Before the release of
target="_blank">City of Heroes, the massively
multiplayer online game market was made up of two different types of
genres of games - science fiction and high fantasy. LIke the two party
system in the United States, it seemed like everyone was set to
continue developing these particular types of games without fail. But
like the href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Party_%28United_States,_1912%29"
target="_blank">Bull Moose party of the early 20th
century, a new hope sprang up led by Cryptic Studios and their super
hero MMOG, City of Heroes.
Issue 13 of City of Heroes has been named Power and Responsibility. Ben Parker would be proud.
Built as a different sort of MMO from the start,
style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes
quickly found a warm place in the hearts of comic book fans everywhere.
Even with the eventual transition from Cryptic Studios to be owned
wholly by NCsoft, players still regularly flood into the massive game
to play as versions of their favorite super heroes. Yet ever since the
game was wholly purchased by NCsoft, the team seems to have been making
the most out of their newfound closeness with their publisher. Like any
of the famous character duos - href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aR7kYa2GsM">Han and
target="_blank">Abbott and Costello, href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7NKGbFIOJE"
target="_blank">Beavis and Butthead - these two
entities have truly excelled together.
The last several Issues that have been created by the recently dubbed
NCsoft NorCal team have been quite expansive in their scope, and its no
surprise that the players have taken interest in the overall extension
of their world. To learn about their process and the future
of City of Heroes,
the staff at Ten Ton Hammer tracked down NC NorCal's Senior Lead
Designer, Matt "Positron" Miller, and grilled him on a number of topics
concerning CoH. From the impending threats of style="font-style: italic;">DC Universe and style="font-style: italic;">Champions Online to
the aging graphics in the game, we tried to cover as much ground as
possible in the shot time we had with Matt.
The last few Issues - 11, 12 and soon 13 - have been extremely large in scope.
To start, we wanted to know why the last few Issues that have been
added to City of Heroes
have seemed so large. Even without the Architect coming into the next
Issue, the developers seemed to have made an extra effort to build
bucket loads of new missions, powers, and options for the players to
"We always have very ambitious designs in the beginning of an issue,
then we schedule things out, looking at manpower allocations," Matt
said. "More times than not, some things need to get cut in order to hit
target dates and schedules. Now with the studio more than doubling in
size, we’re able to put more into each issue. That, coupled
with the fact that everyone working on the game is passionate about it,
is resulting in a lot more content each issue than we had been doing
previous to this last year or so."
Even with the ambition and drive that seems apparent with the CoH
developers, it certainly has seemed like an interesting ride for anyone
working at NCsoft. From the gossip-mongering from the news driven sites
to the actual job cuts to the eventual emergence of a href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/44744" target="_blank">new
entity in NC West, its definitely been a r href="http://www.metacafe.com/watch/159425/awesome_roller_coaster_fun/"
target="_blank">oller coaster ride of emotions for
anyone watching the industry. With the formation of NCsoft West and the
refocus on AAA games, City
of Heroes must have received a welcome boost of attention.
But has it really been working out for the style="font-style: italic;"> City of Heroes team?
NC West has been vital at getting the right amount of resources directed towards City of Heroes.
According to Matt, NC West has been vital in allocating them the
resources they need to build the game "in ways that we had been unable
to do when it served two masters. The new website is simply one of many
efforts that will hopefully make our commitment (and NCsoft
West’s commitment) to City
of Heroes very clear."
Even with the addition of extra resources, the developers at style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes face
a tough task in the months and years ahead. Several other large
companies - namely SOE and the previously mentioned Cryptic Studios -
have set their sites on the super hero genre and are set to challenge
CoH for dominance in that field. Like heavy weight fighters, these
three companies are destined for a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gR4l0vMSrlc"
target="_blank">grueling multi-opponent brawl, and
only the best warrior will win. With these two games on the horizon, we
though it was pertinent to ask Matt how style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes'
playerbase might be affected and how the team plans to keep CoH in the
"Honestly, I have no idea what these games might do to our playerbase,"
Miller stated. "Both are coming out on consoles, so they will be
available to players there that City
of Heroes can’t reach, but in the PC market,
we’ve got 5 years of content, systems, and established game
lore that players have been living and breathing. Our plan is to keep
giving our players more, more, more as well. When I couple that with
the fact that our game will be running on Intel-based Macs this year,
then I see a very strong future for the franchise in lieu of these two
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