MMORPG.com: So… for starters: how does it feel to finally have launched TERA? I imagine you’ve caught up on sleep a little bit?
Brian Knox: Phew! Launching an MMO is a huge task, and it feels as though a giant weight has been lifted off our shoulders—but this is just the start. An MMO is only as good as the service you provide, and the hard work of maintaining and servicing TERA has just begun. Our attention is on all details of the game and platform. This includes billing issues, game issues, patcher issues, forums issues—you name it, we are prioritizing to fix or add it.
MMORPG.com: What were some of the team’s greatest challenges leading into launch? It seemed like right at the end so much new and different stuff was brought into the game: dungeon finder, Nexus, etc.
Brian Knox: The game really came together for us in February. The plans we set in motion months earlier started showing up and we began our testing and iteration. This included a wide range of systems, from the new prologue tutorial to end-game content like the nexuses. The biggest challenge of TERA is just the pure scope of the game. To provide hundreds of hours of playtime to players requires a ton of content. We also had to account for things that we knew would be unpredictable until we saw thousands of players in the game. Some were simple quest bottlenecks that we cleared out, but others were questions like, “How balanced will the economy be?” We made some major adjustments in the last month around identifying and enchanting items. We still won’t truly understand how these play out until weeks into the game’s life.
MMORPG.com: Let’s talk about some of the chatter we’re seeing in general chat and the forums. There are folks who claim the game’s progression gets a little shaky around the late 30s and early 40s, and others who claim it then becomes too hard to progress while solo. What do you say to those claims?
Brian Knox: We try to provide a story that guides you through the game. If you’re following this storyline and completing quests along the way, it should be a pretty smooth and even ride to max level. Of course, there are alternate paths to progressing, such as dungeon runs or BAM hunts. I’ve found that I out-leveled entire zones because I ran a dungeon more than design intended. I now can’t wait to play through those zones on my alts.
MMORPG.com: Additionally, people wonder whether there are plans to add more teleportation masters to the minor camps, or at least lowering the cost of teleport scrolls. Are there any plans to tweak travel in this way?
Brian Knox: As you progress in TERA you will start to notice that the teleportation scrolls are actually quite cheap. They are really only expensive for a starting character. Some consumable items scale to player level, such as bandages, but teleport scrolls remain the same price, so they’re much more affordable at higher levels.
MMORPG.com: I think it’s safe to say that everyone’s having a good time playing the game. But some of our more hardcore users wonder about the endgame of TERA. How would you sell TERA to them?
Brian Knox: This is the biggest question we wanted to answer up front. In fact, we created an entire page on our website dedicated to answering the “what is your end game?” question. The TL;DR answer is world BAMs, dungeons, hard-mode dungeons, score-based dungeons, reputation, nexuses, politics, guild-versus-guild battles, and daily quests.
MMORPG.com: One minor thing for my own good: why does my character have to stop moving momentarily when he jumps and falls greater than a three foot distance? It’s a minor detail… but an annoying nuisance!
Brian Knox: Well, the break point is really at about three meters, not three feet, and I don’t know anyone who can take a three-meter fall without breaking stride! Can you? Pics or it didn’t happen.
MMORPG.com: Let’s shift gears a bit. What’s the team’s focus on right now? How are you guys preparing for the first round of Vanarch elections internally?
Brian Knox: The focus right now is looking for any pain points for our players and doing our best to iron them out. As we’re doing that, we’re also working on rolling out two of our major end-game systems—nexuses and the political system. Both of these require a critical mass of higher-level players, which we just don’t have yet. We’re analyzing the data and will launch these systems when we’ve reached critical mass. Based on estimates, you should see both of these up and running before the end of the month.
MMORPG.com: When can players expect the Battlegrounds to make it to the live game? How goes the development there?
Brian Knox: We shifted some resources to maintaining a healthy launch, but we’re still on track for battlegrounds to enter the game around the end of summer.
MMORPG.com: I remember talk last PAX Prime about the Server v. Server PVP. When will we get to learn more about that? It seems like something that could really tie into the political system.
Brian Knox: We’ve gone back and forth on this one, and it was certainly more of a blue-sky idea at the time than an official announcement. We are working on taking the political system to the next level, but those details haven’t been announced yet.
MMORPG.com: Lastly, now that TERA’s launched, where do you and the rest of the staff want to take the game from here? It’s changed so much in just as little as a year. What are your own personal goals for the game?
Brian Knox: I believe the time for my personal goals is coming to an end. We need to be much more focused as a company on what our players are saying. Beta and focus group tests were great for one-off assessments or for looking at specific areas. Now that the game is live, though, we have a living, breathing world and need to focus on the needs of our players. For me personally? I want to continue to slowly iterate our PvP-server rules. I think TERA’s skill-based system is a natural fit for PvP players, and I want to develop a system that encourages and rewards PvP participants.