In Path of Exile, GGG created a 100 player free-for-all battleground game mode called Path of Exile: Royale, for April Fool’s day joke this year. And it until the end of April 1. Recently, the official website announced a post that described the creation of Path of Exile: Royale.
The idea of announcing a battle royale game mode as a joke was pretty obvious (as evidenced by several other companies who had similar ideas), but Jonathan realised that GGG could actually implement the whole thing very quickly, creating an actual game mode for people to play for the day.
GGG’s plan was to make the following changes to Path of Exile:
Create a gigantic island with a bunch of tilesets jammed together. Populate the island with monsters and chests full of items. Use the existing cut-throat rules combined with a shrinking play area.
Add support for up to 100 players per game instance. The existing limit was 32, as they used to pack the visibility data for a tile into a 32-bit integer. Make some server optimisations to distribute the large Royale instances over servers uniformly.
Add a quick spectator mode for players who have been eliminated. (This is different to the type that would be used for race events in the future). Repurpose an existing but unreleased Rhoa Dinner hideout decoration as a prize.
Each of the above tasks applied to a different developer and looked like it would take less than one day. They decided to set a limit of one workday per person who wanted to work on it, so that their progress on the next content update wasn’t disrupted too much. This limit was mostly respected, though the definition of “workday” was stretched considerably for one programmer.
As soon as Royale was playable, it became a huge sensation around their office. Whenever people were playtesting Royale, it drew large crowds of people watching.
GGG launched the mode on time and it was a huge success on two levels. Most users loved the joke at face value, but also discovered that it was actually a real game mode they could play, and one that is a lot of fun.
What’s the Future of Royale?
GGG have been inundated with requests to bring the mode back. It’s a foregone conclusion at this stage that they’ll be running it again in the future, but there’s the big question of whether it can sustain itself enough to become a standalone game mode, or whether they should just have it as a cool event that they run occasionally.
In either case, I believe that GGG have a lot of balance improvements planned that will make it more fun and less overrun by certain dominant skills. We will update the news about Path of Exile in real time.