|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2009)|
North American cover
|Developer(s)||Dark Sky Entertainment|
|Publisher(s)||Dark Sky Entertainment|
|Release date(s)||November 2008|
Beyond Protocol was a Massively multiplayer online real-time strategy game (MMORTS) Computer Game developed and published by the independent game developer Dark Sky Entertainment. Due to financial issues the game has been shut down as of April 30, 2011, and the source code was released to the public.
Beyond Protocol is a subscription based, 3D, Sci-Fi, Massively Multiplayer Online Real Time Strategy game. The game exists within an ever growing, persistent, and player-driven galaxy. As the player base continues to grow, the game universe grows with it by adding additional systems of stars and planets. Players have numerous options for game play, including the building of an Empire, intergalactic trade, diplomacy, colonization, research and development, as well as combat. Binding all of this together is a highly customizable design system that allows players to research and design their own creations ranging from vehicle components to entire space ships and stations. For the time being, Beyond Protocol is an entirely Player versus player (PvP) game. Non-player characters (NPCs) do not exist within the game. All trade, combat, and diplomacy exist solely between the players of the game.
Players start out as magistrates in charge of one single planet. Using the resources and workforce of the planet, they can then start building and customizing vast areas of technology, in order to expand their control in space into ever-growing empires. The game is offering an extremely rich selection of 105 different minerals each possessing 18 specific attributes (like density, malleability, hardness) in various grades. Since every player's starting world has only a limited supply of some of these minerals, resource availability and scarcity serves as the core motivator to expand supply, through colonization, conquest or trade. A player's empire can span across many planets and encompass multiple systems. Each environment remains active twenty-four hours a day, whether players are present or not. While offline, the game continues to progress. If players don't take appropriate steps, the possibility exists that one might wake up some morning to find their empire reduced to ashes.
Beyond Protocol provides SMS messaging capability, allowing the player to respond to threats through mobile devices. The message allows the player to minimally manage their empire while they are not in the game client. Some examples are the ability to reinforce a site under attack, order more resources to be gathered, and respond to mail sent by other players.
As of 3/23/2009, the developers also added a secondary offline chat program, so players can keep tabs on the game when the locale may be unsuitable for game play. This feature was proposed via the Galactic Senate, and approved by the player base.
Diplomatic relations exist via a sliding scale of values from 1-255. Players are encouraged to help less experienced players through a faction system. This system provides benefits to both the veteran and the new player by speeding up research. The new player receives a much larger boost than the veteran, which helps make advanced technology less exclusive to players who started earlier on. When using this faction system, if the lower ranked player should enter a war, the higher ranked player loses their bonus unless they aid their protégé. When meeting other players, the mutual relationship starts out as neutral, and has to be lowered in order to declare war. This mechanism allows both parties time to prepare, as the degradation of the relationship is not instant.
In addition to mutual assistance from friends, Beyond Protocol also has an offline invulnerability mode. A player can choose a single colony that becomes immune to attack while offline. There is also an enhanced "vacation mode" that offers full invulnerability to an entire empire. However, this pauses all production, making the game more casual.
Beyond Protocol offers the player many options to customize the empire they command. The unit building process is particularly deep in this aspect. The player can choose a ship class and model, and then determine the: armor, cargo, radar, engine, hangar, shields, weapons and bay door allocations. Likewise, each component can be custom designed to help the finished unit fill specific roles. Options for component design are many and include areas like: power required, hull occupied, time to produce/research, crew needed, etc. These builders lead to a steeper than usual learning curve, however there are many help resources and players are encouraged to start by making small changes before designing an entire vessel. Still, this level of complexity has been a hindrance for some.
The Galactic Senate is a governing body driven by the game mechanics for creating game-changing legislation. Legislation itself is drafted in the Emperors' Chambers, by all players who control more than one star system. Any new piece of law drafted in the Chambers is then submitted to vote by the full Galactic Senate (every player can participate), and if passed, will lead to the game developers to implement these.
In a 2008 GameSpy preview, Beyond Protocol was hailed for its "Customizable units; incredibly deep strategy; economic wheeling and dealing; player democracy", while noting concerns about balancing.
Initial design of Beyond Protocol began in 1991. An early Alpha release was presented to friends in May 2006. A scaled up beta program began Nov 15th 2007 with an open-beta in 2008. Source code was released 4 May 2011
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- Rausch, Allen 'Delsyn' (2008-08-15). "Preview - Beyond Protocol". GameSpy. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
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- Ciabai, Calin (2008-08-07). "Beyond Protocol Brings Strategy to the MMO World". Softpedia. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- In game 'Email Alert Setup' window
- Screen shot of the in game diplomacy screen.
- Screen shot of the in game hull builder.
- Screen shot of the in game weapon builder.
- "Dark Sky Entertainment - Press Release: The Emperors Chambers Inauguration". Gamershell. 2009-01-28. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- Younger, Paul (2008-06-19). "Beyond Protocol Interview". IncGamers.com. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- [dead link] "AlphaBeta".
- "Open Source Release".