It’s A Smaller World, After All: Tera Merging Servers

By Nathan Grayson on September 5th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

Maybe we should stop our fighting. I think... I think we're the only ones left.

In the grand scheme of MMOs, Tera actually has quite a lot going for it. The combat’s brisk, high-flying, and surprisingly tense, there’s a fairly ambitious political machine chugging along in the background, and its selection of beaver/badger/cat/dog/catdog people is second-to-none. Unfortunately, the glue that holds it all together – a bog-standard kill/collect quest grind – isn’t so hot, and unsurprisingly, players noticed. So Tera’s world of Big-Ass Monsters and regular-size-ass everything else is getting quite a bit smaller.

On September 18, En Masse and Bluehole will be paring down Tera’s North American server count from 11 to 3. So they explained in a Fall Producer Letter:

“We’ve got several metrics to measure server activity – and many of ours are below the mark. We’ve also been listening to the issues our players have been having in the game: lack of resources, lack of groups, extended wait times for dungeons, and so on. We feel that the best way to address these problems is to increase the number of simultaneous players on our servers.”

“Where some might look on this as a negative, I feel differently. By combining our servers, we facilitate a more unified community and give players a more full, alive world where finding groups, locating rare items (for lower prices!), and getting into dungeons quickly are the norm. Most importantly, combined servers will allow us to run more regular, player-focused events where we get to interact with our players.”

If nothing else, that last bit does sound quite nice. Granted, the letter then only goes on to cite a battleground tournament and holiday events – which, at least on paper, don’t exactly sound like game-changers. “Several” content updates are also apparently waiting in the wings, so hopefully those will inject some new life into the proceedings as well.

There’s also an FAQ for the finer details, but it’s fairly standard server merger fare. Battleground ranks and Vanarch statuses will be reset, while character and guild name changes will only be necessary if someone else on your new virtual home away from home that’s technically inside your home already laid claim to your old one.

And so we reach the part of the post where I inevitably discuss Tera’s status as a subscription-based MMO, because ours is now a harsh and unforgiving world under the iron-fisted rule of F2P. In short, I don’t imagine the fee has helped it – just as that piggy-bank-shaped barrier to entry barred the way for many potential players of Star Wars: The Old Republic and (the still sub-based) Secret World in recent times. Tera already has a premium item store, too, so it’s not like this would be entirely uncharted territory for En Masse.

For now, though, it doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Here’s hoping, then, that beaver/badger/cat/dog/catdog people don’t end up on one of those endangered animal commercials with all the sad music and gigantic eyes that shatter your heart as though it were a brittle, half-melted ice swan. Tera’s far from perfect, but it deserves better than an abrupt end brought about by changing times.

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14 Comments »

  1. Headwuend says:

    In before free to play~

  2. Shivoa says:

    Isn’t Tera a many-shard (Shard-Skipper? Do we have a common term for this yet?) experience so really they should ideally have one ‘server’ (if they could fit all the cross-shard stuff into a single system that didn’t fall over – something companies like Cryptic and CCP seem to do rather well) for everyone and people jump shards to find the people they want to play with.

  3. SkittleDiddler says:

    I didn’t even realize this game was still up and running.

  4. djbriandamage says:

    “Unfortunately, the glue that holds it all together – a bog-standard kill/collect quest grind – isn’t so hot, and unsurprisingly, players noticed.”

    This is such a common, unfortunate problem – MMOs with awesome combat engines but nothing interesting to do with them. City of Heroes, Champions Online, and Tera are examples of games where it’s a pleasure to roam and bash through environments but quests amount to little more than kill X of those guys or click the glowie.

    Guild Wars 2 didn’t solve this problem but I think it will pave the way to the next iteration of MMO design, whatever it may be. Having done some design and writing for an MMO-like game I know how hard it is to keep an audience engaged. A game needs repetition if it has to last a long time, but the challenge is to repeat something you’ve created rather than repeat what’s already been repeated.

    • aliksy says:

      GW2 is a step in the right direction. At least when you succeed at the events (which are open to everyone) stuff happens. I’ve helped take temples back from the undead a few times now, which affects the world a bit. I think it disables some nasty effects in parts of the world, and brings some friendly NPCs to the area.

      • Groove says:

        The interesting part of combat in CoH to my mind was handling large groups of totally distinct characters and AoE effects. In large groups it was a matter of getting the enemies engaged by your tank properly, supporting them with defenders, setting up control effects then letting the damage dealers go to work. There were lots of abilities with ‘hard’ effects, like tanks being able to survive an alpha strike from any group; taunts being 100% chance for the area; blasters being able to nuke all the minions off a group if you clustered them up; positioning and knockback being a really big deal and most mobs being slow enough to control just with this. It made killing the same group 100 times in a row quite interesting.

        Also, to share a couple of GW2 stories, my favourite events have been: protecting someone while he carves a statue in his image so that a hostile race will worship it and believe your race are their gods, thus turning peaceful and setting up a merchant for you; then investigating weird statues outside a homestead, only for an event to start and to have shamans bring the statue to life and start attacking. At this point I’m surrounded by 14 elementals and 2 of the shaman and I’m running and literally yelling at the screen. I loved it. I lived by a hair’s breadth, was rescued by some other players, then we pushed back and completed the event.

    • Jenks says:

      Quest hubs were WoW’s solution to “the grind,” but they’ve become so dumbed down I can’t look at another camp of exclamation points without flying into a rage. From what I hear, GW2 at least superficially fixes the issue.

    • malkav11 says:

      CoH and Champions at least benefit from having interesting settings that don’t hew to the generic fantasy norm. I won’t -swear- TERA’s fantasy setting is completely generic, having gotten intensely bored by around level 10 and quit, but it certainly seemed that way, nor did they ever in those ten levels do anything at all experimental or interesting with the quest design in even the most minute way.

      Unfortunately, this was pretty much my problem with Rift, too. Pretty, cool multiclassing system, cool dynamic public quests (not as cool as GW2′s, but that hadn’t come out yet), interesting time-traveler-come-to-save-the-past-via-the-future premise…aaaaaand quest design and story that were utterly forgettable and generic. And I just couldn’t be bothered.

  5. Chizu says:

    I liked Tera, yes the questing was lame, but it was fun enough playing it with a friend. I liked the combat it offered.

    However, merging servers means they are going to mess up anyone with a name that appears on more than one server.
    And that bothers me more than I can put into text.

    I’ve stopped playing games before when they’ve added initials of an old server to my name during a merger, and I was unable to fix it.
    It feels like they are defacing my character and it puts me off bothering to play anymore :(

  6. ScubaMonster says:

    I enjoyed the trial, but there is no way I would pay a monthly sub. If it went free to play I might check it out. That’s a big MIGHT though, there are plenty of other better games to be playing right now.

    Honestly though, the graphics and breath taking environments were probably the only real reason I enjoyed it. If the graphics sucked, I would have dumped it in 10 minutes.

    • Ragnar says:

      I was somewhat disappointed that the in-game graphics didn’t look nearly as good as the screenshots. Maybe it was my comp (C2D @ 2.9GHz, GTX 470), maybe it was the weirdly positioned camera (more quite a ways behind you than over the shoulder) or maybe it was the fact that playable graphics settings and screen-shot graphics settings are two very different things.

      Playing a Slayer to lvl 11, I found the combat rather boring. The pace was very slow, such that I was always waiting for mana to regen so I could activate the next attack. The questing is, as others said, nothing but grind (kill 10 of X, talk to Y, kill 10 of Z).

      My favorite part of Tera was that monsters don’t aggro. It just felt so refreshing to run through an MMO world where every single thing wasn’t trying to kill you and slow you down. It also gave it a bit of Shadow of the Colossus’s moral self-doubt, where you feel a little conflicted because you’re going out and killing all these peaceful creatures (particularly when you get one quest to protect cute pigs from wolves, and another quest to kill same pigs for their delicious bacon).

  7. caddyB says:

    I loved playing TERA for the combat. You get a great sense of accomplishment when you solo a BAM. But the other mechanics are asian through and through, and it’s very grindy as a result.

  8. zerosociety says:

    I notice the recent trailers go out of their way to NOT show the hyper-sexualized kiddie race.

    (And yes, I know they’re ancient blah blah blah… as much as I love the look and combat of that game, though they creeped me out.)

  9. max_1111 says:

    Speaking as someone who plays melee toons and mained a Lancer ’til 53 i felt the combat in Tera was passable at best; To me it felt clunky as hell and suffered from the same issue that Aion had with melee characters: Locking down players until attack animations finished. I can’t stand that. Sure i can understand maybe requiring a little bit of follow-through for a character who’s wielding a full-body sized shield and a telephone pole but if i try to abort an attack immediately after pressing it, for the love of christ, let me.

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