Published on July 11th, 2012 | by Adam Vjestica1
TERA Interview With Christopher Murphy
Tempted by TERA?
Ever since the inception of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft back in 2004, the MMORPG scene sky-rocketed. Suddenly, the loneliness of the role-playing game genre was no more.
Millions of players could raid together, loot together and quest as one. The world’s were rich with NPCs, a variety of quests and crucially, thousands of real life players.
MMO’s were massive in scale. They opened up a new idea of social and arguably, anti-social gaming. The longevity they provided was unprecedented. Their addictive qualities: dangerous.
But eventually, gamers grew tired of the same point, lock and click mechanics that rewarded them with their precious loot. Others were simply put off by the style or stereotypical stigmas associated with the genre. MMOs began to stagnate.
Over time, what was once a market dominated by the three letters of WoW, eventually the genre began to fragment and expand as more clever ideas and fresher blood took on the task of creating an equally impressive, if not superior version of the undoubtedly daunting title of “massively multiplayer online game”.
The genre now co-exists between pay-to-play and free-to-play. With each bold new franchise, there’s a greater focus on innovation and refinement as opposed to the previous almost safe option, of producing copycat clones.
I’m not ashamed to admit that the MMO phenomenom has passed me by. Perhaps it’s my shoddy Internet connection that has steered me clear of the bustling communities and exciting, progressive gameplay experiences. I can also confidently state that I never wanted to play WoW. In short: WoW has never appealed to me. But after I got the chance to sit down and play TERA at Rezzed - an action MMORPG which hit the market just two months ago – I suddenly, no, desperately want in; even if it means installing fiber optic cables by hand.
The stunning look and feel of the game had frequent passers by cooing and complimenting; others drooling. The action was satisfyingly engaging, fun and exciting. The world was brimming with detail and dying to be explored. And, as if it were the icing on the cake, the character designs were incredibly appealing. One particular race were so adorable that I didn’t know whether to adopt one, pet them or send them off to conquer the world.
By the end of my hands-on time with TERA I felt foolish. Embarrassed by my past prejudices that had steered me clear of MMOs; angry at my feeble Internet which had nurtured my arrogant denial. The thought of sitting down on an evening with some friends and stepping into such a glorious creation was enough to make my stomach tighten.
As I gazed upon the other players who giggled and frolicked together in TERA’s lush world, I knew that other people felt it, too. Like an inquisitive teen admiring a female across the schoolyard, I grabbed Christopher Murphy, the Community Manager for the English language version of TERA Europe, to find out whether this MMO could be my perfect match.
Admittedly, I’m one of these rare oddities who’ve never actually played an MMO before. But TERA looks absolutely amazing and I’ve really enjoyed my hands-on time with the game. Could you tell people who might share the same generalisations that I had about MMO’s what TERA is all about?
So a lot of people who haven’t played MMOs before… they think that it’s the stereotypical kind of game where you are tab aiming: basically you hit one button, you lock onto a guy and you don’t have to do anything else. In TERA, it’s more like an action RPG type of game, where you constantly have to keep adjusting your aim.
There’s no tab locking at all; you have to have your mouse cursor over the enemy at all times. You also have to dodge a lot. Dodging is extremely important especially towards the end of the game where you have these absolutely massive monsters that you need to destroy. One hit from those guys can take you out sometimes so dodging is very important.
Basically this true action combat system allows you to become more immersed in the game, you really feel the punches and the hits, and it’s so much more enjoyable and fun.With tab locking, you’re really just sitting back; you can’t do much.
I’ve heard there’s a political system in TERA? How does that work exactly?
Each guild can elect their leaders to the position of Vanarch. Each Vanarch reigns over a certain area of the map in the game. Basically what they do is they set up NPCs such as traders and trainers, that players can come and interact with and learn things. Essentially, they can create a nice environment for everyone to play in.
In order to do that, they have to do specific Vanarch quests with their guild and upon completing these quests, they’ll earn points which they can use to get these NPCs. Vanarch’s can also set tax rates on all transactions that happen in their area. So, if they set a high tax rate obviously people are going to be annoyed with them and may not vote them into the Vanarch position next month. However, we’re introducing a guild versus guild Vanarch voting system soon, so guilds can fight against each other to get the position of Vanarch.
Obviously, once they’ve done that they won’t have to rely on other people voting for them so they can get Vanarch via fighting and then put the tax rate at the maximum bar, which is 15% right now. Consequently, that causes a lot of tention and conflict in the game between the guilds and players. It’s really some great player generated fun.
How difficult was that to balance to ensure that one player doesn’t become a dictator? Obviously, you’ve got a democracy system in place…but has that ever happened? Have players ever had to take down an evil tyrant in-game player before?
Sure! Though it hasn’t happened as of yet as it’s only voting right now, but when we launch the guild versus guild Vanarch campaign (very soon) that’s when we’ll see the nasty Vanarchs coming out and that’s going to be really fun! That’s when we’ll see the tyrants!
The game looks absolutely amazing, especially for an MMO. The art style kind of reminds me off a cross between Final Fantasy and Monster Hunter but also stuff that I’ve never seen before. I mean the races look awesome! Could you tell us more about them? I’ve seen a little hamster with two swords? What race is that?!
Haha, yeah so that race is the Popori. They’re little animal type creatures. You can make them cats, rabbits, raccoons, hamsters as you said, and yeah, they’re a funny little creature that appeal to the more fantasy loving MMO player. They have their own properties, so they can swim a lot of faster than other characters – that’s the kind of thing that they do – and they’re just a lot of fun to play. For people who like role playing within MMO’s they’re great. They’re really fun.
So there’s a class system in place in TERA. Is class linked to the race you choose? And is there then sub-classes within those races?
There’s a race and a class system. Any race can be any class, we wanted to be pretty free about that. When you’re creating a character you basically select the character, select the race that they’re going to be, select their sex, select their class and that’s it.
In terms of longevity….how big is this game? Are we talking months…maybe even years of gameplay?
You could definitely put years into this game, for sure. There’s a lot of content in there; the story’s quite long. At the same time, we want progression to be pretty easy for those who aren’t huge MMO grinders, and things like that. You can get through the main story quests pretty quickly, but there’s lots of side quests to do to keep things interesting.
Is TERA more of an open-world game or a dungeon crawler?
Very much an open world MMO. You can go anywhere, anytime. However, there are dungeons in the game too, which house great bosses and even greater rewards.
Does that create difficulties in creating a seamless system with the NPCs, with the questing…as opposed to having a main hub and then entering a dungeon?
Obviously the engine has to be incredibly robust. Luckily, this game uses Unreal Engine 3 which is well proven…
(interrupts) Does it!? It doesn’t even look like an Unreal Engine game? That’s amazing…that just shows how great the art style is.
Yeah the art style’s brilliant, the development on the game is really good as well. It runs really nice, really smoothly.
For someone who suffers from terrible Internet connection speed like I have at my house, what would be the minimum broadband speed you’d expect someone to have?
It’s less about speed, and more about the quality of your connection. If you have a lot of packet loss which most people don’t have, then you’ll be fine. A 3mb connection would be fine… You could probably play on a 512kb connection, I haven’t tried it out myself though.
TERA’s a pay-to-play MMO…
Yes very much so.
What kind of subscription packages are available? Is there like a trial period where if you get to a certain level you’re asked to pay?
If you know someone who’s playing the game, they can give you a trial. Otherwise, we run trial events every once in a while, every month or so. We may have a system coming out soon that may allow that to be much more fluid, but right now either know a friend or wait for the set periods when it happens.
Subscription is about £10-a-month. You can reduce that by subscribing for longer periods. But that’s basically it yeah.
Is there micro-transactions in the game?
Nope. We do not have micro-transactions in the game.
Thank you for your time.