GDC10: An in-depth look at Battlestar Galactica Online

Yesterday at GDC, Bigpoint announced their upcoming Battlestar Galactica MMO. Today, we had the opportunity to speak with Jan Wergin, the Chief Technology Officer from Bigpoint for a closer look at the game.

The initial announcement was met with a bit of apprehension from fans -- they love the IP but aren't sure how well it will translate into an MMO, particularly a browser-based MMO. Follow along after the jump as we take a look at that and much more in our interview with Bigpoint.
Wergin started off by addressing the basics: how is all of this going to work? He confirmed that the game will be free-to-play and browser based, but very extensive: "It's going to be a tactical shooter with a lot of interaction and questing rewards system. It's not just going to be a space shooter, but it's also going to have the whole [...] storyline to it, so really deeply immersive." You'll be able to play as a human or a Cylon, and enjoy third-person shooting action as well as twitch-based space combat.

Bigpoint is very confident about Battlestar Galactica Online -- the combination of their past experience and the extensive BSG universe could prove to be a very successful pairing: "We've licensed out five titles in the past already, and I think part of the fun for is is that with all of that content, all of that richness that this universe brings, we have that tradition with our other titles that we keep them...we have the creativity in house to keep them going and make them exciting for years." Wergin pointed out that a browser-based format allows them to add content regularly -- sometimes weekly -- and that increased flexibility will bring more of the BSG universe to their fans.
Fan opinions of the planned format, in Wergin's opinion, stem largely from the fact that truly good free-to-play browser-based games aren't a firmly established concept in North America: "The US is just starting to kick in on that freemium concept within a browser. We've done this in Europe and Asia, it's a different ballgame. They've already really embraced it, and I think there's really a lot of prejudice still as to what can be done in a browser in comparison to other big box titles. [...] I think people are going to be really impressed with what we're doing."

The other half of the browser question is what Wergin refers to as the entry barrier -- free-to-play allows potential players to take a look at the game more easily than a game that they would have to purchase to explore. That lack of an entry barrier gives the content of the game a chance to speak for itself: "It's really about how great is the content, how does it feel, how do you play it, how are the missions, how is it set up, and the storyline, how often do you get new content, do you get events within the game? I think with the technical readiness that we've achieved with browser online games, I think we're there to make a very rich experience." The chance to explore the game fully without ever reaching for your credit card is a powerful incentive.

Bigpoint will kick off Battlestar Galactica Online by going straight to the fans of the IP. For the first month, BSG Online will be exclusive to Syfy.com. The expectation is that Bigpoint's reputation for being a very agile developer with a willingness to listen to fan feedback will mesh with this ready-made fanbase to make the game a success. The game's scheduled release happens to coincide with start of season two of the BSG reboot, making for even more potential interest from fans of Battlestar Galactica.

The game is slotted for launch in September, so while the current information covers the generalities, we can expect much more in the coming weeks and months. Thanks to Jan Wergin and Bigpoint for your time!
This article was originally published on Massively.