This Is Game Interview: 47 Q&A Part 1

This interview appeared on thisisgame.com and is translated by vigevano.

Kim, Hyung-Tae (Kim): the art director of Blade & Soul
Bae, Jae-Hyun (Bae): the production director of Blade & Soul

Q1: How did you decide on the concept
Kim:  From MMORPG, a player should experience a variety of concepts.  So, instead deeply developing one concept, I tried to include a several.  Also, instead of limiting the theme to the traditional martial arts genre, I added my own identity to it.

Q2: So, is this a completely new genre of MMORPG?
Kim: In Korea, the martial arts genre is heavily influenced by the Chinese culture.  However, we incorporated a lot of cultural images from different nations in Blade & Soul: Russia, Mongolia, Taiwan, etc. The current product is a combination of these and our creativity.

Q3: Many gamers voice that the art style of Blade & Soul remind them of other games, such as Magna Carta.
Kim:  I like my previous works and their style.  I did not work [on Blade & Soul] with a different style in mind; instead, I merely thought of improving the previous works.  In the case of Blade & Soul, it expresses well the ideas of the illustrator.

Q4: Lineage II received much criticism for its mature material.  Blade & Soul seems to demand a similar level of maturity from the gamers.  Would it be appropriate as a rated 15+ game?
Bae: Lineage II was talked about because of its clothings, but it was not a big issue.  As a producer, it’s a difficult position to be in, but something one should overcome.  The only nation in which we encountered problems was China.  There will be pressures in Korea, but we must endure it.  We could always change the rating or make adjustment to the contents.

Q5: Are you planning to make changes to the contents or the rating?
Bae: It depends on the situation; we should probably work on both.
Kim: We focused on certain areas because the game is in a developmental cycle.  But, because the game’s focus is in neither sexuality nor violence, it won’t be too difficult to receive 15+ rating.
Bae: There’s no guarantee that the game will succeed with emphasis on sexual contents.  No game did and we don’t plan to.

Q6: What is game representative Taek-Jin Kim’s opinion?
Bae: He suggested a removal of one character due to excessive skin exposure.  Besides that he really liked the “swift jump” skill.

Q7: To which regional market would the game appeal the most?
Bae: It’s a difficult question to answer.  The game might be well-received in Europe, but might not in Japan.  However, when we demonstrated to employees from off-shore offices, they liked it.
Kim: While following the games revealed in E3 2008, I realized that many western gamers are not used to seeing orient-themed games.  Our focus is to make a great game. We will worry about localization later.

Q8: Why oriental martial-arts MMORPG? Why now?
Bae: Because I wanted to. (smiles)

Q9: Why?
Bae: After Lineage II, I decided to stop making MMORPGs because they are massive and difficult to develop.  I wanted to try something easier, but those were just as difficult.  Eventually, I came back to making MMORPG. I like both martial-arts and science fiction. I decided work on a martial-arts game.
Kim: There are a lot of things you can do in the world of martial arts if you look behind the visuals.  I wanted to recreate the intense action from Chinese martial-arts movies which inspired me.  The allure of martial-ars world is the variety and limitlessness.

Q10: What’s your definition of the “martial-arts genre”?
Bae: I have a lot to talk about this topic.  There are a lot of novels, legends, history to draw ideas from.  Thus, there is no real “definition” of the genre.  I think the lack of games in the genre is limiting the definition of it.  I think that the genre comes down to, obviously, the component of action.

Q11: In any MMORPG the storyline is crucial.  What percentage of the game content covers the story?
Bae: We are focusing mostly on combats(PVP) and quests.  You could say that these two make up Blade & Soul. It’s about half and half. The story would be narrrated through quests.

Q12: Could you elaborate on the storyline which is based on the Korean genesis.
Bae: Not only the Korean genesis, but a number of legends and anecdotes from Mongolia, Cambodia, Japan, and China are included in the story.

Q13: According to a source, the game will include characters from Korean legends?
Bae: Only one race will follow Korean legends.

Q14: In the story, players will be against gods, how will you narrate this? Also, how will you connect with the notion of clans in the martial arts realm?
Bae: Guilds and kingdoms fit more with the Middle Age fantasy genre.  For the genre of martial arts, individuals and heroes are more fitting.  Unlike the gods in Greek mythology, the gods in Blade & Soul would be closer beings [to humans] such as mountain gods or dragon king.

Q15: Is there an ending to the storyline?
Bae: Yes.

Q16: Is the trailer video made out of in-game footage?
Bae: Yes. The only editing done to the video is the slow-motion effect during “swift jump” and the removal of version stamp.  Of course, for demonstration purposes, some characters were standing still not fighting back.  Besides those, the video is a 100% compilation of in-game footages.
Kim: Currently, developers are playing pre-alpha version of the game. The trailer you saw today was a footage of their actual in-game play.

Q17: If developers are playing the game, up-to how many players can play simultaneously?
Kim: 30~40 players tested on one map.

Q18: I am curious whether the world is seamless or instanced.
Bae: It is not seamless, but it uses streaming method. Gamers will experience the same gameplay as if they were in a seamless world.
Kim: There won’t be much loading because the maps are huge.

Q19: In the trailer, there is a scene where a character attacks multiple mobs with one skill. Will it be a good skill to aggro mobs?
Bae: It’s not a typical skill, but there are time when it is needed; for example, in order to save team members by sacrificing yourself. You can think of it as a finishing skill.  We used the skill purposely to show off the capabilities of Blade & Soul. The character of the developer who used the skill died soon after. (smile)

Q20: Are cooking and resource gathering a major part of the game?
Bae: There are a few, but with an oriental twist.  Players will be able to make wine or pottery.

Q21: Could you tell us more about the two races Jin and Gon?
Kim: Jin is the closest to the mankind.  Culturally, they are similar to us, and use the most tools. Gon is about 2.3m(7.5ft) and is physically stronger.

Q22: There were midgets in the video; are they a playable race?
Bae: They are part of a race and we will release more information regarding the races later.

Q23: Some of the raindrops landed on the camera; how does weather affect the game play?
Bae: Rain changes the environmental setting, spawning more monsters, etc.
Kim: The rain drops on the screen is from an in-game footage.  We are also planning to let weather influence quests.

Q24: One character wore glasses; to what extent is character customizing possible?
Bae: Middle-Age fantasy genres emphasizes armor and weapon stats.  However, martial-arts games focus on individual and weapon(sword) development.  Development of weapon(**NOTE:as in proficiency of the character or the weapon itself gaining experience) will be crucial in the early game.  Based on this concept, we are developing the character customization.

end of part 1

continue to part 2

[EDIT] I changed the weird skill name “mid-air-dash” to more accepted “swift jump”

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