Earlier today the embargo was lifted on the stuff that happened outside of the Round Table. Most of the stuff that was covered in the embargo had to do with out tour and what we saw while taking the tour and talking to devs in each ‘department’. We were lucky enough to talk to folks from every department including the Raid design team, the UI team, Art and animation and Localization.
I am going to break this report down by department to make it easier to read. Even with the embargo lifted, there are some things that I saw that I can not talk about, so please understand this up front. I will let you know everything that I can talk about. At the end there will be a lot of screenshots as well as some shots from inside the studio mixed in.
The Art and Animation Folks
Our first stop was in the art and animation area. This area is really large and the workstations are very impressive. Each station has a very large Wacom tablet, as well as two monitors for working. I was impressed that most of the monitors had a window up with the Official Forums on it. Matter of fact, I saw that throughout the studio. Just another example of how much Trion listens!
As far as new information is concerned, there is not a lot to speak of, we did get to see a couple of team members working on character customization. Things like skin tones, beards and the like were all being worked on, so hopefully we will see some new stuff in that area soon. We also were shown how the animation team animates each model and it is really some cool stuff!
Rift Event Team
The Rift event team is in a smaller room but their setup is almost identical to the Art teams. They were working on new Rift events, which they say will be ongoing work. They are determined to keep the Rift events fresh and not allow them to become the ‘same-old-same-old’ after awhile. We were shown a Rift raid and, though I can not say a lot about it, I will say that it looks really nice. The team pointed out that they have not even touched the tip of the iceberg with what they can do with their tool-set and I think we are all going to be surprised with the flexibility and power that this tool-set delivers. There are going to be some really, really cool stuff coming down the pipeline!
The Raid Design Team
Next up, we headed to the Raid team and what a visit it was! I am not going to be able to speak much on this front but I will try to get in what I can. First, we saw Hammerknell! It was absolutely awesome. Everything from the look (its beautiful), to the layout (its big!), to the bosses (awesome!) was jaw-dropping. If you are a raider and looking for a new fix, Rift will more than fill it for you. The raiding will be incredible in this game. Incredible.
We also got to hear a bit of their design philosophies and, even better, the team’s high enthusiasm. These are folks who clearly love what they do and it shows in the care and hard work they put into their jobs. Lucky bastards!
We were fortunate to talk to the UI team next and were filled in on what they have planned in the future. Some I can tell you and some I can not. What I can say is that add-ons are going to be in the game at some point, though they are still working out what they want to allow them to do. They are really being careful with this aspect because they want nothing in the game that can ‘play the game for you’ but they do want some stuff to make certain things easier.
They also let us know about a new feature that will be hitting very, very soon. I can not say but you should be hearing about it any time now.
We were fortunate enough to see some very cool things here. We were shown a real-time map that has the average player FPS in colors all over the map. They can tell at a glance what areas are getting low FPS and then take a look at optimizing that area. They can also pull up just about any information they want from the UI. Gold distribution, PvP hotspots….just about anything.
Yes, Trion knows what you are doing!
Quality control doesn’t sound like a very sexy job but it is absolutely vital to the Trion team. These are the folks that hammer out the patches and make sure they are not broken before we get them. With Trion’s track record, I would say they are doing a pretty damn good job! They are also some of the hardest working folks at Trion. They regularly stay late to test patches before they go out. Remember all the late night patches during the beta events? Yeah, thank them!
This is also the home of Amary, who writes some of the most amusing patch notes in the business. I imagine translating all the technical stuff into easy to understand language for us normal folk is kind of difficult and Amary pulls it off with flair.
Final Thoughts on the Trip
Well, that about does it for my coverage of Gamer Day 3. I want to end this by thanking everyone that I had the privilege to meet during my trip. Everyone, from the other fan-site operators to the Trion team, were unbelievably cool. I really hope I will get to see them again in the future and I will certainly be talking to them through Twitter, email, phone and every other way I can.
I know that a lot of what I have written in my posts over the last few days may be construed as ‘fanboy’ talk. But, you know what? That is fine. After watching other MMO devs more concerned with hype than truth, moving as slow as an iceberg with every fix and not listening to the players at all, what Trion is doing is very refreshing. Trion is the model by which all other MMO development teams should be judged. I mean that whole-heartedly. Trion deserves to succeed and I think they will.
So, thanks to everyone who has read my articles the past two days. Between the plane flights and all the writing, I am totally exhausted but it was all worth it. I am going to leave you with a few more pictures and screenshots from my trip.