The saga of Bless Online’s turbulent Western release (which we dove into last week) continues with a new producer’s letter posted today, this time addressing two topics that have been the target of much discussion (and criticism) among players: optimization and hacking. The letter recognizes that optimization is “a big question on the community’s collective mind” and states that the team is “currently in the process” of reworking the in-game options menu to allow players more control over their settings without resorting to altering the .ini file. Moreover, the devs have “identified specific function problems” in the game client and are working to remedy these issues in addition to network-related problems. Neowiz plans to hold stress tests for these fixes “sometime in July.”
The letter also acknowledges that the devs have received numerous reports of players using hacks and states in no uncertain terms that it is “absolutely against [the game’s] terms of service.” In response, the devs “have already been taking immediate action” against these players and are “issuing permanent bans” to the guilty. The team also encourages players to continue reporting players suspected of hacking, particularly by providing video evidence containing character names and server information. You can read the whole producer’s letter over on the game’s Steam page. For more first-hand information on the future of Bless, be sure to check out our interview with the devs.
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.
While it is certainly too early for Ship of Heroes to be posting its full system requirements, the team did discuss some of the graphics options that it has included to boost performance on older or less capable machines. These include reducing the resolution, turning shadows off, and using pull-down menus.
The forum post discussing this stressed that optimization is a work in progress and that improvements and changes are being made all of the time. The trickiest aspect is, obviously, to allow the client and server to handle multiple players in the same area simultaneously.
“Most dev teams really spend the last few months trying to optimize in a sudden rush before launch,” the team said.
When I feel like lying to myself, I tell myself that I don’t care about optimizing my characters in MMOs. I even sometimes convince myself that it was true for a while; I did play a Retribution Paladin in World of Warcraft back before Crusader Strike was even in the game. But the reality is that even then, when I happily shot myself in the foot to avoid raid utility, I still worked overtime to optimize my character. I will gladly walk into an awful build with eyes open, but I will then do everything in my power to make that awful build work.
I have a Red Mage build on Final Fantasy XI that comes as close to being a functional melee attacker as any I’ve seen. I made a DPS Gladiator in version 1.0 of Final Fantasy XIV. The list goes on. But I know there are people out there who will only play with optimized builds, like a friend of mine from City of Heroes who had seven Shield scrappers to optimize AoE farming. And then there are people who hate any hint of utility and choose character builds solely for aesthetics. What about you, dear reader? How much does optimization affect your playing of MMOs? Do you play to optimize your build, do you avoid it, or do you enjoy making terrible builds the best they can be?
A good portion of the latest Fragmented patch will be invisible to most players. That’s not to say that it isn’t a big patch, because it is; the patch notes boast that it’s the largest patch to the game since it first hit Early Access. It’s just that much of it won’t be visible whilst you’re just out and surviving. Localization for Spanish and Chinese players? Invisible if you don’t speak those languages. Improved network optimization? Important, and potentially noticeable, but hidden deep within code and not always clear.
That’s not to say that players aren’t going to be experiencing anything new with this patch, of course, as the game does return PvP siege to the game so that you can knock down your neighbor’s house with impunity. Said neighbor will be able to explore the improvements (and new restrictions) to base-building as well, or perhaps he’ll just head out into the wild to find some of the rare loot now dropped by various NPCs. And then he’ll come back and knock you down. At that point, you would probably like to be invisible yourself.
Early access is the perfect time to start optimizing your game’s client after internal testing; you finally have access to computers that aren’t dedicated test machines from the early access buyers, after all. Fragmented dropped exactly that sort of patch to the newly accessible game, with the primary focus of fixing some latency and network issues that could negatively impact the game.
The patch also adds in more skill points per level, includes a skill respec function, and a new skill point configuration for hosted servers. Progression overall has gotten a little bit smoother, and there’s a general sense of quality of life improvements. If you’ve already been enjoying the spin-off, this should help make it more fun to play, and if you wanted to enjoy it but were stuck with network issues those may have been fixed now.
Ahead of its April 19th early access launch, Green Man Loaded has published a Q&A video for The Black Death. The devs thumb through the forum basically answering questions straight from the readers: They dismiss the idea of firearms in their medieval sandbox, they explain the justifications and mechanics of permadeath, they talk about optimization and desyncing, they confirm regional servers beyond the US and Europe, and they touch on building out in the world, plus plenty more. Check out the whole video below!