Interview: Neowiz on Bless Online’s tech, class balance, gems, PvP, and more

Neowiz’s Bless has been the subject of much chatter lately (not least of all my own), with its troubled, let’s say, launch raising a bevy of questions and concerns among the game’s community. And as it just so happens, we recently had the opportunity to ask the Bless dev team at Neowiz some questions of our own.

In the exchange, conducted via email (and helpfully translated between Korean and English by the Bless PR team), the devs answer questions on a variety of topics, including the game’s performance and balance issues, chat limitations, and what players can expect from upcoming content updates. If you’re curious to know what they had to say, then read on for the full interview.

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Darkfall: Rise of Agon pushes out market system patch

If the economy is the lifeblood of an MMORPG, then Darkfall: Rise of Agon predicts a healthy prognosis with its new market system patch.

The patch opens up markets all over the game, thanks to the Merchants Guild Alliance. These city hubs are places for crafters to buy, sell, and take orders for specific wares. Rise of Agon takes travel into consideration with this system, charging a “distance fee” for buyers if they’re purchasing far away from the seller’s locale.

The market system is made possible through the new global wallet, which is linked to global banking throughout the game.

The dev team wants the MMO community to know that it is running a free trial period through March 31st for anyone interested in checking out the game.

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Virtual reality helps push mobile gaming to new heights

Due to the rise of virtual reality headsets and the support that studios are giving them, market research firm SuperData started including sales of such games in its 2016 annual report. When it did this, the firm made a surprising discovery: revenue from mobile gaming (which now includes VR titles) make up fully half of the sales in the digital games industry.

“The mobile games market generated $40.6 billion in worldwide revenue in 2016 — a sum equivalent to all global box office sales during the same time period — and grew 18% over the year before. Mobile games now account for half of the entire global digital games market,” SuperData relayed.

Samsung Gear sold the most VR units last year, moving 4.5 million headsets out of the 6.3 million total. The report said that Asia was by far the largest market for mobile gaming, generating $24.8 billion last year (in comparison, North American sales were only $6.9 billion). VR revenue only represents a fraction of the worldwide digital games market, clocking in at $1.8 billion in sales for 2016.

Source: Superdata


The Daily Grind: Do low-budget imported MMOs have a place in the current market?

The sad news about Asta and ELOA‘s upcoming closure prompted a musing from longtime commenter GreaterDivinity regarding the import-run-close model that has long been the domain of certain publishers. You know the ones. It’s a pretty reliable plan: Import a new game with enough existing content to spread it out over a year or so, get people invested in the game for that span of time, then shut it down and import something else. It presupposes that the game is meant to shut down after a certain amount of time, but it certainly does line up with what’s actually been seen happen on a regular basis.

On the one hand, this seems like something that should already be gone; when you can count the number of subscription-only games on one hand, it seems odd to assume you can gain traction with a quickly translated game compared to market leaders. At the same time, it’s been a staple of the free-to-play market for quite some time, and the publishers who import these titles seem no closer to running out of stuff to import or an audience for their titles. Do low-budget imported MMOs have a place in the current market? Are they doomed to be obsoleted by free-to-play titles with higher budgets and production value meant to be played over a longer term? Or do they still have a dedicated audience who prefers title turnover to playing Star Trek Online or Neverwinter for years on end?

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EVE Evolved: The consequences of a free-to-play EVE

This week we heard the unexpected news that EVE Online will be going partially free-to-play when the next expansion lands in November. Like many games that have added free-to-play options over the years, EVE will be using a hybrid model that provides a limited free option in addition to its regular subscription. The game won’t change at all for subscribers and will continue to offer cosmetic microtransactions, while free players will be able to log in and play under a new set of restrictions. Free players will have access to only a handful of skills and will be able to fly tech 1 cruisers and below, and any subscribed players whose subscriptions lapse will be temporarily lowered to free player status.

The announcement of the impending business model change has seen a mixed but largely positive response online, with renewed interest from those who have been put off by the subscription. Existing players are looking forward to an influx of fresh players and getting free access to their old characters again but have warned of potential abuse cases if free users can be used for suicide ganking or farming. CCP has been engaging with the community to investigate these potential issues ahead of the expansion, and many prospective players have been asking exactly how much a free player can actually do.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I delve into EVE Online‘s hybrid free-to-play model, look at the kinds of gameplay a free user can get involved in, and highlight a few potential abuse cases CCP will have to address before November’s update.

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EVE Evolved: The single-shard sandbox economy

The debate about what makes a good sandbox game is as old as the term itself, and everyone seems to have a different view on where the gameplay priorities should lie. Some insist that a proper sandbox must have open-world PvP everywhere and even that a brutal scheme of item loss on death is essential. Others point to games that prioritise world-building and environment-shaping tools that put the focus on collaboration over conflict, or that focus on exploration of environmental content. I would argue that the specific gameplay is less important than how actively a game encourages emergent gameplay, and in that regard I believe the most important feature is a complex player-run economic system.

EVE Online‘s core design philosophy is to put lots of players in a box with limited resources and see what happens, the result being resource-driven conflict, complex economics, and sociopolitical shenanigans that often mirror the real world in shocking detail. Much has been made of EVE‘s economy over the years in both the online and print media, and it’s even been the target of research papers and studies in sociology and economics. EVE isn’t the only sandbox game out there, and it certainly isn’t the only one with an interesting economy, but its single-shard server structure makes it an intriguing case and has led to some interesting gameplay over the years.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at how EVE Online‘s single-shard server structure has affected the game’s complex economics, politics, and professions.

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Crowfall authorizes RMT program for retired goods

In trying to anticipate the demand for reselling retired Crowfall goods and heading off some of the shadier aspects of third-party RMT transactions, ArtCraft announced that it is authorizing two sites to be part of its new Trusted Trader program.

“The general idea is that if you want to sell or buy a retired pledge package or item as a RMT (rather than just trading it in-game), you can utilize the services of a Trusted Trader to do so within the Crowfall rules,” the studio said.

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Superdata: WoW, Lineage, SWTOR, TERA, and Blade & Soul top April P2P online games revenues

Superdata has a new seasonal report out on the state of the digital games market. The research firm’s April figures show that World of Warcraft once again dominates the pay-to-play online games market, followed by classic Lineage, Star Wars: The Old Republic, TERA, and Blade & Soul — the last of which might surprise you. Dungeon Fighter Online also makes the list as third-highest-grossing free-to-play MMO, though as usual we point out that games like World of Tanks and League of Legends are also considered for this category.

Overwatch is missing from the data thanks to its recent release, but expect it next round. “Activision Blizzard also released Overwatch this week, a multi-player shooter title deliberately designed for competitive gaming,” wrote the firm in May. “During the first 48 hours of its release, Overwatch totaled 5.4 million viewed hours on Twitch, thanks in part to a pervasive marketing campaign on the platform. It outperformed recent hit game Fallout 4, which saw 4.2 million viewed hours during the first two days of its launch.”

The top-five lists are below.

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The Daily Grind: Are you interested in making money in your MMOs?

When my friends need to borrow money in Final Fantasy XIV or Final Fantasy XI, they come to me. It’s not because I’m higher-level than they are or anything, they just know I have money. Which is a true fact, but it’s also an odd one because I’ve never once tried to make money in those games. I sit on a huge pile of energy credits and Dilithium in Star Trek Online, but I never sought those riches out. I just accumulated over time with steady momentum and management.

The thing is that I know some players live for that. There are people who get really excited at the thought of cornering materials markets in FFXIV or making a killing in the markets of EVE Online. I enjoy making money, but it’s never more than an ancillary purpose for me, something to consider when I’m doing the stuff that I like to do anyhow. Which raises the question to you, dear readers. Are you interested in making money in your MMOs? Do you go out of your way to make the big bucks, do you err on the side of making money over not making money, or do you really not care as long as you can pay the basic costs associated with playing a character?

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EVE Online player uses patch trick to dominate the PLEX market

Among the patch notes for EVE Online‘s recent Citadel expansion release was a fairly innocuous increase in the fees for listing items on the in-game market from a minimum of 0.25% to 2%. While most people saw this change as fairly minor, one player by the name of “probag Bear” figured out how to use it to multiply his ISK by temporarily cornering the market for PLEX, one of EVE‘s most highly traded commodities. The player realised that if he set up buy orders for PLEX before the patch, he’d pay the old tax rate of 0.25% for setting them up while anyone buying after the patch would pay the higher 2% rate. This would give him a competitive edge and a higher profit margin than other players.

The second part of the scheme used an odd quirk of the Margin Trading skill mechanics to set up hundreds of buy orders worth thousands of times the ISK actually invested. The result is that probag Bear now has the ability to buy and sell over 17 trillion ISK worth of PLEX at higher profit margin than anyone else can obtain, giving him temporary control of the PLEX market and turning his 70 billion ISK investment into over 300 billion ISK profit. Some players have called this confusing scheme a borderline exploit, but CCP is not expected to interfere. Emergent behaviours like this are often considered part of EVE‘s sandbox gameplay, and players may yet build a low-tax trade hub citadel to nullify this market advantage.

Source: Reddit. Thanks to everyone who sent this in!


World of Warcraft asks why you use the Black Market Auction House

It turns out that you can bring the Black Market Auction House to your very own Garrison in World of Warcraft if you so choose, thus giving you even fewer reasons to ever leave the Garrison for any reason whatsoever. It’s also possible that you forgot the BMAH even exists, which is one of the answers on a new survey from the official site asking players why they make use of the darkest auction house.

The winning poll option at the moment is that players who know about it tend to seek out rare mounts, but the close second are players stating that they simply never have enough gold saved up to partake of its exceptionally expensive wares. No word has been given about whether or not any of these data will be used in the future, but if you’d like to put your two copper down about why you use (or don’t use) the feature, have at it.


Brunelleschi is the staging ground for a ‘Mythic Renaissance’ civilization

Set in a “mythic Renaissance” that blends together history and fantasy, Brunelleschi: Age of Architects is an ambitious social builder that aims to give players tools to build an entire civilization from scratch.

The new title, which is currently shooting for approval on Steam Greenlight, not only contains player cities, but a wide variety of economic, social, and political activities. Players can construct cities, raise armies for war, generate fortunes from trade routes, engage in the free market, establish governments, choose a religion, and aim for one of the five Lordship positions to rule the game.

We’ve got a couple of trailers for you to evaluate after the break, so let us know if you think this type of game will work!

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