Trove on graduating Beta University and heading into the real world

    
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The stages of pre-launch development always conjure some measure of protection for a fledgling video game. It may be rough, but that’s OK, it’s still in alpha. It doesn’t have all of its features, but that’s OK, it’s just beta. When a game is still in testing and players are (mostly) enjoying it for free among a smaller community, there tends to be a lot more goodwill and shared excitement.

It’s no wonder then that some games, such as Allods Online and Trove, choose to stay in the safer confines of beta as long as possible. Maybe they stay a little too long, extending a four-year college degree to seven and begging their parents for just one more semester’s tuition. But sooner or later, it’s time to graduate, become a live game, and head out into the tougher real world.

On July 9th, Trove’s graduation will commence. Some won’t see the game’s release as any different from the day before’s open beta, but for Trion Worlds, it means a great deal. We sat down with the studio and talked about the journey this blocky sandbox has taken and how it’s finally ready to play with the big boys.

The thin voxel line

We asked Trion point-blank: With Trove having been in a non-wipable open beta (that’s been accepting money, no less) for some time now, what makes the launched game any different than what’s been running?

The devs agreed that there isn’t much of a difference, save for three changes. First, Trove will be debuting on Steam on July 9th, which is a significant milestone for any game. Second, the title will drop the beta tag for good. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the team is scooting out of the limited shield of protection that the beta label gave it, publicly stating that bugs and incomplete features are no longer acceptable in the title.

Trion Worlds is quite elated to have shepherded Trove to this point, praising the title’s growing list of features and its incredible community involvement. Trove will launch with 11 classes, including the brand-new Tomb Raiser, a necromancer with a penchant for throwing skeleton minions at the enemy.

Creative explosions

More than just a list of sellable features, Trove’s true joy comes from seeing what creativity players unleash when given a robust toolset. The devs said that they are in awe of what some people have done, including creating massive club (guild) worlds, recreating symphonies with mag riders, and throwing scavenger hunts using signs. Over 1,000 masks, helms, and weapons have been added to the game since its alpha, with most of those being designed by players.

More tools are in development, although some (like scripting) could prove tricky if players turn them against the game or its population.

Trove’s small but dedicated team said that the game’s open development has proven to be a blessing. It’s been an experiment of sorts for Trion, but one that’s paid off handsomely so far. Crowdsourcing thrills the studio and is great for small teams, the devs said. It’s also emerging as a growing trend in the larger MMO industry.

“In the ballpark”

We asked if Trion could give us any indication of player numbers. While the studio declined to do so per policy, it did say that Trove has experienced a surprising growth spurt following the launch announcement and is “in the ballpark” of other game populations in Trion’s library.

Trove might be a free-to-play title, but it has to bring in revenue somewhere. We asked what its three biggest money-makers were, to which Trion responded by saying that the cash chests (cheap lockboxes), party piñatas, and dragon caches were crowd favorites. It’s actually become en vogue in the game to throw piñata parties in clubs. An announcement is made via world microphone, and players stream in looking for piñatas to destroy. The devs set up a string of those in demonstration, laughing as a swarm of players came in to demolish the poor pink donkeys.

Next steps

So what’s next for Trove? More of everything, really. The team vowed to continue to polish the title and continue expanding content. A new user interface is replacing the older one, with the team adding options like colorblind filters to the in-game map.

The game’s Mac beta is in the friends and family stage, although Trion wants to expand it “rapidly” and get it out the door sooner rather than later. We asked about the possibility of other platforms, the devs said that they were “intrigued” by consoles but had no specific plans as of yet.

Goodbye beta, hello launch. Trion Worlds thinks it’s time for Trove to get out of the nest and start making its way for real. What do you say?

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Ironweakness
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Ironweakness

Yeah, the dragon stuff is kind of annoying. I’ve opened 40-50 caches and haven’t gotten a single dragon soul. Granted, I can’t access all the bonus multipliers yet, but still the drop rate actually discourages me from ever buying them. 50 in the cash shop is like $40-45 and if that’s not guaranteed at least a couple of souls, that would never be worth the money when it takes 40 to get the highest tier with the stat boosts.
I’m only mastery 43 and have had no reason to buy anything to make it that far, but I guess I can see how reaching the higher tiers quickly would be accelerated by the shop. I’m just not in a hurry. That’s why I like Trove, I’ve never felt rushed to reach max level anything because the gameplay is relatively the same whether you are a fresh 10 in Uber 1 or in Uber 6 with Max mastery.

TitianHero
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TitianHero

Krucible Greaterdivinity Now it’s time for the “we just launched :D” or “it’s free to play!” speech. look forward to the “all hands are on deck working on the next big update, even the guy who gets paid to moderate the forums! Dont question it, you silly trolls!” speech.

Sorenthaz
Guest
Sorenthaz

Ironweakness  Yes but you can easily skip ahead several Mastery levels to get stuff via buying things, and some things are exclusive to people who buy stuff – i.e. the fancy mounts for those with enough Patron Points.  Not to mention with the “Dragon system” or whatever you can either grind challenges which you have to be present for at the start of every hour and have enough classes grinded up to a certain level to maximize RNGbox gains, or you can simply buy a ton of them in the cash shop.
The game pretty much revolves around the Collections system and it gets annoyingly grindy after a long while.  I hit 100 Mastery and called it good.  But the fact that you have to get like 98 Mastery or so to get the full bonus stats is silly.

playerxx
Guest
playerxx

This game looks nice. Hope one of these I’ll get to try it out.

flatline4400
Guest
flatline4400

Pixellized light cycles?  I really do need to try this game.

But MOP’s already hooked me on  Marvel Heroes… I dunno if I can afford another addiction!

Krucible
Guest
Krucible

Greaterdivinity It’s a big step, means they can’t milk the “We’re still in beta” speech anymore.

Ironweakness
Guest
Ironweakness

What do you mean? Most of what you collect is done in game or are purchased with in game currency. There are costumes and a handfull of mounts exclusively for sale with credits (which can also be traded by other players) but that’s about it. Styles, recipes, mounts, allies, fish– all collected in game.

Ironweakness
Guest
Ironweakness

I’m really excited for the new class but the actual launch won’t bring much change to my gameplay. All the major last minute changes are already in place. There have been a lot of improvements to the UI which looks great now, and the challenges have definitely added something new to do gameplay wise (although long term in needs to be fleshed out and maybe improved dragon soul drop rates. Right now they’re pretty abysmal in my experience). Regardless I’m looking forward to the launch and hopefully lots of new players.

Sorenthaz
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Sorenthaz

“So what’s next for Trove? More of everything, really. The team vowed to continue to polish the title and continue expanding content.”
So in other words: more collections to grind with everything else coming second to that since collections are what makes the Trove team money.

Greaterdivinity
Guest
Greaterdivinity

Man, that’s a lot of words for, “Well, we’re not calling our game a beta anymore and…that’s about it.”