GDCO 2010: Bigpoint's Alan Dunton on the next-gen of browser MMOs

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GDCO 2010: Bigpoint's Alan Dunton on the next-gen of browser MMOs
Bigpoint has had a very successful run as a multi-game publisher over the last few years. If you're familiar with Seafight or Dark Orbit, then you have played some of the company's games. Of course, those titles -- plus the many others -- are just not enough for the devs at Bigpoint. They wanted to host, create and specify a game for the North American market. What they ended up with are a few titles -- The Mummy Online, Battlestar Galactica, and Ruined Online -- all crafted in the same amazing Unity browser engine.

What this will do is allow for more flexibility, accessibility, and possibility. Bigpoint's background in free-to-play and microtransaction-based games will also help to monetize the titles -- a delicate science in itself. We were able to meet up with Alan Dunton, and he explained to us what Ruined Online meant for the company and for the future of Battlestar and The Mummy.

First of all, I need to explain that Ruined Online is not an MMORPG in the strictest sense. It is an instanced, action-based game filled with splatter effects and snipers. Players will square off in groups of "12 or so" (which could change) to battle in the streets of a post-apocalyptic San Francisco. There are plans to add on more cities and locales later.

You will be able to choose from three different classes to start: the sexy assassin, the mad medic, and the hulking mutant. Each one has its own unique set of animations and characteristics, and each responded differently to controls. The world looks fantastic, something akin to a the cel-shaded Borderlands, without being a carbon copy. It's a dark place, but vertical as well. Players will be able to climb upwards to perfect sniper points; doors can be kicked in; and environments will be destructible. For a browser-based game, the options are amazing.

Each combat venue will dictate the size of the groups of players and the game-mode as well. You'll see classic deathmatches and capture-the-flags, but with a promised "twist." We played through an area that looked a lot like a busted Golden Gate Bridge and found ourselves climbing through pipes and jumping down gaps in the concrete to attack other players. Another setting found us running through what looked like an old, burnt-out hotel -- complete with tight corridors and dimly lit rooms. The team of developers are from the console universe, and it shows.

Don't worry, though -- the cash shop will provide strictly time-savers. Every advantage available in the cash shop will be available in the game. Customization, however, will be a huge part of the cash shop. If you want to stick out amongst your fellow assassins, you can.

So, the question becomes: What does this have to do with a "real" MMORPG? Well, how does Battlestar Galactica sound? The much-hyped upcoming MMO will use the same technology as Ruined Online to achieve very different results. That means that it too will run in your browser and across several different platforms. Browser-based technology is no longer limiting and clunky -- it's the stuff that really high-quality game experiences can be made from. While there was no playable demo for us to try, watching the Unity engine at work is enough to make anyone excited. We were able to find out that Battlestar will feature many different ships, voice-acting, and eventually, avatars.

Both games have a winter timeframe for beta. That means soon -- real soon.

What Bigpoint is doing now is moving into this new area of development, in a big way. The company is known for its millions and millions of customers, but a good percentage of those are based in Europe. The company wants to move into the U.S., and what better way to do it than building games right here and using IPs that are very familiar to an American audience? With Ruined Online, the team is not only taking action-based games to another level, but doing it inside your browser. It is not a far stretch of the imagination to see the benefits.

We would like to thank Alan Dunton for taking the time to talk to us and for showing us how a browser can be used to slaughter your friends!
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