Bless Online is rolling out a hefty content update today as promised, including the Siege of Castra PvP battleground, the faction-based open-world Capital War, and of course, the sneaky Assassin class. We had a chance to speak with Neowiz – specifically, Lead Game Designer Junyoung Hwang, Combat Designer Seongil Ma, and Chief Creative Officer Jangchoel Rhee – about both the update and ongoing concerns in the game. Read on!
Massively OP: First, regarding the Assassin: I’ve yet to see a rogue class in an MMO that wasn’t overpowered in some way in PvP, and that goes double for a class newly added to the game – studios just can’t seem to stop themselves from making the new toon a bit too appealing. How is Neowiz working to avoid all that, while still making the class something people want to roll up as a new toon?
Neowiz: First of all, like in other games, the Assassin in our game possesses distinctive abilities such as the ability to hide (stealth). This ability will be effective against classes with weaker defense in small-scale PvP. However, such skills of the Assassin was designed to experience difficulty in large-scale PvP or when the opponent has high defense. The ability of the ranger to remove the Assassin’s stealth mode would also make things more difficult in large scale PvP.
Can we talk merges for a second? I’m super glad to hear that Neowiz is making a big effort to make sure it doesn’t unduly disrupt the PvP populations of the game when merging everyone together. But these post-launch merges are so common as to be comical, across so many MMOs, not just Bless. I have to wonder why the studio decided to open servers it knew it would have to collapse at some point. Wasn’t there a better way to handle the early population? I’m thinking of how some games add overflow zones to avoid adding new servers.
When we received a massive influx of players during EA, we did our best to provide all players a fun experience and service. As we believe that it is essential for the developer to actively provide support, we focused on server expansion and stability during the early period after launch to provide our users a pleasant and smooth gameplay environment.
Although alternative methods may be able to cope with a temporary influx of users and may be easier to follow-up with later, they aren’t methods that would allow users to settle in a server, meet other players, and experience the Bless world.
We believe that the best direction is to provide the best environment we can for users to settle in our game first, then consolidate the servers in a stable process to create a situation where everyone can join together to enjoy the game once the unavoidable decline in users occurs.
I’m curious about the Siege of Castra and other large faction maps – 70v70 PvP maps like this one can be really tough to fill on smaller servers or when the factions are lopsided. What’s Neowiz’s plan for making sure Castra is properly populated and balanced?
The development team is aware that the ratio between the opposing factions is very important in large battlefields. The Siege of Castra reflects our understanding as it has an automatic balancing system that prevents any one side from having too many players.
Is Neowiz concerned at all about the average concurrency of the game right now? SteamCharts is showing around 2200 average / 5900 peak players in the last month, which isn’t doom, but it’s lower than launch. Was the studio expecting that, given that it’s early access and has yet to launch with its F2P option? Or is it just focused on rolling out its planned content knowing it’ll probably see a big influx come the “real” launch?
We always expected the CCU to fall after the initial Early Access launch period. However, we hope to maintain the current player traffic with our content, and appeal to both current and new users with next week’s Assassin update and future promotional sales.
Of course, we also are looking forward to the official release and the new players that will join the world of Bless, so we are working on developing new content and content improvements for the official launch and beyond.
Thanks so much for your responses! If you’re interested in Bless, check it out on Steam right now, where it’s currently discounted in conjunction with the release.