It's been 40 days since Pearl Abyss began self-servicing Black Desert Online in Korea. There were many concerns at first, but PA proved themselves more than capable of managing the game on their own.
May 30th, on the day of PA's self-servicing transition, the player count saw a tremendous increase - about 15 times more from the original player number before the transition. BDO KR's daily active user(DAU) also doubled with nearly all servers overrun at all times. Simply put, the game grew enormously.
PA also began more closely communicating with their players. At the most recent Heidel Ball, not only did PA share their entire update roadmap for 2019, but they took as much feedback as possible from the players and had begun updating the game in the direction of that feedback.
On the 12th of July, our team ran into an opportunity to hear from the developers at a press conference. What more can we expect from the Black Desert franchise this summer? Let's find out.
■ Summer Content Update
"There are three major contents that we have and are currently preparing for the summer. The first one was Shai. Her version of awakening, 'talent', will soon be added to the live servers.
The second content is the 'Great Sea' update. Before we throw this into the game, however, we'll have to reshape the current ocean system.
The third is 'Jeon-seung'(Korean word for "be passed down," or "be handed down"). We found that a lot of players found difficulty adjusting to their class after awakening - for example, the ranger class uses nothing but the bow pre-awakening, but the class is suddenly given two blades to wield after hitting 56. The 'Jeon-seung' skill system was an idea that we came up with so that the players can continue to enjoy the pre-awakening theme of their class post level 56."
■ Press Q&A
*** Please note that the terms/names used in this article are not official and are subject to change when the associated update is released on the NA/EU server. The 'Jeon-seung' system that was mentioned above will be referred to as 'succession' in the Q&A for better readability.
Q. Can characters who have already awakened use succession weapons?
Jae-hee Kim: It's possible, but you won't be able to do it mid-combat.
When we talk about the awakening system, the biggest flaw to it is that the classes' playstyle sees a large change once you awaken. Although there were a lot of players who didn't like that sudden change in playstyle, they were still forced to play the awakening part of their class due to how powerful it is. This was a mistake from our part, and it always bothered us. With the 'succession' system, we feel that some of those complaints towards awakening will disappear. Simply put, the succession skill system allows players to opt out of awakening and continue the pre-awakening side of a class's skillset.
Q. Black Desert Online's group content used to be very limited. However, the newly added Shai class specializes in group play. A lot of fans began hoping for more group content as a result, but nothing significant has been added so far.
Jae-hee Kim: Shai isn't necessarily a class that "specializes in group content." Instead, she is an experimental class that we wanted to test different things on. The other classes that we launched before Shai have many "cool" and powerful combat skills, and in truth, releasing combat-oriented classes bring in more players. However, if we continue this trend, BDO will have nothing but combat classes. There are players that want to enjoy the game in different ways, and that's why we developed Shai. We already have a lot of cool or awesome classes. Therefore, we thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be okay to try something different just this once?"
With all that said, we had to think really hard on how we should balance Shai. As she was developed to bring in a "different type of fun" to the game, we saw it unsuitable to make her powerful in combat. Sure, statistically speaking, releasing combat-oriented classes bring in more players, and that Shai's release set us back. However, I believe that this is a growing pain that BDO has to endure. We're going to continue to add classes that are unique to their name in the future.
Q. What is the difference between Black Desert Mobile's(BDM) and Black Desert Online's succession system?
Jae-sang Joo: In BDM, if you choose to go with the succession route, you can only use succession weapons and skills. The same goes for awakening; if you choose to go with the awakening path, you're stuck with nothing but awakening weapons and skills. In BDO, however, you won't be forced to play just one of the two - you won't have to sell your awakening weapon once you take the succession route. Even if you are playing a succession character, we're planning to allow that character to take a few awakening skills and use it freely.
Q. From a character designer's perspective, I'm curious as to what you guys found the most important while developing Shai.
Jae-sang Joo: Cuteness.
Jae-hee Kim: We thought really hard on how we should approach Shai. At first, we were reluctant to release her as we believed that 'cuteness' isn't a suitable theme for the BDO universe. But many players requested such a character, and she's a race that already existed in BDO. Our character designers poured their heart and soul into Shai, and that's how she was born.
Q. The succession system revolves around powering up the pre-awakening skills. How will you make the new succession skills unique for classes such as Witch and Wizard who share nearly identical pre-awakening skills?
Jae-hee Kim: That's something that we're currently thinking about. Succession skills on classes such as Witch-Wizard and Ranger-Archer will undoubtedly share a lot of similarities with each other. That's because the basic skills are nearly identical to each other. But for Witches and Wizards, I feel their succession will revolve around Lightning and Fire respectively.
Q. Which class will get the succession system first?
Jae-hee Kim: Warrior. Valkyrie and Ranger's succession are also being developed currently, but I'm not sure which one will be released first from the two.
Q. Could you provide us with exact numbers as to how successful PA's self-servicing has been?
Do-sung Go: A public announcement of such could affect us in multiple ways, so we'd rather be careful of releasing such information. But I could tell you that in terms of BDO's daily active user(DAU) count, we peaked at three-times more players than before the transition. The number did dwindle a little bit since then, but we still have on average, twice as much DAU than before the transition.
Q. Could you skip awakening entirely and move straight to succession?
Jae-hee Kim: It's possible. Depending on your playstyle preference, you can choose which path you want to take.
Q. Out of the 18 classes, some have HP recovery on attack, while some don't. This could put the latter classes at a significant disadvantage when grinding. What's your opinion on this subject?
Jae-hee Kim: We're always thinking of ways to properly balance the different classes. However, we aren't going to simply add HP recovery on hit or Resource recovery on hit to classes that don't naturally have them. If you want to play that type of class, you can play something different. Our direction in balancing is to maintain each classes' unique features while ironing out the inconvenient ones.
Q. Some classes are largely inferior to the others in PVP. How will succession affect this?
Jae-hee Kim: A lot of players have complaints regarding their class. I believe that succession will solve a lot of the existing balance issues.
Q. In regards to the Great Sea update, I'm curious if it will bring an entirely new type of content... or if it will simply revolve around grinding/life skilling
Jae-sang Joo: You could say that it's an entirely new type of content. The gameplay will be completely different from the one that you are used to on land. A lot of the gameplay mechanics from land will not apply in the Great Sea. You can pretty much consider the Great Sea to be a separate game from BDO. In the Great Sea update, you can create your own vessel, hire crews, hunt pirates, and commerce with others.
Currently, BDO players largely divide themselves to life skillers and PVP/PVE players, as if the two are playing completely different games. But in truth, both sides still do a little bit of everything. The Great Sea will be different. When it's released, I have a feeling that the player base will be divided into 'sea players' and 'land players'. The basis of the Great Sea Update will center around venturing the vast sea and its islands.
Q. For the last question, please tell us how you'll develop and manage BDO moving forward
Jae-sang Joo: We're of course going to do our best. Not only will we work hard, but we'll do well. Please continue to show love and support for Black Desert Online.
Jae-suk Jang: I feel the same. I'll sincerely do my best.
Jae-hee Kim: Black Desert Online is our very first title. It's a game that grew to what it is today with its players. Now that we're self-servicing the game, we'll pay more attention to the management side of BDO and quickly fix 'inconveniences' that the players may feel.
Do-sung Go: The root of BDO's IP is its online features. That's why we're putting a lot of emphasis on that part. We'll do our best to keep Black Desert Online fresh and entertaining, whether it be 5 or 10 years from now. Please watch over and root for us!
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