August 10th, 2022

Shadow Arena Early Access
has ended.

A heartfelt thank you to all the players
who walked with us on this journey.

Customer Support

Final Season
and Developer Notes

Greetings, this is Shadow Arena.

It’s the first week of July, and we’re working through the summer heat! Fall was in the air when Shadow Arena was first showcased to everyone. We can still recall the excitement and nerve-racking feelings of presenting Shadow Arena at G-Star and preparing for the first CBT.

This will be the last developer notes of Shadow Arena.
So these developer notes will be more raw and in-depth than our usual notes.

Shadow Arena was first showcased on November 14, 2019 through the Pearl Abyss Connect 2019 live broadcast and since then, just under 3 years have passed. We received much feedback from our amazing players, implemented various changes through seasonal content, and worked tirelessly to provide a fun and unique experience within Shadow Arena. Although we were able to continue with the support of our beloved players, we have decided to terminate the service of Shadow Arena. We would like to take this time to apologize for the sudden decision and say farewell to our players.

We’ve thought long on how to share our thoughts through this announcement. Let alone, we couldn’t even find the right words to say.
Every time we thought about it, all we were left with was a heavy heart.
As we look back on the memories with our beloved players, we would like to discuss the stories that we never got to share through this notice.

# The day when Shadow Arena first started out as a content in Black Desert until it became a standalone title...

▲ This picture is from the official Pearl Abyss website. It is a perfect picture moment of the mighty Shultz.

It was a difficult decision at the time, but with the tireless support and commitment of our developers, we were able to showcase and meet our players offline on November 2019 at G-Star. Since the event took place before the Covid pandemic, we were overwhelmed by the interest our players showed at the offline event. Thanks to that, the event was a success.

# From CBT to Early Access...

The level of interest shown by our players was far beyond our expectations and this was a strong motivation point for us as we prepared for the CBT after the event. But in that moment, we also had underlying concerns.
We were worried that players’ expectations might have been too high during the CBT period.
At the same time, we also worked tirelessly driven by our commitment to ensure that we deliver a fun and exciting gameplay experience to our players. As we look back, we still wonder how we were able to pull it off at the time.

The result of the first CBT left much to be desired. However, it strengthened our commitment and we worked toquickly iron out those issues to show our players an improved version of the game.

After that, it was soon followed by the second, third, and final CBT. Although the testing period was short, we were surprised by what we saw during those periods. We were especially surprised by how players were using combos and skills that we’ve never thought of and utilizing the surrounding areas of the arena in various ways to their advantage.
However, players also voiced concerns about gameplay being too focused on small skirmishes and defensive tactics, frustrations that came from getting ambushed, and the issue of “teaming up” in solo mode. Thanks to the feedback, we worked tirelessly to improve the game until the early access launch. To address the shortcomings, we also worked hard on the development front which served as an important period for us to take a step forward.

It sure feels nostalgic looking back on the early versions of the game.

The game interface of Shadow Arena at the time.
▲ A video screenshot from Dev’s Play (That’s me!)
Looking back, the interface at the time was quite aesthetically pleasing it in its own way.
3rd CBT - Looking Back on the Memories Together
▲ The system was fundamentally different from the current one, and there were only a small number of heroes.
That cringey commentary was most likely from [GM] Bear.
3rd CBT – How the Tier System works!
▲ We originally aimed to establish a tier system unique to Shadow Arena. But during the the development process, we decided to use a mainstream tier system.
Early Access Launch

▲ We can still recall the excitement that filled the air at this time.

# Official Tournament

After the Early Access launch, we integrated a system where tiers are assigned to offer goals and rewards after tallying the ranking. But to give a better sense of direction and purpose to the game for our players, we also hosted official tournaments. We devoted a lot of resources to prepare for these tournaments and development, and thanks to the support of our players, we were able to host various tournaments.

▲ 강초한 was the winner of the first official Shadow Arena Regional Cup. At the time, there was only one Blackstar’s Successor (skin) on the server.

From the countless tournaments that were held, some will recall them as fond memories of honor, while some may remember them as the day they suffered defeat. But we all remember how sweaty our plams were from of anticipation, and being blown away as we watched players deal and manage in tricky situations in a skillful way. We can also remember the loud cheer and screams of the commentators, developers, and service team as we watched a player secure the final kill and arise as the winner.

# Event Match

In addition to large tournaments, we also hosted small event matches for our players. After launching a new hero, the developers introduced the hero’s concept through their gameplay and also informed the hero’s unique aspects of their style of gameplay. An event match was also hosted where 30-40 players played the same hero to offer a unique experience and we also sent out skins as rewards at the time..

After the weekly maintenance, we also hosted a GM defeat event so players could interact with GMs. We can still remember the names of the players... who fervently pursued to take us down during that time! We also remember a player who defeated everyone else first except for the GM. It was a pretty intimidating experience.

But of all the matches, the hunger game event tournament in Trio mode event is by far the most memorable one. We can relive those moments of preparing and practicing for the tournament in such a short period of time. The time when the developers and service team passed on their knowledge on performing combos to players practicing in the Sparring Ground through the entire night — these moments will truly be unforgettable.

# Shadow Arena Renewal

We realized this topic is one we can’t leave out as we look back on the development process and memories. It might be a little long, but since it is our last developer notes, we wanted to share this to everyone.

For new players, Shadow Arena is a game that has difficult control, a growing roster of new heroes, unintuitive interface, and more objects were being added at the time. In addition to these, various other factors have contributed to the steep learning curve, which often created an unpleasant experience.

After the hunger game event tournament, we were able to experience the concerns that we feared most. This became the reason why we decided to renew the game. It was around that time that we pulled the breaks on our weekly maintenance and spent a month in development for game renewal.

▲ The interface that was under development at that time.

We made various changes to make Shadow Arena more accessible for new players. We simplified the skills for all heroes, improved the skill commands, and reduced the cooldown of skills. We also added and tested Trio mode as a main mode, changed the fog of war system, and the role of each heroes. To eliminate the stress that stemmed from farming, we removed several items, reworked the interface, and added a shop system where players could purchase items that best fit their growth system. We also revamped the tutorial, and through FGT sessions, we were able to show the improvements made to the game to our players.

As a result, there was an increased activity of new players, but there were other opinions that Shadow Arena had lost the unique traits which made it fun. Many expressed their disappointment towards the combo and traits unique to each hero being lost and the lack of tournaments that were held during the renewal period.

# Mastery System, Solo Mode, and Hero Reboot

After the reboot, in order to bring back the “fun” elements to Shadow Arena, we added a mastery system. The mastery system offered even more skills which allowed heroes to be used in different ways. It was also implemented to resolve the issue of support heroes being difficult to utilize in Solo mode. In addition, to reduce the frustration that came from being permanently incapacitated, the skill “Barrier” was added.

▲ The Mastery system that was updated within a short period of time.

Also, the gameplay became more simple due to the smaller number of skills that were available. We also reworked certain heroes to increase the fun factor. There were players who have supported the change and we are grateful for that. We were able to go beyond the boundaries and challenge ourselves in various ways.

After the reboot, players continuously gave feedback in which being about hero balance. We will next discuss below on this matter as well.

# Regarding Game Balance

At first, we started with 6 heroes (Jordine, Yeonhwa, Ahon Kirus, Gerhard Shultz, Haru, Herawen), and now have a total of 22 heroes. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the amount of discussions we’ve had on hero balance were endless during the course of development. There were many factors to consider such as counterbalance for each hero in 1v1, skill mechanic issues, hero balance that changed depending on the game mode, the gap between beginner and experienced players, and the relative balance correlation to item stats. All in all, we worked towards tackling balance issues and implementing changes up until this day.

As many are aware, battle royale genre games require a player to quickly adapt to various situations. Because of that, players tend to gravitate towards versatile heroes, who can adapt to various situations.

Looking back on the 1v1 Arena content that was prepared upon the frequent player requests, initially, players enjoyed the fact that pure brute strength dictated whether one secures victory or faces defeat. Nevertheless, the selection of the most viable heroes was chosen in 1v1, and in the end, it took away the fun hence even bringing us to the decision of removing it from the main mode at one point.

▲ “King of the Hill” 1:1 Arena

Because of that, although it may not seem like it, we have thoroughly reviewed the feedback and inquiries from our players. And using our internal data as a base, we've had many discussions and conducted countless tests to adjust the balance. From 2020 to 2021, hero balance was such an important factor that balance adjustments were made as often as 1 to 2 times a week. There were times where it felt like we had hit a wall upon realizing that no matter how many adjustments were made, it was difficult to provide the perfect balance that was satisfactory for all players. And when we encountered errors during those times, it was never easy to share this type of news.

# Speaking of FUN in Shadow Arena

While focusing on tackling the constant various balance issues, 2021 had gone by in a flash. As a result, at the beginning of 2022, we took the time to look back at the past year of our progress and we came to ponder on the question as to what makes our game fun.

Most of the updates after the 2021 reboot focused on Heroes and as mentioned previously, it especially revolved around hero balance. The remaining improvements were made on item balance, game system, and other contents. Major updates focused on improving tutorials, AI bots, simplifying combos, and item system rework.
The reboot focused on increasing the accessibility for beginner players, so that they adjust better to the game. Regards to that, we can say that we met our goals. However, this process brought on other issues such as: purchasing only efficient items, relying on certain heroes, following a standardized farming route and selecting certain certain mastery skills. This eventually led the reboot to lose its initial purpose.
Ever since the reboot, although Shadow Arena was a battle royale genre game, concerns such as repetitive play, similar item settings, and predictable strategy was being associated with its gameplay. This was far from the ambiguous qualities that a battle royale game should have. If there is a lack of uncertainty in a battle royale, in the end, it could easily become a game where the winner is ultimately determined purely based on a player’s skill.

Victory that relies on the skillfulness of a player is quite natural in a PvP game. But we believe that the sense of accomplishment through survival of a fierce battle and claiming the title as the final winner is what differentiates battle royale games from PvP games. This is probably the reason why our players were strong supporters of Shadow Arena.
However, we noticed that maintaining the reboot update took away from the fun of performing skills and combos involving intricate control and this was a major fun factor of Shadow Arena. It was only recently that we changed the direction of things and reverted to a total of 5 skills. Although increasing skills enhanced the fun in performing combos, we also foresaw the disadvantages this may cause and added the ‘Roll’ skill to balance out the gameplay. Additionally, we reworked the game structure so that players could obtain random sub-equipment and consumption items through treasure chests, added the Flow of the Arena system and new skills as well as various rare and boss equipment items to enhance the ambiguity of the game. Although this is all in the past now, the evaluation of these changes was positive, so we were happy on this note.
Although it may have been stressful for some players as the emphasis on strategic gameplay had been reduced and the luck factor had increased, it delivered beneficial changes to the game as it led to varying gameplay situations. This was also a verified system that was evident in the initial stages of Shadow Arena.

# In all honesty

Looking back at the period when Deathmatch mode was first introduced and the FGT was proactively put into action, the direction on how new players could best settle into the game was deeply thought through. If we could not resolve this issue, it would be evident that our game would prove itself to be very limited.

A common similarity that exists in battle royale games is that only a few people achieve a sense of accomplishment and when they die, their farming and hard work go down the drain. It is hard to deny that if one experiences an unfair death due to intrusion, imbalance, or death due to various bugs or unauthorized programs, it can bring on even a greater sense of disappointment.

Addressing these issues was a constant work-in-progress for Shadow Arena as well. To relieve this sense of disappointment, Deathmatch was introduced to help new players adjust more easily to the game.

We were satisfied with the feedback on Deathmatch as it was what we were expecting to hear. Unlike the previous FGT, we were relieved that the notion of “disappointment” was not apparent in this FGT. This was probably due do the fact that even if you had died, Deathmatch did not simply come to an end. So, the stress around this is lifted and there is the benefit of being able to win with the support of your teammates even if your performance wasn’t so great. Also, if a certain hero was better fitted in certain situations, you were able to change heroes and use this as a strategy to carry out the game.

When proceeding with every update, we thought deeply about the possible issues and came up with a solution to them. Deathmatch mode also served as a patch to resolve the problem of the influx of new players which was problematic at the time. However, we believe that everyone who has played Shadow Arena so far enjoyed the thrilling aspects that existed in Shadow Arena. The battle royale genre involves a lot of players and becoming the sole survivor among those many players is probably the most satisfying and exciting element of the game. However, under the current circumstances, we thought that it would be difficult to provide such an experience at this time.

# Last Season of Shadow Arena

The service of Shadow Arena has come to an end as we go into the Final Season. Nevertheless, our goal is to host an even better gaming environment whether it be for a sole player. With this, we will continue to proceed with updates until the service closing date.

Lastly, this being the last season, we would like to thank all our players and show our gratitude by making all Heroes and products available for purchase for 1 Silver. Special skins can also be acquired during the event period, or they can easily be obtained as Battle Pass rewards.

We will continue to work hard towards servicing Shadow Arena till the closing date.

Although Shadow Arena will no longer be in service, the tales of the heroes who have taken part in countless battles will continue to live in the world of Black Desert which is where Shadow Arena initially began.

# Our last developer note...

Cheers to all the ace players, leaders and fellow supporters of Shadow Arena…

Jordine 강초한님, Schultz 박사장님, Orwen Banishing님, Herawen Bakemono, Badal 스시, 란 HyejinFiora, Bari Gold강, Sura 양사마, Haru 날다람쥐, Yeonhwa BONA, Venslar Bambolina, 콜라님, Kahmen, 우는하마...
Jordine DeGomez, Ahon Mime, Schultz Radom, Yeonhwa Slaith, Haru 紅鞋, Sura Dok, Goyen 月无缺, Tagahl Affect, Bari YMYYMY...

To the players who offered tremendous help to new players in Discord and in Sparring Grounds,
큐떱, 윤재, 야자냐, 또또칸, Reh르에, 희태, Gaedu, HeukPin...

Lastly, to the glorious players who achieved a top tier rank in the last beta season 9 in each server…
生锈的剑, Genck, 튜토리얼, NicoNicoMeow, BriggsTGK, axidoukio, 來北美打爆你, Nickiy, Guiido, OneNightStand, 结UNBELIVABLE结, fakeguru, DeGomez, Coolminator, MegosCaptian...

To many more players we may have forgotten to mention here, you know that we love you! Thank you to our players for having shared this experience, this journey will never be forgotten.
We would also like to say thank you to the developers and service team who worked extremely hard and gave it their all till the end.

From newly added arenas for each mode, a new renewal mastery, various consumable items, and the yet to be released Hero Kayal Nesser...

Although there is a flood of things we would like to share, we will leave things here as we wrap up the final developer notes of Shadow Arena.

We thank you again,
Sincerely from the Shadow Arena Team.