En Masse Entertainment, North American publisher of the upcoming action MMORPG TERA, presented a playable demo of the game at E3 2011. Their booth was themed on the Pora Elinu region of the world of TERA, with a dozen demo kiosks around the circumference of the tree-like tower representing the city of Pora Elinu. In addition, press and media were treated to an exclusive, behind-the scenes demonstration of the game, which gave insight into one of TERA‘s more advanced mechanics: the political system.
TERA is more that just another pretty Korean MMORPG, and En Masse detailed they felt what makes the game stand apart from others in the genre. If a battle system based on skill and precision is what makes TERA‘s combat engaging, an in-depth political system is what makes the world and player interaction engaging.
Fans and readers have known that TERA‘s political system will allow for unique perks, like raising taxes and enabling PvP in certain areas, but the full extent of a political leader’s power in the game world has never explicitly been touched on by En Masse.
Politics in TERA are purely player-driven. Players can work towards becoming provincial leaders, called Vanarchs, for the sake of improving the playing community, or for their own personal gain. There are many advantages to assuming the role of Vanarch, which will undoubtedly encourage fierce competition between guilds during elections. Vanarchs wield tremendous power over the province they rule: they control taxation, PvP rules within the province, vendor/shop access, can run events, and even imprisoning other players. What is done with this power is entirely up to the player. During the demonstration we were presented with two scenarios, which represent the two ways in which players can become a Vanarch.
In the first scenario, we followed a well-liked and genuinely helpful guild leader, who aimed to become Vanarch through popular vote. After campaigning and helping out his community, he nailed the election and earned himself the Vanarch position. It is interesting to note that there doesn’t seem to be any particular restriction on the voting rules: while the example we were presented with depicted an honorable player, candidates will be free to earn their votes legitimately, or earn votes using less scrupulous methods (the rigged Korean election comes to mind). This freedom should make for some interesting campaigns come election time.
The second scenario was a bit more vague, but it presented a more selfish player/guild leader: a player in it only for himself and his friends. This player is not particularly popular in his community, and so the only way he can earn the Vanarch office is to earn accolades through the game’s PvP battlegrounds. Exactly how this works hasn’t been detailed explicitly.
The end result in both cases is that these players become Vanarchs.
It is important to note that a Vanarch’s term last only for two weeks: players who wish to stay in power for a longer period will have to do some upkeep. In order to maintain their power, Vanarchs will have to earn what En Masse calls Policy Points. Much like the process of becoming a Vanarch, players earn this credit in two ways. The most obvious method is by earning the favor of the voting populous. So long as the Vanarch maintains steady recommendation from the population, he/she should keep their office without trouble. If the Vanarch happens to be contemptible tyrant, however, maintaining a popular vote is out of the question. This brings us to the second method in which leaders can earn Policy Points: Vanarch-specific quests. In the exclusive press/media demo, we were allowed to play through one such quest, which required that we take down a BAM (Big-Ass Monster): the dragon Sabrnak.
The political system sounds like a novel approach to expanding end-game content and creating tension within the game, without having to resort to artificially polarizing designs, like factions. Of course, En Masse also revealed that there is a political office above the Vanarch, called the Exarch, with dominion over an entire continent. Want to learn more? So did I. But that was all En Masse was willing to divulge at the time. Be sure to check out TERA‘s official E3 2011 trailer, as well as our image slideshow below.