Trion Worlds CEO Shares Industry Insight, Talks New Games/Branching Out to Consoles

After playing the four games Trion Worlds is currently focusing on, which would be Atlas Reactor, Trove, Rift and ArcheAge, I was able to sit down with CEO Scott Hartsman to discuss his company and the games they develop.  He was very friendly, down to Earth and very passionate about not only his company but video games in general.

[Hardcore Gamer]  Can you give a general overview of what your company is about?

We are primarily a group of people who got into the business of creating games because we are people who like creating games.  We started as developers, and then we went into the business of publishing other people’s games.  The philosophy is that we built up all of this stuff that supports online games because online games have all this unique and special needs compared to either private server games or offline games so that we started sharing that with other developers and we’re on our second partnership with that, our first partnership was with XL Games in Korea, our second partnership is with Loophole Games in Korea, where we’re the western publisher for their MMOs.  And so the general philosophy of what we do is we like games, we are gamers, otherwise we wouldn’t be in this business.  Right now the total is six games, we have five live right now and one in beta that we are looking to release live possibly later this year and that’s Atlas Reactor which you probably saw the biggest display for out in the front.  We have a lot going on this year, I guess I’ll start with Atlas Reactor being the newest game.  It’s in beta, it’s in a genre we’re kind of pioneering into, we get a lot of comparisons of Xcom meets Dota or turn based for the Overwatch generation are things people are saying about the game.  The idea about the game is its competitive four vs. four where it’s not about how fast you can click but about how fast you can think and if I was a marketing slime I would say something like “it’s always your turn!” but I wouldn’t do that because that’s terrible.  The idea is the turns are simultaneous meaning that everybody takes their turns at the same time and the action resolves all at once, and then repeat that cycle.  There’s different types of games, there’s death match, there’s most kills, capture the briefcase type of mode and the team keeps adding in more modes and more characters.  It is a buy to play game with a permanently free mode in it.  You can play for free as long as you want on a free character rotation, and when you decide you want to have all the characters you pay once and everything is unlocked.  That’s Atlas Reactor, we’re pushing really hard on that this year.  There’s also our other game Trove, Trove is an action voxel adventure, it’s an MMO in a voxel world with worlds you can construct and destruct.  You’ve probably seen other voxel sandbox games in your life, Trove is meant to be a compliment to those, it’s not a game that is all about just collecting everything and building everything.  It includes that but it is an MMO style adventure with gear and leveling up and multiple worlds and so on.

That’s kind of the impression I got at the demo station, an adventure MMO that incorporates that sandbox building element.  It’s admittedly a lazy comparison but it’s like taking the template of Minecraft and combining it with an MMO.

Yes, yes, we were looking at what was going on with Minecraft and thought that voxel could end up being its own genre in which you could have entirely drastically different types of games and so with Trove it was based on our history of working on Rift and what does an adventure co op game look like and then moving on to Rift, Rift is our pioneering game, it was our first game done back in 2011 and now is on its third expansion due later this year.  Rift to us is still the best example of a quality, full featured, co op MMO out there and that really is the thing we push hard on anytime we add something to a game, because we have it set up where you can side kick up to a friend if they’re new to the game or you can mentor and play with them to help them catch up, you can freely jump across the server to play with each other, you can click one button to join a raid and suddenly you’re instantly out in the world chasing after objectives together.  It’s really all about making it easy to play with other human beings, that’s the overall goal of the game so we’re really proud the game is still going strong in its fifth year and we’re very excited about the expansion coming out later this year.  That leads to ArcheAge, which is our first publishing experience with XL Games in Korea.  We look at ArcheAge as a really big compliment to the experience that you get in Rift.  Rift is all about the theme park adventure game, ArcheAge is all about the competitive style sandbox where it’s one of the few games out there where you are able to actually own a piece of the shared world and build it up and plant and harvest crops, and then do trade runs.  It’s very much a PvP experience so I guess that’s the slightly more harder core version of what you would see in an MMO.  So ArcheAge has an expansion, the second expansion coming out later this year as well.  I guess if I had to summarize all of who we are and we do in five to ten minutes I would say that’s a good assessment of what we do.



One commonality I noticed while playing the games and talking to the presenters is they are all free to play, at least in some capacity.

Yes, we tend to think of a healthy free to play has somewhere between five and twenty percent of the player base paying something while the rest never pay a dollar.  The vast majority of people who play our names never pay anything, and we’re okay with that.  One of the things we look at with the different types of players out we have to think about it as an ecology of different player types.  Different people have different abilities to play or tolerance for paying with personal budgets set aside so we have to create a great experience for all those people.  We don’t want to create a game and have it suck and forces the player to pay to remove the pain, we want to create an awesome experience, and you’re paying to enhance the awesome experience, but in a way that isn’t overly competitive or overly advantageous.  In some games like Atlas Reactor, where it is all about competition, the bonuses from paying are 100 percent cosmetic.  There is no way to alter your game play by paying money, which for us is our first game that we see being adopted into tournaments, so in a world like that we need to totally have a flat, even playing field with no paid advantages at all.

The other commonality I noticed that we touched on during the introduction the focal point is other players.  Trove, for example, you play by yourself but it is an MMO and all these other people are running around and the other games all involve other players, like forming guilds in ArcheAge.  ArcheAge especially you had taken the guild concept a step further with the small group families and the large group collection of guilds with nations.

With all these games you can play them solo, but they are designed where you will get a better experience playing with other people.  There is never a disadvantage to having other players around in Trove, and some of the most fun moments in Trove come from running from dungeon to dungeon defeating monsters and other people join, and everyone gets the same experience points and copies of loot, there are never any detractors from playing with other people that was very important to us when we designed Trove.  We have the concept of clubs in Trove, which are essentially the same thing as guilds in other games.  Clubs can terramorph and build up their own private world that only members can have access to.  And with ArcheAge you’r right, in ArcheAge the nation system that just released recently is more insane than anything I have ever seen in a game before.  If guilds band together and declare themselves a nation and build a castle and build up all the crafting materials to do that, they become a system level faction in the game which has increased the player interaction and cooperation in a way I have never seen in a game before.  It’s a way where you can make your own society that is at a higher level than other MMOs.

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