Firefall’s Kern wants MMOs to evolve and avoid the “Circle of Suck”

Thursday, 6th October 2011 15:56 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Mark Kern, CEO of Red 5 Studios, feels MMOs need to evolve if the genre is to remain successful and avoid what he calls “The Circle of Suck.”

Speaking with PC Gamer, Kern, whose studio is developing the FPS MMO Firefall, said gamers don’t need another “$200 million WoW clone,” because it “doesn’t do anybody any favours and you’re going to lose your shirt.”

“We’ve got to break out of the mould,” he said. “If I see another action MMO combat game with exclamation points over quest givers, I’m going to commit seppuku! We’re pouring so much money down a very stale formula. It’s an illusion to say that ‘Oh, that’s safety’. It used to be safety but it’s not anymore.

“Gamers are ready to try different things. It’s time to take risks and I’m really looking towards the independents to try that. I want to see the Notch of MMOs. Please don’t spend $200 million on another WoW clone because it just doesn’t do anybody any favours and you’re going to lose your shirt.

“I used to draw [a venn diagram of] what I’d call The Circle of Suck. Tabula Rasa came out and Hellgate: London came out, and I drew one circle that said ‘MMO gameplay.’ I drew another circle that said, ‘shooter gameplay.’ Where they intersect – that little sliver – is full of suck.”

Kern said instead of trying to blend the FPS and MMO genres together, with Firefall, Red 5 chose the shooter side and after getting it “right,” selectively added MMO elements to the game.

“Let’s take the idea of open world sandbox play and feature hundreds of players instead of four or eight player co-op,” he said. “Let’s take towns, crafting and resources and combine it all together. And that group would be a much more fun game when we started playing it than anything we’d tried before.”

Firefall is due for release in December.



  1. DarkElfa

    Wow, was this a thinly veiled pot shot at SWTOR or what.

    All the independents and little guys are pooping themselves with fear over the idea of having another possible giant in the MMO community sucking away whatever WoW hasn’t already gobbled up.

    This comes off as a preemptive strike.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. GrimRita

    He is saying it because he is right. But I am more stunned at how he says ‘avoid the circle of suck’ – the MMO genre has been in this circle for years.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Phoenixblight


    I agree this indie developer is trying to take a shot in hope of building some steam for his game. How well has that tactic ever worked? Put up or shut up.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. TheWulf


    Actually, he’s saying that there are demographics out there which aren’t being catered for. You know, those millions of people whom either aren’t interested in MMORPGs because they have a strong distaste for WoW and clones of it, or those whom are simply tired of the same old, same old.

    If it wasn’t true that this demographic exists, then titles like EvE would’ve been dead in the dust long ago. But there are many groups within even this demographic at which genres of games can be targeted. For example: You’d never get a PlanetSide fan playing WoW.

    Frankly, what he’s saying is: Make games that appeal to those other people, instead of just the WoW fans, and you might actually find a measure of success. If nothing else, at least you’ll actually do something truly original and inventive for a change.

    That makes perfect sense to me.

    I suppose we’re going to have WoW/TOR apologists who’ll deny that. But you have WoW/TOR apologists who’ll deny anything, and will swear up and down that a decade old game is still as fresh as the day it was released. But yeah, there are people out there who actually aren’t… you know, Blizzard apologists.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Stardog

    People who draw venn diagrams are generally quite strange.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Phoenixblight


    I understand what he was saying but the whole wording is very aggressive and it comes to the point of “Put up or shut up”. A little indie developer that has no real experience as of yet can give advice or point out the flaw of the successful MMOs with one in particular catering to 11 million subs?

    If he knows better please prove it.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Stephany Nunneley

    @6 Actually, Kern previously worked on Starcraft, Diablo 2, Warcraft 3, and was a team leader on World of Warcraft.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Phoenixblight


    Oh so its a vendetta thing gotcha.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Stephany Nunneley

    @8 – :D

    #9 3 years ago
  10. DSB

    I don’t see anything particularly odious about it. Sure it goes for SWTOR, but it also goes for Rift, Aion and every other WoW clone. It just depends on which one you’re a fanboy for.

    I don’t agree that you’ll lose your shirt doing a standard MMO, and I’m sure the companies behind those middle of the road titles are doing comfortably well, but they don’t have, and probably won’t have the pot of gold that they’re all after, for the same reasons he describes.

    How do you perfect the WoW formula if you’re not Blizzard? It’s a fool’s errand. What they should do is come up with something better, like the man says.

    Imagine if Lego had had the foresight and perhaps restraint to imagine something like Minecraft. They’d be sitting on one of the most popular MMO’s around today.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Stephany Nunneley

    Well it also goes without saying that we rarely know how well an MMO is doing, because they are scared to death to announce any hard numbers or figures, because no matter how well they are doing on paper, the majority of the public would see the game as an utter failure compared to WoW’s numbers. Not everyone, but you all know the kind of people I am talking about.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. viralshag

    I’m often here sticking up for SWTOR and sometimes WoW. That’s not because I’m an apologist, I just think that WoW was and still is a good game and SWTOR looks like the kind of game I want to play.

    What I don’t like is seeing the usual nonsense that this is the only type of MMO available. Like Erth quite rightly pointed out to me in a previous article, there are loads of different MMOs out there to play.

    If you don’t like SWTOR or “WoW clones” then don’t play the game. Just leave it for the people that are happy to play the games and enjoy them. A lot of the time, the anti-SWTOR and WoW people, and there are quite a few on this site, just sound like the moany moaner type of gamer that will, in general, moan about anything they can.

    Gaming is wonderful in that no one forces you to play the things you don’t want to. Think SWTOR looks shit? Why bother reading and commenting on the articles?

    As for this guy and the article, I would rather he just keeps quiet, works on his game, and release something that is popular and fun. Firefall looks pretty cool, I will be trying it out for sure.

    #12 3 years ago

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