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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.

August 12, 2011

The Unending Battle for Better Flash Performance

Flash Fight 2000

Just when we thought we were making some good progress in improving EpicDuel's performance, Adobe swoops in and releases a sneaky, ninja update to Flash Player of their own that is just crushing animation performance in EpicDuel.  Titan is talking with Adobe to find a solution to the problem, but it may take some time, especially if the problem is on their end.

We first noticed this while playing EpicDuel on Chrome, which installs the latest version of Flash Player ( automatically (convenient, right?).  Firefox and Internet Explorer worked fine until we updated Flash Player on them.  

Until this issue is resolved, you may want to try a different browser without the latest version of Flash Player, or try uninstalling Flash Player and then installing an earlier version of the program.  We apologize for the inconvenience, but this issue seems to be beyond our ability to control.  Such is the double-edged sword of Flash game development.


Balance Update

With this release we are rebalancing all skills that have fixed effects by adding a improvement faction based on level.  This includes buffs, debuffs, shields, damage dealing skills that have fixed damage, and a few other skills that see limited use at higher levels.  The net result of this is that all skills affected will be slightly weaker at lower levels and stronger at higher levels.    

For those who want a complete list of affected skills, here it is:


Damage Skills:  Plasma Bolt, Fireball, Overload, Plasma Rain, Super Charge, Artillery Strike, Multishot, Surgical Strike, Bunker Buster, Plasma Cannon, Stun Grenade, EMP

Technician, Field Commander, Reflex Boost, 
Debuffs:    Malfunction, Intimidate, Smoke
Shields:     Defense Matrix, Energy Shield
Other:    Hybrid Armor,  Blood Shield, Assimilation, Super Charge, Toxic Grenade


Because of this huge, sweeping change, and because we've spent so much time combatting Flash's performance issues, we have decided not to raise the level cap this week.


ADDENDUM (red means important!)

Due to the unexpected performance problems form Flash Player and the extensive nature of the balance changes, we have decided to postpone the release until next week (mid week) to include more thoroughly tested balance changes and actual content.  We'll be usuing this weekend for additional balance testing in addition to solving the Flash Player issue.  Again, we apologize for the inconvenience, but this time it wasn't actually our fault!

Tags: Nightwraith flash player adobe balance lag


August 10, 2011

Coding Mania, and what’s next to come...

Those of you who frequent the forum were treated to a post from our Fearless Leader, Titan. For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s his post in its entirety:


For those who are wondering what the changes made on Friday and over the weekend actually were, I am here to enlighten you.

What it means for you is a variety of exciting possibilities. I’ve installed several structural changes as promised in EpicDuel Delta that will make new features possible. Prior to this update, many of the major features were what I would classify in the “overwhelming difficult to build” category because of limitations caused by the design of the game code. After spending loads of hours rethinking and retooling the engine, you can expect big expansions to the game at a rate faster than you’ve seen since we launched.


Some of these features include new armor types (not just for player, but also for NPCs), larger more meaningful factions, tournament brackets, larger buddy lists and group chats, item banks, improved retraining system, and additions to the storyline that will push the faction war to new limits.


Thousands of lines of code were updated to work more dynamically over the weekend... this means faster development times for new features in the future. When it comes to adding things like new drops, prizes, armors, weapons, etc, it’s now a much faster process for us. Instead of having to define an item id in 15+ different places, we can now more rapidly create content that simply works! This is an empowering change for Nightwraith and Charfade as they’ll be able to more easily add content without the need for additional coding assistance.


These are all ways in which we can now improve the game for you, and though balance changes had to wait until this week, the options now available to us for new features, and items is vast. Overall, this week’s progress, though it may not look big content wise, has been a very big step! We would like to thank you all for understanding, and hope you enjoy the exciting features and items these changes will allow us to release!


Plus, an added benefit that hopefully most of you are finding is an improvement in server response times... faster gameplay means more battles, more fun, and more EPIC!


As always, the entire EpicDuel staff is dedicated to making a fun gameplay experience for everyone, whether it’s Titan actually coding the game, or Charfade and Nightwraith drawing the in-game content, or my team balancing, testing, and disciplining the game, or me with the varied things I do for the game (writing the DNs, some of the writings on the website and in-game are my doing, I run the Facebook, etc.) We are working hard to improve the game, Dear Players, and I hope that hearing it directly from Titan reassures you of that fact.


Balance Changes

I announced last week that we were prepared to roll live with several proposed balance changes, including adjustments to set-damage skills (such as Plasma Grenade or Overload), which could either buff or nerf the skills depending on your current build.  Factoring in character’s level with set-damage skills will establish a more fair range of damage for the skill, and allow us extend the usefulness of skills that are often overlooked at the higher levels.  This level based improvement formula. can also be extended to buffs and debuffs.  We will even be able to control the rate at which certain skills improve to prevent them from becoming UPed or OPed at higher levels.

As always, we’re concerned with improving balance and making the game more fun, for all of our players, and some of these balance changes should help to bridge the gap between paid and unpaid players. It’s always been a tricky situation for us to maintain balance, and the battle is never over.  However, with changes like these, we feel we’re taking steps in the right direction.

In addition, we’re talking about raising the level cap to 34, so both paid and free members will have something to which they can look forward!


Insect Fact of the Week

If you’ve gone down through the mines, you’ve likely met Insectoid mine worker Kraggor. Kraggor’s people are modeled after real-life eusocial insects. In these creatures, which include members of the orders Hymenoptera (bees, ants, and wasps), and Isoptera (termites). Eusociality is characterized by a colony being “ruled” by a Queen, who is the mother of the colony, and has a very strict division of labor. The workers, such as Kraggor, in this type of system are always the Queen’s daughters or sisters, who perform upkeep tasks, building, food gathering, and caring for the young. Males in these colonies are soldiers when they live in the colony, although in the case of termites, many colonies have both a King and a Queen.

Some species of gall-forming aphids or thrips (order Hemiptera, or True Bugs) display a type of eusociality where non-reproductive members of the gall become soldiers, who protect the young.

Tags: Cinderella balance Titan code lag performance


July 06, 2011

Delta Performance Update

Performance and Art Updates

Hey all! Thank you for making EpicDuel’s Delta release amazing- we really couldn’t have done it without you. It’s awesome to see how many of you defeated my Armor Hazard creation (thanks for that, Ms. Descarl never actually paid me, although I suppose being alive is payment in and of itself...). Because server stability and performance are top priority, this week is going to be primarily about fixes and balance improvements!


Ninja Update!

*whoosh* Did you see that? Late last week we rolled out a “ninja update”- you’ll notice that Titan and Nightwraith are now carrying the Independence weapons, and we also rolled an update to the game engine. The game engine update may have caused problems for some of you, and improved things for others. The game is running more smoothly on our end, though, so it’s ripe for some performance updates!



Unfortunately, I don’t think that we’ll ever be able to say we’ve completely eliminated lag from the game- even if we give the server hamsters intravenous caffeine injections (believe me, we’ve looked into it). And while we won’t know for sure if our lag problems will be solved with this update, Titan’s at least going to try!

That said, the Lag Monster is a tricky beast, causing numerous other errors ranging from harmless visual bugs to skipped turns.  Titan is also working on a solution for the bugs that are effecting battle.  These problems are especially hard to recreate because they usually need a server full of 800 people to show up, a scenario that's impossible to recreate on the test server.

Back to bug smashing. *squish*



A few of the screens are getting a visual lift too- specifically Valestra’s bar. With all the tokens from the achievements she sells, Valestra’s been able to hire a contractor to come in and fix up the joint. Come on down, check it out, and maybe settle in for a refreshing Energy Potion!


Balancing Act

A lot of you have been complaining about the balance of the new classes.  In testing, we were all pretty equal using all 6 classes, and very different builds.  However, even hundreds of battles with a handful of testers can't uncover the wide-scale balance issues discovered by the rest of the community. That said, we are going to implement a few changes- we haven’t finalized them yet, so they may not all be this update. We aren’t doing this so that everyone class changes to the  current flavor-of-the-month, but to make the game fun for everybody. Remember, we have been buffing and nerfing classes since Alpha, way before class change was even a feature.  We sincerely want a variety of classes and builds- not to make one build overpowered over everybody else. That said, each class has its strengths and weaknesses, and some strategies are more effective than others. In PvP, this is unavoidable and not something that should necessarily be changed. The point of balance is not to make everyone the same, but to give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed.

Because we are still testing proposed changes to the classes, we don't want to announce anything specific at this time.  Look for a specific list of buffs/nerfs/adjustments as testing progresses.

This should be obvious to people who play competative games that require constant balance, but it might be worth mentioning: Class attributes and skills are subject to change and can possibly be nerfed and/or buffed over time. You will not be refunded on Varuim,Credits or Artix Points if you are unhappy with the changes.  It's much more useful to us to post why the changes hurt or help your class and help us with the balancing process by posting your suggestions in the AE Forums.

Tags: Delta Valestra maps balance lag performance Cinderella


May 03, 2011

Spring Cleaning!

Here at Delta V, we’re hard at work making everything nice and shiny for Spring! Firstly, if there’s anything EpicDuelists hate, it’s laaaaag. Well, Titan’s been combatting the lag- I’m not exactly sure how, but I assume that it has something to do with feeding the server hamsters pure caffeine.  The performance improvements will have the added bonus of stopping would-be hackers in their tracks. Meanwhile, the Biodome is getting a long-needed graphical facelift.


Welcome Cinderella!

Also improving the Biodome’s appearance is the new NPC Cinderella. A scientist studying the unique and precious remaining life on Delta V (for example, the Bio Hazards aren’t mean, they’re just hungry!), she spends most of her time in the Biological Preserve, collecting samples and conducting experiments on their brains. Best not get on her bad side, or you might be the subject of her next journal article...

New Bio Dome

Mission Drops!

Administrator 12 needs things, but he’s often too busy with bureaucratic work to get anything done. So, he’s begun farming out the work- to you! Hunt down Oz and “persuade” him to give you a key card...

Also, don’t throw away that red gem or golden bullets- they’ll be useful for future missions in which they can be exchanged for awesome rewards!


HeroMart Offer!

Coming very soon to HeroMart, it’s the brand new EpicDuel Poster designed by the talented Randor the Red! Give EpicDuel a special place in your heart (and on your wall) by purchasing it directly from HeroMart!

 Epic Poster!

 Oooh... pretty.

 EpicDuel HQ*

If that weren’t enough, everyone who buys an EpicDuel poster will get the Bionic Bear Bike!  This is an exclusive rare which is ONLY available with purchase of the poster.  But that's not all: we'll also be offering an in-game version on the poster for your Epic dwellings in addition to a nice fat credit bonus!


We'll be offering signed and unsigned posters for all your Epic-decor needs.  This is a limited poster run, so you would be wise to pick one up as soon as possible.

*Poster frame not included.


Coming Soon...

Mission Improvements

We’re developing few new features to make missions more fun and functional. We’ve fixed the level requirement bug for missions, and we’re introducing a new Mission Log feature. I know I get annoyed at having to constantly check back to find out I still need one more win, so the Mission Tracker will make all of our lives easier. Now you’ll be able to see:

  • Which mission you’re currently completing
  • Which NPC assigned said mission
  • Which missions you’ve already completed

You’ll also be able to abandon a mission without going back to the NPC, or starting a new mission.

This also allows us to build a prerequisite system for missions. Simply put, we’re implementing a system where unlocking the next step of a mission requires that you’ve completed the step before it.

Tags: Cinderella posters HeroMart Bionic Bear lag Missions


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