Five years is a large stretch of time for the average human. Even for a
centenarian, half a decade is a twentieth of their life, so to watch a
fledgling MMO studio create the world’s first super hero MMO
and release it to resounding success has been a privilege. This week, href=""
of Heroes
celebrates its five year anniversary,
and the Ten Ton Hammer staff sat down with Lead Designer Matt Miller to
have a very honest discussion about the best and worst moments in the
franchise, the future of the brand, and how the Paragon Studios team
plans to remain competitive against the two newest contender to their
super hero throne.

href="" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: right;" src="/image/view/67344" />

Ten Ton Hammer:
It’s been five years since the original release of style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes
Obviously a lot has changed in that amount of time, but what do you
think were the most important moments of the style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes
franchise? What defined this game?
style="font-weight: bold;" />

Matt Miller:
I think the decision to let the players have full customization of
character’s look, before they even start playing the game,
was the best decision we could have ever made. That, and the sheer
number of possible powerset combinations and builds within those
combinations meant that almost every player was playing a game they
could find appealing nearly immediately. And the receipt of our recent
Mission Architect game system from our players has been nothing short
of mind-blowing. We knew we were onto something special when we came up
with the idea, but only when you see how something is received is when
it really hits you that this is ‘real’.  

Ten Ton Hammer: Looking
back, were there any horrible “Oh s&*#!”
moments during the initial development and/or after launch? If so, how
did the team handle the situation and what kind of resolution was there
to the issue?

MM: We had
an Influence (money) dupe bug that was reported within 48 hours of the
game going live. The player who reported it didn’t tell
anyone else about it, and wasn’t looking for anything in
return. It was because of his noble efforts that we created the Bug
Hunter badge in order to have something to hand out to upstanding
players who know when something is severely broken and let us know
without abusing it themselves.

Another moment would be the Winter Lords that went out with the first
winter event that we did. We had just created new reward splitting code
for Giant Monster-class entities which looked good on paper…
in practice however it was possible to get a character from level 1 to
20 in under an hour fighting these things. I remember making a frantic
call to our Producer at the time begging him to shut off the event
early, but I was just a lowly designer back then, and the
long-story-short is that event ended when it was scheduled to.

Ten Ton Hammer: A large
number of gamers still remember the end of beta events that the CoH
devs held just before the game went live. What sort of special events
are planned for the anniversary? Are we going to see any crazy alien
invasions popping up or maybe absurd rifts in time?

style="font-weight: bold;" />

MM: Players
logging in on the 28th will definitely see their fair share of special
events going on. We’ll even have the winter Ski Chalet open
if players want to earn the race badges. I know a few of the Devs will
be hanging out in Pocket D on the Training Room that evening, so if you
are so inclined, stop on by and say “hi”.

Ton Hammer: The
release of the Mission Architect has certainly been hailed as one of
the more ambitious projects to ever be constructed and completed by a
post-launch MMO development team. Why did you decide to undertake such
a massive project and how long – really – did it
take your team to complete?

style="font-weight: bold;" />

href="" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: left;" src="/image/view/67355" />

MM: The
“why” really was a “why not?”
We answered the “why not” about halfway through
development and realized that this was going to be a BIG system, bigger
than just another feature for our game, but something that had the
potential to influence the MMO genre as a whole and being so far down
the rabbit hole at that point there was no turning back.

As for the “how long”, pinpointing the actual start
date is trickier. Joe “Hero 1” Morrissey came up
with the genesis of the idea a couple months after he was hired, but
that barely resembles the final system we ended up with. All told there
was about eight months of devoted production time to the system, with
roughly 10 months of pre-production design work to get us to a point
where we thought we could implement it and it would be fun. This
feature was the most massive undertaking since the Launch of style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes in

Ten Ton Hammer: What's
next for the team and the game? Are there any larger, overarching plans
going on in the background that players don't know about yet? When are
you going to be revealing those plans?

style="font-weight: bold;" />

MM: All I
can really comment on at this time is that NCsoft is providing us with
more resources than ever before and we have some great stuff planned
for our players over the coming months and years. I’m sure
you’ll be one of the first to hear what we’ve got
up our sleeves, so stay tuned!

Ten Ton Hammer: A five
year anniversary seems like the perfect time to try to attract some
retired players back into the game. Besides the Mission Architect, do
you have any major initiatives that you're working on? Should current
players expect a major influx of faces soon?

style="font-weight: bold;" />

MM: We’ve
released the Architect Edition, a new boxed version including both style="font-style: italic;"> City of Heroes and style="font-style: italic;"> City of Villains,
and it’s on the shelves right now. We’re also doing
a free re-activation period from Tuesday April 28th, through Sunday,
May 3rd, so retired players will be able to log in using their old
accounts and try out all the cool new stuff we have to offer, including
Mission Architect.

Ton Hammer: What can
you tell us about the studio name change? Why go from NCsoft NorCal to
Paragon Studios? What were you trying to accomplish with that move?

style="font-weight: bold;" />

href="" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: right;" src="/image/view/67353" />

MM: If your
company name was “NorCal”, and you didn’t
surf, wouldn’t you want something a bit sexier? We love style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes,
which means we love Paragon City. The name shows a commitment not only
to the studio, but to the brand as well.

Ten Ton Hammer: href="" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Champions Online
looks like it’s setting up to release sometime in the next
3-6 months and href=""
Universe Online
looks on track for sometime
after that. Are you doing anything to prepare for more super hero MMOs
hitting the marketplace?

MM: We are
the first comic-book inspired MMO, so we think it’s
flattering that there would be others that would attempt to follow in
our footsteps. With a number of us being former Cryptic employees, we
always knew that other games in the genre were coming, and so
we’ve been preparing for the competition in the
space.  We’re not taking our market leadership
position for granted, and it’s not just because there are
other games coming out. Instead, it is more so due to our genuine
passion and commitment to
City of Heroes
and the fans. Our advantage now is that we
have an awesome community of players, and a fun and proven game with a
theme that we hope will continue to attract more and more new players.
The past five years have allowed us to add new content, including a
major expansion and several innovative systems like Mission Architect,
to City of Heroes.
No doubt we will continue to challenge ourselves to add more cool stuff
to the game.

That, and we’ve still got more surprises up our sleeves.

Ten Ton Hammer: Out of
everything that you’ve seen with style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes
what has been your most memorable moment thus far? Can you describe it
for us?

MM: From a
story perspective, I think the reaction we got to Issue 10: Invasion
was my favorite moment. Everything from Vanguard, the Rikti Mothership,
Lady Grey’s Task Force, and the Rikti Invasions, coupled with
the storyline we wove into the final two issues of the City of Heroes
comic book, really made that issue stand out as one of my favorites.

Of course, the reaction we’ve gotten to Issue 14: Architect
so far is rapidly making that issue a favorite of mine as well.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there
anything else you’d like to tell Ten Ton Hammer readers and
CoX fans?

MM: Without
the fans of City of
and City
of Villains
there wouldn’t be a 5th Anniversary
to celebrate, so really the honors should go out to them. So many
MMO’s have come and gone, but the players of the
“City of” games are incredibly loyal, and we do
everything we can think of to repay them for their loyalty by
constantly trying to make the game that they love better.

And the best is yet to come.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our City of Villains Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016