Exclusive: Ship of Heroes’ Casey McGeever on the superhero MMORPG genre
Ship of Heroes is super-jumping right into 2018 with two documents of note. The first is a retrospective of what the Heroic Games team learned from the community in the past year, including the fact that players want harvesting, crafting, and trading mechanics as well as crowd-control and pet mastery classes and Halloween. The team also says it understands the community’s desire for solid character creation and combat, details on character powers, and real gameplay video demonstrating development progress – particularly a mission video.
“A powerful character creator, and a positive community, are the two most important features of SoH, as judged by the voters in our polls,” writes the studio.
The second document, published here exlusively on Massively OP (not sponsored), is a reflection on the state of the MMORPG industry, particularly the superhero corner of it and how Ship of Heroes fits in, penned by Heroic Games’ Casey McGeever. We’ve included the whole piece below:
This year, NCSoft launched the MOBA Master X Master, resurrecting the iconic MMO superhero Statesman… and closed it before the year was out. After more than four years of operation, Disney abruptly closed Marvel Heroes Omega and severed ties with Gazillion Entertainment. Consumers view new games soft-released in perpetual alphas by both small and large studios with the skepticism borne of experience, as a great many MMOs are delayed year after year, or never launch at all. Some question whether there is a future for any superhero MMO.
The tools for creating games are steadily improving, but players grind through free-to-play content and quickly move onto something new, leaving studios trying to find new ways to monetize while churning out DLC and expansions. Big, exciting raids are locked behind paywalls, and behind months or years of grinding. Lockboxes and cash shops have users angry about the pay-to-win business model. Unhappy gamers make these immersive worlds, which already lean towards apocalyptic visions of reality, unpleasant places to stay and spend time, until new players and nice players alike leave, or stay and become equally bitter.
What made MMORPGs worth playing in the first place has been lost: a shared sense of community, of getting to know other players and working cooperatively. Players want to help each other on missions and raids, trade resources and craft upgrades, and generally interact in ways that build real friendships. If one reads what people are saying, that is the main message: they want a game worth playing, one that will not be spoiled by its own toxic atmosphere.
That is why Ship of Heroes is destined to succeed.
We’re an MMO unlike any other, one that gamers of all ages, levels of ability, and monetary situations can enjoy together. We set the example for our audience; our dev team is honest and open, and reliably delivers on its promises – so even when we have setbacks, we’ve earned the trust that we’ve been given. We work closely with our community, seeking feedback and improving the game with it. We are committed to moderating our community so that negative and destructive players will be asked to shape up or leave, allowing everyone else to relax and have fun.
We’ve released eighteen videos and counting, and anyone can see how much we’ve advanced in the latest ones. We are careful not to overpromise, but what we do promise, you can count on having. Our track record has turned some of our most vocal detractors into staunch supporters, and we’ve welcomed them to join us, on our forums and elsewhere.
It is understandable that some players are wary, having been burned by other projects. But being a small studio with excellent management means we do not need a World of Warcraft-style audience of millions to pay for the game, nor do we need Kickstarter funding – it would have sped up development, but we are succeeding without it. We are decidedly against lockboxes and pay-to-win cash shops; we may offer extra costume pieces at some point down the road, but nothing that gives people who pay extra a combat advantage in the game. Ship of Heroes will not be free; we’re on a subscription model, which both deters those who don’t really care about the game from playing, and ensures that we won’t ever need lockboxes to be financially stable.
Ship of Heroes will go into Beta in 2018, and donors of $25 or more will be welcome to play. But the ship is boarding now. The community is already active, and we are making key decisions right now. To join the discussion, come join our forums – the devs and I are on the boards every day.
We hope that the launch of Ship of Heroes will be more than a rebirth in the superhero MMORPG genre, that it will encourage a new path for the industry overall, for MMOs of all types. But in creating an idyllic universe where you can be a powerful character of your own flexible design, where better to start than with superheroes, and what backdrop could be more limitless than the expanse of space?
To players of the old great and dearly-departed MMORPGs, to newer players who never saw what a positive community was like, and to other dev houses – I extend the invitation. Join us in our mission to resurrect positive community. Join us in launching your own unique games, if you have the inclination. Help us create an MMORPG that is not just fun to play mission-to-mission, but is also the kind of place where you might want to hang out and stay a while. Together, we can reshape the world.