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  • Black Tower added to KR's Test Server!
    A new 24-man team dungeon is shown on the test server, plus other patch notes.
  • Official Blade & Soul Costume Contest
    Their accepting original concept designs for a Blade & Soul costume. The contest will last from now until July 5th.
Meet Nico and Julianne in NCSOFT's latest article.

This mini-series of articles introduces you to some of the team working on the Western release of Blade & Soul. For Part Four we meet with Producer, Nicolas Coutant and Brand Manager, Julianne Harty
We continue our series that introduces you to the team working on bringing Blade & Soul to the west.

If you'd like to catch up on some of the team members we've already met, you can read part one, part two, and part three at their respective links.

For Part Four, we meet with Nicolas Coutant our Producer and Julianne Hartly, our Brand Manager. You've already seen Nico and Julianne on the Blade & Soul Livestreams, but now's the chance to get to know them a little better!


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Nicolas Coutant, Producer for Blade & Soul
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Who are you and what do you do for Blade & Soul?
My name is Nicolas Coutant and I am the NCSOFT West Producer for Blade & Soul.

Tell us something unique about your role and why you enjoy it.
I can play my favourite MMO and call it work. I think that covers both uniqueness and enjoyment.

What sort of things do you do on a regular day in your role?
Meetings, lot of meetings. I’ve met so many people since I started this job. I am a communication hub between most of the teams so I spend quite some time on email and IM, when I’m not busy making schedules and updating documents. I also like to hang out on the QA server to do wacky things or solo some dungeons.

How did you first get into the games industry?
I have been a gamer since age 3 so for me it was a natural career path. As most people will tell you, getting into the games industry is not easy, unless you are willing to start at the very bottom of the ladder and slave away for a few years. Which is exactly what I did, I started as a Game Master during the LOTRO beta, while still interviewing for a few game companies in the process. I was lucky enough to land a job at NCSOFT Europe as a Community Manager a few months later. Since then, I have worked in QA and finally Production, rounding up my experience as a Producer. To have worked in so many different departments is really helping me in my day-to-day tasks, not only for efficient communication but also to understand and anticipate the requirements from other teams.

Tell us about an interesting or amusing thing that has happened whilst working on Blade & Soul.
Seeing the reaction of people who are playing the game for the first time. We’ve had a lot of “firsts” here in the office, and the game invariably exceeds expectations. This is a great sign of good game.

What’s your favourite Race/Class in Blade & Soul?
My favourite Race are the Jin and Class is the Blade Master. I usually like to play fast and agile classes, so the Assassin is also another of my favourite.

What sort of challenges have you encountered working on Blade & Soul?
By far it is the stigma associated to Korean MMOs in general. Most people will dismiss the game before even looking at it, because they automatically assume it’s going to be grindy and very hardcore. But once they actually get hands-on experience, their prejudices are shattered and they usually are blown away by the game.

What are you looking forward to doing most in Blade & Soul once it launches in Winter?
Finally experience the story and the game at its fullest! Having played all versions of the game, I always felt I was missing so much because of the language barrier so I’m really looking forward to playing the game in English with large community.

Is there anything you want the Blade & Soul fans out there to know?
That everyone on the team here is very excited to launch this game in the West later this year, and we really want to provide our community with the best Blade & Soul experience that they can have!
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Julianne Harty, Brand Manger for Blade & Soul
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Who are you and what do you do for Blade & Soul?
I’m Julianne Harty and I’m the Brand Manager for Blade & Soul.

Tell us something unique about your role and why you enjoy it.
I’m one of the Blade & Soul experts on the team, and therefore the hub in which all B&S information comes through – trailers, art assets, obscure lore. I’ve been working on the game for a while now, and I strongly believe that it’s our community that is the most valuable asset, so I also try to engage with and be a part of the community – both as a dev and as a fan.

My role is great because I love to show off the game, and I get excited whenever we can finally tell our fans what’s next.

What sort of things do you do on a regular day in your role?
There is no regular day! I work with Sean to plan CBT & Launch, but currently I’m focusing on creating the content for the website, working with partners to promote Blade & Soul, and starting to plan for what our esports strategies might look like. I’ve got all sorts of ideas to provide some really neat things for our Community, it’s just finding the time to get it done.

How did you first get into the games industry?
When I attended Carnegie Mellon University, I did an entrepreneurship course with a student from the Entertainment Technology Center (i.e. their Game Design program). We developed a cooperative games app together and introduced me to the possibility of actually working in the games industry as opposed to just playing their games.

I’ve always been a gamer – tabletop & video games – so being able to work on something I love is just amazing.

Tell us about an interesting or amusing thing that has happened whilst working on Blade & Soul.
I’ve visited the Dev Team in Korea a couple of times. The first time I went to visit, I was taken out to a restaurant that was famous for its raw crab! So… I ate the raw crab. The flavour was good, but the texture was eh. The second time around, I was with Mark (our Community Manager) and Nico (our Producer), and we were taken to a family-style restaurant which had raw crab as one of their dishes. Both Mark and Nico refused to try it, looking pained as they stared at the crab, whereas I happily picked up a leg and sucked the meat out to the appreciation of the dev team!

What’s your favourite Race/Class in Blade & Soul?
I started out playing a Yun Forcemaster, but I do have a soft spot for Summoners.

What sort of challenges have you encountered working on Blade & Soul?
There are some really unique challenges here. Balancing the essence of the game while catering to the tastes of a Western audience is one that is a constant challenge. The game is already out in other territories, so some players come to us with an expectation of things that they’ve experienced that may be unique to that particular territory – and so while we talk to a broader audience about what’s cool with the game, we can’t necessarily answer every specific question that’s relevant only to a small group of people that have experienced that one particular feature.

What are you looking forward to doing most in Blade & Soul once it launches in Winter?
Arena 3v3 PvP!

Is there anything you want the Blade & Soul fans out there to know?
We love your feedback, and while we can’t incorporate everything that has been suggested, we do read everything that comes our way and so does the dev team. The community voice can be very strong.
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Blade & Soul Costume Design Contest

Cast your Vote! Choose a design to be added to Blade & Soul at launch!

We’ve received tons of entries for our Blade & Soul Costume Design Contest, but now it’s time for you, the fans, to decide which one will be made into a costume for the launch of Blade & Soul!

We tasked players to design a costume for both genders of one race, one gender for all races, or all races and genders. When choosing our finalists, we looked for a great design, original thinking, and something that really stood out. It was a very tough decision, with some amazing entries from all over the world. The NCSOFT WEST Team and Art Director at NCSOFT HQ in South Korea have made their finalists choices, so now it’s all up to you!

The contest winners will have their nickname added to the costume design item description in the game “…created by the Costume Design Contest Winner, NICKNAME." Both winners will also receive an IRL wearable item, an exclusive poster, and $50 worth of NCoin to spend when the game launches. All of the other finalists will receive $20 worth of NCoin and an exclusive poster as well.

There will be one winner from North America and one from Europe, and both costumes will be put into the game at launch; so don’t be afraid to vote for both regions! Voting closes on July 26th at 11:59pm PDT, and winners will be announced on July 28th at 10:00am PDT on our livestream.

Remember to vote for one North American winner and one European winner! Just click the VOTE button beneath the design you want to vote for.

Don’t forget to share this page and encourage friends to vote as well!

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NCSOFT's latest article on Blade & Soul and the creatures that inhabit it.


The creatures of the world are many and varied.
Our world is home to many strange and curious creatures. Between humans and animals are the Beast Kin, but one must always be careful to never confuse the three! The Beast Kin never take kindly to being compared to humans, after all. Further beyond them are Sacred Beasts, ancient monsters, even mystical machines granted life! More beings exist than we could ever truly know, but it’s wise to learn what we can about those we tend to encounter on a regular basis. Just don’t expect to find many that are cute and fuzzy.

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Automatons
There exist strange creatures that live and die, yet are not made of flesh and blood. They are forged from iron, born from the trees, or sculpted from the earth itself. The enormous Ironfang are guardian lions often seen in the company of the Terracotta Soldiers – both beings crafted from ore and clay. Humans have made the humble Training Dummies in their own image; simple-minded humanoids made from wood or metal, given life through infusions of Chi. Yet it was the ancient Naryu who were the true masters of creating Automatons. They fashioned otherworldly wonders that are still inspiring craftsmen to this day to create their own bizarre war machines.

Augerites
These stone golems might be mistaken for mindless Automatons, but nothing is further from the truth. They are earth spirits of a sort, naturally channeling the ambient Chi of the world through their cores. Augerites come in many sizes – some small as pebbles and few as large as mountains. They are ancient guardians of the earth, so it’s best not to trifle with them for fear of angering the spirits.

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Raptors
Ah, the Raptor! It is an umbrella term for a broad variety of predators which populate every corner of the world. Some soar through the skies as watchful birds of prey while other flightless Raptors dart across the deserts and mountains. There are even reptilian cousins of the Raptor called the Scalebeak, which are just as widely varied as their feathered kin. While all Raptors are territorial and vicious, they are generally no real threat and are a popular part of common cuisine as a result. But bones of ancient Raptors found in the desert show that they once grew to monstrous size with wings that could blot out the sun… perhaps such giant birds still exist somewhere in the world?

The Undead
Life does not always end with death. Sometimes it just keeps on going, undaunted by calamity and decay. While the lingering souls of the dead sometimes wander as harmless ghosts, a corpse infused with Dark Chi rises as a horrendous undead nightmare. Some occur where Dark Chi naturally festers, though others are the creation of foul human efforts. The bloodthirsty Jiangshi are still dressed in their funeral garb when they stalk the land, while Skeletal Soldiers of long-dead armies still march through the night. Pity the Undead and the torture that is their existence. With luck, some skilled warrior will set their bodies to rest and let their souls finally be at peace in the Spirit Realm.

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The Spider Queen
Nobody is truly sure of where this ancient monster came from or how it continues to thrive in the world today, but there is no doubt as to the threat it poses. Dokumo, the Spider Queen – a massive, terrifying arachnid that lurks deep within the bowels of the earth itself. From its nest spawn armies of skittering Giant Spiders able to snatch a human up in the blink of an eye and drag them to a screaming demise. Beware the spiders – if you see one, it only means that there are a dozen more nearby waiting to pounce.

Thrashers
If you wish to see a true example of nature’s fury, look no further than the monstrous Thrasher. These tyrannical predators are so fierce that even the warriors of the Snapjaw Tribe respect their might and face them as worthy foes. Universally huge in size, always starving for flesh, and cunning in battle: the Thrashers are predators of the highest order. Some are even capable of spewing vile toxins to weaken their prey before moving in for the bone-crushing kill.

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Community Voting for the Costume Design Finalists has been Postponed
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Due to the number of amazing designs submitted for the Costume Design Contest, we’ve had to postpone revealing the Finalists and opening up your opportunity to vote until the 21st of July. This will also mean our announcement date for the winners will be pushed back to the 28th of July.
You can get more details about the contest here.
Update 7-15-2015 : Updated Test Server patch notes and replaced old Black Tower trailer with the new one.

Test ServerNew Team Dungeon (24man) - Black Tower
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Huge thanks to Di'el for translating the patch notes!
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Dungeon

New Team Dungeon (24man) 'Black Tower' of '파천성도' and its first boss 'Sky Poison Dragon' added
Temporarily added a portal in Zaiwei (will be changed later)
This dungeon will have a weekly cap depending on the dungeon progress
Cap can be manually reset up to 4 times weekly in the Test Server
Cap will be reset every Wednesday 6am
There is no 'Hearts' in 'Black Tower'
'Black Tower' weekly quests added

Update 7-15-2015:
Second boss for Black Tower released
First boss is temporarily nerfed. (will be reverted at update)
On defeating the first boss, all team members will be bound to the same dungeon number

Items

New Legendary Bopae obtained from 'Black Tower' can be exchanged in the inventory store (a separate vendor will be added later)
New Legendary Weapon series '촉마' obtained in 'Black Tower' added.
Lv10+ Nebula series (Meteor, Comet) weapons can be upgraded to the new series
New Legendary Bopae obtained in 'Black Tower' added
New Legendary Ring '독린', '역린', Legendary Earring '화각' (Blaze?) obtained in 'Black Tower' added

Update 7-15-2015:
Added a two piece set effect to Fate, Immortal, Oath, Eternity legendary accessories
Changed the names of legendary accessories obtained in Black Tower
Deleted class bopae from the box dropped by the first boss


Skill Changes

Update 7-15-2015:
Kung-Fu Master:
New 'Form 4' training to 'Cold Surge' in the form of a new skill 'Fighting Spirit'

Fighting Spirit Effects:
- Gives party members within 30m and yourself 'Boost' effect for 10 sec
- Crit chance +40% & Crit damage +50%
- 100% of attack = lifesteal/additional damage
- Decreases the cooldown of Crushing Blow by 5 sec per attack by party members
- Cooldown is 1min 30sec and cannot be reset
- Party members cannot be boosted again for 30 sec

Quest

Update 7-15-2015:
Daily Challenges increased to 4.
New PVP Daily Challenge added (Previously there was only three PVE Daily Challenges)
Daily Challenges award you EXP talisman(s) among other goodies
Extra Bonus rewards can be acquired by completing 3/4 Daily Challenges

Interface

Divided item effects, premium/cash effects, status effects to separate locations


Party System

By default, only the team leaders have the distribution rights when looting from a special raid chest dropped by a raid boss
Team leaders can distribute items directly to each member of the team
Team leaders can set [Give distribution rights to everybody] to make it a normal loot distribution.


New Black Tower Trailer

Preview:


Bosses


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Updates to Main Server

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Skill Changes

Destroyer:
Fixed a bug where using 'Retreat' would sometimes not move the character when 'snared' by Warlock's 'Bounded Field'

Warlock:
Fixed a bug where the 'Familiar' does not disappear when 'Spiritualize' and 'Substitute' is used at the same time.
Fixed a bug where Familiar skills are not being filtered in the skills window

Force Master:
Fixed a bug where using 'Withdraw' would sometimes not move the character when 'snared' by Warlock's 'Bounded Field'

Assassin:
Fixed a bug where using 'Backward Roll' would sometimes not move the character when 'snared'

Summoner:
Fixed a bug where 'Instant cast on critical hit' of select 'Hornet' training does not apply while 'Saturated'

Rising Dragon Valley (6v6)

You can no longer queue for Rising Dragon Valley with 2~5 people (only 1 or 6)
If you queue for a match as an individual, you are matched with other solo queuers. 6 man parties are queued with other 6 man parties.
If you queue for a match as an individual, you automatically leave the party after the match.
Fixed a bug where a character can sometimes be stuck on the log in the passage way to the middle capture point.
Fixed a bug where Sunday 12am~6am bonus is not being applied

Sky Island

Added new rewards for peak time (Saturday/Sunday 10pm~12am) (Moonstone Dragon Special Box, Emperor Moonstone Dragon Special Box)
Added Sky Island Key, Sky Shard to 5 of the daily quests (Saturday/Sunday)

Dungeon

Forgotten Tomb:
Increased the number of '선단' obtained from 'Berserk Emperor' (4/6 man)

General:
Removed all Stigmas from dungeons (Palace, Underground Prison, BSH) and item effects that counter them.

NPC

Silverfrost Mountains:
Decreased health and attack of monsters in 'Lightning Prison' and 'Tainted Cave'
Decreased health and attack of NPCs in Epic Quest Act 4

Quest

Silverfrost Mountains - Special Quest
Made 'Limit Break' quest requirements easier (Vendor in Haunted Necropolis now sells '오세유')

Viridian Coast - Arena Quests
Changed the names and requirements for select arena quests


Items

Changed the faction rank requirement of '우마각' sold by Faction Rank Vendors in Moonwater Plains (used in Windwalk wall run quest) to 'Trainee'
NCSOFT teaches us the fundamentals of Chi in their latest article.

NCSOFT
The Martial Artist guide to Chi

Understanding the basics of Chi is fundamental to mastering it. But one can only go so far on theory alone – there comes a time when what has been learned must be put into practice. While chi exists in everything and everyone, it takes work to access its full potential.

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Chi vs. Dark Chi

Martial artists spend their entire lives dedicating themselves to meditation and physical training to master themselves and thus their chi. As this is a slow, difficult process that requires an unshakable will, it is no surprise that many do not make it to mastery. Some warriors are content to learn a few petty tricks while others give up altogether. Yet some yearn for power despite not having the spiritual fortitude to earn it. They hear the whispered promises of the Dark Realm and succumb to temptation, allowing Dark Chi to seep into their souls. While it is true that Dark Chi can drastically boost a martial artist’s power immediately to astonishing levels, it comes at dire cost. Those unfortunate fools are blinded by their desire for undeserved power and, in the end, it destroys them without fail.

The Mark of the Black Rose

Dark Chi is not always willingly accepted. More often than not it is forced upon a person, infecting them like a virulent poison that eats away at their body and mind. One who has strong chi within them can resist the effects, though the Dark Chi will flare up like crawling, thorn-covered vines that choke their spirit.

Those afflicted carry the Mark of the Black Rose – a tell-tale distortion within their spiritual energy. It is a crippling wound and, even worse, makes the victim susceptible to influence by Dark Chi. Demons and Dark Chi users are even able to enforce their will over the victim, dominating their minds. They may even partially transform into Demons as their bodies warp into horrifying states. In the end, those who bear the Mark of the Black Rose die both a physical and spiritual death as they wither and transform fully into a Demon.

The Way of Enlightenment

Suffering the Mark of the Black Rose is not always an inevitable death sentence. It is possible to overcome by learning the Way of Enlightenment – a complex method of purifying the soul. But this art has been lost to the ages and is known only by the greatest of sages. Those who hope to utilize it face both a race against time along with the even greater struggle of actually managing to successfully purge the Dark Chi from their bodies. To date, no mortal being has succeeded.

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Focus

Martial artists use their chi to facilitate their various combative skills. Everyone only has a limited volume of chi within them at a given time – a warrior who overextends themselves finds their reserves of Focus depleted. Replenishing Focus is thankfully a simple task. Food or rest will restore Focus, though there are warriors who recover through the thrill of combat, regaining Focus as they fight.

Blade Masters, Force Masters, and Summoners externalize their chi to enforce change on the world. Spiritual Lyn and Yun tap into the environment, manipulating the elements or conjuring Familiars from the Spirit Realm. A Blade Master’s sword is infused with energy to cleave through anything – it is so effective a weapon that even the curious Lyn have begun tinkering with blades.

In contrast, the Destroyer, Kung Fu Master, and Assassin all internalize their chi to great effect. Their Focus is used to harden a body into an unyielding bulwark, physically overwhelm even giant-sized monsters, or vanish into thin air, respectively.

Chi is not limited only to warriors. Both the mighty and the meek are able to Windwalk, striding over the flowing rivers of chi that spring from the earth to travel great distances. It takes a master to fully utilize Dragon Pulses, but anyone can make use of them where they naturally appear, using the wormholes through space to instantly transport themselves across the map. Others use chi to revitalize the weak and injured. The possibilities seem truly endless and, so long as there are warriors, there will be new ways to use chi.
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Poll: Community Voice: PvP (1576 member(s) have cast votes)

What do you think of Blade & Soul's PvP system?

  1. I love it! Here's why... (1009 votes [64.02%])

    Percentage of vote: 64.02%

  2. I hate it! Here's why... (71 votes [4.51%])

    Percentage of vote: 4.51%

  3. I'm neutral. Here's why... (496 votes [31.47%])

    Percentage of vote: 31.47%

How will you PvP in Blade & Soul?

  1. I will wear my PvP Dobok proudly and fearlessly at all times, even if it will lead to my ultimate demise at times. (510 votes [32.36%])

    Percentage of vote: 32.36%

  2. I will be a defender, equipping my PvP Dobok only to save or help others. (243 votes [15.42%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.42%

  3. I will be a devious rascal, only equiping my PvP Dobok when victory is guaranteed. (92 votes [5.84%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.84%

  4. I will equip my PvP Dobok whenever the urge to PvP arises, defender or not. (532 votes [33.76%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.76%

  5. I will store my PvP Dobok, hoping to never kill or die to another player. (125 votes [7.93%])

    Percentage of vote: 7.93%

  6. *Insert own answer here* Be sure to respond to the article with your own answer. (74 votes [4.70%])

    Percentage of vote: 4.70%

Vote Guests cannot vote