Creating a MOBA phenomenon: Arena of Valor

Bring a MOBA to mobile devices to achieve broad benefits

Having conquered the Chinese market, Tencent reconfigured Wangzhe Rongyao with characters and scenarios for Western markets and launched Arena of Valor worldwide in late 2017. Subsequently, he won numerous musical awards and the Best Competitive Game Award at the Golden Joystick Awards 2018. And with more than 10 million daily active users (DAUs) playing at the same time on one of Arena’s Valor’s busiest days , it is on track to continue Tencent’s winning streak.


Used by Tencent studios around the world, Unity has long been an important part of Tencent’s success. For starters, Unity helps them publish multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games such as Arena of Valor on many platforms with multiple locations. To accomplish this enormous task, Tencent maintains these basic principles: ensure that performance comes first; measure everything from triangle / particle numbers and UI / LOD models to code changes; ensure that all components, such as scene objects, characters, particles and sounds, are scalable; and try a full compilation before each release.


Ensure a wide range of devices / regional support

Mellow Yue, technical director of Tencent, said: “With Arena of Valor , we need to support many different hardware configurations in many different countries, and Unity makes it much easier to get the consistent performance we expect.”


For example, Tencent’s adjusted graphic details are based on particular hardware configurations, taking into account parameters such as CPU / GPU temperatures, clock frequencies, the average frame rate in the last five seconds and the number of actors in the camera. According to Mellow Yue, “the strategy is complex and can be complicated, especially with so many Android devices. But the goal is simple: balance the graphics and frame rate.”

Tencent also collaborates with several manufacturers that provide device APIs. This makes the status of the query hardware allow you to adjust the playability and hardware resources (for example, CPU / GPU, network, IO and RAM) to ensure the best gaming experiences regardless of the device


It is essential to perform rigorous tests

According to Mellow Yue, these are Tencent’s key steps to ensure the best performance during the development cycle, especially for a title of this magnitude:


Automatic routines when importing the assets of the game to verify that they comply with the specifications of the game (for example, the number of vertices of a 3D model or the size of the texture)

Daily reviews of all resources in the compilation machine to verify dynamic elements, such as particle effects

Daily tests of mode 5 against 5 (5v5) between heroes (hero) and the computer (AI) to detect any decrease in performance from the code and changes in the user interface (UI)

Many automatic games 5 against 5 (5v5) that use new content, be it a hero, an avatar or a level, with repetitions of the tests after any modification made by designers or artists

General tests on a pre-launch server with between 50,000 and 100,000 players

For locations, Tencent has a text map for each language, which ensures that the text regions are compatible with multiple languages ​​and support different amounts of words. To manage the audio, they use the Wwise program of Audiokinetic. And, for localized images, Tencent separates resources into different folders with prefixes {LANGUAGE} /. Mellow Yue added: “The versions in Chinese, Korean and Western languages ​​tend to share the same source code architecture, but the game design and art vary greatly between the Eastern / Asian and Western versions.”

Preparing a version includes real-world game tests

As Arena of Valor reached the end of the QA, the team spent several weeks competing in the game to refine the gameplay. They then tested it on a pre-launch server with more than 50,000 players to collect statistics such as casualties / deaths / assists (KDA), damage inflicted / received, healing done / received, and victory rates. “We make most of the parameters correctable live so we can quickly launch a correction after adjusting parts as skill mechanisms,” said Mellow Yue. “Designing and iterating a hero can take two weeks to six months, and it’s definitely more challenging now that we have more than 70 heroes!

According to Mellow Yue, Unity was a favorite resource to develop Arena of Valor . “Our best talent has a lot of experience with Unity, which helps us maintain a stable and reliable workflow, as well as being very easy to use, so that less experienced developers can quickly catch up.”

The team also relies on the Asset Store , which has provided important Unity add-ons such as TextMesh Pro (now part of Unity through the package manager) and third-party tools such as A * Pathfinding Project Pro and Easy Movie Texture . It also includes several custom Tencent tools such as Behaviac (a behavior tree asset). “It’s good to see Behaviac receiving four-star reviews,” Mellow Yue said enthusiastically.