We sat down with TERA Producer Chris Hager to talk about TERA's newest changes, their political system plans, and their new Chronoscroll initiative.
It's been two months since the official launch of TERA, and we've already seen a lot of activity from both players (did everyone catch those political ads for Vanarch on TeraTome.com?) and the developing studios, with luxury microtransaction items making their way into the store, new content being released, and all sorts of of major developments waiting in the wings. We caught up with TERA Producer Chris Hager to talk more about these new incoming changes, how TERA's political system is faring, and En Masse Entertainment's latest anti-RMT initiative, Chronoscrolls. Read on!
ZAM: Hello there! Thank you for taking the time to chat about TERA!
Chris Hager: You're welcome! We always have time to chat about TERA.
ZAM: It's almost two months since the official launch of TERA. Now that the dust has really settled, how are things going?
Chris: Really well. We hit the ground running with launch and have been working on short-term improvements and mid-term changes, and are digging into future updates as well. It's a busy time now that we're live and juggling day-to-day needs, but we're also looking forward to the future of TERA. The office is moving at 100 miles an hour right now, and it's great to finally be live.
ZAM: Your Vanarch system has received a lot of attention over the past few months, with one candidate even taking out ads on Tera Tome to extend his political campaign! For Vanarchs without the popularity (or ad money!), however, you've also announced a new feature, Conquest, where candidates can throw down in a week long modified Guild vs. Guild battle against all other runners. Will campaign-focused provinces and conquest-focused provinces remain separate, or are you planning to integrate these two features in the future?
Chris: For the time being, we plan on keeping them separate. We're always evaluating and tweaking the new systems we implement, and with the vanarch system being a large piece of our end game, we want to make sure what we're introducing is what our players enjoy doing. That being said, we've got some great plans for the vanarch system in the mid- and long-term. A couple of these features, you'll see in an update very soon. They include public gathering places for vanarch debates or guild-versus-guild battles (if you're into fighting fair) and more visuals to distinguish vanarchs and their guilds.
ZAM: Speaking of Vanarchs, some have felt a little underappreciated in their office, as farming for policy points to keep specialty shops open can be a constant and arduous task while taxes rarely bring in enough to keep the coffers full. Are there plans to for greater prizes for Vanarchs in the future or perhaps more Vanarch features coming?
Chris: We are working on ways to make vanarchs' choices matter more, and to have both the vanarchs and their guilds more visible (and less taken for granted) than they currently are. If I'm in a province and none of the trainers or trade brokers are turned on, I do notice. I always try to praise vanarchs who are out and about in their province, doing quests and keeping shops open. We have a few other ideas we're kicking around the office, too, and we always go to the forums to get the players' opinions (it's their political system, after all).
ZAM: In a blog post made a few weeks back, you noted that Warriors will soon gain the ability to block attacks with their twin swords, which will significantly enhance their desirability as a tank class. Given that there is a very high demand for tanks in endgame dungeon content (with Lancers often dictating who can come along), aside from these Warrior changes are there any plans to address the scarcity of tanks (incentives, etc), or do you feel that this is a problem that will fix itself in the long run?
Chris: We've looked at the numbers a lot on this one, and feel that allowing warriors to queue as tanks in an upcoming build, and giving them a block in a later update, will significantly ease the tank shortage. Looking at the percentages, more players play warriors than lancers by several percentage points, so adding those two classes together and making them both viable choices for tanking is going to help everyone.
ZAM: You recently announced that Chronoscrolls (in-game items that represent game time and can be purchased for real money) will be introduced to TERA as a gold selling deterrent. What lead you to pursue this particular system?
Chris: We wanted to provide a safe environment for players to exchange game time for in-game gold, free of the scams and hacking of BOT and RMT farmers. The system was modeled off of the PLEX system in EVE, and we've worked hard to look at all the in-game factors and external factors, and are confident that we're providing a valuable service to our players. If you have a lot of spare time and earn lots of in-game gold, you could buy a chronoscroll from the trade broker and play for free! On the other hand, if you've got a little extra money and less spare time to play, buying a chronoscroll and selling it in game is a great way to keep up with your friends and afford skills and gear as you level up.
ZAM: Cosmetic weapon skins also made their debut last month in the premium store. Can we expect to see more of these high-quality skins coming in the future? Can you share some of your plans for future microtransaction store items and will there be any key differences between your approach to microtransaction items and the Korean version of TERA?
Chris: We will have various cosmetic micro-transactions in the future, all aimed at enhancing the look and feel of TERA. As far as differentiating North American service from the Korean service, there will be many similarities between the two, but there will also be a few instances that differ. They may offer something we don't or vice versa. For us, it's about making sure what we offer is compelling to our players-we want to offer things they'll want, rather than try to sell whatever we can. While I can't go into specifics, we do have plans to sell a variety of cosmetic items and mounts. I've seen some of the concept art and it is awesome...
ZAM: As a final question, (if you don't mind me prying!) you've announced your major development plans for the summer (cross-server PvP battlegrounds, new instances, tank upgrades); do you have any long-term plans you can share for the future of TERA?
Chris: We've got a lot of plans, but of course I can't share them. I will say we are planning content updates into next year as of right now, and there is a good combination of what players have been asking for and brand new, totally kickass systems.
ZAM: And that's all we have for questions for now! Thanks again for speaking to us, and we're looking forward to a whole lot of TERA this year!