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E3 2011: Spacetime Studios on the Legends franchise


Blackstar has a new name to capitalize on the Legends brand -- it's now known as Star Legends: The Blackstar Chronicles. At this year's E3, we caught up with Spacetime Studios' Fernando Blanco to see how the revived project (as well as the company's hit Pocket Legends) is coming along.

Star Legends is only a month away from launch, and Spacetime hopes that the Pocket Legends fever will spread to its sci-fi brother. The name's been changed to communicate the studio's intent to provide an ongoing story rather than a one-shot experience. The game will launch with the first 20 levels of content, but Spacetime has grand plans to expand this much further.

Blanco gave us some of the backstory to the game: In the far future, humans are exploring the cosmos and have stumbled upon a resource-rich area. Corporations, as they are wont to do, have swooped in to exert their dominance but have come across hostile aliens in the process. War breaks out, invasions start popping up all over the place, and you're called in to clean up the mess -- and make a quick buck in the process.

Hit the jump to hear more about Star Legends' classes and gameplay!


We got a chance to see the Commando in action. The Commando is one of three classes, along with the Operative and Engineer, that will ship at launch. He's not a subtle class, to be sure; the character is a slab of meat with big guns, big armor, big shoulders and big everything. Spacetime has designed each of the three classes to have an exaggerated, iconic silhouette that would be instantly recognizable in the game.

For those who prefer an alternative to the "brute force" approach, the Operative is far more sneaky as she hacks into networks and uses technical tricks to stay alive. The Engineer, on the other hand, projects long-range attacks to inflict the maximum amount of damage before the enemy can close to range. In parallel to Pocket Legends, the Commando is the Warrior, the Operative is the Archer, and the Engineer is the Mage.

Boarding party of five

Anyone who's played Pocket Legends will be instantly familiar with Star Legends' on-screen controls, which allow players to move and toggle abilities while still keeping as much of the action visible as possible. Other similarities between the games include party sizes of two to five players and a heavy dependence on instances.

Unlike Pocket Legends, however, Star Legends is including special opportunities in instances, opportunities that can only be utilized by a certain class. One of the examples we were given is this: A party comes across a damaged control panel. If the party contains an Engineer, he can repair it and then access areas that would've remained closed off otherwise. Operatives can open some locked doors, the Commando can bash through some obstacles, and so on.

In fact, there are many more environmental activities all around, including surprise attacks, traps and puzzles. Teamwork will be required for you to get the most out of your adventures, so it's helpful to bring along a few players who aren't just dead weight.

We came across a treasure chest -- ooh, goodies! -- when we were ambushed by aliens bursting out of pods surrounding it. Death comes when you least expect it in this game. Another welcome change from Pocket Legends is that treasure chests contain a lot more items instead of just money, so players can and will be gearing up within the instances themselves. Loot will be distributed via a random roll so players don't have to fight over it.

Aboard the Blackstar

The main hub for the game is aboard the U.C.S. Blackstar, and it's here that players can form parties and get some much-needed R&R before their next excursion. Star Legends comes equipped with many social features that players have come to expect from MMOs, including friends lists, chat and mail.

What lessons has Spacetime learned from Pocket Legends that it's taking into its second MMO? Blanco said that the feature list for Pocket Legends was "minimal" because it was a lot more experimental, so Star Legends is more of an evolution of these concepts. He also said that the game is far more interactive and the team has "upped the bar" for art.

Post-launch, the team hopes to raise the level cap to 30 or 40 by the end of the year. Spacetime is also looking at PvP and housing as ways to keep people coming back.

Spacetime is targeting the end of June or the beginning of July for beta. It will have two promotions for beta, one with Verizon and one with Android. Following the beta comes launch on all of the platforms including iOS.

Pocket Legends flashes millions

Pocket Legends has become one of the biggest success stories in the mobile MMO market over the past year, and with its expansion onto Android platforms, it's only growing bigger.

To celebrate, Spacetime is using an in-game Droid character to start what the dev called "the world's first mobile game flash mob activity." The team is trying to get a ton of people to gather around this character and emote to it for prizes all at once. The studio will release numbers about the event once it's over.

The Legends franchise continues...

Spacetime isn't content with just this pair of MMOs; it has announced that it has at least two more in the works, with one of those slated for release later this year. "We're looking at something with a darker theme, like Dark Legends with vampires or something like that," Blanco said. "And then these guys have been wanting to do a Western theme for a while. Something dirty and dusty."

Gallery: Star Legends | 20 Photos

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 6-9, bringing you all the best news from E3 2011. Whether you're dying to know more about Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

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