NYCC ’11 Trion Worlds Panel Recap
Our own Bill Murphy kicked things off by asking the audience if they played Rift or were excited for End of Nations or Defiance. Since Rift has been out for some time now, that game got the most applause. He then introduced the panel from Trion –Hal Hanlin, Design Producer on Rift, Morgan Lockhart, Lore Lead for Rift, Chris Lena, Senior Producer for EoN, and Rob Hill, Senior Producer on Defiance. Chris Schmidt, Senior PR Rep at Trion World was also there manning the assets on his Macbook.
Hal Hanlin and Morgan Lockhart started the panel by discussing how “We’ve put out a lot of content” and discussed how roughly every 6-8 weeks or so, they have been adding content to the game. Although this might not be new to ardent fans, Hanlin described some of the updates and began the discussion about Ember Isle.
“Ember Isle is twice as big as our current largest zone, which is Shimmersand,” he noted, going on to call it “an enormous zone” and “the most beautiful zone I've seen in any MMO ever”.
“It’s got a volcano blowing up this gorgeous tropical island, you’re running around trying to stop the powers of fire and earth as they’re trying to tear this place apart,” Exploring and discovering the spirits that roam the land.
Hanlin decided to leave the lore and description of the island to Lockhart, and instead talk about some of the other features including Instant Adventure. Instant Adventure will let you log in, click a button to join a group that has an empty slot and is already on a quest, so you can instantly jump in and kill stuff. It’s fast, newly created content for those gamers that have limited playtime or who just want to get in the action without hassle. It will all take place within the same public world as the rest of the game.
He called it a great way to get new gear, to get Planar Attunement.
“We have been listening, we are in constant communication with our community…” and try to put out what people want to see, such as the recently added duos and five-man raid content. Hanlin reinforced that Trio wants to “redefine what it means to host an MMO in the modern world”.
He then passed the mantle over to Morgan, who began to discuss how elements of the new content have already made their way into the game. This chapter features Maelforge and Laethys, who ally against the Ascended and plan to escape from their prisons. Ember Isle will put you in the position of pursuing the agents of the Wanton and the Golden Maw.
Ember Isle was the capital for the Kelari and the hotbed of the civil war once the rifts came. The spirits that the Kelari had been living alongside and bonded with over the centuries
These spirits have begun to be tainted by planar dragon influence in places known as source wells, which Lockhart mentions will be a focus of both gameplay and story in Ember Isle. These source wells are “a line to the heart of the nexus”. The Kelari who were corrupted stayed behind and those that fought back against the corruption left the isle and joined the Defiants. Now the player can go here and fight the corruption try to take back the Kelari home.
On the Guardian side, some dwarves who followed the Song of the early bard Karine found themselves called to the island to guard Maelforge’s prison. They are Keepers. This will be your adventure if you’re a Guardian.
There was a quick break where we saw some screenshots and concept art of the Kelari, Dwarves, and the spirits. Lockhart emphasized that spirits are elemental based, but they are still Telaran. Fire spirit, water spirit, and wood spirit artwork all appear in slides.
The Rift Q&A then began:
First up, someone asked about new PvP quests and rifts on Ember Isle in the update.
Will there be any PvP content in 1.7?
They’re working on an “Alternate mode for our warfronts” but nothing specifically new here. They seem to be focused on making current content better and “ramping up participation in our warfronts” before crowding it in with anything else.
The team is working on the tank build, but expect “more gameplay quality of life things than brand new content [in 1.7].” They have one more warfront planned that they couldn’t talk about.
One member of the audience asked about where the native dress and environments of the Kelari came from.
They wanted something distinctive, unique, strong, primary colors, something that would evoke the jungle. The Kelari are a very haughty race, so they decorate themselves. A lot of influence from the Mayans and other jungle-based civilizations in the Ember Isle.
Someone inquired about the possibility of an open PvP zone without any PvE in the mix.
Again, stressing tank improvements before answering with saying they have talked among the team if this is something they might consider doing and how would it affect other things like warfronts. But they are not ready to talk details.
Someone asked an interesting question about what happened to the original shared starting area.
Hanlin replied that the area is actually in the game, as Shadowlands. There were two areas within it as a dual starting area, but they created the two current separate starting areas because they couldn’t have the two stories take place in the same art piece. The Defiants are going ahead and the Guardians are going back, and their methods are so different, along with their cultures, that the two origin stories for player characters were just incompatible with the same starting area. But they loved the area so much it’s still featured in the game as a raid.
Regarding Chronicles, the response has been great from the players. The reaction was strong enough that there will be more in development.
On Planar Attunement: Scott Hartsmann wanted a way to reward players in a permanent way that wouldn’t be outgrown with the character.
Developed by Trion & Sufi network, Defiance is a third-person MMOFPS. You’ll be able to play with thousands of other players, group with them, and play on various maps. The game is a shooter similar to a Gears, or Just Cause experience, but with thousands of others.
Hill mentions it will be multiplatform, releasing for Xbox 360, PC, and PS3.
Where other teams might say, “We’re making this game, and we’re going to port it to a console”, Trion is working differently. Every day, they put out three builds and playtest them. They’re actually developing for all three instead of just focusing on a lead platform and then porting it out. The teams are all working on the same game except for a separate UI team to make sure that the PC UI feels like a PC UI.
Defiance is intended as cross-media experience with SyFy. There will be a TV series on the network, launching around the same time as the game. The two teams have been working together to figure out what works best for both projects. Making sure that if the show wants to do something that the game dev team can emulate it and vice versa. If you see something in the game or the show, they will look and sound the same, so there is ultimately a cohesive universe between them.
The game and show will evolve over time. As the two progress together, the universe will change in certain ways in each project. An example Hill offered was, a character disappearing from the game and showing up on the show. Or going from one to the other. Or environmental changes. Writer Rockne O’Bannon, who worked on Farscape and Alien Nation, is writing the pilot for the show and helping plan the development of the first season. He noted that each team is working closely together and taking bits from each other, including the writing team.
The Defiance Q&A then began after the teaser trailer with a question about how they plan to differentiate themselves from other MMOFPS titles like Battlefield. He also asks if he’s right if it’s a post-apocalyptic setting.
Hill responded that it’s “more a period of regrowth after something major has happened” and it won’t be “brown everywhere”, rather than purely post-apocalyptic.
This is a third-person shooter rather than an FPS, and added, “We don’t do four-player co-op, we have thousands of player co-op”. And although the development is taking place across multiple platforms, there will be no cross-platform play.
They plan to generate a lot of PvE content in the persistent world to support the MMO elements of the game. This also fits in with the idea of the TV show, and an audience member asked about what might happen if the TV show were ever canceled. They emphasized that the game has to be a good game first, and each project has to stand on its own even though they’re intended to be thoroughly integrated.
END OF NATIONS
Finally, we got to End of Nations, where Chris Lena gave us a rundown of the upcoming MMORTS that they are developing along with Petroglyph. Lena called End of Nations “RTS-Plus” and indicated that it takes place in the very near future in a world descending into anarchy, economic collapses are happening, and people are starving. An organization called Order of Nations emerges and starts making improvements, only to turn out to be a totalitarian organization. The player is a member of one of the organizations rising up against this threat.
What distinguishes the game is there’s a persistent character where you can be unique, customize your units, and experience along with thousands of other players. People are able to play together on a massive scale in a 24/7 persistent battle for territorial control.
Colors on the map will change and other indicators will show who is winning at any given time, and the PvP mode is essentially, a giant conquer the world setup. This is really the first 24/7 persistence in an RTS. All players will be on the same server.
“Bigger is better in this case”, he said, and maps can be small and focused or get huge. The usual 1v1, 2v2, exist but it gets up to 26x26. Up to 52 players on the same map fighting it out to control territory.
You don’t have to be a hardcore RTS player to be able to play this game, Lena says. There are some huge battles but the amount of players playing can mean that you can jump in and play with a gentle curve and not have to take the lead since there’s some safety in numbers.
They’re trying to make the best RTS they can. They don’t just want to mash up RTS and MMO, there needs to be a great backbone of RTS gameplay there and blend with Trion’s MMO experience too. It will be a free to play title, with sales of customization items available, along with some advantage items, which will be available via in-game play as well. There will be no exclusive store items that might affect the gameplay. Making the game free to play was a decision made to make the game more accessible.
They next showed their “RTS Goes Massive” trailer.
The Q&A began and one of the first questions involved classes. Lena responded that you’re not going to be completely limited by unit type class. This will provide some flexibility so a player will be able to be viable in different scenarios and on different maps.
Afterward, a player asked what might be done to balance the game should one group or guild dominate the entire map or if one faction is completely overwhelmed by the other in terms of population. Lena responded that there are many battles going on at the same time, and it won’t be one battle to turn the tide. Since the battles are going on 24/7, it won’t be easy to do this. But the team does have the ability to step in if necessary.
Casual players will find a friendly environment in End of Nations, with maps planned to support drop-in play. This will also help address some of the disconnects or rage quitters.
End of Nations has an internal release goal, but that couldn’t be revealed yet.
The panel wrapped with a brand new trailer looking back at Rift over the past months and content additions that have been added in under a year.