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GDC 2010 Preview

Jon Wood Posted:
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Black Prophecy is a new sci-fi MMO coming from Reakktor Media and now being brought to the Western Market by the good people at Gamigo. Here at the 2010 Game Developer’s Conference I had the opportunity to sit down with Gamigo’s Patrick Streppel to talk about the upcoming game.

For those who might not know, Black Prophecy is an action-oriented space based sci-fi F2P MMORPG, with players flying and battling ships in various sectors of space, in both PvE and PvP and in instances and a larger persistent world.

Visually, Black Prophecy will take some potential players by surprise, offering up graphics that rival those of AAA subscription based games. This could have something to do with the fact that the game was originally intended to be a console action game for the 360, was re-purposed as a subscription based MMO, and then finally moved into the F2P MMO space. Speaking specifically to the aesthetic quality the game, we are told, will have full voice action throughout in all NPC dialogue and will feature impressive cinematic cut-scenes.


Black Prophecy will feature an in-cockpit view from your ship (you can choose third person as well if that floats your boat), offering responsive controls that can be accessed via virtually any device be it keyboard, mouse, or joystick. The game is real time action with twitch combat, so your choice of input device could mean the difference between life and death.


Actual play happens in both instanced and persistent spaces, with missions that include: solo, group, and clan missions that will take the form of both PvE and PvP in one of two categories either as story missions, which advance the game’s primary plot, or generated quests. We were told that the game’s systems are capable of generating any number of different quest types that could see players doing anything from the more mundane task of helping to repair a space station’s communications system, to the more exciting prospect of coming upon a band of pirates set on destroying that same station. According to Streppel, the system is capable of creating and changing a number of details to provide players with a unique mission experience.


In terms of grouping, which is strongly encouraged, high and low level characters can play together in the game, with missions scaling in order to provide an entertaining challenge to all involved.


Characters in Black Prophecy will be progressing through the advancement of skills. Unlike other, more traditional MMORPGs, the skill system in BP won’t improve player powers or influence your ship. The reason is simple, combat is meant to be able player skill and not about dice rolls and modifiers so instead, having a higher level of skill allows players access to more powerful gear.


Free to Play

In discussing any F2P title, it is important to ask the developers about their plans for the game’s item mall. The development philosophy where this is concerned for Black Prophecy players to be able to earn in-game almost everything that is available in the items shop with the exception being aesthetic items.

Similarities to EVE Online

At first glance, Black Prophecy looks similar to another sci-fi MMORPG, EVE Online. Both games are reflections of the dark and gritty “reality” of space, both games use ships only, with avatars to distinguish one player from another, but without the ability to leave their ship (though we are told that the BP people have plans to change that after launch), both games use docking at space stations as their trading and equipping hubs, and a number of other very surface level similarities.

In the end though, the similarities between the two games end on the surface as the cores of each game’s design couldn’t be more different. Where EVE Online is a slower more strategic gaming experience, Black Prophecy is designed to keep players in the fast paced action. Where EVE Online’s game is based on the political machinations of players looking to make as much profit as possible in the game’s economy, Black Prophecy is about hard combat. Where EVE Online’s combat is based on dice rolls, Black Prophecy’s is based on twitch skill.


Next month, the game’s developers are looking to start a very limited, 100 to 200 person closed beta test. Their goal currently is to have a launched product by Q4 of this year, but that was something I was told with a bit of a caveat: The game has already been delayed so that Reakktor and Gamigo can make sure that it looks and works the way that they want it to and if the testing phase shows that more work is needed, they’ll continue to delay the game until they can launch a complete final product.  


Jon Wood