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December 19th, 2019
Dev Blog: Idle Champions in 2020 
Posted in Idle Champions.

Well met, Idle Champions! Welcome to another installment of our developer blog. I'm Justin, the lead designer on Idle Champions, and today I'll be revealing our high-level plans for Idle Champions in 2020. It's going to be a big year for the game, so buckle up and let's get to it!

A Year In Review

2019 has been a big year for Idle Champions. We released nearly 100 updates, taking us from v186 at the start of January to v279 at the end of the year. We added 17 new Champions to the game, including fan favorites like Spurt, Jim Darkmagic, and Artemis Entreri. We also added a new campaign, 16 new adventures, and numerous challenging variants. We did two big balance patches with the Core Champion Balance Update and the Year 1 Champion Balance Update (Part 1). We also added the Locked Chests & Combinations system to all platforms, unveiled Patrons, launched on the web, and reworked ultimate damage with the BUD system. Our roster of monsters has grown to over 1000 (including special monster variants), and players have redeemed more than 7 million free chest codes since release. Wow!

But this blog isn't really intended to look back. We're more interested in sharing what's coming up! So, without further ado...

Offline Progress

Dungeons & Dragons Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms

This is a big one. Early in 2020 we hope to roll out offline progress to all platforms. This will have its biggest effect on console and mobile platforms, where leaving the game open for days on end is a challenging prospect to say the least.

Offline progress will advance your formation through the game even when the game is closed. It will not be a full simulation, but will attempt to mimic online play as closely as possible, including stopping on bosses or areas that would wipe you, completing patron challenges, and farming gold at your wall. Our intent is that offline progress will not allow you to cheese challenging variants (like "Never Split The Party"), as it will take into account changes in the formation and the challenge levels of new areas as it progresses you along.

Offline progress is currently undergoing beta testing with a small group of volunteer players, and our goal is to have it tweaked and ready for prime time early in the new year. Based on feedback from our current testers, we're confident that this will make Idle Champions a much more enjoyable experience on both mobile and console platforms, as progression should feel much less punishing. It also feels really good on Steam or web platforms if you're forced to close the game for a longer period of time. Who doesn't like coming back to the game 300 areas later and with a bunch of gold and gems to spend?

Time Gate Rework

Dungeons & Dragons Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms

An update we often see requested is improvements to time gates. We've seen a lot of great suggestions over the past year, including increasing the number of available Champions, allowing players to re-roll the available Champions, and so forth. We've decided to go above and beyond those suggestions, though, and make time gates truly a feature you can use to recruit and gear up any Champion you want to over time.

Early in 2020 we'll be rolling out our new time gate system. Once it's live, you will be able to open a time gate for ANY Champion at ANY time. The cost will remain the same (6 time gate pieces), but rather than opening a gate and having a choice of 3 random Champions, you'll be able to choose from a list of all of the available Champions. No more rolling the dice.

Additionally, we'll be updating the actual content of each time gate. In addition to two basic adventures with ever-increasing area requirements, one of the Champion's original three event variants will be offered with each opened gate, allowing you to complete their event variant achievement even if their event is not active. This extra variant will award a gold Champion chest, bringing the total number of chests you can earn per gate up to 3. This also means that the only Champion achievement you won't be able to complete outside of an event is the one to beat certain area targets in free play.

One thing we aren't changing is the free time gate weekends. They will still only offer three random Champions for free, so you'll still be able to debate amongst the community which of the three is your best option, and/or which of the three is utterly trash. The difference now is that you can choose to just ignore those three free Champions and open a different gate for time gate pieces, removing a previous restriction on time gates that the old system had. The three Champions will remain free throughout the weekend if you want to open one of their gates later, but as soon as you've opened one of the three, the two others will go back to their normal price.

To help new players from being overwhelmed by all the Champion choices, we will be providing several sorting options for the list of Champions, including popularity, which will be determined by the number of time gates recently opened for a given Champion. This should help newer players get a glimpse of the current meta and make informed time gate choices.

We will also be removing the Time Gate Fragments premium pack from our in-game store when this update rolls out.

Year 4 Events

Dungeons & Dragons Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms

The time gate section is a good segue into our next topic: Year 4 events. There was a lot of discussion around our original implementation of Year 3 events, so we want to get ahead of that by letting you know our plans for Year 4 as far ahead of time as we can -- that's now!

One of the reasons we are opening up time gates to all Champions is because we feel events are right on the cusp of having too much content to complete in the available time. This was a significant concern for us at the beginning of year 3, and why we initially reduced the freely available champions to two during the first year 3 event. While we did relax this after player feedback, it still remained a concern. As such, starting in Year 4 only the three most recent event Champions for each event will be available in their respective events. For year 4, that will be Champions from years 2, 3, and 4. When we reach Year 5 events, only year 3, 4, and 5 Champions will be available, and so forth.

With time gates being expanded, players will still have an opportunity to recruit and gear up specific older Champions if they wish, now that the randomness of time gates has been removed. While we appreciate that some players would prefer all event Champions be available during their events, we feel that would simply be too overwhelming during events, particularly for newer casual players. For any year 1 Champions considered to be at the top of the meta, the revamped time gate system will allow players of all levels to recruit and gear them up in their own time without having to wait for an event to start or feel rushed during it.

"But wait," you say, "won't that leave you wanting to run Time Gates more often? Don't they distract from doing normal adventures, or doing patron challenges, or farming gems?"

That brings us to our next big feature...

Multiple Adventure Mode

Dungeons & Dragons Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms

By the time we finish our cycle of year 3 events, Idle Champions will be home to at least 67 unique Champions (and possibly 1 or 2 more). With only 10 slots available in any given formation, this presents us with a very real problem: 57 Champions sitting on the bench doing nothing. 57 Champions you have recruited, geared up, and learned to use, but have no use for. Our solution to this is to let you run multiple adventures at once, with a unique formation of Champions in each one.

We are still in the process of optimizing and building out this system, which will likely piggy-back on the offline progress system we are developing. The end goal is to allow you to make use of 20, 30, or even 40 of the Champions on your roster at once, so that you can take advantage of all that time spent recruiting and gearing them up.

Now, your first thought after hearing this might be the same as ours -- running twice as many adventures as once sounds like twice as much work. Won't this make the game more onerous? Well, that brings us to our last update of this blog...

Modron Automation

To go along with being able to run multiple adventures at once, we want to provide players with some utilities to make those additional adventures easier to run, and start to close the gap between normal players and those who enjoy scripting the game to play itself.

Modron Automation will allow you to set the game to play up to a certain area and then potentially reset and run it again. You'll be able to use this feature to run time gates, farm for gems or chests, complete patron challenges, etc, and you'll be able to use a different script on each adventure you're running with Multiple Adventure Mode.

Both Multiple Adventure mode and Modron Automation are still in early stages, so you shouldn't expect them too early in the new year, but they're important pillars of our plans for Idle Champions moving forward.

Closing Thoughts

Aside from these big picture items, we are of course still hard at work on new Champions, balance patches, soft cap increases, new blessings, and new adventures and variants. We have no plans to slow down in 2020 and we thank you for joining us for the ride!