New investment in the developer behind upcoming MMO Firefall will see the free-to-play shooter officially launch this year, according to an announcement from Red 5 Studios. The $23 million in additional funds arrive thanks to some help from both new and already established investors in the game.
Red 5 Studios
CEO and Founder of Red 5 Studios Mark Kern announced that the company is laying off 10 percent of its staff. "As Firefall matures, we must transition our priorities and our development strategy to focus on streamlined operations and live product support," Kern said.
If you missed the first stage of Firefall's open beta, consider this your heads-up that the second is going on right now. What's Firefall? It's a free-to-play MMORPG/shooter/gratuitous jetpack type game, and it involves words like 'battleframe', 'melding' and 'crystite'. More details have firefallen beneath the break.
Firefall's open beta has now launched. You can go and play it right now. Or you can stay, and watch the live-action trailer released by Red 5 Studios to mark the expansion of their MMOFPS. I'm not saying you'll enjoy it - it's really quite bad - but if you've an appreciation for cheese, you will find an almost sickening amount of it inside.
Red 5 Studios have pulled a special trick here: creating two different Firefall trailers and rolling them into one. There's the trailer that you hear, full of dramatic music, sombre narration, and the line, "it's a one-way ticket". Then there's the trailer that you see, which consists largely of cartoon people flying around with jetpacks, shooting things and causing explosions. It's a strangely striking combination.
Firefall is due to enter open beta on July 9th, which means there's still time for one last round of server spring cleaning. Red 5 have announced their final Beta Weekend, which will kick off this Friday. In addition to being able to smugly run around in the knowledge that you got there before the general public, beta weekend players will be able to compete for special "high-end" gear, and earn a unique unlock - the Infiltrator Nightvision Goggles.
After an extended closed beta period, Red 5 will be inviting you to help squash bugs with the open beta of Firefall, the free-to-play MMO shooter, due to kick off July 9th. You'll even get to choose the method with which you dispatch these unwanted critters: be it fastidiously filed reports targeting development issues, or jetpacks and plasma weapons chewing through the in-game beasties. Personally I know which sounds more fun. I do love intense form-filling action.
Free-to-play becomes a more ubiquitous business model by the day on PC. It's gained enough popularity over the past few years that everyone from Valve, Sony, and EA have skin in the game. But have big publishers and smaller indies overreacted to the success of free games like League of Legends? As a market, could F2P be a balloon on the verge of deflating?
If the latest trailer for Firefall seems particularly inspirational, it's because they've cheated. You can make anything sound poignant when you include the rousing oratory of Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Even an enjoyable looking free-to-play sci-fi MMOFPS, filled with plasma weapons and jetpacks.
The reason for the historical pep-talk is Firefall's latest development milestone, released during PAX East. The update brings, among other changes, new dynamic and local events, a tweaked progression system and better crafting. I'm not sure Churchill had enhanced Battleframe crafting and deeper customisation on his mind when he delivered his "This was their finest hour" speech to the House of Commons, but then I wasn't there.
"For too long man was trapped, chained to the ground," laments the narrator of this latest Firefall trailer. Don't worry, there's a happy ending: jetpacks! And glowing wings, rocket shoes, and other inventions that let you hover ever so slightly above the things that want to eat you. It's full of acrobatic aerial displays, teasing the MMOFPS's promised vertical exploration.
Red 5 have announced their early 2013 development roadmap for Firefall, the MMO shooter-meets-RPG-meets-RTS-meets-bug squashing simulator (MMOFPSRPGRTS?). It's a huge selection of high-level game changes being made across the board, including PvP rebalancing, bolstered enemy AI and a new system to help ease new users into the game's many features.
Ambitious MMO shooter Firefall is set to open its servers to a new wave of bug hunters. That's "bug" in both senses: those in the game's code and the squishy beasts you'll be shooting. From January 25 - 27 the game will be holding its first 48-hour public beta weekend, letting anyone who registers for a Firefall account run around its massive open world. In preparation for the test, Red 5 have released a trailer, giving potential participants a taste of what to expect.
Red 5 Studios are based about forty-five minutes south of Los Angeles. They make games, but some of that city's preoccupation with movies has bled out: a few blocks from the building the company are making jetpack-toting MMO shooter Firefall in, they have their own TV studio.
The studio – christened Stage 5 – was the location for Firefall Fest: a week-long special event, streamed live with a revolving cast of Firefall fans, professional gamers, and celebri-nerds. Wil 'Wesley' Wheaton dropped in alongside Felicia Day, captured on TV-quality cameras as they played Red 5's game. Later in the week, I sat with Sean 'Day' Plott in the studio's green room as he waited to be taken through to makeup by a dedicated makeup artist. Later on set, flanked by exposed brickwork and sofas seemingly stripped from the front of cadillacs, the same makeup artist sprinted toward Sean's face, rustled around in her pouch for some powder, and jabbed it toward his cheeks. A producer at the back barked “thirty seconds to air”, and told everyone quietly talking to shut up.
As we reported last week, Firefall developers Red 5 Studios have organised a six-day shindig, Firefall Fest, featuring celebs, prizes and more.
And, good news! You can consume all the festivities without leaving your chair, using the official livestream to watch all 11 three-hour sessions, each of which sees devs share the stage with different noted nerd-personages, including caster Day, videogame satirists Mega 64, actress Felicia Day, actor-turned-geek-deity Wil Wheaton, and Captain Mal himself, Nathan Fillion.
Check back here for our coverage of the event - Rich McCormick is our possibly-quite-jetlagged man on the ground. Hit the jump for the full schedule.
Red 5 are "having to crunch harder than we ever have" to put together Firefall's massive upcoming summer update after they spent a month recruiting top talent laid off during the closure of 38 Studios and the donwsizing at Bioware Austin. The recruitment drive has significantly grown the size of the studio and doubled the size of the design team working on Firefall.
"About 80 percent or 90 percent of the people we’ve added in the past few months have been from 38 and Bioware. Two months ago we had a staff of 60, and now we’re at just over 100," lead class designer Dave Williams told Owen at Gamescom.
Firefall e-sports toolkit revealed: Red 5's Morgan Romine on building the next big competitive shooter
Firefall devs Red 5 are rolling out support for the e-sports community with a toolkit that gives casters and commentators the power to broadcast live matches from any angle - and even slow down, rewind or pause games in progress.
The game's competitive PvP takes place in instanced arenas where teams compete in objective-based and deathmatch modes. Red 5 are taking the game's e-sports aspirations seriously - for them, it's a way to prove that their free-to-play shooter has real credibility while building an active and loyal community. In the exclusive video below, Red 5's e-sports maven Morgan Romine takes you through the new tools, including those for regular broadcasters and the special powers granted to dev-sanctioned community broadcasters.
Given that Battlefield 3 and Skyrim and Modern Warfare 3 and all your hopes and dreams are hitting right this very second, it's easy to get caught up in the moment. There are, however, other games coming in the future. And not just any future, but the kind with jetpacks - which is, of course, the best kind. My proof? Well, this incredible new Firefall trailer, for one. Sure, it's mostly standard 'splodey death from above (and every other conceivable direction), but it's making both my long-dormant WoW and Tribes addictions flare up something fierce. So long, Life!
A few weeks ago we introduced Mark Kern's "Circle of Suck." But we also talked to the Red 5 dev about the difficulties of creating a free to play MMO. Turns out it's pretty damn difficult.
"I think there are horrible ways to implement free-to-play" said Mark.
"You’ve got to understand that for a lot of these large publishers, it’s very hard for them to comprehend how free-to-play would work and to take the risk of doing free-to-play with an AAA game."
The Red 5 developer says that too much greed can break the model: "They’re under the mentality that everybody must pay; no-one gets a free ride. And so you get these warped models like, 'buy the box, pay a subscription, we’ll give you in-game advertising and you have to buy microtransactions or sell power all at the same time.' That doesn’t really work."