TV-game crossovers are “almost all pre-planned”: Part two of our massive Defiance interview


By on April 9, 2013 at 11:24 am

We sat down to speak to Trion Worlds’ VP of Development, Nathan Richardson, about all things Defiance. Catch up on the first part of our interview here, or read on for details on how the game and TV show will interact, and what Trion thinks about Australian servers.

GON: I’d like to talk about the crossover with the TV show. Can you explain exactly how the game will impact on the TV show? This seems to be still quite vague and not really defined. Will it just be background stuff? When I’m watching the show, will I just hear someone say “Faction X is winning the war!” or something like that? Or will it be actual big events?

Nathan: You’re absolutely right, it’s vague for a number of reasons. Number one is that predominantly when people ask us “What’s going to happen?” we can’t tell. Without spoiling what’ll happen on the show. So the reason we call it a crossover event, think of it as the world itself has a main storyline that’s moving forward. Defiance the game and Defiance the show are happening in two different geographical locations for a reason. Number one is that we have the freedom from each other to be able to tell the story in our different mediums. When we say crossover what we mean is that the story, moving forward, is crossing over from the game over to the show and from the show over to the game. So we’ll have examples of characters which leave the show and come over to the game and vice versa. But these are more pre-planned things simply because we are limited still by how television shows are made and how games are developed.

GON: So how much of it is pre-planned? How much of it can the player effect?

Nathan: It’s almost all pre-planned. We have a number of points in time where there’s action back and forth, for example something happens in the television show and that creates a world event in the game and changes the landscape, you really feel it materially in the game itself. But at the same time one of the main goals was that you don’t have to watch the show to be able to play the game, and that when it happens in the game we give you all the contextual information you need to understand. And the same of course applies for the show. You don’t have to play the game, but it’s an additive experience for both. If you do both you get a much deeper experience. What is going to happen is that there is dynamical insertion of content in the TV show which we actually put in on live time, coming from the game.

GON: How does that work?

Nathan: Think about green screens.

GON: And you can do that live?

Nathan: Yes. It’s almost the same concept. You have parts of the television show which simply are exchanged at close-to-live or even live. It’s all pretty new stuff. But the crossovers don’t talk after the television show has stopped. And what happens in the game between season 1 and season 2 is affecting what happens in season 2 both in the game and the show side. And that’s essentially where we’re gonna take this even further in terms of these two affecting each other.

GON: Will there be an actual point in the future at which player actions on a massive scale — for example one faction in PVP just dominating — will affect the storyline of the TV show? Will that ever be the case?

Nathan: Yes. That’s exactly something you’d see between season one and season two. An excellent example of what we would like to see happen.

GON: So I guess you’ve got to be really on top of your PVP balance then?

Nathan: (laughs) Yes. Yes, well we have to be anyway to be a good game, so. But yes.

GON: Can I ask how many episodes of the series might a viewer need to watch before they encounter the first reference to the game and, vice versa, how far will I need to go into the game before I see a reference to the TV show? Or are they hand-in-hand straight away?

Nathan: Hand-in-hand straight away. It’s all right there from the beginning. If you go play the game right now you will be exposed to the first crossover operation, which is missions which involve the main characters from the TV show. And then you’ll see that immediately in the first episode, the pilot.

GON: How are you going to deal with the fact that some countries watch shows like Defiance at a staggered rollout rate, later than the US does? Here in Australia it’s actually REALLY uncommon for us to get an American TV show at the same rate as Americans do. How do you deal with that when handling the game’s timeline?

Nathan: So the thing is that we put a LOT of effort into making sure that we were day and date with the television show where it was shown. It wasn’t successful in all cases maybe a day after, but that’s okay we can handle that. In other territories unfortunately it won’t be in the same timeline, but that’s something we realise is outside of our control and also we think that those that are that deeply involved will be able to catch up and understand what’s happening without having seen the television show first. So it’s a sacrifice but we’ve put a lot of effort into making it very close all over the world. I personally believe it’s the way to go because if you want to combat piracy and stuff like that this is something you do, a large reason for pirating television shows and movies is that they’re shown earlier in somewhere else and you want to seek them out.

GON: Absolutely — Australia is noted as the biggest pirate in the world of Game of Thrones for example, because it’s shown so late here. Speaking of living in Australia we’re always on the lookout as Australian gamers when we choose a game for the presence of Australian servers. Can you confirm for me whether or not Trion has any plans to pursue local Australian hosting and if not, why not?

Nathan: To begin with, no. Australian, New Zealand and actually South America and other territories will be playing on North American servers simply because we’ve tested it, and it’s not a derogratory experience. The way that we run it right now is we only have one shard per platform per territory. We don’t shard the game. It would have to be very large for a lot of game mechanics and everything to simply work in the first place.

GON: So you would need more people?

Nathan: Yes. You would need a very large volume of people to make it work.

GON: You said that this was a very console focused game. We’re a PC site, so when people read that, they’re going to ask — what are you doing for PC gamers? How is it better than the console version? How do you take advantage of the extra power of PCs?

Nathan: Simply graphical fidelity is higher on the PC. Higher textures. Essentially when you take a new PC versus the gaming consoles it’s much more purpose-specific builds on the consoles. On the PC we can take advantage of much more memory and CPU power. So there’s performance gains there. Even though we’re saying “console focused” the game has been developed from day one on all three platforms, so it’s exactly the same game. We do have changes of course coming up, specifically for the PC UI to not make it so console-centric. It is intentionally a very simplistic UI, simply because of the type of experience that we were looking to create. This is much more a third-person open world shooter with a lot of people rather than your traditional MMORPG.

GON: And you’ve not had to make any compromises for the PC?

Nathan: No no. There’s no “console port”. This is the same engine running on 3 platforms.

GON: Does this raise the possibility of other Trion titles being cross-platform in the future?

Nathan: Absolutely. For us it’s almost a given. Whether that’s two consoles and PC or whether that’s PC and mobile or all of them, these three aren’t the last platforms for Defiance. It might be a different type of gaming experience, but it’s not the last platform you’ll see. That’s what we’re looking at with this transmedia experience, a multitude of platforms and mediums.

GON: Thanks very much for talking to me!

Nathan: Thankyou.

4 comments (Leave your own)

For the record, we’re getting the TV show starting on the 18th. US starts on the 15th.


Sadly though we will only be getting it on paid tv, SyFy channel obviously. Which sadly I don’t have, and most people I know don’t have. So really a lot of Australians will still be missing out.


im sure theres other ways you could watch it if you wanted to …cough


im sure theres other ways you could watch it if you wanted to …cough

Yeah, i envision a new contender for the ‘game of thrones’ award :D

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