EpicDuel Gifting 2023: The Final Stretch

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EpicDuel Gifting 2023: The Final Stretch

Nightwraith | Friday, January 5, 2024

As we enter 2024, the 2023 season of Gifting nears its finale. Though almost over, there is still time to climb the leaderboard and secure your place in EpicDuel history! Gifting will officially end just after January 8th at 11:59 PM EST, and what a season it has been! I admit that the response to the return of Gifting this year was beyond my wildest expectations. I thought that maybe skipping a year plus the different prize structure would have reduced the excitement somewhat, but, once again, our most dedicated players delivered, smashing all-time records with unprecedented scores!

 

What Happens When Gifting Ends?

If this is your first time Gifting or you need a refresher, allow me to give you a brief rundown of what to expect once Gifting officially ends at the end of January 8th:

1. Gifting ends. After a brief delay, the leaderboard will change to a static leaderboard showcasing the winners of 2023's season.

2. I will gather information on all the top 15 winners, including contact information. Some of them have already won in previous years, but I still like to double-check to make sure everything in accurate.

3. I will count how many Secret and Silver Secret Prizes the winners received. This will be relevant for their distribution later. Secret and Silver Secret packages will open after they are all distributed.

4. I will email the top 15 winners offering congratulations and providing relevant information regarding their prizes. If you don't recall what the prizes can be this year, please refer back to this post from September.

5. Next, I will award the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Chest prizes. This will take some time since there are manual steps in the process, but I will reboot the server after I'm finished. If this process is taking too long or I'm too tired, I may delay this step until the morning. I don't want to execute numerous database queries on 50 characters if I'm sleep deprived. If you have no idea what that these prizes are, please refer to this post.

6. Next, I will award the completed Bonus Tier Prizes (Cyber Wolf Collection). Unfortunately, several of these are still pending, but I will award them as soon as they are completed on an ongoing basis.

 

Bonus Tier Prize Previews

The Bonus Tier Prizes are a new addition to the Gifting 2023 season, intended make Gifting more rewarding for those who don't have massive Varium stockpiles they can use to dominate the leaderboard. This year's theme was the Cyber Wolf Collection (with some noteworthy exceptions like the NightBot 3000). I intended to have previews over a month ago and all the items finished by now to enter 2024 with a clean slate as well as a personal challenge. However, it's clear that I don't have the speed or endurance I used to. Sure, my eye is healed, but it still strains and fatigues faster than it used to, preventing me from pulling the all-nighters I'm used to. While several of these are still in their concept-art form, they're coming together fast and will be distributed based on Gifting tiers from 10,000 to 250,000 as indicated by the Bonus Tier Prize post. Again, I apologize, but it seems like I forgot the game development truism that everything will take at least twice as long as you expect.

 

Please note that these are concept art drawings and the final designs, though close, may differ somewhat, but still look better and cleaner overall thanks to the magic of vector art.

 

Login Troubles

If you logged in or tried to login to EpicDuel the last few days you may have spent some frustrating time stuck at the "Retrieving Client Data" screen. The past few days we've tried many solutions to try to remedy this error and pinpoint its cause. Time will tell if our fixes were successful, but I'd like to thank Captain Rhubarb and Spider for looking into it and helping resolve this frustrating and elusive error. The current leading theory is that login requests were piling up and not being processed properly, jamming the login queue almost indefinitely. This could possibly be caused by a malicious actor, BUT it could just as easily happen due to high traffic and increased stress on the server. We experienced a similar issue earlier in Gifting that seemed to resolve if given enough time.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused anyone trying to login to experience the final days of this Gifting season. Being stuck at a loading screen is as frustrating for you as it is for us to reboot a server at 2:00 AM while frantically troubleshooting. It's also clear that EpicDuel is in dire need of optimization and cleanup to better handle the kind of volume we experience every year for Gifting, and we intend to make that a priority for the short to mid term in 2024.

 

Final 2023 Thoughts

Last year took some bleak turns for me and EpicDuel. Emergency eye surgery shattered many of my plans for this year and the recovery set me back physically and professional. Honestly, at the time, I thought that might be the end of Nightwraith as you know him entirely. Luckily, Acatriel stepped up and delivered enough content to keep the game humming along while preparing content for future updates to make my transition back to work easier. Without him, I'm not sure EpicDuel would be what it is today. The game would technically still be accessible online, sure, but it would be considerably diminished without his tireless efforts and invigorating passion for the game. Artists Bido and Deuce also stepped up to offer more content support when needed, delivering some amazing items by the year's end. The 2023 Gifting season never would have happened without all their help. 

Even more surprising and heartwarming was the players showing up in a big way to deliver one of the best Gifting events of all time and definitively the best by raw scores alone. Once again, I'm eternally humbled by your generosity and devotion to this game, which has been a labor of love (love/hate at times) for me since 2007, which, as a gaze sleepily at my gnarled, liver-spotted hands, feels like several lifetimes ago by now. Whether you climbed to the top 15 on the leaderboard or simply stopped by to greet a few old in-game friends, I hope to honor your continued love and support for this humble PvP MMORPG by making 2024 an incredible year for EpicDuel!

Let's Duel On into 2024!

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