DEV DIARY: SPRING INTO SUMMER 2021

INTRODUCTION

Greetings Summoners,

Design Lead, Kabam ThatJim here again, after what feels like an Age of Ultron since we last sat down for a homely fireside chat about The Contest. In that time, the team has been busy delivering on the majority of the awesome things we announced last year. From new Act content, a succession of Back Issues, Alliance tools, node improvements, undo button, a bonanza of Champion Updates, selling from stash, a raft of Incursions updates, and so much more in between.

We didn’t deliver on everything though (Summer of Pain, *cough* *cough*). Development priorities change, YOUR priorities change, and we evolve with The Contest as it grows. However, some things haven’t changed, and we’re still hard at work on some of the awesome things we announced last time, many of which are that much closer to being in your hands.

Last time out, we waxed lyrical about our vision and goals, this time, we’re getting straight to the meat. So without further ado, let’s dive into the first Dev Diary of 2021!

QUEST CONTENT

The Quest team has barrelled into 2021 like the Juggernaut bringing even more to The Contest this year. Two brand new Chapters are coming to Book 2, more Back Issues, a little thing called Summer of Pain, some brand new hardcore challenges, and a complete revamp to the starting experience all need to be discussed. Let’s get into it.

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BOOK 2 – ACT 1

  • CHAPTER 2MAY – Gwenpool steals the center stage in Chapter 2 – UPSET THE META. Armed with the Grandmaster’s Iso-Sphere, Gwenpool seeks to reshape The Contest into something bold and exciting. With new nodes, mechanics, and a wholly original Final Boss in the form of the deliriously awesome GWENMASTER, Chapter 2 offers up a full plate of fresh challenges. 
  • CHAPTER 3OCTOBER – Chapter 3 is already underway with plans for new nodes, new Bosses, and the return of The Contest’s oldest adversary. We’re also bringing back some of the nodes folks enjoyed in Chapter 1, paired up with some new challenges to keep Story Quests engaging for players. Stay tuned for our upcoming Chapter 3 Beta, scheduled for the Summer of 2021.

BACK ISSUES

Hey folks, Kabam Goggy with a quick recap and update on Back Issues. Originally we had lined up three Back Issues releases for 2021, but ultimately we decided to use those resources for other projects both large and small, many of which are captured here in this dev diary. This mode continues to be a favorite of mine to work on and something we hear a lot of positive feedback on, so there are no plans for Back Issues to cease; just a decrease in velocity compared to 2019 and 2018.

  • ARACHNID ACTION (#7) LIVE – By now, many of you have gotten a chance to dive into the Variant and Classic difficulties of Back Issues #7, Arachnid Action. Settling on a Champion/buff theme here was one of the harder decisions for a Variant release, but ultimately I couldn’t resist having Summoners put together their most heroic teams following Back Issues #6’s villainous angle. #Hero is a very big and diverse group in MCoC, so we kept things a little broader to allow more of them to shine, and leveraged Champion Requirements to make certain that every class got its time in the spotlight. I really hope you’re enjoying this quest!
  • DEADPOOLOOZA (#8) – NOVEMBER 2021 – Back in 2016, Deadpoolooza was one of the first Event Quests where I was allowed to kind of go off the rails with how we built quests at the time. I’m looking forward to being equally unhinged with the Variant design, and we’re already brainstorming. See you in November!

CARINA’S CHALLENGE – CHAPTER 1

TODAY – We’re exploring some unique ways to challenge those of you at the top of your skill. Those that have stared down the Abyss and chuckled with your Doctor Doom. Carina’s Challenge – Chapter 1, will take Thronebreaker players through some classic fights across The Contest with all new restrictions and truly painful challenges to overcome. Carina doesn’t kid around.

Take on Carina’s Challenge through a series of permanent Solo Objectives for some epic rewards, including the brand new Catalysts. Plus, for the most dedicated there will be a unique profile pic on offer for those that can take down all challenges in 30 days. Stay tuned for more challenges in the future

Oh by the way, Carina’s Challenge will be live later today!

GRANDMASTER’S GAUNTLET

JUNE – Got a bunch of 6-Star Rank 3’s going untested? Need to feel the rush of Abyss or Labyrinth level difficulty again? The time has come for a fresh challenge. The Grandmaster’s Gauntlet is a brand new single quest, filled with brawls to test only the greatest of Summoners. Twenty challenging fights await Thronebreaker Summoners and their greatest Champions, with Nameless Thanos guarding the final step to your well-earned wares.  

THE SUMMER OF PAIN

JUNE – IT. IS. TIME. The summer is upon us, and the pain will come. We kept you waiting, but now it’s time for a collection of truly insane challenges. Every week, running from June through to the end of August, we will release a new single, standalone fight. These devilish fights will be tough in their own right, but accompanying them will be a collection of brutal Solo Objectives that will test your roster, skill, patience, and the structural integrity of your mobile device as your grip tightens under the stress.

PROLOGUE INITIATIVE

2021 – The early MCoC experience hasn’t seen much love over the past six years. While we’ve made some Champion changes and improved a few fights, the first few Acts of The Contest need some work. It’s a new age, and our best needs to be on show.

Planned for later this year, the Prologue Initiative will look to rework the first three Acts of MCoC completely. We’ll be shortening the journey through long Acts (I’m looking at you Act 3) and provide real tutorialization of big mechanics, as well as teaching more about the details of The Contest’s gameplay.

Our goal is to bring more players from newbie Marvel fans to Doom stomping, Alliance leading, super Summoners to create a more vibrant end game experience for all.

GAME MODES

Last year we talked a big game about a collection of cool things coming to The Contest’s game modes. We’re really happy to say that most of them were delivered on or are now fully in development, but, ultimately, some things didn’t make the cut.

While we’re continuing to support Incursions and have some bigger plans for the distant future, we won’t be bringing any significant additions in 2021. We can’t do everything we or all of you want to do, so sometimes tough calls have to be made. However, that makes room for things we’re really excited about!

ALLIANCE WAR

June – The War is long and hard, as it should be, but for some this War is becoming weary. We hear you and we have plans. Last time we shared ideas for the future, this time they are reality. The first of which is a wave of Quality of Life changes to make War less of a slog, reducing stress on players and officers, and more of an adventure:

  • Loyalty Store – Alliance War Boosts can now be purchased weekly with a purchase limit of X
  • Undo Button – Enabled on all Alliance War maps!
  • Energy – Cap increased to 6 and refresh rate decreased to 45mins
  • Adjusting Top AW Tiers – We will be moving Tier 3 to Challenger difficulty as well as rebalancing the number of Alliances in the top 3 Tiers

There will be new nodes and challenges to face throughout the rest of the year on top of all these incredible changes to War. We hope to start delivering these with Season 27 (which will have an extended off season prior).

Future – We understand that there are a number of factors affecting how people feel about Alliance Wars, and they differ from Tier to Tier, and Alliance to Alliance. We want to address those factors, and to do that, we need to move faster. That’s why we’ve reshaped the way in which our team approaches Alliance Wars (and Quests). Expect more impactful changes, more often! 

To start, we’ll be looking at Tier 1 Wars. We’ve heard from many Summoners that the issues many face are with the lack of difficulty, causing even a single death to be the deciding factor in a war, causing stress for every Alliance member. 

Just like our players, we are not satisfied with the state of Alliance Wars, especially in higher tiers. We want to make AW less stressful, we want to reduce Officer Workload, avoid stagnation, and improve the experience in higher tier wars. We are still exploring our options, and will be consulting members of high tier alliances as we form our plans, but hope to be making strides towards this with every coming season. 

2022 – Beyond this year, we’re continuing to explore the next big thing for Alliance War. We know how important it is to get it right for you and your Alliance which is why we’ve opted to take a little longer to explore different ideas that will get the most out of War and challenge what War stands for in MCoC.

SOLO COMPETITIVE

2021 – It’s happening. A brand new game mode is coming to The Contest and our goal is to deliver it in 2021. Codename: “Draft Battles” is an all-new Solo Competition that will test your skill, strategy, and cunning against other Summoners for the first time. Taking early inspiration from 2020’s Summoner Showdown event, Draft Battles will feature picks and bans alongside strategic buff choices, and a skill based scoring system that creates a gameplay experience that early testers have said they enjoyed more than anything before in The Contest.

  • Pick and Ban Champions for your opponent to face off against
  • Layer on clever buff combinations to outfox your challenger
  • Use the depth of your roster to mix up the meta and create a new winning combination
  • Put your skills to the test and battle against your opponents’ defenders
  • Rise the ranks for completely unique rewards to The Contest

ALLIANCE QUEST

We had lots of big plans for Alliance Quest going into this year and have lots to deliver from those plans, but we’ve pulled back on a few things like Quest Challenges and Seasons to make room for more significant new features and content. Here’s what’s to come on top of all the usual tweaks and tuning:

JUNE OFFICER TOOLS – We’ve talked a lot about stress in Alliances in the past; for both War and Quest, which we know is too high. For War, we’re bringing a whole collection of new Quality of Life changes as described above; for Quests, we’re focusing on the Officers. Coming in June is the AQ Officer Tool, a brand new interface that allows Alliance Officers to plan out an entire cycle of Quests at once. 

  • Setup and plan an entire cycle of Alliance Quest in one go
  • Auto start selected maps with all three battlegroups
  • Select Modifiers and see all the possible rewards from one easy interface
  • Massive time savings and far simpler planning for Alliance Quest

FALL MAP 8 – A fresh adventure is coming to Alliance Quest and those at the bleeding edge of the fight. Map 8 will come to The Contest to provide a new way to play AQ that takes inspiration from all the lessons of the past to create something enjoyable, different, and challenging.

ARENAS

MAY – Last time we talked a lot about an Arena Revamp, big changes to make the mode more rewarding and free flowing, it’s time to make that happen. Coming soon to an Arena near you is an overhaul on the Arena structure, which I know we’ve talked about for almost as long as Bases. There are a lot of details, but for this post I’ll include the top points:

  • Instead of a 3-Star/4-Star/5-Star Featured Hero Arena and a 4-Star Basic Hero Arena, there will be two 6-Star Hero Arenas (Featured and Basic Hero) that run concurrently.
  • Each run on the current 3 day structure.
  • Each will have the top 100 get the 6-Star Hero. 101-500th get the 5-Star Hero. Basic is still basic (blue)
  • Each will have the 3-Star & 4-Star Hero as a milestone reward
  • Featured & Basic Hero arenas will be locked to Uncollected and up, and use 4-6 Star Champions
  • Summoner Trials will be updated from a 2-star Hero top prize to a 4-star Nexus top prize and you use 1-4 Star Champions. 
  • In sum total, the total number of units you can earn has been increased from 535 to 540 Units across three arenas instead of five.
  • First version of these new Arenas will come May 13th for Featured Hero Shang-Chi and Basic Hero Falcon.

ALLIANCE RAIDS

The Battlerealm creaks in weary anticipation. The devourer of worlds. The wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet. The judges of progress. A universe of colossal threats has yet to truly show its power against the combined might of the Summoners. Never have we embarked on as enormous a challenge for The Contest. Early in development, Alliance Raids will form the jewel in the crown of the MCoC End Game experience, providing Summoners with threats beyond any scope you have yet to imagine.

2022 – The most epic battle arrives next year.

PROGRESSION

That was all the awesome new activities you’ll get to experience in 2021 and beyond, but what is it all for? What’s the chase Jim?! Why should we bring our thumbs to The Battlerealm?

Times they are a changin’…

MASTERIES 2.0

2022 – You said it. We listened. We’re planning. We’re going to deliver brand new Masteries to The Contest. We’re going to completely upend the Mastery System as a whole to provide a brand new Mastery experience that you have been crying out for since your first Parry.

  • New Masteries – The old Mastery list is being overhauled to reduce the amount of useless Masteries to be replaced and added to with brand new gameplay mechanics, tools, and toys to play within content.
  • Loadouts – Switching Masteries is a pain; we know, we do it too. With Masteries 2.0, everyone will get the chance to build Mastery Loadouts that will make switching between different builds, auto-loading for Wars, and generally experimenting with Masteries much easier.
  • More Flexibility – Our goal with the new system is to make Masteries more flexible, through loadouts and new Masteries you have more room to experiment as we originally intended. 

Our ambition was to land Masteries 2.0 in 2021 however, on our current trajectory this may be a little too ambitious with 2022 as more realistic. We have a lot planned and the next item is coming first…

RELICS

2021 – Power. The great divider. Power is what we all seek in this Contest of Champions, and in 2021 we aim to grow that Power. Relics are coming. Relics are all new cores of power that provide individual Champions with the ability to apply custom buffs to their kits. Individual Relics act as vessels for a collection of new buffs with a host of unique abilities tied to each one. For the first time, you’ll be able to apply collectible Mastery-like buffs to individual Champions.

Summoners will initially find relics in the new Solo Competitive Mode before being slowly rolled out as rewards across other modes in the game. At launch, you’ll be able to use your Relics and their power in Solo Competitive and a few other modes/content, before we roll it out across the entire game after launch.

  • Collect Relics – Unique objects with different slots that offer new power and mastery-like Buffs to individual Champions.
  • Customize Your MCoC – Upgrade Relics to house more Buffs, and allow higher quality buffs to be equipped.  Discover more powerful Buffs, and create the perfect Relic build for your favorite individual Champions.
  • Assign Strikers – Learn more about the what and how of Strikers below!

STRIKERS

2021 – Last year we teased our Tag-Team prototype – Strikers. This year you’ll get to play it. The jewel in the crown of the Relic system, Strikers will be the top tier equipables that you can apply to Relics. They provide access to unique abilities that will help cover your weaknesses or enhance your strengths.

  • Strikers – Collect Strikers and combine them with other buff effects to create insanely powerful Relics to assist your Champion in combat.
  • Direct Impact – Intercept attacks, give yourself a breather, or just lay the smackdown with the Special Attacks of a bonus Champion alongside your current Champion.
  • New Strategy – Unlock all-new combinations of Champion attacks to create new solutions to old problems and even ones for the future.

ROSTER

On top of all the epic new paths of progression above, we’re bringing a collection of improvements to the world of Champion and Signature Stone acquisition across 2021. Here’s the skinny on a few of the big hitters from Kabam Commish:

  • Acceleration of The Collected – As mentioned above in the “Prologue Initiative” we’re changing the progression of The Collected – mostly by accelerating them to Uncollected. The change in content needs to be matched with a change in economy for those early game players – and you’ll see signs of this all throughout the rest of the year (it has already begun). 
  • No Thronebreaker Crystals – We had a lot of discussion about where we’re at in the overall lifecycle of 6-Stars, and Thronebreaker is definitely different than Uncollected (which is max 4-Stars and getting into 5-Stars) and Cavalier (which is max 5-Stars getting into 6-Stars). Thronebreaker doesn’t mark the top end of 6-Stars and we didn’t see the need for a crystal at this time. That being said – we did see a need for an updated version of our existing crystals and recently made these changes that have already gone live.
    • Grandmaster versions of crystals offered to non-Uncollected players. (See above on Acceleration)
    • Increase in Base Cavalier drop rates
    • Increase in Featured Hero Cavalier drop rates
  • 6-Star Signature Stones – Signature stones at the highest rarity are always going to be rare for a long time. 6-Star Awakening Gems and Signature stones take away from the value of dupes, and the value of opening crystals. But we also understand the value of being able to specifically target a Champion to awaken and increase the sig level is huge for player agency. The balance is on how quickly we want to run through 6-Stars (not too quickly) and get into what comes next (7-Stars?). So we’re not in any particular hurry to increase the amount of stones too much.
    That being said, we have heard the concern of stones in offers vs in content or ‘earned’. We’ve been adding 6-Star Signature Stones in monthly event rewards, stones in Act 7 rewards, stones in Incursion rewards and in upcoming Thronebreaker challenging content. We will continue to monitor the overall balance of stones throughout 2021.
  • Wish Crystal – Still a thing. Wish Crystal addresses the area of Champion acquisition, roster breadth and player agency. These areas have been improved already by additional Nexus crystals and general crystal shard amounts (combined with things like Featured Hero 5-Star/6-Star Crystals and 5-Star Class Crystals). It also is improved by things like the 6-Star Hero Arenas. That being said, it is still something we’re working towards and will provide updates throughout its progress. Still in the works, no ETA at this time. 

PROJECT GENESIS

2021> – As Marvel Contest of Champions quickly approaches the ripe old age of 7 we need to give the beast some tune ups to make it worthy of the decade. Project Genesis is a game-wide modernization initiative that will update, refresh and rework huge parts of The Contest bringing it up to the standard you and we expect it to be in 2021.

  • Load Times – We’ll be drastically reducing and all out removing load times between many screens across the game.
  • Refreshed UI – The entire visual style of The Contest is going to get a facelift to bring out its true beauty and make the game feel of this time not its time. 
  • Improved Map – The Quest Map will get a big upgrade to make it smoother, faster and potentially add new ways to interact.
  • UI Usability – From the Home Screen to the Unit Store, we’re improving the usability and layout of the vast majority of screens across The Contest.

Project Genesis is an ongoing initiative that will take effect over time, so expect to see performance improvements, new visuals, and refreshed UI layouts in the coming months and years.

UNTIL NEXT TIME

Our commitment from the last time we spoke remains the same, so it makes sense to repeat it as our sign-off for today. As always, thank you for your time, passion, and belief.

“As stewards of The Contest of Champions, it is our duty to wield the ISO-Sphere with care and use its power to craft incredible, memory-making experiences for years to come. To do that, we hold three core things dear:

  1. Content – Continue to deliver epic events, Champions, stories, and rewards on a monthly basis with even more in between.
  2. Community – Increase your involvement in the creation of The Contest with greater communication, collaboration, and insight into the development process.
  3. Creativity – Committing to truly evolve The Contest, bringing new gameplay experiences, refreshing ageing modes, and surprising you with never-before-seen additions to MCoC. 

The Contest is here to stay. Not as an aging relic or content service, but as a game full of exciting new experiences, an ever-growing community, and a platform for competition. We’ve loved the last six years of stories, and it is our commitment to make the next six even greater.

Thank you to the entire MCoC community for all your feedback, discussion, and passion. Now it’s time for us to get to it. We’ve got a lot to do.

KABAM THAT JIM

DESIGN LEAD