MMORPG.com: Battlestar Galatica Online has been out over 1 year now, tell us about how the game has changed since its launch?
Tess Treadwell: Since the launch of Battlestar Galactica Online (BSGO), the game has enlisted nearly ten million registered players and continues to grow with new content and updates. Based on the award-winning Syfy television series Battlestar Galactica, BSGO is a tactical space-combat MMO that combines high visual fidelity with intense gameplay. Over the past year, we’ve kept the game centered on PvP, but there has been a plethora of new features that have been added to give players a much more robust and engaging experience. We’ve introduced new classes of ships, the ability to pilot Battlestar and Basestar capital ships, custom paints, tournaments, and much more. We even had a giveaway of our beloved 8-foot tall Cylon to one lucky fan! The upcoming year will be just as eventful, and we’re sure that players will enjoy what we have in store.
MMORPG.com: What are some of the hardest parts of building a space combat game? What have you learned since launch?
Tess Treadwell: The hardest part about building a space combat game in particular has been the controls. Unlike a typical MMO where the movement (and camera) is generally constrained by the fact that there’s ground beneath your feet, Battlestar Galactica Online sets you out in open space, where you can rotate your ship and view in any direction. We also needed to make it easy for you to see and respond to attackers, incoming missiles, etc. While the current control arrangement works for most people, some fans have been asking for a different flight model, and we’re working hard to deliver one as soon as possible.
MMORPG.com: Give us some background on how the game has worked with the Battle
Star Galatica lore?
Tess Treadwell: We developed Battlestar Galactica Online as an extension of the IP to honor its story and give fans the opportunity to experience it online. The game is set between season 2 and 3 of the television series, in an untold chapter where both Colonial and Cylon fleets are stranded in an uncharted area of space. Also, to ensure that BSGO remains true to the lore, everything is reviewed and approved by our partners at Universal and Syfy. We’ve even incorporated characters from the series such as Adama and Six to provide players with status updates, situation overviews, and missions. BSGO is a game that appeals to hardcore fans as well as newcomers, as it’s not a requirement to have watched the show. Players who aren’t familiar with the lore can also enjoy the game.
MMORPG.com: What new ships and weapons have been introduced to the factions in the game?
Tess Treadwell: We’ve introduced three brand new classes of ships – Escort, Line, and Carrier – to the Human and Cylon factions, as well as variants like the Fleet Recon and Advanced ships throughout the year. We now have a total of 28 different ships for players to select from, and of course, it will not end there. We’ve also added new ammo types, weapons, and ship systems like computers and armor. Our team is continually evaluating game mechanics in BSGO to ensure that balancing is right before releasing new content while simultaneously taking player feedback into account.
MMORPG.com: What are some of the new mechanics you are working on for 2012? How will players be impacted?
Tess Treadwell: Aside from the new flight model, we’re also testing an overhaul of the way ammo works in the game. Currently, the damage you inflict is based on your weapon’s stats, with ammo providing a flat percent (%) bonus near the end of damage calculation. The new ammo setup will allow players to select rounds with different properties such as AP (Armor Piercing), HE (High Explosive), etc. with appropriate damage types. This will offer players more control and flexibility in how they want to play offensively and defensively.
We’re also working on a new Wing (guild) system; we want to encourage more active team play and and tactical decisions (both on a personal and group level). We’re excited, but you’ll just have to stay tuned for more information... ;)
MMORPG.com: How has the free to play model been working for the game?
Tess Treadwell: The free-to-play model works very well for Battlestar Galactica Online, as with many of our other titles like Dark Orbit and Drakensang Online. As a pioneer in the free-to-play space, Bigpoint has come to understand the requirements of producing a title that maintains a fair balance between players who wish to experience the game for free, and for players who are willing to spend real money. Everything in BSGO that is available for purchase with Cubits (the premium in-game currency that can be purchased with real money) can also be earned through gameplay. BSGO does not want to restrict a player’s enjoyment of the game, whether they play occasionally or if they are hardcore, so we give them the opportunity to choose based on their personal preference.
We’ve found that players who earn their achievements through gameplay usually fare much better than players who spend money to reach new levels or unlock items faster, simply because a player’s experience triumphs.
MMORPG.com: Are you planning any changes to the F2P system for players?
Tess Treadwell: No, we are not planning to make changes to the F2P system itself. Players are able to access all of the game content without ever having to pay, and we’re going to stick to that! We are, however, actively monitoring our in-game economy and considering when, and how, to best improve the experience for all of our players, which means tuning loot drops, having sales, making it easier to snag higher-value gear, and so forth.
MMORPG.com: After one year of release, what are your personal favorite parts of the game?
Tess Treadwell: Without a doubt, the massive PvP battles are a highlight for me. A lot of the time, you’ll see the two factions (Cylons and Colonials) on opposite ends of a sector, sizing each other up while trying to rally more pilots. Eventually, someone fires the first shot and the sector turns into a massive space brawl with Line and Escort class ships swinging at each other, while Strike ships chase each other amidst the flak. There’s an incredible amount of action – it looks really awesome! Sometimes, it’s fun to join the PvP battles and watch my screen flood with debuffs and missile warnings because every single pilot on the opposing faction starts to attack the ship with the “Developer” tag. It’s always a blast whenever I get a chance to engage with the community.