[Steam page] The path to global success hasn’t been smooth for Bless Online, given that its English region publisher Aeria Games (under gamigo) dropped the title last year and the Korean version having to undergo serious changes to attract more players. In a world of mobile games domination, will Bless Online somehow find its feet? Not to mention, it is also going against other PC online giants such as Black Desert and Final Fantasy XIV. We talk to developer Neowiz and find out more. Follow Bless Online on Facebook for more updates!
Q: Hello, can you please introduce yourselves to our readers?
Hello, I’m Jae-hoon Jeon, the Game Director of Bless Online and it’s a pleasure to speak with you. My job is to establish the overall game direction of Bless Online and working to make key improvements to the game for upcoming Steam launch.
I’ve worked in games since 2000 and have held various positions such as game analysis, operations, live service and publishing. Because of the variety of background, I always try to take viewpoint of the users when I am deciding on the development direction.
I believe that the developers are not the only ones who shape the game but the users who provide us with constructive feedback can shape and improve the direction of the game. I intend to communicate with players frequently to make Bless Online a game that everyone will love.
Q: What were some of the major factors to implement such a huge change in “Rebuild”? Were there any concerns among the team members at the start?
There were concerns at first, but the members of the development team were all in agreement that drastic changes were necessary to dramatically improve the game. . We did have some setbacks at the early stage of development, but now all of us are committed and working hard to make big changes for a better game. Additionally, we feel the Rebuild was necessary to optimize game’s performance to improve large scale PVP and dungeon combat experience.
Q: Before the “Rebuild” project was implemented, what were some of the most common complaints you received from the Korean gamers about Bless Online?
After we first released Bless Online, we received feedback on various aspects of the game, such as the system not being user friendly, difficulty in character growth, a boring combat system or lack of end game content. I’m sure you have questions on how these will be improved, so I’ll briefly talk about the direction of the development plan.
To optimize the learning curve, we will make a newbie zone to provide a basic tutorial in a safe environment. Instead of trying to teach everything at once, we are restructuring the guides to provide hints along with the content that teaches them a new feature or mechanic so that it flows more naturally with the gameplay.
We are also making changes to the combat system so it feels more dynamic depending on each player’s combat situation and choice. To achieve this, we will break down the rank of monsters, diversify their HP and AI.
Regarding the character development, we are improving the system in a way that players can increase and make their combat efficiency grow along with their level and skills, unlike in the previous system where players could only develop their characters by leveling up and getting items.
In addition, we will keep providing fun end-game content by adding a new hunting areas or new battlefields.
Q: Many players do not have much technical knowledge, and some were asking why not switch to the newer Unreal Engine 4 as part of the overhaul. Could you explain the difficulties?
We decided that replacing all the content from UE3 to UE4 can be time-consuming and cost ineffective. That is why we didn’t consider the engine switching.
Q: I understand that much effort and manpower is utilized for the “Rebuild” project. Are there still team members who are working on future new content?
We have two different teams to address both needs of the game: one team constantly revises and improves existing content and the other team creates new content to provide new experiences to Bless Online.
Q: What are some of the short-term and long-term focus points for Bless Online?
Our short-term focus is to improve the character progression and combat. Our long-term focus to develop large-scale battlefield content in the Sea and the Sky to provide an awesome elder game experience..
Q: Players have been very impressed with the localization efforts of the Japanese server. Is it possible to have voiceover packs from the Japan version?
We are not considering it as there are some technical hurdles.
Q: Will the English version of Bless Online have its own English voiceovers?
Yes, English voiceovers are currently in production.
Q: Obviously there will be some major competition, including Black Desert Online and the upcoming Ascent: Infinite Realm. What do you think makes Bless Online more unique and attractive?
Depending on the player’s choice, Bless characters can have their own combat style and combat mode, even if they wear the same equipment and have the same level. We have a very free-form character development system that allows players to make their characters their own. In addition, almost all monsters in the game can be tamed as a pet or mount.
What cannot be missed in Bless is our large-scale War content. Bless has RvR content that encourages players to fight in the open as groups as well as an instanced 100v100 battlefields where players can easily jump into huge fights. There will also be a large-scale PVP system that takes place in the Sea and the Sky. We will share more on this soon.
Q: Only North America and Europe were mentioned in the previous developer posts. Will there be any regional restrictions at launch?
No, there will be no region-locking. We are planning to release the game globally in as many regions as possible with some exceptions due to our existing partnerships.
Q: In terms of updates, how far will the English server be behind the Korean and Japanese servers?
While we are live in Korea and Japan, there may be some differences at first, but we are aiming to provide up-to-date content after 5 to 6 months. It won’t take forever for the west to catch up to other regions.
Q: Will there be any differences between the various regional servers other than the language?
Yes, some aspects could be different, such as the timing for updates and monetization methods.
Q: Why is there a focus on launching Bless Online via Steam? What makes it a better choice than working with regional game publishers?
We are launching directly on Steam instead of working with publishers because we think that’s the best way for the development team to communicate directly with our players. One of the big lessons for us is the fact that reducing the layers of communication between the players and development team makes it for better game and better community.
Q: While the development team is based in South Korea, are there any offices in North America and Europe which are helping to launch Bless Online?
Yes, we have local team that is working as an extension of our development team in the US who are helping with Bless Online’s global release.
Q: If the official launch is at 100 percent, how many percent would you give the current version the team is working on?
I’d say we’ve completed 70% of the development for our Steam version. We look forward to our Early Access period beginning in the coming months.
Q: Please tell our audience a secret about Bless Online which few people know
There will be a skill and combat system for the Steam version that is completely different from what you all have seen in the trailers so far.
Q: Finally, please say what you have on your mind to our readers and gamers waiting for Bless Online to launch.
We will keep you posted on the release schedule as soon as possible. The support and encouragement of the MMO gamers has been absolutely essential in our devotion to bringing the game West. We will do our best to create a great game by communicating with all of you.