En Masse Entertainment

TERA’s guild vs. guild system leads to voter fraud in Vanarch elections

TERA’s guild vs. guild system leads to voter fraud in Vanarch elections

En Masse Entertainment's TERA features a unique political system that allows players to run for the office of Vanarch, but players have recently found a way to game the system in order to place themselves in power. The Vanarch is a position of power that allows players to control both resources and NPCs. There are three ways to gain the authority of a Vanarch, but one of them was found to be easily exploitable by players. The two legitimate paths to office, campaigning and completing some of TERA's most difficult quests, were overshadowed as the game introduced guild vs. guild warfare as a means to accrue political points. This was easily gamed as guilds created alternate versions of themselves in order to stage battles to fight and earn these political points. Perhaps “fight” is too strong a word. “Laid down and died to feed the main guild” would be more accurate. It was a strategy several guilds embraced with gusto, and the exploit was angrily described on the game's forums. “So it has become apparent that on many servers people have decided to form two guilds and feed each other 600 points daily,” community member Devour88 said. “Currently on Valley of Titans we have Bloodline and Tsunami (a guild that has split in half and created an alt guild called Tsunami). They have been feeding each other points since 6pm PDT and are now leading two of the highest earning zones in the game (Zulfikar and Kanstria).” “Our question to EME is how could you let such a large loop hole go and what do you plan on doing to resolve the issue?” Devour88 asked. We tried to contact Brazilian guild Bloodline, which was one of the first and largest guilds to be named in the accusations, though no member of the guild had responded to Penny Arcade Report as of this writing. Brian Knox, Senior Producer at En Mass Entertainment, said his team has a fix in the works, and that while the situation was unfortunate, it presented a development opportunity for the game most don't have. “One of the reasons I love MMOs is that the community sometimes does the unexpected. It is fascinating to see something you created be used in a completely original and different way. It’s the real reason I love this business and think that MMOs are a unique genre,” he said.

TERA is an MMO that grows with its players

“We’re trying to take an approach with TERA where we release game systems in a base state, then grow those systems with the community based on their preferences. The downside is that sometimes unexpected things happen that aren’t good, such as what happened this week. The upside is that we can keep iterating our development and focus on what you guys love instead of holing up for a year developing a system that no one ends up liking,” Knox said. TERA saw many such changes prompted by player feedback during the game's beta testing for the Western market, as the title was originally a Korean MMO. A prologue sequence featuring voiced cinematics and new quests introduced players to the story much like the Cataclysm expansion to World of Warcraft. Voice actor veteran Claudia Black lent her talent to TERA as the game fought to catch up to its more vocal competition such as The Old Republic and The Secret World. The Nexus added public quests anyone can join akin to those in Guild Wars 2. When Knox says TERA is a base slate that grows with its community, he has evidence to support his claim. “We would much rather have a system that grows along with the community as opposed to one that grows in our labs,” he said. This guild vs. guild exploit for political gain is more evidence of those growing pains.

The state of the union in TERA

As for the political situation currently growing in TERA, Knox said the team is working to put a stop to it. The number of points earned from one guild per day will be reduced, from 600 to 100, and Knox promises the team will investigate claims of kill-feeding. Those guilty will have their earned points reset to zero. Knox also admitted the TERA team was aware of the possibility going in, but that they broke the golden rule of never underestimating the community. It's a decision Knox regrets, but that has ultimately been beneficial. “This experience reminds us that our community can deliver almost limitless effort—even when it breaks our stuff,” Knox told the Penny Arcade Report. If nothing else, the fiasco has produced some interesting stories. One server decided they had had enough of the cheaters and convinced almost every other guild to band together and declare war. “I hear it was quite difficult for them to even leave a town,” Knox said.