ZAM at E3: TERA's Political System in Action

During our time at E3, we stopped by En Masse Entertainment's impressive TERA booth to learn how players can earn a seat of power in the action MMO.

Just when you thought that your weekly guild meetings couldn't get any more contentious, En Masse Entertainment's upcoming TERA looks to expand the role of politics in MMOs like never before. Want to dictate tax rates? Imprison your fellow players? Enable PvP across your territory? If you have the political will and support, you can make it happen.

But let's back up for a moment. TERA is an action MMO developed by Bluehole Studio and launched in Korea earlier this year. En Masse Entertainment is currently developing a North American version with no current release date. Billing itself as the first “true” action MMORPG, reflex and aim matter in TERA — it's not just about packing the right gear and stats, you need the right skills.

Now that we're caught up, keep reading after the jump find out what we learned at En Masse's impressive TERA booth (seen above) at E3!

Becoming a Vanarch

So back to politics, the “big thing” announced by En Masse Entertainment at E3 was the scope of guild power in TERA. Each province in the mystical world of Arborea can be subjugated by a guild, or more specifically the guild leader. Guild leaders do this in one of two ways — through emerging victorious in free elections or by using brute strength in PvP battlegrounds.

The triumphant guild leader then becomes that province’s leader, or Vanarch. Vanarchs receive considerable influence throughout the province. En Masse stressed that it isn’t just a fancy title; you get direct control over everyone’s digital life in your province. First among these is economic power — Vanarchs set tax rates. The higher the tax rate, the more money the Vanarch receives but the more his loyal subjects suffer. A lower tax rates results in less income but presumably means more love from the little people and an easier time attracting specialty shops.

The land won by the Vanarch also gets renamed after his or her honor. To make sure everyone in town knows that you're hot stuff, you get your own custom mounts. More importantly, Vanarchs have the ability of enabling PvP throughout the province. That alone has some pretty significant consequences and could alter your province’s economy and population base. Lastly, Vanarchs can outlaw other players and throw them in prison if they dare enter your territory.

Power at What Cost?

Political power comes with a price —and to hold onto it Vanarchs will need to accomplish periodic epic quests or lose power abruptly. These quests will involve the help of others, so whether you choose to be a benevolent ruler or tyrant, keeping some combat-hardened friends nearby isn’t a bad idea.

En Masse has a “policy point” system under construction that will help gauge what Vanarchs need to do to prolong their stay in office. According to Brian Knox, TERA’s senior producer, the current plan is to hold provincial elections every 30 days. That means Vanarchs who choose to go at it the democratic way will need to be proactive in keeping their constituents happy.

I quizzed Brian about how he plans to let players imprison paying customers. He laughed and said there were a few logistical issues that hadn’t been finalized, but that the final product would work to everyone’s satisfaction. En Masse also revealed plans in place for a “super leader” that controls the entire Aroberan continent called an Exarch. Unfortunately, Brian was tight lipped about how Exarchs come to power and what perks come along with the job.

Continued on Page 2.

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