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TERA Plays a Game of Thrones at E3 2011

Updated Wed, Jun 15, 2011 by Ethec

E3 2011 boasted a number of surprises for the MOG-minded – an SOE published bank robbery shooter called Payday, the name and details of Trion’s Syfy tie-in MMOG Defiance, and that the makers of World of Tanks will take to the skies with World of Warplanes. We weren’t expecting a surprise from En Masse Entertainment and Blue Hole Studios, makers of TERA, but we got one. In a game known for all action, all the time, En Masse is taking a decidedly diplomatic turn.

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“If the skill-based combat system makes TERA fun and engaging, the political system offers a whole new level of player engagment,” Stefan Ramirez commented during our E3 demo. Producer Sam Kim continued the thought, noting that while MMOG must-haves such as chat, forums, friend lists, guilds, and parties will be included with TERA, the political system will add new depth to player interaction. “When we say that the political system adds a whole new depth to player engagement, we’re really talking about players influencing the world around them.

“That means getting votes, buying votes, raising taxes, making tons of money, opening shops, running your own events, and imprisoning players – jerks, enemies, it’s about doing whatever you want.”

Those last two features – imprisoning players and player-made events – caught our ear. Sam explained the events part: “As a Vanarch you can run your own events. What does that mean? It means players are coming to your province, hitting up your towns, buying from your shops, paying your taxes, making you rich.” As for imprisonment, Producer Chris Hager was quick to note that En Masse and Blue Hole are devising ways to make imprisonment a satisfying and enjoyable experience for both the prisoner and the turnkey. How exactly a player can have fun as a prisoner remains to be seen, but we’re thinking shower room antics and a make your own shiv minigame.

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Enough on that. How do players rise to power? Stefan explained: “There’s basically two ways to come to political office: 1) popular vote or 2) PvP in the battlegrounds. Either way you do it, you’re going to need to be a player that’s max level and is a guild leader. Every political leader needs a great committee, and for the prospective Vanarch – the leader of one of TERA’s dozens of provinces, that “committee” is the guild.

Depending on the path to power – popular or PvP – players will either need to sway voters to their side by promising events, unique vendors, and gameplay opportunities (such as prohibiting open PvP in the territory), but changes will cost political points which the Vanarch and his guild must earn through questing. If the prospective Vanarch hopes to take the province by brute force, it’s going to be all about PvP prowess.

TERA will make Vanarchs famous in several ways, including but not limited to splashing the player’s name on the screen when any player enters the province and mounts exclusive to Vanarchs and their guilds. But fame has its limits, and even Vanarchs have a boss. Just as Vanarchs rule over provinces, En Masse let it slip that Exarchs will rule over the entire realm of Arborea. No further details have been released on Exarchs just yet.

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Relatively few MMORPGs have been able to let players establish any semblance of control over the game world, but, if all goes as planned, TERA won’t be the first. Aika Online’s political system offers a more exclusively martial take on player politics, with five nations warring for power and a Lord Marshal and Archons, leaders of allied guilds. Other games such as Tabula Rasa and EverQuest’s progression servers, have allowed players to vote on ending content or how quickly content appears.

The difference with TERA seems to be democracy – the player population has a say in what kind of provincial leader they’d like to have. We hope to hear more about the political system as TERA leads up to a 2011 launch. Thanks to everyone we talked to in the TERA booth at E3 2011.


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