Black Gold
Snail Games showcased two new MMOs today at E3: Black Gold and Age of Wushu. The two games have more than their parent in common; Black Gold utilizes the Age of Wushu engine. Set in a fantastical steampunk world, Black Gold is a mish-mash of colorful fantasy elements and grunge-ridden steampunk inventions, as we found in our hands-on with the game earlier today.

Each faction within Black Gold (fantasy or steam faction) has three races of its own. The steam faction holds humans, dwarves, and vampires (what steampunk MMO would be without vampires?), and on the fantasy side you'll find more humans, a cat-like race, and a shape-shifting barbarian race. It might be a little limited in race selection, but maybe character creation will be just as interesting for the players as it is in Age of Wushu.

In addition to three races, each Black Gold faction has three classes with nested sub-classes within them. Trainable pets (standard fare now) can be leveled, and eventually these morph into mountable units that will allow players to scour the land in search of resources. However, mounts aren't just for travel as they are in so many other MMOs. War mounts, upgradeable and customizable, can be employed for PvP battle, and the combination of these mounts in a battle setting results in massive war scenes of a nod-worthy nature. When you're mounted, the UI for Black Gold switches to a mechwarrior-style HUD, combining elements of a first-person shooter with an RPG at heart. It's a nice touch to add a different style of combat, but the demo I saw didn't reveal a whole lot of the mounted combat, admittedly.

The weapons were a little limited in range as it appeared the world had only guns or swords/shields for steam faction and fantasy, respectively. However, the customization levels were robust and allowed for a large combination of effects and high damage depending on what a character would shoot.

Within the Age of Wushu engine, the visuals (at least in the demo) were seamless and fluid. There's a distinct feeling to each of the worlds that belong to the factions. The fantasy world is lush and alive with chirping birds, double rainbows, and a general sense of feeling alive, whereas the steam world is what you'd expect: steampunk badassery under black, sooty skies, and a sense of carelessness for the environment. Visuals only can go so far, however, and only a full release will let us compare it to what's on the market.

Age of Wushu
We wanted to ask Snail about Age of Wushu and some potential problems it's had since launch and whether they might transfer to Black Gold as well, especially in light of the recent layoffs suffered by the studio, so we spoke with Snail CEO Shi Hai to discuss its martial arts game. Interview go!

Massively: There's a cap on how much tradeable silver one can send per day in Age of Wushu, and it's choking the economy of the game. Will that cap be removed or replaced with something else?

Shi Hai: We see the silver system as kind of like a bank. We can't just keep producing cash. If we keep doing that, then eventually the economy will break down.

There is not much reason to be a criminal in Age of Wushu other than to attack people. Will there be more incentives in the future to players, especially higher-level ones?

Around August in China, there will be a huge expansion. That expansion will allow you to choose to not go to school, even though school will still be around. When you choose to be a criminal, there are some NPCs that will disklike you. That will open up new tasks and missions.

Are there plans to add more things for guilds to do together?

For each update and expansion we're always adding more stuff and elements for the guild system. For now, it's too much. Pay attention for our future updates.

Are there any plans to add more weapons to the game, such as polearms, staffs, bows, and martial arts weapons?

Yes, we do have plans to add more different kinds of weapons. One thing we're trying to do is add different kinds of skills and weapons that won't break the game balance.

On the community boards there have been talks about GM tickets that have not been resolved, a lot of localization problems such as poor translations, and general customer service problems. How do you believe Snail Games is going to address those problems with the recent downsizing of the company?

We are creating a system for players to control who they see in the game so they have a customizeable black list. They don't have to wait for customer service to respond. Age of Wushu has a very Eastern culture. It's very difficult especially for the Chinese terms to be properly translated or localized here in the US. We will do the best we can, but it's very difficult to reach our ideal standard. That doesn't mean we won't try; we'll still try to fix everything and make localization as best as possible. With Black Gold, the localization will be a little higher than Age of Wushu. We needed to have a staff adjustment to meet our future goals for our mobile game platform project coming as well as future projects.

Thanks for your time and for the demo!

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-13, bringing you all the best news from E3 2013. We're covering everything from WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online and ArcheAge to FFXIV's inbound revamp and TERA's latest update, so stay tuned!

This article was originally published on Massively.
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