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Defiance Game: Why it is a Let Down

Introduction

The game Defiance is created by Trion Worlds (the same developers that made Rift: Planes of Telara and End of Nations). This game is created with something new in mind: the merging of a television show and a game, giving even deeper immersion in to the story and allowing players to take part in what is going on as well.

The game has been out for a little while now, and Defiance has aired quite a few episodes so far, so it is a good time to evaluate whether or not Defiance (the game) is on par for what we expected it to be like.

Claims Before the Game Was Released

This is a pretty controversial topic, as there are a lot of different ways to interpret the claims that were given before Defiance was released. As a result, I will be giving my own impressions, though you may or may not agree with them.

  • Each episode will bring new content

Alright, this one is a big one for me. Each episode that came out on television was supposed to bring some new content to us on the game. Now, when we are playing the game, there are many different types of missions. The main two lines are story missions and episode missions. Are you catching this? One of them is, in fact, episode missions. So based on this knowledge (which was known in the beta testing of the game), this would mean that new episode missions are released with each episode of the show, right? Well, actually this is false. With each new show comes small goals off to the side that really do not play that much in to what you would expect for an immersive experience, and past that there are no new cut scenes and such that you take part in. But wait, would it not make more sense that the Episode missions, which do contain acting, voice overs, cut scenes, etc. would be what are going to come out with each… episode? That is not even all of it…

The game was released prior to the first episode of the show being aired. About a week prior to the first episode, we were all told that we need to get the episode missions done before it comes out on television, as they will be getting removed from the game. Oh, that is perfect! This means that our thoughts all along were correct. But what happens after the first show is aired? Wait, there are no new episode missions… in fact, there is still no information being given from an official source explaining whether or not we will ever even see any more of them.

This is a huge problem and it feels as if we have been betrayed. Questions were asked many times prior to the game's launch as to how they would tie in together, and all anyone was ever told was to wait and see. Nowhere were there hints that we were completely misunderstanding the way the game was going to work, which led tons of players to feel as if they had gotten ripped off for purchasing the game. It is hard to really say who is at blame for this, but I feel strongly that the developers, in this case Trion, should have been open and at least set people straight when they were giving out theories on a particularly important part of the game. By not doing this, it was almost as if their company was actually withholding information.

  • Our actions in the game will reflect what happens in the television show (the next episodes, is what was insinuated)

This is another thing that was pretty off. Based on what most of us interpreted this as meaning was that we will get to help shape the show. Of course, this is also something that did not seem as if it were truly possible, but the fact is that this claim was made. As far as we could guess, maybe there was some way of them handling it (such as having alternate situations for the episodes and then showing a certain one depending on what the majority of the players in the game chose). This would have made it actually immersive, where our own actions help shape and determine what happens on the show. Sadly, this part fell through as well.

As later came to light, what is actually meant by this claim is that things that happen right now in the game, while the show is in season one, will somehow have impacts on what happens with season two (which they are presumably in the process of shooting right now). Of course as to what extent our actions will affect the next season, and exactly what this even means (and how our actions are calculated or determined, considering the number of players) is something that, as of right now, all we can do is speculate on.

There were many players that undoubtedly purchased the game in the hopes that it would be the bridge of immersion that we were promised, and this part alone was pretty much a killer to those hopes. It is entirely possible that we will find out later, with the next season, though, that things have been cleared up and are going to be much better with this.

  • The game is free to play, and all you have to do is purchase the original game. All updates to the game will be free as well, and the only things you will have to pay for are things from the cash shop or other non essential items

Alright, this ons has been pretty much spot on, at least so far. There are a lot of questions floating around about what all is included in the “season pass” that is being offered for the game, being that it is a cheaper way of purchasing the future download able content. For example, what exactly does it mean when they say that all the new content is free except things you do not necessarily need? I will go ahead and toss out my own theory on this, which is that it will be run a lot like Rift is right now; where you can access nearly everything with no cost, you can progress through the game and all content, etc. The only thing that is missing is the new Storm Legion souls (from the game's first expansion), which you can obtain by either purchasing the expansion or just buying the upgrade from the in game store. In this case, I feel that the solution is perfect; the souls, while they are nice, are definitely not a requirement to get to and complete the end game content, nor to compete with other players. This leaves the decision as to what to buy up to each individual player.

I am really hoping that Defiance follows the same steps. For example, I could see the new updates coming out with some awesome new weapons or vehicles. Since neither of these will be too much of a hindrance if you do not have them (being that you can already get weapons and vehicles in the game), this would be a great way to offer up something that is not needed but that some people will want. For example, a Hellbug mount, anyone? Or in this case a Hellbug vehicle…

In any case, with what I know about Trion and their way of dealing with the free to play aspect of their games, I do not see this point being anything to worry about. We will see with the first major update, of course, but I remain hopeful that everything will be like we expect it.

  • The game will be released on multiple mediums

This included the consoles Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360, as well as the PC. Now, while this was not a problem (and the game is actually out on all three of these), there are some issues with how it has been done.

First of all, if you want to play Defiance with your friends, guild, etc. you have to do it on the same medium they are on. For example, this means that if your friends are playing on the PC version and you are on the Playstation 3 one, you can not play together. This leads to a lot of problems with those who assumed that since the game is out on all three, and because it is an online game, that we would all be able to communicate with one another and play together. Think of it as being like Final Fantasy XI, where it did not matter what system you were on because everyone was still playing on the same servers. Defiance is different in this aspect, and it is likely because of their patching problems.

With each patch that Trion releases for Defiance, they have to create it for all three mediums. This is tough enough as it is, since each one can have its own bugs that need to be fixed. But when we also deal with the cost of patching, things take a turn for the worst. With the PC, a patch can be rolled out any time without any real punishment other than having to supply the bandwidth for the downloads. For the Playstation 3, the process is pretty quick and painless as well. For the Xbox 360, however, there is a massive fee on each update, estimated at $40,000 (yes, that is actually forty thousand dollars) for each patch. If this is not enough to make you cringe, it also has to go through a lengthy evaluation procedure that can take a week or more. This means that if a major bug is found, not only is it going to cost $40,000 to get it dealt with, but the chances are it will be exploited (or otherwise bother players quite a bit) for a while before a fix for it is ever rolled out. This is really unacceptable, but it is at no fault to Trion. They are working with what they have available, and for that reason I give them credit.

Conclusion

While I am pretty unhappy about what has happened with Defiance so far, I think the television show it is based on is pretty awesome and I am hopeful that Trion will get their act cleaned up. They have done a wonderful job with Rift, and I really hope that they use the knowledge they have gained from its success to help shape the way Defiance will be managed, and sooner rather than later. The game has a massive amount of potential, and it is based on something that has not been seen before in the role playing game area, which means that Trion has the ability to set the standards for future games of its type and to really show off the ability to come up with new, fresh ideas, even when dealing with games. With how long companies have been trying to come up with truly new ideas, this has been an awesome eye opening experience to show that there is a lot more out there if developers are willing to think out of the box, but at the same time the game has to be managed properly or it is not going to go anywhere. We will see where the future leads us, and hopefully it is to a better experience, rather than following the same path it is already on or an even worse one. I will remain optimistic about the future, and look forward to seeing what Trion has in store for us!

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