The Average Gamer

How Does the Defiance Video Game Affect the TV Show?

Defiance Josh Nolan Grant BowlerThe Defiance TV show will debut in the UK on 16th April at 9pm. The corresponding shooter-MMO video game will be released 2 weeks earlier, on 2nd April and by far the most popular question I’ve received asks how the two actually link together.

[UPDATE: Here’s a video showing the in-game missions that lead into the TV show]

It’s a huge project, after all. Sharing a world across television and MMO is complex and each comes with its own set of problems. As the story goes, in 2013 a fleet of alien Arks arrived on Earth, fleeing the destruction of their own star system, Votanis. As part of this arrival, the Ark technology transformed Earth, levelling entire cities and filling the land with alien vegetation and creatures.

The TV show is set in a town called Defiance, formerly St Louis. The game takes place around the Bay Area of former San Francisco. This eases the burden on making sure locations are consistent across TV and game, but the parallel Defiance productions still had plenty of impact upon each other.

Yet how do the stories connect? What impact will the actions in the game have upon the plot of the TV show and vice versa?

Understandably, but also disappointingly, the answer for season right now is “not a lot”, though the storylines are closely interconnected. I spoke to the game’s senior producer Rob Hill about this.

“We have the TV characters Nolan and Irisa,” said Hill. “They start in the game – the game comes out two weeks before. They go on missions with the player and the object from the mission that the players do, that Nolan and Irisa have when they leave San Francisco and and show up in St Louis, is critical to the pilot.” Joshua Nolan, played by Grant Bowler, is the lead character of the show, alongside his adopted Irathien (alien) daughter Irisa, played by Stephanie Leonidas. I can’t help thinking it must be strange to see yourself as an alien, but even stranger to see a virtual version of alien-you walking and talking with your voice.

Defiance Game Nolan and Irisa

Hill continues. “There’s something that happens in TV show that’s really devastating in the show and there’s a small point in time where they have direct radio contact with San Francisco. Since San Francisco is the only one that has the solution to their problem, the players will go and seek out what the solution is and solve that problem, which will then transfer back and solve that problem in an episode.

“The first season is really an evolution of the two universes together. We can’t say ‘Okay, I did this Tuesday morning now something on the show’s gonna happen Tuesday night. We can’t do that in the first season, at least. There’s so much lead time on the show side but we do have these little points where you see something on the show and you’ll see it directly in the game and vice versa.

“We have one exception – there’s this green square behind one of the bars and we’ll run an event in the game. The player who does best will actually have their character represented in that green square.

Defiance Irisa Stephanie Leonidas“That’s a set-up for what we’re going to do after season one. Because we have time during the off-season, we’ll be able to do much more of those type of things, that the players will directly affect because we’ll have time to write for it, produce it and film it.”

Trion Worlds and SyFy have been talking about the future since December. According to Hill, “We know what the season finale is and they know what they want to do for the [next] season opener. We’re going to help them fill in how they got from the finale to the opener, doing our own thing at the same time. Since they haven’t written the first few episodes of the second season yet, we can put things in there that players will help direct.”

The game itself is still under NDA but thanks to a partnership with, you can see some highlights from weekend sessions over on my Twitch channel. I tried out a few weapons in a sidequest, played through an in-world event known as an Arkfall and ran through one of the co-op instances with a few friends from Nerfed. Apologies for the low resolution and frame-rates, especially in the Arkfall. My PC slows down terribly when hundreds of players are around.

The final betas for Defiance are starting this week, including the console versions. Preordering the game will get you access to the appropriate beta, but if you haven’t made up your mind yet, we’ll be giving away beta keys for all three platforms later this week. Hit one of the follow buttons in the sidebar to stay in the loop.