DEV DIARY: THE FALL CHECK-IN
BUILDING THE BEST CONTEST
KABAM THAT JIM – LEAD GAME DESIGNER
Jim here again to give you an update on the comings and goings of the MCoC Roadmap we laid out all those moons ago. When we set out our plans our goal was always to stay accountable to you and share how we’re progressing, where we’ve succeeded, where there is still work to be done, and where we’ve failed. It’s been just over three months since we last spoke and a lot has happened.
Don’t worry, we don’t have a lengthy essay for you this time, we’ll keep our novel writing for the next Act Content and focus on showing you our progress so far, plus a little extra.
So, let’s get into it!
THE FUTURE OF QUESTS
Last time, Goggy took you through all that’s to come from the Quest Team, let’s check out how each epic piece of content is coming along:
- BACK ISSUES #5 – RELEASED – The latest Back Issues Quest hit your screens in August and tens of thousands of you have already bested all that the Variant Difficulty of Blood and Venom has to offer.
- ACT 6 UPDATE – RELEASED – A whole host of rebalancing, fight improvements, and big injections of fun have been rolled out to Act 6, as promised:
- The Champion – This boss fight has had its Nullify damage, Block penetration, and Dexterity requirement reduced, in addition to the removal of the No Retreat! buff.
- Attack Reduction – All global Attack buffs in Chapters 3 and 4 have been removed, shifting away from the prior chip-damage-heavy combat experience.
- Fight Reworks – Several boss fights and path fights across Act 6 have been updated to make them open to more Champions and strategies without completely changing the design of the fight. Thanks for your feedback!
- BOOK 2 CHAPTER 1 – DECEMBER 9TH LAUNCH – After a huge revamp thanks to your feedback we were extremely happy with all the additional feedback and support that came from the recent Beta. Thank you again for your comments and direction, on December 9th we’re super excited to share Book 2 with everyone and continue the story of The Contest.
- MUSIC – All new music is coming alongside Book 2 so keep those ears peeled!
- CAVALIER DIFFICULTY – RELEASED – Cavalier is finally here. You’ve had the chance to engage in the first iterations of Cav difficulty as part of the regular monthly content. We’ve heard your feedback and will continue to iterate and improve the content and rewards for your efforts.
- ACT 2 REWARD UPDATE – RELEASED – For all those of you moving through the start of The Contest, your path will be much improved with all new rewards across Act 2 AND a whole bunch of changes to the fights, paths, and bosses.
- SUMMER SMACKDOWN – RELEASED – Across the Summer we rolled out some classic Boss Rushes that culminated in the insane Omega Boss Rush challenge of 31 bosses in one run that 85,801 managed to take down.
- SUMMER OF PAIN – PUSHED BACK – With the Smackdown, Summoner Showdown, wealth of events, Act Beta, and new Back Issues, we had a huge amount of content releasing over the summer and opted to set this aside for another time. We do have some cool fights, with some designed by the Content Creator Community! We’re discussing next steps right now, we’ll let you know more soon… maybe Spring of Suffering.
This was just what we outlined in the roadmap. On top of all this we also rolled out the Summoner Showdown to a much larger audience, revamped rewards across our event quests, and continued to deliver on all our regular content for you all to enjoy across the summer.
While we’re happy with the progress we’ve made in all areas of Quest development we know there’s more to do. We know you want more from Cavalier, we know you have high expectations of future Act Content, and we know you want more Back Issues. We’re going to deliver on all that… and MORE.
By MORE, we mean MORE… Back Issues #6 is coming… and coming soon.
Stay tuned for the rest of 2020 as the team pushes onwards and upward to keep on delivering more exciting challenges for you to take on.
AMPING UP ALLIANCES
When we heard from Zen and the gang a few months ago they had some epic plans for the future of Alliances. Let’s check in on where each feature is and learn a little more about their progress.
- BATTLEGROUP ASSIGNMENTS – RELEASED – Alliance leadership can easily assign members to different Battlegroups for Alliance War and Alliance Quest within the game!
- TOP ALLIANCE CHAMPIONS – RELEASED – Players can now set up their rosters for Alliance War and Alliance Quest, allowing them to show their alliance mates which Champs they have available for each mode!
- PATH ASSIGNMENTS – NOT STARTED – This feature has been put on hold at the moment while we look towards a larger revamp for both Alliance Wars and Alliance Quests.
- DEFENDER PLACEMENTS – NOT STARTED – This feature has been put on hold at the moment while we look towards a larger Alliance War revamp.
- AQ OFFICER – STARTING DEVELOPMENT – This feature focuses on giving Alliance Officers a lot more control in organising AQ events and giving members a lot more time to view what Map variations, Bosses and AQ Modifiers will be available to them for that week. This feature has passed its design phase and is currently in development.
- SEASON 19 WAR REFRESH – RELEASED – We’ve released a new map with a ton of new challenges for players to master, on top of this, rewards were also updated
- ALLIANCE WAR FUTURE – IN DESIGN – We’re going through our initial design phase for the Alliance War revamp. We’re looking to completely restructure Alliance Wars and provide a more interesting experience for players to looks to give players more control over the challenges they create for each other and inject more strategy into the mode so that each War does not feel as repetitive
- AQ MAP 7 REBALANCE – RELEASED – Being able to act on feedback and create more balanced maps has been a very positive experience and something we look forward to doing more in the future.
- AQ ENERGY IMPROVEMENTS – RELEASED – There has been a lot of positive feedback by making these changes and we are continuously looking at ways we can decrease player stress in AQ.
- MAP 6/7 LINK NODE IMPROVEMENTS – RELEASED – We are happy with the changes we made here and with our link node rework in the design phase we hope to improve the player’s experience when it comes to link nodes.
- UNDO BUTTON – IN DEVELOPMENT – Has started development and we are really excited to bring this to Alliance Quests early next year!
- HELP ALL – DELAYED – Some of you may have caught a glimpse of the Help All button in-game before it was ready for release. We are still working towards it. We’re going to start with small increments to Help 4, like possibly doubling it to Help 8, then 16, etc. There is a chance that we may never be able to hit a Help All, but we can keep moving towards it!
- AQ FUTURE – IN DESIGN – …
- Link Nodes Rework – This is still very early in design, however we have started looking at some ideas.
- Energy Rework – We are currently designing this as we speak and we have a first draft ready for feedback sessions from other designers.
- Raid Bosses – Still very early in the design process, we really want to make sure we get this right, so we are taking our time as this will have a big impact on Alliance Quests.
The team is making huge strides in the usability, fairness, and challenge of all Alliance content with massive feature improvements and continued content refreshing. On top of this are a slew of new node designs, a set of player focused buffs, and some really exciting new content themes that will inject new energy into both AQ and AW.
The future of Alliances is bright and we’re excited to share even more about the bolder future features more in 2021.
CHAMPIONS OF THE CONTEST
Ein and the Champions team rolled out ambitious plans for the future of Champion buffs alongside some awesome new additions from Commish on the crystal front, let’s look at how we’re doing on each point so far.
- MAGNETO x2 – RELEASED – Both Magnetos have received their overhauled ability kits and have been performing quite well in The Contest since their release. We’re continuing to monitor their performance but are overall quite happy with where they landed.
- PUNISHER 2099 – RELEASED – Punisher 2099 has come back into the contest swinging as our very first Value Only update Champion. With his update kit he’s now stronger than ever and a reliable Power Control/DPS Tech Champion to boot. Overall we’re pretty happy with our first Value only update and feel this is a good benchmark for us to meet with future updates.
- FALCON & GAMBIT – RELEASED
- Falcon – With Redwing on his side and an already fairly powerful kit in terms of utility, we’ve expanded his wheelhouse by increasing his effectiveness against Evade Champions, as well as giving him a fairly large overall damage update. Falcon is going to be a prime option for any evade or thorns damage characters that might come across your path.
- Gambit – Paralyze is being removed from his kit, and the previous effects it had over Stun are now applied to all his Stuns! We’ve also given his Medium, Heavy, Special 1, and Special 2 the same anti-Thorns mechanic as Omega Red. Build your Prowess faster, pause your Stuns, ignore Thorns, and deal more damage than ever before. Gambit is going to be a great pick for players struggling with the likes of Korg and looking to progress through early content.
- DUAL CLASS CRYSTALS – RELEASED – 5-Star Dual Class Crystals were added to the game, followed later by 4-Star versions. Where are the 6-Star versions? Well we’re waiting to see the impact of the 4 and 5-Star versions. They will come one day, but we have no ETA and will make no promises on a timeline just yet.
- FEATURE HERO IMPROVEMENTS – RELEASED – Featured Hero Crystals are very subjective – but we feel that the more recent ones have been an improvement over the ones that came out late 2019. We will continue to work on keeping these crystals relevant and interesting for players who want to go for the newest released Champions.
- WISH CRYSTAL – IN DESIGN – Elements of the Wish Crystal design are in progress, but as it is a pretty big cost on the front end (building new screens, controlling how you choose your Champions, communicating how it works in-game) it may take longer than our original timeline (we aren’t moving it just yet, but given all the other things we’re trying to build, it may get delayed a quarter). That being said we will look for ways to make improvements along the lines of the Wish Crystal for the original timeline of late 2020, early 2021 if we have to delay.
- SIGNATURE STONE AVAILABILITY – RELEASED – With the release of the Cavalier Event Quest difficulty, we have introduced 21 Generic 5-Star Signature Stones as well as 10 Class 6-Star Signature Stone Crystals. Allowing you to power up your favorites 5-Star Champion’s Signature Ability as well as starting to ramp up your 6-Star ones.
New Solo events also give you a consistent place to find Signature stones, increasing their availability more than ever before, with signature stones added to the 22 Hour Events (including generic 5-Star Signature stones for Cavalier Players).
Legendary Side events took it a step further! Mutant Treasure Island featured a total of 80 Class 5-Star Signature Stone Crystals, 8 +5 Class 4-Star Signature Stone Crystals, 16 +5 Class 3-Star Signature Stone Crystals and a 3-Star Max Signature Stone spread across all difficulties. Not every month will see such a significant amount of Signature Stones awarded, but we are going to be more diligent about it, especially for lower rarities. November’s side quest will feature almost the same amount of Signature Stones as Mutant Treasure Island.
We’ve been so pleased with all the awesome new Champions you’ve been able to pull from the epic new Dual Class Crystals and can’t wait to unleash Wish Crystals in the near future, giving you more power over your Champion destiny. The RNG gods are important to the thrill of the contest, but we’ll continue curbing their powers to make The Contest more fun and fair for all.
Magneto was just the first step in our quest to ensure all the worthy names in Marvel lore are equipped with the tools to be as powerful as their namesakes. With many more to come and a commitment to buffing for the foreseeable future, we’re incredibly excited to bring more Champions back into the Meta.
As we cap off this year, and move into the next, we’ll be overhauling Daredevil in December. The end of December is always a tricky time for us and creating new content, and this year comes with a new set of challenges. January will not have Champion updates, but don’t worry, we’re setting up for an even MORE ambitious Update schedule starting in February! We want to double the number of Value Only and Moderate updates, and deliver 4 updates every month there is no Overhaul, and move to 2 Overhauls together. That means the new 3 month cadence will be:
Month 1: 2 Value only updates, 2 moderate updates
Month 2: 2 Value only updates, 2 moderate updates
Month 3: 2 Overhauls
We might miss a Champion every now and again, especially at first as we begin ramping up to this newer, more ambitious update cadence, but this is our new goal as we head into 2021!
A CONTEST EVOLVED
And finally… I had the chance a few months back to shine a light on some of the bigger, bolder, future changes that are coming to The Contest. Now, while many of these are still long off in the distance, some have snuck their way into The Contest already with a few more coming soon! Let’s check in on their progress and learn more about what’s to come.
- SELL FROM STASH – RELEASED – You can now easily sell items directly from the stash giving you more flexibility with overflow items.
- CHAMPION TAG FILTERING – RELEASED – It’s now super easy to find any Champion via their tags, can’t remember all the Avengers, X-Force, or Metal Champions, we got you covered.
- DUEL TARGETS – RELEASED – You can now Duel any Champion in the game, wherever you want. Simply search for a Champ in the social menu and practice against the 6 Star rarity.
- DUEL TARGET ‘FIGHT AGAIN’ – ON PAUSE – We are still aiming to bring you a quick way to replay duels, but for now we’ve prioritised other features ahead of it in the short term.
- ROOT GAMEPLAY MECHANIC – RELEASED
- We’ve prepared 7 global Root Buffs to be used in the November Side Event.
- VOLUME TRIGGER GAMEPLAY MECHANIC – IN DEVELOPMENT – We’re in the latter stages of prototyping with Volume Triggers (or Area of Effect) and they are really interesting to play around with. We’re looking forward to bringing them to an in-game event in early 2021.
- FIGHT REPLAYS – ON PAUSE – The early stages of the technology are in place, but we have shifted priorities to get a bunch of other features complete before coming back to replays and the cool gameplay they open up in addition to replaying your favourite fights. We hope to see them in 2021.
- STRIKERS – IN DEVELOPMENT – We are still in the early design stages. Our current priorities are to figure out how the systems would work, and how these new systems will interact with existing ones. We might be working on ways to get Strikers into the player’s hands for a sneak peak!
- First Fight Link Removal – RELEASED – With our Incursions V1.1 update, we removed the link node choice from the first node and replaced it with a common Hack choice.
- Store Update – RELEASED – With the addition of a new Tier 1 to Incursions, we included a number of store updates for players who qualify.
- Reward Updates – RELEASED – Along with the planned Incursions V1.1 changes, we decided to make improvements early Top Zone rewards across all Sectors.
- Themed Bosses – RELEASED – Along with Incursions V1.1, we added themed boss rooms with the popular addition of an extra Boss Treasure node.
- New Hacks, Hack Tiers & Hack Rebalance – IN DESIGN – We’re aiming to get these out within the timeline specified!
- Firewalls, Matchmaking Zone Targets, Champion Refresh Timer Expiry & ‘No Zone, No Cooldown’ –IN DESIGN – We’re really happy with how we presented these features to you all initially, and are looking for the best place to plan this in for development.
- Friendship Benefits, Event Abilities – NOT STARTED – No updates on these topics yet!
- ARENA IMPROVEMENTS
- Consistent AI – RELEASED – AI in 3,4 & 5 Star arenas should be more aggressive and likely to throw special attacks.
- Improved Featured Arena Rank Rewards – RELEASED – Expanded top Rank bracket as well as a new 1-5% bracket for ‘Near misses’ has been added to arenas.
- 3-Star Featured Champions – RELEASED – Arena milestones will now contain 3 star versions of the champions.
- Mitigate Massive PI Differentials – IN DESIGN – When we released the change to the Enemy AI and rewards, we also made a change that reduced the maximum PI of the enemy team from 4x your Team’s PI to 2x your Team’s PI. This caused some problems with the age old Infinite Streak, so we reverted the changes and are looking into further improvements to Arenas in the future that keeps the spirit of the infinite streak, without requiring new players to search for a secret formula to succeed in Arena.
- Auto Request Help, Improved Boosts UI, Cached Filtering, Auto-Select Champions Button – IN DESIGN – We’re really happy with how we presented these changes to you all initially, and are looking for the best place to plan this in for development.
- Arena 2.0 – IN DESIGN – This design presents a unique set of problems – we’re in the process of working through them, more to come in the next update!
- SOCIAL PROGRESSION – ON PAUSE – Our initial design for Social Progression would allow alliance mates to compete with one another across all of our game modes and earn vanity-focused rewards; we have decided to put this on hold and focus on improving our current list of features.
- SOLO COMPETITIVE MODE – IN DESIGN – We’ve begun design and exploration in all manner of gameplay that will allow Summoners to compete with one another in spectacular fashion!
On top of all this are a huge amount of exciting new features and additions to The Contest we’re working on in the background. Over the coming months we’ll break down some of the bigger features, like Alliances, Arena, and Solo Competitive Mode into their own blog posts where you’ll get a deeper dive into how we build new features and have the chance to influence their development.
We’re committed to growing The Contest even more and have invested in all areas of development to continue bringing you the best of Marvel, while giving us the ability to bring even more to the game for the future.
The Contest rages on, engulfing more of the metaverse as the battlerealm takes on a new phase your Champions will face ever greater threats and engage in even more exciting content. We can’t wait to take you on that journey.
As I said last time, 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 platform for competition. We’ve loved the last 5 years of stories and it is our commitment to make the next 5 even greater.
See you next time.