Dark or Light

Black Desert Online Shadow Arena Interview with the Devs

William Murphy Posted:
Interviews 0

Black Desert Online recently expanded its content to include a new PvP game mode called Shadow Arena that brings battle royale to players. We had the opportunity to chat with Jae-hee Kim to learn more about why it was added and what it brings to both players and the game. 

MMORPG: What made you all decide to make a Battle Royale mode in Black Desert?

Jae-hee Kim: The main focus of Black Desert Online is to gain loot by defeating monsters and enhancing your gear to strengthen your character. But in order for this to happen, the repetitive cycle of fighting monsters, enhancing, then going back to defeating monsters has to be done, which we thought could potentially lead to boredom for our players.

In order to resolve this matter, we wanted to introduce a new style of play which strode away from the rudimentary concept of defeating monsters that compose the foundation of RPGs. We wanted a new play pattern, which would open up another gateway to enjoy our game away from the grind of defeating monsters. We wanted to create a new type of content for our players to enjoy, this is the reason behind Shadow Arena.

In addition, it was all about lowering the hurdle for our game and make it more accessible to everyone. Black Desert Online has endeavoured to reduce the strain placed on progression and enhancement that RPGs tend to carry and promote. There is the stereotype where, in order for a player to enjoy every content fully, the player must actually play for a very long time. We wanted to break this stereotype by trying to present levelling up as more of an optional choice after the player would hit the level 60 mark.

And eventually, this brought us to the conclusion that a mode without such a fundamental stereotype would be necessary. A casual approach which doesn’t require leveling up or gear enhancement was initiated, and with the popular genre of Battle Royale drawing our attention, we thought it would be fun for our players to enjoy a close-range Battle Royale mode within our game.

Typically Battle Royale type games involve much longer ranged combat. But the Shadow Arena involves surprise attacks from behind, a contest of skills amongst other players, and encourages close-range combat that enhances the fun of the Battle Royale gameplay.

Our final goal is to allow anybody, even those who have not tried Black Desert Online, let alone the genre of RPGs, to come and enjoy Shadow Arena. As the attractive features of a Battle Royale game differs from those of RPGs, we wish that more and more players can get to know Black Desert Online through Shadow Arena.

MMORPG: Is this something you think a lot of players will enjoy? What has the early feedback been?

Jae-hee Kim: It’s greater than expected. We didn’t actively market Shadow Arena yet since it’s still in Early Access. Yet we’re seeing a lot of participation, especially from returning players. We’re excited to see that the participation rate is especially high in Europe, Russia, North America, South America, and Thailand.

Most of the feedback received contained positive feedback. Many people liked to try out the new mode and had fun whilst playing it. Black Desert Online is an RPG you can enjoy for a long time, but a round of Shadow Arena would last you maybe 10 to 20 minutes. And of course, you can play another round right away, so it will help you enjoy any leisure time you have.

We are revising and updating this new content based on feedback we receive from Shadow Arena players.

MMORPG: Are you planning on making this mode in some way "tied" to the main game, so that it's within the lore and rewards earned are usable in the main MMO?

Jae-hee Kim: Currently, the base reward for participating in Shadow Arena consists mostly of Silver and items to help with the Enhancement of items in-game. We really put our heads together to come up with these rewards. We didn’t think limiting rewards to just silver would be a good way to go, as higher-level players would already have a large amount through normal play. 

On the contrary, the items that aid in enhancement such as Memory Fragments, that recover max durability of armour and weapons appeal greatly to players who are looking to further grow their characters. We wanted to make it meaningful for players when receiving their rewards for participating in Shadow Arena.

Also, newer players do not have the same opportunity and are limited from gaining silver at the same rate as much as higher-level players. Therefore, we wanted to give more opportunities for them to gain it through the Shadow Arena.

MMORPG: How do you see the mode evolving if it should become a popular form of PVP?

Jae-hee Kim: By taking in the feedback continuously, updating various modes and convenient functions, adding new playable classes and maps, and patching with more content, we believe this new play pattern will fit well into Black Desert Online.

If Shadow Arena gains more popularity hereafter, we will definitely be interested in engaging in global tournaments.

However, I think we should focus on the quality of Shadow Arena before thinking about developing it into an eSport. Our goal is to provide a fun and stable environment for as many players as possible to enjoy Shadow Arena.

If the content itself is fun, we are sure more and more players will join in and if the requests come, we can develop it into a worldwide tournament.

MMORPG: What sort of features and updates can players expect to be added to the BR mode? Is there a roadmap?

Jae-hee Kim: We are currently focusing on improving the general quality of Shadow Arena which means adjusting character balance, fine-tuning character growth within a match, and preventing repetitive gameplay.

The game rules and the detailed balance will constantly be fine-tuned so that players can continuously enjoy Shadow Arena. We plan on adding more reasons to keep playing too.

In addition, we are working on adding the playable classes and maps that are already available in the main Black Desert Online game, and we are also collecting ideas to enhance the general gameplay.

More rewards and updates are planned and the recently added ranking system allows players to check their own rankings and that of other contestants.

MMORPG: A lot of MMO gamers roll their eyes when another survival or another Battle Royale is released or announced. Why do you think that its and how will PA make sure to let its players know it's not giving up on the MMO?

Jae-hee Kim: Shadow Arena is not simply yet another Battle Royale mode.

Black Desert Online already has exciting modes, such as Red Battlefield and Savage Rift available.

Shadow Arena was implemented to provide more diverse content within Black Desert Online that can reflect varying tastes and interests of gamers who may seek a different type of gameplay.

Shadow Arena aims to overcome the complexity and long hours needed for tackling an RPG which can be burdensome to some of the newer players. Anybody can start playing Shadow Arena easily and throughout their time in this Battle Royale mode, new players can get accustomed to the classes, items, map, and rewards already available in Black Desert Online. We hope that Shadow Arena will make it easier for new players to move onto trying other contents of our game.

Shadow Arena must guarantee a lot of fun, but this will not be prioritized over the fundamental Black Desert Online gameplay. We want to make Shadow Arena as just the beginning of many events and contents to come. We aim to improve upon Red Battlefield which had server change restrictions, revamp the Savage Rift, and create diverse contents for all to enjoy. Thus, Shadow Arena is another gameplay mode addition, but the overall Black Desert Online will see many changes and improvements in the near future.

As Shadow Arena is not completely stabilized in its early access, we continue to take in the feedback of all of our players. Central Market, Territory War, Hero of the Battlefield, Dark Rift, and Bartali’s Adventure Logs are some of the newly-introduced or soon-to-be-added systems and content.

We want to proclaim that all additions and updates we introduce to Black Desert Online are geared towards making it easier for new adventurers to experience our game as well as making longer lasting contents that provide fun to all of our new, returning, and loyal adventurers.

Thank you sincerely for all the interest and support you have shown to Black Desert Online.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.