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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.

February 09, 2024

EpicDuel Rare Refresh

Rare Refresh

Gifting Progress

As of this update, only one set of top Gifter prizes remains. I hate making anyone wait for their prizes, but progress is progress and I can think of a Gifting season when we were this far along this early. Thank you Gifters for your patience and I hope you're thrilled with your prizes so far.


New Rarity Type

Last week some noticed fluctuations in their rarity scores. This was due to Battlepass items being recategorized as seasonal rares when they were added to the Challenger's shop. This felt bad, especially if you went through the trouble of collecting the rares in the original seasons. To correct this, we added a new, more descriptive rarity type: Battlepass. This should adjust the rarity scores back to what they were before the recategorization.  

If you've collect all the Battlepass items so and don't know what to collect next, the next Battlepass will be here soon enough. Soon enough doesn't mean next week, but hopefully by the end of the month.


Jack Frost Arrives

Jack Frost bots have awarded to those with Gifting scores higher than 50,000.

  • Jack Frost P
    • Jack Frost Smash P: 100% damage, 25% crit chance.
    • Jack Frost's Fury P: 100% damage. Initial attack does 25% damage to energy and applies an MP poison for 25% Robot damage for 2 turns. The initial energy drain may be different from the amount of poison applied.
  • Jack Frost E
    • Jack Frost Smash E: 100% damage, 25% crit chance.
    • Jack Frost's Fury E: 100% damage. Initial attack does 25% damage to energy and applies an MP poison for 25% Robot damage for 2 turns. The initial energy drain may be different from the amount of poison applied.


Corrupted Core Correction

Some were able to purchase a core that was literally corrupted. It appeared as Consecrated Ground for primary weapons, but it was unable to be equipped to anything. To correct this, we've updated the these cores to the correct auxiliary version of Consecrated Ground. 


Server Migration Part One

This Wednesday we experience some downtime to start the move to a shiny new server box. It's similar enough to the old one, but just different enough that it still throws me off when navigating it. This was only the first step, but so far so good. The next step will be a full data transfer to EpicDuel's new home. This will occur later this month and take several hours.

Tags: Nightwraith


February 02, 2024

EpicDuel Battlepass Restock

This week we say, "Goodbye!" to the Darkeater package and say, "Hello again!" to returning Battlepass items and cores. If you took 2023 off of EpicDuel, or just didn't feel like completing the Battlepass seasons, this will be a massive update for you!


Darkeater Retired

Available since 2022, the Darkeater promotional package has officially been retired. You will still be able to purchase the cores and bots from Acatriel. To allow players who don't have Varium a chance to use the cores, we've brought back new versions of select Darkeater items (tagged 2024). We did this to preserve the rarity of the promo items for those who already purchased the promotional package.


Epic Battlepass Restock

Originally, our intention was to bring back the Battlepass items from previous seasons gradually, but because of a major upcoming core rebalance, we brought back Azrael's Scorn, Botanical Knight, Cathedral Knight, and Draconic Warlord all at once. We wanted as many people to have access to as many cores as possible to test the efficacy of any balance update. Even if you don't have Varium to purchase the cores outright, you can still get many of the cores by purchasing the Battlepass items from The Challenger who resides in the Time Fortress zone of the Afterlife.

Since cores are crucial to balance and the health of PvP, we plan to offer cores in a shop alongside Battlepasses in the future, starting with the next Azrael Battlepass. This may provide less incentive to grind out the Battlepass for some, but wide availability of the cores will be useful for determining any imbalances more quickly.


New Cores

A permanent version of the Thrown Shot core as well as sidearm and auxiliary versions of the permanent War Commander core are available at Vendbots across Delta V.


Minor Cores Retired

Because they don't adequately serve the purpose they were meant to fulfill; the minor cores have been retired. It is still possible to equip and use them, but they are no longer for sale.


Widescreen Expansion

Last year one of our major goals was to expand EpicDuel to a widescreen resolution. Acatriel managed to expand all the current screens in game, and I planned to implement them over the Summer, but my surgery shattered those plans. I will resume the expansion process after Gifting obligations are wrapped. The widescreen expansion also includes adjusting every interface in game so it's not quite a simple matter of just replacing the old map screens with new ones. This change will require a lot of testing and make the game difficult to update while all the screens and interfaces are expanded so we want to be sure we have plenty to occupy players while the work is underway.


Server Migration

Next week we will be migrating EpicDuel's database to a new physical server. This will result in several hours of downtime while all the data is transferred. We will update you when we've determined the exact time we plan to do the migration so you can plan accordingly. I've been told the new server won't offer much of a performance boost aside from using SSDs instead of HDDs. Hopefully there are no hiccups and EpicDuel arrives at its new digital home safe and sound.


In the coming weeks, we will wrap up the last of our Gifter items and undertake a massive core rebalance. While this is happening, we will also be working to complete the Gifting Bonus Tier items as well as the 2024 Azrael Battlepass. Thank you for your patience! We usually have a lull in substantial updates after Gifting as we work to complete all the post-Gifting tasks, but we're moving at a much faster pace this year than ever before! 

Tags: Nightwraith


January 26, 2024

EpicDuel Gifting 2023 Aftermath

EpicDuel Gifting 2023 Aftermath

Gifting is over, but the progress continues on the prizes for the top Gifters. Our progress this year has been swift, but we still have a few outstanding prizes to complete. Thank you for bearing with us as we work to wrap up Gifting prizes and fulfill all of our final obligations for Gifting. In the past, this process could extend into months and sometimes over a year, but it looks like we could be finished or very nearly finished with the top Gifters prizes by February!

With this update, several new top 15 Gifter prizes were added. I hope the Gifters enjoy wielding these amazing items as much as we enjoyed creating them (if not more). 

To keep you all up to speed with our current plans for the near to mid-term, here's a summary of pending or in-progress topics to tackle for EpicDuel. 


War Resumes

With this update, the regional faction war will resume as scheduled as the main Gifting leaderboard is retired for another year. This is the step of resetting Gifting that feels the most like putting the holiday decorations into storage for the next season. 


Quality of Life

This year we will strive to implement frequently requested quality of life features to EpicDuel. The most requested feature right now is the ability to sell multiple items at once. You can already do this with mission items and cores, but so far we haven't been able to find a way to stack them. Other items are more complicated to stack because of all the variables since they can be upgraded. You wouldn't want to sell your fully-upgraded, coveted rare item along with a pile of duplicates, so we need to cover as many scenarios as possible. Spider has some solutions he's working on that will hopefully enable bulk selling for regular items as well as home items. These steps will be crucial for clearing out massive amounts of inventory space, especially after Gifting when some are stuck with over 10,000 items in their inventories! Obviously, this is not ideal, since you can't even buy anything with a full inventory, making the game frustrating to play and collecting new rares impossible.

These features are challenging, but necessary, and we'll do everything we can to get them to you ASAP.


Cyber Wolf

The Cyber Wolf collection is still pending, but I haven't forgotten about it!



It's been awhile (too long) since our last comprehensive balance update so we're planning a major one with a focus on cores. These changes will probably roll out in phases since the list of cores has expanded over the years and dominate builds have shifted around them. We hope these changes, many player recommended, will revitalize duels and shake up a stagnating meta.


Azrael's Scorn

In early February, the Azrael's Scorn Battlepass items will be equipped to The Challenger. If you missed that Battlepass completely or couldn't grab the last few items, this will be a great opportunity to complete your collection.


Darkeater Leaving

The Darkeater package that has been available since 2022 will finally leave the shop next Friday February 2nd. If you missed our for some reason, this will be your last chance to collect these items all in one package. After the pack leaves, a few select items will be equipped to an in-game shop, allowing purchases of the cores, bots, and select items. 


New Battlepass

Our next Battlepass is planned to drop sometime in February. In hindsight, it would have been a better idea to hold the Olympus' Wrath package until immediately after Gifting, but it's a lesson we'll take to heart next time. 


That's a lot. Is there anything we forgot? Probably. This list wasn't all-inclusive but includes some of the biggest topics that came to mind as I was writing this post. I really should get some more sleep.

Tags: Nightwraith


January 12, 2024

EpicDuel Gifting 2023 Ends

Gifting 2023 Ends

Another Gifting Season Ends…

And what an end it was! EpicDuel ending 2023 with a bang as the volume of Gifts were double that of 2021.

Congratulations to our winners and all who participated, whether you were #1 or #10001. Gifting only works if people show up, and you all showed up with an incredible level of dedication and passion for the game that means so much to all of us who continue to keep the game running after nearly 15 years.

The top 15 winners this year are:

  1. Musashi
  2. Exempt
  3. I Am Mr. Nice Guy
  4. Lycan
  5. Impulse
  6. Ronald Mcdonald
  7. D Y S P O
  8. Enchant
  9. Smoking Shadow
  10. CactusChan
  11. Keosama
  12. F L O K I
  13. Thaddiemac X
  14. Lele
  15. Ahri

Though all the top 15 winners this year had impressive scores, with all exceeding 1 million gifts and 6 Gifters crossing the coveted 2 million gift threshold, Musashi exceeded all previous records with an incredible score of 5,038,987 gifts! Will it ever be beaten? Every year I think I've seen the highest Gifting score possible and every year I'm proven wrong!

We also want to celebrate the top 50, who put up some impressive gift scores themselves. The complete scoreboard will be added to Titan’s Peak as soon as we excavate a space big enough for this massive leaderboard of Gifters.

Gifting 2023 Top 50

Though we had some challenges this season, they were challenges borne out of something positive: People gifted enough to literally break the game! The number of gifts slowed the servers and created frequent instability by the end of the event. That brings me to the next topic.


Where Did My Gifts Go?

If you logged in sometime January 10th after 4:30 EST, you may have noticed your gifts are gone. You may have also noticed there were many server crashes with the game being inaccessible for minutes or hours at a time. This was because there were so many gifts given this year that EpicDuel was literally unable to handle it. Every time someone opened their mail or used the /open1000gifts command, it hit a database table with millions of entries. Rather than wait for people to open their gifts manually while dealing with instability, we decided the best solution was to open every gift all at once.

Because at the end of gifting most players end up with 1000s of duplicate items, we decided it would be preferable to automatically convert them to 1000 credits a piece, rather than forcing everyone to sell everything one item at a time. Arcade Tokens would be automatically inserted into everyone’s inventory since they’re more valuable than common seasonal items.

Captain Rhubarb and I worked on a query to open millions of gifts and finally had an opportunity to use it when the server crashed again. If you logged in after this update, your gift queue would be empty, but your inventory would be overflowing with Credits and Arcade Tokens!

Long story short, you didn’t lose your gifts. We automatically opened them all at once to save you time and save the server from incessant downtime. If enough people missed out on the drop items, we could make them available for purchase from a shop to fill out your seasonal rare inventory.


Arcade Prize Pruning

One complaint we hear often is that many players’ home item inventories are clogged with too many home items. We want to fix that, but we can’t right at the moment, so we’ve removed home item prizes from the Bronze tier of Arcade Games, replacing them with Arcade Tokens or pure Credit prizes from 50 – 100 Credits. These slots will eventually be replaced with other items, but for now, you can spend excess Arcade Tokens without packing your home with more items that you could ever place in 100 lifetimes. 


Secret and Silver Secret Prizes

After today’s update, we “opened” all the Secret and Silver Secret packages! By opened I mean inserted the prize items into everyone’s character inventory who owns one of the two or both packages. The packages themselves won’t be deleted until all are distributed (there are still a handful outstanding) and we are confident everyone got the items they should get. When we are prepared to delete them, we’ll turn extra packages into credits. We hope you enjoy them because I think Acatriel really outdid himself from the last Secret and Silver Secret packages he created.


Winner Prize Progress

As of right now we have been in contact will all this year’s Gifting winners and their prizes are underway. This should be a faster process than previous years thanks to Acatriel’s help and our stricter guidelines for requests. We still want each prize to be something the champion Gifters can be proud of and celebrate, but we also don’t want to drag the process out too long. It’s just as painful for us as it is the Gifters who are left waiting! That won’t happen this year. At least I don’t think it will. I have a habit of making positive statements only to be proven long later, but at this point, I’m optimistic!


Cyber Wolf Collection

The Cyber Wolf Collect has fallen behind due to the technical issues we’ve faced towards the end of Gifting and my own work piling up on me. However, we will still be able to release the items from the collection as they are completed without the need for a reboot. The ambitious projection is that all parts will be distributed by the end of January, but, again, I’m being very optimistic. We learned some valuable lessons when creating this year’s prize items that should help us develop content more efficiently for next year’s Gifting event to minimize waiting for prizes!


Thank you again for everyone who participated in this year’s Gifting event, the biggest of EpicDuel’s nearly 15 year history! Duel on!

Tags: Nightwraith


January 05, 2024

EpicDuel Gifting 2023: The Final Stretch

Gifting enters the final stretch

As we enter 2024, the 2023 season of Gifting nears its finale. Though almost over, there is still time to climb the leaderboard and secure your place in EpicDuel history! Gifting will officially end just after January 8th at 11:59 PM EST, and what a season it has been! I admit that the response to the return of Gifting this year was beyond my wildest expectations. I thought that maybe skipping a year plus the different prize structure would have reduced the excitement somewhat, but, once again, our most dedicated players delivered, smashing all-time records with unprecedented scores!


What Happens When Gifting Ends?

If this is your first time Gifting or you need a refresher, allow me to give you a brief rundown of what to expect once Gifting officially ends at the end of January 8th:

1. Gifting ends. After a brief delay, the leaderboard will change to a static leaderboard showcasing the winners of 2023's season.

2. I will gather information on all the top 15 winners, including contact information. Some of them have already won in previous years, but I still like to double-check to make sure everything in accurate.

3. I will count how many Secret and Silver Secret Prizes the winners received. This will be relevant for their distribution later. Secret and Silver Secret packages will open after they are all distributed.

4. I will email the top 15 winners offering congratulations and providing relevant information regarding their prizes. If you don't recall what the prizes can be this year, please refer back to this post from September.

5. Next, I will award the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Chest prizes. This will take some time since there are manual steps in the process, but I will reboot the server after I'm finished. If this process is taking too long or I'm too tired, I may delay this step until the morning. I don't want to execute numerous database queries on 50 characters if I'm sleep deprived. If you have no idea what that these prizes are, please refer to this post.

6. Next, I will award the completed Bonus Tier Prizes (Cyber Wolf Collection). Unfortunately, several of these are still pending, but I will award them as soon as they are completed on an ongoing basis.


Bonus Tier Prize Previews

The Bonus Tier Prizes are a new addition to the Gifting 2023 season, intended make Gifting more rewarding for those who don't have massive Varium stockpiles they can use to dominate the leaderboard. This year's theme was the Cyber Wolf Collection (with some noteworthy exceptions like the NightBot 3000). I intended to have previews over a month ago and all the items finished by now to enter 2024 with a clean slate as well as a personal challenge. However, it's clear that I don't have the speed or endurance I used to. Sure, my eye is healed, but it still strains and fatigues faster than it used to, preventing me from pulling the all-nighters I'm used to. While several of these are still in their concept-art form, they're coming together fast and will be distributed based on Gifting tiers from 10,000 to 250,000 as indicated by the Bonus Tier Prize post. Again, I apologize, but it seems like I forgot the game development truism that everything will take at least twice as long as you expect.

Please note that these are concept art drawings and the final designs, though close, may differ somewhat, but still look better and cleaner overall thanks to the magic of vector art.


Login Troubles

If you logged in or tried to login to EpicDuel the last few days you may have spent some frustrating time stuck at the "Retrieving Client Data" screen. The past few days we've tried many solutions to try to remedy this error and pinpoint its cause. Time will tell if our fixes were successful, but I'd like to thank Captain Rhubarb and Spider for looking into it and helping resolve this frustrating and elusive error. The current leading theory is that login requests were piling up and not being processed properly, jamming the login queue almost indefinitely. This could possibly be caused by a malicious actor, BUT it could just as easily happen due to high traffic and increased stress on the server. We experienced a similar issue earlier in Gifting that seemed to resolve if given enough time.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused anyone trying to login to experience the final days of this Gifting season. Being stuck at a loading screen is as frustrating for you as it is for us to reboot a server at 2:00 AM while frantically troubleshooting. It's also clear that EpicDuel is in dire need of optimization and cleanup to better handle the kind of volume we experience every year for Gifting, and we intend to make that a priority for the short to mid term in 2024.


Final 2023 Thoughts

Last year took some bleak turns for me and EpicDuel. Emergency eye surgery shattered many of my plans for this year and the recovery set me back physically and professional. Honestly, at the time, I thought that might be the end of Nightwraith as you know him entirely. Luckily, Acatriel stepped up and delivered enough content to keep the game humming along while preparing content for future updates to make my transition back to work easier. Without him, I'm not sure EpicDuel would be what it is today. The game would technically still be accessible online, sure, but it would be considerably diminished without his tireless efforts and invigorating passion for the game. Artists Bido and Deuce also stepped up to offer more content support when needed, delivering some amazing items by the year's end. The 2023 Gifting season never would have happened without all their help. 

Even more surprising and heartwarming was the players showing up in a big way to deliver one of the best Gifting events of all time and definitively the best by raw scores alone. Once again, I'm eternally humbled by your generosity and devotion to this game, which has been a labor of love (love/hate at times) for me since 2007, which, as a gaze sleepily at my gnarled, liver-spotted hands, feels like several lifetimes ago by now. Whether you climbed to the top 15 on the leaderboard or simply stopped by to greet a few old in-game friends, I hope to honor your continued love and support for this humble PvP MMORPG by making 2024 an incredible year for EpicDuel!

Let's Duel On into 2024!

Tags: Nightwraith


December 21, 2023

EpicDuel Gifting 2023 Update

EpicDuel Gifting 2023 Update

So far the 2023 season of Gifting has been truly extraordinary. Several players have crossed the 1 million gift threshold, while Exempt and Thaddeus have exceeded 2 million gifts. The #1 gifter so far, Musashi, has crushed the all-time record with over 5 million gifts! Even with this awesome performance, the leaderboard isn't set in stone so there's still time to secure a place in the top 15!


Gifting Leaderboard Expansion

Probably the first change you'll notice in this update is that the Gifting leaderboard has expanded to include the top 50 Gifters. This should make it much easier to tell where you stand in the ranks if you're trying for a Silver or Bronze prize package. 

Due to the phenomenal performance of the top Gifters this year, we've also updated the prize tiers for the Gold, Silver, and Bronze chest items to the following:

  • Gold: 1st - 15th
  • Silver: 16th - 30th
  • Bronze: 31st - 50th

Since we've updated the rules yet again and still haven't posted previews of the Cyber Wolf Collection, we're extending the 50,000 Varium package until the end of Gifting. Also, it would be weird to remove it right before major holidays. If you're within striking distance of the various tier collections, the overstuffed Varium package should provide a great opportunity to climb a few ranks to secure your spot!


Omega Void Trials Return

Early in 2022 the Omega Void Trials disappeared after what was intended to be the final Gifting event ever (it wasn't). Since we brought Gifting back, we thought it made sense to return the Omega Void Trial missions to the Daily Mission pool to give people a way to spend their extra Void and Omega Wolf Shards. 


Credit Sink

A major Gifting session can leave most players with more credits than they could reasonably spend in a year. To help give newly Credit-rich players a place to spend their new wealth, we've introduced a new upgradeable Snowflake badge with 16 levels of upgrades. We've also added snowflake home item decorations.

These won't be the last high-Credit value items introduced so expect more to come, especially after Gifting concludes.


If we don't post another Design Note before December 25th, we hope you have a happy and safe holiday and continue to Duel On into an amazing 2024!

Tags: Nightwraith


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