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Behind the scenes information about EpicDuel's development and releases, a real-time PVP MMO that you can play online in your web browser.

October 26, 2011

Harvest Part Tres

Hello there, EpicDuelists! It’s your friendly neighborhood Cinderella with the continuation of the Great Harvest Festival! Our first *real* event in EpicDuel is going so well, and I’m really excited to be experiencing this with you!


A Harvest of Gear

Every Day I'm Huskin

So, getting this out of the way first, as it seems the only question anyone has asked me about the Harvest is when the Harvest Armors are being released. Well, Nightwraith is working hard to get out several armors for you. Keep watching this space for previews!


Continued Retrain Improvements

While the retrain improvements were certainly a giant step up from the previous iteration of the feature, there remain some issues. For one thing, we’re addressing the issue with your weapons being unequipped from your character on retrain. Following the adjustment, the system will be able to intelligently know for which items you meet the requirements.

Not too intelligently, though. We don’t need to accidentally program Skynet here...

...or do we? 0_0


More Snorkness!

If you’ve been working on the Ooky Spooky mission, you may have noticed that Snork has gotten a makeover lately. His frightening visage is reminiscent of the Indigenous War God, and in homage to his patron, Snork will soon be able to engage players in battle.

There may be other secret rewards in this or future Harvest updates, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for any other treats!

Rumor has it that defeating Snork in battle gives you a chance to win a special prize perfect for the occasion.  I wonder what it could be! :3



Future Directions

We’ve already started work on the next big EpicDuel event! We’ll have some big improvements to the quest engine which should make this extra-exciting for players!


BattleCard Mod Packs this FRIDAY!

BattleCard Mod Pack!

As if a major release wasn't enough to get you excited about the weekend, the new BattleCard Mod Packs will be released in Toys R Us stores throughout the United States this Friday!  Purchase both packs to unlock the PaladinSlayer class in AQW!  For more details, check out Alina's writeup in the AQW Design Notes!


Like a Prayer

Commonly called “Praying Mantises” because of their folded raptorial forelegs, Mantids are members of the order Mantodea, which contains over 2,000 species in 15 families. Mantises are closely related to cockroaches and rockcrawlers, as well as termites.

Mantises are easily recognized by their distinctive elongated prothorax, raptorial (grasping) forelimbs, and distinctive triangular head with large oval eyes. The structure of the Mantis’s eye creates a pseudopupil, giving the insect a cute appearance. The distinctive foreleg structure is used to capture prey, which can include lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, fish, rodents, and other insects, as well as defend themselves from larger predators. They are commonly eaten by larger predators due to lack of chemical defenses.

Mantises display a behavior similar to the “rocking” behavior of stick insects. This is either an adaptation to mimic the swaying of a leaf (there are many mantises which have adapted as leaf mimics) or a way to gauge the distance between landmarks.

There are some commonly-held beliefs about mantises- one is that the female must consume the male in order to mate. This is controversial, since the behavior has only been observed in captivity with starved females. In the wild, or with recently-fed females, this behavior is not observed. In the United States, mantises are not endangered, and are in fact quite common and sold as an alternative to pesticides. Only one species of mantis is considered at risk, Apteromantis aptera, which is listed as “Low Risk” in its native habitat of Spain. 

Tags: Cinderella harvest Festival spooky AQW retrain Armors BattleCards


October 20, 2011

Harvest Part Deux


Hey there EpicDuelists! Quickie design notes (posted from my cell phone! So Nightwraith is going to have to adjust for any autocorrecting it does).

So let's dive right in!

Raise the Roof

The level cap is finally being raised to level 34! We delayed the raise due to popular demand, and now we are raising the cap due to equally popular demand! Another added bonus to raising the level cap is that your Delta gear will become slightly more powerful, because it is technically level 34 gear!  Once you reach the cap, all the Delta weapons will gain an extra point of damage!

The quest from Snork will give players some incentive to battle, battle, battle! We did alter that quest due to technological limitations. Players can only complete the quest once, but the special weapon drop (with stats comparable to a premium weapon at the same level, so everyone can use it) will be guaranteed.

Shhhhh...It's a Secret!

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I wrote, in addition to the already announced missions, a super secret mission! This quest will not be announced, you'll just have to find it.

Harvest Weapons

 Harvest Weapons!

We are releasing two limited-time Harvest mutating weapons, the Spectral Reaper and the Harvest Reaper. These powerful weapons change class with you!  The Spectral Reaper features an energy club, energy blades, and a physical staff, while the Harvest Reaper can become physical blades, a physical club, or an energy staff.
Rumor has it that they will also have an additional effect similar to the Curse effect on the Delta weapons.  What could this be?  Only Titan knows for sure!

In the weeks to come, we also have more Snorkness planned, a special event in early November (our writer better get on that! oh wait...) and more!

Tags: Cinderella harvest Mutate Level Cap Missions Secrets


October 18, 2011

Sorry for the Delay

Some may be wondering why this particular release is taking so long.  First we push back the Friday release, then we push back again on Monday, now it's looking like we'll have to wait until Wednesday to release the new retrain along with the new Harvest content.  I could use the tired excuse "because programming is HARD", which is still true, especially for right brain people like myself, but that doesn't really satisfy your frustration or anxiousness to try out new features.  Instead, I will try my best to explain what it is we're doing with this newfangled retrain features and some of the complications that make this such a nasty beast.

Basically, we are rebuilding the retrain feature from the ground up.  After the feature goes live, you will be able to distribute all of your skill and attribute points in one go.  The system will also calculate a price based on your level, so lowbies won't have to sell all their gear just to have that extra point in Dexterity.  To sweeten the deal, every time you level up, you will have an opportunity to redistribute all of your points for free.

Many seem to be unclear on the nature of this feature.  Some were under the impression that we were just building a new way to retrain; keeping the old system, while the new one would become a premium "express retrain" similar to the way we can add more item types or battle modes.  This revamp of the retrain/level up system is not as "simple" as a new battle mode.  Battle modes are somewhat modular and share a lot of code.  That allows us to have many different types of battles and makes it much easier to change one type without breaking all the others.  This latest feature is not a new method for retraining, but a complete overhaul of all the existing code that handles retraining.  It also affects all the systems connected with retraining, like how many stats you need to put into a skill to improve it or how quickly your damage improves as you put points into strength or what new skills you'll have if you change class.  This affects all players in and out of battle and is a truly intimidating bit of game logic.  Think of it as rebuilding a home from the basement up rather than adding an extra bedroom.

Large features like this are especially frustrating because they make releases nearly impossible until the feature is 100% complete.  In EpicDuel, adding just about anything new to the game requires a server restart and introduces the possibility of overwriting game code on the live servers with incomplete or broken features.  This becomes more and more likely as a feature is closer to completion.  Now you have an absolute disaster.  A much as we hate to do it, it's better to postpone a release a few days or more to insure the feature is throughout built and tested than to release a broken feature that puts everyone into retrain limbo or worse.

In spite of the delays, none of this would have been possible without Hudelf.  Without him, this feature would have taken much MUCH longer to complete.  He and Titan are working together wonderfully, but it's still taking some time to train our new programmer in the intricacies of EpicDuel's hundreds of thousands of lines of code.

I wrote this post because we felt you were owed an explanation, and also because some were unfairly taking their frustration out on Cinderella and our mods who were just relaying the best information we could give them at the time.  This may not make you feel any better, especially if you stopped reading at the part where I mentioned another delay, but I hope it at least gave you some idea of the scope of this new feature.  Believe me.  We don't enjoy delays any more than you.  Delays mean we have to work at home when we should be relaxing and eating dinner.  They mean we have to work on the weekend instead of having fun.  Worst of all, they mean we have a load of disappointed players who were devoted enough to wait for the each release so they could be the first to login.  Moving forward, we'll try to do better for you in terms of accurately assessing release times and communicating our progress, because without you , there's no us.  Thank you for your patience, loyalty, and understanding.

Tags: Nightwraith


October 13, 2011

A Very Scary Design Notes

Harvest Festival


Hi there, EpicDuelists! Hope I didn’t scare you! With Halloween just around the corner, we have some scary and sweet things in store for all you players! This Harvest Festival (which will involve several updates) should be full of yummy treats for players (and only a few tricks ;3 ).


First, some Treats!

If you’ve been following me on Twitter or the ArtixEntertainment forums, you know that, due to my wide creative streak, my talent for wordsmithing, or (most likely) my willingness to work a full-time job for no money (seriously, guys, you can at least subsidize my caffeine habit), I have inherited the storyline of EpicDuel. We haven’t had a designated writer for the game in quite a while, and having a writer means that things like story arcs, plot lines, and missions will be coming out at a faster rate.

My first assignment was to write a few missions for EpicDuel's Harvest Festival, and players will be able to complete several new quests, with unique attributes and special rewards!

Most of these quests have to do with the Candy Harvest. An amalgamation of harvest tradition from the colonists’ home planets, young citizens of Delta V were encouraged to wear masks and collect candy from their friends and neighbors. The giving of sweets represents the sharing of joys in life, the masks represent generosity to all, regardless of who they are to you, and prosperity. All players, including low level players, will be able to visit Steve 1.0 in Central Station to earn a unique achievement, or visit Brunson outside the Mine Tower to collect some ingredients for his Mama’s Pumpkin Pie.

There are sweet treats for our higher-level players as well! Collect some candy from several shopkeepers for Naomi Page in exchange for a handsome sum of Battle Tokens!

But not all is light and sweetness. The indigenous people of Delta V celebrate the Harvest Festival very differently- as the Harvest of Souls. Delta V’s native people believe that the souls of the dead can only enter the Afterlife one day a year. The living collect and display bones and all other things dark and distressing, along with brightly-colored flowers, rich clothes and delicious food. This juxtaposition of the frightening with the familiar is both to celebrate the lives of those who passed during the year as well as to ease the dead into the Afterlife.

The weapons dealer beneath the Mine Tower is a member of Delta V’s native people, and hides his identity behind a mask depicting the indigenous War God, Snortivit, from whom he takes the name “Snork”. In exchange for a certain amount of won battles, Snork may be convinced to part with one of his special designs, a valuable and rare weapon, exclusively available from this quest!

I’m super excited to get started on some longer story arcs, fleshing out the world’s mythos, and working with Nightwraith to bring the characters to life!

Stay tuned for more supernaturally awesome quests next week!


Tricksy Playerses...

In addition to all of those things listed above, you’ll be able to trick your friends by hiding behind one of 30 (!) new hairstyles!  There are credit only and credit + Varium styles!

Harvest Styles 1

Harvest Styles 2

Also, Hudelf has something in his bag of tricks for you- the retrain revamp is HOPEFULLY being released! I know many of the players were getting impatient, but it ended up needing a little more care.  We'll see if the EpicDuel programming team can work some miracles tomorrow!

We’ll be continuing with balance updates, including a slight revamp to the Tactical Mercenary skill tree in the coming weeks. I know many of our players were upset by the addition of requirements to the Tactical Mercenary skill tree, but when 40% of high level players are playing as one class, and defenses of the class reveal that there are only a handful of highly-specific builds that can defeat one build of the class (while being completely weak to any other build the class can put together), there’s something wrong with the class. Which class one choses should not determine the winner before the battle has even begun.

As for the revamp of Feld Medic, we determined that support and Field Medic were being abused to a point which was frustrating and painfully unfair to other builds. However, we are going to look at the speed at which the skill improves with level, and see if we need to make it improve faster.

With the new adjustments, we’ll also be reexamining the level range for Juggernaut battles for future releases.


*** Stay tuned for more Harvest releases as we move into the month of October! ***


They Might be Giants in AQW

AQW They Might Be Giants Event!

To celebrate AQW’s third birthday, AQW is running a special event with special guests They Might be Giants! On October 14th, Join Us for a very special two-week event “The Collector”. The Collector collects special people before their greatest moments, from not only Lore but other worlds as well (maybe someone from Delta V?) Read more about it on the Event Page and the AQW Design Notes!


They Call Me Doctor Worm

Good Morning! How are you? I’m Doctor Worm!

Insects and worms are often studied together (being abundant invertebrates), so this week, we’ll be talking about Earthworms! Earthworms belong to the class Oligochaeta in phylum Annelida (round, segmented worms). Their bodies mainly consist of a tubular digestive system surrounded by a muscular outer body formed of segments. They move by means of waves of muscular contractions to shorten and lengthen the body. They are covered with tiny bristles that act as claws, allowing them to tunnel through soil- which, along with decaying plant matter, make up their diet. Worms have a variable number of “hearts” (technically aortic arches) which pump blood through their simple closed circulatory system. They do not have separate sexes, and baby worms reach adulthood within one year. Worms live for 4-8 years in the wild.

An interesting attribute about worms is their ability to regenerate lost segments, and it is theoretically possible to grow two whole worms from a worm cut in half. 

Tags: Cinderella TMBG retrain balance styles Halloween harvest Missions Achievements Weapons


October 05, 2011

This Might be a Design Notes Post

I Hear the Wind Blow

Welcome to Autumn, Northern Hemisphere EpicDuelists! Here on Delta V, the planet’s axis is shifting, bringing colder weather to the main continent. This can only mean that the Harvest Festival is coming soon- nearly every culture in the known Universe has some sort of celebration to commemorate the harvest of crops, and when the colonists came to Delta V, they brought their old traditions with them. Here’s what players can expect in the weeks ahead:


Put it to the Test

We’re still hoping to have the retrain revamp done by Friday. For those of you who missed this page last week, the new system would allow you to level up with one click, and eliminate the need for continuous retrains, which can be especially annoying at higher levels!

Balance updates are still being built and tested, so I’m not sure if we’ll have them for Friday. One thing I’ll confirm (that’s been going around as a rumor) is that Field Medic will be getting an overhaul, and the Tactical Mercenary class will also be getting an overhaul. I know that this will upset some of our players (especially those who play as Tactical Mercenaries), but it really isn’t fair to players to have the entire game overrun with a single, very powerful class.


Stand On Your Own Head

The Candy Harvest on Delta V is a tradition where citizens all wear disguises and collect sweets and other prizes from business owners and other upstanding citizens. In antiquity, this was done to ensure generosity and prosperity for another year, but over the years it became an excuse for Delta V’s younger citizens to beg everyone around for confections. You can share in this tradition with new Halloween-themed hairstyles and armors.

This week, we’ll also be bringing back last year’s Halloween home items, and next week we’ll be bringing out the NEW home items and other awesome things for you.


Spoiler Alert!

We have plans for some new mutating weapons, seasonal styles,  class-changing armors (because why should only one class get all the fun?), and more!

Be prepared for some new missions as well- I’m working on my first missions for the game, and I have some pretty ambitious ideas I can’t WAIT to tell you about, along with fleshing out the world’s mythos.


Join Us!

As you’ve probably already seen on the AQW Design Notes, beginning Friday, October 14th, AdventureQuest Worlds will be hosting a very exciting Birthday Event, featuring none other than internationally-acclaimed, long-running alternative rock band They Might be Giants.

If you’ve never heard of TMBG, I can understand. They’re kind of a group that seem to be everywhere- they’ve done music for commercials (“Things are what we like to do...”), television shows (“you’re not the boss of me now, you’re not the boss of me now...”), and movies (“Making up a little song about Coraline...”), but remain firmly out of the mainstream. Their album Flood was certified Platinum (~20 years after its release), and they’ve won Grammys for “Boss of Me”, the theme to Malcolm in the Middle and Here Come the 123’s, and were nominated for Here Comes Science. You’ve probably heard the song “I am a Paleontologist” from Here Comes Science used in a shoe commercial. Founding members John Flansburgh and John Linnell have been performing together as They Might be Giants since the 1980s, and they released their self-titled debut album (known to fans as The Pink Album- I suspect that it’s Beleen’s favorite) in 1985.

So, Join Us!


Now that you’ve read the interesting bits of the DNs post-

I know that I’ve gotten flack from players before about advertising events from other games in the EpicDuel Design Notes, but I hope you can forgive me for this. As Cysero said in his design notes on the subject, pretty much everyone here at AE is completely obsessed with They Might be Giants, and for many of us they were the first band we really got into. I can’t really say that- I got into them about 4-ish years ago, when I was an undergraduate. I was able to acquire two free tickets to see them in concert, and at the time I was relatively unfamiliar with their work (I knew “Istanbul, Not Constantinople” and “Particle Man”, but little else). Nightwraith begged me for my extra ticket, and we went. Due to my high tolerance for pain, we were able to snag spots right by the front of the stage by sitting through a truly terrible opening act, and when John and John and Dan and Dan and Marty got on the stage, the power of live music took over, and I had an amazing time, singing along to “Why Does the Sun Shine?”, and Flansburgh even let me touch his guitar. That night, I bought Flood and The Else, which remains one of my favorite albums of all time. The band has inspired me greatly, with songs that make me laugh (“You’re older than you’ve ever been, and now you’re even older...”), cry (“It’s a new year, careful what you pack, there’s no turning back...”), fall in love (“Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch that watches over you, make a little birdhouse in your soul...”) or right out confused me (“I’m goin’ down to Cowtown, the cow’s a friend to me. He lives beneath the ocean, and that’s where I will be!”) I also largely credit the band for the fact that I’ve taken the time to teach myself guitar and bass.

So, assuming that most of that’s going to get cut, (or TL;DR) TMBG is a big deal for all of us here at AE, so I’m happy to squee over the band. 


The Bee of the Bird of the Moth

This week’s Insect Fact is close to my heart, since it involves members of the family Sphingidae- hawkmoths. There are several moths in Sphingidae that are known as “Hummingbird Moths”- across Europe and Asia the species Macroglossum stellatarum is called the hummingbird moth or the Hummingbird hawkmoth. Like all hawkmoth caterpillars, the caterpillars are green and have a curved spike on the posterior end, giving them the common name of “hornworm”, and the larvae feed on bedstraw (Robin run the hedge), while adults prefer Jasmine and other sweet-smelling flowers. The adults make a distinctive “humming” noise while hovering to feed. In the US, the genus Hemaris is commonly known as the Hummingbird clearwing moth, or the “Bee-Moth”, as  some species (particularly the Snowberry Clearwing moth) have coloring similar to bees. No hummingbird moths are considered pest insects, and are often a welcome visitor to night-blooming gardens, as they are important pollinators.

The song “The Bee of the Bird of the Moth” by They Might Be Giants appears to be in reference to these creatures (“It’s just a hummingbird moth acting like a bird who thinks it’s a bee”). 

Tags: Cinderella


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