Praise Adama, our prayers have been answered: as of today's patch, we can pilot a Battlestar ship in Battlestar Galactica Online! The patch brings other additions as well--such as a new fighter ships for both sides of the human/cylon war, and upgraded visuals in the Unity 3.3 engine--but let's be honest, that all pales in comparison to the thought of taking command of the most powerful ships in the BSG universe. And best of all, Bigpoint's system gives average joes like you and me a fair chance at controlling it--this isn't for crazy addicts only.
We sat down with Andy Butcher, the game's lead designer, to get all the details. Read on to find out how you can grab command of your very own Battlestar (or Basestar if you're a Cylon) as soon as this afternoon!
PCG: Let's get the most important question cleared up first: will you be piloting Galactica specifically, or is it a different Battlestar?
Andy Butcher: No, in the storyline of the game the Galactica is partially crippled and currently unable to jump, and will always remain under the command of Admiral Adama. The same holds true for the 'primary' Basestar in the Cylon fleet. Colonial players can take command of the Pegasus, and Cylon players can take command of the 'secondary' Basestar.
PCG: How do you take control of the Battlestar/Basestar?
AB: In order to take control of the Battlestar/Basestar, a player speaks to the leader of their fleet (Admiral Adama for Colonial players or Number One for Cylon players). If the player has enough Merits and the ship is available, they can take temporary command. In this initial version of the system, the cost is 10,000 Merits.
[Note: Merits are a new currency earned in-game by completing PvP assignments, looting enemy players and defeating enemy outposts, Battlestars or Basestars.]
PCG: Will there be more than one Battlestar in-game at a time? And if so, doesn't this conflict with the BSG timeline?
AB: No. There is only one of each of these ships in each fleet, and only one player may be in command of each of them at any given time.
PCG: I'm sure more than one person will be asking Adama for command of the battlestar. How does he choose which player gets it?
AB: In this initial version, it's a 'first come, first in command' system. The first player (who has enough Merits) that asks for command when their big ship is available will take command. If the ship is currently being commanded by a player, other players will have to wait until it becomes available before being able to take control themselves.
PCG: How long does the player controlling the Battlestar or Basestar get to fly it?
AB: Players get temporary command for one hour or until the ship is defeated and forced to withdraw from combat. A player can also give up their command early by docking or logging out.
PCG: If the ship is destroyed, the player loses control, but is the ship gone for a period of time?
AB: Being defeated in combat will force the ship to automatically jump out and return to its fleet's reclaimed base for repairs. This will end the current player's command.
PCG: While you control the Battlestar/Basestar, can you travel? And if so, what happens to the civilian fleet?
AB: The Pegasus and secondary Basestar can jump, just like normal player ships. At all times, the civilian fleet will remain with the Galactica in the Alpha Ceti star system.
PCG: What all can you do with the Battlestar while you control it? Can I upgrade it or command other units, like nearby Viper pilots?
AB: When a player is in command of a Battlestar or Basestar, they can use it just like a normal player ship. They are extremely tough and powerful, and ideally suited to spearheading attacks on enemy-held star systems or anchoring the defense of friendly star systems from enemy attack. The ships come with a fixed loadout of weapons and other systems, and can't be upgraded by the player. However, we have several idea for unique options and abilities that we'd like to add to these massive ships in the future.
PCG: Is this the beginning of possibly creating instanced PvP areas?
AB: Not in and of itself, but it certainly doesn't rule out the possibility of instanced PvP areas being added in the future.