Demo Dungeon Desighed for Bless Unleashed @ PAX

Using Unreal Engine 4, proprietary AI Editor and datasheet based XML
Video Created By

Bless Unleashed- a MMORPG for XBOX, PS4 & PC made by Round8

Bless Unleashed is an MMORPG for XBOX, currently in development by Round8 Studio. 

This dungeon was originally designed as a demo for PAX West(2018), and was redesigned for PAX East(2019).

The dungeon was focused on delivering an experience that represented the feel of the game, including art style, combat experience and etc.

It received many positive feedback on it's gameplay experience at PAX West and also at PAX East

Objective of design

  • The level should be a single pathed dungeon but also should feel like an open world to let the players know that the game is an open world MMORPG

  • Boss encounters should focus more on action based combat (dodge and strike) to introduce the core combat style of the game

  • Since the players would be new to everything, the dungeon should provide enough time and content for the players to practice and get used to their characters

  • For the same reason, the boss encounters should be easy, but at the same time, the players should feel like they've encountered a tough boss so that they would feel satisfied when the bosses fell

 

Participation

  • Director of the demo

  • Designed the flow, encounters and combat experience of the demo

  • Designed most of the systems related to combat and showing cutscenes needed for the demo

  • Chose which resources would be used, and planned what resources should be made

  • Implemented the content (combined resources with data, wrote AI an Lua scripts for monsters, created cut scenes for bosses)

  • Organized tests and surveys to gather feedback

  • Tweaked and tuned the experience from the feedback gathered

  • Fixed bugs

Results

Back log

Preparing for PAX gave me the chance to step up several levels. From a designer who knew how to design and build engaging experiences, to a person who knows and can plan the production pipeline, who can break down, analyze and evaluate cost and value, and a coworker who understands how other teams work. 

  • The demo was the first playable product of our game, ever to be released to the players. It had to show what our game experience would be like, and had to build up expectations for the actual game. Unfortunately Bless Online on Steam had a bad reputation and since Bless Unleash was built upon it's ashes, our studio had to impress and convince the audience that Bless Unleash was different from Bless Online.

  •  I was given the chance to direct the whole process, from design to production and quality assurance, which meant I could design what I wanted, but at the same time I would be responsible for our game's first impression. A lot of pressure was upon my shoulders, but I saw it as an opportunity to fully utilize my skills and find my limits, and also to get direct feedback from the players. 

  • The demo wasn't part of our studio's plan and was given a short amount of time to prepare for PAX, so the amount of resources and systems that could be newly produced was very limited. So instead of designing from scratch, I first had to figure out what could be added and what we already had. From that, began the long chain of thinking. " 'Would this fit the theme we've chose?', 'How much more resources would be needed build up the experience?', 'Do we have the systems to make it work?', 'Would this decision put too much work load on a certain team?' " and on.

  • Since the process that needed the most time was building the dungeon's level, I had to look into environmental assets (static meshes) and chose a theme that had various types of props that could be used for level designing. After choosing a theme, I looked through all the monsters we had to pick the minions and bosses. They had to look right and had to blend into the environment theme I chose. At the same time they had to have enough animations for skills and combos so not many more would be needed.

  • After choosing the theme and monsters, came the step of designing the experience of the demo. What would be the flow, what narrative it should deliver and in which way it would be delivered. Unlike other designing tasks where the schedule could be adjusted based on the design and also had more time given to begin with, many decisions had to be made based on cost, efficiency and more ideas were needed to make up for the lack of resources.

    • For example, the demo had to be short and not much storytelling could be done but my team wanted to show that our game did have a story. So I decided to use some short monologues and to give the monsters the same tattoo and warpaint, in order to make the player notice that there was some story behind the demo, instead of trying to deliver every detail. It was a strategical decision, since the resources needed to deliver the story in a visualized way, had less reusablity compared to the resources needed to enhance the combat experience.

    • But those simple settings would not be enough to draw the player's attention, meaning that they wouldn't notice there was any story at all. Instead of finding a way to deliver more information, I focused on finding a way to make the players pay more attention to what was already given. The solution I came up with, was creating an interesting combat scene with the NPC who would deliver fragments of the story. By placing that scene at the first checkpoint, I could assure that players would have nothing to do than walk towards the scene and pay attention to it. And since the players would be new to the environment, character and all, I had make sure it drew the player's attention from all those distractions (which were also important). So I chose to make the NPC a sorceress and to make her use colorful magic, which would cover a large area and would stand out visually from the environment. Through those preparations, player's would be curious about the NPC who was making the scene, and would pay more attention to the conversation with it. 

    • Resources needed for such setup could be obtained from the Mage class, meaning it would be cost efficient. Also would achieve the goal of delivering a story. And at the same time, it would show the players what combat would be like in our game.
       

  • Making such decisions like this was a great challenge to my designing skills. But the real challenge was about balancing the work load on different teams, and fighting against the deadline. The demo couldn't rely on a certain type of resource nor could it have complicated systems to make it work. The importance of each skill, expression and system had to be weighed and evaluated in order to prevent having any noticeable lack of quality in the overall experience. And at the same time, those resources and systems had to be made simultaneously due to the limited amount of time we had. Therefore knowing the pipeline and coming up with ways to skip any step was necessary.

  • The whole process was a great challenge, and going through all of this require a lot of thinking and better understanding on how other teams worked, and what they required. Knowing how to break down each content into it's core elements (mesh, animation, particles, decals, materials, sound and on) and to analyze each element's cost and value was also necessary.

silviniarell@gmail.com

©2013 by Seewon Park​