Find out the adorable inspiration behind Lando, secrets to using Drakania, and the scoop on Black Desert's massive narrative revamp.
Eternal Winter: Our Comprehensive Black Desert Interview
Following our Black Desert Eternal Winter review, we sat down with Black Desert Online's Head of Game Design Division, Joo Jesse, for a comprehensive Black Desert interview. Read on to discover the secrets of the Mountain of Eternal Winter, why they made such extra effort with voice actors, tips and background details on the new characters, and a surprising fact about a poodle.
The Black Desert development team are brainstorming even right at this moment.
## Interview with Joo Jesse, Black Desert Online's Head of Game Design Division
Playing a well-established game like BDO can be overwhelming for new players. The Eternal Winter expansion is designed to be new-player friendly. How does it do this?
When an online game launches a new region, major marketing comes with it. While this marketing targets both existing and new players, it is usually the existing players who actually can play the new region as it is typically designed for higher-level players. As a result, new players have to play for quite a while to get to the new region they saw in the advertisements.
Black Desert did put effort into adding hunting grounds for mid-level players when it released new regions in the past but it was still not easy for us to come up with a solution that solves this problem fundamentally.
Executive Producer of Black Desert, Jaehee Kim always felt that this could be rectified. One day, he came up with the idea that we create a new region where level 1 players can also explore and have fun. We absolutely felt the same and immediately started working on that idea. That's how the "Eternal Winter Expansion that a level-one player can also enjoy" came into life.
In Eternal Winter, players can choose between 'Ancient Stone Chamber', which is the game's original starting area and 'Mountain of Eternal Winter' as their starting point. Once the character is created, players will find their character in a cottage in the Duvencrune region. Following the tradition of Black Desert, the character does not have any memory from the past and grandma Margot will guide the character into the storyline.
For new adventurers who never played Black Desert before, the game provides quick snapshots of the previous storyline. There are a lot of strong monsters in the Mountain of Eternal Winter region, which might be difficult for new players to defeat. However, the main questline doesn't require new players to defeat them. Instead, the game provides exciting combat with unique monsters.
How else do Pearl Abyss plan to keep player counts high?
Pearl Abyss focuses on keeping the community engaged through steady and interesting updates. Players normally don't have to wait for new content as we update the game regularly and strive to accommodate our fans with exciting content. I can tell you that the Black Desert development team are brainstorming even right at this moment to come up with exciting update ideas. I believe that the result of this effort is the trust we formed together with the Black Desert community.
In addition, Pearl Abyss aims to not only come up with new content but also to refine and maintain the previous content without negligence. In 2021, we successfully carried out a character reboot project. It was a major project where we adjusted the balance between 17 classes that had been released from 2014 and newer classes in Black Desert.
This year, we're doing a narrative revamp project. Until now, Black Desert has been providing the story of Black Desert through text and Knowledge that can be found in-game. Players had to fill in the blanks between stories. With this narrative revamp, we are planning to add more fully-dubbed cutscenes and interesting characters, which will allow players to connect themselves with the world of Black Desert more intimately and intuitively.
The expansion certainly has some colourful characters, what were the inspirations behind Lando and Drakania?
Lando's inspiration comes from the dog that our storywriter lived together with in the past. According to her, Lando's personality - that bright and vibrant character reminded her of the poodle she had. I believe that this character and Lando's adorable design really worked well together.
Drakania is designed as an antithesis of Guardian, one of the popular classes that were introduced to Black Desert in 2020. Both classes share the same background in a sense that they are descendants of dragons and they are from the Mountain of Eternal Winter region. However, except that, everything between them is completely opposite.
The difference between the two classes also shows in their armour. While Guardian embodies the wild nature of a dragon's power through the rugged leather armour and a crude axe, Drakania exudes the elegant but immense power of a dragon with polished plate armour and a refined double-handed sword. This antagonistic relationship between the two classes will bring forth an intriguing story around sworn enemies of ancestors. I hope you like it.
What is the best way to make the most of Drakania's abilities and fighting style?
Drakania employs a unique combat resource called 'ion' in her battle with enemies. Using certain skills of Drakania's, recharges her ion energy and some of her skills can actually inflict stronger damage on enemies with ions. If players understand and utilise this mechanism, they will be able to enjoy a more powerful and exciting version of Drakania's combat style.
If I can give you a tip, try to use skill <Abyssal Fang> together with skills that are relatively slower but inflict higher damage, for instance <Markthanan's Dominion>. This combo can actually help with the faster skill activation as well as ion supply. There are more ways to utilise skill combos and I am sure it will be interesting for players to have a look themselves.
Which new foes or bosses are your favourite, and why?
Murrowak's Labyrinth is my favourite. The development of that dungeon started with a cool idea from the Black Desert modelling team - "Let's create a thrilling hunting ground where the enemies pour down non-stop". As a result, a dungeon with a mysterious and peculiar vibe came into life.
The concept of the dungeon is also completely different to the previous hunting grounds in Black Desert. The more players there are in the field, the faster you will receive rewards. It really became something that you can't find in other hunting grounds. If you try it yourself, you'll definitely find it exciting.
We like the idea of an in-game escape room filled with puzzles. Was it challenging to develop Erethea's Limbo?
The most challenging part in the development of Erethea's Limbo was the process of refining and polishing our existing ideas and incorporating them into the game. We focused on creating an environment where players are able to understand the mechanics of Erethea's Limbo intuitively. Therefore it was important for us to create Erethea's Limbo's in such a way that it is not perceived as overly niche content.
Part of the expansion features an update to the in-game camera system, adding filters and weather systems. Are these changes being well-received?
In the world of Black Desert, time passes by in the same way that it does in the real world. A day in the game is equivalent to 2 hours and 40 minutes of the time in the real world, and the sun rises and sets accordingly. This realistic time system unfortunately caused some waiting for players who desire a certain amount of light in the game. In order to solve this issue, we're planning to help players to be able to control time in the screenshot mode.
This feature hasn't been applied to the game yet, but you can expect it soon. In South Korea, there is a saying "After travelling, things that remain are only photos", meaning that there is nothing better than photos in remembering the past. I hope this update will help many adventurers to capture the moment in the game and create beautiful memories with Black Desert.
What was the most challenging part of development?
It was the process of tweaking our development tools to create a more efficient cutscene creation process. In particular, a considerable amount of resources were put into making the player's character in the cutscene to appear with their personal customization and the outfit they're wearing. It was more difficult than I thought it would be but it was a necessary step to take to enhance the immersiveness of the game.
A number of departments in our company worked together and as a result, we managed to present nearly 30 cutscenes in the new expansion. We hope that you enjoy unfolding the story of Eternal Winter.
We were pleased to see BDO go all out with professional voice actors. Why on this occasion did you feel it was worth the extra effort to create that cinematic experience?
To begin with, Executive Producer and Founder of Pearl Abyss, Daeil Kim's decision played a big part in the direction of where we are heading now. He wanted to find a way to share the world view of Black Desert with players in a more intuitive and sophisticated way. Alongside his passion, Executive Producer of Black Desert, Jaehee Kim's understanding in the new direction and full support for it also helped us to create the Eternal Winter expansion and its immersive and cinematic experience.
If you have played Black Desert before, you might find that it feels quite different because it is our first time to present Black Desert's story in this way. But I hope you like what we achieved to create in the Eternal Winter Expansion. We will continue to enhance the storytelling of our game including the regions released in the past as well. Please look forward to the next story that we will bring to the game.
On the other hand, we believe, of course, there could be more than epic cutscenes in creating outstanding storytelling of the game. Pearl Abyss will continue to experiment in various ways to deliver the beautiful story of Black Desert to players.
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