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The Heart of a Superhero Game is Being One

Guest Writer Posted:
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While not every game system or design feature directly serves this principle, at the end of the day the Marvel Heroes design team's goal is for a player to feel like a superhero.  This ambition was a core part of the development of our earlier Midtown Patrol game mode, and is just as much in evidence with the release of our latest patrol mode set in the Brooklyn district of Industry City. 

In our earlier game mode of Midtown Patrol, the idea was to recreate that classic sensation of a hero on patrol, moving through a crime-ridden city to challenge menaces that unpowered police were ill-equipped to handle.  Saving civilians in distress, fighting back supervillain teams such as the infamous Brotherhood of Mutants, and even stopping bank robberies were all key pieces of, well, making a superhero feel like a hero. 

For Industry City Patrol, we didn't just want to replicate Midtown or make it obsolete.  Rather, the goal was to take this core idea of giving players the space to feel like a classic superhero and to give it a new spin. 

Despite the chaos of supervillains and alien menaces, in Midtown heroes can (and often do) operate more or less independently dealing with fairly discrete threats such as a mugging, an ambush by A.I.M., or a team of supervillains.  In Industry City we wanted to cultivate the feeling of the superhero team in a similar situation - but with a greater feeling or urgency and a deadlier sense of threat. 

As a patrol zone like Midtown, Industry City is a continuous zone, meaning that a player can choose to stay in the zone for as long (or as short) as they'd like.  Unlike Midtown, however, Industry City's threats are not a disconnected tapestry of unrelated crimes but a sequenced set of events that affect and influence the entire map. 

For example, in the event "The Clone Saga" the hero is first alerted to the bizarre appearance of multiple Spider-Men lending their hand to erratic vigilante behavior - stopping crimes, but also innocent bystanders in the process.  With several of these errant Spider-Men appearing across the zone, heroes need to split up to deal with them. 

Once this immediate threat has been dealt with however, a greater threat appears in the form of a clone of Superior Spiderman and an army of Scarlet Spidermen.  Now, the players must band together and fight this concentrated threat as a group. 

Similarly, in the event "Cult of the Eye", the action begins with reports of mysterious black-robed cultists kidnapping innocent civilians.  Upon thwarting the kidnapping, events move on, revealing the kidnappings to have been orchestrated by the Serpent-Men attempting to procure sacrifices to summon the Mindless Titan.  The players attempt to stop the sacrifices, and in the process witness the unleashing of the mighty Mindless Titan. 

Rewards, as well, had to be changed to match this style of gameplay.  Whereas in Midtown the action is fierce and unrelenting with predictable, punctuated appearances of supervillains, in the Industry City Patrol the gameplay progresses in stages, meaning that we couldn't just rely on dropping rewards off of individual supervillains.  So, in addition to incidental rewards from defeating supervillains, players also receive a reward box to encourage players to participate in all of the various phases leading up to the final event. 

Failure, as well, was never really a danger in Midtown, but it most definitely is in the new Industry City Patrol.  As events can often be failed, it has also provided us the opportunity to scale up the threat - and the rewards - more than we were able to do in a game mode like the Midtown Patrol. 

Industry City Patrol thus represents an evolution of our other game modes - not just Midtown Patrol, but also of our escalating defense modes such as X-Defense and the S.H.I.E.L.D. Holo-Simulator.  Industry City is, as well, as much a child of our thinking on raids and bringing a similar kind of collaborative playstyle to a venue that is more accessible to the average player, while at the same time providing a rewarded challenge to experienced players when they might have just twenty minutes or half an hour to spare. 

As we continue to refine and develop Industry City, we're also going to be keeping an eye onto future game modes and possible future patrols, learning lessons from our experiences with these and our other game modes, but also continuing to evolve and present new challenges and new playstyles for our players to face. 

Geoff "Heretic" Tuffli

Lead Content Designer for Marvel Heroes


Guest Writer