City of Heroes Freedom Interview with Matt "Positron" Miller at SDCC 2011 - Page 3

Posted Tue, Jul 26, 2011 by Sardu

Ten Ton Hammer: A concern that many players vocalize when free-to-play conversions of existing MMOs are announced, is the fear of how intrusive a paid item shop or services are going to be on the in-game experience. With some games it’s kept very minimal with perhaps one button – you know it’s there so there’s no need to force it on players every time they interact with another NPC or world object - though some titles have definitely strayed too far in the latter direction for many gamers. Along that spectrum, how will that aspect of Freedom factor into the player experience?

Positron: We’re more towards the former on that, so when you’re in the game you do have just the one button for the store that’s always there.

[At this point Matt opens the costume creator on a nearby demo station to help illustrate how the store will factor into the in-game experience]

So here’s our costume creator and it includes some of the parts that we used to sell in the booster packs and that kind of thing. When you get into the costume creator you’ll notice that some of the parts like the ones from the Magic Pack, you’ll see that it’s locked here, so this account does not actually have those pieces unlocked. So we have the store button added here to allow the player to unlock that.

We allow you to use all of the costume pieces we’ve ever created in the character created here, and if it’s locked, players just can’t exit and go onto the next screen until they purchase everything that’s currently locked. From there, if you go to the store it will all be in your cart, so you can just hit purchase and be taken directly to the checkout.

CoH Freedom Celestial Armor 3 CoH Freedom Celestial Armor 4

Ten Ton Hammer: Just the ability to see the costume pieces on your character in advance to make a more informed decision about whether or not you want to make the purchase seems like a nice improvement over what we’ve seen previously. I know that in the past I’d get the email updates saying new packs were available, but it can be a tough sell for some people based on just a screenshot or video footage.

Positron: When we worked on the free-to-play stuff, one of the very first things we did was sit down and take a look at how we could improve the costume creator to take advantage of this. So out of that it was like, you have to be able see all the costume pieces on your character, you have to be able to go straight to the store and buy them right then and there.

Ten Ton Hammer: With that system then, can players pick and choose which of the individual pieces they want to purchase as opposed to keeping them tied to a larger, themed pack that they have to buy all in one go?

Positron: Absolutely. So if I just wanted the witch’s hat I could buy that for a certain amount of points.

Ten Ton Hammer: What if I ended up deciding I wanted the full set but didn’t necessarily have it all equipped as part of my costume when entering the store – would I have the option to pick the full set up at that point as well?

Positron: I believe you will have the option to still pick up the full set as well, yes.

Ten Ton Hammer: Moving on to the power sets then, some of those will be available for all players, but some will be unlocked through subscription or direct purchase only. How did you decide which of the power sets made the most sense to include on either side of that split?

Positron: It really is a matter of how much time and money we put into the set. Like the ones where we kind of went a little bit overboard on, in terms of animations and effects and tech to make the set work at all, those are going to be the premium sets that everyone is going to need to buy.

But things like Time Manipulation that we had the tech for, and we didn’t need new tech, and the effects weren’t crazy, the animations weren’t crazy, but the end result is awesome. You’ll be able to manipulate time on your enemies and friends – so those are going to be for VIP players, but a free player can purchase those as well.

But all the old power sets will be available for all of our players.

Well for better or worse it looks like the game is going to reinvent itself after seven years. Not that it hasn't already done so with all the end game grinding recently added.

I've subscribed almost from the beginning. My husband from the beginning. I've tried free based games and while I enjoy them I find that you end up with a lot of teenie boppers running around "help me help me" and not able to pay. they want the people who pay to group with them and get them into the areas they cannot get to. Or help them level or any number of other things. What is NCSoft doing to prevent this from happening? I have not been able to play for a year yet have never put my sub on hold because I felt that if I wanted to keep my info, my characters, my friends, etc it was only fair. I'm dissabled and because of surgeries etc was not able to get to my computer. Now with a laptop things are a bit easier, however energy... The thing is if I'm going to play, I want my energy to go to playing, not listening to players whine for help, etc. If we can avoid that and bring in new blood, I'm all for it, thing is, the games out there now well they have a marketing stradegy, more visibility to people. My childre are all the time telling me of new MMOs and other things they are seeing advertised more regularly on TV. They both play CoH and love it, yet as with most children of this erra, seem able to hop from game to game without any issue. I am a person who sticks with 1 or 2 games. I agree with Positron it is a step up, and bringing in their forum posters was an awsome idea, The thing is the loudest voices are not always the ones who know what the masses are thinking. Remember you range in age groups and don't forget the many married couples who play this game together. My husband and I started on text driven games, I was even a god which ment I coded for the game among other things. The thing is you need to remember a lot of things with any change you do, I hope that with this one they will add for those things that are missed.

My best wishes to CoH and CoV that this is successful for them and for those of us who have been loyal from the beginning.

Most of the "help me help me" types hang out in Atlas Park and Cap au Diable and ask for AE Farms. To avoid them, all you have to do is spend time outside those zones or keep your broadcast turned off while in the zone. Nothing I've read indicates this will change except maybe a third zone will be added to the list if they start to hang out in the new zone that's being introduced. Also, the recent addition of the helper/help me titles on character creation funnels those sorts into a dedicated chat channel, appropriately enough called "help" and only people who want to help have to deal with them. So the game already has infrastructure setup for it.

Right now, they don't need help getting anywhere. Level restrictions have been pulled from all zones and even level 1 characters can go to the Shadow Shard and other end-game locations solo. I do it all the time to get the jet pack temp power as it is faster than levelling up for a travel power. So again, unlike other games, CoH already is protected against it. Really I'm more interested to see how the "gold farmers" will react. Will they start using free accounts to spam again? Will the new players be begging for money due to the massive inflation on the top items despite so many new ways to get top-end enhancements? Still there are built in limits on email and chat, and the team have been quick to ban spammers, so overall I'm not worried, I'm just watching. Plus as I recall there's limits on how much inf free characters can have and what enhancements they can use/sell.

Last, if you just want to play and not hear freebies asking for help, they did announce a VIP-only server. So you can just play without them.

All in all, I think you're covered. Not 100% sure until it ships, but at the very least, if you're paying, you can go to the VIP-only server and they can't follow.

Fascinating information! I cant believe Ive finally found the information Ive been searching for for so long. Thank you!

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