After playing the new TERA demo at GDC, Editor-in-Chief Darryl Gangloff sat down with the game's senior producer to talk briefly about TERA's upcoming North American launch and community play event plans.
After I fought my way through TERA's Smuggler's Hideout instance at the Game Developers Conference, I had the opportunity to sit down with Senior Producer Brian Knox to talk briefly about the demo, the game's recent launch in Korea and his thoughts on the North American release. It appears that once the upcoming community play event is held in early spring, players can expect to see some more consistency from En Masse Entertainment in terms of further community and beta events.
Keep reading after the jump for the full interview, and be sure to check out our look at the GDC demo for details on enemy AI, the user interface, combat and big ass monsters.
ZAM: How does it feel to be gearing up for the North American release?
Brian Knox: It feels good! We've got the core of the game established and we understand what TERA's really good at and how we can keep improving it. We've got some work to do, especially on the Wsternization front. To me, Westernization means taking the things that don't work as well in this market and making sure the game's fun. We'll get feedback here that will be integrated in the Korean version, and vice versa. There's a little bit of the cleanup, but we've got the core of the game here, and that's what you played today. I'm pretty excited!
ZAM: Speaking of what I played today, can you talk about the design of the demo?
Knox: This is an exclusive GDC demo. We try to do something exclusive for each show and show off something new, such as a new monster or system. In this one we talked a lot about enemy AI, the UI, the focus on the middle of the screen and the combo system.
ZAM: What do you feel players should really pay attention to in this demo?
Knox: I think it's really the end fight with the big ass monster, the Soulcrusher. He goes through different phases and you have to utilize the entire room and all of your space, and you have to make sure that you're constantly in motion. It's not just, “oh, this area of the floor is lit up so I've got to get out of it.” It's “he's about to swing and I need to dodge out of the way!” I think that fluidity of motion is really what the boss fights show off in TERA.
ZAM: Can players expect to fight these big ass monsters outside of instances?
Knox: Yup! We have a strong focus on world combat as well. There will be lots of big, roaming boss monsters that may require multiple groups to take down.
ZAM: Getting back to the upcoming launch, TERA is live in Korea. How does that affect your work here?
Knox: It means the spotlight is turned on us. The launch went well in Korea. It's one of the most popular games there right now. There's a live service to maintain and they need to patch holes and fix bugs and all that kind of stuff, but at the same time a lot of the resources are going to be devoted to the Western launch. That means making sure our feedback's getting implemented, making sure we're getting up and running and ready to go.
ZAM: Have you received any input from the Korean launch that has made you look at your version of the game differently?
Knox: I think the big thing we're looking at right now is the party vs. solo play. It's a little heavy on the party side compared to the solo play, so we're working hard to try and see what we can do to make the game more solo-friendly. That's the big area we're looking at right now. There are also a lot of little things, such as the way NHN ran their beta, which was really well done. They had very little queue times. We're investigating the best way to make sure the launch goes smoothly and that we have the right amount of servers, there aren't any queue times, and that players can get in and play.
ZAM: You've mentioned on the official site that you plan on hosting a community play event soon, and you've hinted at a time frame for beta events. Could you give us any more details on the schedule?
Knox: The community event in early spring will kick things off for this year, and you'll start seeing some consistency from us in terms of events after that. A lot of our focus is going to be on our platform. En Masse is a new publisher, so all our billing, websites, forums, support tools, all of that stuff needs to be tested and flushed out before we launch. When that stuff goes wrong, it's really bad. When it goes right, you probably don't see it. That's going to be a focus of our upcoming tests.
ZAM: How closely do work with Frogster, the European publisher?
Knox: We work with them a lot on our marketing strategy, our PR strategy and gameplay feedback. We'll listen to them and they'll listen to us, and we'll wrap that all up together and talk to the developers about what we need. It is two separate services though, but the North American and European markets are so tied together that it's impossible not to communicate with each other.
ZAM: Time for the last question: What's your favorite class right now?
Knox: It was slayer for a long time, but this last round I leveled up a priest to level 35. I've never played a healer before, but it's been really fun. I may be leaning more toward a priest now, but we'll see!
Darryl Gangloff, Editor-in-Chief