MMORPG.COM: Give us a short background on Pearl Abyss and Black Desert. How long has the project been in development?
Daeil Kim: Pearl Abyss was founded in September 2010. My friend and Art Director Seo Yongsu and I had a common goal to bring fresh new game titles to the market through our company. By adding “abyss” to the name “Pearl,” as suggested by Seo, I came up with the company name “Pearl Abyss.”
To develop the MMORPG Black Desert, as our first title, we spent an entire year on concept design for the game, prototyping and developing our own 3D engine. Since then, it has taken another two years to develop the main system of the game.
MMORPG.COM: There has been a lot of talk about combat in your game. Can you sum up your combat system for Western Players? What elements set it apart from other MMOs?
Daeil Kim: I was a big fan of 2D based fighting games such as Street Fighter, Final Fight, and Samurai Showdown, but it has proven difficult to bring the fighting action of those games to 3D MMORPGs.
I thought it would be possible to create an action game that uses WASD keys, mouse controls or combination of both, for example:
Unlike other MMORPGs, we have attempted to facilitate greater variety in action combat sequences beyond simply pressing number keys.
In action games, the timing of pressing a key and a mouse click, as well as a monster’s reaction against the user’s attack, is extremely important. We are trying to develop our game so that players must purposefully control their character and so that objects or monsters react in a more complex manner.
MMORPG.COM: Keeping an open sandbox world has been one of your design philosophies from the beginning on the game. Why is this so important to Black Desert?
Daeil Kim: Terrain, buildings, plants, NPCs, and monsters, instead of being just objects, interact with players in a variety of ways. If another player becomes involved in these interactions, the complexity and diversity thereof will expand.
For example, among individual users, a house may be a place for rest or work in the game. A house or building can be an asset for investment in the game, and players will have to compete with other players to obtain ownership of them. Maybe a player who falls in love with another character can watch them through the window of their house, making the house a symbol of love to that player. Of course this is joke, but windows can be looked through in Black Desert.
It’s very important to both users and developers that stories are constantly being created, and with a sophisticated and well-made system thousands of ideas can be developed. This is definitely what an open sandbox world can bring to a game.
MMORPG.COM: Tell us about the states of Calpheon and Valencia. Can players choose which land to join? What is the Black Stone they compete over?
Daeil Kim: The Republic of Calpheon and the Kingdom of Valencia differ in climate, environment and culture. Moreover, they have confronted each other for many decades to obtain the rights to “Black Stone.”
Black Desert is not an RvR oriented game, and therefore, users won’t have to choose which side to join. Players can befriend any NPC, get a house to settle, or set a trading post in either country. Actually, certain parts of each country can be occupied and claimed via sieges. As Black Stone is a key resource, the obtainment thereof is essential for both countries to maintain their respective regimes.
MMORPG.COM: What was it like building the horse riding and mounted combat system with your own engine? What do you expect players to do with this system?
Daeil Kim: Players are able to run faster, jump freely, and even drift as one body with mounts. They will be able to enter into combat while on mounts and hunt down monsters, as in the frog chase scene in the trailer. We expect that players will also enjoy breeding mounts.
MMORPG.COM: Have you been talking to Western publishers? Can you give us some hints on your plans for expanding the game globally?
Daeil Kim: We have been contacted by many Western publishers to date. In order to provide the best services to Western users, we think, our publishing partners should be reputable in marketing, customer service, etc. After closed beta testing in Korea, we’ll begin in earnest to discuss releasing Black Desert through potential Western partners.
MMORPG.COM: You have mentioned a lot of classes for the game. Can you tell us what PearlAbyss’ approach is when creating a specific character class? How do you meet the expectations of your players?
Daeil Kim: Black Desert is a fantasy land based on the real world. Historical characters have been reinterpreted into characters that suit Black Desert. Fighters and archers are basic classes that anyone can understand. Magicians are separated into two classes that reflect the Eastern (Sorceress) and Western (Wizard) ideas of a magician. Other classes have been developed based on representative images of a warrior in respective continents, as well have various weapons, armor and accessories.
Reflecting the fact that Black Desert contains all different climates, terrain and culture, characters with different personalities and story lines will be developed. We will accept player feedback when it’s needed.
MMORPG.COM: You mentioned a housing system with a limited number of houses. How will this work for players or guilds? What can houses be used for?
Daeil Kim: By installing objects and manufacturing kits, players are able to obtain improved skills or craft advanced items such as siege weapons or high-priced trade items. Of course there are a lot of decorations. Houses also represent citizenship with a village or city. If you own a house, an NPC will buy out the items at a better price or one can build closer relationships to those NPCs faster than other players.
The reason why we will provide a limited number of houses is to give users a variety of play patterns in relation to housing contents and any other economy game elements. The dominant guilds are able to control the supply and demand of houses, and opposing guilds may want to cut resources to their competitors by obtaining strategically important houses. In this respect, housing limitations function as a method for users to cut the profits of rival guild or hinder their growth. It’s no doubt that these limitations will lead to competition among guilds.
MMORPG.COM: Can you give us a time frame on the game. How far into development are you? Will there be a beta in the near future?
Daeil Kim: We have completed the major systems and we are working hard to escalate player satisfaction. Our first CBT is scheduled soon. Daum will publish the game in Korea as the starting point.
MMORPG.com: There has been a lot of excitement around Black Desert across the globe. Do you have any final thoughts to share with Western players?
Daeil Kim: We are creating an MMORPG where users can enjoy various gameplay elements. Not only will users see action and contend for power, but they can also experience breeding mounts, production, crafting, trading, etc. To stand out from different platforms is the goal of Pearl Abyss, and we’ll try our best to meet the expectations of users as both a developer and MMORPG fans ourselves. Please keep your eye on Black Desert!