Snail Games’ Senior Content Lead/Marketing Manager Johnny Lynch on everything Black Gold Online.
Black Gold Online is a free-to-play MMORPG that focuses on the collusion between steampunk and fantasy. In the game you will be able to use steam punk gadgets like mechs and anti-air cannons. On the other hand if you are a part of the fantasy civilization, you will be able to use flying dragons and beasts. GamingBolt caught up with Snail Games’ Senior Content Lead/Marketing Manager Johnny Lynch to know all about the game. Check out his response below.
Leonid Melikhov: Black Gold Online has a rather interesting setting, with a fantasy medieval steampunk theme going on for it. This kind of setting usually isn’t visited much in games (the most notable example is the seminal Final Fantasy VI, way back on the Super Nintendo). What made you want to try this setting, and in an MMO no less?
Johnny Lynch: The inspiration behind it was that we really realized that there aren’t that many steampunk MMOs. There is a few low-level ones like City of Steam, but there wasn’t anything action-like or the type of the thing. We decided to create this cross-over as the source of the conflict because we wanted to have a game that players could participate in. So we developed the story-line that’s behind the steam and the fantasy being two worlds that was developed in-tandem but separate from each other.
Then we put it on a collision course over this precious resource called Black Gold and they both use it in different ways. One side we use for their magic, it’s their foundation of their elemental magic and the other side uses it as a fuel source for their mechs, and that was the emphasis behind it. We wanted to mix the styles in a way that was on a gameplay level and also on an artistic level, just two conflicting worlds fighting over resources and that’s really the experience of the game.
"If you go to the different parts of the world they’re totally different and that’s actually part of the story-line that’s part of why it’s happening. If you go to the west there are little towns in a middle of deserts with very rough terrain. If you go to the east, it’s more lush wilderness, jungles and rain forests, which is also the explanation of why they have the distinct cultures and the distinct development between these two factions."
Leonid Melikhov: Why did the game take so long to come over to American shores?
Johnny Lynch: We obviously wanted to make sure that it got tested to being a quality game. We’ve gone through 2 levels of testing so far in the American market and both have gone very well. It is out in China, we had localization process and wanted to make sure that texts and quests were good.
Leonid Melikhov: In general, how did you try to keep the graphics and art style consistent across two very different primary themes- steampunk and fantasy?
Johnny Lynch: The diversity of it is actually a big important part of the art-style. If you go to the different parts of the world they’re totally different and that’s actually part of the story-line that’s part of why it’s happening. If you go to the west there are little towns in a middle of deserts with very rough terrain. If you go to the east, it’s more lush wilderness, jungles and rain forests, which is also the explanation of why they have the distinct cultures and the distinct development between these two factions. If you go closer to the middle you’ll see them mix a bit and that’s kind of the point, it will show the worlds are in conflict. These areas in the middle are contested and there is a lot of different sub-parties going on that are mixing between the two, magic and fantasy.
Leonid Melikhov: Given how both, free to play games and MMOs, are now more and more making their way to consoles, do you think we can expect Black Gold Online to show up on one of the current consoles on the market as well? Which console ecosystem would you see the game thriving the most in?
Johnny Lynch: That whole process is in development, we actually have other things involved also in development for consoles as well. As a little teaser, we’re actually working on MOBA for consoles that’s unrelated to Black Gold Online and we have plans to move into that in the future, but it’s all still in development.
"Energy Wells are persistently control points on the map, different parts of the map can be captured and controlled by a guild and you can build defenses of turrets, walls and even big bosses that can defend their base."
Leonid Melikhov: The game uses a free to play model. Even as free to play games proliferate, and not just within the MMO genre, subscription MMOs have made a resurgence of late. Why did you make the decision to go with a free to play model with this one?
Johnny Lynch: Well, for one thing we just really wanted to make the game accessible to as many people as possible. That was the idea behind it, because of the very best features of the game such as PvP/PvE dungeons. They require a lot of people on the servers, so we didn’t make it something where it was restricted or you had to pay for it. We wanted to make a really accessible game, that’s the biggest thing for us.
In terms of balancing the game for the free-2-play, the biggest thing is that it’s definitely not pay-2-win. There is no cash shop, there is no level restrictions or anything like that. We’ve actually created our own new monetization model called the Sands of Time. The way it works essentially is that it’s a way to get gear in addition too, not in place of high-level loot drops in the world.
There is a way you can earn special points that will entitle you to get extra gear depending on how many points you earn over a certain period of time and those can be purchased with real money. It’s not really hindering player progression, but also allowing players who are willing to pay to and putting the time to really earn it to get extra high level loot. That’s the biggest thing we have in terms of keeping it competitive and giving the opportunity for people who want to do that instead.
Leonid Melikhov: What’s the highest level in the game?
Johnny Lynch: In terms of just leveling it’s level 40 at the moment, that’s the level cap. Actually, there is a lot of different things that come in the rules. For example; as you get to higher level carriers, you’ll also have to rank up your military rank which you get by killing people and accomplishing tasks in the military battlefield. There is also something called Might Score, which is related to your accomplishments, your level and also your gear. That will also lock you to certain instances, if you want to do high level raiding dungeons then you would have to get to a certain might score in order to be able to do those things. That’s the highest level part with that.
Leonid Melikhov: What’s the limit on the player raid dungeons, how many people can go in there?
Johnny Lynch: There is 5 man, 10 man instances and 20 man max for end-game raids. There is also these other special instanced battles which is one of our major end-game features where it’s a guild competitive type of battles that are called Energy Wells. Energy Wells are persistently control points on the map, different parts of the map can be captured and controlled by a guild and you can build defenses of turrets, walls and even big bosses that can defend their base. There are regularly scheduled battles between the two factions, so every Friday/Sunday the two factions can battle to control one of these Energy Wells.
Then, the rest of the week after that, the guilds of that faction will then battle each other for personal control of these Energy Wells and those have their own instanced maps that you battle on. They have their own cool fortress defense and besieging mechanics and mix of on the ground and mounted combat that makes it really interesting.
"We also have these cool open-world dungeons called Chambers of Greed that are kind of a mixture of PvE and PvP. We actually did see some positive ways of camping there, people would form gangs of 5 or 6."
Leonid Melikhov: Is the gear for PvP/PvE separate?
Johnny Lynch: No, it’s the same gear. You get these different point values for accomplishing different things for both PvE and PVP and those things can be redeemed for gear. In terms of your gear, it just boosts your stats, in terms of critical damage, attack damage and special abilities. You have a number of different skills that you’re limited to be equipped with at a time to 7. So, you have to choose and mix/match your skills. Some of them are more PvP skills, some are PvE skills and you have to pick which ones you want to use in a certain type of situation.
Leonid Melikhov: How do you guys plan pn doing the death system?
Johnny Lynch: Well, actually you can revive in a safe spot or you can choose revive in nearby town. You’ll definitely be safe from campers. It really does depend on the situation too, because if its an open world PvP against the other faction they could always send a message to their buddies. Those usually happen in contested areas, so you’d just have to get out of the contested area for a little bit. If it’s against the people of your faction, you’ll obviously start up with a wanted value and then get arrested.
We also have these cool open-world dungeons called Chambers of Greed that are kind of a mixture of PvE and PvP. We actually did see some positive ways of camping there, people would form gangs of 5 or 6. In these dungeons you can go in to fight bosses to get loot and then if you find other players you can kill them and steal the loot that they found in that dungeon.
Leonid Melikhov: Thank you so much for your time, it was great.
Johnny Lynch: No problem.