GDC 2012: A look at Dark Legends with Spacetime Studios

Karen Bryan
K. Bryan|03.08.12

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GDC 2012: A look at Dark Legends with Spacetime Studios
Dark Legends
Life, death, and a return from the grave: That sums up the life of a vampire, but it also sums up the journey of Spacetime Studios. What do the two have in common? The studio's upcoming title called Dark Legends. At GDC 2012 this week, Massively had a chance to talk with Gary Gattis, CEO of Spacetime Studios, and we got a first-hand look at how the company successfully created a game in which people can play together on laptops, tablets, phones, and virtually any mobile device available.

Gattis began by giving a little background into the studio's past because it's played a very important part in its eventual success. The staff's roots go way back to Ultima Online, and Gattis and a few others helped build and run Star Wars Galaxies. In 2005, they joined forces with NCsoft, and Spacetime was in charge of building tools and tech for various projects. But in 2008, when the Korean-based studio pulled out of North America, they parted ways, and Spacetime was lucky to be able to retain the tool and tech it had developed. The studio had a powerful engine but was looking for something to do with it. Instead of staying in the traditional MMO setting, the devs decided to look forward... and go mobile.

The studio then went on to develop Pocket Legends, and later, Star Legends. This new title, Dark Legends, is the culimination of that effort, and what's particularly exciting is that no matter where in the world you are and what you choose to play on -- laptop, smartphone, tablet, or any other mobile device -- you'll be able to interact together across platforms.

The setting of the game is vampire-themed, but it's hardly of the sparkly, Twilight variety. It's dark and extremely bloody and not for the kids. There is a lot of variety to both the character customization and the outfits that they can wear.

Gameplay is best described as "pick up and play," and it incorporates features from traditional MMOs as well as social games. Spacetime used the energy mechanic from social games and improved upon it to give it a little more depth and purpose in the game. When you first log in, you have a variety of little cutscenes that you access, which help improve your character abilities as well as progress your character's storyline. When you hit one with a timer, you can pass the time by jumping into the content and basically feeding on as many living things as you can find.

Spacetime showed off the campaign map, which notifies you when your friends are online. You can then join up and play, and in the demo, Gattis showed a player on an Tablet and a player on a laptop playing together. Typically, combat involves rapidly clicking a button, but in Dark Legends, you can also hold down the button and get a charged strike. The designers integrated health and mana into one pool, called the blood pool. When you get hurt, your injuries drain the blood pool, but you also get to replenish it with a drain, which is indicated by a red skull on the side of the screen. Typical sessions last only a few minutes, but you can continue along with the campaign to make for a longer session. In the multiplayer experiences, the group limit is three because the difficulty scales and it becomes too chaotic with larger groups, but for social instances, you can have up to 25 players fighting together.

Dark Legends is due to launch in the next month, and Spacetime Studios is partnering with Amazon for a two-week exclusive on the Kindle Fire. In addition, the team has plans to use this to build all sorts of mobile multiplayer games, from wild west to mafia to World War II, so grab those chargers and get your mobile devices ready!

Massively sent four resolute reporters to San Francisco to bring you back the biggest MMO news from this year's GDC, the largest pro-only gaming industry con in the world! From games like The Secret World to PlanetSide 2, we're on the case, so stay tuned for all the highlights from the show!
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