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Trion Worlds

Atlas Reactor photo
Atlas Reactor

Making sense of Atlas Reactor's simultaneous turn-based combat

It's tricky
Oct 28
// Jordan Devore
Atlas Reactor is a tactical multiplayer game about predicting your opponents' moves. The twist is that although combat is turn-based, everyone's "turns" play out simultaneously (albeit across distinct phases: prep, dash, blas...
Rift photo

Rift's latest update is the biggest one since launch

That launch that happened four years ago
Oct 09
// Joe Parlock
Remember Trion’s Rift? I really liked it; it had a lot of excitement behind it before release, and then when it came out people seemed to forget all about it. The jump to free-to-play seemed to help a bit with getting ...

Atlas Reactor's competitive turn-based play shows promise

Sep 02 // Jordan Devore
Atlas Reactor is turn-based, but players have a limited time (30 seconds by default) to lock in their decisions, and everyone's turns are simultaneous. That goes for your allies and enemies. It's quick and chaotic and not unlike rock, paper, scissors. After committing to a strategy, your actions (attacking, shielding, buffing, trapping, moving) play out across different phases. There's an order of operations to keep things fair, in other words. During any given turn, you have to get into your opponents' heads and try to predict how they'll behave. If you're sure an enemy is going to dodge, don't plan to fire a shot that will inevitably miss -- lay a trap instead. If you're guaranteed to be hit hard and have no escape, set up a shield. It's a system that borrows from fighting games (reading your opponents), tactical games (grid-based positioning), and MOBAs (varied characters, free aiming). The end result is a promising fusion of genres that, at least to my knowledge, has never been explored quite in this way. [embed]308953:60233:0[/embed] "Once you have the basics, it's pretty interesting," said executive producer Peter Ju. "You want to play one level above your opponent. If you play two levels above your opponent, you're just going to out-think yourself and you basically are going to seem like a noob compared to the guy who doesn't do anything." Out of nowhere, another Trion Worlds employee, who was not a part of my demo, chimed in. He said he had far better results early on when he first started and didn't really know how to play. No one could predict his strategy because he simply didn't have one. I can relate. Atlas Reactor is only now entering alpha, and while the core mechanics are set and seem solid, there's still stuff to figure out. Which modes to create, for one. The match I saw was pretty standard: two versus two, first to four kills wins. Based on what players do with custom games during alpha testing, Trion will adapt to their preferences and "make more of that." I liked the sound of lighting rounds, where you have a precious few seconds to plan your moves. As for cooperative play, challenge maps of some sort are planned. "I really want to play XCOM with buddies," said lead designer Will Cook, "but I can't do that. This is the key to that." I'd be down to play with Steven. Between this, Hard West, and XCOM 2, there's a lot of love for turn-based strategy on the horizon. As long as Trion Worlds doesn't mess up the free-to-play aspects of Atlas Reactor -- I suspect it'll charge for skins and taunts -- it should turn out well.
Preview photo
I'm pleasantly surprised
Signing up to see an unannounced title at a gaming convention or expo can be risky. I've never been burned before, but I'm aware my streak could end in an instant. I went into my PAX appointment with Trion Worlds (Rift, Defia...

Atlas Reactor photo
Atlas Reactor

Trion announces turn-based strategy game Atlas Reactor

'Turn-based game... but competitive!'
Aug 31
// Joe Parlock
Rift developer Trion Worlds has announced its newest project: Atlas Reactor. A free-to-play, simultaneous turn-based strategy game, all players carry out their turns at the same time, meaning there isn’t hours and hour...

Trove photo

Trove, a Minecraft-like MMO, is out today from Trion Worlds

I think kids will dig this
Jul 09
// Chris Carter
I know it's tough to see "MMO" and "Minecraft clone" and not roll your eyes, but bear with me here. Trion World's free-to-play Trove is out today, and I gave it a spin this morning to see what it could do -- p...
Defiance photo

Take a chance on Defiance now that it's going free-to-play

Honey, I'm now free! Take a chance on me!
May 01
// Brittany Vincent
To me, Defiance always looked like one of those games I'd probably enjoy a lot more if I didn't have to pay a monthly fee for it. The show didn't strike me as too great, but I figured I'd give the game a go if it ever went do...

End of Nations development 'put on hold'

Company focusing on other projects
Mar 03
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Some folks on reddit happened to notice that Trion Worlds has removed any mention of End of Nations from their official sites. The troubled title has been in development for years now, and last year it was revealed their swit...
Trove photo

Trion Worlds announces free-to-play voxel adventure Trove

Alpha sign-ups open
Nov 15
// Conrad Zimmerman
Behold the announcement trailer for Trove, a voxel-based online adventure RPG with procedurally-generated worlds. In development at Trion Worlds with a small team for the last year, players will be able to explore and destro...

New screenshots of End of Nations as a MOBA

MOBAdy asked for this
Jul 18
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
End of Nations has returned as the game's Alpha servers are back up. Only invited fans can test out the newborn game, and those of you interested can register for more of the Alpha taking place this Summer. Players will notic...

End of Nations has been turned into a MOBA

MOBA apocalypse is upon us
Jul 13
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Remember End of Nations? It was that awesome looking free-to-play real time strategy game from Trion and it was something I was really looking forward to. The huge sense of scale and battles looked actually exciting. The game...
Rift free-to-play photo
Rift free-to-play

Rift is now fully free-to-play this week

Creative Director of Rift ensures players it's 'not pay-to-win'
Jun 13
// Chris Carter
In case you haven't heard during the madness that is E3, Trion World's MMO Rift is now fully free-to-play as of yesterday, having previously employed a "lite" version of the game that limited players to level 20. Th...
NPD April 2013 photo
NPD April 2013

NPD: Injustice and Dead Island lead sales in April

Total sales down 25% YOY
May 18
// Tony Ponce
[DC zombie sculpts by Casey Love Designs] The NPD Group released US sales data for April 2013 two days ago, but a complete lack of enthusiasm on the part of the Destructoid staff has delayed our posting it. Not our fault! Loo...
Rift photo

Slowly but surely: Rift will become free-to-play in June

I hope you didn't just start subscribing
May 14
// Jordan Devore
Having previously put out a lite version of RIFT, Trion Worlds is now committed to introducing a full-fledged free-to-play model for the MMORPG. They're doing it, and doing it well, it sounds like -- "experience the entire g...

Impressions: Defiance

Apr 18 // Fraser Brown
Defiance (PC [Reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Developer: Trion Worlds Publisher: Trion WorldsReleased: April 2, 2013MSRP: $59.99 (No subscription) Defiance is a strange beast. It has the typical framework of a modern MMO, with PvP, PvE, an open environment, loot drops, quests, and co-operative dungeons, but beyond that, it's actually pretty atypical of the genre. For one, it is in no way, shape, or form an RPG. Of course MMOs don't need to be RPGs. If that was the case then MMORPG would not be a term, but let's not kid ourselves here, when one hears that three letter acronym, they sort of expect it to also fall into the aforementioned role-playing category. It's actually a proper shooter, and what I mean by that is it's not a title where one just clicks on an enemy, hits some keys on a hotbar, and then watches as their avatar shoots. It's based on precision and skill, not ability rotations. Defiance continues to eschew traditional MMO design by not really having levels, instead using a power rating. Increasing one's power rating gives a player access to more advanced perks and ability levels and new content, but it does not make them more powerful or increase their hit points. Instead of being given a slew of new abilities every time you "level up", Ark Hunters -- the only class in the game, which isn't really a class at all -- get one main ability, either a sprinting attack, overcharging of one's gun, deploying a holographic decoy, or a cloak, and then a bunch of perks such as doing more damage when crouched or when above a target. Frankly, none of these abilities are particularly interesting, and in the end, no matter which one you choose, your role will be defined more by the weapons you choose, which you can switch on the fly, not your ability to vanish or deploy a bunch of holograms. Gear has been given a similar treatment, and while the large variety of guns increase in exoticness as one gets further through the game, their stats only change incrementally. That is not to say that there's no reason to keep searching for better weapons. You will find guns of the same type that are clearly better than your older one, even if only by a small amount, but more importantly, it might have an additional effect, like incendiary rounds, or it might be an automatic variant of your old manual rifle. Bizarre alien weaponry is a particular highlight. Within the first couple of hours of playing I found myself in possession of a truly disgusting pistol that spat out spores, covering foes in these horrible, flesh-toned bulbous pustules. After firing off a few rounds, they would actually hatch, with foul little creatures bursting out of them and attacking my enemy. Absolutely grotesque, and bloody wonderful.  So, what we're dealing with here is a game where skill, precision, and timing are far more important than gear and "levels," which makes for a refreshing change of pace. Yet despite this commendably novel approach to a genre that's becoming a bit tired, Defiance sticks to some MMO conventions that simply don't make sense given its other features. The quest-based gameplay, for one, is really quite awful. Defiance is an extremely linear title; so linear, in fact, that the entire game essentially follows one single, literal road. Almost every quest or, rather, mission, is right by the long and winding road that snakes its way down the San Francisco Bay area. One doesn't even need to hunt them down, as the moment you can participate in a mission, it's right there on the map. And, if for some reason you didn't notice it, as you drive down the road you'll see a plethora of glowing blue lights which offer up these missions.   To be fair, I might have been a bit too harsh by calling this a tired MMO convention. Too harsh on MMOs, that is. At least your average example of the genre bothers to create quest-givers or occasionally places a quest a wee bit off the beaten track to inspire exploration. Not so in Defiance. You get your missions by radio (but only when you come across the blue light shows), usually from the same tiny number of mind-numbingly dull NPCs, and there is absolutely no impetus for exploration. Not that you'd really want to explore the amazingly bland world Trion has put together. For a planet apparently ravaged by alien terraforming, it's remarkably bereft of interesting scenery. Trees, mountains, and the occasional weird rocky protrusions make up most of the uninspired landscape.   The absence of strict levels or massive disparity in gear quality puts Defiance in a perfect position to send players out into the great unknown to explore the game-space at their own pace and make their own objectives, but instead it's content to be almost like a theme-park ride, pulling Ark Hunters through a long and boring road to the next insipid objective. Oh yes, the objectives. They amount to going into an area and killing things, going into an area and breaking things, or going into an area and clicking on a flashing object. Sometimes Defiance mixes the formula up by tasking players with doing all three of those things. Groundbreaking, to be sure. Occasionally you'll be "gifted" with an obnoxious NPC companion to protect, which is a nice change. The last thing I wanted to do was repeat any of these missions, especially when they all sort of bleed together into one colorless mess of being sent to perform brainless tasks, but repeat them I did. Defiance has a lot of bugs. A ridiculous number, really. But the most irritating for me was its insistence that I had not completed certain objectives even after I was informed that I most certainly had completed them. Logging out and in again would cause all mission progress to be lost, and I'd have to start it all over again, not even knowing if I could complete it. It's just not worth it when the missions are so shallow. A few missions do have a tangible effect on the world, which did at first delight me. The first time this happens is fairly early into the game, and after a challenging battle against a seemingly never-ending horde of angry mutants, the cavalry appeared (seconds too late to help) and took up residence in the liberated area. I felt like I'd had a positive impact on the world, and I could come back at any time and see these soldiers going about their business in a complex that I had freed from the clutches of the mutant horde. Even though I knew countless other players would still be attempting to do the same mission, for me it would remain the same. But there was no follow-through. The NPC troops remained perfectly still and completely silent, not providing me with new missions, shops, or even a bit of minor dialogue, and I'd never have a reason to visit the place again. My victory went back to being superficial. At least I got to shoot a bunch of stupid mutants in their deformed faces, I guess. While we're on the subject of stupid mutants, I'm reminded of another unfortunate genre convention that Defiance sticks to. Enemy AI, something nobody could accuse MMO developers of making particularly noteworthy, doesn't exactly break the mold in Defiance. Normally, mentally subnormal foes wouldn't be worth mentioning when discussing a new game in the genre, but it becomes a lot more unforgivable in a game of skill.  The myriad of horrific mutants and bizarre creatures that make up Defiance's rogues gallery don't work together, react to player tactics, or really do anything other than the same foolish attacks over and over again. However, they are marginally less suicidal than the foes found in Defiance's peers. They can often be found hiding behind cover, and some employ shields that halt player attacks, forcing attackers to circle around them to find their weak spot. There's certainly a nice variety, and most groups will be made up of multiple enemy types, keeping players on their feet as they dodge rockets, grenades, gunfire, and machete wielding maniacs. Mechanically speaking, they are more interesting to fight than your average MMO enemy, but they are just as stupid. Long before this point in most of my reviews, I'd be discussing the story and setting of whatever game I was writing about on that given day. I can find a story in anything, I've even written FTL fan fiction (in my head), and that's a game where the story amounts to being chased by bad dudes. But damn have I been struggling to figure out what to write about the premise of Defiance. The game rarely offers up much context, just expecting you to know what the hell is going on. Thankfully, I recently watched the Syfy pilot of the TV show of the same name, and that's a hell of a lot more informative than the game, even if it has almost nothing to do with its videogame cousin. Before last night, I didn't even know what the fuck an Arkfall was, and it's meant to be what my character has built his career around. I won't beat around the bush, because, frankly, it doesn't deserve a build up. It's the future and an alien race -- actually eight alien races, really -- arrived on Earth about 30 years ago and caused a big ruckus. There was a war, the aliens terraformed the planet, and now there's a tenuous peace between most of the races, but the world is in a right old mess. The aforementioned Arkfalls are large chunks of space detritus that fall to Earth and often contain lots of lovely goodies. Ark Hunters are basically salvagers and scavengers. Though hardly inspired, the show, or at least the pilot, was immensely watchable. There's an interesting set up, a few characters that aren't completely terrible, and it certainly has some potential.  The problem with the show was that I really wished that the game was more like it. Desperately, in fact. The protagonist of the show is, much like all player characters in the game, an Ark Hunter. He's basically a poor man's Han Solo, if Han packed in the smuggling gig and got into salvage. He's an ex-soldier, and certainly isn't gun-shy, but his main concerns appear to be acting casual, making money, and exploring the husks of fallen alien vessels.  Compare that to the Ark Hunters in the game, and you'll soon find yourself wishing you hadn't. You can pick a background and one of two races (Human and Irathi), with more coming in premium DLC (cue the appropriate booing and hissing), but neither have any real bearing in terms of the gameplay or the narrative. You are just a person with a gun who kills other people with guns. Sometimes you kill bugs. Arkfalls are equally disappointing, but are at least more compelling that the standard story and side missions. The one Arkfall that takes place in the pilot is a huge alien vessel that plummets to Earth, surprisingly intact. It's an actual location to be explored, and within it, the protagonist discovers an important alien artifact with immense power. Back in videogame land, Arkfalls are usually chunks of rock. They fall from the sky, and then hundreds of players drive towards them en masse. These are big multiplayer events, with players "working together" to take out tough enemies, such horrible, monstrous Starship Trooper-inspired hellbugs or titanic rampaging mechs for pitiful rewards. The Arkfall events are reminiscent of the Rift events from Trion Worlds' previous MMO, Rift, but bigger and a lot less enjoyable. The first few times, I'll happily admit that I was entertained. They were the first proper multiplayer experiences I had in the game, and I was happy to just be participating in an event with other people. They go on for too long, however, and the rewards, as I've already mentioned, are really meager. There's also no real need for organization. Everybody just runs about shooting the crap out of anything that isn't another player. I'm certain folks would be more inclined to work together if the social features weren't so horribly ineffective. The absence of a proper chatbar is a real problem, and the standard method of communication, voice chat, is hideously broken. Other players are just there. I see them, and sometimes -- if we're on the same mission -- I'll even fight by their side, but I never once got the sense of teamwork that I expect from an MMO.  I just gave up even trying to be social, other than the couple of times I went on Skype and played with a chum. That Defiance utterly fails at one of the key aspects of the genre is a huge mark against it. I've played some pretty terrible MMOs and stuck around just because I found a group of people I enjoyed playing with. I play these games for their cooperative nature, and without that, I have few reasons to stick around.  PvP is hampered by social issues and bugs, just as the PvE aspect is. Shadow War, the open-world PvP conflict mode, would have actually been a great deal of fun if I wasn't continually being shafted by a constant stream of issues, from weird problems when respawning (like being stuck or having to run around sideways) to vehicles not working. I got a lot of disconnections too, and not just in PvP. This hasn't been as prevalent in the last week as it was just after launch, thankfully, but it still happens enough so that it becomes a major pain in my already sensitive arse. As I write this, I realize that Defiance has pissed me off more than I thought. I really wanted to get into it, and due to its uniqueness in a world of increasingly similar MMOs, I desperately wanted it to be something I could see myself playing long after I finished telling you lovely people all about it. But it isn't a game I want to invest more time into. I'm tired of fighting the obtuse menu system that clearly wasn't design for PCs -- I can't image it was really designed for the PS3 either -- and I'm sick of logging out and back in again because of a bug, and most of all, I'm not prepared to play a game that feels empty when I'm surrounded by dozens of other players.  Every time I look at the map and see -- if it isn't broken and revealing nothing at all -- yet another identical mission, or a stupid time trial race, I can't help but wonder what else I could be doing with my time. I could be learning how to sculpt beautiful women, or improving my chess game, or I could simply be playing a videogame that doesn't infuriate me.  So I'm going to stop writing now. I probably have time to buy some clay before the shops close, and I think my creativity is starting to come back now that I know my journey through Defiance is finally at an end. 
Defiance full impressions photo
Please pardon the lazy portmanteau, but Defiance has sapped me of a great deal of my creativity. I'm tired, friends. The new MMO -- that's desperately trying not to be an MMO -- from Trion Worlds has toyed with me for th...

Defiance photo

Here's the first episode of the Defiance TV show

Transmedia synergy!
Apr 17
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
With the release of the Defiance videogame comes the start of the Defiance television show. Apparently the show did pretty good, pulling in a total of 2.7 million viewers for the premiere. That's great to hear, considering I...
Defiance impressions photo
Defiance impressions

The first two days of Defiance

Killin' bugs and ugly dudes
Apr 04
// Fraser Brown
Defiance, Trion Worlds's post-apocalyptic MMO shooter, came out a couple of days ago, and I've been courting it. We've gone on a few dates, but we're still getting to know each other, so it will likely be a couple of weeks un...
Scavenger Hunt photo
Free codes for sharp eyes
This week we're sponsored by Defiance, an MMO by Trion Worlds collaborating with Syfy, whose on-air and in-game worlds both share the same paced story progression.  The TV show and game launch on April 15th, and we've go...

Defiance photo

Next beta event for Defiance is also on consoles

One more beta weekend for Defiance
Mar 14
// Jordan Devore
With two PC beta events down for Trion Worlds' open-world shooter Defiance, there's one more to go, and this time, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 gamers will be able to join in. This last beta phase for the game is scheduled to s...
Rift two year anniversary photo
Rift two year anniversary

Rift celebrates two years with carnival and free weekend

More mounts!
Feb 27
// Joshua Derocher
Rift is celebrating its two-year anniversary in style with an in-game carnival. Players will get to attend the "Carnival of the Ascended" and participate in events to unlock new mounts and masks to wear. This carnival i...

Who wants a code for the Defiance beta?!

Feb 08 // mrandydixon
To join the beta, just do the following: Head on over to our beta giveaway page and click the big red button Hit up the Defiance Beta site and sign up for an account and redeem your code Check your email for instructions from Trion on how to download the game and start playing! Have fun!         ... If you walked away from the beta empty-handed, no fear!  Here's another opportunity: You've found a Defiance Scavenger Hunt code: CNABZX
Defiance Beta Codes photo
Try it out before the April release
[Update: Codes expired! Stay tuned next month -- we may have more :)] Our friends at Trion Worlds have hooked us up with another set of closed beta codes for their upcoming MMO shooter Defiance! If you recall, this game isn't...


Defiance launches April 2, TV series on April 15

Trying to wash the word "transmedia" out of my mouth
Jan 30
// Allistair Pinsof
Defiance -- one-part Trion Worlds MMO, one part SyFy TV series -- will launch in April. A.K.A. a month that investors are really hoping Breaking Bad and Grand Theft Auto V don't share. The standard release for PC, Xbox 360, a...
Defiance photo

New Defiance trailer and pre-order bonuses detailed

Editions, Editions, Editions
Jan 23
// Harry Monogenis
Trion Worlds' upcoming videogame and television show hybrid, Defiance, is almost upon us and I must say that this game has caught my attention. I mean, the fact that whatever transpires in the TV show will affect the online ...

Here are 2,000 codes for the Defiance beta!

Jan 20 // mrandydixon
To join the beta, just do the following: Head on over to our Beta Giveaway page and click the button Then hit up the Defiance Beta site and sign up for an account and redeem your code You'll receive instructions via email on how to download the game and start playing! Have fun!
Defiance Beta photo
Try it out before the April release
[Update: Codes expired! Thanks for playing!] Our friends at Trion Worlds have hooked up Dtoid with 2,000 closed beta codes for their upcoming MMO shooter Defiance! If you recall, this game isn't just based on the upcomin...

Free-to-play FPS photo
Free-to-play FPS

Warface closed beta opens ahead of full launch in spring

For your face
Jan 18
// Jordan Devore
Trion Worlds and Crytek have kicked first-person shooter Warface into gear, announcing that the free-to-play game's servers are now operational for the closed beta. Amusingly, the "social entertainment platform" powering Warf...

Take a look at Defiance the game and the TV show

Transmedia something something
Jan 09
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Trion Worlds has released a little look at the massively mutiplayer co-op action of Defiance. Expect large scale battles, vehicles, and lots of guns in this MMO that also doubles as a TV show. Yes, SyFy is making a TV show t...

Trion Worlds opens sign-ups for Defiance beta

Beta event scheduled for January 18
Jan 03
// Jordan Devore
Trion Worlds has a lot to prove with Defiance, its massively multiplayer online shooter which also happens to be an upcoming television show on SyFy. The studio will be running a brief "Advanced Mission Beta 1" this month, gi...

Going all in: Defiance is Syfy and Trion's biggest gamble

Oct 17 // Allistair Pinsof
Syfy is throwing an unprecedented amount of money at the TV production, building a 51-building studio lot in Toronto. Trion (Rift, End of Nation) is developing its first multi-platform release, a massively multiplayer third-person shooter that attempts many new ideas within the online space. If coming to grips with a new genre isn’t enough for Trion, having to be congruent with the TV series is sure to provide the developer many restless nights. But, right now, it’s time for the easy part: Showing off and discussing the game. “Both of our CEOs have been meeting for quite a while, and they came to the conclusion that this transmedia thing -- that’s what we call it -- could be big on both sides. So, we, from day one, worked with Syfy on how we were going to do this,” Hill says. “We need to find a way to meet both of our needs, but it wasn’t one before the other.” Bringing two mediums together to occupy the same universe is something that has been lightly attempted before with Shiny’s maligned Enter the Matrix, Syfy’s own Red Faction: Origins TV movie, and other projects best forgotten. An MMO needs tons of different stories for quests, but Syfy wants to focus on telling a few intimate stories. A game needs tons of creatures to fight, but a high enemy count doesn’t make for great television -- or, in the very least, affordable television. Both parties are trying to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued similar projects in the past. Visual effects supervisor Gary Hutzel is tasked with one of the more difficult jobs: He needs to make a game look as good as a TV series while not keeping it from playing like a (good) game. There are many things game designers lean on that are counter-productive to designing a TV series, such as using color to indicate visual information to the player. Vivid colors are applied to immerse the player and limit frustration, but these same vivid colors make for unrealistic TV that breaks immersion for viewers. “For me the key element was that Trion was creating an action-adventure game and my job is to make it real,” Hutzel says. “To bring it into the real world and make those characters something that you don’t just add onto but also something that you can come to the show and see ‘Oh yeah, that’s how they would look in real life!’” As a result, Hutzel is working closely with Trion to make compromises on both ends that make sense. If a six-legged creature is too hard to animate in the game, the developers give the creature insect legs instead. In some cases, enemies and characters won’t appear identical. Colors in the game may be more vivid, while the show goes for a more muted presentation. The goal is to avoid confusion and disassociation, while making Defiance work as a game and show. “Early on, I called what I was doing open architecture design for the show,” Hutzel says. “Even if we don’t have an immediate plan for the game, let’s design everything we do for the show so it flows smoothly across development of the game." Although I got the sense that Syfy is leading the fiction of Defiance, unlike most videogame tie-ins, Trion is not playing second fiddle. The MMO-focused San Diego studio has taken some smart precautions to distance itself from the show, such as moving the game’s location to a different city. This allows events in the show to appear in the game at a later date and vice versa. An otherworldly "razor storm" or alien invasion can arrive in the show with an appearance in the game, in the following month. Considering the distance between St. Louis and San Francisco (where the game takes place), the gap in time makes sense and builds immersion. “We want to have these crossovers be impactful. If they sat on top of each other, we would have to make them constant and we can’t make them constant,” Hill says. “We need that buffer space between.” Razor storms and hell bugs are neat, but Defiance is a show about characters. Though MMOs have broad appeal, storytelling isn’t one of the genre’s strengths. Defiance seeks to change this by weaving a story that is complete on its own but also provides players with deeper insight on the history and motivations of characters in the TV series. For example, the opening mission introduces Nolan, a Han Solo type wandering the badlands, who gives the player a rifle and artifact that can be deadly in the wrong hands. When the Syfy series premieres two weeks after the game’s release, players will see Nolan, the show’s main character, deal with the aftermath of this action in the game. The experience is an additive one, not supplementary. “The game is a MMORPG and therefore a basic world. It continues to exist even when we stop shooting. You need one of these worlds to stop so that we can reseed, reboot, and re-synthesize,” Grant Bowler, who plays Nolan, says. “That becomes seamless on your end but on our end it gives us an opportunity to see how events fold and unfold in the game. We re-engineer so it is a congruent universe in the show.” The experience for the cast has been a unique challenge, as well. Before Nolan ever walked onto the St. Louis set, he walked into virtual San Francisco. Or, more accurately, he walked onto a green screen wearing a motion capture suit to make character stances and deliver lines. “That’s a very odd thing for an actor, because I walked in and the mocap guys and Trion guys were like how, “How would your character do this?” Bowler says, with the energy and enthusiasm you'd want from an action hero. “I dunno! We’ve never done it!” If letting Trion take the first step in directing actor performances is not an indication that Syfy is making a gamble, a tour of Syfy’s studio lot for the show serves as clear evidence that the niche cable network is going all-in for Defiance. If not one of the most refreshing sci-fi premises for the network since Battlestar Galatica, it certainly matches its scale and ambitions. The massive set houses most, if not all, locations for the series, with buildings added to before being featured in new episodes. From the oak tree in the middle of a whore house to cargo crate homes stacked outside, every corner of Defiance’s set is brimming with detail, color, and personality. “I think what’s wonderful about the creation of the town is that you see history repeat itself. It’s almost like a mosaic of different time periods and different wars and different cultures all coming together,” actress Stephanie Leonidas, who represents one of seven alien races on the show, says. “In a sense, this town is timeless. For me, it’s almost feudal. There is something extremely dangerous in that and extremely sad and mysterious.” Stop me if you heard this one before: Defiance takes place in a post-apocalyptic America where cities now reflect the Western frontier, resources are scarce, and cars have roll cages. But, here’s where things get interesting: Earth now houses seven different alien species with different motivations and histories. While Earth is drained of resources, it is also under constant threat of terra-morphing machinery that drastically alters the landscape it touches. St. Louis, where the show takes place, may be a wasteland, but Las Vegas is now an island with rich vegetation and dense jungle. And, of course, there are weird, wild beasts for TV stars to run from and gamers to chase. The show’s art and costume department work within the set. David Peterson (Game of Thrones) created three languages for the series, one of which already has 3,000 words. The fiction is so deep that the writers at Trion and Syfy share a private Wiki system so that they can always be on the same page. It took Halo several sequels and novels to build up a mythology so dense, but Trion gets to play within this world from the start. Despite early rumors that players would be able to directly influence the TV series, Syfy’s producers have made a firm stance during the set visit that this will not be the case. However, Hill is confident that Trion will have more freedom to experiment in season two, by including more drastic player choices and highlighting specific characters in story sequences (though, it was unclear if this would be limited to in-game cutscenes). “The TV show is not choose your own adventure […] We know what we are doing in the TV show. This is about creating great satisfying drama,” executive producer Kevin Murphy says, during one of many panels throughout the day. “These two experiences holistically create a larger experience. If you’re a gamer watching the show, you’ll go: “Oh wow! So that’s where that went?” During a cast Q&A session, Gowler says that the game is complete on its own; it can be played without ever watching the show. Another cast member shouts, “Don’t say that!” It gets the biggest audience laugh during the panel. Underneath the laughter is the reality that Syfy and Trion must face soon enough: What happens if one succeeds while the other fails? Will players flock to Defiance amidst the arrival of a new Grand Theft Auto? Will viewers stick with a show, as Game of Thrones and other geek favorites comes back to air? After Toronto’s relentless winter comes and goes, we’ll have some answers to those questions. Whether there are positive results or not, Defiance will likely be remembered as one of gaming and televisions’ most ambitious moments and it couldn’t have happened without the other. At least, initially.
When TV meets MMO photo
One of the spring's biggest shows is also its biggest MMO
[For a glimpse at Defiance (the game) and its new PvP modes, check out our recent preview and return here for a look at the TV series. Also, MEBTWK] “Four years ago, both we and Syfy knew we were going to do this, ...

Preview: Defiance

Oct 17 // Allistair Pinsof
Defiance (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC [previewed])Developer: Trion WorldsPublisher: Trion WorldsRelease: April 2013 Defiance isn’t based on a TV series, it’s part of one. Launching two weeks before the premiere of Syfy’s most expensive production yet, Trion Worlds (Rift, End of Nations) is introducing players to the world of Defiance. In time, the TV series will introduce elements to players, such as hell bug invasions and deadly storms that start in the TV show’s St. Louis setting and slowly make their way to San Francisco, where the game takes place. This creates an interesting dynamic between the two mediums that binds the story of each together. There are also narrative ties that give background information on events and characters in the show, connecting the gaps between episodes and -- if all goes as planned -- seasons. Before I knew of the TV angle, I became familiar with the game from people comparing it to Borderlands. The shoe certainly fits. You’ll traverse a wasteland, shoot random bandits, and collect loot/xp. What’s wrong with that? A Borderlands MMO sounds pretty good to me! Defiance can become pretty hectic as players join up for a mission. Main missions are shared experiences where any player can fulfill objectives for all, while side missions require each player to act. The game balances player count by adding tougher “Elite” enemies and increasing other enemies’ health. The demo felt rather easy but that may have been because I was early in the game. Playing with 15 or so people in a multiplayer match felt great, as did five or so joining me randomly for a mission. Trion is hesitant to talk player count because it’s a sensitive issue that affects not only the server tech but all aspects of the game’s design. I found the spontaneous chaos of players exciting but if that number goes into the triple-digits it could become maddening. Trion is trying to figure out the player count for each space, so players don’t lose sight of what the game’s story and mission objectives. I have mixed feelings about this, mostly because I endorse 400+ player virtual orgies. If it breaks the game, we can at least have a good time doing it! Shooting, throwing grenades, and running feels pretty standard for a third-person shooter but game-changing for an MMO. It's always fun to shoot things, especially in the context of an MMO. Like Borderlands, you’ll acquire tons of weapons and loot that modifies your shield, grenades, and other equipment. There are also active and passive abilities to unlock. The demo I played featured cloaking, rage, sprint, and decoy abilities -- some made more sense in a competitive setting than others. Another key aspect are vehicles which you can summon with the touch of a button at any time. More vehicles will be earned and unlocked over the course of the game, making the large landscapes of an MMO a playground instead of an obstacle. For the first time, Trion showed off its Shadow War multiplayer mode that creates a “Capture the Nodes”-type game in the middle of an area. At any time, other players can observe, join, or ignore these matches. They can be a stupendous spectacle or a quick distraction, depending if you add the match to your queue or not. There are also arena-based matches, but Shadow War seems like a much more original idea. It’s pretty hilarious to be in an intense firefight while some other clan drives by on their ATVs, rushing to the next story mission. One area that Defiance doesn’t shine is in visuals. Though Trion didn’t show off much of the game’s world, what I was shown is decidedly darker and lamer than what I saw on the set of the television series. The fiction is a rich one that pulls from a lot of history and culture, but the game area and missions shown looked as generic as can be. This is Borderlands before the iconic cel-shading art direction was applied. Defiance is rough around the edges and a bit ugly and, with six months until launch, Trion face a challenge in getting it on par with the TV series. On the other hand, the game is fun -- something I don’t often (ever?) say about MMO games. The shooting, player dynamic, innovative interaction with the TV series, and RPG elements make for a unique MMO that I’m willing to give a shot when it releases in April. I just hope that the game manages to capture some of the detail, color, and personality of the TV show.   ... What could this be? F3LZLK
Massive co-op is massive photo
Trion's refreshing take on PvP and co-op may just be what MMOs need
The wasteland of Fallout may be impressive in terms of scale and detail, but I always feel a bit lonely in it. Defiance is such a world, but it’s one constantly shared with other players. At any time, your clan may s...

Preview: End of Nations is still free, and still fun

Sep 14 // Abel Girmay
End of Nations (PC) Developer: Petroglyph Games Publisher: Trion Worlds Release: Fall 2012 For the uninitiated, I'll run through the basics. End of Nations is a free-to-play MMORTS from some of the minds behind the Command & Conquer series. Like any MMO, the world here is persistent with players picking factions before jumping into seasonal campaigns. While a seasonal campaign was mostly hinted at when I saw the game last year, the system is pretty much fleshed out now. Basically, campaigns will be approximately month-long events where players will battle for control over the persistent world map. At the end of each season, the campaign will end and the maps will reset, with rewards and bonuses handed out to players on the winning faction. The seasonal campaigns also provides a more natural way to introduce new unit types, patches, and other forms of post-launch support. End of Nations plays around with established RTS conventions. The biggest change many of you have heard of by now is the absence of any sort of base building. All units that you bring into battle are determined by preset loadouts, called companies. An extra mechanic that Petroglyph has added to this feature is the ability to swap out entire companies mid-game. We got to play around with this feature on Nations' smallest 1v1 map. Playing "Last Man Standing," the objective was to simply survive the onslaught of AI-controlled enemies. With a middle barrier separating your units from directly combating your opponents', the competitive element comes in when you manage to gather enough resources on your half of the map, and send small mercenary units to sabotage your opponent. Being able to switch companies was particularly useful in this match, as my tank-heavy company was starting to fall apart against enemy air units. That being said, there are some countermeasures in place to prevent the system from being abused. For one, I lost my entire setup across the map, as my new company would only spawn at my starting landing pad. This wasn't too great a sacrifice on the small map I was playing on, but it's definitely a sacrifice worth considering when you're playing on the larger maps. Also, there is a delay between when your previous company disappears and your new one spawns. Other than that, we briefly played a 4v4 game of Domination, which plays similarly to other control-point game modes. There are three capture points on the map that award points for the amount of time you hold them, with the winner being declared when a team hits the score cap. Again, it plays how you would expect a game of Domination to play, but there are twists introduced with respect to the map design. The map we tried, called Resource Hog, was a resource-littered map, except many could only be reached by specific unit types. This really plays into how you coordinate with your teammates. Do you want to have a dedicated resource gatherer, or split the duties? Or maybe you want to wing it and swap out your companies if you don't have the right units to reach a certain area. In any case, you can't let them fall into enemy hands, as resources are the precious currency that fuels your super weapons, such as napalm and the dreaded nuke. It's a great time for free-to-play games. Just at this past PAX Prime, you couldn't walk for five minutes without seeing a bevy of impressive free-to-play titles. And as one of the few standouts of its subgenre, End of Nations is well poised to see its original promise pan out.

When I first saw End of Nations last year, I was one part intrigued, one part skeptical, and all together hoping that the promise of a massively multiplayer real-time strategy game would pan out. Since then, we at Destructoid...


Rift: Storm Legion dated, pre-order bonuses detailed

Includes early dungeon access and a cape
Sep 05
// Jordan Devore
Trion Worlds has announced that Rift's first expansion, Storm Legion, will be launching on the same day in North America and Europe: November 13, 2012. I'm not playing the game, and frankly, I don't know how many of you are ...

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