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.
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!
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!
February 14, 2012
A Lovestruck Design Notes
Happy Discount Candy Day Eve!
Hope all of you are having a wonderful and love-filled Valentine’s Day, not-so-bitter Singles Awareness Day, anticipatory Clearance Chocolates Eve, or a great Tuesday. I’ve put heart socks on the Squidlings for the occasion, but I’m sure you’re having just as much fun as Mr. Squiddles.
Due to the paint in his office still being wet, Raymus wasn’t quite ready to open shop last week, but he’ll (hopefully) get the contractors out of the building by Friday. He’s brought along with him some new housing features. Starting Friday, you’ll be able to see whose home you’ve invaded, and homeowners will be able to restrict access to their homes. If you own a home, you will now be able to restrict access to your home to make it private (only you have access), to your buddy list only, or just let everyone come in and track dirty mud all over your carpets!
We will also be slashing prices on home items! This means there's never been a better time to decorate!
Following the success of the lowbie drops, we’ve expanded PvP drops to include weapons for everyone! You get a drop! And you get a drop! In addition to expanding the PvP drop weapons to include weapons for all levels, we are adding the Hoverbike and Assault Bot to the mix. Rumor has it that there may also be some "broken" items that are unusable. I wonder if there's anyone who could fix them? Unfortunately, with the revaming of the drop system, the random credit bonuses and home prizes are going away forever. With mission rewards and power hour, there are many more reliable ways to get credits.
We’re also adding another dropped bot: the Rusty Assault Bot. Since it’s rusty and secondhand, this bot has similar effects to the Assault Bot, but he’s a little weaker. If you’re impatient and want to buy a refurbished bot, you can buy him (for credits only) at Junker.
We may be repurposing the arcade in future updates with minigames and other fun extraneous things to do (like "Battle Fruits"!).
In addition to Mr. Alexander, players will meet one of Administrator 12’s lackeys, a man nicknamed by the Exiles as “NegaWraith” due to his uncanny resemblance to the interstellar assassin Nightwraith. Could he be an asset? An enemy? What is his plan? These questions and more will be answered in Part II of the Heartbreaker Saga. See the Exile Soldier in the Bazaar (next to Titan) for more info and to begin Part II of the Heartbreaker Saga.
Word on the streets (of the Internet) is that Artix Entertainment is making its very first 3D game! Since space is limited, we're giving everyone who has ever purchased Varium in EpicDuel, along with members of the other AE games, a chance to grab your favorite name before anyone else! For more information, please check out http://artix.com/, your source for all things AdventureQuest 3D, and the future home of the Artix Entertainment portal.
BEEEES! OH GOD, NOT THE BEES!
Let me start out this week’s insect fact with a little anecdote. This weekend was completely spent on an assignment for my Environmental Studies class, and it was a review of the factors contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder. Being the sole Entomologist in the class (and pretty sure I’m the only Entomologist at my institution of Higher Learning), I ended going way off the deep end and wrote 10 pages for what I found out later was supposed to be a 2 page assignment. Suffice to say, I’ve been brain-deep in bee for the past few days. My conclusion for that paper is that further research is needed to quantify synergistic effects between pesticides and use measurement endpoints other than honeybee mortality to quantify the effect of chemicals such as imidicloprid, which confuses bees and the workers are likely to wander off and forget where their hive is. Also, the medicines used prophylactically to prevent bacterial infection may weaken the bees’ defense to the effect of chronic sublethal exposure to multiple pesticides, including those that prevent harm coming to the hive from Varroa mites. The parasitic mite Varroa destructor lives up to its name, and will wipe out a thriving colony in a year if left untreated. So, things are very unclear as how to manage the threats to honeybees.
One thing I found interesting that I actually hadn’t thought about before, is that the honeybee is an invasive species in North America, and there are over 4,000 species of native North American bees that can “pick up the slack” if we were to lose all of our honeybees. The bumblebee (genus Bomba) is actually a more efficient agricultural pollinator than the honeybee!
January 18, 2012
We’re coming down to the end game for the Frysteland Conflict. Again, a BIG thanks to the thousands of you who supported us during this in-game war. Remember that the War for Frysteland will remain active until January 27th, at which point the winning side will be announced and the Aftermath ensue as planned.
We do want to hold off on announcing any rewards for being on the winning side due to the issues we’ve had with “turncoats”- we want to encourage you to support your side, even if you don’t end up victorious in the end, and we will be adding incentives toward that end. Also, I know that many players wanted us to extend the Frysteland War, but we have a lot planned for the Aftermath and the next storyline! After all, if a special event lasts too long, it's no longer a special event, is it?
We’re stockpiling content for a big release next week, including the missions for the Aftermath. Implementing a war event is quite challenging, so removing one and transforming the world is also an ordeal. Legion and Exile are still battling, so we still must prepare for either outcome! I have quite a bit written already, including a bunch of new missions, but your actions can completely change what happens during the Aftermath. During this period and beyond, the Frysteland NPCs will behave as normal NPCs (with the exception of the Boss NPCs).
In addition, we’ll be adding a bunch of PERMANENT Frysteland weapons for your battling pleasure!
Factions Going on a Diet!
The War for Frysteland has given us a great opportunity to reflect on our Faction/Alignment system and its role in EpicDuel's gameplay. We have concluded that Factions are great, but almost incomprehensibly confusing. War Points, War Flags, Influence, War Kills, Token Donations, etc are mysteries to all but the most hardcore players. We really loved the simplicity of the War event being one number that goes up with all players being able to easily view their individual contribution. Thus, one of our goals for the new year is to retool and streamline Faction scoring to better integrate all the disparate systems into each other. We'll be posting more to clarify exactly what changes we're making and how they'll effect the Legion/Exile conflict, Factions, and individual players.
You’re a Heartbreaker
We’ll be bringing back the Heartbreaker weapons in anticipation of Valentine’s Day. We’re also hard at work preparing for our next Epic storyline! I’m really REALLY excited about this one, folks. So far, we’ve started dealing with some pretty interesting issues, including the nature of the identity of one of the characters you already know and love!
By popular request, and to halt the issue with dummying, challenge battles will no longer count toward your win record. This will also allow people to test builds against friends for fun, or to test builds. You will not receive credits, experience, or battle tokens for challenge battles, they will just be for fun or for completing challenge missions. Random battles will still count toward your battle record, as will normal NPC fights.
Where Are the Bots?
A lot of players have been asking about the lack of credit-only bots, and the simple answer is that adding bots with the current system is extremely difficult. All the bots do not work like regular weapons -- they use custom code that is very complex and inefficient. Bots are an amazing feature and we would love to fill the game with tons of unique bots with crazy skills and attacks, so this is a frustrating situation for us as well as they players. One of the programming team's short-term goals is to streamline the code for bots to make them easier to add. Once this happens, we can increase the quantity and quality of bots to provide both Varium and credit-only players with equal opportunities to acquire powerful bots.
Alydriah Descarl Opposes Free Expression!
In his Design Notes post, Cysero established that ArtixEntertainment is against SOPA/PIPA. These are bills introduced in the US legislature that seek to prevent online piracy, but represent a gross abuse of power by the United States Government. These bills, if passed, would give the US government the power to take down websites suspected of hosting copyrighted material without due process. For example, Twitter could be taken down because of one user using a comic book character (like, say, Batman or Deadpool). Individual web users face serious consequences as well, with performance of a copyrighted work (eg. a video of yourself covering a popular song) becoming a felony with punishments up to 5 years in federal prison. Even works that fall under Fair Use or Satire or derivative works face serious legal consequences.
This could spell doom for a company like ArtixEntertainment, because- while we do not support piracy or distribution of materials to which you do not own the copyright- our games are filled with popular culture references. Games like HeroSmash and Pony vs. Pony are just one big pop culture reference! EpicDuel is not immune- we have several references to other media (eg. the “Cake” achievement references Portal, Banana armor and Too Big! reference Don Hertzfeldt, The Lawman shares his name with a Motorhead song and is a dead ringer for Lemmy Killmister). Also, you could face legal penalties for recording yourself battling in EpicDuel, adding a song to the background, and posting it on YouTube. This is a serious issue, and I hope that, if you’re in the US, you will urge your congressperson to vote AGAINST SOPA and PIPA. You can learn more on Americancensorship.org
If we don't defeat SOPA and PIPA, the Internet will become a much smaller, less interesting, and ultimately less useful place.
November 22, 2011
The Krampus Cometh
Preparing for Juloffenblotten
If you follow our Fearless Leader Titan on Twitter, you saw he spilled the beans on the name of EpicDuel’s Winter Celebration: Juloffenblotten! Citizens all over Delta V are preparing for the holiday filled with joy and cheer, and the Krampus traders will be trekking southward from their northern mountain homes to sell their wares to Delta V’s citizens, including the adorable baby yeti pet!
I want to clear up some confusion about the name of the celebration. I am speaking not of the origin in-world, but my creative process. The term “Juloffenblotten” is Scandinavian in origin- the word itself comes from “Julofferfest” which refers to the Yuletide celebration, and “blot” (pronounced like “bloat”) which is a Swedish word referring to a solemn and significant celebration or feast. Nightwraith and I used Scandinavian references while brainstorming the celebration- the Krampus being one example- and we wanted a name that distinguishes that EpicDuel does not take place in the AQW in-game universe. Delta V is not Lore, and her citizens do not celebrate Frostval. There was some speculation that the name was in reference to something with extremely horrific implications, and I can assure you that this is not the case.
One of the happiest times of the year, Juloffenblotten is a time for family, friendship, and gift exchanges! An element you might recognize from your own planet is the figure of a magical bearded man, who breaks into your house at night and rewards children for their good behavior with gifts.
Who is this mysterious gift-giver? It has to be Titanfraggr!
Titanfraggr, as any child raised on Delta V will tell you, rewards good children by filling their shoes with copper wire and lute berries- a very rare fruit that grows around Titan’s home. They are not tasty, but are high in nutrients. If, however, a child has been bad, Titanfraggr will replace his or her shoes with rusty bolts and bitter orange rind.
You can learn all about the legend of Titanfraggr in the poem “A Visit From Titanfraggr” which may or may not be read by George Lowe. If we can’t get George Lowe, we’ll just make Nightwraith do it. :3
I already mentioned that the Baby Yeti will be sold by Krampus traders after Wednesday's release. He will work in battle as a bot, taking up that slot in your inventory (although if I chew on Titan’s ankles enough, he MIGHT eventually be convinced that the Baby Yeti needs to follow you around in-world as well), and his special attack will be particularly effective against support builds. See, this baby Yeti is teething, and needs to chew on something to soothe his pained gums. The most convenient thing is, of course, your opponent’s bazooka.
The baby yeti will have a varium cost of 1900 Varium, with an as-of-yet undetermined credit price.
However, the baby yeti will not be the only bot offered during the Yule season, so keep watching this space for more information!
Words, Words, Words
We’ve become aware of several bugs and we’ll be rolling out fixes for these issues, such as the war kills leaderboard reading “fame” instead of “war kills”. We’ll be continuing to translate EpicDuel into Portuguese and we hope to have the game translated into Spanish shortly after Thanksgiving.
Our American players will be celebrating Thanksgiving shortly, and I want to wish you all the very best of days. Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, food and fun, and most of all a time to reflect upon the things we are most grateful for in our lives. In uncertain times like these, it’s important to think about the ways that we are lucky. I am thankful in no small way for my friends and coworkers here at AE, and my bosses at on EpicDuel are the best I could ever ask for! And thank you players for playing, and giving me the opportunity to make an awesome game for you. <3
I promised you zombies, and you’re getting zombies! Insects infested by mind-control parasites!
The cordyceps are entomopathogenic funguses- that is, they live inside and off of insects. The cordyceps are a particularly interesting group of funguses due to the fact that they are able to control the behaviors of their insect host. Ophiocordyceps unilateralis infects carpenter ants, and takes over the ant’s brain. The victim will climb up a blade of grass, and latch on with her mandibles- a phenomenon described as her “death grip”. There she will stay until she dies and the fruiting body of the fungus bursts out of her head.
There are other organisms that are able to control their host’s behavior. Parasitic hairworms that infect grasshoppers force the insect to commit suicide by drowning themselves, leaving the worm safe to swim from the host’s drowning body. Lancet liver flukes control ants by forcing them to climb to the top of a blade of grass until they are consumed by the fluke’s preferred host. Gypsy moth caterpillars infected by their baculovirus are compelled to climb to the tops of trees in the rain, and subsequently explode, spreading the viral particles.