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Independency: Superheroic Spiritual Successors

Columns By Shannon Doyle on December 02, 2014

Superheroic Spiritual Successors

In the ashes of City of Heroes the seeds of three spiritual successors were planted. The Phoenix Project now known as City of Titans, Heroes and Villains, and Valiance Online. Two years on and all three are barely little sprouts poking their heads out of the dirt, MMOs do take a long time to develop after all. But it is that time of year where they’re pushed into our thoughts once more. How are they doing you may be asking? That’s a very good question…

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City of Titans

A little over a year ago Missing Worlds Media, the makers of City of Titans launched a very successful Kickstarter campaign. They were able to raise $678,000 which was twice their initial goal. Since then backers have been treated to regular updates that have mostly been lore fluff pieces. There was a little bit of drama around Kickstarter backer items but these days everything has smoothed out. Things seem to be chugging away nicely. Fans on Facebook were recently treated to a bit of building art and a dev blog talking all about momentum has been posted. Momentum is something that is tracked along with Health and Energy except that it starts at zero and works up. You will build momentum simply by engaging in combat. Taking damage and using powers, be they an attack, a buff, a debuff, it doesn’t matter, all of these will help you raise momentum. What momentum does will differ depending on the powers and masteries that use them. One of the more interesting uses for momentum is turning player based area of effect attacks (PBAoE) into nukes. But momentum can also perform more traditional roles like increasing your damage output and applying buffs. Momentum won’t just be limited to player characters. NPCs will also have momentum. While this won’t matter much for lesser mob types it will be very important in the battle against a Supervillain. From the sounds of it these fights are going to be very engaging and will require players to really know how their builds work.

Heroes and Villains

Heroes and Villains is so far the only one of the three spiritual successors who hasn’t tried their hand at funding via Kickstarter. The exact reasons for this aren’t clear, but as they are an indie studio it is likely that one will be coming eventually. Of the three Heroes and Villains has generally been the quiet one. Are they keeping things closer to their chest? Are they behind the others in development? It’s hard to say with any certainty at the moment. They have announced that the character David Nakayama, the lead artist from City of Heroes and artist on Big Hero 6, made during the shutdown of City of Heroes named Spirit of Paragon would make an appearance in Heroes and Villains. She is the first character model completed for Heroes and Villains. Additionally, for the anniversary of the shutdown of City of Heroes concept art of Titan City Hall was released. Generally speaking a lot of their most recent updates have been focused on characters, costumes, and models. Every Friday they post a new update on Facebook talking about what they’ve been working on that week. Unfortunately there isn’t much to say about Heroes and Villains right now. They’ve only released one trailer since development on the MMO began and at this point it is pushing two years old. Hopefully there will be more on Heroes and Villains in the near future.

Valiance Online

In the days following the closure of City of Heroes it looked like Valiance Online was miles ahead of the rest. While the other two were still forming development teams Valiance Online already had released images from inside the game. Fast forward two years and the game is now in pre-alpha testing! They recently had an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign but they aren’t letting that slow them down. A stress test weekend was scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend and Valiance Online has been added to Steam Greenlight. In terms of where they are in development they claimed in their Kickstarter campaign to be half way finished. If they are indeed half way there then it seems like their appearance on Steam Greenlight may be a bit premature. Or perhaps after the failure of their Kickstarter campaign they’ve changed things slightly to make the game more complete as it is. Whatever the case may be there is now a gameplay trailer. The gameplay trailer features a zone that will feel very familiar to anyone who played City of Heroes. The street layout and even the buildings and their placement are reminiscent of what was the primary zone in City of Heroes. The trailer, plus the fact that they’re holding stress tests seems to suggest that they may be close to having a final product. With all the conflicting signals it’s hard to say where Valiance Online stands at the moment. Hopefully now that they have someone new in charge of marketing things will become a little more clear.

They may not be Paragon City but Titan City, Titan City, and San Cielo look like they’re all on their way to become fully fledged superhero filled cities. They all have a long way to go still in development and aren’t due for release until 2016 at least. But that won’t stop us from looking in on them from time to time. These MMOs will have the eyes and ears of the MMO community, especially those who once played City of Heroes,for a long time to come.

All three of these games have one thing in common, other than their superhero beginnings. All of them are being created by virtual studios. Volunteers scattered all over the globe all working towards creating an MMO. This is a new concept that, should these games be successful could usher in an all new way of making games. I’m not saying that traditional development studios will go away, this will just offer up more options. And with more options comes more chances for something awesome to be made.