We recently got a chance to interview Nathan Richardsson, VP of development and executive producer of Defiance. He revealed a lot of interesting new information about the game like character progression and customization, post launch support, weapons, abilities and much more.
Check out the entire interview below.
Rashid Sayed: The game is coming out for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Are all versions going to be identical?
Nathan Richardsson: There are minor differences that are platform specific but it’s the exact same game, the same experience.
Rashid Sayed: Defiance gives me Borderlands vibes which is a good thing to be honest. Were you guys inspired by it?
Nathan Richardsson: Borderlands and other open world games are definitely inspirations, it gives a lot of freedom and enables us to seamlessly go through very different types of gameplay, ranging from the single-player experience, into competitive multiplayer, like our Shadow Wars to the massive co-op boss battles like the Ark Falls.
Defiance co-op trailer.
Rashid Sayed: How does player progression and character customization work in Defiance?
Nathan Richardsson: Character progression is very free-form, there are no classes, you define those yourself from various abilities you gain over time. You then essentially create various builds you switch between while playing. Character customization is part of this progression as well, where we’re closer to a shooter than an RPG but leveraging that we’re an online game so we’re constantly expanding the possibilities.
Rashid Sayed: One of the key points of any MMO game is post launch support. What are your plans for expansions after the game is launched next year?
Nathan Richardsson: I think we have a pretty aggressive roadmap which already spans 12 months out, which includes at least 5 major DLCs with new features and content. Each DLC has a free component and a paid component, so we put a lot of effort into expanding the world as part of the experience. We also have more frequent updates between the DLCs, dynamic events, items, and general improvements.
Rashid Sayed: We are aware that players can directly jump in to the world and they will see ‘new’ things happening every time. Can you please elaborate on the same?
Nathan Richardsson: Defiance offers a you a lot of options, where we have the single-player missions and co-op instances which are more static to the dynamic content, as in Shadow Wars, Ark Falls and larger world events. We also try to leverage and create a framework where other players are additive to your experience instead of subtractive, so while you’re on a mission with 3 of your friends, you might encounter some form of emergency or a minor Ark Fall that are dynamically triggered and weren’t there before.
Rashid Sayed: One of the coolest things about a sci-fi MMO is the weapons and abilities. I know you guys are doing some awesome things with weapon customization and how players can unlock special abilities with points. Can you please explain in-depth about these two features?
Nathan Richardsson: Looking at weapon customization first, we have about 14 types that span over traditional bullet weapons and explosive weapons to the more alien infectors and BMGs. Each of these can then individually be modified with up to 4 different weapon mods to better suit your play style.
These are then be combined with your own loadouts or “classes” mentioned earlier, where you have a combination of active and passive abilities which are grouped under what we call, your “EGO”. You gather EGO points through various means which allows you to expand upon these abilities, allowing you more breadth of loadouts you can switch between while playing. It’s that marrying of player skill, player abilities and customization in an open world, where everything you gain, is applicable and usable both against NPCs as well as other players.
The making of Defiance.
Rashid Sayed: Getting thousands of players together from different gaming platforms under a single roof must have been a massive technical challenge. How did you guys managed to do so?
Nathan Richardsson: Unfortunately, Microsoft and Sony do not allow cross-play so while the game is essentially the same, they are playing on separate servers.
Rashid Sayed: Will there be any aircraft in the game?
Nathan Richardsson: No, we aren’t providing aircraft at launch.
Rashid Sayed: How big will the world be at launch?
Nathan Richardsson: The total game area is a scaled representation of parts of what we know as the Bay Area today. Game zones include Mount Tam, Sausalito, Madera, Marin County and San Francisco. It’s a vast and diverse game world for players to explore and with its persistent nature and our ability to update and add content regularly, it will change and grow even more over time.
Rashid Sayed: One of the biggest concerns with an MMO is security. Certain mischievous users hacking in to other’s accounts and creating mayhem. How do you plan to tackle all this?
Nathan Richardsson: Trion is a company built on online gaming and we have a number of policies, processes and technical solutions as part of operating a massive online game. We’re applying that to Defiance as well as game-specific security measures. This is something you have to be working on constantly though, so there isn’t a single thing which helps you here, it’s your continuous effort of always being on your toes.
Rashid Sayed: What is your take on piracy and pirates and its effect on Defiance? Intrusive DRM is something that has frustrated legitimate players around the world. Do you think it’s necessary or are there better means to combat piracy?
Nathan Richardsson: Piracy is illegal, plain and simple. If you aren’t paying a creator for his blood, sweat and tears, he won’t be able to create anything. That being said, there are far better ways than intrusive DRM solutions to battle piracy and that is on the game industry to solve for the consumer, not the other way around. We’re seeing everything from new business models (ie free-to-play) to new technical solutions that help solve it.