Last week members of the games press were invited to San Francisco to view a trio of games being produced by Trion, now known as Trion Worlds. The event was held in a large room with the development team from each game in attendance. The evening began with an introduction by Trion Worlds' CEO Lars Buttler. Buttler briefly introduced the new Trion name and outlined the vision:
- Connected games
- New server platforms
- Living worlds
- Expanding markets
- Natively high-definition graphics
- Mass media tie-in
- New platforms
- Connections between online gaming and television
Buttler said that the Trion Worlds' stable of games will bring all of the above to players and that each component is essential to creating epic social environments.
Rift: Planes of Telara
Buttler turned the microphone over to Scott Hartsman, CCO of Trion Redwood Shores. Hartsman spoke about Rift: Planes of Telara. Originally called "Heroes of Telara", Rift has progressed a long way from last year's E3 where it was considered one of the most intriguing games of the convention.
Rift: Planes of Telara fits neatly into the high fantasy MMORPG category. Rift contains features and character archetypes that will be instantly familiar to MMO players. There are eight character classes with front line fighters, rogues, and casters with a level cap of 50. The world of Telara is beset by 'rifts', tears in the barrier protecting the citizens from the denizens of the underworld.
There are two factions within Telara: The Guardians who use the power and might of the Gods; and The Defiants who use their own powers. The two factions are at odds with one another over how best to deal with the Rifts yet both are charged with protecting Telara.
Telara is a gorgeously rendered world. Developers proudly spoke of over 10,000 individual animations within the game and it shows. The character movement is fluid and life-like. Telara's high def graphics are beautiful, though a bit 'neon' for my taste. But it is still early so hopefully that will change. Content is streaming so there are no load screens to be found.
MMORPG players will delight in the core MMO features that are included and find new features intriguing. The game is set up to be non-competitive in the sense that Rifts open either by device (player opening) or design (at a time determined by devs). Players in the vicinity of an opening Rift can join in and share experience and loot without being forced to group. With up to ten stages in each Rift's 'event', there is plenty to go around even if a player dies. Loot follows through death and even across the world when a box pops up to alert players about what was earned yet left behind.
Rift: Planes of Telara is currently in its alpha stage of development and is scheduled for a 2011 release. Devs were very cagey about a more specific date so fans will have to be content with 2011.
End of Nations
Mike Legg from Petroglyph Games spoke about the MMORTS, End of Nations and Petroglyph's teaser video ignited the room! Petroglyph knows RTS as the core of developers is filled with folks who worked on blockbuster RTS games such as the Command & Conquer series, Panzer General and many more. But what Legg revealed ain't your mama's real time strategy game.
End of Nations is out to create a new genre of strategy games on a massive scale with thousands of players online simultaneously with huge maps. EoN will be a persistent world with the actions and victories of players literally changing the world. EoN will bring new features to RTS including a 'drop in and play' feature. With this, players log in, see what's happening on the world map, choose their units, airlift units to the appropriate map and play. As of last Thursday night, Petroglyph had 51 players simultaneously on one map. If that doesn't boggle the mind, nothing will! According to Legg, there's no ceiling to the number of players who can be present on a single map.
EoN has big ambitions to not only change the way RTS games are played but to bring new fans to the genre. As a result, there are a lot of features in the game that MMORPG players will recognize and appreciate: Manufacturing (crafting), a friend list, research & development (recipes), achievements, missions (quests), vendors, loot, character archetypes and more. When watching devs play the game, I felt very comfortable with the MMORPG elements that I saw. In fact, this is probably the first time I've looked at an RTS game without sneering and immediately running away. For the first time, RTS players can choose a 'role' within the game rather than having to be the 'master of all'. You can literally be the DPS tank by focusing on the collection of tank units. In fact, completing units gives players unit boosts as well.
Graphically, End of Nations is light years ahead of any strategy game out there. It looks like an MMORPG with gorgeous 3D graphics. There are trees, mountains, water, deserts and more. The world actually looks like the world and not like a roadmap. The attention to detail is terrific too. When devs zoomed in on the unit that was calling in a napalm strike, the three tiny soldiers inside were busily pushing buttons and moving about the interior.
There is a lot to like about End of Nations for fans of RTS and for fans of RPG. End of Nations is also slated for a 2011 release.
Syfy Action MMO
Rob Hill from Trion San Diego spoke very briefly about the new collaboration between the Syfy Channel and Trion. The idea is to bring gaming and television together in a new action MMO. There is no title for the game as yet but we did learn a few details:
- Lots of gun fighting
- Vehicle play
- Global events
- One universe between TV and game
- Identical factions
- Recognizable technologies and characters
The television show and the game are in simultaneous development with creators working closely to incorporate one another. Hill spoke about the fact that game play can influence what happens on the TV show and vice versa. In one example, Hill said that series characters might speak about an in-game guild that accomplished some heroic/heinous feat.
Beyond the very basics, not much else was revealed about the Syfy game. We did not see it in action and it was not available for demonstration by devs. We'll keep you posted!
All of Trion Worlds' games have the "Triple A" look to them and we'll be following them closely as time goes on.