anything from the Earth Eternal team in awhile, but this game seems to have a lot to offer for a "younger" or more casual audience, in addition to escaping the tired old tradition of having humans as the main playable character. Although the game is not yet ready for prime-time, you can monitor its development over at their gorgeous new website. There's a video trailer, some screenshots, brand new forums and more to enjoy.

Furries let their tails down in Earth Eternal

Fantasy, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Races, Earth Eternal

It's been awhile since we checked in on Sparkplay Media's furry animal MMO, Earth Eternal. The story goes that, eons ago, the creatures known only as "Man", once the greatest of all living things, poisoned the Earth and warred amongst themselves, making themselves extinct. The gods and other elder creatures who had more or less left Man to their own devices, decided to give that whole"mortal creature" thing another try, cleaned up the Earth, and placed the Beast people on it.

Earth Eternal will be a free to play, Runescape-like MMO where you play one of sixteen different animal races in a land of adventure and high fantasy. The game runs with a small client that downloads new areas in the background as you encounter them. As well as the usual quests, adventures and dungeon crawls, EE players will be able to make their own Groves, areas of the world of their own design, in two parts. The public part will be above ground, but there will be an equally extensive portion below ground that can be set to be as private as you like. Pictured above is a shared Grove; they can be quite elaborate.

We estimate about ... three hours after it goes live before someone makes a Grove named The Island of Misfit Toys. It's not gonna be the kind of place you bring your children, either. Check out the latest teaser video after the break.

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