GDC 2012: TERA's growth spurt and dynamic events

"It's been a helluva year since we've been at GDC last," TERA Producer Chris Hager started, "and everyone wants to know what we've been doing for the past 365 days."

Thus began our time with En Masse at GDC, in which enthusiasm for the forthcoming TERA was positively infectious. Hager sighed happily as he reminded us of the title's May 1st launch date: "You have no idea how happy that makes me to be able to say that."

Just because a launch date is on the horizon doesn't mean that the hardest part is over for this crew. During this past month, the team's been running a closed beta test that's provided vital feedback for last-minute tweaks and preparations. "We've taken that feedback and it's helped us evolve TERA into the game we all want to play," Hager said.

So just what has En Masse been doing for the past year, and what has us most excited about getting our hands on a launched version of TERA? Read on to find out!

Epic fight scenes
Making a good thing even better

It's vastly different to port an already-established MMO to a new region than to develop one from scratch, but En Masse wasn't just content to change the language and call it a day. After gathering lots of feedback from both internal and external testers, the team began to make significant changes for North American audiences.

These changes include all-new quests, daily quests, and the addition of an achievement system, which has already proven to be popular in other MMOs. TERA's achievements can and do reward players with titles and special in-game items. Rested XP was another "must-have" for the team, so players comfortable with similar systems in other games will be right at home catching up with some bonus XP at their backs. The leveling curve received attention from the team as well, so the grind won't be as noticeable.

A significant difference from the Korean version is that North America TERA won't have individual shops. Instead, the team elected to established a "robust" broker system to be the central hub for the player communities.

Players can also expect to encounter TERA's new reputation system, which measures how effective you are in catering to the needs of one of the game's six factions.

You got some "M" in my "MMO"

Enough about what En Masse has done for the solo player -- what's the team been up to in regards to the multiplayer game? First of all, the team's added a significant motivator to getting together with friends in game: group experience. This extra bonus XP will reward, not penalize, groupers.

TERA will come equipped with a fully fledged instance matching system, which will pair interested dungeoneers up with each other to form balanced groups. You'll want to get into as many of these groups as possible, because TERA's dungeons have been upgraded to include bind-on-pickup weapons and armor that can't be found elsewhere. Hager said that doing this BoP allowed the team to make better-than-average gear that won't unbalance the game's economy.

The biggest reveal that came out of GDC, however, is the announcement of a dynamic content feature for the game called the Nexus system. A Nexus is a portal that opens up on the landscape and allows beings from the enemy's realm to pour into the good guys' stomping grounds. When it happens, a public event message will go out and players will get a special quest to repel the waves of invaders. Rewards for doing so are rare and powerful, so Nexus events will be sure to attract healthy populations of defenders.

Putting together an MMO isn't just back-of-the-box bullet point features, of course. The team's been hard at work creating security for the game to repel hackers and monitor chat channels for spam and abuse.

It was interesting to hear that En Masse will allow players to buy an in-game item with real-world money that contains 30 days of game time, which can then be sold to other players in TERA for in-game currency. Through this method, En Masse has opened the door for sanctioned RMT within the title and for players to potentially earn game time by simply playing.

From a more clear-cut currency system to allowing the use of controllers to racial traits, TERA's been growing by leaps and bounds during this past year. We can only speculate what else could be added between now and launch.

Massively sent four resolute reporters to San Francisco to bring you back the biggest MMO news from this year's GDC, the largest pro-only gaming industry con in the world! From games like The Secret World to PlanetSide 2, we're on the case, so stay tuned for all the highlights from the show!
This article was originally published on Massively.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.