Mark Kern Q&A transliterated-transcription

Jul 28, 2016

The following is not a complete transcription. I've summarized what I feel are the most useful points. Nothing here is "official", and even if I didn't misunderstand something, a developer is always free to change their opinion or position at any time.

These notes are not in the order they were spoken. I have grouped them into themes.


Why create a new game?

The original Firefall vision wasn't realised upon release. The developers didn't feel fulfilled, and they shared in the disappointment they read from the original backers on the forum.

Payment model

Free-to-play becomes a design focus which influences decisions. Decisions should be about what is fun and for gameplay, and not skewed by monetization. They want a hybrid model. A pay to get, free to play, pay for cosmetics. Cosmetic transactions would pay for additional content.. paying per-planet doesn't seem to be what they have in mind.

Paying for development costs

Milestone basis to get *to* the actual launch of the game, and not on a planet-by-planet basis.

Earn the trust of the community by breaking the funding goals into smaller milestones.

First goal reached - a petition for 1,000 signatures.

Second goal reached - IndiGoGo for a website. Reached in under a half an hour. Offered stretch goals, which were funded.

With enough interest, they will (which they will pay for) create concept art for Ember's version of "The Chosen".
There will be no reveal until it is funded. Their lore has gameplay implications in a way that the Chosen didn't.

They will launch the website, then get more signatures to "unlock more funding opportunities". So more interest will prompt new IndiGoGo-type funding requests, offering new goals.

No one-time founders packs, but perhaps rewards/collectables within each milestone.


They will use the Unreal Engine. While it does not have MMO-specific features, it has all the other critical features and is much better than what they had worked with in the past.

Distribution definitely via Steam, and possibly Green Light. Unreal Engine offers the possibility to port to ps4/xbox.

Larger zones than in Firefall.


A lot of lore is already fleshed out. It's tied into a novel he wrote. It's going into the tabletop rpg and will be the backstory to Ember.

The game is based on the universe.

Original colonization of the universe at sub-light travel, creating 28 colonies who had FTL communication and kept in touch.

FTL is discovered, and now they can visit one another.

New FTL gates can be built, but their destination is unknown since there is no receiving gate. Explorers have to build a return gate.

Gate pioneering is a large-corporation endeavour. More exploration to do, colonies to found, more resources to gather. Terraform if valuable, or strip-mine, or even completely dismantle a planet for its resources.

Reapers, the players, are corporate sponsored-mercenaries. They are looking to get rich. They take on dangerous jobs, like clearing out the (so far non-sentient) "Xeno-presence" hazards.

Game Mechanics

The new frames (suits) of the players will be called "Omni Frames". This single-frame decision was made to reduce costs, because different models will cost a significant amount of money. Customizable into different roles which will end up, in a sense, like classes. The number of such "classes" has not been decided. Progression has not been decided.

Unlockable frames/looks in the future.

The "tiers" update was Mark's favourite of the Firefall iterations. Though the Firefall tiers concept had issues, they can be solved for Ember.

Choose a class, and that choice influences what upgrades are available to slot into that frame. The concept of "loadouts" was not addressed.

Perhaps no instance raids, because it's difficult to make them replayable. Focus on the sandbox experience and dynamic events. Perhaps raids much later, depending on lore.

No instanced dungeons, because they are not replayable. Procedurally-generated outdoor encounters are better.

Third person / first person views, have both and be able to switch between both.


Thumper mechanics will exist. Resource gathering will be focused on being an event. Go out, find veins of resources, and you won't know what or where they are. Call down a mech which itself has a drill. Attracts enemy creatures. The longer into the event, the tougher it gets. Be able to push through the most difficult fights to try to get ultra-rare resources. When withdrawn, the mech will haul the resources to the nearest player-built harvesting location (refineries). Running like "the Hulk". Follow it, perhaps into dynamic encounters en route. Perhaps even like a mini-Kaiju (e.g. from Godzilla) which the players need to aid fighting. Risk:Reward resource gathering.

A good early-milestone would be a playable thumper encounter, but perhaps much smaller milestones would be more appropriate - with the early milestones for various models.

Resources are not just about ones character/frame, but about bases, defences, terraforming equipment, refineries, etc etc. Player-built bases are created as platforms which provide "slots" and expand as other buildings are unlocked/created.

Supporting the developers

The moral support he's received from the community has really encouraged him. The response to the petition and IndieGoGo, the activity on Discord, the forum, etc.


(I recommend that anyone who has interest in this game, but cannot monetarily support it could give just as much by way of encouragement. Be a little active on the forums or hang out on Discord -