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January 31st
Dev Blog: 2021 Year End Blog 
Posted in Idle Champions.

Well met, friends! It's-a-me, Justin Stocks, the Lead Designer for Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Lunar New Year! Welcome to our regularly scheduled (though thoroughly delayed) "year-end" blog for 2021. What a fast year! In this blog, we're going to take a quick look back at some of the highlights of the past year, and then glance forward (into the future!) to see what 2022 will have in store for us.

2021 Review

Everyone here at Codename continued to deal with the challenges of working during a global pandemic, but through it all, we managed to get most of what we were hoping to do done. Let's look at some of the things we released in Idle Champions in 2021:


Dungeons & Dragons Bardic Inspiration

Bardic Inspiration Vol 1 and 2

Music got a make-over in Idle Champions in 2021. If you haven't done it yet, click on the Jukebox feature in-game and rock out to the amazing music tracks composed by Jason Charles Miller and you, our awesome community. Bardic Inspiration Volume 1 and 2 were released in 2021 and were an instant hit. Want to help make the next generation of music for the game? Tune into our weekly Bardic Inspiration stream on our Twitch Channel.

New Champions

Unlike previous years with a measly seventeen or eighteen Champions added, the past year saw twenty new Champions added to the game, including seventeen event Champions and a record three Evergreen Champions. Let's take a look at some of the highlights:

  • Hew Maan - A community favorite, while Hew Maan themself might swear they're human, they look an awful lot like three kobolds in a trenchcoat. This unique Champion has cemented themselves in many players' formations as a powerful speed option.
  • Shaka - A powerful Champion who rewards players for solving his formation puzzle that changes on every run. This Champion arrived during the Running event and has seen high usage in many players' formations.
  • Ellywick - Ellywick Tumblestrum was an exciting crossover Champion from Magic: The Gathering that we were honored to announce to the world in mid-2021. A daring Champion, they risk everything to draw from the Deck of Many Things every 50 areas.
  • NERDS - An Evergreen only available through an exciting promotion involving some tasty candy. This was a fun Champion to design, but they aren't super impactful in players' formations (somewhat intentionally, due to their limited availability).
  • Reya - The reward for a very challenging variant in the Descent Into Avernus, Reya Mantlemorn is integral to the story of Avernus, and while she may not be integral to many formations yet, her time may still come.
  • Xerophon - Xerophon started out their design as a very different Champion, but the one thing they retained is their very wacky ability to transform. Players have had fun transforming Xerophon into all sorts of abnormal creatures. Find them in the Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign.


Dungeons & Dragons Trials of Mount Tiamat Logo Clear

The Trials of Mount Tiamat

September saw the rollout of a major new feature for Idle Champions: The Trials of Mount Tiamat. This cooperative asynchronous multiplayer adventure is a first for Idle Champions in terms of starting to test the waters of multiplayer. While the system was relatively bug-free (at least compared to last year's Modron Automation/Multi-Party mode), the system is not perfect and there are still a number of issues that will need to be resolved in the future. Look for changes starting soon in 2022.

Modron/Multi-Party Fixes

The team made substantial progress this year at addressing some of the more impactful problems players were experiencing. Some of the biggest fixes included establishing instant recall of Champions from other parties and fixing a number of formation-loading issues, including an oft-requested fix for back-filling familiars when the originally saved familiar wasn't available. We also made numerous stability improvements behind the scenes. With these fixes in place and more on the horizon, we're hoping the end is nigh for the beta tag on this system.

Idle Champions Presents starring B Dave Walters | Krystina Arielle | Erin M Evans | Mark Meer | Adam Bradford | Vivid Vivka | and Special Guests

Idle Champions Presents

Not to be overlooked, the last quarter of the year saw the release of season two of Idle Champions Presents, our very own table-top D&D game integrated with Idle Champions in such a way that you, our esteemed players, could influence the outcome of the game. It was a wild ride to be sure, as two completely separate teams battled through their own trials of Mount Tiamat in order to banish the dragon queen herself. I won't spoil the ending, but needless to say, things got Epic (and in-game, players were awash in free loot)!

Bug Fixes

Efforts were made to renew our focus on bug fixes throughout the year, with additional resources being brought in to help cut down the list. The team meets every monday to go over recent and highly upvoted reports in our online public Bug Tracker, and nearly every patch includes numerous fixes. These efforts will continue into 2022 as we try to strike that balance between creating new and interesting content and ensuring the game works smoothly for the vast majority of players.

Looking Forward - 2022 Preview

Right. So. That was 2021. Let's look into our crystal ball for 2022 and see what these next 12 11 months will (hopefully) bring:

Additional Modron/Offline Progress Updates

First on our priority list for 2022 is getting Multi-party Offline Progress to a better place. While we made large improvements in 2021, there are still a number of obvious and oft-reported issues that we would like to nail down. Once these issues have been resolved, we are hoping to make some tweaks to the Modron pipe game to further reward fiddling and optimization of those exciting little components.

Depending on the success of these fixes and additions, we would like to be able to take the beta tag off of multi-party mode sometime in 2022. Fingers crossed!

Updates to the Trials of Mount Tiamat

Even though the feature was very well received, the Trials of Mount Tiamat needs some love. We have a large list of changes, ranging from small tweaks to complete rebalances, in the pipeline and will hopefully be dolling these changes out over time. We have already started, with a change of the campaign cooldown from 7 to 6 days in order to prevent or at least reduce drifting start times, so you can start a new campaign at roughly the same time every week. Additional changes to the campaign itself and the legendary items that are the fruits of your efforts are coming soon.

Localization

Localization will be a big focus for 2022, with translations for the game nearly ready in roughly half a dozen languages. With tens of thousands of strings and hundreds of thousands of words, this has been a huge endeavor for us. Stay tuned for more information about this in the coming weeks and months. Our hope is that this work (it has been a lot of work) will make the game accessible to tons of new players around the world.

New Evergreen Champions

In keeping with tradition, several new Evergreen Champions are planned for 2022, with the first coming sooner than you might expect. Evergreen Champions are generally awarded for completing challenging campaign adventure variants, so make sure you're up-to-date in all the permanent campaigns!

New Stuff?

New stuff is fun, so this year we're planning some new stuff. While I can't directly speak to the specifics of any of the systems yet, I can talk about some of the goals of the new stuff this year:
  • Semi-regular rebalances of less popular/underpowered Champions
  • Eliminate or mitigate some of the grind of patron challenges
  • Add more longer-term goals (and progress bars) to the game
  • Some ways for players to more directly compare their formation building expertise
  • Offer more rewards for playing regularly (indirectly; not login bonuses)
  • New community challenges to increase chatter and engagement
  • Some other stuff that is only half-designed but will be really cool, we promise

Conclusion

After the never-ending slog that was 2021, we're hoping there's light at the end of the tunnel that is 2022. If not, at least there will be some cool new stuff in Idle Champions for us all to enjoy. We're very excited about our plans for 2022, and we hope you're excited too.
September 14th, 2020
Dev Blog: Third Year Retrospective 
Posted in Idle Champions.

Hey everyone. I'm Justin Stocks, the Lead Game Designer for Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms. In the lead-up to our Third Anniversary Celebration, I wanted to take a few minutes to look back over everything we've accomplished in the last year...


Dungeons & Dragons Dragonbait

Fall 2019

September 2019: Patron System (part of the Y2 anniversary)

We kicked off our third year with a bang, adding the Patron System, which allows players to replay variants and free plays with additional restrictions to earn unique rewards and powerful perks. While we started out with just two patrons and a handful of rewards, we have since expanded the system with a third patron (Strahd von Zarovich) and numerous additional rewards for purchase, such as familiars, skins, and sought-after modron component chests. We plan to continue to expand on the system with additional patrons, store items, and perks, including some new skins during the upcoming Anniversary Celebration!

October 2019: New Campaign (Descent Into Avernus)

October saw the release of our fourth permanent campaign: Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus. This fiendish campaign has been expanded upon multiple times over the year and will continue to get updates moving forward. This update also managed to sneak in an update to our in-game effects descriptions, helping players to better understand how their formation abilities interact with each other. Usually.

Dungeons & Dragons Dragonbait

Winter 2020

New Year's Day 2020: New Evergreen Champion (Dragonbait)

The new year brought about another Evergreen Champion to join the ranks of Hitch, Drizzt, and Azaka. Dragonbait was a challenging unlock from a variant of the final adventure in the Tomb of Annihilation campaign, and while he is still trying to make a name for himself in a very competitive bench slot, he's nevertheless a highly sought-after saurial.

January 2020: Updated Time Gates & Offline Progress

The new year brought exciting new updates, many of which were included out in our Idle Champions in 2020 dev blog at the end of December last year. The first of which was an expanded Time Gate System. Gone were the days of gambling six time gate pieces and hoping you got a Champion that you liked. Now you could pick precisely the Champion you wanted to gear up or recruit, and the time gates themselves were made more lucrative, with up to three gold chests and numerous silver chests up for grabs. Players flocked to earn Mystra's favor and recruiting and gearing up missed event Champions became easier than ever before. And at the end of the month, Offline Progress arrived, allowing players to continue to progress during their adventures even while logged out!

Dungeons & Dragons Dragonbait

Spring 2020

March 2020: Spring Extravaganza with Updated Formation Saves

The first of our 2020 seasonal events, the Spring Extravaganza, brought with it a week of free rewards, including an awesome Champion skin, but more importantly a revamped formation save system. Instead of being limited to only three formations per campaign, players could now save up to 50 formations with customizable names, and their formation saves now included familiar placements as well as Champions. Getting back up to speed after a reset had never been more convenient.

March 2020: Leaving Early Access on Steam

As a personal milestone for us at Codename, in March we also left early access on Steam. This was a big moment as it meant that Idle Champions had finally reached a point where we felt it was deserving of a full release, with features such as the Patron System really fleshing out the replayability of the existing content.

Dungeons & Dragons Ulkoria

Summer 2020

July 2020: Summer Spectacular with Modron Automation & Multi-Party Play

The Summer Spectacular at the end of July was host to the game's largest evolution yet: Modron Automation & Multi-Party Play. These two new systems combined to add incredible new depth to the game. With two adventuring parties running at the same time players had to dust off several underutilized Champions to fill every slot, a trend which will continue as additional adventuring parties are made available over the next year or two.

With Modron Automation we started to put the "Idle" back "Idle Champions", letting players set up their adventuring parties to reset automatically, fill the formation automatically, and farm gems and favor to their heart's content. Finally, the Modron Components mini-game added some new strategy to the game for folks who couldn't get enough of the pipe mini-game in Bioshock or the latest Spiderman PS4 game.

August 2020: New Focus on Bugs & Performance

Modron Automation and Multi-Party Play was a big tech investment for us, and resulted in an unacceptable backlog of bugs and unoptimized code. In August we refocused our attention on bugs and performance with the addition of our public-facing bug report system. Through the month we managed to track down several memory leaks and patch them up, leading to a noticeable improvement in stability and performance. As no more major features (on the scale of Modron Automation) are planned for 2020, we will continue to iterate on these improvements and fix bugs as quickly as we can.

August 2020: Finished Waterdeep: Dragon Heist Campaign & New Evergreen Champion (Ulkoria)

Most recently we released the final adventures of the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist campaign and included alongside them our fifth Evergreen Champion: the reclusive mage, Ulkoria Stonemarrow. Ulkoria is a magic specialist who can do some incredibly powerful things for a full formation of spellcasters. While her full potential hasn't yet been released, future Champion releases will no doubt add to her repertoire and increase her play.

Dungeons & Dragons Icewind Dale

Third Anniversary & Beyond: The Future

So what does the future look like for Idle Champions? It's bright! While we don't plan to release any major features in the next few months, we do have a new campaign on the horizon. You can also expect us to continue with bug fixes and performance enhancements. We also intend to continue to iterate on the offline progress system, which runs your background parties during multi-party play and should result in speed improvements to everyone's progression, especially if your background party is farming gems.

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!
June 28th, 2018
Idle Champions: Time Gates FAQ 
Posted in Idle Champions.


Note: This FAQ is now out of date. Please refer to the in-game Time Gate FAQ for the most up-to-date information


Looking for more information about our new Time Gates feature that wasn't covered in our Dev Blog: Introducing Time Gates? Check out our FAQ below!

Time Gates FAQ

  • Q: What are the Time Gates?

  • A: Long ago, there were ways to travel through time within Toril. These portals, or Time Gates as they were known, were powerful creations of magic that have become lost to time. Mystra, the goddess of magic, has foreseen great challenges coming for the champions and has granted one of her chosen, Kaylaar, the power to open Time Gates to assist you in your quests.

  • Q: OK, so that's the lore-filled explanation. But what does that really mean?

  • A: Time Gates are a new feature for Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms. They are the avenue by which you can earn champions from previous events that you may have missed, and/or gear them up for free. Every time a Time Gate is available, you'll be able to choose from one of three previous event champions. Once you open the Time Gate to that champion, you'll be able to replay the event adventure they are tied to, and collect up to 2 gold chests for the champion. If you haven't unlocked the champion, you'll also earn that champion on your first Area 50 completion.

  • Q: My Time Gate has different champions available than my friend's Time Gate. Is that a bug?

  • A: No. The champions for each player are randomly chosen based on the champions they have collected already. If possible, there will always be at least one Champion you haven't unlocked available through the Time Gates.

  • Q: What do I have to do to collect the displayed Time Gate rewards?

  • A: The first time you select any given champion through the time gate, you'll need to complete two runs to collect the rewards: one to area 50, and one to area 75.

  • Q: I just triggered a Time Gate and the areas I have to reach are higher than 50 & 75. Why is that?

  • A: The first time you select a champion, the areas you have to reach are 50 & 75. The next time that champion is available within a Time Gate, the target areas are increased for each reward previously claimed, so you'll have to get to areas 100 & 125. This effect stacks if you continue to choose the same Champion each time they're available, making their rewards harder and harder to get. However, if you don't choose that champion when it's available, the *next* time that champion because available the required levels will drop by 25 (to a minimum of 50 & 75).

  • Q: How often are Time Gates available?

  • A: Natural Time Gates will be opened by Kaylaar approximately every 3 weeks (give or take). But you can open them (with her assistance) on your own once you've collected enough Time Gate Pieces.

  • Q: What are Time Gate Pieces?

  • A: Bosses will now begin dropping Time Gate Pieces. These are extremely rare drops which do have a cooldown, so farming bosses will not increase your drop rate. Once you collect 6 of those pieces, you can ask Kaylaar to open a Time Gate outside of the normal event window. You won't be able to open one is if she's going to open one on her own within 72 hours, or if you already have a Time Gate open.

  • Q: How long are Time Gates open for?

  • A: Time Gates will normally be available for only 72 hours, whether they are opened through the normal event cadence or through your collected Time Gate pieces. However, for the first Time Gate, we're opening it for an additional few hours to make sure everyone has plenty of time to play in the first window.

  • Q: Do I gain divine favor during a Time Gate event?

  • A: Yes, you gain favor with Mystra, and you'll be forced to convert it once the Time Gate closes, just like normal events, although the conversion ratio is smaller than normal events.

  • Q: If I decide I don't want to collect the champion I chose, can I choose a different champion?

  • A: No. Once you select the champion during a Time Gate window, you can't change your decision.

  • Q: I opened the time gate, but I didn't complete the 2 runs. What happens?

  • A: For each reward that you were not able to collect we credit your account with a Time Gate piece when the gate closes, which is 1/6th of another Time Gate run. So if a Time Gate becomes available and you chose a champion, but you are unable to complete any of the objectives, you'll find 2 additional Time Gate pieces in your inventory when the Time Gate closes.

  • Q: Who is the woman controlling the Time Gates? Is that Mystra?

  • A: No. That is Kaylaar Allun, a powerful wizard and a chosen of Mystra. She has reached out to the champions under the bidding of her goddess, Mystra.