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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.

July 27, 2018

EpicDuel Gameplan 2018

When I first made a post on Twitter a few months ago about adding some new Arcade games to EpicDuel, I had no idea that post would gain so much momentum as to place me smack dab in the middle of Delta V development once again. I was pleasantly surprised by the response, and everyone up the chain noticed as well: There is still a TON of love for EpicDuel, even after a prolonged absence of development. I’m glad and grateful that you stuck around, with many players returning from a hiatus to see where this thread leads.

Since now we’re a few releases deep, some of you have requested that I outline the goals for EpicDuel’s future development. I have tried to make it clear to maintain “reasonable” expectations as I am not a programmer. I can make tweaks to existing content and expand certain features, but any massive change or feature is outside of my capabilities. Of course, once word gets out that EpicDuel is back in development, rumors and speculation run wild! That’s another reason to make this post: Get ahead of these rumors before they become fact in the minds of the community. However, don’t let that stifle the creativity in your suggestions! Recently, Titan announced that he’ll be available for some small features soon! Artix notices when players react strongly to an update so if Titan’s involvement boosts morale and engagement, it could lead to more sessions with the ActionScript demigod!

Please understand that this plan is not a contract. Events beyond my control could dictate something new that I hadn’t anticipated which could disrupt the schedule. This happens. It’s always happened. It wouldn’t be Artix Entertainment without a little chaos, would it? I could also decide on my own that something needs to change because I feel it’s a good decision for the game. Also, some goals are purposefully vague because I’m not yet fully confident in my ability to deliver, especially some of the mid-term content. Expect this game plan to be further revised and refined as time goes on.

With that said, let’s get to the good stuff, shall we?


Short-Term Goals

First, thanks for getting us here! I wouldn’t be working on EpicDuel updates at all if my initial efforts were met with crickets. That enthusiasm keeps Delta V in business!

In the immediate future you can expect more of what you’ve already seen. Balance tweaks, maintenance, and additional content. EpicDuel has mountains of features that are sorely underutilized, so I’ll try to add where I can. I think it’s been maybe 5 years since we added faction flag designs so this most recent update saw a big expansion there. In general, I’d like to give each update something fresh to keep players excited and happy to log in again, especially if it expands on a neglected feature.

Beyond the week-to-week updates, I hope to implement some small, yet frequently requested features. With a limited time from Titan, buyback shops and gender change are real possibilities (not guarantees as we haven’t started on them yet!). It’s also reasonable to expect additional quality of life improvements.

I hope that Titan can also help add more safeguards against botting. We do have a system that flags botting activity and makes it harder for botters to find matches, but as with any system, players will find a clever way to break the rules. Captcha has been mentioned as although it was in the game before, it was imperfect. We may be able to figure out a method to thwart bots that is both effective, easy to implement, and not obtrusive for players who aren’t botting.

Finally, I’m always working on developing new War prizes. This is ongoing, but it still takes up some time that’s not accounted for by regular release items. Soon, I’d like to add the ability for those in the losing Alignment with enough influence to purchase the top War prize. This might help alleviate the lopsidedness of the War in its current state.

Short-term goals will also be dictated largely by player demand. Obviously, some requests are not feasible given restrictions of time, money, limitations of the physical plane, etc… but there’s no harm in asking. To further involve the community, I would like to host more contests. This Fall (September/October), expect a new Halloween/Harvest home decorating contest with some exciting rewards!


Mid-Term Goals

Let’s look beyond the hustle of weekly releases. What are we working toward? What’s coming next month? In August/September I’d like to restart EpicDuel’s storyline after it’s long hiatus. I feel that with all the events and seasonal content, there’s very little actually devoted to the core storyline and characters of EpicDuel. I hope to rectify that soon in a convergence of the Heartbreaker and Dragonoid sagas.

As the storyline progresses, that also means expanding into areas that have been locked since Alpha and dusting off NPCs who have up until now only served as glorified shopkeepers and/or punching bags. There are also a handful of new areas I’d like to introduce to ease the congestion in certain regions. The timeframe for this is 6 months to a year because introducing new regions and drawing environments is very time-consuming.

New areas could also mean the expansion of the War system. Many players have voiced their concerns about the stale nature of the War in it’s current state and some new regions to contest could add some much-needed spice. By November, I’d like at least one new region available for War, hopefully with some additional improvements to Factions.

Factions, Factions, Factions. I think boosting Factions could be the #1 best feature for establishing long-term engagement in EpicDuel. Remember War Cannons? Those were cool. Influence for everything? That was neat. I really believe we need more reasons to be in Factions outside of Wars, but solving that will probably take some time.

I had originally hoped that Wars like the original Infernal War could drive the EpicDuel storyline, and most players have very fond memories of it. It had all the right ingredients: A ticking clock, new mechanics, boss fights, dynamic NPC fights, prizes at different milestones, and an end goal determined by the winner. It might be outside the realm of possibility to build a turnkey system for Wars of that complexity, but it’s worth trying.

It’s hard to talk about the 2018 horizon without mentioning Gifting, which will be returning for sure. This year, since EpicDuel will have dedicated development time, you can expect more prizes in addition to a new promotional package. I would also like to finally incorporate my Titanfraggr storyline into the release, which is an absurd folktale concocted by Big Tuna and I that has yet to be realized in game.

After Christmas, EpicDuel will start the new year in earnest with a revisit to the Dread Planes and finally explore the caverns beneath the crags and dunes.

The final mid-term goal that had not averted my attention is addressing the question of Passive skills. Every day I see dozens of requests for the return of Passives. I don’t disagree that Passives were useful and may have a place yet in game. If possible, I’d like to reintroduce them in a way that doesn’t sacrifice the dynamic and strategic nature of Active skills for a basic skill point dump. This doesn’t mean I’m doing it for sure, just that I’m open to it.

While I don’t think we would introduce new classes into EpicDuel, I’m interested in “completing” the existing classes by taking overlapping skills and making them unique, especially the ultimates. What kind of ultimate skill would a Blood Mage really use? It’s been a weird quirk that’s bothered me since Delta and has left the expansion classes feeling “unfinished” to me. This might very well be a long-term goal, but it’s worth thinking about now.


Long-Term Goals

These goals are probably the hardest to define at Artix Entertainment. The company’s DNA compels it to be agile and responsive to the latest pop-culture trends so changes in short-term goals can completely derail anything 1-2 years away. This makes the work environment dynamic and exciting with rapid releases and respond more directly to player input than most developers could dream. This can also be frustrating for developers and players alike. Fortunately, as AE has matured as a company it has taken more serious steps to consider the 1-5 year time horizons, especially since Adobe forced our hand.

The grim shadow that hovers over EpicDuel and all other AE games is the impending demise of Flash in 2020. What are we going to do about that? Our answer to that is in the Artix Launcher. This will provide players a way to access the Flash games well past the 2020 drop-dead date. There will also probably be fringe browser and workarounds that still support Flash well into the future so players who still wish to duel in EpicDuel will have a way to do so. EpicDuel will remain alive and playable for the foreseeable future. Apocalypse averted. Mostly.

“But what about future projects? EpicDuel 2, perhaps?” Currently, there are no new EpicDuel-related projects in development. However, a mobile version of AdventureQuest Worlds is in development. That’s not EpicDuel, BUT it will serve as a proof of concept and a platform to build other games on top of. If AQW: GO succeeds, a mobile version of EpicDuel has a much better chance of being greenlit.

“Why can’t you just do it now?” Titan and I had quite a bit of independence when we first joined with Artix Entertainment. Now, our roles are intermingled with other projects not under our control so in order to get the resources (time, money, staff) necessary to build a new project, we would need permission from Artix, much like we had to do with BioBeasts. Unfortunately, there’s only so much time, money, and people to go around and most of any available resources are devoured by AQ3D and AQW mobile.

If this reality makes you angry, I understand. I know there have been plenty of times when I’ve looked to big developers that made some of my favorite games and thought, “Why don’t you just make a new X?! You’d make so much money!” I could only think this at the time because before Twitter existed if you wanted to yell at a developer you had to look up their address and send them a letter. I suppose that’s the joy of being independent, right? If you want to DO something, you can just DO IT! You might have to eat garbage and throw your health down the toilet for a year and a half, but there’s nobody to tell you “No!”

That’s really dour, huh? Sorry about that, but it’s one of those things that’s difficult to articulate for anyone who hasn’t been down that road. However, if I could offer any advice for those who wish in their bones for EpicDuel Mobile/3D/VR/BR to be on the horizon, it would be to get loud about how much you love EpicDuel and crave more. Not so much at me. I KNOW! I see your posts. Tell the Paladin himself! Tell people you know who’ve never heard of EpicDuel to check it out and get loud! Bring friends back who quit! Budget is very important when determining future projects, but demand is also a huge component. I can’t guarantee this will work, but it’s the best way to get the green light for new projects using the EpicDuel IP.


That’s the plan for now. It’s vaguer than I would have liked, but I think I underestimated how useful it was to brainstorm with Titan, Charfade, and Rabblefroth. We spent many mornings filling out Post-it notes over coffee while planning our short, mid, and long-term goals for EpicDuel. It worked because who knew each other’s strengths and abilities and thus could determine what would be a 1-2 day project vs. a 1-2 week project. Omega was a particularly vicious crucible for honing those abilities. Going solo has been simultaneously harder and more rewarding than I could possibly imagine as I seem to need to relearn all those planning skills again, while holding MYSELF accountable as my strongest and most ruthless critic. I can’t promise I can deliver on all these goals, but with your support and strength we can continue to build the best EpicDuel we can for as long and I’m here!

Duel On!




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