City of Heroes Freedom Interview with Matt "Positron" Miller at SDCC 2011 - Page 4

Posted Tue, Jul 26, 2011 by Sardu

Ten Ton Hammer: We talked a bit about catering Freedom to your veteran players. Will there be other additional perks made just for subscribers that you maybe can’t simply unlock through the store?

Positron: Yes we do. For example, some of them are found on our Paragon Rewards Tree. You’ll see that VIP subscribers get increased salvage inventory and other things like that as you work your way up. And then along the top tier you’ll see that there’s a whole costume set that’s only for VIP players on the reward tree.

Ten Ton Hammer: Could you talk a little bit about Issue 21 and how that piece fits into the overall puzzle of the Freedom release?

Positron: All of our major releases have had an Issue attached to them, as seen with City of Villains and Going Rogue. The idea of those releases was that even if you don’t immediately upgrade, there’s still something else that’s new for you.

With City of Heroes Freedom, Issue 21 was always planned. So we’ve got a brand new zone, a brand new power set called Time Manipulation.

We’ve actually changed the way our teams work so that we had a team just working on Issue 21, a team working just on the early game stuff like the ongoing training missions, and then a team working just on the hybrid business model. As lead designer I was kind of coordinating between all three of these teams, making sure they weren’t stepping on each other’s toes, but making sure that everything was going to mesh together at the end. I think we did a really good job with that.

CoH Freedom - Intro Comic Page 4

The new tutorial and ongoing training missions will help ease players into learning the game better than ever before

Ten Ton Hammer: With every new Issue, you’ve usually gone beyond simply adding a new zone to the game and calling it a day by adding some other cool new thing to the game along with that release. Freedom is obviously a huge part of that release this time around, but what other things can players expect to see added to the game with Issue 21?

Positron: We launched the Incarnate System last year with a couple of our in-game raids, called Trials. Issue 21 will have an all new trial called The Underground. It continues the story from Praetoria in Going Rogue. You learn a deep, dark secret that kind of changes your whole perspective on everything you did in Going Rogue when you learn more of the backstory of exactly what’s going on in this world. So we’re very anxious to get that out there for the players.

Ten Ton Hammer: So say you’re a brand new player coming into the game with Freedom, what is Issue 21 to those players as opposed to veterans?

Positron: Issue 21 to them is really that brand new starting experience, that brand new tutorial, and the ongoing training stuff. We’ve redesigned Atlas Park by adding a whole bunch of new geometry to kind of up the graphics level there. We added all new missions there, so you’ll have all new contacts there, and there’s a whole new mission chain for Mercy Island as well for the villains.

That helps bring them up to the current state of the game in terms of Praetoria invading, the coming storm approaching. It kind of takes all the things we’ve been doing over the past seven years to give them that fast-forward primer so that they’ll be ready to go right when they log into the game.

Ten Ton Hammer: In the new starting experience, are you going to keep the pacing kind of the same as far as when you introduce players to things like the Mission Architect system, or other level-based milestone unlocks associated with player progression?

Positron: Absolutely. We wanted to make sure that Mission Architect gets introduced at level 5, and the invention system is introduced at level 10, so things like that. One of the things we are doing is that the travel powers are being lowered down to level 4 so you’ll be able to pick a travel power very, very early.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will costume slots unlock at the current levels as well?

Positron: I’m not 100% sure what we’ll be doing with that, but I believe that we are adding additional costume slots, so instead of 5 you’ll be able to have up to 10. We’ve added so may new costume pieces that adding more costume slots is just logical.

Ten Ton Hammer: Are there any other things you’d like to talk about for those gamers who maybe know of City of Heroes but have never played it, or are former players, in terms of why they should give Freedom a closer look?

Positron: We improved the graphics of the game last year with Going Rogue, and we’ve redesigned the areas of the game to really fit the business model, as opposed to just slapping the business model onto things and calling it a day.

We’ve been working on this for over a year just making sure we look at what a free player is going to get and what their experience is going to be like. For example, how easy is it going to be for them to make an account and start playing the game?

They’ll be able to make and account and five minutes later be making a character. We have an incremental downloader that will get the character creation stuff on your computer first, and then while they’re spending like that half-hour making that awesome character we’re downloading the tutorial. And then while the tutorial is playing we’re downloading most of the rest of the game as well.

So players will be able to get into the game faster than they have before. That’s a big problem all games have now days if they have a demo or something. You’ll go to start the demo and it’s like, oh, this will be done in three hours. Then it’s like, I’m going to go do something else, but then you forget you even downloaded it for days and days.

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!

Their Kickstarter campaign reached its goal in under a week so we sat down with Project Lead, Chris Hare, to learn more about their story.
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