Trion’s Scott Hartsman on Trove’s console launch, fighting lag, and whether RIFT is next

    
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Following Trion’s announcement earlier this week that its cutesy voxel sandbox MMORPG Trove had registered five million players in its first year and that it’s headed for a console launch later in 2016, we touched base with Trion CEO Scott Hartsman to get a feel for where Trove sits in the studio’s current lineup. Enjoy!

Massively OP: Five million registered is a really huge number for any MMO that isn’t WoW — has Trove become Trion’s biggest success story to date?

Scott Hartsman, CEO : For being only a year since its release, it’s very close to it. It’s joined the top tier, which we’re constantly humbled by. Especially given that it was the first game that started as a grassroots demo/pitch project in the company. A group of devs set out to make the kind of game they thought would be both fun to play and fun to make, and the whole company couldn’t be happier with how well it’s all worked out.

A bunch of MMOs (Neverwinter, Star Trek Online) are heading to console this summer — what’s behind your decision to join them?

It’s an intentional part of the strategy that we began down in late 2013 when we went all digital, and predominantly free to get into. We knew we wanted to head this direction of more platforms and more regions than in the past. To do that we knew we needed games to get to a certain level of success in their initial release, so we could be confident in investing the time and money in expanding.

How do you see Trove converting to the console platforms? Should PC players be worried about “dumbing down” on PC? Should console players be worried it’ll be a simplistic port?

The action is a pretty great console experience as is. The classes and their number of abilities and usable items are designed very well to fit right in to a console controller. In terms of the world gameplay, it’s a really solid fit. The places that we’re keeping a close eye on now are things like UI and chat elements. The PC UI is relatively lightweight compared to a typical AAA MMO and its dozens of windows, but still needs some love to get to feeling great on the consoles.

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Might we see your other games — like RIFT — following in Trove’s footsteps to console?

If not, I promise it’s not from a lack of wanting to! In our ideal world, our games are playable on whatever platforms people want to play them on. That said, our original games weren’t really created with the idea of porting to future platforms in mind. A lot of what makes them tick at a low level would have to be restarted from practically scratch. If it were to happen with RIFT, it would most likely be a new refinement or evolution on the IP, its world, and setting. I’d personally love to see that happen.

The creative classes are my favorite thing about Trove. Any plans for new ones? Can you give us a hint of what’s being worked on, class-wise and otherwise?

That one I’m going to have to save for the dev team to announce when they’re ready! There’s at least one extremely cool biome that I can’t spoil coming up. I can also say that thematically they’re looking to make sure there are always more engaging things to do outside of the main game activity of combat and collect. They have a pretty healthy slate laid out in front of them for continuing to add new gameplay along with the other projects going on like the new platforms.

Lag has been a big problem for the game since it hit Steam last year, and I know the team is constantly working on it. How is it progressing?

Good progress, steady and constant. We expect we’ll always be looking to continue scaling smarter forever. It’s usually storage related when it happens. (Changing worlds is the most common offender, and it’s always being improved upon.) Persisting entire custom worlds where every single voxel and object has the potential to change is a very, very different job than what we’d been used to in other games that largely only have to deal with characters and their items. This is all that, plus more. Not many games have to learn how to do that with a centralized, server-based repository. It’s huge work, but it’s a big part of what makes Trove special, and we think it’s completely worth it. :)

Many thanks to Scott Hartsman for speaking with us!