E3 2010: Bigpoint offers more info on Battlestar Galactica Online

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E3 2010: Bigpoint offers more info on Battlestar Galactica Online
As we saw earlier this year at GDC, Bigpoint has something very big indeed planned for their next game: Battlestar Galactica Online. However, outside of hearing that the game would be a free-to-play, browser-based title, and a handful of other details, there have been only teasers (well, and a tasty trailer earlier this month) for the game.

Thankfully, we got a chance to sit down at E3 with Philip Reisberger, Head of Games for Bigpoint, and learn a bit more about what players can expect from this fan-favorite IP game. Some of the features they mentioned to us are the use of Unity as their primary platform to create a gorgeous 3-D setting; the intent to set the game within the tail-end of the second season of the BSG series without tying it too closely to the series' storyline; and their ambitious goal to launch by the end of this year.

So if you'd like to check out our juicy Q&A, hit the frakkin' break already! Also be sure to check the gallery below for a sweet selection of screenshots we managed to snag, offering a first look at the in-game graphics.
%Gallery-95434%Massively: You have a wide variety of browser-based games. However, Battlestar Galactica is what we're here to talk about today.

Philip Reisberger, Head of Games for Bigpoint
: Yes, we're very focused on it! The game itself is a tactical space MMO with full 3-D options, as it is being built in Unity. Right now, we're at 125 million+ registrations, and we're focusing on Unity and web-based technology. That way you don't have to download anything. That's one point we really love -- especially with it being an international product.

You can choose either faction: whether you want to play a Cylon or a Human. We'll have lots of different ships. The game is set in the second season, while the conflict is still ongoing.

Where exactly in the second season? Or is it going to be over the arc of the second season?

It's a bit more towards the end, but it doesn't follow the storyline too terribly closely. It's more set in [that time period], but further away.

There are other things going on than just the series storyline, essentially.

Yes, absolutely. It will capture the drama of the series, however, with the music and the visuals. We're focused on that.

The game will be totally free-to-play, so you can play your way up or -- if you want it a bit faster and are willing to -- you can pay. We'll have different ships to choose from. When you buy or get a new ship, your old ships won't be gone. This will let you have different ships for different purposes, to take on different roles. The options of the game will be dogfighting, doing things like mining asteroids for trillium, water, and titanium for repairs. And there will also be questing in there, of course.

Will it be mostly exteriors (you are your ship), or will there be any on-foot movements (avatar-based ground-play)?

Well, technically, it's all possible. But for the launch the game revolves around ships -- flying, dogfighting, clans, and missions too. You won't be able to enter a planet at launch. Maybe in the future, if the community really demands it.

That's the good thing about our technology: We don't have a retail product where you have to ship it out and then you have years to patch it. We can be very responsive to our community.

Those are two things we've learned from past experiences when designing [Battlestar Galactica Online]. First you have to build up the back-end so that it's able to handle a large concentration of players -- we're aiming for 1,500 people per instance currently, but with our other games we're able to run between 3,000 and 5,000 per instance. The other thing is to build a full MMO experience: not just 8v8 or 5v5, but a full world.

We're also building in a skill system and different weapons.

Now we notice [during the demo] that he's flying where he's targeting. Is the targeting in-game manual, or tab-based?

Both. Right now, steering is a work in progress, so this may change.

So we're guessing that PvP is going to be a big thing.

Yes, definitely. PvP, but PvE as well. There are definitely going to be the two factions fighting, though.

What type of options are you looking into for PvP? Are you looking at instancing, like battlegrounds, or are you going for the massive open-world battles?

That's getting into aspects of gameplay that we'll discuss a little later down the road, probably more towards ComicCon. Of course, if you have a 3-D MMO, you want an MMO, not just an MO, so there will be some open-world fights. That's where our knowledge lies from the other games -- big clan fights, yet a well-balanced mix between PvE and PvP. Grouping, guilds, all of it.

How about crafting?

Not at the very beginning.

You mentioned clans: What type of clan features are there?

They're set up to bring people together, do missions together, all the things you already see in our existing games. We want people to have a common experience of MMO games without having to download anything, but yes, you'll see all the most common, popular features from many MMO games. We should have a bit more detail coming soon on the specifics.

Can players expect heavy storylines?

There will be storylines, absolutely, but we're also not trying to set it up so that you're pinned down to an adventure. It's an open world.

Will players meet iconic characters from the series?

When we talked at GDC, we definitely hinted at it. We're going to be making an announcement at ComicCon as to exactly who will make appearances in the game. However, there will be some iconic characters in the game -- as to who they're going to be, we can't say yet.

Thanks, Philip! We look forward to hearing more about Battlestar Galactica Online in the coming weeks.
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