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Paragon Studios
MMORPG | Setting:Super-Hero | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 04/27/04)  | Pub:NCSoft
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Download,Retail | Retail Price:n/a | Pay Type:Free | Monthly Fee:n/a
System Req: PC Mac | Out of date info? Let us know!

Interviews: Checking In With City of Heroes

By Garrett Fuller on January 20, 2011

Checking In With City of Heroes

With seven years of history behind City of Heroes what has been your favorite part in working with the genre?

Nate Birkholz:

We get to feed our families by living, breathing, eating, and sleeping our collective obsession with comic books. Win.


Do you find the Superhero genre limiting? In terms of setting, characters, good vs. evil?

Nate Birkholz:

The superhero genre is remarkably broad. It incorporates science fiction, horror, fantasy, history, military, action, adventure… Even a little romance and a healthy dose of sex. We’ve told stories about alien invasions, secret societies, unrequited love, magical talismans, Orwellian dystopias, and scientific hubris. We’ve let players become paragons of truth and justice, infamous miscreants, as well as epitomes of fallen virtue or unlikely redemption. We have drawn lines in black and white and filled between those lines in endless shades of gray. So I’d say we haven’t found the limits yet.

Why do you feel people relate so well to superheroes?

Nate Birkholz:

In our day to day life, we all face challenges that we don’t feel equipped to handle, and situations that require solutions for which we are not prepared. But we’d all like to be ready for anything, even the improbable. Superheroes face great challenges and overcome them with direct solutions. That’s pretty appealing. I think that’s why flawed heroes with real-life problems arose during the Silver Age: when superheroes are more like us, we are more like them.

With City of Villains as part of the game did you see a lot of characters cross over into the other side?

Nate Birkholz:

There were certainly a lot of players who had been eager to cross to the darker side of the street from the very beginning, and many made the move when CoV was released, but in addition a dedicated community grew up who were true villains from the first. In general, we find we have more Heroes than Villains at any one time, but the Villain community incorporates some of our most active and enthusiastic players. Going Rogue of course introduced Loyalists and Resistance, with new identities and allegiances as well as new ways of looking at what it really means to be heroic or villainous.

Going Rogue introduced another aspect of the good vs. evil spectrum. Did the players do what you expected?

Nate Birkholz:

We thought that more players would choose to live in the shadows as Rogues or Vigilantes, but we found that people gravitated to the ends of the spectrum as Heroes and Villains. A significant majority of active players did explore the Going Rogue morality system and we got a lot of kudos for the really great content players got to experience as they traveled the middle ground. Hearing that people enjoyed some of the twisted and difficult moral choices we presented was very rewarding.

Do you see one particular power set or skill set that players are drawn too, especially over the years of the game?

Nate Birkholz:

With over a hundred Power Sets to choose from, we’ve had a lot of fan favorites as well as the occasional flavor of the month over the years, but in general the most aggressive power sets draw the highest number of players. The more subtle powers draw some of the most devoted fans, however. Many people certainly start off with the reliable results of setting things on fire from a distance or communicating their concerns by punching their foes repeatedly in the face, but many experienced players find a great deal of satisfaction in providing support via timely healing and the judicious application of debuffs and control.

When the game launched we were starting to see some mainstream superhero movies, now they are everywhere, has this helped the genre or watered it down for hardcore fans?

Nate Birkholz:

Not only is it enriching the genre, it’s creating fans and even strengthening the bottom line for comics companies, helping them grow and change and thrive, which in turn gives us a great opportunity to bring in new players and find new ways to tell stories.

Where do you see City of Heroes, City of Villains in the future? The game has remained extremely popular and can only grow.

Nate Birkholz:

We’re currently devoted to creating a new endgame system with our Incarnate Trials and bringing players new levels of power with the Incarnate Abilities, but in the future we’ll continue to add new zones, villains, and powers as well as new gameplay styles. After seven years as the world’s most popular super powered MMO, we’re more committed than ever to City of Heroes for the long term and we know that continued success takes a lot of great features in the near term.