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In the next segment of a developer journal from Brandes Stoddard, a systems designer for the upcoming post-apocalyptic MMO, Fallen Earth, fans learn about the niche-protection approach that governs weapons in the game and discusses some of the changes that have come about as a result of testing.
In my first journal entry, I mentioned that every weapon needs a niche, a situation in which that weapon is ideal. The broadest categories are pretty clear; melee weapons are excellent for close-quarters fighting, and ranged weapons are for killing the guy who's beyond 15 meters away. (By definition, even!) When we first started building our lists of weapons, we had only three niches: melee weapons, sniper rifles, and all other guns.
As Alpha and Closed Beta progressed, we saw that a few weapons proved superior to all others. I remember in particular the "Day with the Devs" PvP test in New Gallows when we realized shotguns were simply the best weapons in the game. They had superlative damage output and highly competitive range. Playtesting also revealed that the distinctions between the light, medium and heavy versions of each rifle were essentially empty; a tenth of a second here, a half-second of reload time there, and none of it markedly improving gameplay. In addition, some of the ballistics crafting options were so eminently better than others, many of the latter guns were irrelevant. Strangely, no one wanted to craft the ridiculously expense, low-damage assault rifles. Go figure.