CEO says its tech allows games to differentiate in the treacherous MMO market
Ambitious start-up MMO firm Trion Worlds says it has built server architecture as sophisticated in its field as Sony’s Cell is in the processor market.
That’s the claim made by company CEO Lars Buttler, who told Develop in a wide-ranging interview that its server tech took two years to build, had around twelve patents filed for it, and can offer a range of online services with ease.
“The first thing we had to do [when starting up the company back in 2006] was build completely new technology architecture, which was a really big undertaking. We are basically taking online games out of client computing and into a very, very powerful fully distributed server architecture. We have the server equivalent of the Cell processor.
“With our tech, now developers can all of a sudden take videogames, put them on our platform, and do it category after category. To engineer that architecture scalably, to get high-quality games across genres, fully dynamic and massively social, it took about two years.”
Buttler made it clear his firm did not build the technology to sell to a bigger company – such as MMO kingpin Activision Blizzard – but instead to build the foundations of high-quality MMOs; vast in data size, fulfilling the server demands of huge popularity, as well as the ability to change online worlds continually.
These qualities will be, he said, unique selling points for Trion’s upcoming MMO, Rift.
“We never said we’d go head-to-head with World Of Warcraft [with Rift], we never said we would go head-to-head with Old Republic. What we want to do is release a game that appeals to people on a long term basis,” Buttler said.
“It’s not about selling a lot of boxes and maybe not having too much of a long-term traction, it’s about having a world that is completely alive. A world that is completely different every time you log on, where invasions in game actually have a lasting change on the world. Where the world evolves.
“There are millions of players who have played WOW over the years who are waiting for something new. Rift will have new stuff added to it all the time, whereas World Of Warcraft and The Old Republic are traditional, static-content MMORPGs.”
Trion has yet to publish its debut title, having secured over $100 million in VC funding since 2006. Buttler says the firm’s first two projects, Rift and End of Nations are now “on the home stretch”. Both were playable at this year’s Gamescom and, at least from the conversations Develop had with show attendees, were well liked.
Rift has cost at least $50 million to develop, Buttler revealed, though building the server technology is added into the price tag.
The End Of Nations project, built by RTS house Petroglyph, was seen as a ideal opportunity to utilise the server tech, Buttler said.
“We really never wanted to be is a one-off developer. We always felt, y’know, it’s a hit driven business and our technology platform scales every genre, every category and we also wanted to do different business models.”
A third project, in collaboration with broadcaster Syfy, is underway. Buttler indicated that a third project would have been too much to take on, had Syfy not made an offer understandably difficult to refuse.
“They would contribute half of the development costs, and pay for a TV show, and we would own the IP, and the TV show would take place in our game world,” he said.
It was the company’s powerful server capabilities that helped broker the deal, he added.
“They came to us, they had this vision of creating not only a TV property but a world connected to it – where you could watch the show, jump in – they had not found anyone else in the world that was capable of doing it because of our server technology.”
Server image used for illustrative purposes