2023 recap, and looking ahead to 2024!

RazmaelRazmael Administrator, Immortal
edited December 2023 in Aetolia Development
Wow, what a spectacularly busy year we've had! I daresay it was probably one of the biggest years we've ever had. So, let's review everything that happened in 2023 before discussing what to expect in the coming year.

It was a massive year for classes, with five classes released throughout the year. The first two, released in March, were the Bloodborn and Runecaver classes, mirroring Ascendril and Sciomancer, respectively. Later in the year, we released the Predator class, followed shortly by Executor and Voidseer which mirrored Sentinel and Archivist respectively. Additionally, we introduced two new Adherent class types: Tyranny and Instinct!

The releases of those last four mirrors also marked the conclusion of the extensive mirror class project, first announced in January 2020. This project spawned 12 new classes into the game, introduced lots of new lore and helped to flesh out guild identities. It has allowed unparalleled access to class mechanics on all sides of the game that previously didn't exist, and the game has certainly become healthier for it.

Speaking of big projects coming to an end - the Worldeater Saga! This was the biggest event in Aetolia's history, surpassing even the Second War of Night from last year and concluded a storyline that began roughly 15 years ago. It created a huge shake up in the Aetolian world and even ushered in the end of the Midnight Age after 513 years! The amount of work that went into this event over multiple years behind the scenes to bring us to that point cannot be understated. It also saw a pivotal final showdown with Polemarch Andalso and Marzpawn Zorusthi - two of Aetolia's oldest villains responsible for the destruction of Ashtan a long long time ago. It was truly a one-of-a-kind event!

The Worldeater Saga brought with it another huge project to completion - the Bonro Sands! This Albedos region release brought with it 18 areas, over 1200 rooms, 70 new quests and countless new hunting opportunities! Not to mention all the new Albedos lore it helped bring about. This project, first conceived years ago, finally came to fruition this year through the extensive support of our fantastic volunteer team.

In May, we celebrated the year 510, keeping you all engaged with a multitude of events throughout the month, with plenty of activities and new goods to be found upon the party barge. During these celebrations, we introduced the new Twins tournament - a knockout event where teams of two compete against each other - replacing the previous City Champions tournament. This was a huge success, and you can expect this to be a standard in the future.

Speaking of tournaments, this year's Grand Duel also had a massive turnout with a whopping 44 people! I think that's probably the largest Duel we've ever had! We also saw plenty more Duels throughout the year, alongside changes to the war system, bounties, combat tweaks, and our usual classlead rounds.

Our work on fleshing out city themes progressed in a big way with the introduction of the identity systems. While by no means a perfect system, they've definitely helped sell the core identity of each city, and we look forward to iterating on them further in the coming year.

We saw some big additions to the PvE scene this year as well with the addition of elite threat NPCs that has been very popular so far! This replaced previous 'hunting overhaul' NPCs with rarer, stronger foes possessing several abilities to make your approach to dealing with different, and often require a team! We've been taking advantage of this system whenever we can, such as using them as minibosses for a story event, to world bosses during holiday events such as the Hobgobbler King or Headless Horseman. There was also loads of new bashing areas introduced, and also a brand new seasonal story dungeon in the form of Flintmas, not to mention heaps of other smaller additions and tweaks such as updates to audit, the new HUNTING SKILLS command, and so on!

There was plenty of smaller changes throughout the year to break all this up too, such as the very recent addition of the new expressiveness system (that we've already found a way to incoporate into an event!), to improvements on the auction system, NPC attire, new tattoos, crafting updates, RPLOG improvements, and much more!

Looking forward to 2024, here's a preview of what you can expect:
- More story events as always. We already have one being drafted featuring an older villain some of you will be familiar with, and plenty more open story hooks to explore!
- The final agriculture skill.
- Updates to the war system.
- Our usual three classlead rounds.
- Plenty of Duels and the final Grand Duel.
- Big changes to the identity system.
- Airships! This was announced at the town hall and is a big focus for us in 2024.
- Improvements to the newbie experience, especially in the form of a main story quest to keep new players engaged as they progress through levels.
- Two new tradeskills and one new hobby.
- And plenty more updates!

From all of us here on the Aetolia team, we wish you good holidays and a pleasant new year. We look forward to continuing our work with you on amazing stories and systems throughout 2024!
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