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Guardians of Middle-earth developers repurposing ‘message of the day’ tech to add balance without recertification

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Guardians of Middle-earth developer Monolith Productions will deliver game balancing updates with the same technology that allows "message of the day" updates, thereby avoiding costly recertification fees, producer Bob Roberts told VG24/7.

Monolith built the technology into the game using a database. During development, Monolith used this to tweak each character so that "everybody has evened out" when the game ships this week, Roberts said.

"But just in case, we did also build a system for having a lot of our balance database saved in cloud storage, that you're going to download every time you launch the game," Roberts said. "It's a very small, quick update that doesn't have to go through certification, so we can update it every day, every week — however often we need to if we see critical balance issues."

"It's really the same system as ‘Message of the day' feeds."

According to Roberts, the innovation is a repurposing of existing technology.

"It's really the same system as ‘Message of the day' feeds. It's really just using that same technology that people have been using for a long time. I think a lot of developers realized they could but more interesting data in there."

The cost of recertification made news earlier this year when Fez developer Polytron announced that it would not provide a fix for a file-corrupting bug on Xbox 360 because "Microsoft would charge us tens of thousands of dollars to re-certify the game."

Polygon visited Monolith earlier this year to see and play Guardians of Middle-earth, so be sure to check out our coverage. The game is set for release tomorrow, Dec. 4, on PlayStation 3 through PlayStation Network and Dec. 5 on Xbox Live Arcade. A retail version including a season pass for all DLC will also available tomorrow.