TERA The Problem With Lagging Behind

When it comes to MMORPG’s that are published in more than one country, there are localization patches that must be taken care of, including both text (such as translating the quest text or skill names from one language to another), as well as mechanics (as, for example, it is often seen that Korean gamers prefer grinding in their games, whereas players in North America are seen as the opposite). What this does, or at least is supposed to do, is help get a core game out to each country, in a way the players can understand it and in a way that is adapted to the country’s play style. This is a huge part of why the MMO’s take so long to get patches from one country’s game to another. In the case of kTERA vs. NATERA (Europe’s servers are really grouped in here as well, as another separate style), this lag created between releasing patches in one country and releasing them in another is problematic.

The lack of separation is pretty easy to understand, though, with how TERA is run. Pretty much what happens is the publishers (such as En Masse Entertainment) have to send in their requests to the developers (Blue Hole Studios). Any changes, therefore, must be made by the developers, rather than the publishers, which really limits the amount of creativity that easy publisher is able to exercise. While this would not be such a problem if the games were hosted in similar areas, it is when we are dealing with a world-wide release like TERA (or, really, pretty much any MMORPG as of late). In cases like this, there really should be a separate team that handles game changes for each publisher. Even small teams could accomplish a lot, and then there could be another team that deals with all of the core features and such. This would allow each publisher to get their own views out, and it would help immensely with allowing the players to feel like they are actually being heard. As it is now, it feels more like we are being ignored, despite that not being in any control of En Masse.

Now, the problem comes in when we are dealing with TERA. The majority of the game (if not all) ends up being the same between NA, EU (I think – I do not deal with EU TERA too much so I may be wrong on this) and kTERA. In other words, there is a lot of time skipped ahead by removing the need to keep balancing content and ensuring that the changes are good for the western market. In fact, if you follow the kTERA news, it will pretty much tell you exactly what is going to happen with the other versions in the future.

The Versions Are Too Similar
In the case of most MMORPG’s, it is easy to understand why they take a bit longer to “port” from one area to another. For example, when AION came out in Korea, there were no guards posted all over each side’s leveling maps. As a result, players from the enemy faction could roam freely, killing anyone they ran across. The same was true for the NA version at first as well, however this was changed before the game actually went live (out of Beta). In cases like this, they are changing what are arguably core concepts of the game, and doing so takes a lot of time to plan out effectively. In the case of the guards, for example, adding too many would cause problems with the PvP system, and too few would have no benefit. It is balances like this that require time and effort to ensure they are right.

We Need Separation
In many ways, players in the western market are interested in a different game than those in the east. As we talked about before, grinding in games is one example of this. To resolve this, there are often pretty big changes that must be done to the game, which almost always ends up relying on some sort of “rested experience” system, where you can bank experience to gain it faster when you log in later. This is a pretty big change because it requires UI and core changes to how the experience and leveling systems work.

Another example of things we would rather be changed are the costumes (both functional and non-functional). I think that culture plays a major role in what we like to look at and what we all find acceptable, and TERA’s costumes are no different. There have been some tweaks to the game for when it came to the western market that help make things look a bit more appropriate, but we really do not have any separation otherwise. This has been a huge source of dismay for many players, in that there are many looks that may be more appropriate here but not in kTERA. Instead, we are forced to take and accept whatever fits in for the eastern part of the world, without any real changes due to our way of thinking. 

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