MMORPG: City of Heroes has stood the test of time for an MMO, what is it like still making new content for the game?
Matt Miller: First off, I think it’s phenomenal that we’ve just announced our 24th major update to the game. As we have improved over the years we have added so many new features and tools for our developers to use that we can do some pretty amazing stuff compared to launch, like phasing, dopplegangers, zone events, and scripted boss battles. Couple that with a team of creative visionaries who have stories they want to tell and features they want to add and it really becomes a labor of love to create new content for City of Heroes.
Paragon Studios has a very proud tradition in the City of Heroes franchise. The game has devoted developers and even more devoted fans. I must say that the best part of a new issue is seeing the players get excited about the content we announced. We got overwhelmingly positive feedback from our players about the feature list for Issue 24: Resurgence, calling it “impressive,” “re-shaping the game,” and one player commented “letting villains be villainous...this sounds awesome.”
MMORPG: What are your favorite design concepts in Resurgence? Is making changes to the game more difficult because of its rich history?
Matt Miller: I love the fact that the overall meta story for the game is moving forward. We build upon the storylines of previous issues. For example, after Issue 23, Praetoria was devastated from the Magisterium Incarnate Trial. Much of Issue 24 deals with the repercussions of that as many signature Praetorians make a new home on Primal Earth. This kind of story telling happens “out of sync” with the normal timeline of things that happen to you in order of your leveling up, but we make it clear on the contact introduction that elements of the content that contact gives assume events from a previous issue have taken place, no matter what level you are.
MMORPG: What types of powers can players expect to unlock with Issue 24?
Matt Miller: VIPs will get Martial Combat for Blasters and Martial Assault for Dominators. These are more ‘natural’ based secondaries that couple well with weapon-based primary power sets in terms of theme.
Martial Combat delivers damage with kicks and punches, and you use your sharpened senses to keep you moving faster and strike harder with moves that will seem like something out of Dragon Ball Z. Martial Assault has physical kicks and punches in melee range, but then adds in thrown blades to cut down their enemies at a distance. You can really feel like a ninja with these sets. Players have wanted a way to mix melee combat in with their ranged attacks, and these two sets were built to do just that.
MMORPG: Tell us about the new content, can you give us some insight on the Hamidon?
Matt Miller: With Emperor Cole out of the picture (players defeat him at the end of Issue 23), Praetoria and the rest of that world is taken over by the Hamidon and its forces. Sean “Dr. Aeon” McCann wrote a story arc specifically for Incarnates that deals with the last bits of civilization holding out against the Hamidon on that world.
If you’re a fan of our lore and stories, there’s more in-depth information on all of the new content at the Issue 24 overview page.
MMORPG: What will be in Issue 24 for VIP players?
Matt Miller: In addition to Martial Combat and Martial Assault power sets, there is a ton of content exclusive for VIPs. New story arcs in Brickstown focus on signature characters from Praetoria moving to Primal Earth and the consequences that follow from that. Players help form a Supergroup of NPCs called the New Praetorians and fight off the combined forces of a Primal Earth villain group and a new group formed from refugees of Praetoria.
In St. Martial, we are adding arcs that put power into the hands of your villain character. Your character learns that Arachnos plans to use a portal to access Praetoria and loot the devastated world. You determine that you can beat them to the punch and loot it yourself before they can. During the arc, villains will find themselves competing against other villains and uncovering surprises that may turn out to be something to help their ongoing schemes.
Two additional story arcs deal with life as Rogues and Vigilantes specifically. Rogues and Vigilantes are the two factions we introduced in Going Rogue, who are Villains seeking redemption or fallen Heroes. They’re not quite evil or good. We wanted to give those two “gray” alignments content they could call their own. So now Rogues can join up with a division of Wyvern called the Hammers of Justice. The Hammers recruit ex-villains to do some operations for them (for a nice paycheck) using their connections to the criminal undergrounds of the Rogue Isles before they go completely legit.
Vigilantes will be contacted by an off-the-books section of Hero Corp called Void Sanction. Void Sanction is a wet works operation that deals with more permanent solutions to trouble in Paragon City. These missions are very cloak and dagger, involving getting your mission orders from dead drops in the world and ensuring that you cover your tracks so no one can trace your actions back to you or Hero Corp.
MMORPG: How can new players get involved in the expansion?
Matt Miller: New players can always download the free client at www.cityofheroes.com/freedom. With our Quick Downloader, they can get up and making a character within minutes of starting the download. We’ve found that many players take a while to get the look of their first character right, so while you’re crafting that perfect superhero or villain, we background download the tutorial areas and then the rest of the game content. This is one of the major quality of life improvements we made when we launched Freedom last year. Before then, it could take you hours or longer to just download the game.
Once they’ve established themselves in the game, they can dive right into Issue 24. Part of Issue 24 deals with the Skulls, one of the street gangs in Kings Row. As soon as you’re finished the introductory missions in Atlas Park, you’ll be handed off to the brand new Issue 24 content in Kings Row.
MMORPG: What else is in store for City of Heroes throughout 2012?
Matt Miller: The Paragon Market will have new items on it all the way to the end of the year, including new Halloween themed costume parts (as well as bringing back last year’s Halloween parts). We have some more Super Packs in line as well, including a special edition pack that will be available for sale around the holidays for a limited time. Coming later this month is the Nature Affinity Power Set, which is going to be one of our most interesting and unique Power Sets. It’s a great support set that also has awesome debuffs and attacks.
In addition, the Psionic Melee power set will be available later this year, as well as new Power Pools that we’re calling Specialized Power Pools (a collection of powers available to all characters as they level up). The first of these will be the Sorcery power pool, which combines the utility of a power pool with a travel power (in Sorcery’s case a teleport). Players will be able to add these magic-themed powers on top of the existing powers they already have.
2012 is shaping up to be one of the best years for City of Heroes in terms of content and updates. And I haven’t even started talking about 2013…..