May 30, 2012
Summer of EpicDuel
Hi there, EpicDuelists! As we wrap up Spring (is there a Pony song for that?) we have some pretty great things to keep you entertained while we’re preparing for the Infernal Infiltration War!
Gently Down the Livestream
Thank you to all of you who participated in the latest EpicDuel Developer Livestream. We want to publicly apologize to all of you for allowing Practel to sing- it’ll just be me singing from now on. The stream is still up, so you’ll be able to watch the creation of one of the NEW War NPCs!
Many players were upset by the fact that the latest round of missions were geared toward higher level players. Lower-level players will be able to play some permanent chains for some nice rewards this week!
While war is brewing deep in the mines, not everyone is focused on the conflict at hand. Brunson’s Mama is preparing a very special feast, and she needs help from players of all levels (including the very lowest level players) to prepare her scrumptious morsels.
Midlevel players will be able to start a chain from Mirv. Both of these chains give credit and battle token rewards, along with another special surprise for players.
We are running a special contest for all EpicDuel players to raise awareness of account security. Nightwraith already wrote up a great description of the contest, so I’m just going to quote the whole thing:
You can submit entries on the ArtixEntertainment forum. Entries will ONLY be considered if posted here (http://forums2.battleon.com/f/tm.asp?m=20353961). Entries that are tweeted at us or posted on the Facebook fan page or emailed to us without being posted in the forum will NOT be considered. Entries containing a link to a file on your harddrive will not be considered. Entries that we must be your friend on Facebook or that we have to sign up for a site or service to see will not be considered.
As I’m sure this will come up: my advice to everyone who is designing a poster is to be direct and to the point. We want these to be something that could be placed in-game as a warning poster. We are accepting entries until July, so take your time.
Currently in my area of the United States (the midwestern US), we are experiencing an outbreak of Red Admiral butterflies, who are invading during their migration season. The Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta is a cosmopolitan and charismatic member of the family Nymphalidae, and is recognizable by the red-orange median bands on the forewings and marginal bands on the hindwings. This species has a winter and summer morph, with the winter morph being smaller and duller colored. The adult migrates to the northern part of its range during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months (ranging from April to October), expanding into Canada. They overwinter in Texas to Florida, and are single-brooded in the northern part of their range and triple-brooded in the southern part of their range.
Interesting among butterflies, the males of the genus Vanessa, which includes species such as the American Lady, Painted Lady, and West Coast Lady, are highly territorial. Territories are typically located in the area between a ring of trees open to light on the west side, or on west-facing walls and will contain several resting spots. Males will defend their territories by chasing an intruder to outmaneuver and confuse the intruder, creating a wind tunnel, and ultimately forcing it away.
May 23, 2012
The Mines Open
Hey there, EpicDuelists! It’s that time of week again: time for a heaping helping of fresh-baked Design Notes! Yum, yum! Hopefully Nightwraith won’t eat this batch before we’ve got everything down- I’d better get right to it, as he’s gnawing on the corner while I’m typing.
In the United States, Memorial Day is celebrated in remembrance of American war dead, and we would like to thank our courageous men and women currently serving and have served to protect us.
To honor all heroes, we are introducing a seasonal Heroic Memorial Achievement, worth 1500 Rating Points that can be picked up from any VendBot.
Like many holidays in the US, it has another meaning: the unofficial beginning of summer! Warm, blue skies, beautiful sunshine... so how are we going to spend it? Indoors, in front of a computer, of course! For Memorial Day Weekend only, players will be able to grab the very first level 35 weapon, the Infernal Slayer Sword. Kraggor's people are expert jewelcrafters and miners and have created a weapon of immense power and beauty.
The Infernal Slayer sword is crafted from the finest electrified crystals, forged in magma for beauty and strength. Silas Auer, Legion Administrator and old enemy of the Lawman, has acquired 1500 of these weapons to finance his role in the coming war. Visit this mysterious new character deep within the Infernal Mines to acquire one of these destructive works of art before they're gone forever!
We’ll finally be opening up the Refinery, and introducing new d00ds, and along with that, two alignment-specific quest chains. Players should start at the Infernal Infiltration “Third Officers” (ie. Legion players should start at Nightwraith and Exile players should start at Galatea) for instructions on how to navigate the mine tunnels. Be sure to read the Mission Complete text carefully, as these won’t be easy, and will be filled with riddles. Your ultimate reward will be a blueprint scrap, which eventually will unlock special alignment goodies!
We’ll be looking for ways to avoid even the appearance of “punishing” loyalty, so in the end, if you switch alignment for these specific mission chains, all you’ll end up with is a handful of credits and an extra blueprint scrap you can’t use. So, really, it’s not worth it.
During the war, which will be waged in earnest in the coming weeks, we’ll also be raising the level cap to 35, which should be good news for those at or near level 34. Not there yet? It’s the perfect time to become acquainted with Power Hour (10am and 10pm EST)!
This week, we will be giving Mercenaries a small buff in the form of an upgraded version of Field Commander, Blood Commander, which will add a small % of life steal along with the strength buff. This new skill will not stack with normal Field Commander or Blood Lust. Tactical Mercenaries will retain Field Commander unchanged.
For those whose inventories are about to burst, we have a solution. We're allowing players to purchase up to 150 slots of inventory space, which should be more than enough space for all the goodies that you'll find during the upcoming War!
EpicDuel Artists Livestream
As we typically do once a month, on Sunday May 27th at 9:00 AM Eastern Standard Time, the EpicDuel developers will be hosting a livestream on the EpicDuel Artists Livestream channel. This will be a great opportunity to ask your burning questions about the upcoming war event! Last time I’m pretty sure we almost broke Livestream... can we do it again? Not sure what could possibly top the Derp Owl, but we’ll certainly try!
Question Mark or Comma?
A couple weeks ago, I was in the woods, and I happened to see a really beautiful trio of butterflies. I’d actually never seen this particular kind before, and I was very excited. Until I went to identify them: the butterflies I saw could be members of one of two similar, related species the Question Mark and the Eastern Comma.
Both butterflies are members of the family Nymphialidae, which means that their front legs are reduced, giving them the appearance of only having four legs, and puts them in the same family as the charismatic Monarch butterfly. The main difference between the two, from what I could find, is that the Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) and the Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) is that the former is slightly redder. I do, however, believe this to be a Question Mark. Both species are kind of unique as the adults are not nectar feeders, but eat mineralized water, tree sap, or carrion.
April 25, 2012
Rise, Delta Knights!
Livestream Out Loud!
First off, thank you to everyone who joined us on the EpicDuel developer livestream on Sunday. We had a lot of fun answering your questions as Nightwraith drew Jimminy Mole Cricket. Titan showed us the Derp Owl he drew (livestream commemorative item anyone?) as well as demonstrating the new purchasing system, where packages come with “bonus points” to allow players greater flexibility in choosing promotional items and credit bonuses with their package. We’re really excited about it, and it’s coming out for real this time (Titan was hurt enough by #smackTitan)! We also announced that the next big story arc is called the Infernal Infiltration Saga, with a revamped war system.
During the stream, Nightwraith talked about the Delta Knight armor suggested by Reki, and he was excited about it. You were excited about it, he was excited about it... everyone’s excited about it! And Nightwraith’s been hard at work making it a reality! That means this Friday, we will be introducing the class-changing Delta Knight armor (a different look for each class!) for sale in game and as part of a Promotional Package.
Thank you to everyone who applied to be a moderator. We had the difficult task of going through all your applications and selecting the candidates we felt were best suited to the job. For those who weren’t selected: I’m so sorry that we could not offer you a position at this time. I hope you will continue to support ArtixEntertainment as a player even though you weren’t quite what we were looking for from staff. For those who were chosen: congratulations! You should be receiving an email from us soon with paperwork and such.
A Disturbing new development
A Warm Welcome to the newest member of EpicDuel’s development team! Disturbed has joined our team, and he’ll be helping out with artwork. Congrats, Disturbed, and welcome to the team! Be sure to follow him on Twitter for his latest works in progress!
Cerberoz Livedraw this Wednesday at 4pm!
Join AQW this Wednesday at 4PM EST for Cerberoz's in-game live-draw event! We'll be taking your suggestions over Twitter about what he should draw so that you can see your input shape the item as it appears on the screen!
If you haven't joined us for an in-game LiveDraw event yet, here's what's going on:
You'll want to /join stream once the event starts and you'll be able to watch as one of AE's epic artists draws an item based on your real-time suggestions! That item will go into the Black Market shop in the /stream map and, once the art is polished up, the item will turn into the weapon you've just seen created!
AE heads to Relay for Life!
The world is made up of everyday heroes, and this weekend Artix Entertainment is joining a whole group of them as we race to find a cure to save lives in Relay for Life! We'll be walking, running, /stepdancing, and even /sambaing our way up, down, and around the track for 18 hours from Friday to Saturday.
If you're in the area, /party up with us at the Charles S Rushe Middle School from 6PM Friday night to 12PM Saturday! We'd love to see all our local players there!
April 18, 2012
Post Post PAX Post
Design Notes: Straight-up. No chaser.
By now you’ve had the chance to see Nightwraith’s recap from PAX, and some of you have pointed out that “off topic” posts like this aren’t technically “design notes”. As creative people we draw inspiration from all sources- and events like conventions are great arenas for us to meet up with other creative individuals and share our ideas. This is part of the creative process and isn’t to be discouraged. To steal from Neil Gaiman, creative people are people too and life is a GOOD thing for us. It’s where we draw our inspiration. So forgive the occasional con recap, piece of prose, or other post that isn’t a list of what’s going into the update, no chaser.
New Packages: For Realsies this time! (or smack Titan)
Last week, we announced the mid-level packages. Well, with the transfer to CS5, we weren’t able to implement those promo packs just quite yet. Starting Friday, players will be able to purchase varium with Veteran Battlegear or Advanced Battlegear. As an aside: these are additional promotional items, the current promos will still be available.
This enables players to mix and match varium quantities or bonus credits with promo items, and we hope to give players more options in the future!
Escape To the Planet of the Bunnies
As you recall from last week’s missions, the bunnies have been building a spacecraft to get off of Delta V and back to the planet of their ancestors: Orychtolagus, where Rabbits are the dominant species. See Mr. Cottontail in the Barrens to find out how their scheme all turned out!
I realize I wasn’t as kind to the lower levels with the mission chains at Myxoma and Lepus this time around, but never fear! The missions are staying in for a little while to allow you guys time to catch up!
Moderator Applications Closed
Now that we have narrowed down our list to a handful of qualified Mod finalists, it is time to formally close the application process. Thank you to everyone who applied! It is truly thrilling that so many of you care deeply enough about EpicDuel to want to devote your time and energy to helping us, but, sadly, we cannot pick everyone. To our finalists, we thank you for bearing with us during this process and we will get back to you shortly!
I tweeted a bit ago that I’d been working on a background story for an upcoming storyline that’s been pushing the page limits of a short story (single-spaced even!). Here’s a brief excerpt from what we’ve been calling “the novella”. In this excerpt, which takes place 20 years prior to the events of EpicDuel, the Marshalls- an intergalactic police force- have been sent to Delta V to investigate some of the suspicious activity going on. The Marshalls have sent two of their best- veteran John St. Alban and his green partner Silas Auer to meet with the leader of the Shadow Guard:
Silas took the opportunity to investigate his surroundings. Everything was clean, cold antiseptic white. The long table appeared to have been carved from the room itself, or formed naturally like formations in a cave. The wall opposite their entranceway was made completely of glass, and the view from Alydriah’s spire showed several districts of Fortune City, and as the twin suns were rising over the horizon, the shadow of the mine tower fell over the land.
“So that’s where the varium comes from.”
“We can ruminate on the origin of magic rocks later, kid. I don’t trust Descarl, especially with her sending that obvious red herring after us.”
“Commander Hitchens is not a red herring, I assure you.” They turned to see Descarl at the door. Her black hair was pulled up in a bun high on her head, and she was wearing the Shadow Guard dress uniform in white, indicating her status as an Administrator. On her lapel, next to the rows and rows of medals indicating her military successes, was a pin with a large Roman numeral I- Administrator 1.
“How does the ranking system work here, Administrator?”
“It goes by district, and again John, call me Alydriah. I’m the Administrator for Fortune City’s First District and Supreme Commander of the Guard. Second in command to Baelius himself: may he bring Order forever.”
“Order. Is that what you call it?”
“You may find my methods a bit unorthodox...”
“I heard you brought stocks back into vogue.”
“...but you can’t argue with my results, John. The workforce is mainly robotic drones commanded by our most talented citizens- we call them Tech Mages- while occasionally a faction or two will pop up, a little public humiliation is enough to make a willful child see the light.”
“And the genocide?”
“Exaggerated! The Krampus enjoy protected status under the rule of the Legion, and many of them have joined our workforces and intermarried with our citizens!”
“And the Dragonmen?”
“Refused vaccinations, believing them to be Outsider poison. We tried to save them, truly. And the non-humanoids are protected under anti-discrimination laws.”
“Now see, what I heard tell was that y’all are threatening to destroy some peaceful planets.”
“The very idea is absurd, John!” She sat, gestured for her guests to do the same, then snapped her fingers to summon a robot butler. “Devil’s Claw, for me as well as for my guests.” The butler bowed and rolled away. “My own private reserve, I’ve bred these fruits myself. It tastes as if you’re drinking the feeling of a gentle sunshine on your face. Now, that noise about us attacking peaceful planets comes from Baelius’s business partners. Since the conversion of Delta V from a mere business venture to an independent state, these huge corporations have been sending their private military forces to attack and subjugate us, demanding repayment upon their investment, especially now that our scientists have unlocked the secrets of teleportation and interdimensional shift! If we are at war, sir, it is a war for our independence!”
A deafening silence fell over the three of them, until it was broken by the butler’s entrance.
“Perfect timing, Servertron,” Alydriah said, accepting the liquid the metal servant poured into her tumbler. The sunlight danced in the faceted silica. “You may investigate the grounds to your contentment, we’ve prepared quarters for you here in the spire. After breakfast, I’ll assign you guides from my guard.” Alydriah drank. “You’ll find nothing.” She stood. “Now allow me to attend to my duties. Paperwork and all that.”
Insects have many strategies for survival, one of which is parasitism. Parasitoids exist as endoparasites (ie. an organism that lives entirely within another organism) as part of their life cycle, but exist as freely-living adults. This strategy is used notably by tachnid flies and brachonid and icheumon wasps. The braconid wasp Cotesia congregata parasitizes sphingid caterpillars by laying her eggs inside the caterpillar, which causes devastating effects including not only death but associated illness. The parasitized caterpillar experiences a decreased feeding response, which is associated with changes in foregut contraction mediated by the octopamine (a neurotransmitter/neurohormone similar to norepinepherine that’s involved in a variety of functions in insects such as modulation of muscle contractility, learning, memory, and light production by fireflies). Caterpillars combat the infection by forming nodules, aggregations of hemocytes that attempt to kill the parasitoid egg. However, even if the caterpillar manages to clear the infection and survive, often the damage to the endocrine system (particularly management of juvenile hormone) is permanent and the caterpillar experiences extranumerary molts and dies. X^^^> (dead caterpillar)
Arts Livestream in AQW!
Tune in to AQW at 4:00PM EST today for week 5 of the AE Artist livestream! This week features Thyton! Just like last time, players should send their suggestions via the AQW forums and join the live draw map to watch the creation of a new item, and get some pro tips on art!
Not to be outdone, this Sunday at 9:00 AM EST the EpicDuel developers will be hosting our own livestream at the EpicDuel Artists livestream. If you’ve tuned in to one before, you know that we’ll be answering questions, talking about the game/our inspirations, and apparently I’m required to sing every 10 viewers. So if you want to hear us ramble on about things we find interesting, tune in Sunday! We'll try to keep this to under 2 hours this time, so be sure to get in as soon as you can! Can’t make it to the livestream? The recordings will be hosted there as well!
April 10, 2012
Bunny Battalions Continued
Post PAX Preparations
Some of you might be wondering why we didn't just use CS5 all along. Well, at the time EpicDuel was first being developed CS3 was new, and it was impossible to forsee it's limitations. This happens all the time in software development, but it was an extremely valuable lesson to learn and formidable challenge to overcome. Hopefully, we can wrangle Titan into giving us more details in the next EpicDuel Q & A.
I am sorry to report that these new packs will be delayed by another week. This week was very trying with all the CS5 testing, so we were unable to implement and thoroughly test the new packages. We really wanted to get this in, but it's not something that can be rushed out. Again, I apologize for the inconvenience.
These new packs will also give us more flexibility for players to mix and match Varium quanities with promotional items, and will allow us to give players more exciting options for packaged gear in the future.
Maybe they know!
Wednesday Livestream at 4pm with Mido!
Mido comes to AQW! If you've played through Etherstorm, you'll have met him already. If you have only played EpicDuel, we can only assure you that he is an awesome artist and now you get to see his incredible art skills in action! This Wednesday at 4PM server time, log in to AQWorlds and /join stream to see Mido take YOUR suggestions and turn them into an awesome in-game item (AQW that is)!