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City of Titans - Catching up with Missing Worlds Media on their Superhero MMORPG

By William Murphy on October 22, 2015 | Interviews | Comments

City of Titans - Catching up with Missing Worlds Media on their Superhero MMORPG

You may remember that City of Titans is one of several forthcoming spiritual successors to City of Heroes. It funded on Kickstarter last year for over $500,000, and while the Missing Worlds Media website is regularly updated, the team doesn’t have a PR group focusing on pushing out media blasts all the time. So, we thought it a good idea to catch up with MWM’s War Cabbit to see how things are going and get some more info about the game overall. Read on!

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MMORPG: Can you give us a brief rundown, for those uninitiated, of what City of Titans is all about?

Missing Worlds Media: City of Titans is a highly customizable MMO with a superhero theme. Like most things involving superheroes, it has a lot of apparently impossible elements that merge into a whole. In the end, we're trying to make a game that is fun to play, and lets you tell the story of your superhero (or villain). With a lot of customization and a lot of explosions.

In short, it's a superhero game where you get to make the main character of your story, and your decisions matter.


MMORPG: Are you worried that NC Soft may take action against you or other “spiritual successors” if you get too close to the City of Heroes IP?

MWM: Yes, we are, which is why we're trying to have strong similarities to the overall feel and essence, while having almost nothing in common IP-wise.

We don't have the same classes - we've added options and roles. The classic Tank is just one option of five in our Armor Primary Melee Secondary class, and we've got a lot of options to let them fill similar roles in the ecosystem while playing differently.

We don't have the same enemies - we have low level thugs, but they don’t follow dark forces - they're opportunists.

We do have a Ruthless Terrorist Organization trying to take over the World - but they're not Hydra, Viper, Cobra, or any other.

And, at the end of the day, we've only got Titan City. There are no Rogue Isles that our Villain players will be gated to. And no Lord Recluse demanding you behave or ELSE. Why... with this kind of freedom, someone might take over the WORLD.

MMORPG: Are there any ongoing negotiations to secure the rights to the City of Heroes IP?

MWM: Missing Worlds Media is not involved in any ongoing negotiations to secure the rights to the City of Heroes IP.

That being said, there is a separate, non-related organization attempting to create a holding company to do so, and in prolonged negotiations with NCSOFT. It happens to contain several of the members of Missing Worlds Media, wearing legally significant different hats.

MMORPG: Do you plan on having your own comics and lore to build up into the CoT launch?

MWM: Well, we've certainly had our own lore, if you check our kickstarter updates, and we've had several comics started, but it turns out that discovering you _can_ draw comics is, well, a really good springboard to working for the majors. We had a full story almost ready for DragonCon last year, but the artist who was doing it is now working for Image. Sometimes things just don't work out.

We've been working on a webcomic in our incredibly copious free time as an intro to the world of Titan City, but it doesn't have a month's backlog yet. It will be full of Hijinx, though! (And I want to note, we did the hoodie before Spider-Gwen.)

MMORPG: How do you plan on improving or differentiating yourself from City of Heroes yet still maintain that feel of the game you loved?

MWM: More wonder. More joy. More awesome. More seriously? More control.

More costume choices, more costume flexibility. We've got a system right now that, if all goes well, looks like it'll do things no other costume system ever has.

More story choices. In the old game, players complained they felt like they were running errands for Statesman and Recluse. We're focusing on giving everyone a story-of-their-hero - a personal story, like SW:TOR. Except... we're free to have _more_ stories, since we aren't tying it to character class, but character concept - a street hero, a mastermind trying to take over the world. And we plan to keep adding more stories for more concepts.

MMORPG: Where are you in the development process? It's been a year since the KS.

MWM: Up to our elbows. We've been working hard on infrastructure, and now we're starting to assemble things. We've had what looks very much like a world-beating breakthrough in costumes, and we've got travel powers working - and that's important, because while we have had combat and respawning and all that game stuff, we didn't hook it together the way travel powers were. Next we implement the _real_ combat system which we spent the last year designing. And that says nothing about the progress on the city. We're still early days but I think it'll move fast there.

Keep an eye on our Kickstarter Updates, our Youtube channel, our facebook. Things happen.

MMORPG: Are you concerned that you’ll be able to support yourself with at least 3 different projects working to be “spiritual successors” to CoH now?

MWM: I think we've got a very different focus from Valiance Online, who we respect and talk to and work with. They've got a very focused universe, sort of Marvel 2099. We're going for the full and glorious insanity of modern comics. Magic and cybernetics and mutation and training and just darn radiation accidents and aliens. 

If we get what we intend done, if we're worthy of people's interest, I think we'll be able to support ourselves. For one thing, we've learned to work very, very cheaply.

MMORPG: You've had one successful Kickstarter but since then have not sought any additional funding. That seems strange. All of the other game projects out there tend to have ongoing fundraising campaigns post Kickstarter, why not City of Titans?

MWM: We have been frugal, for one thing. No salaries (and a lot of my own money pitched in, and I'm not rich). But more critically, we feel that before we ask anyone for more money, we need to have something we can say 'we asked for money before. It hasn't been wasted, look at this.' We're getting closer.

We will need to ask for more money, eventually. I want to hire some full time artists in order to ramp up the number of costumes we have in the creator, and to, ah, 'paint' new buildings for the city. The kind of thing where, once work is defined, it's a matter of doing creative work, but not design work. 

But until we have something we can say 'this was worth it', I don't want to ask. And luckily, we're still doing okay, we don't need to ask.

MMORPG: Will we see a focus on instanced PvE with the trinity?

MWM: The trinity is dead. The first City killed it the first time someone made an eight man rad/kin team. We're following in those glorious steps. Team with anyone you want, and save the world in your own way. 

But yes, it will be heavily instanced, and it will be heavily PvE. But we'll have more world events than the original game, and we'll have more things to do outside than just hang out in the park. Not that I didn't love doing that during the winter - even if it was fake grass, it cheered me up.

Not that we haven't learned a few tricks. Champions Online has implemented something I mentioned back in our KS on PvP, and I thought of from watching LOTRO's Monster Play, where you get to play an epic supervillain on a rampage, for example. (Oh, come on, who didn't want to drive that giant Hess Task Force Mek-Man right across Paragon City?)

MMORPG: You mentioned procedural city building to me in our emails setting this interview up… How will this work, and won't it feel like players never really have a sense of the world around them?

MWM: Well, I did. I'm going to be a bit brief here, but the core is basically that we intend for every neighborhood to have its own character, and we've learned from SimCity. Procedural doesn't mean identical, it just means that we can say 'put a building there, make it a bodega that fits in Clarkstown. Give it a sidewalk, trash can outside, street trash... no, bad neighborhood, give it the bad neighborhood front window. Right, and we'll need a stop sign and a street light...' in just about that many words, and the generating engine will do it for us. Procedural building means we have MORE power to give players a sense of the world around them, instead of a thousand cookie cutter buildings stamped and rotated.

Not to mention that it means we can build customized buildings quicker than by hand, with working doors and even skylights. 

We're using the power of procedures to allow us to be able to build faster, not to be able to clone identical results.

MMORPG: What kind of PvP can players expect?

MWM: All kinds. Seriously. From dueling in an arena to royal rumbles in the park like a Marvel Summer Event. It's opt-in, don't worry. We were actually tossing around the idea of a Roller Derby game - lock people's feet to the ground and have them use their powers to bash their way through the pack. We were also considering pre-generated NPCs to possess so you could play knockback-hockey. (Pro wrestling, fun as it is, just doesn't work right in our system, yet.)

We have plans for team combat, where people can defend their base from invaders.  It'll be an instanced copy of the base, so people can opt out if they want. We have plans for a sort of Evil Genius routine where you can design a base and then use it to stop a hero from reaching your villain - or a jail and try to stop the villain from breaking out.

We have bobsled races and flight races - I seriously intend to have something where you fly through rings in a green fog, if I can.  And, of course, there's the old Legolas and Gimli head to head "I'm more awesome than you are" competition.

PvP comes in all flavors, and not all of it is pure combat.  And we swear. We won't let PvP change how PvE works.

MMORPG: When can folks expect to get some true hands on with the game?

MWM: In parts, when it's done. Or when it's done enough. We are a volunteer effort, and we have problems - people have RL trouble, lose their jobs, or even get new ones earning six figures... and no longer have time to work with us.

We're making good headway, but I really don't want to commit to a date till I have to, because we all know it'll be untrue.

Still... we are making good headway, and the costume creator prototype is coming together. And I think we'll be able to release that, though there's the whole question of authentication and a friendly UI and all sorts of apparently trivial things that wind up taking forever.  We're on track and things are moving forward.  I'm hoping we'll be able to say more... Soon™.  If you want to catch up on all of our recent updates, we have tons of backer updates here.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.