Developer Thoughts: Dungeons

Hey Summoners,

With the return of Infinity Dungeons on the horizon, we thought that this was the perfect opportunity for us to take another step towards being more transparent with you all, and give you some insight into the design intent of our original dungeons release, what we think went right, what we think we needed to improve on, and the lessons we learned that we’re applying going forward!

We hope that we can continue to offer you all more peeks behind the curtain in the future, and share more of our intentions and priorities as we move forward with the Contest!

The Idea that Sparked Dungeons

Since almost the beginning of the Contest, there have been many different social aspects to the game, but most of them revolved around Alliances. While Alliances are a great place to forge relationships with other Summoners, they also had some limiting factors when it came to playing alongside friends of a different progression level, or just because there may not be enough room in your Alliance. We wanted to expand on the social offerings in game, and offer Summoners a mode where they can play alongside existing friends (whether you’re in the same Alliance or not), as well as to meet some potentially new friends, and expand your personal network of Summoners!

We didn’t want this to be a mode that required the same level of commitment that Alliances do, but something that could be done more casually with your friends to work toward some nice rewards. At the same time, we gravitated towards the idea of making this mode highly interactive and collaborative between players; we wanted to reinforce this idea that players were playing with other real people, and so it was important for us to try to showcase that. One of the keys for us here was to have players who were online and active at the same time, communicating and working together towards a common goal. Since the mode was intended to be more casual, we didn’t want the rewards to detract from Alliance Wars or Quests, or to be too similar. Those modes are designed to be the focus of veteran players, so we didn’t want those players to feel that they had to fully complete content in Dungeons on top of the commitments they already had to those modes. The question for us then became, “what would be a unique and valuable reward for all kinds of players that wasn’t meant to substantially increase the power at the top end of your roster?”

We know that many of you have those specific Champs that you’re hoping to get with every crystal you open, whether they be your favorite characters or the ones that have something in their kit that your roster is lacking. We decided this could be a way to give players the ability to earn crystals that better targeted these particular Champs. This was one way that we could help players to expand the utility and power of their roster, without becoming redundant with our other Alliance modes. Specific Champions could provide additional utility for players at the Champion rarity that players currently had!

What we tried the first time

Buffs and Encounters

- We wanted to create clear identities for each Dungeon’s theme beyond simply the classes of the Champions you encounter. We did this by tailoring the available buffs to each pair of classes.
- We wanted to keep Buffs general enough so that any character can benefit from them, but specific enough so that certain Champions can benefit more than others.
- We wanted to create and use Buffs that, when considered in tandem with the encounter, would require some degree of knowledge about the RPG mechanics of different characters. This degree of knowledge should increase at higher difficulty levels.
--Even though the enemies and Buffs are random, they were curated to facilitate scenarios like Kingpin showing up with Slumber, in which case knowing the general kit of Kingpin would help you make an informed decision.
-We wanted to create a sense of power equality between buffs so that players would check in with their partner to see which node to take down.
-- It became clear early on that creating buffs that were too powerful or too specific would create situations where there was no communication necessary to decide which buffs to take down because the choice was too obvious.
- We aimed to place more challenging enemies as visible bosses to limit the sense of “gotcha!” when encountering a hidden enemy with challenging mechanics.
-- We’ve made some adjustments in this new version to further accomplish this, like moving all evade champions to visible encounters, for example.

Creating Empathy

A main element of cooperation for us was creating empathy between partners. We set out to accomplish this in a few ways:
- First and foremost, the design of the map is intended to create empathy. The ultimate problem to solve in each room is “which node do I want removed?” but by separating the solution to that problem into two parts (the decision and the action), then requiring your partner to accomplish one of them, we sought to create a situation where empathy is beneficial for both.
- Hiding the “vanilla” fights was important to creating empathy, because it leaves no (or very little) room to make a selfish decision. The only known variable in deciding which path to take was which Buff the other partner wanted removed.
- The “cost” of losing the fight is another way we tried to add to this. If you fail at your fight, it’s not just on you this time. It means that your partner’s next encounter is going to be much more difficult. You want to do well so that your partner can do well.

Deciding on Prize Brackets

Since our goal was to have this be a mode where players would expand their roster rather than strictly improve it, we had originally wanted to limit the availability of rewards to conditions based on roster size by rarity. In other words, you could earn 4-Stars if you already had X number of 4-Stars, and earn 5-Stars if you had X number of 5-Stars. Unfortunately, it was not something that was possible for us to complete at that time, and we had to rely on Prestige Brackets, which were our backup.

At this time, we’re still going to be using Prestige to bracket Milestones and Rewards, but are still working on an alternate solution, such as the one we mentioned above.

What we saw that we didn’t like

- Players were spending more time to achieve their milestones than we had hoped or intended
- Dungeon parties formed through matchmaking had a lower success rate on average compared to Dungeons formed with friends or Alliance members
- Many early game players did not attempt the mode during its availability
- Basing on Prestige meant that we were looking at everyone’s highest 5 Champs, which meant that after 1 or 2 dungeon runs players would have those champs on cooldown and could then have drastically lower PI Champs that could not complete the content we had targeted for them.
- Too much pressure with Infinity Dust as a reward. We put Infinity Dust in the Dungeon rewards because we knew that players would be collecting it throughout the month for additional rewards, so omitting it from Dungeon rewards would mean that a lot of players would avoid this new game mode in their quest for more Dust. However, this created the unintended pressure among many players that they had to get every milestone in every Dungeon every day to earn enough Dust to buy a 5-Star Awakening Gem Crystal.
- Dark Artifacts as a limited time, temporary currency added a large amount of undesired pressure on players

What we have changed moving forward and why

- Artifacts are now a permanent currency so you don’t have to feel like you need to get enough before it’s gone. Getting all the milestones every day will get you rewards faster, but you can still slowly accumulate Artifacts over multiple Dungeon Events and eventually reach your goal.
- Lowering effort required. We didn’t want players playing dungeons for hours at a time, so we lowered the effort required to reach the top milestone. We did also lower the rewards per milestone to maintain balance as well.
- Overlapping the Dungeon Event with the second two weeks of the Event Quest. A lot of players like to get the Event Quest finished right away so they don’t have to worry about rushing at the end of the month. By holding off on Dungeons for the first two weeks we’re trying to give players that chance to finish the Event Quest without also worrying about Dungeons right away.

Over the next 3 months, you’ll see Infinity Dungeons return 3 times for 2 weeks at a time. Each of these times, we’re going to be trying something a little different. We’re going to use this opportunity to gather data and feedback, and determine what the future of Infinity Dungeons looks like, as we imagine a future where they are available much more consistently.

For a complete list of updates to Infinity Dungeons this time around, take a look at our Announcement Thread here.

When Infinity Dungeons return next on September 17th, we plan on testing a new Milestone Event cadence (and new milestone point requirements), where instead of 1 day events, we’ll have 3-Day events, giving you more freedom to decide when you are able to play Dungeons.

When they return again on October 22nd, we’re going to try a revised Milestone setup. At this time, we don’t have much more information on this.

Please note that we are sharing a non-finalized version of our plans with you for future iterations of Dungeons. That means that these plans may change and evolve based on the the results and feedback we gather from the previous incarnations of Dungeons. Keep an eye out for more information as we get closer to these dates.
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