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New Lead Designer Interview

Garrett Fuller Posted:
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Interviews 0

MMORPG.com:

Despite some of the hero style games on the market, City of Heroes has maintained a strong core player base, what is the secret to keeping your players engaged?

Melissa Bianco:

Oooh. Good question. In a word: communication. Our Community Relations team is amazing. They're in the game running events and on the forums talking to the players. They keep the development team in the loop and they get to work with a player community that is - as far as I am concerned - unparalleled in the current MMO play space. Yes, I'm completely biased, and I don't care who knows it.

Player Meets and events like HeroCon are another opportunity for us to really get to know our players. I love these events because I'm not just a dev sitting behind a computer doing my thing, I'm out there meeting people who play my game daily, who have formed some great relationships over the years, and who have a passion for the game even after 5+ years. I think they continue to play because over those five years or more they have built some really solid friendships and have come to trust that we, as developers, have their best interests at heart in everything we do.

MMORPG.com:

Name two areas in the game design that you would like to see improvement over the next year.

Melissa Bianco:

Content and End Game First and foremost, we want to support the things we've already implemented and continue adding content to them, like missions, zones, badges, etc. Not every issue needs to be a brand spanking new system, though these are things that keep us ahead of the curve, and we've done a lot of that during the years. So in the next several months our players can expect more of what they already love -- content We've also added a lot of new features and we've made a lot of good cosmetic upgrades recently (and will continue to do so), but what we need to do now is add to ones that already exist. Players love our missions and zones, so we need to give them more of that. Now that we are going on six years, the majority of our loyal player base is either close to or already has more than one level 50. They need something to do that makes them feel awesome and gives them a purpose, and we have some really good ideas on what that is.

MMORPG.com:

What steps are you taking to work with the community to improve the game?

Melissa Bianco:

I mentioned this before but our community is one of the main reasons we are still going strong after nearly six years. Our Online Community Relations team works its tails off to make sure it is constantly engaged with the community getting a "pulse" on things and receiving feedback. But it doesn't end there. Our reasons for attending conventions, player meets, surfing the forums, posting on social sites, etc. are all to get information and feedback from our players. The feedback that we receive on our internal test forums directly relates to the bug / improvement reports that developers see and act upon.

Making a game in a vacuum makes no sense. We need feedback and the best way to find out what our community wants is to listen to them. Yes, it's not rocket science, but it's important and in this competitive market, it just makes sense to continue to do so.

MMORPG.com:

The game really produced some of the best character customization in MMOs. How can you build on this in the future?

Melissa Bianco:

The depth of our character creator has been a focus for our development team since we launched more than five years ago, and we continually evolve and enhance it. For example, the most recent free update to the game was powers customization, which gave the community one of the most requested features to date. So we are always working to provide our players with enhanced customization, enabling them to better "tell the story" of their characters.

Screenshot

MMORPG.com:

Tell us some of your plans for 2010. At least the ones you can talk about.

Melissa Bianco:

We have a wonderful and loyal player base and we want to keep them happy. With that in mind, we are obviously working very hard on "Going Rogue" and I think the expansion will make our players happy, give them plenty to do, and keep them coming back for more. And as for the rest of 2010, our players can expect content, content, and more content. We're already working on content for our issue post "Going Rogue" and it's some of the most exciting and challenging things we've ever done. Yes, I like to end interviews with a cliff-hanger.

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garrett

Garrett Fuller

Garrett Fuller / Garrett Fuller has been playing MMOs since 1997 and writing about them since 2005. He joined MMORPG.com has a volunteer writer and now handles Industry Relations for the website. He has been gaming since 1979 when his cousin showed him a copy of Dungeons and Dragons. When not spending time with his family, Garrett also Larps and plays Airsoft in his spare time.