With TERA refining and perhaps even re-defining the gameplay experience in mainstream MMORPGs, it’s no surprise to hear that the game is seeing some delays. A few weeks ago, it was announced that the Korean version of TERA would be pushed back to address tremendous player feedback from focus group tests (FGTs) and beta tests in the past. TERA‘s developers took some time out to answer questions regarding the upcoming changes to the game, which was translated by the TERA fansite TERAFans.
- It has long been the subject of discussion on forums, but races in TERA are purely cosmetic: that is to say, there is no distinct gameplay difference between races in the game. The developers state that they are currently working on adding traits to each race that wont affect gameplay, but will still (hopefully) create more distinction between them. This statement also implies that the races playing the same was an intentional development choice, no doubt to make balancing gameplay easier for the developer, and choosing a race easier for players.
- There is a noticeable lack of skills in the current build of the game, which puts a damper on choosing skills in accordance with the changing situation. The developer addresses this by assuring its fans that the game will have plenty of skills, and they are steadily adding new ones. In addition, strong abilities to aid solo-players, and offensive player-versus-player (PvP) skills are in the works.
Because of the developers balancing choices, it is difficult to notice any real difference between player characters. To improve on customization, the developers are working on a system that allow players to choose skills and abilities that suit their play-style. These abilities effect MP usage, attack power, recovery/cool-down, etc. This system is designed around points, which players can assign and re-arrange freely. Players will be able to reset and re-work their points (and their unique abilities) as situations demand, for a more satisfactory customization experience.
- There are issues with delay after using certain skills, which players feel disrupt the flow of combat and gameplay. The developers are addressing this. They intend to polish the feel of combat as best as possible, and it is something the team intends to work on throughout production.
- Questing in TERA is repetitive; a problem many MMORPGs share. Players feel the quests are boring and even frustrating due to their similarity with one another. The developers are planning to introduce a greater variety of quests, as well as tweaking the main quests to better promote the storyline. Repeatable quests are getting the axe, (which is surprising in a very good way), in favor of new quests. Party-play item distribution for certain quests is also being fine-tuned, which was an issue during the third closed beta.
- Hunting zones are all relatively similar save for their appearance. Particularly, monsters look and fight similar to one-another, making this aspect repetitive. The developers intend to gut and re-work the hunting zones in response, changing monster variety and placement, architecture, paths, general topography, etc. In addition, quests types and quest lines, as well as the placement of solo and party quests are being renewed.
- Players complained that hunting zones during solo play were much too difficult (read: pansies).The developers explain that TERA was designed with party-play in mind, essentially requiring players to form parties at higher levels. To accommodate the soloists, however, solo-specific hunting zones are being planned. Alongside this feature, the Party Match System will be integrated into the menu system with improved functionality, with the ultimate goal being to make forming parties and inviting members easier.
Large quest monsters felt similar to one another according to players. The developers state that the AI of larger quest monsters and bosses hasn’t been fully implemented yet. Quest monsters, bosses, and fighting in general are all major selling points for TERA, and the developers know this. They intend to work on the AI to make enemies more varied in their attacks, thus more challenging and “complete”.
- Traveling can get annoying as well, as whenever a monster spots you, players are stuck in “combat mode”, slowing down their movement speed, and removing any movement buffs that were in play. To accommodate players, combat mode is being re-worked so that players will only enter it when they strike an enemy, or are struck by one. Buffs won’t disappear when entering combat mode anymore.
- Ganking (player killing) is an issue, as one would expect in a PvP-focused game such as TERA. Of particular dissatisfaction among players is being killed, only to re-spawn and be killed again. Rules for player killing (PK) are being re-worked, and ways to counter excessive and indiscreet PKers (grievers) are being considered.
All in all, the issues addressed and the changes being made are purely gameplay-based, which is very promising. Developer Blue Hole Studios is definitely headed in the right direction with these changes, and the fact that they listened to fan feedback, and shared this information with their fanbase, shows a level of devotion to their product that is admirable. Let’s hope they keep it up.