Resurrecting the Superhero MMO - City of Titans Q&A

Jonathan Bolding | 31 Oct 2013 16:15
Interviews - RSS 2.0

City of Titans started out as a dream - a bunch of capable fans who wanted to remember their favorite game, City of Heroes by making a successor. Though they don't own the IP for City of Heroes, and couldn't get the developer to save it, they have decided to make a game of their own. They've grown significantly beyond that goal - City of Titans is now a fully funded (and counting) Kickstarter which will release a game in 2015. They've recruited a team of experienced programmers and businesspeople. They're going to make their dream a reality.

The term "Spiritual Successor" gets tossed around a lot on Kickstarter. What does that mean for City of Titans?

Sara "Firefairy" Quinn, President: It means that we want to have the same "spirit" as City of Heroes without being a direct sequel. The ability to play with your friends and have fun without the game getting in the way, the ability to feel as if your character is a meaningful part of the stories you see unfolding, and generally the basic fun of going out and playing your own unique super and exploring an exciting world are all factors.

Chris "Warcabbit" Hare, Project Lead: It's a very tricky thing. We're not using their original engine. We're not able to use their original world. We can't duplicate the gameplay or the power sets. And, currently, we don't have any of the original developers on the team, though we have their well-wishes.

So it means something a little tricky. While every element will be different, the gestalt must still feel, not merely the same, but 'right.' The timing of attacks, the presentation of the enemies, the entire stage direction of the presented mission has to feel like an old friend. There are things we can change for the better, and there are things that, if we changed, would be for the worse.

Where we focus is on taking the things that people spent nine years expressing how much they loved and used, and enhancing them in ways that come easily to the player. The costumes will be more customizable. The story will be better and more personal. The customization will reach inside every part of how we express a power.

This is a new city, but the most important parts of it remain the Heroes in the sky... and the Villains in the shadows.

Ian "Doctor Boston" Hawkins, Business Office Vizier: Familiar gameplay while respecting the IP rights of others. With luck, familiar player culture, too.

What form will basic gameplay take? Click-to-attack, target and autoattack?

Sara Quinn: It's really a bit early to say. One major purpose for the Kickstarter was to acquire the more expensive software needed to do intensive work building for the engine, and we need some playable content for testing so that we can find out what works best for our players and our system overall. Once we have some testing in and have made a final decision, we will definitely be making announcements.

Chris Hare: I know people always want to hear about new things, but we've done some fairly extensive surveys, and the part that surprised me the most was that people didn't want very much change in the basic gameplay. It worked, it worked well. Even blocking and dodging was viewed as a very negative thing. There is a positive side to this, though. City of Heroes was always family friendly, to the point where people could play with their kids on their lap, and we're aiming to be the same way.

At launch, we're not looking at making any huge changes. But as we grow and roll out new power sets, we're going to play with things a little, and see how our players like them. We're going to have a lot of flexibility in this game, we're building things so we can change them with ease, and we're going to leverage that in every way we can.

Nate "Doctor Tyche" Downes, Technical Director: There are some minor adjustments, but overall the goal is a design close to the original. The few adjustments are down to resolve some issues that gamepad players had, and only impacts them directly, although opens up new options for the keyboard & mouse player as well if they wish to take advantage of the new capabilities being planned for.

What will make City of Titans stand out from the average MMO?

Sara Quinn: Overall, the fact that the story is actually about the player characters, rather than their being simply spectators to events or interchangeable cogs in a larger event. We will be using a technique City of Heroes did, where multiple player characters can each complete the same piece of content, but we never put it in their faces that they have done so- in each character's individual canon, that experience was unique, and their further content will treat it as such. The player character is the protagonist, and the story follows them through their development into a super of epic proportions, as opposed to treating them as one of many, who are all largely irrelevant next to the most major NPCs.

Chris Hare: We're focusing on two strong pillars. Customization and Story. I've discussed the visible part of Customization a bit, so let's talk Story. We're not doing voice overs, we can't afford to. So we're making necessity into a strength. We're going to start with multiple personal storylines that go all the way to level cap, and none of them will be restricted by class. Combine it with actual choice in your plotlines, the kind of choices Mass Effect never gave you, and we'll really be doing something special. You can choose a villian's path, and search for redemption. You can choose a hero's path and fall to depravity. More than that, we've taken a vow to make your character matter to your storyline. You will not be someone's lackey or fetching pet. And yes, one of our pathways will potentially let you take over the WORLD. Holding on to it is... another story entirely. This is comics, after all. Don't worry, you'll appear to die in a horrible explosion, and escape to plot again.

Ian Hawkins: Having a good gameplay experience for unfettered visionaries ("villains") is a high priority. Also, our commitment as a studio to have the legal structures in place to spin off the game, should it no longer make good business sense for MWM to continue supporting it.

William "Robin" Strickland, Head of Composition: We're looking at having a vibrant setting that's a bit more real and interactive than most, with a game lore that's basically as deep as the player wants to go. We plan to have a variety of stories available that cater to all sorts of comic book genre staples, for both heroic and villainous characters, and we hope for there to be fairly little sameness or repetition. We want the game to respect the player's choices and involvement, so that they can feel like a part of the game world. For instance, we're looking at a way to have the actions of the player base influence the plot of future expansions, to make our players that much more a part of the experience.

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