Blade & Soul's second Soul Party has begun! Don't know what this Soul Party 2 is about? Learn more here.
With the assistance of various Korean Blade & Soul news networks and the fantastic game reporter, Olore of Gamemeca.com, the Dojo will be the only English-based community bringing you live coverage throughout the event. We're going to be here all night so start popping the lids off those energy drinks!
This thread will be constantly updated as the event goes on. Keep your finger on that F5 key!
CBT3 will start on May 9th! Soul Party attendees will be getting early access starting on April 25th.
The Summoner class has been officially revealed and is playable on the Soul Party 2 demos.
New Qing Gong moves have been revealed! Check out this video!
Character creation customization has been drastically improved! Goodbye preset models, hello sliders!
Summoner Officially Revealed!
Finally, Blade & Soul's 6th class has officially been revealed at the Soul Party 2 event! We've known the summoner was going to be a part of the class lineup for quite some time now, but we've never really received any details from Team Bloodlust until now! Click here for our dedicated Summoner thread.
New Qing Gong Moves!
Team Bloodlust revealed some impressive new moves for Qing Gong, Blade & Soul's unique traveling feature, in a video presentation during the event. Running on walls? Running up walls? No problem! Who needs mounts when you're in an oriental fantasy! Check out the video below!
Character Creation Customization Improved!
No more having to settle for already created preset templates for your characters appearance! It appears Team Bloodlust has actually implemented full character creation customization as they said they would. Goodbye presets, hello sliders! Check out the video below of the latest creation settings. We will be capturing this ourselves once we have access to the CBT3 client for better quality.
New Concept Art
Team Bloodlust released some new concept art for the Soul Party 2 event, one of which was plastered on the outside walls of the building in which the event took place, the beautiful Jin with a gatling gun. Yeah, a gatling gun. Looking for more pictures from this exclusive event? Check out our media thread (coming soon).
As many of you already know, Team Bloodlust released a teaser about a week ago. The teaser left Blade & Soul fans with just a few words, "Bring your Own Talent." After a bit of speculation and lengthy discussions as to what this may mean by the community Team Bloodlust announced the second official Soul Party yesterday which will take place on the 21st of April.
So what's a Soul Party? A Soul Party is an event where selected fans get a chance to hang out with the developers of Blade & Soul for a day. The lucky few selected will get to play the game for hours on end, have some one on one Q&A time with the developers themselves, partake in some games and contests (both in-game and out) for a chance at some unique prizes and even get to eat with the developers! This years Soul Party will apparently be twice as big as the last and will hold a big "Bring your Own Talent" contest in which participants will be given the chance to show off their talents and win amazing prizes. Perhaps they'll even get the chance to perform in from of Hyung-Tae Kim, Blade & Soul's legendary art director! Check out our coverage from the previous Soul Party!
What can we expect? It's already been confirmed that the official CBT3 date will be announced at Soul Party 2, anything besides that is just speculation at this point. However, if this event is anything like the last we can expect a handful of goodies including never before seen in-game content as well as a first look at the upcoming summoner class. One can only hope.
Can we attend this Soul Party? Unfortunately the Soul Party is reserved for the fans in the games originating region, Korea, so all we can really do is watch from the sidelines and wait for reviews!
Finally, these next couple months are going to be filled with Blade & Soul goodness. Stick around folks!
What is one of the elements that bring out Blade & Soul’s story to its full potential? Cinematics of course. Many will remember the 7 minute cinematic of Master Hong Suk-Geun dying and the two female beauties Jin So-Ah(The gunner) and Dang Yuh-Wol(Blade Master) fighting it out at the To-Moon Inn.
Cinematic movies which can be seen around console games and PC games aren’t used as much in Korean MMORPGs, but Team Bloodlust has its own cinematics team to show its dedication to them.
The cinematic team works on the Cutscenes(excluding combat), environment. and directing of the npcs. We’ve had a talk with the Leader of Cinematic team in Team Bloodlust.
Cho Hyung-Geun the Cinematic Team Leader of Blade & Soul. "Growth of immersion with the help of cinematics."
First introduce yourself to us and what kind of role you do around the Team. I was hired by NCSoft back in 2002 and worked on the Lineage 2 environment art and cinematics of Lineage 3. Right now I am on the Cinematics team in Team Bloodlust and it is something that is seen around other game developing companies.
There’s a lot of different cinematics in-game, how many minutes of cinematics were included with the 2nd CBT?
The 2nd CBT had about 60 minutes worth of cinematics and we focus mainly on story and the flow as well as the emotions between characters. That is why we have a lot of close up shots of characters and their gestures.
2nd CBT had about 60 minutes worth of in-game cinematic footage. 60 minutes sounds like an awful lot, wouldn’t too much cinematics ruin the flow of the gameplaye?
It really varies on the play style and people tend to watch the cutscenes in the beginning of the game but tend to skip them as they spend more time playing the game. However, the amount of enjoyment a player gets from skipping the cutscenes and watching it all through will be completely different. We hope everyone will watch our cutscenes as we do our best to make them engaging for players.
Other Korean companies generally do not have cinematic teams, what makes Blade & Soul stand out from other games with this team?
The most important thing is immersion and how the in-game cinematics really aid with that. When a player connects to the game and sees the world and the NPCs react as he/she walks by, it will become clearer.
Blade & Soul has a lot of close-up shots to bring out the full emotions of the characters. "The Cinematic team is like a Cheerleader for Blade & Soul."
How do you make an in-game cinematic?
When we receive the scenario the quest creating team takes that scenario and makes a quest out of it. When the suggestion of thinking that a certain quest and the certain section needs emphasis, we go ahead and include a cutscene.
That’s basically how we decide on how much content we make for the game. We first get the character & environments added from the character creation team and the environment team and make a cutscene out of that. Once that’s done we send it over to the sound team to have a voice over then add in the various other sound effects.
What was the hardest thing you had encountered during the creation of cutscenes?
Since this is not a CG and instead a real time rendered clip, it is hard to include massive amounts of crowd. For that reason when the Choong-Gak crew invades the Risen Dragon Village it was kept to a small crowd.
Also we have to work with a lot of other teams, since we work on the camera directing and the animation, it is hard to really get everyone sync’d up to their schedule. Since the development team wants the gameplay done and we want the cutscenes done, it is hard to schedule it all perfectly.
Lastly, since the finishing touch is made by the sound team, it is hard to see the process of the whole thing. Sometimes we sneak in late at night to see how it turned out(laugh).
Certain main story plot NPCs are handled with voice support and directing. What do you think the cinematics have in terms of meaning to the game’s content?
I think the cinematics should be like a game’s cheerleader. We take on the role of letting people know of the story unfolds and help players feel immersed within the game. The 1st generation games lacked this aspect and we welcome the thought of Blade & Soul incorporating cinematics.
We’ve heard you guys take care of the environments as well as the NPCs, what does that mean?
We help the environment and the NPCs feel more alive by adding little details of animation and how the world interacts with the player.
With a close-up dialog system, they add character gestures and action to express the character. "Depending on the environment it goes in many other Genres."
There were many references in the cutscenes from certain movies or animations, was it intentional? Especially the one with the Blade Master and the Gunner fighting in the Inn, it looked a lot like the gun scene in the movie “Wanted”.
When you play a game there are many concepts depending on the environment. Like the first starting zone, the concept of that zone is revenge and promise, the Bamboo village is invasion of foreign powers and the Grand Desert is like the Wild West.
We try to take reference to those concepts and parody or create homage of the certain clip. The grand desert was taken in reference to a Korean movie “The Good, the Bad and the Weird”.
Anything you’d like to try as the cinematic team?
Unlike movies, games can take on many genres and games tend to have many genres within it; Sci-fi, Fantasy and Eastern Fantasy, it can go around it all. I want to be able to improve the quality of cutscenes for future MMORPGs.
If there aren’t certain motions you want from the game, do you create new ones? Also you are doing voice overs for the Korean edition, are you doing the same for the Foreign release?
Characters and environments are taken from the resources but we tend to make our own animations. When this happens we use motion capture, and 80% of the fighting moves were done by motion captures. Other stuff like flying around were done by a key animation process.
Most in-game cut-scene movements were made by motion capture. Before you said you tried to increase the player’s immersion with cutscenes, are there any special steps to this?
We have an employee that only does the facial animation, we try to add different facial animations for fitting situations.
What was the one clip that made you question possibilities?
It was something that couldn’t have been done. A cutscene that contains massive crowd is something we still avoid to this day. What sticks in my head the most is the 7 minutes clip that handled Hong Suk-Geun’s death. When this was first made there was a lot of talk amongst the team.
Some said it was too long and people would skip it and others saying it would increase the immersion of the game. Thankfully the whole 7 minutes of the clip went in and the players received it well so it sticks with me the most.
The clip that handled Hong Suk-Geun’s death was 7 minutes long. "You can expect greater things from us."
Console games always took advantage of the real-time cutscenes but for an MMORPG it is something new. Are there different perspectives depending on the platform?
Consoles have a set hardware spec so it is quite easy to create a cutscene for it, but the PC has a wide variety of PC specs so we tend to set the minimum. This is why there are some scenes with high quality that can’t be maintained, it is something we feel sad about.
If you look at the console games from the directing perspective, the player is just yourself so you can carry the cutscene out from the player’s perspective, but since Blade & Soul is an MMORPG and it has many races, so we tend to carry the cutscenes out from a spectator’s perspective.
Third person view of the Blade & Soul cutscenes. Any cutscenes you remember fondly of from other games?
Something like God of War 3 really is amazing. The seamless transition of game player and the cinematic is almost perfect. We also want to try and make the cinematic go along with the game play.
How long does it usually take to create a clip and how many people does it take?
If I were to make a 30 minute clip, it would take about 6 to 7 months. We also do outsourcing so we need our schedules to be tuned. Since the cutscenes can’t be done only with the cinematic team, we take about 50 ~ 60 people to create one clip.
As of now you can only see the cutscene once, does this make you sad?
The replay function is being talked about with the development team and also we would like the players to watch fully through the clips but I think it is okay to skip it if it interferes with the gameplay. Even if just one player watches it all we will be grateful.
It seems whenever a really popular clip from Blade & soul comes out, it always involves a woman in revealing clothes.
I like women in revealing clothes(Laugh). To be honest it is something we take from Kim Hyung-Tae style, our Art Director. Since the characters we use in the cutscenes are all from original artwork we have to follow what he created.
Lastly, what would you like to say to the players that are waiting on the 3rd CBT and the OBT?
We are creating better clips than we have previously shown on the 2nd CBT and you will be able to see them once the testing begins. Also we have large amounts of clips that still remain unseen and we look forward to the day when everyone can watch them.
Screenshot of the Cutscene that will be shown during the 3rd CBT. Source: ThisIsGame. Article translated by Yuan and Nayami.
When you think about Blade & Soul the first thing that comes to mind are the characters. The in-game graphics that take full advantage of Kim Hyung-Tae’s work is still a hot issue amongst many players and fans.
However, it is not just Kim Hyung-Tae that does all the work. In fact, the character that was popular with a lot of CBT1 testers, Nam So-Yoo, was created by Lee Wang-Soo, lead designer of the concept art team. He has been friends with Kim Hyung-Tae for ten years and has been working on Blade & Soul since 2006.
Lee Wang-Soo has been working on concept art for races, backgrounds and the world of Blade & Soul since the beginning. Right now he works on characters, items and outfits as a guide and mentor. He is the man who breathes life into Blade & Soul and we’ve had a little chat with him.
I made Nam So-Yoo, says NCSoft’s Character Artwork Leader, Lee Wang-Soo. “I’ve made a unique character fitting the scenario.”
What are the special traits and design concepts behind Blade & Soul's character design? The games that currently exist in an eastern fantasy setting all have similar lore. Blade & Soul tried to move away from the typical Chinese concept and attempted to incorporate Korean and other eastern cultures as well. It is why we’ve tried to make the characters match the scenario.
What was the hardest thing about designing the various characters for Blade & Soul? The hardest thing about designing a character is meeting Kim Hyung-Tae’s standards. Creating a character that fits the story wasn’t too hard because the scenario already defined the character’s personality very well, so the real challenge came in designing outfits that were different from other games with an eastern fantasy setting.
For example, trying to make a character that would blend well in eastern fantasy while remaining unique. It was a difficult balance to maintain with all of the outfits, and we've had a hard time trying to produce things that players haven't seen in other games.
Original artwork for the Lyn race. It looks a lot different. Many say the art style of Art Director(AD from now on) Kim Hyung-Tae is either like it or hate it. What is your favorite character that you’ve created? It is true, his style is so distinct that there's definitely a divide between those who like it and those who don't. However, if you look at it from a commercial art perspective I have a lot to learn. The hardest part of designing a character for Blade & Soul was mimicking Kim Hyung-Tae's art style.
As of now we’ve created a little guide after analyzing the AD’s art style, and with this guide we can recruit new members and still have that new member work on the artwork. As for my favorite character, it is Nam So-Yoo.
Nam So-Yoo was a hot issue during CBT. Is there a deep meaning/some kind of real life episode that you’ve based this character on? There were many complex things that went into designing Nam So-Yoo, and even though she doesn’t exist I’ve taken her personality from a popular Korean drama called Wife’s Seduction and its lead character Koo Eun-Jae. Nam So-Yoo will also be a big part of Blade & Soul’s scenario.
The character’s traits are as you can see from the name; (Nam means Other and So-Yoo means belonging) it means “Someone else’s”. When I first got the name and the character I designed her like a normal girl, but after having a talk with the AD we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t right and reworked it.
When I worked on it the second time I tried to make her look confined; the design didn’t show her inner wickedness, simply making her look like a rich girl instead. The current incarnation of Nam So-Yoo came from when I worked on her for the third time. We wanted to show that undeniable charm, like a femme fatale and we tried to reflect that with her.
Blade & Soul’s popular NPC, Nam So-Yoo, and her original character artwork (left) compared to her in-game 3D model (right). “Character design, we’ve approached it with designer label concept.”
When you work with the AD, how is the work divided? As he is the art director, he came up with the original concept for the character. The artwork team creates characters, monsters and weapons. We receive scenarios from the development team and we have a conference with the AD and make rough concept sketches.
Each character will get about 3 ~ 8 sketches and we pick the design that best fits the personality or one that just has an awesome design and work on it from there. During this process if the character is someone that comes up in the main storyline, the AD personally picks them out. Rough estimate time of working on one character is about 8 ~ 10 days but characters like Nam So-Yoo can take up to a month.
We’ve heard Blade & Soul went for a Pan-Asiatic concept unlike other eastern fantasy games. How do you define this with the characters? The one concept we’ve put great care into was the “Designer Label” concept. We try to create the outfits as a whole and since it is not divided into parts we have no normal specs for the outfits. We were able to create outfits that never existed in MMORPGs.
It was also hard to show the grade of the item without the stats. Instead of making a complex outfit a high grade one, we’ve tried to make a simple yet quality material the higher grade.
The one challenge we ran into while designing an Eastern outfit was “How do we make this look luxurious?”. Even though we tried to make the Ancient Full Dress Attire look cool, it didn’t come out looking good. As a result we tried to keep the original 90% and the new 10%.
We tried not to obsess with the Eastern concept and say instead, let's put the Eastern in the 10% of the modern and the results are the characters you see today.
Hong-Moon School Dobok looks more modern than Eastern Fantasy. The original artwork and the in-game 3D models are almost identical, how much do you keep the 3D models in mind when designing your characters? We’ve had many talks about the artwork when we saw how they implemented the AD’s design in-game in the early stages of development. Since they were able to bring out the full potential of the artwork in 3D models we had to really up the quality of the artwork to have a quality 3D model.
As a result we now give our full attention to the texture and the edges, as well as colors and little things in the artwork. From this we somehow managed to make the artwork look like an illustration, and the in-game models are a better quality as a result.
What are some of the characters you personally designed? Also, what are some things you wish people would look at the most in the characters? There aren’t too many NPCs I’ve designed myself. Some are Kan Myo-Woul one of the Eight Grand Masters, Poison Herb Master and Hong Suk-Geun... the big version. Of the outfits, I’ve also designed the Infernal Dobok, and with females we’ve tried to make the outfits show the natural curves of women. The polygon counts are higher around those parts as well (laugh).
With the Infernal Lord boss monster we designed the monster first and then tried to make the outfit around the per-existing boss. There were some things that were changed but we are happy people and proud of the outcome.
Kan Myo-Woul of the Eight Grand Masters’ and her detailed original artwork (left) was perfectly modeled in 3D (right). Since the females are so well defined the males play an awkward role in this game. Right now 90% of the main characters are female (laugh). Internally we are trying to work on more male characters and truthfully we are slowly raising the numbers on male NPC’s to try to fit the ratio of male and female. Our next 3rd CBT will be a lot better regarding this problem.
We’ll see how many unique male characters make an appearance during the upcoming CBT3. “Nam So-Yoo’s story will carry on until the end.”
Was there ever a case where the concept changed from the artwork? Actually Nam So-Yoo was supposed to be Do Chun-Poong’s son’s wife and only make a brief appearance.
As I said before, after the third artwork was finished and shown to the team, we had a talk with the scenario writer and the project director and decided to carry her all the way to the end to Blade & Soul’s story. Almost every scenario will have Nam So-Yoo appear sooner or later.
Have you ever based your characters on a famous celebrity or taken note of Buddhism or Taoism? We have a few character based on celebrities, as well as NPC’s based on developers. (First Interview) When you look at the credit roll you can see the relationships between the characters and the developers. We try to make the faces look similar, and the game will have many parodies regarding Korean programs and comedians.
We're currently avoiding any religious approach. In the beginning we tried a divided faction based on the concept of Yin and Yang, but from the concept of 건곤감리 (Kun-Gon-Gam-Lee: which is what the Korean National Flag’s based on. Kun means Sky while Gon means Ground) we only kept Kun and Gon.
Each race is a different size and concept, what was the easiest and the hardest character to create? The concepts of the races were already made with Bae Jae-Hyung & Kim Hyung-Tae before I even joined on this project. Early development had each race with something unique like the Lyn’s ears and tail. Jins had wings, Gons had horns coming out of their skin and Kuns had a flower stalk.
Many of them disappeared during the development process but there are still things like Destroyer’s Iron Wall, which is formed from the horns coming out of the Destroyer to defend.
The easiest race to design was the Jins, as they were most like humans. The hardest was the Kun, because in the early stages of development the Kun were an intersex race, meaning they had no gender. So that gave us a lot of trouble, not knowing if we should draw them like females or males.
Later many artwork team members decided to make them into a slender female race and made them look Eastern European. I think they are the most attractive race.
There are many sexy outfits like the see-through outfits. We try to avoid anything too suggestive or obvious. Of course we leave it to the designers, but we try to avoid outfits that would bring us bad press. We try to keep the sexy things part of the undergarments.
The see-through outfit shown during the Art Conference last year won’t be implemented in live servers. Lastly, would you like to say anything to those dreaming of getting in the artwork industry? Back in my days when you were drawing it was a fight with yourself, but now there are many tools and systems there to help you. Drawing is making your imagination come true and you should be able to show what you imagine in full detail.
I say read and draw a lot to get the experience, and later have a vision of what you want to draw and do it. For example if you have a vision of yourself wanting to draw better than the person in front of you, I think it will help you become a better artist. Right now, I personally think of Kim Hyung-Tae as my rival and I'm constantly trying to be better than he is.
This is probably something that everyone says but the best way to become better is to constantly try and put effort into your art. Look back and see if what you drew today is better than what you drew yesterday and if so, in what way it is better? Go back and try to fix the errors.