TERA Short Story Published: The Amaranthine Heart

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03/23/2012
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We are pleased to announce a series of short stories set in the world of TERA! Expanding on the game’s rich lore, these e-books will be available on. The first installment is titled written by En Masse Entertainment Writer Bridget McKenna and can be picked up today. This adventure novelette is about Madoc, a decorated federation hero who’s drinking himself to death in the fleshpots of Castanica. His biggest creditor—castanic crime lord Praedo—offers him a job that will wipe out his debt: sober up and escort a caravan to Val Aureum, where a shadowy priest claims to have the secret that will grant Praedo eternal life.

When they found me, I was passed out in a blind alley behind Myrenia’s place in Dusk Street. I’d been heading for my rented room and stopped to clear my spinning head, but that last tankard of Myrenia’s Essenian brandy had gotten the best of me. I’d curled up in a corner between two cozy stone walls instead and closed my eyes.

“Get up, Madoc.” Jabiir punctuated his command with a kick to my ribs. Amani have big, businesslike feet. With claws.

“Back off, Jabiir!” I came to my feet in one well-practiced motion, nearly wrenching my arms from their sockets as I reached behind my back for my swords. Gone. Pawned to a baraka banker with an eye for fine Kaiator steel. In the absence of two razor edges to do my talking, I settled for “Ow!”

“We’ve got orders to give you more and better, human.” That was Nirix, Jabiir’s partner in crime enforcement; a black-haired high elf packing a bow as tall as she was. As near as I could tell, she hated humans only marginally more than everyone else. “Praedo wants to see you.”

This was not good news. Praedo held notes that far exceeded the value of anything I still owned, including the fistful of federation medals I’d been awarded before I put military life behind me and embarked on a career of heavy drinking, far from anyone or anything I cared about. That he had sent Jabiir after me meant that however paltry the amount might be to a man of his means, he was serious about getting it back. That he’d sent Nirix implied that if push came to shove, he might be fine with taking it out of my corpse 

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Beta Test 3 Recap was closed

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03/23/2012
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We’re burning through time as we get closer to launch. It’s hard to believe we just wrapped up our third closed beta test (CBT3), which was a ton of fun with more players than ever, and we’re just days away from our fourth (CBT4)! It won’t be much longer before our early character creation, open beta, and launch! There’s electricity in the air in the office, and everyone is more energized than we’ve ever seen as we push toward the finish line.

Now that we’re more than halfway through our closed beta cycle, we’re seeing some interesting trends. The castanic race is still the most popular, followed closely by human and high elf. Players dig playing a warrior, with more than 50,000 created so far. Other popular choices are slayer, sorcerer, and archer (you guys love your DPS!). Roughly 250 guild versus guild battles have been fought, showing that PvP was also popular. Archers and slayers tend to be the most popular picks for PvP, but more than 120,000 kills were racked up this past weekend. All in all, it seems like everyone has had a good time. We did, however, have nine unlucky players earn the “Black Death” achievement for dying 100 times each. Hopefully they were shooting for a record!

Looking toward CBT4 and beyond, we’ve been hard at work making changes. For the next beta weekend, we’ve fixed a number of the bugs you’ve reported and increased the difficulty for levels 1–15 to make the beginning of the game feel more challenging. We’re also testing the waters and will have an event going on this weekend (read our more on this!). As we collect feedback, we’ll keep making tweaks to levels 1–15 to make this part of the game just as exciting and engaging as what comes later. We also have new additions and announcements for our open beta client that we’ll talk more about as we get closer to the event.

We’re excited for this weekend’s beta test, and look forward to seeing you all in TERA! 

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The Team That Plays Together Stays Together

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03/21/2012
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When you manage a team of nine or so writers, it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day tasks and forget to make time for team building. But for a group of creative people collaborating intensely, trust is key to happiness and productivity. And trust doesn’t grow as naturally over a cube wall as it does over food and drinks after a team outing to the latest Pixar film.

The En Masse Writing team is lucky in that most of us have worked together in the past, some of us on more than one project. Heck, one of us even gave birth to another. We’re a close-knit team, and we like to hang out together even after hours (Cantina Night, anyone?). But as a manager, I try very hard not to take that for granted. So we take over large tables at various downtown Seattle restaurants at least once a month, and when we can, we troop down to the movie theater to recharge our creative batteries. Or downstairs to Starbucks for an impromptu coffee-on-the-boss, just so we can hang out for a bit between deadlines and blow off steam.

Another awesome thing I try not to take for granted: the writers love to play TERA together—especially now that we’re starting to see the content we’ve been working on in places where previously the text was in Hangeul (Korean). It’s amazing to see the characters coming to life, speaking the words we’ve written, telling their stories, and layering in bits of lore here and there. The writers play TERA on and off all day as they research the characters and locations and quests they’re writing about, and yet they’re always happy to jump in and play just for fun, which tells me we’re doing something right. And it’s yet another great way to reinforce the bond between us.

As I write this, I’m celebrating my first year at En Masse. When I started, there were only a handful of people in the office, and I was the only writer. Over the past year we’ve built a solid team that has collaborated with our counterparts at Bluehole Studio to create questlines with global appeal. We’ve written and edited thousands (upon thousands) of words of story and dialog. We’ve filled our website (as well as quite a few others) with TERA lore and information. And we’re only getting started.

Here’s to another great year working and playing with my amazing team. 

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One Year and Counting…

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03/21/2012
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To take you back to the beginning, we started off in a temp office in the South Lake Union area of Seattle. Initially there were four of us in a one-room office, but we quickly grew to 30 and soon found ourselves working in pretty tight quarters. There were three different lunch options within walking distance, and that was fine until the second week when we were all sick of the same sandwich, taco, and teriyaki rotation. As our numbers grew, we often lost power because we had too many computers drawing from too few circuits. We even had the Fire Marshall stop by and mandate some changes to our setup! But it was from these humble beginnings that we recruited some of the amazing talent that is a part of our group today, including a marketing director responsible for Halo launches, a network operations director responsible for setting up Xbox Live data centers, a lead writer with D&D credits, and a PR director who came to us from Bioware. And it was from this office that we pulled off our first focus group test, showcased TERA at our first trade show (GDC), and developed our company brand identity (En Masse Entertainment). So it was with mixed emotions that we left that office for the new space in downtown Seattle, but it was the beginning of even greater things to come.

In June we had an amazing E3, jam-packed with press demos and late nights. It was gratifying to see the press reaction to our group gameplay demo, because it was the first public validation we had in the West that TERA was as special as we thought it was. We came home energized and with an even greater sense of purpose. As much as the community feeds off the information we release, we feed off your feedback and excitement. The summer was good to us as it introduced a strong European partner in Frogster. We also had the chance to meet with some of you in person at Comic Con and at PAX. We have continued to grow over this time, building the team with more great talent. Most importantly, we’ve made great strides Westernizing TERA. The level of collaboration between En Masse and Bluehole is unprecedented and the result of this collaboration is going to set a new standard for how an MMO can, with the right people and process, be successfully tailored to fit multiple audiences.

It is time to look ahead. It is going to be an amazing year that will see all of our planning and work manifest in a ground-breaking game. Next year we will do what we came together as a company to do: we will launch our first game, and see you all in TERA! 

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In One of the Most Beautiful Places in the World!

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03/20/2012
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Our agenda was simple. Stefan and I were to head to Seoul and meet with the Bluehole Production team and discuss such trivial issues such as closed beta, PvP servers, end game content, the Western leveling curve, and production status. In other words, it was a very important trip. Our first meeting revolved around the scheduling and features necessary to run a successful closed beta in North America. This is a key difference between territories in the operation of betas and the eventual launch of a product. Some of our time was spent discussing the “why.” It’s important in Westernizing a game that you never assume someone else understands your reasons. Simple things we take for granted—like the lead time required to create a game box—are not always obvious (especially in a country where there is no boxed product). The rest of the meeting went pretty well in determining feature specs and making sure we can make our timeline for insert beta start dates here (sorry, still no announcements).

After this was a catered lunch during which we got to sample the local food. 

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Recap: TERA Community Event at Penny Arcade Expo

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03/20/2012
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When you get a bunch of writers together, what do we talk about? Characters, of course. (Also coffee and the overuse of the semicolon.) At Penny Arcade Expo this year we gave TERA fans a chance to peek behind the curtain and get a little taste of what it’s like to be a writer at En Masse Entertainment.

The overall theme was “Emotional Rewards Through Storytelling”—an unofficial motto for the writing team. After a quick look at the many kinds of writing you’ll find in TERA, everyone in the room got to collaborate on the creation of a character for the game. In short, it was an audience-participation version of the exercises that the En Masse writers do in front of the white board every day.

Working together, TERA community members and the En Masse writers created a questline involving a soldier who’s stationed at the edge of a precipice—a precipice she finds far more terrifying than the enemies she fights on a daily basis. Aided by writer Fran Stewart’s improv-acting chops, we duplicated our creative process in front of an enthusiastic audience. (The open bar helped 

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Birth of a Quest

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03/20/2012
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Although, we here in the EME writing room do love each other very much—and, more importantly, we love TERA. Very much. We collaborate almost daily and, together, we assemble the various bits that give a quest life. As the quest progresses, each of us makes sure it gets what it needs—be it correct item or NPC names, a proper racial voice, or simply a good edit. It takes a village to raise a quest, as it were.

Long before we begin the actual writing of a new quest, we first ask ourselves: what type of quest will it be—or, more specifically, what type of task will this particular leg of the quest be? What’s my goal as the writer? Do I want the player to walk away with a sense of what the refugees are going through? Then I might start the quest by having the player hunt critters for food, then gather plants for medicine, and finally visit the leader of the refugee camp to see if she has any other jobs. In this example, I’ve used three separate “task types”—hunt, gather, and visit—for the three separate legs of the quest. When we’re designing quests, we choose from a bank of potential task options according to what we think will best help us convey the part of the story we’re telling. A handful of our others include escort, protect, infiltrate, and item delivery. We have many options, and you can be sure that we’re incorporating as many different kinds as we can–for both your enjoyment and ours.

Once the specific plot for an area is approved, we divide up the quest batches among the writers and get into the specifics. Often, we’re rewriting a Korean translation, but in either case, we pull out the “main characters” of a zone and make them prominent, assigning them specific traits and features, and giving the player more of a focal point for the story we’re telling. Many quests and non-quest dialogs focus around these main characters, which helps the player to feel invested in the story and, by extension, the world.

“Emotional rewards through storytelling” is a phrase you’ll hear a lot in our office, and with good reason. We’re not out to provide a clever reason for you, the player, to go out and collect ten whatevers–our goal is to pull you into our world and make you feel what our characters feel. If certain sub-plots or story twists induce worry, fear, sympathy, or joy–or any number of other emotional responses–then we’ve done what we come in every morning aiming to do.

We each put our all into this project, with the goal of developing a rich world that our players can explore and engage in. The quests are a big part of that, and we’re proud to work on making them exciting for you.

Now, if only we could get them to go to bed on time. 

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TRUE. ACTION. COMBAT.

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03/19/2012
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TERA takes the fight beyond whack-a-mole monotony with enhanced aiming, dodging, and tactical timing to create intense and rewarding combat. Unlike other MMOs, you can use your controller or keyboard and mouse to control the action like never before. With all the depth you expect from a traditional MMO, plus the intense gratification of action combat, TERA changes all the rules.

Experience an Action MMO beyond “point and click” where skill, position, timing, and aim determine success in combat.

Play seven character races and eight classes. Battle hundreds of monsters throughout 80+ zones and embark on thousands of quests in a game world rich in history and lore.

“If you’re bored of the typical MMO formula, TERA might be the best game for you. Frantic, action-based combat, glorious graphics, and an intricate political system have us drooling for more.”

In a faction-free world, all players can impact the community as well as the social, political, and economic structures of TERA.





 

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Hey, You!

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03/19/2012
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Yeah, you snoozing at your keyboard! What’s the matter? Your MMO not challenging you? Frustrated because some n00b insists on standing in the fire? Getting carpal tunnel from doing the Raid Finger Dance? Let’s all sing it together—tab, 1, 2, 3…tab, 1, 2, 3. Blah blah.

Yeah, not much challenge when you can faceroll your way through a boss fight. Forget easy mode. BE hard mode! It’s time to break the chains of boredom! Don’t be some quest slave, sleepwalking through your dailies! Earn each victory! Take on real challenges! It’s time for your skills to take center stage, not some random number generator!

Are you an MMO-FO? That depends. Are you sick of endless, repetitive gaming? Do you hate coma-inducing gameplay? Are you tired of tab-targeting? Would you like to actually dodge an attack? Do you think your skills should affect the outcome of a fight? You do?

Ding! You’re an MMO-FO. Gratz.

It’s time for something new! Not just a rehash of the same old thing, but a new game that puts you at the heart of the action. Don’t script me something great, let me carve something great with my bloody swords! It’s not about timing or events—it’s about skill and taking control! Outthink, outsmart—outfight your opponents! 

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TERA Beta Sign-Up

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03/19/2012
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TERA‘s beta tests, originally called preview events, will start with closed phases requiring invitations to each session and will end with an open beta test just before TERA launches. To add yourself as a potential TERA beta tester for the closed beta tests, you’ll need to sign up.

Signing up is easy: just enter your email address in the text box below. We’ll also send you important TERA news from En Masse Entertainment. Do you already receive our TERA newsletter, or have you completed our TERA alpha test application survey? Your email address is already signed up—no need to re-enter it!

A few things to note:

TERA‘s closed beta tests each require a unique invitation. Each invitation will indicate which closed beta test it is valid for. Submitting your email address more than once won’t increase your chances of receiving an invitation.

• Invitations to TERA‘s closed beta test will be distributed before each event based on random selection.

• Invitations to TERA‘s open beta test will be distributed to everyone who signs up to be a TERA beta tester.

• If you participated in TERA‘s alpha test, Community Play Event, or any Focus Group Test, or if you won one of our past contests, you will be invited to all TERA beta tests.

• We will introduce additional methods of securing an invitation to TERA‘s closed beta tests such as official contests and giveaways. 

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