BLC is an awesome game and you should try it, but it used to be more awesome and I'd like to bring that back with your help.
BLC, BLC, where do I start with you?
I played this game from very early on, back when the game was brand spanking new and advertised as the one true PvP arena game where only skill mattered. The one game you could pick up and play without having to spend several weeks of grinding for levels or runes/masteries in order to actually start being competitive. In theory, a team of new players who were just completely at home with the game as soon as they started could beat a top competitive team who had played the game religiously half a year in advance.
And it was glorious.
Of course such a situation rarely happened. Since skill was all that mattered, veteran players were almost always set to win over newcomers, but it was as it should be. Those moments where I as a relatively new player were able to out-manouver players who were obviously better than me are memorable even to this day. The free Bloodline rotation was satisfactory and the fact that you could try them all out in single player vs bots is something I for my life cannot understand why every single F2P online game has done as well. That particular move is a stroke of genious.
Every Bloodline feels and plays differently. The only time it feels bad playing a particular Bloodline is when you're being outperformed by another which leads you to wanting to try that one instead. That is the beauty of the game. Nothing stops you from learning every single Bloodline in comfort and privacy against bots. No fees, no need to purchase the Bloodline. This means that if you were willing to put time and effort into learning the Bloodlines in-and-outs, you could prepare yourself to stand an even better chance when playing against real people. And really, Hard mode bots are way more difficult than many players!
There's practically always been a leveling system. Your level, however, was mostly just a measure of how long you've been playing the game. It had no impact on the game what so ever. What really mattered was your rank, which showed at what skill level you belonged (again, skill was all that mattered as advertised). It's important to note that at this time, it was also advertised that you could obtain most every single thing in the shop, even cosmetic items like skins, weapons and emotes, with the use of Blood Coins as well as Gold Coins, the former being the currency you earn by playing and the latter being the one you purchase with real money. Sure, the Blood Coin prices were discouragingly steep, but it really helped me customizing my one favorite Bloodline (Psychopomp btw) with some cool, non-standard gear and emotes.
The only few items that were only purchasable with Gold Coins at this time was things like the Replay system that only very serious and competitive player had any real use for.
Every single thing with this game, at that time, was geared toward easing newer players into this awesome community and experience. Stunlock knew in their heart that few people would start the process of grinding another game for points, levels, masteries and runes in order to be competitive when they've most likely invested their time heavily in other games. What they did, supplying a theoretically even playing field for new and veteran players alike, was game design ingenuity pure and simple.
FunCom however never had that much faith in the game, and it was horribly undermarketed. This is a story most of us familiar with BLC before Steam know of.
The fact of the matter is that when Stunlock introduced traits, medallions and masteries into the game, they deviated from their very own core design philosophy. When this new system, trait points unlocked by leveling and heavy Blood Coin investments in crystals and medallions hit Live, they lost a capital h Huge part of the loyal playerbase. The game, suddenly, wasn't new player-friendly anymore. Because when you tried to introduce your friends into the game in this state, all they saw was another huge time sink they had to fill in order to even have a chance. Skill was still central to the gameplay, of course, but the entire sight of the traits and nigh-mandatory medallions that you had to fill was daunting and off-putting. Suddenly, BLC seemed to be on the way of becoming every single other PvP game by mimicking the competition, when its one biggest appeal was its differences from them.
"I'd rather just keep playing League, cba BLC grinding", many of my friends said.
Combined with the much smaller player base, the Match Making system were acting strangely. There simply weren't enough players so uneven matches like 3 boneys (lowest grade) vs 2 doubleskullies (grade 5) 1 friggin Arbitrator (grade 16) wasn't an uncommon sight. Thus, even the gameplay suffered.
One would think such an immense community outrage and hit to the entire game's ecosystem would make the developers falling over themselves trying to roll back their newly introduced system. I don't know if FunCom advised them against it or if it was pride messing with them, but the system stayed. Its still there, despite the fact that it single handedly "killed" the game overnight. Well, the release of the Grimrog Bloodline, which was morbidly OP at launch, also played a role of course.
The release from FunCom made me feel hopeful. Maybe they could finally start moving back toward their roots, I thought.
Sure, there are more players now. Probably brought on by the recent media coverage the game's been getting with this step. The level-dependent traits were still there to my disappointment, but I could live with it. I still have my old medallions and gems. I also noted that I have a small size of Blood Coins and a couple of hundred Gold Coins left over. I entered the market place to refresh my mind on what things cost.
What met me there turned me off a lot.
Another core design philosophy had gone down the grave, the one where you were supposed to be able to earn everything with Blood Coins. Every single cosmetic item have had their Blood Coin price removed and were now only obtainable with Gold Coins, i.e. real money.
This may not sound like a big deal to those of you who didn't play the game before it was this way, but it really just gives me the impression that Stunlock is in it for the money and wants to do what everyone else is doing and milk the game before it dies off completely. Sure, I guess the system is fair compared to other games, but it really just feels like they're taking their design decisions without feel for what the game has come to symbolize: a realistic alternative game that you can play alongside others without having to spend a huge amount of time in order to start being competitive.
I had absolutely no trouble recruiting friends to this game before the trait and medallion system. When they were bored of playing other games, they'd say "Hey let's fire up BLC", I'd gladly oblige. They didn't hesitate buying Gold Coins (at that time called FunCom Coins I believe...) because it just felt awesome customizing your favorite Bloodline when at the same time feeling you had an alternative if you didn't want to spend the money. That's the exact kind of business plan we all wanted to support.
Gameplay? Jesus christ, I love the game
, it's lovely in its simplicity, its "easy to learn, hard to master" way. But if you find that you like this game as much as I do and want to spend more time, please, engage yourself in the community at its subreddit (r/bloodlinechampions) and its forums
. Stunlock Studios are finally in position to make this game Awesome
again. Help us make them understand we want that too. Help us make them understand that we want the even playing field between new and veteran players back.