Answers by CW Bennett,
Programmer for NCsoft

It seems that the development team behind NCsoft's style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes/City of Villains
franchise has been hard at work over the last few months. While several
of them have been hastily introducing a new XP curve for smoother
progression, others - like programmer CW Bennett - have been busily
implementing new tools into the U.I. that help display the numbers
behind the game's combat system. Recently the CW took some time to
answer a few questions regarding these "Real Numbers" and the Ten Ton
Hammer staff has gladly posted his answers for everyone to view!

Can you tell us about
yourself and what you on the CoH dev team?

style="font-weight: bold;">CW Bennett: My name
is CW and I’m a programmer on the style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes/City of Villains
development team.  I’ve been working on (or near)
the team for the last five years.  I implemented most of the
U.I. and I’m currently a general gameplay programmer.


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title="Wielding Two Sword"> src="/image/view/12780/preview"

style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes players
can now see the numbers behind the combat system.

Could you give us an
overview of this new "Real Numbers" feature?

style="font-weight: bold;">CW: Well, we
basically integrated some “tools” into the in-game
U.I. which display the numbers behind the game’s combats
systems. The Combat Attributes Window lists all the important
attributes of the player and shows their current value.  It
also shows the source and contribution of buffs. The Combat Monitor
Window is a lightweight window that can unobtrusively be left up all
the time (unlike the Combat Attributes Window), so you can watch
selected buffs change during combat. Additionally, more information can
be found through buff icons that show their actual effects on the
player, and in the combat log where hit rolls have been added.


Can you take us into the
process of implementing this? What were your goals? What steps did you
have to take to get to the final version?

style="font-weight: bold;">CW: Originally all
of the power descriptions and combat numbers were obfuscated and hidden
away because we assumed that the details would be confusing to players
and we were trying to make a game that you could just play without
reading the manual.  However, we eventually realized that in
other games, comparing weapons/armor items was made easier (not harder)
if they showed the actual combat numbers.  In addition, there
is enough data exposed that everything else could eventually be
determined by persistent players. The existing “easy to
use” references are still there in game – if you
don’t want all this extra detail, you don’t have to
be bothered with it. But, for those who yearn for all the nitty gritty
details, it’s all there for you!  Hopefully exposing
the numbers will help give players additional information they can use
to make combat and power decisions.


When I started working on
the numbers, I decided I’d approach things from the order of
easiest to hardest to implement.  All players have a list of
final calculated combat attributes on them already so exposing that was
an obvious first step.  Next step was looking over all the
buff/debuffs and back calculating them.  In doing this, I
realized that the information could be displayed on the buff icons in
the status window, and incorporated that feature as an unexpected


Adding the hit rolls to the combat window happened because Back Alley
Brawler (another dev) saw the attribute monitor and wanted something
that would tell him what his chance to hit any target was going to
be.  Unfortunately, your final chance to hit involves not only
all the player buffs and all the target buffs, but is also different
for every power. Each power has its own accuracy modifier and
additionally could be slotted differently.  Since the game
can’t predict what power a player will end up choosing, I
added the next best thing and showed what the actual chance to hit was.


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style="font-style: italic;">These changes will
level the playing field for those players that don't go out of their
way to get third party tools.

What aspect of this will
make players most excited and how can they take advantage of this

style="font-weight: bold;">CW: It helps level
the playing field a bit for players that don’t go to out of
game tools like City of Data or Mid’s Hero Designer. It makes
it easy to see the cumulative effect of various set bonuses. It can
help players make power and slotting choices because they can better
understand just what those powers or enhancement slot choices are
actually doing. Just the other day, I was playing a low level
Warshade and used the Combat Attribute window to help me decide how to
slot Dark Nova.


Also, for us here on the
Development Team, it gives us an elegant in-game tool to double check
powers and the changes that we make to them.  If they are
behaving unexpectedly the tool makes it much easier to find bugs.


Some players are happy
with the game the way it is. Does this force players to play the game
any differently?

style="font-weight: bold;">CW: Not at all, if
you are interested in the numbers they are now available, but they are
not forced on to you.


Does this feature make style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">City of Heroes style="font-weight: bold;"> any more or less like the other
MMP’s out there?

style="font-weight: bold;">CW: This adds
functionality that is more like other MMO’s, which have
traditionally been heavily number based. But like I said, the great
thing about this feature is that players who want this type of
information have it now, others may just want to keep playing as they
always have.


Is there anything else
that you want to say about this feature?

style="font-weight: bold;">CW: There is more to

Do you think combat
numbers should be openly displayed in every MMORPG? Or is this just
something that fits CoH/CoV? href="">Let
us know on the forums!

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

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016