Firefall interview with Red 5 boss Mark Kern

By Xav de Matos, Sep 19, 2011 1:15pm PDT

"There's a big request for mustaches. We're going to hire a physics programmer just dedicated for mustaches, I think," Red 5 Studios founder and CEO Mark Kern joked during an interview last week at the Shacknews office.

It's impossible to ignore the explosion of attention Red 5 Studios' upcoming free-to-play shooter Firefall has received throughout the Shacknews community. After publishing our recent preview, Kern urged the Firefall forum community to jump into Chatty to discuss the game. In a few short days over 1,000 comments were made on the story.

A few days later, Kern was in the Shacknews office, sitting in front of a video camera under bright lights. In the ensuing interview, Kern detailed Firefall's story, outlined the game's business model, and more.

Firefall's business model extends into two branches. Players will be able to purchase aesthetics, such as new colors and patterns for a character's Battleframe as part of the game's "Warpaint System." The other branch of the business tree for Red 5 is selling players "opportunity."

"You can pay to send your kid to Harvard and coming out with a Harvard degree, you have more opportunity. Your kid still has to make that a reality," Kern told me. I quickly recall it's one of his favorite analogies, he described the business model the same way to me at PAX Prime 2011. In Firefall, Red 5 plans to sell users opportunities, making it clear that players still have to "put the work in" for themselves. The example he gives is selling players the opportunity to completing two daily quests, rather than one. "That doesn't mean anything, though," Kern says. "You still have to play the game and earn those rewards. That's a variant of what some games do with time compression."

Firefall is expected to launch in December, however, beta testers are already enjoying the game. According to Kern, Firefall is currently available "by invitation only." Players can register for the access on Firefall's official site. Eventually, players will be able to invite friends to the game, akin to Gmail's staggered launch.

"We plan to grow it that way because it's a team-based game. We want it to be about your friends." Taking a page from his former employer Blizzard Entertainment, Kern did say that Firefall is "done when it's done" despite confirming the planned December launch. "We're always listening," he said, urging players to join the Firefall community and tell them what works and doesn't work after they have a chance to play the game.

Make sure to watch the video interview above for more details on Firefall. Tomorrow a big community-focused Firefall reveal awaits you, so stay tuned.

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