Blackshot Europe Interview: Opening Up to the World
Questions by Vincent Haoson, OnRPG Journalist
Answered byMartin Simon (Leading Product Manager) Horst Kühn (Junior Product Manager) Dennis Hilgersom (Marketing and PR Manager)
Blackshot Europe has currently started its open service and we here at Onrpg had the chance to talk to the people who are currently making things work behind the scenes. Here's what the people at Efusion MMOG have to say about Blackshot's current status.
OnRPG: You recently started open service and previously had 3 closed beta phases, how is the game so far?
Martin: We are in the plan of our launch procedures and our main focus is to make this game stable running. The Open Service is so far our biggest stress test, and shows us the last remaining issues. There are some points left we need to fix before the retail release but we are confident to fix this.
Dennis: In the last 3 weeks after the Open Service was started we gained another 10.000 players which made us very happy.
OnRPG: What kind of errors you faced in the 3 CBT's or in the start of the open service mainly?
Horst: We had several crashes and disconnect errors in the 3rd CBT which have been really annoying. But with the help of our community and testers we could fix them very fast!
Martin: The biggest issue was the GameGuard implementation which gave us really some headache, but this has been done now to our full satisfaction. There are still some small issues with the connection to the service which we need to solve. Additionally we are working on the network code to reduce the possibility of lags in game.
OnRPG: How's the game's community support? It seems that players are really making the game work, what are your thoughts about this?
Dennis: Our community support is split into 2 areas;
•1. The support in areas which touch the product directly, i.e. issues with client, server and connection. This is being dealt from our product managers who can actively support them and guide them the most effective way. Beside this our supporters are assisting in the support tickets and forums with the common problems to reduce the workload of the managers.
•2. The community issues, i.e ranting, flaming insulting in game is being dealt by the Community Manager and the supporters directly. Either in game or via support ticket. If a player is really crossing the border we are interfering actively, but I need to say it's less than expected.
The support team is consisting of volunteers who helped us already in the internal alpha tests and throughout the closed betas. We selected them out of the community when we finished the 3rd CBT. Currently we have 8 volunteers which will be raised always with the community growth. Basically the work is currently more in game related as we get really seldom a ticket on crucial things!
Around the back alleys
OnRPG: How big is the game's current community? Has the amount of players met your expectations? What are your thoughts about it?
Dennis: We distributed approx 35.000 beta keys with the help of our 30 partner gaming sites in that time, and the activation rate was really amazing high. Around 30% of the keys have been activated and were used in the game. After the CBT and with start of the Open Service we made some advertise as well which resulted in a stable growth till now.
OnRPG: BlackShot is facing a lot of competition with the number of MMOFPS games released or are being released, what do you think is BlackShot's edge against them? Why do you think so?
Dennis: BlackShot is so far unique as it has some very dark future background which can be also used for events and so on. Most of the FPS leak some story background, and I think this something we can really make interesting and working for this game.
Martin: There is a lot more than only the story, I would say. Basically this is a download and install game which works great. The client is small and the install process goes quite fast. Additionally the weapon mastery system is very unique and is enabling the players to earn some very special weapons and items by playing and master a special weapon type.
Horst: Guys you forgot the "Bunker Defense" where players can train their aiming and also tactic in smaller groups against AI controlled enemies. This sounds maybe boring, but it's great fun and teach coordination which comes very useful for clan matches later!
OnRPG: What do you think is the best sell of BlackShot to the gamers out there? Why do you think so?
Dennis: As Horst said, the "Bunker Defense" mode is something special, but in all it's the package which we are offering with BlackShot. Interesting story, Weapon Mastery system, advanced clan features, activities and also the options which will come in the commercial release very soon. There are still many things we have hidden and which will be a nice surprise when it goes retail!
Martin: I agree it's the package and not only a simple number of features. We from eFusion MMOG and especially the product managers are working very close to the community and their demands but also to the developers.
Who will get it first
OnRPG: You described BlackShot as a realistic MMOFPS, what game features does it have to make it realistic?
Horst: The physics are very realistic and we don't have such very unrealistic movements you see in other FPS. If you run with your AK-47 it will be very hard to impossible to aim correctly. I have played many FPS and always this feature was very annoying. I think from the current MMOFPS this is one of the best physics so far, but it's hard to compare all games with one product and say this or that is that is more realistic.
Martin: I need to add that the character movements you are seeing on your mates or enemies also don't look like impossible and that this is also adding some more realistic atmosphere to the game. I need to point out that this might be also depending on the map you are playing. In the kill or get killed maps (TDM mode) this is at all not important, but in TFM and Search and Destroy I like this very much!
OnRPG: How many weapons are the in BlackShot right now and how often will you be updating the game's armory? Why?
Martin: Currently we have 22 models but there are a lot of varieties available which raise the total amount to 40. There will be many more weapons in the next future but it's hard to say now how often we will increase the numbers. Basically there will be new items, skills, maps and weapons in the patches at least every month. I think it might be more often, but we are in the begin of the service and it would be too early to release all plans!
OnRPG: Is there any difference between the global server of BlackShot with the Europe server you're handling? Will there be any Europe exclusives in this server? Why?
Dennis: BlackShot global does not exist, the publisher Garena is focusing on the Asian market beside Korea and Japan. We have the license for EU (34 countries) at the moment. Players from the EU will play on our BlackShot EU servers. There will be differences between the services and maybe also in game, as we have a totally different market and we will focus on the European customers.
OnRPG: The game currently has four characters for character creation, will you be including more as the game continues on? Why or why not?
Dennis: For the moment those 4 characters will stay, but there are already plans to bring something new into this game very soon. But the number of characters will be not raised dramatically as this is based on the background story which is about cloning!
OnRPG: The game has currently the usual amount of game modes you can find in a MMOFPS. Will you be including more in the future? Can you give us a little idea on what possible game modes will you be including?
Martin: We only can say at this moment that there are additional modes planned, but not when it will be added or how it will be. Be sure that we will continuously update the game, and game modes are one of the most important points to compete with other games.
OnRPG: According to the game story, BlackShot has three factions in it, the BlackShot mercenaries, the cloners and the people of Gaia. Will these factions be included in the future game modes that you may be including in BlackShot? Why or Why not?
Dennis: The fractions in BlackShot (Gaia and the cloners) are fighting each other with the mercenaries, so basically the mercenaries are only tools for those 2 fractions. The different mercenary agencies are represented by the clans in our game. So basically all fractions are already included!
OnRPG: The game seems to have a fairly well-written story. Will you guys work on this in the future and probably create some events out of it? Why or why not?
Martin: When we go to retail service we will as expected use parts of the story to create reason for tourneys and emphasize the community to fight clan wars. Also there might be some stories we tell with the help of our in game supports to turn the heat on in game. We have plenty of ideas on this!
Face to face
OnRPG: There are some MMOFPS games that have features that include weapon customization will you be including this in BlackShot? Why or Why not?
Martin: Well we have this system as well but you need to master your weapon skill to enable the system. Silencer and scopes are the options but also some special modified weapons can be earned. There will be later more options but for now we don't release more info on it J
Horst: We are already working on some ideas for adding more of this customization options later into the game!
OnRPG: What's in store with BlackShot in the coming months ahead?
Dennis: There are many parts we haven't released so far and which will finally be added. Some of our players already know those things from the service run by Garena, others will be brand new and again others are made by our requests. The main focus for the moment is to fix the last issues and raise it to the commercial service with many updates for the players.
After this our Product Managers will use all their creativity and also the suggestion of the community to make this game as unique as our already serviced games (NavyField and Blitz1941)
OnRPG: Thank you for your time!
eFusion MMOG: Thanks to you for this great opportunity!