Bless Unleashed Interview – Discussing the Lore, the Challenges of Making a Console MMO, and More

We speak with Round 8 Studio’s head of development Jason Park about the upcoming Xbox One MMORPG.

Posted By | On 27th, Nov. 2018 Under Article, Interviews


The MMORPG genre is one that is very PC-centric. That’s not to say there have never been any MMORPGs on consoles – there certainly have been – but the focus almost always remains on PC audiences. As such, Bless Unleashed, an MMORPG that is slated for a launch exclusively on the Xbox One (at least for now), is a very intriguing title. Recently, we had the chance to send across some of our questions about the game to developers Round 8 Studio, asking about everything from its differences to the PC title Bless Online, the game’s lore, its focus on console audiences, and much more. The following answers were provided to us by head of development Jason Park.

bless unleashed

"Bless Online and Bless Unleashed are two different games, with different goals. Bless Online was designed for classic MMORPG PC fans, and it was developed to meet their needs. Bless Unleashed had a whole new goal from its design stage. Our goal is to develop a game for users who enjoy action RPG but have not experienced (or have little experience) MMO."

What are some of the major changes between this game and the PC version Bless Online?

It’s easier to answer this question by highlighting the similarities between Bless Unleashed and Bless Online because almost everything was newly developed. In general, the engine, UI, gameplay, combat, game control, scenario, monster AI, etc. were new and modified to fit console. The major similarity is the world lore. However, the storyline of Bless Unleashed is completely different than that of Bless Online, as Bless Unleashed is set in a parallel universe. You will be able to see familiar regions and NPCs, but that’s it. It’s a completely different game, after all.

It looks like you set out to make the game quite different from Bless Online. Why did you decide to do this?

Bless Online and Bless Unleashed are two different games, with different goals. Bless Online was designed for classic MMORPG PC fans, and it was developed to meet their needs. Bless Unleashed had a whole new goal from its design stage. Our goal is to develop a game for users who enjoy action RPG but have not experienced (or have little experience) MMO. The primary fans will be are players who actively play on the console platform. Based on this, almost everything needed to be changed, ranging from game control, combat, and the delivery of game content.

What can you tell us about the progression system in the game?

Like a classic MMO, there are various progression systems in the game, like character growth and skill points, item acquisition, item reinforcement, etc. You can also create a new item through crafting system, increase your wealth through products from your estate from the housing system, and trade with other users.

I believe a core fun factor in MMOs is increasing one’s assets. As time passes users should get stronger as they play the game and receive rarer rewards. However, if there is a huge gap between high level users and new users, it will hurt the game’s fun factor and negatively affect users in the both groups. To properly balance this, we developed a new system called “Blessing.” Through this system, high level users are guaranteed rewards, and at the same time maintains a reasonable balance between high level users and new users.

When the game releases, what is the end-game content that will be available to players?

We are planning to periodically release new stories in episode form. We call these “campaigns,” and there are various qualifications that will need to be met to participate. After reaching max level, a new region for those users will open where they will clear quests and upgrade their gear to meet the qualifications for the next campaign.

After completing the campaign, users will prepare for the next campaign. During this phase users will farm, grow their estate, participate in Crusades/Region quests, and play various in-game contents. This will be the basic gameplay flow.

bless unleashed

"Fundamentally, the traditional MMORPG genre is not suitable to play with a controller. Traditionally, MMORPGs gameplay is based on various skills/corresponding buttons, complex items/skills and their mechanism, and targeting based combat system. All the factors listed here do not work well with console environment. We had to verify and improve basic MMORPG systems to work in a console setting, which uses controller and TV to operate. I believe this aspect was the biggest challenge we faced."

What would you say are some of the crucial aspects you had to work on to make a console MMORPG?

Fundamentally, the traditional MMORPG genre is not suitable to play with a controller. Traditionally, MMORPGs gameplay is based on various skills/corresponding buttons, complex items/skills and their mechanism, and targeting based combat system. All the factors listed here do not work well with console environment. We had to verify and improve basic MMORPG systems to work in a console setting, which uses controller and TV to operate. I believe this aspect was the biggest challenge we faced.

Given that the game seems an upgrade over Bless Online in some ways, is there any chance that it could make its way to the PC as well?

Currently, we are focusing on making the MMO experience fun and amazing for the console. For other platforms, we’d need time to assess.

What can you tell us about the combo system in the game?

For all classes, you can start the combos with the X or Y buttons. The combos grow automatically as you level up. As a character grows, it can acquire skill points which you can invest to reinforce or enhance combos as you want. There are also class specific skills aside from the combo system.

We’ve heard that there will be no passive HP regeneration in the game, which is a little unusual. What made you arrive at this decision?

We wanted to emphasize the value of health as a resource. Bless Unleashed is non-targeting game, which means players can dodge the attacks of stronger opponent, depending on their ability. We focused on the accomplishment of user who successfully dodge the enemy’s attack. Let’s say there is a user who perfectly dodged and avoided all damage with hard effort. How would this user feel when they see another user who lost took a lot of damage while playing absentmindedly but recovers quickly by nature? We believe protecting the achievement of user who understands mechanism of action game and play hard.

Of course, there are some ways to recover health beyond a health potion. If you sit near the bonfires located in various places, health will recover slowly. Cooking food can also help to increase the speed of health recovery. Users close to bonfires can use voice chat to coordinate cooking and sharing food.

bless unleashed

"Bless Unleashed is a free-to-play game and will have microtransactions. It is important to us to avoid pay to win features, so we are working closely with BNEA. The in-game currency, Star seed, is completely separated from the cash currency. Cash currency will only unlock items like costumes."

How will you be implementing microtransactions in the game?

Bless Unleashed is a free-to-play game and will have microtransactions. It is important to us to avoid pay to win features, so we are working closely with BNEA. The in-game currency, Star seed, is completely separated from the cash currency. Cash currency will only unlock items like costumes. 

The game will feature Xbox One X specific enhancements. What can players expect if they are playing the game on Xbox One X in terms of resolution and fps?

Bless Unleashed supports 4K resolution with Dynamic Resolution technology.

And how will the base Xbox One version turn out in terms of resolution and frame rate?

Like many Xbox One games, we are targeting 900p and 30fps as the baseline.

From a development perspective, how do you find the Xbox One X to be? With so much GPU power, we are sure you must be doing some amazing things.

The GPU of Xbox X is marvellous, and which allows us to apply various rendering technology as well as higher resolution. For example, ‘Real-time Global Illumination’ was optimized numerous times but in the end, it was only applied on X model. It is hard to control memory usage especially for MMO with a large number of players and seamless world, so the memory available on the X model has been great.

Is there a specific reason why the game is not coming on the PS4 along with the Xbox One version?

We felt it would be too difficult to develop both at the same time at the quality we want to deliver.

bless unleashed

"Development efficiency improved on current console architecture generation, so I expect the new versions to have better performance without big change on architecture. If this can help with backward compatibility, I think creating a game on console platform will be more efficient."

Next gen is coming sooner or later. From a development perspective, what is your biggest expectation from PS5 and Xbox Scarlett?

Development efficiency improved on current console architecture generation, so I expect the new versions to have better performance without big change on architecture. If this can help with backward compatibility, I think creating a game on console platform will be more efficient. Obviously, it will be great if the performance improves but I particularly expect the improvement on clock rate of CPU. Many cores will be a great help for parallel processing, however to solve work which can’t be divided, the clock rate should be higher. The last thing what I really hope to see is an attached solid state hard drive.  We are spending a lot of time reducing loading time.


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