GI: Sean Gibson, Gaming Illustrated, here at the Trion Worlds booth at E3. I am here with Lance James and we are talking End of Nations, the MMO RTS. I think a lot of people raised their eyebrows when we first heard about that last year. And now we’re playing it, and I’ll be honest when I first got my hands on the game, I started to get it. Is there a bit of education here, or are you guys really seeing a lot of adoption?
LJ: See, that’s the thing. An RTS has a lot of things you need to learn. However, it’s very casual. It’s very easy to walk up and just start clicking stuff and blowing stuff up. It’s maybe intimidating, the RTS name itself. But it’s actually a pretty casual game.
GI: So we’ve been seeing this in development for a while. There’s been a talk of a beta coming out—is there a beta around yet?
LJ: We currently have closed alpha. We have beta coming later this summer and a full release later this year.
GI: So, I’m an old school RTS guy. I mean, just to let you know, I was in the top 100 of Red Alert 2, so I know my RTS games (laughing). What I am very interested in is the balancing between the factions. Can you talk a little bit about that?
LJ: Definitely. So first and foremost, this is a great RTS. We have to make it fair and balanced for everybody. We have a couple of things built into the game, matchmaking being one that keeps the player level separated. But the same itself, we are using a load-out system, and that’s on a point scale. Every unit, every commander ability, every tackle structure costs points. So that way everybody will roughly have the same amount of points. Therefore, we can scale it so I have one tank that is worth 100 points and we are going to have two tanks that are worth 200 points. The point system really allows us to balance things, even though I might have unlocked all my units, but it’s still based on that point scale. Therefore, I’m level 10, or I’m level 5, or whatever, the points remain the same. They do change a little bit based on your level but it is still based on the point system and the load-out system.
GI: I was playing here on the show floor a 2v2 game and I said, “Okay, well what’s the maximum?” And I won’t kid you, I honestly thought it was going to be 8v8. I was told it was 28v28?!
LJ: Yup, we go up to 28 versus 28 and everything from the standard 1v1 up to versus 28 and we do this in a series of ways. I’m sure you remember the old school RTS 3v3 or 4v4 lagfest? One of the things we are doing, we actually blended some MMO elements and one of those things is all the players are connecting to a shard, which is basically instead of connecting peer to peer and to each other, you’re all connecting to one of our shards, which is one of our servers. Therefore, we’re greatly reducing the lag and in most cases totally eliminating it.
GI: That’s a pretty far cry from the days back in the dorms and the token ring cable connections—do you remember that?
LJ: Yeah, that’s good stuff.GI: This is a question that I have to ask, otherwise I get lashed. End of Nations is not pay to win, correct?
LJ: Right. We are fully free to play, but the core, I believe, it’s not pay to win. I will say it again: We want this first and foremost to be a great RTS. Therefore, there is no way to buy significance and game advantage with real money. You can’t go in, spend five dollars and buy victory. You can’t spend $20 and buy a victory. You can’t spend $100 and buy a victory. We are about convenience and customization options, things like skins, colors, small MOADs, like a 1% damage boost, so it’s not game breaking. So it will give you a little bit of added benefit, but nothing that’s game breaking.
GI: Now, I do like Trion Worlds, and I want you guys to make some money and stay in business, so you’re going to be all right with this, right?
LJ: Definitely with the part of the idea of going free to play is that the RTS name itself is a little intimidating. Going to free to play opens it up to a larger crowd. People don’t want to spend $60 on an RTS game. Going free to play opens something up, makes it easier for more people to come in. They will try a free to play game, and once they try it, they will definitely like it.
GI: We’ve seen a lot of competitive gaming here at E3 and e-Sports is really ramping up. Is Trion interested in this? It seems like a decent fit with End of Nations.
LJ: So that is definitely something that we want to do, something that we’re looking at. So that’s all I can say about it. We definitely like it.
GI: So your answer is a “maybe,” but you’re not giving up anything (laughing). Is there anything else here with End of Nations that gamers should be paying attention to?
LJ: Like you said earlier, you saw one of our 2v2 maps. It is a MOBA-inspired map, it has some creeps on there that go back and forth. That’s one of the things that we demoed here at E3. The other thing is, behind closed doors here we’re showing off some of our elite companies. An elite company may sound bad. However, all an elite company is, is a company that we’ve put together, we’ve taken all the guesswork out of it. If you don’t have 10 minutes to build a company, that’s something we’re selling in our stores is an elite company. Go in, get a full company, and go play, literally playing within minutes, if you don’t want to spend time to build up a company. An elite company is not overbalanced, it’s not overpowered, it’s not game-breaking, it is just a convenience thing that we can do for you, to give you a company that’s already built out, it’s all really balanced, it already works and flows well together. But on top of it, the elite companies themselves, every single unit, tackle structure and commander ability, is all unique. They’re all balanced but they’re all fair, and they’re all extremely unique. Unique VO, unique skins and colors, everything about them is unique. The only way to get those units is to have the elite company. So we just stand out on the battlefield, basically.GI: Now, you’re community manager, and Trion’s got a really good following in the gaming community. You have a lot of loud fans that expect a lot from you. How has that fueled the fire that goes into End of Nations?
LJ: It goes a long way, actually. We listen to our fans. They will flat out tell us if something doesn’t work, we will do our best to change it and make it work. You have to listen to who your audience is, and you have to give them what they want, basically. If we were to say “This is a great RTS” and not deliver, it just won’t work.
GI: I would like to get a comment on the fan reaction that you’ve seen as well as maybe some words for the fans waiting for this game.
LJ: Definitely. So far it has been great, nominated for a lot of awards so far, so it’s looking very good. All the press looks great, everything looks great. Our E3 trailer is fantastic if you haven’t seen it. And finally, make sure you go to endofnations.com/beta to sign up for the beta.
GI: Nice plug. I’ve already done that, by the way. I hope to get the beta soon!
LJ: It will happen.
GI: All right, thanks a lot.
Gaming Illustrated would like to thank Lance James and the Trion Worlds team for the hands-on time with End of Nations and sitting with us to answer our questions for this interview.