Mark Kern, of Crixa Labs, promises the first taste of combat for his planetary wargame “Em-8ER” (Aka “Ember“). The new campaign seeks to raise enough funds to develop weapons systems for his game in development, and this Monday a brand-new campaign will be going up on Indiegogo. The funding will be used to develop playable male and female characters, as well as introducing the first gun and static targets for players to test their gun with. Players will be piloting omniframes, which is a lightweight power armor that plays a vital role in the game since players will presumably wear all the time.

ember poster

This was one of the very first posters for “Ember”.

So far, “Em-8ER” has developed a playable demo of the THMPR, a mining mech that players will be escorting and protecting against aliens in the final game. So should this new fundraiser be successful, then Crixa Labs will move on to develop enemy aliens to use them in a fully playable combat level. Furthermore, back in January, Mark Kern also announced that he will be refunding “Firefall” veterans via a credit program that will grant them up to $100 of in-game credits for “Em-8ER” virtual store where they plan to sell cosmetic items =)

And with that said, let’s move on to the actual interview with Mark Kern shall we?


“Em-8ER” looks very impressing and interesting so far.

Jack TGG:
Why do you feel like you have to refund Firefall players when you’re no longer involved in that project?

Mark Kern:
When I left Red 5 Studios, the management there decided to change the entire game. We went from a massive “shooter-first” mentality with wide open zones and no leveling to a “wow with guns” version with tiny zones, levels and xp, no more open warfare/invasion and no thumping for resources or even crafting. This isn’t fair to the original founders who bought into the original vision of the game. The vision that I was championing. That’s why I want to do something for all the Firefall veterans. My prior company refused to refund them when I asked, so I’m doing what I can to make things right at my new company and my new game, Em-8ER.

em-8er 3d model

The 3D models for “Em-8ER” looks rather cool I have to say.

Jack TGG:
Should this new fundraising campaign be successful. Then how long do you think it will take before you can start developing the full version of the game?

Mark Kern:
We’ve had 2 very, very successful fundraisers so far. The way we do it is we break the budget of the game down into small, management pieces and do fundraisers along the way. We are getting gliding, jetting Omniframes (think player exosuits and light mecha) with weapons systems and shooting this milestone as a goal. The next one will be the NPC enemies that you fight, shapeshifters than can switch between humanoids for ranged combat and beast mode for brutal melee. We are only 2-3 goals from what we call a “playable mockup” or what the industry calls a “vertical slice” of a complete set of art, sound, music and gameplay. That’s about 6 months away and we’ll use that to start our kickstarter for the game.

em-8er backer rewards

“Em-8ER” offers some pretty neat backer rewards.

Jack TGG:
Have you suffered any delays so far?

Mark Kern:
Yes, unfortunately. Being part-time, our team can only work around crunch hours on other projects. We want to get our playable mockup done and  launch our Kickstarter so we can all go full-time. The other thing that delayed us was physical goods. We shipped books and 3D printed statues last milestone that took waaaay too much time to fulfill. We’re going purely with virtual rewards this milestone to put all that time into the game instead. We’re also bringing on an additional modeler and getting extra help from the community to speed things along. We also finally have an animator and rigger, which was an unaccounted for expense last milestone and hard to find at the AAA quality we were looking for. Luckily we found a great animator who worked on Gears of War 4 and we’re super happy with the results.

em-8er mecha artwork

I hope that Crixa Labs will release more artwork pictures for “Em-8ER”, because they look really good (imo).

Jack TGG:
Has your vision for the game changed in any way since you first pitched Em-8ER to the gaming community?

Mark Kern:
Not much! After detailing the entire vision of the game in our 20 page, illustrated vision book (available to new backers, btw), everything just flowed. We learned a lot from Firefall and know what works and what doesn’t. I’ve been thinking about this game for a decade so I pretty much know what I want to see: an all out persistent war, waged by hundreds of players online across an ever-expanding planetary battlefield, against a ruthless and enormously difficult AI opponent.

If there is one thing that did shift a little, is our focus on the giant monsters that accompany the invasions. I really, really like the idea of the jetting, gliding players going up against a much larger creature who is destroying bases and wreaking havoc. I think I watched too much Attack on Titan!

em-8er artwork

That’s a really good-looking mecha right there (artwork).

Jack TGG:
What do you think of the way Tim Soret was targeted for his opinions? Do you think you could be targeted in the same way for disagreeing with Anita Sarkeesian in the way she portrays the gaming industry or for your support of GamerGate in the past?

Mark Kern:
Well, I try to leave politics out of my games and game talk. I want my games to entertain and be enjoyed as fun, not messages. That said, Tim should be free to express his point of view however he likes, in his game or on Twitter.  Creative freedom is necessary for a true artistic and creative environment. The way he was targeted, for very mild comments, was shameful.

Robin Ek – Editor

We (Jack, and others from TGG) are friends with Mark Kern.

tgg author avatar Jack Davis
Jack Davis
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @TheGamingGround

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