Black Desert Online launched this year in the west, bringing some quite unique mechanics to the MMORPG markets and a charming, enormous world that is just a pleasure to explore. Recently, DualShockers had a chat with the Pearl Abyss Lead Producer Jae Hee Kim, Head of Game Design Suh Won Choi and Project Manager Do Sung Koh about the game’s development and future.
Translation and comments were provided by International Business Manager Lybee Park. For those unfamiliar, Pearl Abyss is the Korean studio behind the game, that is published in the west by Kakao Games Europe.
Giuseppe Nelva: A little while ago, you released the art for the new Dark Elf class. Is it going to be female-only?
Pearl Abyss: We are totally considering a male dark elf, but the female is ready, since the idea came up a while ago.
GN: So at the beginning it will be only female?
PA: Yes, only female.
GN: When will the class be released on the Korean servers?
PA: It’s not finalized, but it should be at the end of this year.
GN: Are the awakenings for witch and wizard almost ready?
PA: They’re almost ready. We are releasing them monthly, so the witch will be in September, and Wizard will come in October.
GN: Western players have found the visual pop-in of some items of the environment a bit disturbing. Are you working on solving the issue? Is it even possible?
PA: Since our world is seamless and also very big, it was an unavoidable problem, but we’re totally aware of it, and fixing it step-by-step.
GN: So it will be mitigated over time?
PA: Yes, over time, but you’ll definitely feel the difference.
GN: Another problem is that under certain lighting conditions hair becomes a little “neon.”
PA: I know, I hate it! (laughs)
GN: Will that be mitigated as well?
PA: That problem is actually linked directly to the game’s engine, and we keep complaining about it ourselves, since the cosmetic side of our game is really important for us. We’re totally aware of it.
GN: Is the engine made by another studio?
PA: No it’s made internally.
GN: So you’re basically complaining with your own colleagues.
GN: We’ll wait. I have black hair, so I’m fine I guess…
PA: Yeah, bright hair is a problem in game for now. Mine is white so… And yellow colors are totally bright as well.
GN: The new continent of Magoria in the north, for now is only represented by a small port on the Korean servers. Will it be expanded in the future or it’s just supposed to be a trade port without any actual land attached?
PA: Even in Korea it was kind of a surprise for our users. At this time it’s just for trade, and we’re working on content in the main continent like Kamasilve. After that, in the future, there is a possibility that we might add more content in Magoria as well.
GN: So what is the timeline for the launch of Kamasilve and Drigan in Korea?
PA: We’ll launch Kamasilve in Korea at the beginning of 2017, followed by Drigan afterwards.
GN: One thing that our readers ask a lot is if you’re considering porting the game to PS4 and Xbox One…
PA: We’re considering it, but our priority is to stabilize our content on the PC version first, and after that, yes, there’s always a possibility.
GN: With Tier 9 horses, there’s going to be a pegasus, a nightmare and an unicorn. Will they be a result of breeding, or maybe they will be acquired in other ways?
PA: Since they have unique features, breeding by itself won’t be sufficient to get them, so you’ll need extra steps, but everything beyond that is a secret.
GN: Workers take a lot of micromanagement, so I was wondering if you’re considering external help like a mobile app that could be used to manage them?
PA: We’re considering that too, but we’re more keen on the idea of letting you take care of groups of workers combined in game, than external applications.
GN: This may seem a bit of a strange question, but you’d be surprised about how many times I hear it on the western servers. There isn’t a single MMORPG that I can think of that doesn’t get swimsuits in the summer. Black Desert is already on its second summer (in Korea), but there are no swimsuits in sight. The game has some great waterfront areas, so will we ever get something appropriate to wear?
PA: You’re blushing! (Laughs)
GN: Yes, I am. Thank you for noticing.
PA: Would you be satisfied with some medieval-style bikini?
GN: Sure, but the game already comes with a lot of clothing that doesn’t look very medieval, after all.
PA: I know. We’re getting suggestions and reports from all over the world. They keep asking us, but it’s pretty sensitive, because we think that it might conflict with the philosophy of our game. While there are many suggestions about bikinis and bathing suits, on there other side there are enraged people that say that if we implement bikinis, we’d ruin the game.
GN: That’s interesting, since the game already has some really revealing outfits. I’m not sure a swimsuit would show a lot more than a Kibelius dress.
PA: (laughs) Even internally there’s a lot of discussion about it.
GN: All right, then I vote for bikinis.
PA: Me too, but… (laughs) If you guys keep asking a lot, maybe they’ll be implemented.
GN: I was quite impressed when I saw videos on YouTube showing how snow appeared on the Korean servers last year. Unfortunately due to release timing, western gamers didn’t get to see it. Will it happen again this year?
PA: Yes, and it will be upgraded.
GN: That’s great. I really liked it because it changed the whole world with a new texture set.
PA: You saw in the spring that we added cherry blossom trees giving an Asian atmosphere to the game, so each season will get changes in the field (chats with the developers in Korean).
GN: So are we going to get red leaves in the fall?
PA: Wow, can you speak Korean? Because we were talking about that!
GN: Not a single word, but we were probably just thinking about the same thing. How do you feel about the reaction to the game in the west? Did you expect it to be this successful?
PA: Our initial intention was to launch the game globally, but we weren’t sure that it would be successful, because there are so many other Korean MMORPGs that aren’t successful overseas. The reception was totally beyond our expectations, but we’re trying really hard to satisfy our users from all over the world.
Incidentally, we have a part 2 of this interview coming soon. This first part was with the development team at Pearl Abyss, and was of course more focused on development itself. The second will be with Kakao Games’ Marketing Manager, about the publishing side of things, so look forward to reading it very soon here on DualShockers.
Update: due to an issue with the recording, the release windows for Kamasilve and Drigan were reported incorrectly, they have now been fixed.