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EpicDuel PVP Game Design Notes

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

January 31, 2013

Omega Status Update

Well, it's the last day of January, and if you have been following out progress, you may have guessed already that Omega will not be launching today. However, I am happy to report that as of today we are FEATURE-LOCKED! This means that they features we wanted / needed for Omega are completed. As I said before, we wanted to be feature locked by last Sunday to release by this week, but that did not happen. Releasing this Friday or over the weekend may seem like an option but the release would not be adequately tested and there would be no support staff to help if issues arose. If we release early next week, with a fully-tested release, we can patch bugs and handle any other issues comfortably. Early next week seems like the best time to release given the current progress.

Some may be wondering: with 2 programmers and 2 artists and a team of testers -- how could a release be delayed so much?  Development is always more work than you think it will be. Without Charfade and Rabblefroth, Omega would have been shot down immediately in the planning stages for being too complex. Omega is miles away more ambitious than any previous release -- even more than the initial launch with Artix in 2009. We want new development phases to shake things up. Omega is a 10.2 magnitude earthquake. It is practically a new game -- it certainly feels that way when we compare Omega to the current live version of the game.

I can tell you how hard we worked and how sorry we are, but none of that really matters. All that matters is the release. I will echo Titan when I say that we will release Omega when it's ready -- no sooner. If you try to pry open a chrysalis before the butterfly is ready, you won't find a sleeping butterfly  -- you'll find a mangled organism, not ready for life. Was that a good analogy, Cindy?

That said, we understand your frustration and the fact that you've stuck with us this far demonstrates that you're as excited for Omega to go live as we are! Probably moreso at this point. All we ask is that you hang in there for just a bit longer! The end is in sight, and we're at full sprint, but we are also want to be careful not to stumble.

Also, I would like to add one final reminder that a metric ton of gear and missions are leaving the game (some permanently) when Omega goes live. For a complete list, check out this DN post from December! 

One last, last thing -- here are some previews of new Core abilities from Dev: Meteor Shower and Energy Storm!



Tags: Nightwraith


January 31, 2013

Weekend Progress Report

This morning after logging into the live server I realize that we have made roughly 2 kabillion improvements and changes over the past several weeks of Omega development. I thought it was worth summarizing all the things we've done, to show you just where we are in terms of development progress:

Rebuild the Battle Engine: 100%
  • Rewrote over 9000 lines of code
  • All battle actions are now modular and work on a new set of 100+ rules that can be easily manipulated
  • It will be around 3-4X faster to create new skills in the future per skill
  • More control than ever to balance skills on an individual basis
  • This means more exciting, more dynamic, more balanced battles as we go forward
New Item Stat Editor: 100%
  • All items in-game instantly become editable, upgradable and usable at any level
  • The current Enhancement system is replaced with the Core system and Stat Editor
  • Players that have Enhanced items will be compensated as per a previous post about Enhancement compensation
New Item Core Editor: 100%
  • Primary Weapons, Guns, Auxiliaries, and Armors now have 2 editable Core slots
  • Players can equip Active and Passive Cores to these slots to expand their battle options
  • Robots have been overhauled to use Cores, which means we can crank out new robots about 10X faster
  • Robots Core Slots will be locked when we go live, but it's likely in the future that we release bots with customizable specials
Overhaul the Character Creator: 100%

Redo the Account Creation Flow: 100%
  • New players can create and customize their character prior to registering the account
  • Guest Play has been removed
Create 50+ New Missions: 100%

NEW Omega Promotional Packages: 100%
  • Omega Onslaughter and Obliterator Packages
  • NEW Exclusive Omega Cores
Create Several New Yeti's 100%
  • New upgrade system to train your yeti
  • Improved damage as you evolve your yeti
  • 2 NEw Omega Yeti's with exploding Chomp ability!
Improve 100+ Hairstyles 100%

Improve Several Interfaces 100%
  • Inventory Overhaul
  • Merchant Shopping Overhaul
  • Simplified Varium Store
Create 6 New Base Class Armors 100% 
  • Prepare scripts to update every character existing in the game with the new armor when Omega goes live
  • Allow players to upgrade this new armor
  • Update armor logic so the character will always have armor equipped.
Improve Damage Bubble System 100% 
  • Damage bubbles now display health gains from Reroute, Lust, and losses from Other Effects
  • Makes it easier to visually see the HP/MP gains and losses that are occuring
Recreate NPC Artificial Intelligence 100%
  • NPCs now work more similarly to the way a real player does
  • This makes it far easier for us to create unique NPC battle experiences as we move forward
  • NPCs can now equip auxiliary weapons
  • We will take further advantage of this improvement later on in Omega
New Golden Yeti Tournament System 100%
  • Players will use their Golden Yeti Tournament tickets to participate in a new tournament
  • The tournament will launch a few days after Omega launches.  
  • This gives players some time to adjust their builds and learn the new system
  • It also gives us a window of time to resolve any issues that arise during the launch
Create NEW Basic Cores:  100%
  • The plan is to release a handful of simple item Cores for players to use to try out the new engine
  • These cores will be reasonably priced, and available to everyone at launch
  • With each subsequent release after Omega launches, we'll roll out more exciting Cores
  • Remember that this system is super-new to everyone, so let's get it right!
Final Balance / Testing Pass 100%
  • Prior to going live we'll be working with ALL of our testers to perform several balance tests and make adjustments accordingly.  We'll use this time to uncover and squash any remaining engine bugs.
  • This step is critical and I will NOT release Omega until I and the team are confident that we will launch you the best update you've ever seen.
We'll keep you posted on updates to these percentages to give you a better idea of how things are coming. 

Tags: Titan


January 25, 2013

Omega Progress

AI Online

We made huge progress today on NPC AI. NPCs were completely rewritten for Omega and we were initially a bit concerned that they would need to be cut or severely limited for delaying Omega, but things just kind of came together -- as they sometimes do. Actually, they're even better than they were before since they can now use auxiliary weapons, like our friendly neighborhood Overlord Guard is using on me here: 

Zooka to the face!

With this major hurdle out of the way, this weekend should be smooth sailing. Well, smooth-ish. At this point, we're not taking anything for granted. The to-do now quite small, but we don't want to get overconfident. Another full weekend of working is ahead for us!


More Character Previews!

Check out these new screens form the Dev server showcasing the new character customizer with the new Bounty Hunter styles in-game! We're still working on color separations, so look for more previews on our Twitter feeds as the weekend rolls on!

New customizer

Hopefully you'll enjoy these new armors as much as I enjoyed making them. EpicDuel has come a long way since it's creation and we are confident Omega will be the best phase yet!

This one's for Vypie

Keep following our Twitters and DN posts for further updates! Here's hoping we'll be completely feature-locked by Sunday!

Tags: Nightwraith Omega Progress Cores AI NPCs Characters


January 24, 2013


Now it can be told! We are pleased to announce the compensation for those who have purchased Enhancements in EpicDuel. If you didn't know already, Enhancements as you know them will be transitioning into the stat editing and Core systems when Omega releases. 

The easiest part of the compensation to explain is the tiered Achievements:


5 Tiers of Cheevos

Epic Enhancer: Any Varium or Credit Enhancements

Prestigious Enhancer: 50%

Illustrious Enhancer:  25%

Legendary Enhancer:  12.5%

Ultimate Enhancer:  1%

The percentages represent the various percentile ranks of Varium Enhancement expenditure. If you find the Prestigious Enhancer Achievement in your inventory, it means you were among the top 50% of Varium Enhancers.

If you have spent any amount of Varium on Enhancements or currently own an item with Credit Enhancements you will receive at minimum the Epic Enhancer Achievement. For players that upgraded with Varium, the more you've spent, the higher your Achievement tier. Only the top 1% of Varium Enhancers will receive the top tier Achievement!  To be clear, you will only receive one of these five Achievements -- if you qualify for a higher tier achievement you will not also receive all the prior tiers. Also, Credit Enhancements will only qualify you for the first tier IF you still have the Enhanced item(s) in your inventory. 

The second part of Enhancement compensation is a Varium / Credit refund for items currently in your inventory that have Enhancements on them. You will receive 30% of the initial purchase price of the Enhancements for Varium Enhancements and 10% of the price of Credit Enhancements. Credit refunds will be capped at 100k Credits. The refunded Credits and / or Varium will be awarded immediately after Omega goes Live.

Again, only Enhanced items currently in your inventory or equipped on your character are eligible for a refund. Unfortunately, we cannot refund Enhancements on items already sold. I advise you to hang onto all of your Enhanced items at least until we release Omega for maximum compensation. 

It was very difficult to arrive at a solution that we felt was fair to those who supported this feature without gravely effecting the game's internal economy. We are confident the new open and flexible stat editing and Core systems will ultimately create a game that is more balanced, interesting and fun for paying and non-paying players, and we hope you join us in Omega to make it the best development phase yet!

*These values may be subject to change. We will alert you of any adjustments as soon as they occur.

Tags: Nightwraith


January 24, 2013

A Classy Update

*Phew* I wanted to post an update yesterday, but I chose to power through and finish the new base class armors. Check them out!

New BH\

New Mercenary

Revamped Tech Mage

In addition to these updated armors, I have also "remastered" about 100 hairstyles. I would like to go back and retouch the heads as well, but that may need to wait for another time.

Before I released the first shot of the new default armors, Titan predicted that players might favor the armors over many of the available purchasable armors. Of course, this is exactly the discussion that's taking place in the forums right now. We are investigating possible solutions to accommodate this desire. However, we don't want to feature creep too much for Omega, which brings me to my next point.


When Is Omega?

Excellent question! We would love, love, LOVE to answer you, but for obvious reasons we're extremely cautious about setting a hard deadline. It is imperative that we have several days of rigorous testing to release Omega as bug-free as possible so our current goal is to get Omega "feature-locked" by Sunday. What does this mean? It does not mean that we will release on Sunday or even Monday. It means that Omega's features will be completely finished and nothing more will be added aside from fixes and polish leading up to a formal release. 

If we are feature-locked by Sunday -- you will know this because we will Tweet and/or release DNs about it -- a release by the end of January is extremely likely. If problems arise, we will keep you updated with progress reports leading up to the release. We will work as much as humanly possible to release in a relatively timely fashion. 

When we do finally release, we plan on doing play-by-play Design Notes posts and Tweets to keep you informed. There may be several hours of downtime while we run scripts to update the Live database and migrate content and deal with any other issues so those posts will be your primary view of EpicDuel Omega's update status.

Tags: Nightwraith


January 22, 2013

Omega Video Update

Did you know EpicDuel has it's own Official Youtube channel? If not, you probably didn't know that EpicDuel Mod and tester Practel just released a new video showing footage from the developer server testing Cores and the new stat editing system. Practel also answers some frequently asked questions about Omega. 

What are you waiting for? Check out the video now! Be sure to watch the video until the very end!

Tags: Titan Omega Video Practel Cores Youtube


January 21, 2013

A Handy Guide

While were waiting on a formal video demonstrating the Stat Editing and Core features of Omega, I decided to put together a step-by-step guide to explain these exciting new systems. Keep in mind, these features are still being testing and balanced, so pricing and actual Core names may chance before the actual release.


Stat Upgrading

First, select a weapon or armor from your inventory. If your level is greater than the level of your weapon, you can upgrade it to your current level. To start the process, click the yellow upgrade arrow in your inventory.

Upgrade Arrow

The Stat Editor will appear in your inventory and allow you to distribute the items stats. In this example, I am upgrading an armor. If it were a weapon, you would be able to distribute damage points instead of defense / resistance. You will not be able to change the damage type from physical to energy or energy to physical.

Stat Editor

After you have distributed your stats, you can choose to finalize them for a Credit or Varium price. Prices vary based on how much you upgrade the item.

Upgrade Stats

After you confirm the upgrade, your item will have the new stats.


Core Installation

Now that I've brought my old, dusty armor up to the level cap, I think I'll increase my odds in battle by installing a Core. Each item has a passive and active Core slot. Some promo items have locked Cores preinstalled. These Cores cannot be replaced at this time, but we may offer removal of these locked Core in the future. It's hard to say at this point.

Core Slot

Clicking an empty slot will open the "Core shop." Currently all of the Cores shown are available. Some extremely powerful cores may need to be unlocked before they can be used. You can install the Core by selecting an available Core from your Core inventory and choosing the Credit or Varium "Insert Core" option. Again, prices are subject to change and are for testing purposes.

Install Core

After you have chosen your payment option, you will be asked to confirm your choice.

Block Core

And just like that, the core is installed on my armor. I can also install an active Core by clicking the empty Core slot with a tiny skull. The inventory is different, but the process is the same. As the Core feature grows throughout Omega, battle tactics will change drastically with hundreds of possible Core combinations. The flexibility of this system will allow formerly obsolete gear to become battle-ready once again.


Stay tuned for further updates this week with a complete video demonstration from Practel!

Tags: Nightwraith


January 20, 2013

Twitter Prize Inbound!

For those in the know, following us on Twitter is the best way to stay up to date with the latest EpicDuel developments. It's also the best way to get prize codes! To keep the excitement going leading up to Omega, we've been offering some pretty saucy rewards this weekend. Tonight, at 6:00 PM EST, Nightwraith will be posting a prize code that can be redeemed for an item never before released in-game! There is a limited supply, so be ready as soon as the code is posted for the best chance of redeeming the prize!

If you're new to the game or need a refresher course on redeeming codes, here's a post we wrote awhile ago explaining the process!


Codes...How Do They Work?

If you follow any of the ED staff on Twitter, you may have noticed us posting codes periodically.  What are these codes and how are they used?  Currently, the codes can be redeemed for free Starter-Kit weapons, but we are expanding the system to offer a number of different prizes.  Here's a step-by-step guide for redeeming these codes.

Step 0: Get a Code

Currently, you can get these codes by seeing us in person at a convention or by following us on Twitter!







Step 1: Find a City Guard

They primarily hang out in Central Station and Fortune City.  You can use the Delta V map to travel quickly between areas if you don't feel like going on foot (or by bike).

Step 1


Step 2: Select the "Prize Code" option

Step 2


Step 3: Enter the Code and select "Submit"

These codes are currently one-time use so only the first one to redeem the code will get the prize.

Step 3


Stay tuned for more developments on this exciting feature as we add features such as more prizes, more redemptions per code, and more ways to receive codes!

Tags: Titan


January 18, 2013

Core Concerns

Hey there, quick post. I was working on a big DN post elaborating on Core and some other key Omega features, but I relized some of these items are too difficult to explain even in the simplest terms. Our testers are hard at work on Omega videos to demonstrate Cores and other Omega features. These should be much clearer than a paragraph or even a series of screenshots. Next week, we will be posting a series of detailed Design Notes about Omega and it's features, including compensation for players with enhancements, a detailed breakdown of cores and how they work, EpicDuel beyond Omega, and a specific release date (for real this time!)

Stay tuned as development continues!

Tags: Titan Omega Cores


January 17, 2013

Character Building

Hey there, EpicDuelists, we're having another late night at the lab and I though I'd take a breather to share the progress of the character creator and new base class armors. I could drone on and on about the process, but I'll let the work speak for itself.

Class Select

Class Details

Revamped Tech Mage

To answer a question about the new base armor designs -- these new designs will work like the current default armors in that they're not technically armors that you can equip / unequip. They will not be a mutating armor and it will not take up any space in your inventory. They can be hidden by equipping an actual armor.

Tags: classes Characters Omega Nightwraith


January 16, 2013

Titan Core

I'd like to offer up a few quick clarifications on how cores will work as we move into Omega.  I know there have been a good number of questions about how existing abilities will transition as we go forward and I'll try to offer some clarity here:

All item abilities will carry over into Omega.  If you currently have an item with a special ability on it, that special ability will be equipped on your item when you login.  You'll see a new icon inside the item details pane that visually shows any abilities your item has.  These abilities are called "Cores" in Omega.  You'll have two core slots available on all of your Weapons, Guns, Auxiliaries, and Armors when the release launches.  In the picture below, you see the Passive Core slot on the left and the Active Core slot on the right.


Above is a sample of roughly what the inventory will look like when you login.  Notice the tiny lock icon that appears on the Spreadfire icon within the item details pane.  This lock indicates that the Passive Core on Dage's Haunted Boomstick cannot currently be replaced with a new core.  Because the system is going to be new to everyone, including us, we're going to initially lock any core slots that already include a special ability.  This is a safety measure to prevent players from accidentally replacing exclusive cores that might no longer be available for sale.  As you can see in the picture, you can still edit the Active Core, upgrade the stats on the item, and reconfigure it any way you like.    

This part is really important: Just because a core slot is currently locked on a particular item does NOT mean that the slot will remain locked permanently.  The beauty of the new system is that we can lock and unlock the core slots at our discretion.  Consider a passive ability like Exoskeleton.  Exoskeleton is an "event ability" that was useful against the Delta Vault during the Infernal Infiltration War.   Now that the war is over, Exoskeleton doesn't serve much purpose in normal battle.  In Omega, when we're ready, we will unlock the Exoskeleton core slot and allow players to replace it with a new Passive Core of their choice.   The point here is that we can unlock core slots on items whenever we want or need.  This will allow a high level of flexibility for creating exclusive weapons, event items, and specialty cores, while simultaneously not junking up the database with a bunch of obsolete items. 

So if you're eagerly waiting to crack some skulls with that special item in your inventory, you're in luck.  A primary goal of Omega is make sure that all items remain viable battle options.  Like the way a sword looks but don't like it's current stats?  change'em up ...   Or maybe you own a cool set of blades but the special ability is no longer useful for your build?  Swap it out.   

The main takeaway here is that we're going to do our best to ensure you always have options to customize and improve your gear.  I'll offer up more about the process of adding a core to an item soon, but for now back to the code!

Tags: Titan


January 15, 2013

At Its Core

When Omega launches, every single action you can issue in battle, including Strike, gun, bazooka, all of your skills, all of your item special abilities, and well, everything is now handled by a 100% new "core-based" battle engine. Sound fancy? That's partly because it is. If you haven't heard, the 9500-lines-of-code-long battle engine that is the heart of EpicDuel has been rewritten for this release.   

Gamma Cores

Why would we do such a crazy thing?  The primary reason is for future expansion.  For all of you loyal duelers out there, you know that it takes us a good while to create new skills and abilities in game, and we all know it's these new abilities and custom builds that are the most exciting. Omega will dramatically increase the rate at which we can generate new, well-balanced, exciting abilities.

The largest code change in Omega is the overhaul of the battle engine.  So what's different about it?  First, every battle action we create now has over 100 different variables available to manipulate in the database!  This is an increase from only about 30 values previously. This means skills can have more unique effects, and we can recycle effects and functionality more easily than ever.  

Think of this example, say we wanted to have 3 similarly functional, yet visually different abilities... maybe three skills that rain down damage on your enemy.  Let's say we want one with a fire animation, one with water animation, and one that rains down a bunch of rabid monkeys.  In the old engine we would need to write 3 completely separate skills.  The fact that the skills were similar was previously irrelevant. 

In the new engine, Omega allows us to define "rule sets" that can be applied to any action.  These rules can now very easily be recycled and tweaked. So if Rule Set A defines an action that rains down damage, we can pair Rule Set A with Animation Set A, B, and C to create three different effects without creating loads of extra work. 

This flexibility will mean more exciting battles every time!

Gamma Cores

This core functionality will also be applied to bots, meaning bots can be created more frequently. In fact, it will be possible to create bots with two active skills or two passive skills. Hopefully this could become a more modular system and allow you to add alternative cores to bots for different battle configurations!

Tags: Titan Cores Omega bots code


January 14, 2013

A Harsh Master

Sometimes Flash treats you right. It's intuitive, smooth, and responsive. Other times, it's a terrible force of nature that could care less about what YOU wanted to do. You want to move that a few keyframes in this movie clip? How about I delete those keyframes AND corrupt the file?


If you've followed any AE Devs on Twitter for any amount of time, you would have seen at least one rant about working in Flash. Crashes, slow performance, and the worst -- irreversible file corruption -- are par for the course with regular Flash usage.

This may seem like a ranty post, and it is, but in addition to blowing off a little steam I also wanted to impart some wisdom on aspiring developers: There's always a way. When whatever platform you're developing for decides it wants to be your worst enemy and devours hours of precious work time, you have two options -- three if you count tossing your computer through a window. You can quit. You can let software win and go do something else with your time that's less stressful. OR you can be a warrior. You can stare at that blank screen or flickering error message and rush right into battle with even more determination than before.

In any long endeavor, you will be tested. Obstacles will emerge to test your resolve and tempt you to take an easier path, but you must fight on! You can get angry, but channel that anger into productive energy to recoup your lost time and produce an even better product that you would have the first time around. Learn from your mistakes and account for the unexpected. These are all key bits of knowledge that will help you persevere when the outlook is most bleak.

Ah! I see that Flash has finally decided to let me open my movie clip. Thank you Flash! And thank you players, for letting me rant a bit, for Flash cares not for the troubles of mere mortals and will only stare coldly at my pleas for mercy.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more! 

Tags: Titan


January 11, 2013

The Battle Continues...

Gimme 1000 stylus curls! NOW!

Nine hundred ninety nine...ONE THOUSAND!

That was quite a workout this week, but we've still got more sets until Omega is released! 


Scores of Cores

Check out this giant pile of core designs Charfade whipped up this week! 

Scores of Cores!

Not all of these are cores that have been built, but they represent the limitless possibilities of the new skill core system! We've been getting tons of ideas from our testers and the EpicDuel forums, and we can't wait to launch and give everyone a chance to try this amazing new system!


More Cha-Cha Changes

Everyone is familiar with the default armors in EpicDuel. They're not even technically armors since you can't unequip them. Then you would be in your underwear! That would be silly and offer no protection at all from the harsh environments of Delta V. For Omega we decided to replace the default styles with something more representative of the EpicDuel's current graphical capabilities.

Soon I'll have enough for a Beatles parody!

That's quite a change! I hope you will agree that it's for the better, but even if you still love the original version, you can keep it! The classic armors will become equippable armors and will be inserted into the inventories of all active players once Omega goes live. We haven't yet decided if players who join us after launch will have access to the classic armor, but we feel it might be best to retire this piece of EpicDuel's history permanently.


It will be tough, but I'll try to post weekend progress as well. I know Titan is going to be tap tap tapping away on his keyboard all weekend and I wouldn't want him to get lonely.

Tags: Nightwraith


January 11, 2013


While I'm working on the conclusion of the newest Frysteland story arc, Nightwraith asked me to go into a little bit of depth about world building. One of the great things about a creative endeavor like this is that we can create a vast universe with a rich history, various cultures, and a vibrant future. This, however, presents various challenges.

When building a world, an important thing to consider is where it falls on the Magic - Technology scale, and whether it's primitive or advanced. A sufficiently advanced magic-based world can have elements like browsing the ScryNet on your crystal ball and calling up the local IT Wizard to say a repair incantation over it when you can't read your m-mail or interstellar travel by means of dragon. A primitive technology-based society would involve a lot of bashing rocks together and the use of simple tools and machines.

Using the Krampus creation myth as an example, I'll try to explore some of these challenges. One of the most exciting and difficult aspects of creating a culture is determining their beliefs and practices. While the Krampus are in part based upon ancient Northern European cultures, I've borrowed ideas from Native American Pueblo and Zuni people- for example, the idea of sacred spaces being below the ground- as well as some others. In contrast, Snork's race is based somewhat upon Slavs by way of Mexico. It's good to look at existing world cultures as well as existing fiction.

I hadn't really codified the Krampus creation myth until called upon to think about the Endless, who as you'll recall is a powerful, immortal being who inhabits the Void. By necessity, any native peoples on Delta V will have to address the Void in their cosmology, so it makes logical sense to involve it in their creation story (in the case of the Krampus, they believe that their deities came from the Void). It's been previously established that the Krampus are a highly religious, superstitious culture, with alternations between agricultural and nomadic lifestyles. They are polytheistic and engage in some degree of ancestor worship, which is related to their belief that their race is descended from gods.

Creation stories often have several elements in common, mainly how the world came to be, who the forces ruling the world are, where death, illness, etc. come from, among other issues. In a culture like the Krampus, where they have to survive in a harsh environment while warring with neighboring tribes, the opportunity to grow old and die would be considered a blessing rather than a punishment. Geography is going to play a huge role in how your culture's going to develop, so keep this in mind when trying to build a fictional world. Nomadic, warlike peoples in a harsh environment aren't necessarily going to have the same kinds of rites, practices, and values as an agrarian society.

The challenge then is to integrate character, culture, and plot where they intersect. Your individual characters are going to have different experiences, and experience the same event differently because of personality, gender, age, etc. Think of your characters as people, but also think of them as tools. Don't get so involved with characters that you can't allow anything bad to happen to them- especially if the character is an Author Avatar. A common pitfall in writing characters based on the author is that they end up being too perfect, ie a “Mary Sue”. Whether you're writing an original story or fan fiction, should you have an author avatar character, you want to make sure that the character is flawed, that there are challenges the character needs help to overcome, and that you're not using the character for escape or wish fulfillment. Think of Sancho Panza, Hermione Granger, Professor Digory Kirke, Faramir/Beren, etc. Try to avoid comparisons to Bella Swan. This is especially challenging when writing for AE since many of the characters are blatant author avatars. When writing as Cinderella, I try to use how I would react to situations as a benchmark for how she reacts, and she'll say things I will actually say in conversation, and she shares some of my research interests. I do have to watch for wish-fulfillment in areas like her relationship with the Lawman (unfortunately, I will never get the chance to reconcile with my own father, but Cinderella may). When writing for a culture or peoples, you avoid the idea of a Race of Sues, or a Planet of Hats. Characters don't all have to be the last of their kind, or some kind of free-thinking radical, or otherwise extreme to be interesting. Every Citizen of Delta V doesn't have to be the Chosen Hero of the Exiles Who Will Save The Universe Singlehandedly.

So, what does that leave us with? Beyond I'm sure turning all of you off of ever trying to write anything ever, I hope this gives you insight into how you have to think to be a successful (er... semi-successful) writer. By keeping a log of in-world continuity, it can help against revelations or characters seeming forced- and address issues like “Why can't the Krampus just summon the Endless constantly?” or “Why haven't we seen this important Administrator yet?” In a serial work like this, you have to be able to seamlessly insert new information, or even make references that the player won't understand because of lack of exposition but that the existing characters know intimately. An exercise I use is just to write short stories about characters in their voices and frame them within the timeline. Most of this is never seen by players (though some is posted in the DN's) but it hopefully enriches the storyline and makes EpicDuel's universe an engaging world.

Tags: Cinderella


January 10, 2013

A Cut Above

As we've said before, one of our goals with Omega is to improve the early game experience. Part of this improvement involves taking a lot of the old artwork and bringing it up to the current standard. I've already mentioned that we'll be upgrading the starting armors, but we'll also be improving many of the old hairstyles. 

HD styles

This is a good point for artists -- you never want to stagnate. If your artwork from three or four years ago looks the same as it does today, you might be in trouble. Art is like exercise -- you won't have six-pack abs after three sit-ups, but after 100,000 it's much more likely (not in the same day, of course, unless you're Thyton).

Some of the infrequently used styles have been replaced entirely by these new styles by Disturbed! You'll see them available as soon as Omega goes live.

New styles

Join us tomorrow for a preview of the new starting armor styles!

Tags: Nightwraith


January 10, 2013

Omega Tournament Ticket Correction!

In the midst of all the coding chaos for the new battle engine, I overlooked a promise we made earlier in the design notes regarding the Golden Yeti Tournament.  I'd like to offer final clarification on how participation in the tournament will work:

As mentioned previously, the tournament will NOT begin until a few days after Omega Launches, however, Omega Yeti Tournament tickets will ONLY be available via the Omega Founder Preorder Promotion. To be crystal clear, we will NOT be offering the tickets in game once Omega launches.

I'd like to apologize for any confusion on this issue as I know we've sent conflicting messages over the past few days.  This was an oversight and I appreciate that it was brought to our attention in the forums.

Keep your comments coming, back to coding!

Tags: Titan


January 09, 2013

Summoning The Endless

The Golden Yeti Tournament...More Deets

Golden Yeti

After further discussion and hearing even more feedback we have made a few decisions about the Golden Yeti Tournament.

  1. The Golden Yeti Tournament will not start until a few days after Omega launches. This is to ensure that the battle engine is stable and bug free when we launch and also allow participants to try out all the new features. This delay will give everyone time to complete missions and optimize builts to find the ideal skill core / build combination to emerge victorious!
  2. In the time between the launch of Omega and the start of the competition, we will be offering a limited number of Omega Tickets. We are doing this to accomodate those who either cannot afford / don't want a preorder but want to participate or were not informed about the event in advance for whatever reason. Also, Omega will be advertised heavily and many will be coming to EpicDuel for the first time ever , and many others will be returning after a long hiatus and it would be good to offer one last chance to get in.
  3. The Omega Ticket will not be offered in a promotional package after Omega goes live and the preorders end. All that will remain are the last few tickets offered for a limited time.


The Endless

The following is a story written by Cinderella to elaborate on the mysterious and powerful force known as "The Endless" that will play a crucial role in the Frysteland missions that will release with Omega.

The Endless

The Shaman braced herself against the cold as she stoked the fire. It was nearly 30 years hence that the Outsider Baelius had murdered Andra the Great, and another War was looming on the horizon. But for the time being, they'd forgotten about pursuing the Krampus, and the reprieve had been much welcomed by the Krampus people. As the smoke cleared, she saw the boys sitting on the other side of the fire -- Alaric and Aegir. Both boys were 8 years of age, and though cousins several times removed were closer than brothers. Aegir was well-built, stocky, with locks of firey red hair framing his dark face. No Outsider blood flowed in this boy. Alaric's features were finer, and the gentle boy often found himself in need of Aegir's protection, which Aegir freely gave. These boys were the future of the Krampus -- two princes, receiving instruction. One of these boys would be the Shaman, one would be King.

“What's the story today, Grandmother?” asked Alaric, his eyes wide.

“Today, boys, I am to tell you about the Endless.” She threw some resin onto the fire, and fragrant smoke filled the little room, wisping between the two boys and climbing upward toward the only entrance or exit in the warm underground structure. She began her story.

In the Age before, there was nothing. Then out of the Void came the All-Father  Nestor and the Great Mother Alva. Together they had made the Gods of the Land- Hav, Jord, Embla and Brod. They had made the Gods of the Wild -- Eland, Vogel, Adem, and Hemel. Finally together they made the Gods of the Spirit -- Kriggan, Livet, Naeve and Burvju. Their children were not content with life in the Void. So, they created the heavens above the sky and the rocks beneath their feet. Hav and Jord made good soil from the rocks and sweet water from the ice. Embla and Brod made the grains and the fruit trees and the grasses. Eland and Vogel made the beasts of the land and sea and air -- the deer and the nilgoms and the Yetis. Adem and Hemel made the wood trees and the rivers to carve the mountains. But it was Livet who gave the plants and the animals breath, and Naeve who gave them the embrace of death. It was Kriggan who pit the beasts against one another, and it is Kriggan who gives the warrior strength in battle. And it was Burvju who created magic.

But they were not Nestor and Alva's only children -- they had two more offspring. These were the first of our kind, the first Krampus. Reize and Fodsel were unique among the children of Nestor and Alva as they were mortal. But they did not age; nothing grew, nothing changed. So, they asked for one gift from the Gods -- the gift of time. Nestor and Alva, being doting parents, granted the world the gift of time. The plants grew, and bore fruit. The seasons changed. Fodsel bore Reize offspring several times over, and grew old and grey. But the Gods also began to grow older with each passing day, and together they grumbled. Why did they, the Gods, have to grow ever older? For while aging is a boon to a mortal, to an immortal aging is naught but torture. They tried everything they could think of, but it was wise Burvju who thought to create a being that could exist outside of time. She called her son the Endless, an immortal creature born of magic who by his very existence kept the Gods immortal.

But, the Endless was cursed. Nestor and Alva saw that allowing him to exist on the mortal plane would be catastrophic. So, upon his birth the Endless was banished to rule the Void, where the Gods cannot go. Burvju, who you know created magic, knew of a way to see her son, a secret method for summoning someone from the Void onto the world. She gave this secret to the Reize and Fodsel, who gave it to their child, who gave it to her child, and so on down the line. All of the Krampus Shamans know the secret of summoning the Endless, and my child, one day this secret will be passed on to you.

This rite is dire, and requires blood sacrifice, for the Endless does not make social calls. The Endless is only summoned to save our people when we are in our darkest hour. This is not to be abused or wasted, for the man who commands the Endless could rule or destroy the world; but the Endless will not be contained. When his work is done, the Endless will leave as he came -- without a single word.

“Grandmother!” Aegir interrupted. “Why does the Endless not come now? My whole life we have been in hiding from the Outsiders!”

“Do not interrupt!” Aldhagrimm scolded. “When you are older and know the Ritual, you will understand.” She poked at the embers as the fire died down. “Get the ladder boys, you can go back to the surface.” The boys shrugged and Aldhagrimm fingered a bone charm on her belt -- trophies of shamanic rituals she'd performed.

The boys couldn't see. The bone was human.

Tags: Nightwraith


January 08, 2013

The Forge

Join us for yet another installment of the Omega Development Diaries! We made a lot of tasty progress today as Rabbleforth and Titan tackled the battle engine while Charfade and I took interface and armor design!


There Can Only Be One...

Hundred. One hundred winners in the Golden Yeti Tournament. You will be able to view your point total and the total off all the top 100 contestants from any one of these Tournament boards scattered across Delta V.

Yeti Board

In addition to a Golden Yeti, the top 100 contestants -- those who racked up the most points through battle victories during the 2-week event -- will receive an achievement indicating their rank on the leaderboard: Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. There will only be ONE Platinum Yeti Achievement winner -- a champion for the ages!

Forging Ahead


The Core Forge

With Omega, you will be able to equip skills directly to your weapons. Are working name for these skills is "skill cores." Charfade is hard a work designing interface icons for the piles and piles of cores we will release throughout Omega. We have a master list of core ideas spanning multiple pages and we are adding to it almost every day. We call it the Core Forge! We hope to release a number of basic cores at launch to get you used to the system, then add more over time as we build them. With the new battle engine, there will be almost no limit to what we can do!

Have your own idea for skill cores? Let us know in the EpicDuel forums!


Join us tomorrow as Cinderella explains the mysterious force known to the Krampus people as "The Endless!"

Tags: Nightwraith


January 07, 2013


It's 2013! Already? When did that happen? How does it feel to have survived yet another apocalypse? I think if you survive 12, you get a free cold cut combo with a drink and chips. That might not be accurate. In any case, we had a busy, bittersweet end to 2012. Our goal was to release Omega before 2012 at all costs, but after a serious dose of reality, we decided our goal in 2013 should be to make the wait for Omega worth it.


For the New Year

The future of EpicDuel post Omega will hinge on gameplay. When all the items in game suddenly become viable options, the dynamics of battle will shift to your build and what skills are equipped to your items.  We will work hard to make the battle engine, the core of EpicDuel, as dynamic and robust as possible to offer interesting experiences in every battle. Tournaments, new battle modes, and new skills will ensure that battles always offer interesting choices.


Omega Progress

Omega Progress...

Our Twitter pages have been quiet lately, but not for lack of working. The holidays offered a brief interruption in the development routine, and getting back in synch proved to be challenging. For this reason, we've been hesitant to drop more details. However, after today's intense Monday meeting, we decided that it would be best to keep everyone as informed as possible by posting Design Note updates every day until Omega goes live! It may be a tiny blurb or a massive, multi-paragraph summary of a feature. Many of you already know what's releasing in Omega, but I will try to be as informative and interesting as possible!

Although we do not have a formal deadline for Omega, we will inform you as soon as we do! Some have speculated that we will "surprise" you with Omega. This is a profoundly bad idea for such a massive release. We will absolutely inform you of the date as soon as we are confident in our timeline, but also understand that we will not and cannot release Omega until it is in a ready state. We may be able to find features to cut, but the largest part of Omega is the battle engine, and we cannot release a broken battle engine no matter badly we want to release Omega.

We thank you again for your patience, and we hope we can make Omega release to remember!


Golden Yeti Tournament*

Mention of the Golden Yeti Tournament in previous Design Notes may have grabbed your attention. We discussed it further. and we are making a few adjustments / clarifications. First, it will be a 2-week competition instead of a 30-day competition. 30 days is a long time to expect someone to constantly battle at 100% capacity, and seeing someone at the top of the leaderboard with thousands of wins might be discouraging to someone unable to participate at that level.

Second, we will not be offering the Omega Ticket with a promotional package after Omega is live. We are doing this because seriously participating will be more challenging the longer the tournament progresses and entering midway through the event would place a participant at a huge disadvantage. All those who preorder will be able to participate in this tournament as soon as the tournament goes live.

Participation will be simple --  if you preordered you have the ticket. Each PvP victory will automatically earn you points. These points will position you on a leaderboard with other ticket holders. At the end of the competition, the top 100 players in terms of point total will be awarded the Ultra-Rare Golden Yeti as well as a tiered achievement based their standing on the leaderboard. It's more of a competition than a tournament, but if it succeeds, it will be an important stepping stone to a fully realized tournament system!

Some have mentioned that it's not fair to the non-Varium players to restrict this tournament, but the tournament is a special reward for the preorder offer and making it available to everyone would defeat the purpose. Keep in mind that this will not be the last competition of this type -- future contests will be open to a much wider range of players!  

*As of January 9ths DN post, we decided will be adding a buffer of a few days between the launch of Omega and the start of the tournament. This will give everyone a chance to explore all Omega has to offer.

Wiki Recruitment

When we go live with Omega, the EpicDuel Wiki is going to need major help updating all the entries for items.  Stats and requirements as you know them are going out the window, so much of the existing information will be obsolete the second Omega goes live. We are constantly impressed by how quickly the Wiki updates with each EpicDuel release, but they are definitely going to need help for this one.

Please contact a member of the EpicDuel Wiki Staff to find out how you can join the cause and help to keep this great resource as accurate as possible while lessening the burden on the small but dedicated staff. Please do not contact the Devs about being a member of the Wiki Staff as we are not directly involved in it.

To encourage more participation on the Wiki, we will be increasing the value of the coveted Lore Master Achievement by 1000 Rating Points, as well as offering the extremely rare Rabble's Attack Tome sidearm for contributors deemed worthy by the current staff.

Please do not confuse Wiki Staff with Moderators or Developers.  They should not be contacted concerning bugs, account issues, or player reports. Also, please don't send them your passwords. They don't want or need your account information.


Become a Bug Hunter!

Artix.com just unveiled this snazzy new system for reporting bugs! No more tweeting at Devs hoping they'll see your report! No more trying to find the right place to post on the forums! This is your one-stop reporting zone. The bugs will never know what squashed them!


Charity Is Child's Play

One more item before I wrap up this DN post: Child's Play Charity, the charity that raises money year round for toys and money for hospitals around the world! This year gamers showed astonishing generosity and raised a grand total of $5,085,761! That's a lot of happy sick kids! I feel it's an incredible feat and definitely worth sharing.

Can this record be shattered in 2013? Given the track record for boundless gamer generosity, even in times when others are tightening their belts, I have no doubt that record will be obliterated!

Tags: Nightwraith Resolutions Omega Tournament contest Progress Report New Year Child's Play Charity Bug Artix


January 07, 2013

2012 Year In Review

Hi there EpicDuelists. With the year 2012 behind us, and new possibilities in front of us, I've written a brief overview of the story so far in EpicDuel!


The War in Frysteland


After years of an uneasy truce between the Legion's presence in Frysteland- the cold, mountainous region to the north of Delta V's main continent -- and the Delta V native Krampus, dictatrix Alydriah Descarl made a move to conquer those that remained relatively free from the Administration's control. Led by the formidable Commander Edgar Boothe, the Legion soldiers and corrupted Yetis fought aggressively against the primitive Krampus tribe. The Krampus, led by the Shaman Aldhagrimm the Erudite and King Alaric (the Technologically Impaired), the Krampus allied themselves with Exile forces but were ultimately defeated.

In the aftermath, Alydriah set herself up as Queen over Frysteland and began the work of corrupting the local wildlife, including Ylwa the Demon Rider's personal mount Maia the Frost Demon. Boothe, torn between his loyalty to the Legion and love for his heritage saved some of the Krampus from execution, including King Alaric and Boothe's grandmother Aldhagrimm. The War coincided with Hank and his wife Valestra's Juloffenblotten festivities, ruining their winter holiday.


The Heartbreaker Saga


With Alydriah distracted in Frysteland, a group of Legion loyalists who felt that Descarl had ultimately betrayed Baelius and the principles of the Legion made their first move against the despot. The Legion loyalists formed an alliance with the Exile Leader, whose base is contained within the ruins of Old Fortune City. The 12th District Administrator John Williamson III orchestrated a plot to bomb Alydriah's spire before she returned to the mainland. Williamson's son Lysander Cox (the Negawraith) disguised himself as the assassin Nightwraith and offered his services to Alydriah's brother, Administrator 11, while the Resistance -- represented by Habuki and Shadow Guard Mike -- planted bombs in the Spire. However, the plot was discovered, and Administrator 12 took full responsibility, sacrificing himself for his men and for Order. Despite his attempt to kill his executioner Administrator 11, the District 12 offices and the Administrator himself were reduced to ashes. Inspired by his father's death, the Negawraith took over both the 12th district administrative duties and the helm of the Legion Resistance.


The Bionic Battalion Saga

Bionic Battalion

The Bionic Battalion Saga introduced a band of superintelligent sentient rabbits -- Brachylagus, Capensis, Myxoma, Lepus, and Mr. Cottontail, who built a set of rabbit battlesuits to fight and survive outside of the Biological Preserve. The rabbits discovered that they were descended from colonists from the planet Orychtolagus and devised a plan to escape Delta V. The Bunny Escape Pod was destroyed by a mysterious force, but Brachylagus and Capensis survived the attack. Meanwhile, Lepus attempted to make friends with the fearsome Electro Hazard and was rescued by Myxoma who “reprogrammed” the creature with her poisoned hair dye. Lepus discovered the Archives under the BioDome, which serve as a safe haven for the Archivists. The Archivists belong to an Order dedicated to preserving and maintaining Delta V's history, but they have since mostly died out leaving only Xraal and his siblings Tamaril, Sekk, and Navarro.


The Infernal Infiltration War

Infernal Infiltration

This was EpicDuel's biggest (and darkest) storyline to date. After years of searching, John “The Lawman” St. Alban was able to enter the mysterious Delta Vault, but not without opposition. John and his allies had to face off against not only the Legion forces led by Administrator 7, Silas Auer, but also the subterranean insectoid techno-organic creatures known as Mechachillids. But this story started 20 years before the events of EpicDuel, and each of Auer's allies had their reasons to hate St. Alban. John's obsession with the contents of the Delta Vault led him to betray his partner in the Galactic Marshalls -- a young Silas Auer -- by sending the younger man's former lover Commander Valestra Acker (Hitchens) into the hands of Delta V's enemies. Valestra lost her arm during her escape, and when he confronted John about it, John shot off Silas's face. Along with Silas and Valestra, John fought against his daughter Ella and the man he blamed for seducing and corrupting her, the Nightwraith. But, in the end the Exiles and John's allies -- Ulysses and Galatea and John's younger daughter Selina -- were the first to infiltrate the Delta Vault and uncover its horrific content: by Baelius's order, Ulysses had developed a method of using a corpse to power a cyborg soldier (his wife Galatea was, in fact, one of these soldiers after having died in the Vault). He was sentenced to death, but survived his execution, losing his memory. Silas was not ready to accept his defeat, but John proved once again that he was not above underhanded tactics, threatening the child Silas had fathered with Valestra- Naomi. Silas surrendered himself to save his daughter.


The Dragon's Reckoning

The Dragon's Reckoning

In EpicDuel's crossover with MechQuest, Delta V found itself facing the greatest threat it had so far encountered. Deep in the Barrens, a mysterious creature called Dravax the Harbinger warned of an apocalyptic fate that would befall Delta V unless they surrendered the woman named Char. This was Charfade, the last survivor from the Mer'a homeworld. Dravax's Master is one familiar to players of MechQuest: a huge planet-devouring being known as the Dragonoid. Due to overwhelming support, the Citizens of Delta V banded together to save Charfade from the Dragonoid! The Slayer teamed up with players to defeat Dravax herself and gain access to Mirv's defense turret, but this only injured the Dragonoid. Though he doesn't advertise it, Mirv is a technical genius, and wrote a program that had to be directly implanted into the Dragonoid's brain. Players allied with Charfade to battle the Dragonoid Brain, replacing the coordinates of Delta V with those of the Slayer's plague-destroyed homeworld Delta IV. The Dragonoid consumed Delta IV (hopefully it was uninhabited) and Dravax was marooned on Delta V.


Artix Entertainment's 10th Anniversary Gameocide Event


During Delta V's War for Independence, when Baelius turned on his backers to declare his venture a sovereign nation, there was only one investor that allied himself with Baelius -- the unscrupulous Chairman Platinum. The Chairman returned to Delta V to check up on his investment, and was unhappy with the way Alydriah was running things. To protect Delta V and her Citizens from the Chairman and his Corporate Ninjas, Citizens found themselves depending on an unlikely champion. In her first EpicDuel appearance, lead singer, guitarist, frog aficionado and frontwoman of One-Eyed Doll Kimberly Freeman used the citizenry of Delta V as her own personal Meat Shields as she defeated the silver-tongued Chairman Platinum. Seeing that death would be too great a mercy for the Chairman, Alydriah decreed that he should remain on Delta V.


With 2013 ahead of us, there are so many possibilities open for EpicDuel's story line. Will the Dragonoid realize it ate the wrong planet? What's on the other planets in the Delta system? Are there untouched areas of Delta V? When will we see the other Fortune City districts? And what about the characters? Will Hank and Valestra's marriage survive the constant obstacles thrown at them? Will the St. Alban family ever be repaired? When do we meet Brunson's Mama? Will Shadow Guard Mike ever be allowed to just kick up his feet and watch some television? Will we incorporate more elements form the Lore-verse into EpicDuel or should we stay far, far away? What would YOU like to see in the coming year's storylines?

Thank you all for being with us and your continued patience as we prepare to launch EpicDuel Omega and the latest adventures in Frysteland! I'm so honored to be creating this world for and with all of you, and working with the best team ever! I don't think I could write like this for anyone but them.  

Tags: Cinderella Year in Review Infernal War Frysteland War Bionic Battalion Dragonoid Gameocide EbilCorp 2012 2013


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