by Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
by Diplomat of Dark Sky Entertainment
Unlike MMORPGs, the massively multiplayer online real-time strategy
genre has yet to really take off. With only a few entrants in the
marketplace, Dark Sky Entertainment is looking to make a real splash
with Beyond Protocol, their first entry into the MMORTS marketplace.
Recently, Ten Ton Hammer’s Cody “Micajah”
Bye had a chat with the voice behind the MMOG development studio,
DSE’s Diplomat. All of the answers are long and in-depth, so
make sure you keep reading!
Ten Ton Hammer: To start,
could you give the Ten Ton Hammer readers a brief overview of what
Beyond Protocol is about?
Players in Beyond
Protocol will have hundreds of choices.
Beyond Protocol is an MMORTS. That means a lot of players in the same
persistent server/universe controlling empires, managing buildings,
units, resources, relationships and technology in a real time.
Specifically, it has a science fiction setting, which means the field
of play ranges from lava, ice, acid, fungal, desert, oceanic, and
terran planets to the cold reaches of space filled with stars, nebulae,
and asteroid belts.
In creating Beyond Protocol, the developers had one idea in mind;
afford the player as many options in running their empire as possible.
At the largest level, player groups (Guilds, Factions, and Clans) can
customize the way they play together, such as requiring a vote to
declare war, or customizing ranks with weighted votes, or setting a tax
imposed on each member which goes to the group treasury. At the lowest
level, each building and unit can be customized from components, which
can be customized from alloys, which can be customized from any of the
105 minerals available in the game. I could go on, but this is supposed
to be a brief overview! In short, Beyond Protocol is about
Ten Ton Hammer: In the
past, MMORTSes haven’t had a lot of success trying to
penetrate the online market. How is Beyond Protocol different? What
sort of schemes do you have planned for the launch of your game?
Well, as you might imagine, our “schemes” are
confidential, we seem to have already been targeted by some of the
larger MMO’s as a potential sink from their player base, so I
would rather not talk about that for now. What I can tell you about is
our most vital feature to keep individual players and the community as
a whole interested. That is the Galactic Senate. This system gives the
players a dynamically democratic say in how the game actually
functions. The larger players in the game, which will represent those
most dedicated and involved in the game, will have the power to propose
“legislation”. This legislation can be anything
from adding a special technology to the tech cloud, to revising an in
game mechanic, to voiding past legislation.
Once proposed, it goes to the developers who evaluate it for
plausibility and an estimated time to completion. From there it goes to
the player base. Every planet in the game is given one vote on the
subject. For scale purposes, the relatively tiny Beta neighborhood has
roughly 200 planets, when the game launches there will be many more.
Each vote is public and can be changed over the 2 week voting process.
Not only does this ensure that the largest or most active part of the
community enjoys the game, it also adds a set of overlaying objectives
for those interested in politics and control. The choice becomes either
to campaign through rallies and speeches, or through destruction and
domination. As I said already, any previous legislation can be
overturned, so there will always be a struggle for power.
Ten Ton Hammer: What will
MMOG players find familiar in Beyond Protocol? Will they be able to
advance their characters or civilizations? Can they find loot and
upgrade their units with it? Will there be raids, guilds, and PvP?
Players will advance
their civilizations rather than their characters.
may have touched on some of this already, but I’ll take this
opportunity to respond in more depth. In Beyond Protocol, a
player’s main representation is the civilization they create.
This civilization is based off of the cities, fleets, agencies,
departments and technologies under its control. Each of these can be
advanced in many different ways. Cities or colonies can be shaped to
function as research bases, war factories, trade hubs, cash cows, and
sprawling capitols. Each building is a customizable entity, so the city
can be renovated to fulfill its purpose better over time. Available
technology will greatly influence how this is done.
Beyond Protocol has a very complicated research system that makes this
interesting. While the player based designs are completely
customizable, such as designing a weapon that fires every 5 seconds and
deals 0-200 damage with each shot, there is also an overarching system
of Special Technologies which dictate a player’s maximum
values and available technology for such designs. An example of this
would be a research that allows a special payload to weapons which
yield different damage types or require different mineral properties.
As the player develops their civilization, these technologies will
advance along with them, but because of the inherent variables in this
system, this advance is often quite different from other players around
them. This creates unique strengths and weaknesses in each empire.
As for loot, upon destruction, each building or unit has the chance to
leave debris or cargo on the play field. If it is collected before
scavengers there are several uses for the loot. The first is inclusion
in future designs. If, for example, a player’s opponent
dropped an excellent engine, that engine can now be fitted into a new
ship design. Another common example of this is picking up minerals
dropped from cargo holds. In the Beta we have had players, of their own
volition, play pirates. They abandoned typical base building and
resource gathering techniques and lived solely off of the minerals and
components dropped by their prey. This limited their growth somewhat,
but made them extremely difficult to find as they could hide in their
space stations relatively isolated from the rest of the solar system.
The next use for the loot is for tactical evaluation. As soon as it is
analyzed, the capabilities of the component or attributes of the alloy
are known, what created the design is not, so this prevents copycat
designs, but still affords the chance to better estimate a foe.
Will there be raids, guilds, and PvP? Yes, yes, and oh certainly! The
raids and guilds I have gone over, but PvP should be explained. In this
game, NPC empires are not common. This means major opponents will be
human controlled. However, there will be certain environmental effects
that serve to provide PvE, as well as the non combat portions of the
game, like research and trade.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will
Beyond Protocol take place in a persistent universe? Will players be
able to keep their units and characters over the timeline of the game?
Players in BP will be
fighting in a persistent universe.
The Beyond protocol universe will be completely persistent. Everything
created will last until it is destroyed or the player decides to end
their subscription to the game. The latter serves to prevent large
inactive empires from cluttering the environments.
Ten Ton Hammer: How do
the RTS elements work in Beyond Protocol? Do players have matches with
each other? Or are there constant battles in the universes wherever
The universe is one large open place to play, so for the most part,
battles are not instanced or separated from the rest of the game, and
thus there will constantly be battles and front lines, so to speak. One
interesting feature though, which has not seen the light of beta quite
yet, is the tournament or mock battle system available within guilds.
Players can contribute units to compete, test, or just play with. They
can then fight to the “death” in order to reach an
outcome, but when the event is over are returned unharmed to the owner.
This can allow something like a tribal vie for power or an Olympic
games type event without requiring, what are often, closely knit player
groups to go to war with each other.