Matt Miller, Senior Lead Designer for City of Heroes
It’s been a very busy last four months or so for us since
NCsoft acquired the City
franchise and we formed the NorCal studio in Mountain View, California.
We offered everyone who was working on the game at Cryptic a position
within our new studio and were thrilled when they all accepted
employment. This meant that we could all work on the game we have loved
and labored over in a brand new studio, which is fantastic.
CoH/CoV has changed a
lot over the last year.
NCsoft NorCal has a great start-up feel, but the fact remains that most
of us have worked together on this same project, for years beforehand.
It’s a very unique situation, and a lot like forming a brand
company with a collection of people that you have worked well with in
the past. There is a very social and fun atmosphere here in the studio
that suits our close-knit family of designers, artists, engineers, and
producers extremely well. Great ideas are bouncing off the walls here,
and all the new hires we have added in the past couple months are very
excited to be working for such a vibrant team.
Things have not been standing still in City of Heroes
In February, we were able to host a very special event on
Valentine’s Day: a live, in-game wedding between two of our
characters, Manticore and Sister Psyche, controlled by Sean and
Jennifer Dornan-Fish respectively. I controlled Positron and other
developers took over other signature characters. We executed nearly ten
run-throughs of the wedding throughout the day, and about a thousand
players were able to witness the event. It was very exciting, and we
feel like the hard work really paid off for our community.
We also held a Double XP weekend in February during which we saw some
of the highest server concurrencies ever in the history of the product.
This was possible in large part due to the hardware upgrades we made in
the beginning of 2008. We were able to get more players playing, rather
than lagging out, during the exciting weekend.
As Lead Designer on the project, I have had a lot of control over what
happens in the City of
game, but in the past I still had hurdles to get some great ideas
actualized. With the new studio, a lot of ideas that couldn’t
take hold under the old management are being implemented into the game
with outstanding results.
Issue 12 will feature
brand new Roman-style costume sets.
For instance, in February we launched a “between
patch that added a lot of quality of life features to the game. For the
first time you can see the real numbers behind your characters and
their powers, what they mean, and how City of Heroes
uses them. You can now see the exact details on how your character
stacks up against another by simply looking at the numbers behind how
your powers work. Another quality of life feature is the smoothing of
the leveling rate in the game. We have done extensive datamining
showing us where the problem levels were, and how long players would
tend to be “stuck” there. With this, we were able
the defeat rewards of the enemies in the game so that these areas were
less of an issue. In general, we increased the overall speed of
leveling by around 25% so players can expect faster results in a
typical play session.
Of course that’s not entirely where our development efforts
been going; we have a lot of long-term goals and we have been
diligently working toward them. We are excited about the possibilities
that a single owner brings to the table. Being “under one
roof” is affording us more flexibility than ever before and
it’s fun having direct contact with all of the different
departments here at NCsoft working hard to continue the
success. And with our new studio we can confidently plan for Issue 13,
14, and beyond, and hire the people that will make those Issues and
For the immediate future, however, I am pleased to announce
“Issue 12: Midnight Hour” for City of Heroes
which will be going into closed beta testing soon. “Midnight
Hour” brings with it a slew of exciting new features
the long anticipated Villain Epic Archetypes, which will be available
to anyone who achieves level 50 in
City of Villains
The current Hero and Villain Archetypes will benefit from Powerset
Proliferation, where we took over twenty existing powersets and gave
them to Archetypes that didn’t have access to them before. If
ever wanted to play a Controller with the powerset of Plant Control,
now is your chance! Psychic Blasters are now a reality, as well as Axe
and Mace wielding Brutes. With Powerset Proliferation players now have
even more character combinations to choose from.
We’ve overhauled the difficulty of the Hollows, one of the
first additional zones that was ever published for City of Heroes
Gone are the days of players skipping the zone because it was simply
too hard for them to get around in, as they will find the enemies are
much more manageable while soloing or in small groups. We have even
added a bunch of repeatable missions for characters to play in this
newly configured zone.
The Ouroboros allow
players to travel back to Ancient Rome.
Additionally, there is the Midnight Squad. This organization has always
been in the lore of City
but never realized in the game itself. The Midnight Squad takes the
limelight in Issue 12 with missions that explore the origins of
superpowers, as well as using Ouroboros (the time-travel organization
introduced last Issue) to pop back to the Cimeroran peninsula of the
ancient Romans. There players will uncover a mystery that has been
festering for over two millennia, as well as unlock the awesome Roman
Armor costume set for their characters.
Finally, I should note that Issue 12 also includes a number of quality
of life and gameplay additions for our players. We built upon the
recently added “Real Numbers” feature by adding in
ability to see the numbers behind your powers. We’ve also
improved the User Interface by adding new power trays that can be
placed anywhere on the screen. There are several more of these cool
additions that you can read about on our Issue 12: Midnight Hour Game
Issue 12 is shaping up to be a great issue but that’s just
start of things to come. Issue 13 and beyond are going to be huge
additions to City of
introducing new systems as well as a ton of new content for all levels
of play. We couldn’t be more excited about the journey ahead
for City of Heroes
I look forward to giving you more details this year!