A First Look at Battlestar Galactica Online at gamescom 2010

Battlestar Galactica has earned a time slot in our lives not only this recent generation but in also previous generations.
Battlestar Galactica has earned a time slot in our lives not only this recent generation but in also previous generations. Many of us sit huddled around the television set from week to week watching episodes of the sci-fi series that has entertained us so thoroughly. So when Bigpoint announced earlier this year that they had obtained the rights to develop the IP into an MMOG it was hard not to get excited. I headed over to the Bigpoint booth at gamescom to try to glean some more information from the team and find out what exactly the game was going to be all about.

To Bigpoint, browser based gaming has become more of a platform than a genre. They have put technology to the test with their strides forward on what can be accomplished through a simple browser. Even when they pulled up the game on the computer in the room, it was still hard for me not to be surprised at how good the game actually looked. The graphics were clean and sharp and by all rights, the game looked as good as any space-shooter-MMOG that uses a proprietary engine.

battlestar galactica online screenshot

Battlestar Galactica Online is still in very early stages of development. It’s not even in its Alpha phase yet. As for the gameplay, one won’t need to be entirely knowledgeable of the television series as the story in the game will introduce players to the universe and lore. Players will be able to create a 3-D avatar and customize it as one would in any other RPG. During creation the choice will be up to the player if they wish to play on the side of the Cylons or the Humans.

The training of the game will be set up through introductory missions. Bigpoint wants players to jump right into the action and feel that they’re already in the game right after character creation, without having to poke their way through a standard tutorial.

PvP will be the focus of the game, but more importantly, the company wants the PvP to be open instead of whisking their players off to a closed confined instance. The controls are standard WASD movement but there is also support for mouse tilting and even click-to-move.

battlestar galactica online screenshot

Flight physics are in the game, but it is not yet determined how much Bigpoint wants the physics to affect the game. They want some ships to feel large and bulky but others need to be fast and agile. It is possible, though not at all confirmed, that players may be able to eventually command Battlestars, but for now the team is focusing on all types of ships from small fighters to cruiser-sized vessels. Some of the ships will be recognized from the series while others will be all-new. These new ships, though, along with all the content in the game, will be endorsed and approved by Universal Studios.

Galaxy maps will allow players to check the status of contested areas. If there is a large battle going on, these areas will appear in red. From here we will also be able to see factional standing of the war going on. That being said, the game is not about winning the war, but more about winning the battles—taking control of the star systems or the resources within the star systems.

Did I say resources? Yes, I did. Mining, of course, will be a big part of the game, but it will not be a complex system. For smaller asteroids players can simply move up the rock, fire their abilities and collect the resources. The small mining nodes will be a casual, quick experience with very little risk of being attacked. Bigpoint likened mining to more of a picking flowers in World of Warcraft system as opposed to mining in EVE. However, the larger areas, as known from the series, are a different beast. These large efforts will be industrial mining and will be done on planetoid-sized rocks which will be scarce and one of the main targets for the exploration portion of the game. These areas will likely be contested and since it won’t involve fast scoop-and-grab mechanics, and there will be risk of being attacked. The planets will first need to be conquered, then populated by mining ships. After the mining ships arrive, it will not be necessary to wait around as the resources will automatically be deposited into your payroll. As mentioned though, the areas may be contested so there will always be the risk that your mining ships may come under attack at some point.

battlestar galactica online screenshot

As for the story, the game will take place in an extension of the universe seen in the series. Bigpoint has been given license to deviate from the set story of the series, within set parameters. The story will be plausible to BSG fans, but the story in the game won’t be a simple repeat of what has been seen on television. This applies to the character avatar as well as the space combat. Players will be able to walk around the Battlestars and other locations and meet characters like Adama to receive missions and otherwise interact. Bigpoint feels it’s important to have these interactions in the game, but the main portion of the game will be fleet and tactical combat.

The game will be free-to-play with microtransactions. The team is making it quite clear that it will be free to play from beginning to end, without ever a need to use the cash shop. Players who play free are an important part of the development of the game, as Bigpoint wants to ensure that the game is a fun experience for them from A to Z. The microtransactions will come into play when players want to take the game experience to the next level in terms of core immersion. The items available are still being discussed, but will likely include modifications for ships and personal insignias. They will not cut out parts of the game for non-paying customers.

Battlestar Galactica Online is scheduled for launch this winter.

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