In looking more and more at TERA, one of the areas we always discuss is the artwork. The design of the game mixes Eastern and Western styles and has created some very new and unique creatures to show that. The question is, will traditional gamers accept the new design and style of the game, or is it just too far off from traditional fantasy?
Let me start by saying that I do like the creatures and designs in TERA. I think they are original and different in a very good way. However, I am not everyone and some players do not like changes from traditional fantasy art styles. It is true as some games can come across as being almost too different and they fail to meet a wide user base. TERA has a lot going for it though with some serious action and plenty of elements that do hit the core of MMO players.
Design is an important part of creating a new Intellectual Property. Look at works like Harry Potter. It has a very clear design. The movies help to change and also perfect that vision. A Harry Potter MMO would have a clear palette to draw upon. Warhammer is a similar fashion. The game has such a rich history that when they built the MMO it was easy to capture the world. These are visions that we are all comfortable with, we have all seen before, so putting them in an MMO makes sense to players.
TERA is breaching new ground to create monsters and worlds that have a fantasy look and feel but break away from traditional ideas. I remember playing one demo at E3 and fighting a pirate captain, well when we got to the captain it was a giant monster. It looked great and all but at the same time it was very different than what I expected. This didn’t bother me, but I felt like TERA needed to do a better job of explaining the world and giving us some background on the lore.
Right now, the Beastiary on TERA’s website is very small. Only three pictures are shown. They have a fantastic look at their races and classes, even a great write up on the world, but the beastiary doesn’t match up to these areas. This is a great place for the En Masse team to get some information out there about the types of creatures you will be facing in the game. Give us a short explanation on them and perhaps help players to understand the nature of the world we will be playing in. It seems like there are representations of classic fantasy monsters, but overall the game is taking a very new approach.
I know I keep emphasizing how important style in games really is. There are many game mechanics out there that RPGs and MMORPGs for that matter have tried which work great. Some game mechanics are new and fail, but overall there have not been massive changes to game design in MMOs for a while. Games still follow the basic formula. Design and style change all the time. Right now many games are following an Anime design style because it allows them to break into both the North American and Asian markets which are very active right now. I come from a traditional western outlook. I like artists such as Frank Frazetta which are more gritty and hardcore. In the case of TERA I do think the designs are great, but I also think the team needs to tell more of the story behind these nre monsters we are seeing. With the characters pretty well defined on the game site, perhaps we will see the beastiary start to grow as well.