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December 21st, 2020
Dev Blog: Goodbye 2020 
Posted in Idle Champions.

Ho ho hello everyone. Justin Stocks, Lead Designer of Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms here. It has been an extremely long, difficult year for all of us, but as we (finally) put 2020 behind us, we wanted to look back through the past year at everything we've accomplished, as well as look forward to 2021 and some of the things we hope to add to the game moving forward.

Part 1

2020 in Review

First let's look back to 2020. We are proud of how much we were able to accomplish considering all the challenges of staying safe, working from home, and navigating a very different world than the one we started the year with.

Updated Time Gate System

The new year brought exciting new updates, many of which were spec'd out in our 2020 roadmap 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.

Updated Formation Save System

As part of our Spring Extravaganza we expanded the 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, and the system may get even more features in the future.

Modron Automation

The launch of Modron Automation 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. With the Modron Core mini-game we added an additional layer of strategy and puzzle solving for players who were interested in maximizing their Modron bonuses.

Multi-Party Play

Alongside Modron Automation we launched Multi-Party Play, which allowed players to run multiple adventures at the same time and expand their roster of useful Champions. This was a major, major undertaking for the development team as large portions of the game had to be rewritten to support multiple active formations, sets of buffs, and adventure details. While it was a ton of work, this feature was vitally important to the future of Idle Champions.

New Evergreen Champions

Dragonbait joined forces with the Champions very early in 2020, and later in the year he was joined by the cranky (but powerful) mage Ulkoria. These two new evergreen Champions, from the Tomb of Annihilation and Waterdeep: Dragon Heist respectively, joined an expanding roster of permanently available bonus Champions that can be recruited once you've completed enough of their respective campaigns.

Focus on Bug Fixes and Optimization

After Modron Automation and Multi-Party Play were released we focused heavily on bug fixes and optimization, greatly increasing the game's performance on consoles and trying to work our way through a massive list of issues that players provided via our new public Bug Tracking tool. We will continue to iterate on the improvements made during this year, and meet weekly to discuss the top-voted bugs reported in the Bug Tracking tool.

Quarterly Celebrations

The final 2020 feature I want to mention is the quarterly celebrations. While we've run similar mini-events before for anniversaries and new platform launches, this year we ran these quarterly, starting with the Spring Extravaganza in March and concluding with the Year's End Festival in December. These mini-events have given us an opportunity to bundle new features with free rewards and new DLC and have been a highlight of each quarter. We hope to continue these events in the future.

Part 2

2021 Plans

Now let's talk about what we're planning for 2021. It's going to be an exciting year for Idle Champions, in part due to the large variety of existing features we have available to iterate on, and in part due to some plans we have for wholly brand new features this year.

New Event Champions

The new year will bring another 17 event Champions. We've already got many of them planned out and some are sure to be fan favorites. We will also continue to monitor the impact of removing year 1 Champions from the events and make changes to Time Gates, chest sales, and other avenues as necessary to ensure players who want them can still access and gear up those Champions.

New Evergreen Champions

In addition to new event Champions we've got several more evergreen Champions in the works. The first one will arrive in the first half of the year and be associated with the Descent Into Avernus campaign, so stay tuned for more information "soon!"

End of the Descent Into Avernus Campaign

Speaking of the Descent Into Avernus campaign, in 2021 it will finally draw to a close with an epic battle between good and evil. Which side will prevail? For that matter, which side will you be on? Make sure your Descent Into Avernus campaign is up to date so you can take part in the newest adventures as soon as they are released.

Balance Changes

While balance changes in 2020 took more of a backseat to new features, bug fixes, and optimization, they'll be back with a vengeance in 2021 as we work towards providing players with more viable Champion options in every seat. While we don't have specifics on exactly what these changes will entail at this time, we will also be doing more soft cap increases in addition to more substantial balance updates.

More Bug Fixes, Optimization, and QoL Features

As always we will be monitoring community feedback and focus on fixing the biggest issues facing our players. This can take the form of simple bug fixes, larger game/graphical optimizations, or specific quality of life features, such as improvement to the formation save system, or other things that make players' lives easier in the face of the growing complexity of the game.

New Patrons

We are planning to add at least one new patron in 2021. Maybe two. We'll see. New patrons will focus on limiting the Champion pool and creating interesting challenges from a formation building perspective. Along with each new patron will come a whole host of new patron shop rewards, patron perks, and extremely challenging variants. Stay tuned for more information about the first of these mysterious new benefactors.

New Parties

Currently players can run two parties at the same time, but we're not planning on stopping there. We have already begun testing systems with three active parties and hope to roll this out to players as soon as we're confident it's ready.

New Modron Cores

Along with new parties come new modron cores. Along with new modron cores come new modron core nodes. Speed core? Sure. We can probably make that happen. Stay tuned for more information about these new core(s) and how they will be obtained.

New Modron Core Features

We also want to expand the functionality of Modron Cores themselves, with things like new automation features and a use for excess flow. We can't say too much now, but we definitely want players to have a reason to optimize and empower their cores even more!

Updates to the Feat system

We'd like to spend some time this year exploring our options with the Feat system and seeing if there are any improvements that can be made, including things like adding more feats for all Champions, adding an additional feat slot to all Champions, and including feat choices in saved formations.

Ambiguous Asynchronous Co-operative Multiplayer Feature

The first of the major new features that we're briefly touching on today is a system for light asynchronous co-operative multiplayer. While we can't say much about what we're planning, at this point in time it will not be real-time, won't include any PvP aspects, and will be entirely opt-in. Our big goals with the system is to allow players to show off their formations and their strategies while working together with other players towards a common objective. This feature is still in very early stages, so players shouldn't expect any updates on it for quite some time.

Legendary Progression Systems

In addition to the co-operative multiplayer system outlined above, we would also like to spend some time looking at gear progression and see if we can make that more interesting once you've gotten your gear to epic. Long-time players may be aware of the legendary equipment system in Crusaders of the Lost Idols, and while we would certainly look at that system while designing Idle Champion's, we plan to learn from both our successes and failures and make something more interesting for players to explore.

Part 3

Wrapping Up

So there you have it: a look back at 2020 and a brief peek behind the curtain at what we're working on for 2021. We hope you continue to enjoy Idle Champions as much as we enjoy making it. You, our players, are the reason we do this, and your feedback and comments drive us forward. See you in 2021!
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