Trion World Network's first game is a very ambitious massively-multiplayer online fantasy game known as Heroes of Telara. Trion has developed a game that is mostly server-based with the aim to create and maintain and massively social gaming experience. Because the game is mostly server-side, it takes advantage of technology to enable large numbers of players to be in the same area at the same time without lag issues. It also allows developers to add in new content seamlessly and trigger in-game events for players to take part in. Updates will also be easier and downtime will be greatly minimized as very little will need to be downloaded to your computer for patches.
The game itself is massive and has a very fantasy feel to it. Character customization wasn't mentioned much, but we'll for sure see the basic modifications you can make to a character. What is incredibly unique to Heroes of Telara is the ability to change your class at any point in the game. Instead of creating a warrior-type character and then a separate healer-type, you can instead switch between any of four classes if you are in a town. So, if you are playing with a group of friends and you need a healer, one of you can simply select to play a healer and your character will transform and be wearing new armor and holding class-appropriate weapons.
Along with four base classes, there are many subclasses that grant your character new abilities to take down enemies in different ways. While switching class requires you to be in a town, subclass selection can happen anywhere in the game. So, if you are struggling with an enemy with your selected subclass, you can seamlessly switch into a new one to battle more effectively. Subclasses are gained through collecting subclass cards which drop off monsters and bosses in the world. Trion is aiming for the design of being the right hero at the right time and the ability to modify your character in such a dramatic way is a great way of achieving this goal.
The world is massive and seamless because it's all server-side. Unlike many MMOs out there, buildings and areas visible in the distance actually exist and come clearer into view as you approach them. The graphics are stunning and described as stylistic art that is realistically rendered. There is a seven-hour day/night schedule with great shadow and light details that change as the hours progress. You still have the fantasy feel to everything, but it is not cartoony in nature and is very detailed. The buildings, monsters, NPCS and player characters are all very well designed and you can really see the care put into each design. Encounters with even low level bandits feel stronger and more intimidating because they are as detailed as your character and not drab and flat-looking.
Animations are well done and the AI contributes well to the movements of NPCS and enemies. The NPC AI has been created to give the characters motivations and emergent behaviour, which means they will react to what is happening in the world around them. Even if you are not present, city guards will be attacking a barrage of thieves and bandits and will aid you in your battles if you decide to join in.
The UI is very simple and easy to use. There is a middle toolbar where your skills are visible and a map/radar in the lower right-hand of the screen with your player portrait, health and mana in the bottom-left corner. Your target's portrait and health will appear in the top left-hand corner. Overall, the UI is very clean and uncluttered enabling you to enjoy the fantastic scenery and battles.
Combat is typical of MMOs with point and click. There are single-target and area attacks and Trion has really tried to give the player the feel of being heroic by giving you the ability to take on numerous enemies at once. Ranged and melee combat exists and changing your subclass will change what different attacks you can do. If you find yourself unable to do much damage to an opponent, it is very easy to switch and try something new. Along with the idea of being a hero, the developers will be creating live events in-game such as attacks on towns by massive monsters. Because most of the content is server-side, this is easily accomplished and will give all players a chance to participate. Low to high-level characters will have tasks to do that will help during the event so there is something for everyone.
Gaining levels will be done through experience, as with most MMOs and there will also be an achievement system. Players can gain xp through combat and also by completing Heroic Quests given to you by NPCs or come across as you travel through the world. The developers really stressed that this is by no means a static game since their abilities to change things is so much easier than with other MMOs. Like other MMOs there will be PvP, raids, groups and instances. The events, however, are not instanced so that everyone can join in if they wish to do so.
Heroes of Telara is scheduled for a 2010 release with the beta to be announced soon. From what was seen, this is definitely an MMO to watch out for as it is very innovative in its structure and design.