MMORPG: The Statesman has been synonymous with City of Heroes for the life of the game. What is it like to end such an iconic character in the CoH Universe?
Matt Miller: For me it was a really tough thing to do. I mean, City of Heroes has really revolved around this character since the very beginning and killing him off was going to be a huge deal. We knew with Freedom we had a chance to have a new starting point for players, and one of the things we wanted to do was make them the star of their own game, and not have the NPCs overshadow them. Once we had this mindset, killing off Statesman just seemed like a good logical place to go with the story. Of course, his story doesn’t just “end.” He is too ingrained in the game-lore. His death has a far reaching ripple effect that we will see unveiled over the next several issues.
MMORPG: How can fans take part in this event? What will players do to get involved?
Matt Miller: When we launched City of Heroes Freedom we introduced “Signature Story Arcs” which can be played by both Heroes and Villains. These are some of our best episodic content, and have a monthly release schedule, just like a comic book. The first of these arcs is titled “Who will die?” and set up the death of a major character as a mystery to be revealed as the months went by.
On our forums, players started “dead pools” by guessing who would die and who would be the killer. A couple people guessed that it was Statesman who died, but no one guessed that Darrin Wade, who had been in the game since Issue 11: Midnight Hour, would be the one to sever his (im)mortal coil.
Players who want to participate in the story directly can play the fifth installment of the Signature Story Arc, there they can play alongside Statesman as he meets his ultimate fate. Or they can play through the entire Story Arc from the beginning to see how everything unfolds.
MMORPG: What are the plans for the community moving forward?
Matt Miller: Well, there is definitely a vacuum in the Freedom Phalanx (the supergroup lead by Statesman) now. One of the ideas we are moving forward with is promoting an existing NPC to be the leader, but then, in parallel, giving an opportunity for the players to submit their own characters as the one who fills the void in the roster. We’ll have more details on that in the coming months.
MMORPG: How does the event impact the City of Villains side of the game? How can the bad guys get involved?
Matt Miller: The Villains get to participate in their side of the Signature Story Arcs; we wrote two versions of each story. The Villain arcs tell the story from a different angle, and it’s not just a repeat of the Hero missions. In the end, with the Freedom Phalanx seemingly down for the count, the major Villains in the City of Heroes universe might be the only thing between us and a god-empowered Darrin Wade destroying the world.
MMORPG: Are there other plans for iconic characters in the game?
Matt Miller: We have another surprise left to tell in the first Signature Story Arc, as well as putting a previously minor character (who is much beloved) into the spotlight as a full-fledged hero in their own right.
MMORPG: How does this open up the new story lines and work towards the future of CoH ?
Matt Miller: So much happens in the first Signature Story Arc that it was very difficult to see where the second one should go. In the end I am happy with what we came up with for the second installment of the Signature Story Arc series, as it does a bang up job of tying together lots of little bits of lore in a story that revolves around what happens when Statesman dies.
As for the rest of the game, for Issue 23 we’re removing Statesman from the game’s areas and missions where he shows up. This is a big rewrite of a lot of content, so that’s why we are not rushing it out the door and taking our time to get the new stories right. Statesman’s death has far reaching implications, and we’ll be touching on it for many issues to come. It really is a touchstone moment in the game’s history, and our writers are anxious to tell stories of how his death affects every aspect of the City of Heroes universe.