TERA has come full circle as a successful MMO with a fantastic seven-year run. Now as the game celebrates seven years we get some insight into the success and also the roadmap for the future. We spoke to Patrick ‘Atmorph’ Mathieu about everything TERA this week.
MMORPG: TERA has had a strong solid impact on the MMO market, can you take us back to launch?
Patrick Mathieu: TERA has been quite a ride ever since we release it to the public on May 3rd, 2012. I remember it well, just having joined the team after the 4th closed beta weekend in April 2012!
By April 26th, 2012 we had such a huge number of players coming to the game for the soft launch that we needed to act quickly and add 4 additional servers to the initial 6 that were available throughout the open beta.
Without catching a breath, fighting against login queues on our servers, we kept working on additional content to release shortly after the launch as well as the first major update for our community only 2 short weeks later.
This has remained the rhythm of TERA ever since – ensuring our players have frequent updates so that they always have new events and adventures to enjoy.
MMORPG: By far the game has some of the best boss fights ever, what went into building them?
Krafton (devs): Our goal was to make each boss provide a different combat experience, and their looks were designed according to this. Hellgrammite had its wings atrophied which also limits its mobility, so it has been designed to have a big body with slow but strong attacks. Gossamer Regent had to look special because it’s the Butterfly Queen, so it was designed to look closer to a human with light but very swift and elegant attacks.
Patrick: Hellgrammite is the first boss in the ‘Gossamer Vault’ dungeon, while ‘Gossamer Regent’ is the second boss.
Krafton: Hellgrammite starts the combat with slow and strong attacks, but its attack speed changes depending on the condition of the boss. The intention with this is to add a variable in the pattern based on the attack speed.
On the other side, the combat with Gossamer Regent advances in a faster pace but also lighter. However, we noticed that it was hard to make players feel challenged with light attacks only, so we tried to fix this by balancing the combat patterns and attacks of the boss monster. We also subdivided its attacks and added different characteristics to each one of them, for which we hope our players figure these out throughout the combat.
MMORPG: How has the community grown in the past several years, what do you like best about them?
Patrick: Due to TERAs exceptional action combat system, which gives the highest amount of control to the player, we’ve always had a very engaged and goal-oriented community.
Ingenuity and efficiency never fail to impress me. How to best use your skills to avoid deadly attacks, which glyph combinations allow the highest damage output, or how to best position yourself to resurrect a teammate – these are some of the topics that our players discuss, research, and optimize almost like a science. I am always impressed by the different approaches or ideas that our players develop in collaboration with each other.
Another one of my favorite things about our growing community has been their artistic and role-playing sides. These have always been strong amongst our players, mixing well with TERA’s state of the art graphics barely seen in online games from the same time. We still have regular contests where artwork created by our players is implemented into the game as loading screens, featuring this artistic side of the community for all to see!
MMORPG: What plans does TERA have for going forward? Is it exciting to still have new material?
Patrick: We’ve just released a new level cap expansion end of March, introducing 5 new levels and skill options to achieve, as well as a new looming thread above Arborea. A butterfly-type of enemy has started invading the world, and in the second half of this year, players will be able to travel to the floating island, a brand-new region to discover. This will be the second time that a new region is added to TERA, following the Fate of Arun expansion a couple of years back. Truly, it never gets boring around here!
Outside of a full new region being added, our players can also look forward to regular new dungeon additions, like the Gossamer Vault added with the anniversary, and new systems to discover. Be it treasure maps, that lead players to specific regions to uncover rewards, or mysterious portals opening in the world, these allow the player to infiltrate an instance to get even more loot!
And that’s only what is added on a regular basis by KRAFTON, TERA’s Developer in South Korea. Ever since 2017, Gameforge has started working on additional regional content for our players to enjoy. Taking content that was disabled in the game some time ago, go through potential interesting dungeons for our community, and re-adjust them to add additional challenges and rewards for our players. This includes nightmare modes for dungeons that only the most skilled players can hope to clear, with adjusted attacks and mechanics, as well as a whole bunch of cool loot!
This summer of 2019, leading up to the Floating Island, we will go all out, and add 6 different event dungeons to the game for European players to enjoy! More on this very soon…
MMORPG: Tell us about some of the fun elements players can enjoy with the anniversary?
Patrick: Through the festivities for the 7th anniversary, players can claim various exclusive permanent vanity items to call their own! Ranging from a costume set, to a scarf and a unique 7th-Anniversary Foot Stamp, players are sure to be able to get tons of “vanity” items to equip their characters for free.
The costume can be attained through a treasure hunt that’s up every weekend during the celebration month. Roaming through the world, players finding big blue boxes need to open them to get one of various possible rewards.
As fishing was introduced with the new content with the crafting system overhaul in December 2018, we’ve also added a new fishing type event, where players get special bait to catch alternative content out of the lakes ranging from materials to tokens for vanity items.
And of course, our monster-betting game ‘Bamarama’ also made a return, allowing players to bet on special monster fights to win some gold. Every day, there’s a couple of fights between these monsters, and with a bit of luck, players can win a higher amount of gold, and the exclusive footstep by participating in this event.
MMORPG: Can you highlight one of your favorite parts of TERA over the years?
Patrick: Phew, this is a tough one, getting me to choose one moment within 7 years of awesome additions to TERA.
Choosing as a player, I’d have to say that amongst all the added content, improvements and changes, my love for the action combat system is what will stay my favorite part of TERA, and this ever since I participated in the initial Japanese beta for TERA in 2011. It’s still so unique in its look and feel, that no other MMORPG will give me the same satisfaction when winning against a particularly difficult boss fight.
Choosing as Game Designer, I’d say the release of TERA on Steam is to date one of the biggest milestones for us, right up there with the change from a subscription-based game to a Free-To-Play title for all players to enjoy.
Choosing as someone working on TERA for over 7 years, my answer would be the creation of the event dungeons. Having the freedom to create custom content for our players to enjoy, and seeing it come to fruition is the best kind of experience I could wish for. Coming in as a close second place would be our monthly Twitch streams, which allow us to interact with our community in direct manner, while showing off cool new additions coming to TERA.
MMORPG: The game definitely influenced the genre, where do you see the state of MMOs now?
Patrick: TERA definitely influenced the genre, showing that there is an alternative to the known tab-targeting system we’ve known until then amongst other similar games. As for the genre itself, I feel that nowadays the difficulty to release new MMOs has increased quite a lot, due to a multitude of reasons.
On the one hand, we’ve a high amount of successfully MMOs to choose from currently, which cover all kinds of visual styles, content focus, combat systems, as well as business models. Taking root amongst all of these competitors has become more challenging as we get closer to the 2020s, in comparison to 10 years ago at least, so it is very rewarding to be able to make a community happy while keeping a certain product performing well on the business side, as it allows us to continue creating new content and supporting specific features.
On the other hand, while globally the number of humans playing virtual games has increased, it’s split amongst more genres nowadays, with the focus having shifted over the last couple of years towards games featuring shorter play-sessions (matches). This shift also affects MMOs, which are usually built around giving players as much content to enjoy for as much time as possible. Still, our players are quite content with the quality and the frequency in which they receive content, and we are always exploring ways to make it all even better.