In spite of my world-weary cynicism when it comes to the network formerly known as Sci-Fi, I then can’t help but keep my fingers crossed for Syfy’s multimedia experience known as Defiance. Most of that enthusiasm can be attributed to the involvement of Farscape’s Rockne S. O’Bannon, but I am also intrigued to see how the series and the corresponding massively multiplayer online game will work. Can Defiance succeed simultaneously as a show and a game without compromising both? Now a new interview with a Defiance exec has pulled back the curtain with some new details.
Digital Spy grilled Nathan Richardson, the vice president of development at Trion Worlds and executive producer of Defiance, and he has some very intriguing details to share. First, the show: Defiance is set in the aftermath of a future war that has left both humanity and alien newcomers forced to live and work together. The MMO will be set in the San Francisco area, while the TV show will be set in St. Louis. As you might expect, the St. Louis/TV storyline will be “more focused on personal drama. We have big battles in San Francisco, and more character building in St Louis.”
When it comes to how the show and game will affect each other, Richardson says there will be specific “crossover events.” While TV viewers won’t have to play the game and gamers won’t have to watch the show, experiencing both will allow you to see story threads and events referenced and rippling back and forth between the two media.
The interactions between the game and show may be a lot more frequent than you might expect. Defiance the game will actually launch two weeks before the show premieres in April 2013. You’ll be able to play those introductory missions, which will lead up to the storyline of the pilot, and then each episode of the show will have some sort of crossover event. Even more intriguing is Richardson’s description of how the down time between seasons of the show — assuming it’s renewed — will be handled. He explains, “During the period between season one and [season] two of the TV show, we will have a certain amount of player influence and stuff like that which will affect what season two is.”
That being said, Richardson also says it’s important to keep the storylines of both the show and the game separated enough that both can stand on their own. Here’s Richardson again:
We have certain areas that are very much synced always, such as the world storyline, but it is intentionally that the television show is happening in St Louis and we are in San Francisco. We have very different settings, so we can give players freedom. We can move forward with the individual storylines.
It’s interesting to note that Defiance actually began development as a game before it was a show. Richardson says that Trion wanted to collaborate on a “transmedia experience,” and then went from there in search of the right people to flesh out that concept. Picking Rockne O’Bannon for the job is brilliant; putting it on Syfy may be less so.
From the sound of things, Trion definitely isn’t holding back when it comes to providing ongoing content to keep the game fresh, something that is crucial for any MMO to succeed.
When we launch we will have both free and paid updates very regularly, we are talking almost monthly. And then when season two pops into television, we will have a major update, changing the geography and everything, tied in of course to the show.
Defiance is a fascinating project, and I really hope it succeeds in both of its incarnations. In many ways, projects like this one, which blur the lines between various media or delivery platforms, are the future of entertainment. When you add in the fact that Defiance is planned to release not just on PC, but on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 — platforms not exactly overrun with MMO content — and the Defiance plan sounds even more ambitious. Here’s hoping they can make it work.
Defiance is scheduled to premiere in April 2013.