Producer’s Letter: Anniversary Edition

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Hello Realmers!

It has been a while since our last Producer’s Letter, and what better occasion to do it than the anniversary of Realm Exalt Open Beta. Yes! It already has been a year since everyone is able to enjoy our new Unity Client. Not sure about you, but for us this year passed very fast. With everything going on in the world we needed to adjust a lot of how we work, but we strived to never slow down improving the game and delivering new content. 

A lot has happened in the last year. We had a lot of issues at the beginning with Exalt Client. While our development team was working on its stability, our design team was delivering new content for the game. The first thing that we released was the 16th class for the game – the Bard. A new support class, which is able to inspire other characters and extend the range of their attacks. 

Finally, on July 22 we decided to make it our official client but, at the same time, still enabling playing on Flash. With this big change another huge thing has been released in the realm, namely a certain 32×32 boss. Of course we are talking about Oryx 3. Sanctuary brought the endgame to a new level and provided some unique items.

After these two things were out, we concentrated on delivering MotMG 2020. And it was a big one! Exaltations, Vital Combat, new Vault UI, Potion Vault, four reconstructed dungeons, High Tech Terror, Fame rework, and more. Definitely the biggest MotMG in history. But we did not stop with the big releases there. Next stop for us was Oryxmas 2020 and another big drop of content: three more dungeons were reconstructed, reworked quick slots, and finally the long anticipated Item Forge was introduced. This was a strong end of the year for us and we didn’t want the beginning of 2021 to be any different. 

The recent release of the Summoner and the two new reconstructions are a good proof of it. And let’s not forget all the other small changes that have happened in the meantime: adding transparency, making countless balancing changes, reworking some seasonal encounters, adding a new notification system, and much more.

What is even more impressive is the work that our UGC members did in the past year:
– Ancient Ruins dungeon made by Sturky
– Third Dimension dungeon made by Aurum
– All the new ST sets
– All of the new Agent of Oryx items
– Massive amounts of art for cosmetics, items, and, of course, their own dungeons.

All of these were possible only because of the amazing work that the UGC members (testers, artists, XML creators, music creators) are putting into this game. And for this we are grateful to them.

One especially exciting internal event we had with UGC was DunJam! Our participating UGC designers and artists were split into three teams (along with a handful of testers exclusive to each project for feedback) and were given two weeks to conceptualize and develop a dungeon. Of course, no dungeon gets completely done in such a short time frame, but like a GameJam, the real test is in which team can make the most fun, creative, and well-realized concept within the time frame. We have also allowed our unbelievably passionate UGC members to continue working from what was made during the DunJam after it ended. Who knows, sometime in the not-too-distant future, you might see one or more of these entries released as an official dungeon in a fully finished state! But that’s enough about the past. Let’s move to the much more interesting part – the future. Starting with the near one.

As you might have noticed, recently we introduced some new tools to fight bots. Although we already see a great improvement in the fight against them, in the next couple of months we want to tackle this problem even further. We hope that the changes that we are making will reduce the amount of bots to a minimum, and at the same time ensure those changes will not be annoying for you, the players.

We also increased our efforts to fight cheaters. With the release of Unity we introduced some new tools to detect any use of third party software, which resulted in 8800 bans in 2020, 4700 of which were permanently banned (and 2021 has already had some big numbers to date). We have also recently changed our policy to apply a permanent ban after the first violation of our TOS. In 2021 we plan to be more strict with players who use third party software.

Other things that our design team is currently working on are some big balancing changes for many items and some tweaks to Crystal Cavern. Also, we have plans for the Assassin, as it is time we bring him back to the spotlight! We hope soon we will be able to share more details. 

In the meantime, our development team is working on big changes on the server side which should improve the performance of our game and also significantly improve the security, working on measures against duping, and enabling us to open trading to more items than the ones we currently have.

Now let’s move to the big guns! The next big release coming up this year is MotMG planned for August. As we already mentioned, we are currently working on a rework of Shatters which we are very excited about.

It’s no secret that the Shatters has been an extremely polarizing dungeon for a long time. We aren’t holding back on this rework, and like with all reconstructions, we don’t want to let the past hold us back from what is best for the game from a design perspective. However, although we are being extra ambitious on all fronts to give the Shatters the quality and professionalism it deserves, we still wish to be true to the spirit of the dungeon when salvageable.

Here’s an extra early sneak peek at some general level design planning. We do want to stress that this is one of our earliest drafts, so a lot of things aren’t to scale and aren’t concrete overall. The village, for example, is currently planned to be a proportionally much larger area than depicted in this sketch with a lot of handmade variety and setpieces, and the castle rooms won’t just be identical rectangles we fill in different ways. But we hope this little glimpse inside the preproduction section is exciting enough to get some creative thoughts and speculation going!

This will be our most impactful dungeon reconstruction yet, and given the mixed opinions on the current state of the dungeon, we want to be transparent about its development process and share progress information when possible. If you would be interested in a kind of “dev diary” for it, please speak up! If there’s enough interest, our design team may take the extra time to record in-development builds over time and give some behind the scenes looks, explain direction choices, and potentially look for active feedback on some elements.

But that’s not all that we’ve planned for MotMG! We are working on two completely new mechanics for the game. 

The Enchantment system will take your gear to the next level. Equip items will have a probability of dropping with Enchantments!

Enchantments are a bit of a staple in an RPG. They allow you to customize your gear to levels beyond imagination. You will be able to personalize your favourite sword or armor and have it be really unique. There will be many Enchantments, some of them more generic, others more specific to unique item types. 

(*Remember, this is a mockup for demonstration purposes, so don’t get too alarmed if any of the details look unbalanced!)

Also, we try to have lore as an increasingly important part of our design philosophy. The story of the Heroes of the Nexus is about to take a steep turn! New actors will soon make their entrance on the stage…

On a different note, you might have noticed one of our vision pillars for 2021: Increasing variety. Variety is important for us, and the direction towards which we want to move Realm. We really want to make each run unique while being faithful to the core of the game you know. That’s why Enchantments are only the first step towards that, and for sure not the only one. 

Alongside it, we are working on a Dungeon Modifiers system. This will allow each dungeon instance to have unique perks that alter — slightly or profoundly! — how it’s played. 

For example, we could have different versions of Lost Halls where the enemies are harder and tougher, or easier and less frequent. Or what about a dungeon where the water is lava? The possibilities are endless!

In general, though, the more “powerful” Dungeon Modifiers a dungeon has, the better the rewards it will provide! 

Though both systems have a random nature, we also believe in leaving room for players to “control” this randomness to a degree. So both systems (Enchantments and Dungeon Modifiers) will have ways for you to decide how much risk (for an appropriate reward) you want to go through. So you can plan your gear, your runs and have some agency on how you want to play and evolve your characters.

Overall, we firmly believe that these systems will bring some freshness to Realm and it’s already great replayability factor. They will also be the foundational work for the future, as both systems will allow us to scale the game and provide new features and content as we introduce more and more Enchantments and Dungeon Modifiers of all shapes and sizes.

As you can see, lots of exciting stuff is coming up on this MotMG, and we can’t wait to share even more details with you guys!

But MotMG is not the end of the year. Another new class, a Realm rework, a brand new Battle Pass, and more QoL features are only some of the things that our design and development teams have in their hands right now. Some of them you can definitely expect still in 2021. And let’s not forget about all the amazing projects coming from our UGC members. 

Believe us when we say: They are definitely worth waiting for!

Last year was amazing for us and challenging at the same time. Switching to a new platform, expanding and restructuring the team, moving to fully remote work. All of those things required a lot of our work, but at the end of the day we were able to adjust and release a lot of great features. And all of it was worth it, because we have never had as many people in Realm as in 2020. Community is always our priority and we hope that last year fulfilled many of your expectations. But the community in our game wouldn’t be the same without all the people who are helping us creating it: Discord Mods, Reddit Mods, Content Creators and everyone else who contributed to it. To all of you: Thank you so much!

In 2021 and 2022 we are not slowing down. We want to make the game cleaner, user friendly, and even more engaging, so that at some point (after over 10 years 🙂 ) we will be confident to present our game to new users and expand the Realm community. So buckle up guys, because Realm is thriving more than ever! And who knows… maybe one day even those gamepad users will be able to play this great game on their TV screens. 😉

Remember to play hard, and stay safe,
The Realm Team

P.s.- Please say goodbye to Chicken Oryx, because we are making him return to his coop.

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