Brian Oh of Pearl Abyss Talks About Black Desert

By Josh Wirtanen
Brian Oh of Pearl Abyss Talks About Black Desert

Here in the West, the upcoming fantasy MMO by Pearl Abyss, Black Desert, feels almost like it came completely out of nowhere. Yet all of a sudden, Western MMO fanatics are drooling over every new piece of information we can get about a title that's not even guaranteed to come to our shores. There's a certain sort of magic to this.

But one person who's not distracted by the game's marketing witchcraft is Brian Oh, CFO and Chief Economy Designer over at Pearl Abyss. See, for Oh, Black Desert isn't something that materialized out of thin air, but something that grew out of years of tireless labor.

At this year's E3 in downtown Los Angeles, we got the talk to sit down with Oh -- as well as Jaemin Youn, Pearl Abyss COO -- and spend about ten minutes chatting about the game.

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One of the things Oh was most excited to share with us was the technological side of things, as the game is developed using an in-house game engine unique to Black Desert. "Our look and feel are totally different from other existing MMO games," he told me, "because... we developed our own engine. Technically, it is very advanced, so castle instances contain a lot of users at the same time, and it gives us many benefits to differentiate our game from other MMORPGs."

I mentioned that one of the cool things about using an in-house game engine as opposed to, say, something like Unreal or CryENGINE, is that Pearl Abyss can keep up with the ever-evolving technology on their own terms. This means that they can lead the pack when it comes to graphical prowess, rather than constantly trying to play catch-up with their competitors.

And this definitely shows in the footage we've seen thus far. Black Desert is a beautiful game, rich with detail. Brian described it quite well: "As you can see, our look and feel is very similar to the console-based games: very gorgeous, very sophisticated."

Of course, a lot of that can be contributed to the sheer amount of creativity Pearl Abyss has invested into this title, as Black Desert's creatures are unique in ways that make them feel like they came from a real world we've never seen before rather than new interpretations of the same creatures we've seen a hundred times before.

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Another element we kept going back to in our conversation was player freedom. Oh explained: "We want to allow users to have a lot of freedom as far as gameplay [is] concerned. For example, we put very cutting-edge technology into our user interface, so a user can freely relocate the buttons or any [aspect of the] user interface where they want... And, as you know, our combat system [functions on a] non-targeting basis, so it enables users to freely [engage in] combat with these monsters and any other players as well."

We also talked a little bit about what Oh referred to as "simulation-type play." He explained: "If you gather a lot of resources, you can accumulate a lot of materials to produce something. For example, produce weapons and armor. With these weapons and armor, you can easily fight each other, and easily kill the monsters." This sounds to us like some sort of crafting element, though we didn't have time to delve too deeply into this aspect of the game. Oh did mention that "it is very similar to a web-based simulation game."

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We would have loved to have more time to talk about Black Desert, as there are so many cool elements we could have discussed, like the action-based combat that allows you to "drift" on your horse, or the massive castle sieges. Unfortunately, we simply didn't have the time. Oh was already being extremely gracious to squeeze us into his insanely busy E3 schedule, and we're grateful for the opportunity, as short as it was. We'll be keeping our eyes on Black Desert, crossing our fingers for it to find the Western distribution that it so deserves.

Jun202013

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