A Game for MMO-FOs - An Interview with TERA's Chris Hager
What happens when you build an MMO with an action-based combat system, create a hardcore manifesto, and add Bas Rutten? You get MMO-FO, a movement born out of TERA, the upcoming MMO from Blue Hole Studios and En Masse Entertainment. We talked with Chris Hager, Producer, to learn more about why Bas Rutten is pwning LARPers in the name of skill-based gaming.
We've noticed MMO-FO, a movement to start breaking away from the standard MMO mold. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Chris Hager: The MMO-FO idea came from TERA itself. Our True Action Combat system is unique to MMOs, and we were looking for a way to personify it. Our biggest challenge is describing action combat to people; itÂs really something you have to experience. The MMO-FO campaign is a visual way for people to experience it. Plus, who doesnÂt like seeing Bas Rutten throwing guys all over the place?
Specifically, what are the mechanics in current MMOs that may have grown a bit tired?
Chris Hager: Combat in MMOs has gotten pretty stale. Tab target, macro 1, watch cooldown, macro 2, auto-target next enemy, rinse, repeat. I know I fall into that rhythm when I play other MMOs, and I end up looking at the TV, playing with my kid, or watching the cool-down timers on skills instead of getting wrapped up in the game. TERAÂs action combat makes me pay attention because itÂs my skill, my reaction to attacks, my blocking, dodging, evasion, or running that helps me win (and occasionally die). IÂm totally engaged with the combat.
How is the MMO-FO drive being received so far? Lots of support? More or less than you expected?
Chris Hager: People love Bas, and making him part of this new TERA campaign has generated a ton of positive feedback. I think the videos really resonate with people because itÂs showing action combat in a way thatÂs both visual and visceral; exactly what TERAÂs combat is! Bas does with actions what words canÂt always do.
How do you plan on evolving the genre with TERA?
Chris Hager: TERA is redefining combat for MMOs. We hope others will notice that weÂre taking something thatÂs been the same for the past decade, and innovating on it to make a more enjoyable, engaging system for players. We live in a world where the speeds created by fiber optic, cable, and broadband are the norm, so we donÂt need to be defined by game systems or practices that we created in the late 90s to deal with 90s limitations.
Do you feel that a greatly changed combat system may limit your audience?
Chris Hager: There will be people whoÂll prefer the old style of MMO combat because thatÂs what they know, and thatÂs what theyÂre used to. ThereÂs also opportunity to grow the MMO audience by appealing to console gamers who didnÂt like the old MMO combat, so weÂve added controller support. We think our action combat system will appeal to a broad market, and that when most people get in and try it for the first time, theyÂll wake up and take note of how exciting and how physical MMO combat can be.
Can a system like this be both challenging but easy enough to pick up?
Chris Hager: We realize that people will need to become comfortable with the combat before we throw them really challenging content. The game was designed to build in a learning curve for getting used to our system, and then add depth as players progress. TheyÂll definitely need to feel comfortable by the time they meet their first Big-Ass Monster (BAM).
How likely do you think it is that action combat will soon become the norm?
Chris Hager: True Action Combat is the evolution of MMO combat. Personally I think itÂs awesome. While I donÂt think every MMO will (or even can) incorporate this kind of combat system, I really hope some of the newer games currently in development will think more outside the box to keep combat (the vast majority of any MMO playerÂs time spent in game) fresh and engaging.
Does the idea of action combat intrigue you? Check out our Hands-On First Look at TERA as we experienced it in its first closed beta weekend to find out more.