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Gaming Interview

'Defiance' interview: Trion on where the show and game collide

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Defiance screenshot

© Trion Worlds

Defiance has the potential to be a landmark video games project. Billed as a 'transmedia' experience, Trion's massively multiplayer, open world shooter is twinned with a big-budget science fiction TV show of the same name, produced by Universal Cable Productions, and due to premiere in the US next April on Syfy. Nathan Richardson, the vice president of development at Trion Worlds and executive producer of Defiance, joined us to discuss this intriguing prospect.

> Read our hands-on preview with Defiance

Defiance is set in a post-apocalyptic version of Earth where aliens and humans share the planet. So what happened?
"There is devastation after massive wars and what is happening now is the rebuilding of civilisation. We added alien species into the mix; and not everybody is friends.

"The area the game is set in used to be San Francisco, which has mostly been wiped out and now is more like a wild west, frontier type place. The TV show is happening in St Louis, where you have a more Cradle of Civilisation thing going on; more focused on personal drama. We have big battles in San Francisco, and more character building in St Louis."

Defiance concept art

© Trion Worlds



How will events in the TV show and the game coincide?
"We have what we call crossover events. They cross both the mediums and the two locations. We have events around every episode and they cross back and forth between the game and show. Something may happen in the game, and then it will cross into the show, and cross back. You can play the game and you don't have to watch the show, but the storylines are mutually progressive."

The game will be released two weeks before the show premieres, so how will they align?
"Basically, Defiance as a story progresses throughout the year. When the game goes up you will be doing missions, which leads into the show. We will then have crossover events as each episode premieres, but the game will also move the storyline forward too.

"During the period between season one and [season] two of the TV show, we will have a certain amount of player influence and stuff like that which will affect what season two is."

Defiance concept art

© Trion Worlds



So how has it been working with a TV broadcaster? Was there a difficult balance in terms of creativity and freedom across both mediums?
"Well, that actually comes down to geography. Both mediums dd not want to restrict themselves and ultimately that is what is failing a lot of licensing environments, because you are restricted.

"We have certain areas that are very much synced always, such as the world storyline, but it is intentionally that the television show is happening in St Louis and we are in San Francisco. We have very different settings, so we can give players freedom. We can move forward with the individual storylines."

Because you don't want to be overly reliant on the TV show, right?
"Absolutely. Both parties, and this even goes down to business practicalities, neither of them needs the other to survive. But also, both projects - the show and the game - are massive. The television show is larger than Battlestar Galactica in terms of budget.

"We have 150 people working on this game, so it's a massive project for us. This fully a joint venture, and it actually started on the game side."

So you took it to them?
"Yes. Trion was thinking about how to do a transmedia experience, then we found a partner and started fleshing out the project."

Defiance concept art

© Trion Worlds



How does the co-op experience work in the open world setting?
"We try to have it free-flowing. So you will progress through the game, and then see content that is geared towards co-op. Then you can just join up and have a mutual benefit in working together. You can ether stay together for more missions, or just go on your own.

"It is more open and free form. There is also an escalation there, as ArkFall battles can have 30, 40, 50 people against a massive boss. The same with competitive multiplayer, the Shadow War, as if you have 40 people, there may be just two points, but if more join, then more points will be added."

After release, what updates do you have planned to keep the game fresh for players?
"We have a very aggressive update plan for the game, just in general. When we launch we will have both free and paid updates very regularly, we are talking almost monthly. And then when season two pops into television, we will have a major update, changing the geography and everything, tied in of course to the show."

Defiance will be released in April 2013 on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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