Hi-Rez Studios’ COO Todd Harris on Paladins, Tribes: Ascend, and e-sports

I live, I die, I live again!
It was kind of a surprise when Tribes: Ascend fans were told this week to expect new stuff for the game after it sat in maintenance mode for such a long time. Usually, that’s the kiss of death. And yet here we are, with the game facing a new lease on life. Will this be the new state of things? Is Global Agenda next on the list of games to be reanimated? Why is stuff so hard?

Obviously, we couldn’t figure all of this out based purely on speculation and possible Metalocalypse references. We asked a few questions about the future of Hi-Rez Studios and received answers from studio co-founder and COO Todd Harris. Read on to find out more about development plans for both tribes fans and the extended catalog of the studio as a whole.

Massively Overpowered: With the refocus of development budget and time on Tribes: Ascend, is there reason for Global Agenda fans to be hopeful as well?

Todd Harris: I love, love, love Global Agenda, but we have nothing to announce around Global Agenda at this time.

Does the team want to turn Tribes: Ascend into a more viable venue for e-sports competition like SMITE?

For now our Tribes: Ascend goals are modest and we simply want to get the game into a better state. We have a small team of developers who are really into Tribes. This team, headed by HiRezSean as Creative Director, has been green-lit to work closely with the community and implement changes and updates to the game.

One of the more major changes being contemplated is consolidating the current nine Tribes: Ascend classes into only three – a Light, Medium, and Heavy class more like classic Tribes 2. The changes and updates will be put on a Public Test Server so we can solicit feedback and take it from there.

They couldn't afford the full shirt.

How has the heavy emphasis on the professional competitive side of SMITE changed its development, or was that the goal from the beginning?

With regard to competitive play SMITE definitely benefited from some lessons learned from Tribes: Ascend.

In Tribes: Ascend there were amazing players and fun core gameplay, but we had a weak spectator camera, no demo support, and some other “competitive/e-sports” core features were somewhat lacking in the game. All that has been improved within SMITE, which has helped the competitive side of SMITE grow such that now we have a million dollar SMITE World Championship.

Now Tribes gets to benefit as well since SMITE‘s financial success is what has allowed us to actually re-staff a Tribes: Ascend team.

Is there a risk that if Paladins is not as successful, it will face a similar fate to the one that seemed to befall Tribes in recent years, with the servers running but no real development?

All game development is risky and success is never guaranteed with a new concept. But as a studio we’ve tried to learn and improve with every new project, and fortunately our trend is upward.

Our first game Global Agenda was a big money loser for us. Then Tribes: Ascend was break-even. SMITE is very profitable for us and growing faster than ever in terms of both players and revenue. So we have high hopes for Paladins as well, but ultimately the players and community will decide.

We’ll be taking Paladins to TwitchCon at the end of the September and would encourage everyone attending to come by and try it and give us your feedback first hand.

Thanks for the updates!


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