By the time you’re reading this, the Assassin update for Bless should be up and running, but just what does this update have in store and where are the devs going next? These are some of the questions I asked in our Bless Online Assassin update interview to find out more about the new sneaky stabber, along with how the team has been handling updates and a little bit on future plans.
Our answers come from lead game designer Junyoung Hwang, combat designer Seongil Ma, and chief creative officer Jangchoel Rhee. Read on for more!
Can you give us a general overview of how the upcoming Assassin class will work?
The Assassin will be the bringer of death to those who have low defense and use ranged attacks (e.g. mages and rangers). Due to their exceptional abilities in stealth and reaching their targets, it is difficult for anyone to escape an Assassin’s pursuit. The moment you turn your back to an Assassin will be the moment you are hit with a fatal attack. The Assassin fits best in scenarios such as taking advantage of distracted enemies in the midst of chaos or striking at a high speed during an ambush.
Assassin archetypes always seem to have a certain sort of style to them in both combat actions and outfits. What’s the design direction Bless Online is taking regarding their Assassin?
Bless’ Assassin mostly uses light armor to match the Assassin’s concept, such as leather and light metal. It was designed with a dynamic line suitable for agile movement.
Adding a stealth class is always going to be tricky when it comes to PvP balance. How is Bless Online approaching this issue with the Assassin class?
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.
What sort of mechanics will make the Assassin compelling for PvE players?
One combat mechanism is that it is extremely important to make good use of [Mark of Death] when playing the Assassin. All of the Assassin’s Chain Start and Chain Skills consume the [Mark of Death], while the Last Chain Skill (depending on the amount of [Mark of Death] used) may provide enhancements, transform effects, or even allow the player to recollect the amount of [Mark of Death] used. Hence players will find enjoyment in seamlessly performing, learning, and developing the Mark of Death give and take mechanism.
Where do you think the Assassin fits in a dungeon or raid party’s makeup? Do you think the class will find a good spot in teams or will it be taking over other DPS builds?
In a dungeon or raid party, the Assassin will generally play the role of a close-range DPS. However, when compared to other DPS classes like the ranger and berserker, it will perform better in one on one matches. The Assassin will also be able to hold supporting roles that differ from those of other DPS classes as it uses skills that interrupt enemy skill casting or increases ally dodge rate.
What other updates can we expect along with the launch of the Assassin class?
Along with the launch of the Assassin class, there will also be the new large-scale PvP content Siege of Castra, the Dominion Contract where guilds bid against each other for territory, and Capital War, in which territory owning guilds are pit against each other in a contest for the position of faction guardian. In addition, we will be incorporating various improvements based on player feedback.
The past few updates to Bless Online have been a story of two parts: endgame and class balance, so we’ll start with the end game side. How has the end game content been received?
So far, through bi-weekly updates, we have been making improvements to both PvE and PvP based on player feedback. Many of our players show great interest every time there is an update and provide a variety of feedback, but there tends to be greater interest in end-game content. Since our players actively participate in updated content and take initiative in providing constructive feedback regarding its difficulty and rewards, we plan to continue implementing improvements based on player opinion.
What is becoming the most popular end game and PvP activity in Bless Online so far?
We are currently monitor player content usage daily and weekly, and so far players have shown a generally positive reaction to PvP content. In particular, players are enjoying Peninsular War with the exception of season 3, where there was some negative feedback about the Ogres. As a result, modifications are currently being made.
In terms of PvE content, the recently updated Migra Turris (Elite) dungeon is quite popular, probably due to its satisfying variety of good rewards such as exceptional weapons.
As for lifestyle content, players are continuing to tame and level their mounts and pets.
Are you at all concerned that putting too many end game and PvP activities into Bless at a rapid pace will mean people feel compelled to burn through the content quicker?
Our players do not seem to think we are delivering content quickly enough, and seem to want to experience a variety of content.
We are not too worried because we still have a lot of content that has not yet been revealed, and we are constantly reviewing the user trends and the usage rate of the play so that we can continue to show new content at the end of the existing content experience.
Do you think that the class balances and adjustments are tuned in to a point where we won’t be seeing so many sweeping changes?
Class balance has had three big, main adjustments so far, and right now we are continuing to monitor player feedback so we can make further changes as needed. However, we will be holding back on drastic changes such as the one that occurred at the beginning of EA.
Has the team considered splitting PvE and PvP stats in order to make balance easier to maintain? If not, why not?
In terms of balance, it is easier to split stats into PvE and PvP. However, we do not want players to prepare two different sets of equipment (one for PvE, the other for PvP). Instead we would like players who wear the same piece of equipment to have the same power in both PvP and PvE. We do have internal stats that modify the damage dealt and damage taken in PvP, but it is currently not used besides in exceptional cases.
However, if it turns out that the benefits outweigh the issues later on and there is no other way besides splitting stats by PvE and PvP, then we may consider the method.
Do you think the playerbase of Bless Online has leveled off in a way that makes the game easier to update and design around?
Right after the release of EA, we were able to get enough user data to refer to when working on the overall game design, including player content preference, drop-out rate, balance, and more. Therefore, it is a little easier now than at the start of EA to set up the update cycle and game design direction at the present time due to the accumulated user data and feedback. Of course, as we continue to gather new player feedback, we are able to adjust the game design direction as needed for our current player base needs.
The Bless Online team seems to be opening up a number of communication channels. How effective have these efforts been in collecting feedback? Is there a lot of difficulty in splitting up signal and noise?
We feel that opening up new channels for further feedback from our players and community is invaluable. Having different avenues for players to share their thoughts with us allows them to choose in what way they communicate. We try to choose the appropriate channels for our messaging so that news doesn’t get lost in the noise!
Many of Bless Online’s updates appear to try to apply as many features for as many players as possible. Is this something fans can expect in future updates or will the team begin to focus on features more specifically?
I believe one of the joys of playing MMORPGs is that you can play with others who have different preferences. That is why we have prioritized updating features that many players can enjoy first. We plan to continue maintaining this in the direction of our future updates, and will expand our content according to our player’s growth and achievement speeds. We will also be improving our updated content according to player feedback.
What can you reveal about the next big update to Bless Online?
We have been focusing on both competitive and cooperative content that both large and small parties of players can enjoy, and some of it is already completed in development. We are looking for the best timing to update the game with this new content and we’ll be able to determine this based on players feedback on this week’s update. We will be talking about this new content and post launch content very soon as well!
We would like to thank the folks at Bless for taking the time to answer our questions. The game also happens to be on sale on Steam currently, marking it down from $30 to $10 until August 13th.Related: Bless Online, Interview, MMO, MMORPG, Update