Having conquered the PC and mobile gaming worlds the Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms are battling their way onto consoles. Codename Entertainment's Chris Dupuis chatted with Dragon+ to explain the leap to a new platform.
The world’s first idle strategy game set in the celebrated universe of the Forgotten Realms has enjoyed amazing success since launch, and its push for world domination is about to take a new step. Previously available on Steam for Windows PC and Mac OSX, as well as for iPad on the App Store and for Android tablet on Google Play, Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms is coming soon to gaming consoles!
The continued rise of Idle Champions is partly down to the fact that it goes well beyond what defines an ‘idle’ video game. Players have to gather their Champions, assemble a party, and optimize their Formation Strategy as they head out on adventures.
“I feel Idle Champions has so much more to offer than just clicker gameplay, and we like to describe it as a strategy management game,” says Chris Dupuis, Live Services Manager at Codename Entertainment. “At its core it is all about going on adventures, collecting and upgrading Champions and maximizing your formation to push further every time.”
Turning D&D into a clicker game is a rewarding experience because of the depth of rich, diverse content that’s available to draw upon. Idle Champions currently includes over 200 adventures (and variants) with more added each week, while the twelve starting Champions are a small part of a roster that has now reached thirty-five.
There are three evergreen campaign routes to play through with content pulled directly from some TRPG modules: players start on a grand tour of the Sword Coast; can plumb the depths of the Tomb of Annihilation campaign; and even pit their wits against Waterdeep’s villains in the Dragon Heist campaign. Each adventure sees players travel through fifty areas, with a boss every five areas. As players progress, the enemies drop more gold but they also become stronger—spending that gold levels up the Champions so they can hit back harder. Champions can upgrade their specializations and quest for epic weapons such as Drizzt Do’Urden’s legendary swords, Icingdeath and Twinkle.
However, unlocking new Formation abilities is the real key to success and sets Idle Champions apart from other clicker games. Learning how to combine each Champion’s abilities to maximize their potential helps players defeat an onslaught of increasingly powerful monsters.
“Formation abilities are where the game truly shines,” explains Dupuis. “For example, Celeste heals those in the column ahead of her but also grants a big damage boost to those adjacent to her, so placing her behind your tanks but next to your higher damage-dealing heroes is key to pushing further each time. Bruenor has an ability called Rally which increases the damage of those in his column so you want to place him in a column with your damage dealers.
“As you unlock more heroes each one will open up new strategies for your formations and help you min/max your way to your wall, or give you the ability to craft your own adventuring team based on who you want to play with. Do you love Dice, Camera, Action!, Acquisitions Incorporated The “C” Team, Force Grey or R.A. Salvatore’s Companions of the Hall? We’ve got Champions from all of those groups, with a new Champion coming out every three weeks or so. There’s always new adventures, Champions, and content to play through!”
Since the game is currently available on multiple formats, you might expect the switch to consoles to be an easy transition. Yet the different control systems used on those varied gaming technologies meant Idle Champions needed to be fully redeveloped for Xbox and PS4. Dupuis says the team has spent the past few months “gutting” the user interface and updating it for console players.
“Playing on a console is not the same as playing with a keyboard or a mouse. To that end we’ve completely revised the UI so it’s fun and exciting for someone playing with a controller on console. We initially released a gamepad user interface to our Steam players as an optional way for them to play and reached out to some of the more dedicated members of our community to solicit feedback.
“We had a ton of players excited about the changes and we worked closely with them to revise and revamp it following their feedback. Thanks to that and all the hard work the team has been doing behind the scenes, I’m really excited to hear what console folks have to say about the new experience.”
Despite those necessary changes to the interface, Dupuis feels the console version captures the look, feel, and playability of the original game.
“I think we have retained the simplicity of the game—which I love—while also revising and updating areas of the user interface. As part of that upgrade we developed new portraits for all the heroes,” he says, noting major changes to the PC interface.
It’s no surprise to see iconic Forgotten Realms characters such as Bruenor, Celeste, and Minsc and Boo appear in Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms. But it’s equally exciting to see the inclusion of characters from livestreams such as Force Grey, Acquisitions Incorporated The “C” Team, and Dice, Camera, Action!
The latest character to join this roster is Vlahnya Um’Vairar from Maze Arcana, which airs on the official D&D Twitch channel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. To say that Vlahnya’s creator, Dungeon Master Satine Phoenix, is excited about the collaboration with Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms is something of an understatement.
“This is so cool!” she tells Dragon+. “I never, ever in any fantasy dream I’ve had thought Vlahnya would come to life. She was born in 1992 and has evolved in many renditions and she is more beautiful in this video game than I could have imagined.”
Phoenix shared her cosplay from the Stream of Many Eyes event with the Idle Champions artists, including links to the livestream and photos, and they went to work. “I am so grateful because I don’t think I had more than one teensy change during the entire process,” she says. “And coming up with all of her powers and converting the character to Idle Champions was a group collaboration that was really fun!”
“In the PC version of the game, the portraits of the characters are taken straight from their character model. In this new iteration, our artists have spent a lot of time to bring those characters to life in an exciting style. Additionally, our PC user interface actually covers a lot of those great images our artists created. On the console we are able to pull back the curtain and allow players to fully experience the enemies that are determined to take your party down.”
Dupuis says the game won’t offer cross-platform play because of the limitations of certain platforms. However, all the current heroes, gear, and upgrades will be available on the console versions. “When we launch this month, Idle Champions will be in the middle of the Simril event so that won’t be available on console. But our long-term goal is to launch with parity on all five platforms each week, so players on PC, iPad, Android tablets, PS4, and Xbox can enjoy the same features,” Dupuis says. The move to a different platform also brings bonuses that both new players and old can enjoy. The console launch will kick off a ten-day celebration that includes daily streaming events and a week of free game content for early adopters. Players on every platform will still benefit, though.
“In addition, we’re launching a Founder’s Pack bundle on console for $19.99 that’ll include what is usually a $50 pack of gold chests to get your Champions geared up, as well as a ton of other freebies and exclusive content. But because we want all of our players to share the experience and excitement, the free content and Founder’s Pack will also be available on all other platforms.”
Free content, famous characters, regular updates with content inspired by official Dungeons & Dragons adventures, as well as limited-time events and additional campaign adventures? No wonder Polygon’s Brian Gilbert, who scours the internet for great cheap games, dubbed it “a free game worth playing” in a video asking ” Why is this idle game so fun?”