Two years ago at GDC, Spacetime Studios CEO Gary Gattis spilled three iPhones onto a table in a crowded hotel lobby, inviting Ten Ton Hammers Ben de la Durantaye and myself to join him in a then super-secret mobile MMO project, Pocket Legends, the first of its kind. Little did we realize that Spacetime was just tuning up. At GDC 2012, Gary and friends demoed their third, most ambitious, and most bloody title yet, Dark Legends.
This is easily the most violent game Ive ever worked on, Gary explained. Player feedback from Pocket Legends and Star Legends revealed a hardcore segment that wanted blood. Cue the trailer, complete with the sultriest rendering of House of the Rising Sun Ive ever heard and a gusher of blood sucked into pale, pouty lips. The tagline: Wanna play? This is not your typical mobile game trailer fare.
Dark Legends is riding a wave of vampiric popularity stemming from Twilight and True Blood, though Gary is quick to note that Dark Legends draws much more from the latter than the former. (Garys promise: No sparkly vampires.) Skimpily clad hedonism dominates every moment of the game, from The Club (a social area where players can stash their stuff and pickup RMT goods like skimpy maid outfits) to active vignettes (actual cutscenes rare in a mobile game - where players perform quick actions on an unlock timer such as glamming a target or stalking a neighborhood) to gameplay areas, where a variety of combat actions shows just how dark Dark Legends can be.
Combat in Dark Legends will be familiar to players of the first two Spacetime titles, with a few key differences. Health and energy pools have been combined into a single blood pool that (vampires being vampires) can be refilled by following occasional prompts to drain enemies. Draining causes your vampire character to rush forward and, not without some shudder factor, relieve your opponent of his or her bodily humours.
Your characters other four attacks can be charged with a press and hold mechanic new to the Legends games. Skill trees allow players to specialize their characters for use in groups, and the map screen allows you to quickly see where your friends are playing and join in. Finally, achievements will allow players to track and compare their progress.
But the biggest differentiating factor is playfully gory and Gothic air that permeates the game experience. Gary explained that the story is culled from an original IP envisioned by one of Spacetimes designers called Empire of Night. The setup is similar to the most recent Underworld movie in that humanity is aware of the existence of vampires and is actively seeking their eradication. A human, Kriegsburg, experiences terrible loss at the hands of vampires and declares a sort of jihad against them. Some humans turn to the dark arts to further this aim, and werewolves are (of course) thrown into the bargain.
Players are at the core of the conflict, alternately trying to survive and to further the bloody-minded aims of the emerging vampire nation. And if youre ready to take a step toward the seductively sanguine in your mobile MMO gaming, you wont have long to wait. According to Gary, Dark Legends will be released on the Kindle Fire in a few months, then Android, then iOS and the Chrome browser soon after that.
Our thanks to Gary Gattis, Fernando Bianco, and the Spacetime Studios crew for taking some time out of hectic GDC schedules to update us on the darker side of mobile global MMO gaming.