E3: Defiance

| 10 Jun 2011 00:44

Can an MMO and SyFy TV show tie-in actually work? Looks like it.

I have to admit, the first time I heard about Trion's Defiance it sounded awfully weird. Defiance is a shooter MMO also tied in with an upcoming SyFy television show of the same name. If this doesn't make you say "wtf," you've got more vision than me.

However, when Trion demoed Defiance and explained it to me at E3, I actually thought it sounded like a neat idea. Or, the game at least looked pretty good already.

Defiance (the game) is a futuristic third-person shooter MMO in development by Trion San Diego. It takes place on a planet that has been terraformed by aliens, though something's gone wrong. To start, players will choose to play as humans or a friendly alien species.

Players are armored up and look like something out of Mass Effect. The demo first featured a quest where a group had to team-up on a clan of cyborgs that have modified themselves by adding pick-axes and other crude weapons to their anatomy. It was more than just firing at enemies in an open area, with one part of the quest requiring a player to lay down cover fire so another could pass a warehouse filled with cyborgs. Also, as you fight you'll acquire experience points and loot. The game was very reminiscent of Borderlands in style.

Trion then showed us a larger scale event that centered around an alien Ark which had crashed onto and into the planet. Anyone that enters the quest area will become part of the event, similar to events in Trion's Rift. The Ark emerges from the ground with multiple arms holding a creature inside of a crystal. The goal is to destroy the Ark's arms as enemy aliens attack from the ground to also get their hands on this creature (and the loot he'll generate). Once you destroy the arms, you'll have to fight the massive creature prize inside the crystal.

Okay, so it sounds like an interesting MMO, and with Trion behind it, known for the really cool Rift, Defiance has potential to turn out great. But what's up with the TV show tie-in? The game and the TV show are both episodic (obviously). If something happens in the show, it'll be reflected in the game, and players from the game will also be talked about on the show but both take place in different cities. Characters from the show might travel to the game for a while, where players can interact with them, and later they'll travel back and talk on the show about what happened in the game. Not so bad, right?

Trion isn't sure when the game or show will launch, but they'll be close together. Defiance will be available on the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, but each console will play in its own version of the same world. Cross-platform play is up to the platform owners, not Trion.

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Sci-Fi tie in, Console MMO...just maybe....it'd sell me if they nabbed some Firefly actors for the show.

Wait, how is this going to work with MMO names in general? I mean, some people will have normal-sounding player names, but others? I can just imagine the actors in the show trying to talk about what "Nubpwn3r" and "DeuceMonkey" did last week while trying to keep a straight face. I really hope they've got some idea in place for that.

Wait, I Sci-Fi, Console, MMO? Well, I'll be giving this one a look for sure.

If they have the right mix of decent writing, steadfastness, and sense of camaraderie, it could work. See SG-1-- hokey as it might be, it would be perfect for this kind of thing. Did the Tok-ra uprising on UV-244 go as planned, or did the replicators throw a wrench in the works before macguyver could fix it all? The answer, of course, determined in the MMO event.

I'm guessing the real challenge is development money and subscription fees, I would only loosely connect the show to the game until the fan base was established if I was the guy designing it, because TV show failure could link to game failure and vice versa.

Also: Line in the show:

Thank god for BalLckr of the ComeHonorFace squad, their heroic efforts have liberated the people of Zambluff Village from the predations of the enemy.

...

I doubt it will be successful for more than a few months, I really think MMO developers are not accurately examining the longevity of these projects or what makes them successful past release date. It could work, particularly if the show is a hit but from the looks of it is a few good ideas on top of an imperfect foundation.

viranimus:
I dunno I have always suspected that this would eventually happen. Think about it, you use the television show to act as the largest bulk of narrative and let it play out via the televised season. Then at the end of the season, (or close to the end) launch an expansion pack that will keep people interested during the shows off period. By the time they loose interest in it, the new televised season is up and running.

This way you can have the show as a vehicle for the narrative, and the game can well... be a game.

Its not a bad idea at all... except for it being tied to SciFi channel, which has a spotty at best track record for original programming.

Anyway, I think even if Sci fi fails with this, eventually, someone, somewhere will try this sort of idea in full force.

You're right. Its a clever idea to an extent but the vast majority of MMOs are terrible and doomed within a year, if that. The same goes for Sci-Fi shows in general. As like most games and shows, its all about the talent behind them or applying a successful and highly profitable formula (that doesn't work so well with MMOs though).

Personally, I think this concept would be ideal for a show like Firefly, but even Firefly barely made it through its first season. Who wouldn't want to be a space pirate in a game that isn't just an over glorified screen saver? :)

I dunno I have always suspected that this would eventually happen. Think about it, you use the television show to act as the largest bulk of narrative and let it play out via the televised season. Then at the end of the season, (or close to the end) launch an expansion pack that will keep people interested during the shows off period. By the time they loose interest in it, the new televised season is up and running.

This way you can have the show as a vehicle for the narrative, and the game can well... be a game.

Its not a bad idea at all... except for it being tied to SciFi channel, which has a spotty at best track record for original programming.

Anyway, I think even if Sci fi fails with this, eventually, someone, somewhere will try this sort of idea in full force.

I hear the rushing sound of a coming belly flop. A television tie in can't be good... then again, if they hire a handful of SG-1 actors they might just make it. (seems to work for another terrible show..)

It looks kind of like a third-person Borderlands minus the funky art direction and retro weapons. Dunno how the whole cross-media tie-in thing will work out, though- it does sound kind of gimmicky.

E3: Defiance

Can an MMO and SyFy TV show tie-in actually work? Looks like it.

I have to admit, the first time I heard about Trion's Defiance it sounded awfully weird. Defiance is a shooter MMO also tied in with an upcoming SyFy television show of the same name. If this doesn't make you say "wtf," you've got more vision than me.

However, when Trion demoed Defiance and explained it to me at E3, I actually thought it sounded like a neat idea. Or, the game at least looked pretty good already.

[gallery=286]

Defiance (the game) is a futuristic third-person shooter MMO in development by Trion San Diego. It takes place on a planet that has been terraformed by aliens, though something's gone wrong. To start, players will choose to play as humans or a friendly alien species.

Players are armored up and look like something out of Mass Effect. The demo first featured a quest where a group had to team-up on a clan of cyborgs that have modified themselves by adding pick-axes and other crude weapons to their anatomy. It was more than just firing at enemies in an open area, with one part of the quest requiring a player to lay down cover fire so another could pass a warehouse filled with cyborgs. Also, as you fight you'll acquire experience points and loot. The game was very reminiscent of Borderlands in style.

Trion then showed us a larger scale event that centered around an alien Ark which had crashed onto and into the planet. Anyone that enters the quest area will become part of the event, similar to events in Trion's Rift. The Ark emerges from the ground with multiple arms holding a creature inside of a crystal. The goal is to destroy the Ark's arms as enemy aliens attack from the ground to also get their hands on this creature (and the loot he'll generate). Once you destroy the arms, you'll have to fight the massive creature prize inside the crystal.

Okay, so it sounds like an interesting MMO, and with Trion behind it, known for the really cool Rift, Defiance has potential to turn out great. But what's up with the TV show tie-in? The game and the TV show are both episodic (obviously). If something happens in the show, it'll be reflected in the game, and players from the game will also be talked about on the show but both take place in different cities. Characters from the show might travel to the game for a while, where players can interact with them, and later they'll travel back and talk on the show about what happened in the game. Not so bad, right?

Trion isn't sure when the game or show will launch, but they'll be close together. Defiance will be available on the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, but each console will play in its own version of the same world. Cross-platform play is up to the platform owners, not Trion.

image
See all our coverage directly from the show floor.

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