Interview: TERA Producer Brian Knox Talks About The Future of the “True Action MMORPG”
TERA is definitely an interesting MMORPG, and when I reviewed it I had a lot of praise (and some criticism) to share. The “True Action Combat” battle system definitely sets the game apart from the rest of the market, creating a refreshing experience that many were looking forward to.
The launch of a MMORPG, though, is only the beginning, and more than a month after release of TERA, the player base has its collective eyes firmly set on the future.
I finally had a chance to have a chat with En Masse’s Senior Producer Brian Knox about TERA‘s launch and what awaits those that will brave the continents of Arun and Shara in the upcoming few months. You can find my questions and his answers below.
Giuseppe: Licensing a Korean MMORPG and completely re-structuring it to appease the Western market is a quite unique initiative. How did the idea come to be? What made you chose TERA between the wide and varied offerings coming from the Korean market?
Brian: TERA is an awesome game, but it takes more than an awesome game for a MMO to succeed. The service and quality of updates are just as vital. Bluehole Studio’s commitment and promise to support TERA in the West made it the perfect fit. There’s a ton of great content coming out of Korea, but without the support of the development team to listen to the Western community, the chances of success are low. An awesome game like TERA as well as a committed development team felt like a recipe for success.
G: How does the synergy between En Masse and Bluehole studio work? Does En Masse have to work only with the assets and content Bluehole produces, or does the Studio actually listen to the input given by your company and your players in order to add new content and features to the game?
B: The Western market has a dedicated development team specifically created for Western content. We set the priorities here at En Masse, then schedule and develop them with the dev team. The process is collaborative, with both sides offering ideas and suggestions for future improvements and features. We meet multiple times a week via videoconference to hash out what’s next and what we should allocate development to in the future.
G: It’s been over a month after the official launch of the game. How did it go, seen from the other side of the curtain? Are you guys happy with the state of the game at the moment?
B: So far we’re happy with the results. Our launch was really smooth. We were able to avoid the queue nightmares most MMOs suffer by offering free character transfers within the first week of service. This was a first for an MMO. On top of that, we have already rolled out multiple patches adding content as a result of community feedback. Currently, we’re focused on attracting new players. We’ve just begun offering a streaming demo and a seven-day trial as two new ways to check out TERA. Playing the game and understanding what we mean by “true action combat” is what really brings our players in.
G: What are the biggest challenges that you foresee for the development and continued success of TERA in the near future? How do you plan to face them?
B: We need to continue listening to our fans and improving TERA, while at the same time broadening the game to appeal to more players. We will improve TERA bit by bit, and we aren’t afraid to take chances. The great thing about a MMO is that when you try something new, you can change whatever turns out to be unpopular with the player base.
G: One of the major points of criticism towards the game is the repetition of quests that send players to kill a certain number of enemies. What’s your solution to make the leveling process a bit more varied and less repetitive?
B: We have spent a great deal of time writing and creating quests here at En Masse, but also in diversifying the questing system with a variety of new quest types within our daily quest system. TERA’s a fantastic game for combat, so we want to make sure to keep that as a factor, but with every MMO, there’s room to grow and add content.
G: Are there any plans in place to expand the endgame? Are there any traditional multi-party raids in the future of TERA, or do you plan to focus on the Nexus feature?
B: We will continue to add new dungeons, improve the nexus, and add more support for multi-party raids. You will see a ton of this—plus more—in our big end-of-summer update .
G: At the moment Crafting is very costly due to the extremely high number of runes required to create almost every item. Are you going to mitigate the material requirements in the future?
B: Crafting is something we are looking at continuously because it has a huge impact on the economy. We need to make small tweaks here and there and watch the repercussions of the change. This is a system we know isn’t perfect, and we want to address the issue thoroughly.
G: There are a few areas of the world that are fully built but include no NPCs, enemies or playable content. An example is Velika Outskirts. Do you have anything planned to make those areas more dynamic?
B: That is a very timely question. We are actually adding some interesting props and materials in and around Velika in the future. We hope that these can be used for more community events and interaction.
G: Player and guild housing is always a hot topic between MMORPG Players. Is there any chance that we’ll see anything like that in TERA?
B: We are looking at guild housing a bit more seriously than player housing, but we haven’t confirmed a direction on either at this time.
G: The lore section of the TERA website doesn’t include much content at the moment, and I know quite a few players that are struggling to figure out a background for their characters. Is there any plan in place to expand it, adding more details on the history of the world and its races?
B: We have a ton of this information internally and we are working on getting it out externally. Our writers want nothing more than to share the lore of TERA. Look for more and more updates to our website as the game grows.
G: At the moment the game is a little light on options for roleplayers. There’s no way to walk instead of running for instance. Is En Masse going to implement new features like those in order to cater to the roleplaying community?
B: We have just implemented custom emotes in our latest patch. We love our roleplaying community, and their server is going strong. We expect the latest addition of emotes and guild-versus-guild combat to be great tools to roleplay with. We’re also looking to the area around Velika as a place to give players some extra tools for roleplaying.
G: Seasonal events are always quite popular in MMORPGs, are you planning to offer that kind of events in TERA as well? What about dynamic, GM-driven events?
B: We are working on seasonal events. Our first big one will be Halloween, and we have some cool stuff in store for you.
G: The MMO-Fo campaign is without a doubt one of the most original and aggressive marketing stunts I’ve seen for a MMORPG. What sparked that idea?
B: The game itself was the inspiration. Playing TERA and getting into the combat made you realize how lame MMOs have become. We wanted to find a way to really highlight this difference, and we felt that Bas Rutten and the MMO-FO campaign would be a good way to deliver this different message. We also had the side benefit of getting some MMA fans interested in TERA.
G: Thanks a lot for your time. Anything else you’d like to tell to our readers?
B: We are thankful to all of our players and the thousands of hours they have already logged in TERA. We’re committed to listening to you guys and growing the TERA community—each and every one of you.