Around the time I started working at Massively-that-was, there was an article that I quite liked talking about how four high-profile MMO failures were not necessary. It was a product of its time, but the point was made that these games didn’t have to wind up in the state they were in. The mistakes that were made were not unexpected problems, but entirely predictable ones that anyone could have seen. Heck, some people did see them and pointed them out, but nothing was changed.
I think about that a lot when I think about other MMOs and online games because there are a lot of titles that, even if not entirely failed, are in states they never needed to be in. These stories are, at the very least, stories of some failures where the failure was not an inevitable end state, nor are they messes that had to be made. The writing was on the wall, the warnings were given, and someone just kept on keeping on and ignored all of the signs. And here we are.
Undoubtedly, our world is poorer in this post-City of Heroes era for the lack of pun-inspired superhero names that used to run, fly, and jump rampant through this game. Maybe NCsoft realized that the world as a whole was about to hit a pun shortage and pulled the plug on CoH before it could drain us of that precious resource.
In any case, BigAngry submitted this museum-quality screenshot as a reminder of the days when the name could make or break a hero: “In the waning days before the fall of City of Heroes, I took video of all my characters using their powers, so I took a screencap of the video of Soviet Summoner, who was a Demon Summoning/Trick Arrow Mastermind. Her demons, IIRC, were named after Russian cities, with the big demon named Chernobyl, of course! God I miss that game.”
With the insane success — both in terms of popularity and finances — that Dota and League of Legends spawned, you can easily understand why game studios latched onto the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) as a relatively quick cash grab. After all, with players providing the ongoing content (through PvP matches), developers were freed up to focus on balance tweaks and churning out new skins and characters to sell.
In a relatively short span of time, the market became flooded with many imitators that sought to grab that slice of the profitable pie. And while some, such as Hi-Rez’s SMITE, have endured, many games discovered the one key danger with this approach: If you could not generate and sustain a large, active playerbase, you were as good as dead. A critical mass was needed, and when it was not achieved, games started folding up left and right.
In today’s Perfect Ten, we’re going to look at a dozen MOBAs that tried and failed to make it. Perhaps they serve as cautionary lessons to other studios seeking to mimic League of Legends’ format, but we somehow doubt that the era of the MOBA is over just yet.
It has been five years since comic book and City of Heroes fans threw $678,000 at Missing Worlds Media in the hopes of seeing a superhero MMO successor. Since then, City of Titans has been taking shape at a glacial pace, testing patience, and finding itself in a spandex race of sorts with Valiance Online and Ship of Heroes.
But could it have made a breakthrough? MWM announced this week that it has finally reached the point where it is proud to show off City of Titans’ character creator (or “avatar builder,” as the studio is calling it). The preview is still just pre-alpha, but it represents a huge step toward the MMO’s hopeful launch. Backers should be able to get their hands on the beta version of the character builder later this year.
“It’s taken us years to get here, but it will take a lot less than that to finish,” MWM said. “The ‘thousand program breaking bugs’ period is past for the chargen, and now visible progress will be more rapid. The biggest missing piece, currently, is female. Don’t think we’ve forgotten about the heroic women. Overcoming the final hurdles to bringing her in is the next big push. Perhaps she’ll be ready in time for next month.”
Mid-February, Trion Worlds announced a big expansion coming to Trove this spring, and the best part for disillusioned superhero fans is that it’s set in a comic-themed cityscape called Luminopolis. That neon city is the subject of today’s “tourism hype” post from the studio.
“The towering skyline helps this epic new cityscape stand apart from other biomes,” Trion says. “Explore this gorgeous new sub-biome to truly appreciate the sprawling, tech-inspired architecture.” The core conceit of the zone is the battle between the evil robot Amperium and the Resistors; Resistors and Trovians will be taking on Amperium world bosses as part of the new rampage alert system.
Incidentally, MOP reader Celestia pointed out a few weeks ago that this particular expansion has some City of Heroes heritage: Former City of Heroes Systems Designer Jeff Hamilton is partly responsible for the comic-themed Vanguardian class. /holdtorch
Filling out that superhero spandex isn’t just a job for the guys, although so far in Valiance Online, it’s certainly seemed that way. It won’t be for long, however, as the team is making significant progress toward getting female characters up and running on the test servers.
“The female character has been reskinned to the new character base rig that the male character uses,” the team reported. “We now have a singular character setup structure for all characters. We also now have new locomotion animations specific to the female character.”
Now where is our tiny, furry, anthropomorphic heroes with leadership experience? Mole Manager to the rescue!
There are good MMO classes and bad classes. There are well-designed ones and ones that just never gelled. But every once in a while, you come across a class that clicks on every level and works so well that it goes right to the top of your favorites.
Among the many MMOs I’ve played over the years, only a small handful of classes in these games had that effect on me. City of Heroes’ (well, City of Villains’) Mastermind was one of these, cementing itself as the best pet class I’ve ever tried. And I’ve always been somewhat in awe of Lord of the Rings Online’s Captain, who really nailed a great hybrid build while remaining thematically distinct.
What would you say is the best-designed MMO class you’ve ever played? What about that class put it heads and shoulders above the rest?
We haven’t seen the character creation for City of Titans just yet, but you know that’s going to be an important part of the game. You can’t have a proper superhero title without proper superhero costumes, after all. The latest piece on the official site is interviewing one of the development team’s costume designers and talking about the development behind the scenes, but both it and the video accompanying it promise that the actual creation preview is coming very soon.
Kayla “Z06” Bianchi talks mostly about her own gaming history and preferences in the little interview, but you can also see some of her work for both the concept art and interior level design. If all you’re interested in is the prospect of seeing how you can make your character, check out the video just below. (It’s a teaser, not a full trailer, so be fairly warned.)
City of Heroes fans, heads-up: The Paragon Chat folks and the people behind HERC are already carving out time in April to celebrate what would’ve been the game’s 14th anniversary.
There’s just a save-the-date post and a graphic up on the forums right now, but last year’s event was a blast. Participants piled into Paragon Chat (which is in fact a partial game client, not just chat) for races, minigames, trivia, and costume contests. Yes, you can roll a character, tour the city, and even make use of all the old travel skills.
See you on April 28th!
If you cared about the lore in City of Heroes, you were probably pretty attached to certain villain groups, right? Who doesn’t remember Circle of Thorns fondly? And what about the Carnies?!
Upcoming indie superhero MMORPG Ship of Heroes is all about that action and has some new details out this week on its own customized villain groups thanks to its latest stream.
“This is the first look at details of expanded villain group costumes showing four distinct villain groups in Ship of Heroes,” Heroic Games’ Justin “sensible” Roberti explains. “The Villain Groups shown are: The Nagdellians, ruthless alien invaders bent on domination of the Justice; The Prometheans, a secret sect of Cyborg/Dark Magic Users that wish to create a super race of cybernetically-enhanced humans to rule the Justice; the Yekus Mercenary Clan, a widespread group of soldiers for hire that serve as muscle for the highest bidder; and The Red Sigil, a group of powerful magic users committed to revolutionary overthrow of the government of the Justice.”
Ever feel like MMO quests are impersonal and disconnected from how you see your own character interacting with the game world? City of Titans hopes to change that with its central paths storylines.
The team attempted to explain this week how paths are so much more than just your average, ordinary quest chain. “Paths are the game’s premier saga-level content. These multi-part stories are designed to let you define your PC’s character while interacting with enemies, allies, locations, and plots from throughout the game’s lore […] Your character’s path is designed as ‘your character’s personal comic book series.'”
Players can choose to pursue four different paths that explore the north or south areas of the city from a hero or villain perspective. Paths give players a lot more dialogue options, remember choices, and allow characters to build relationships with NPCs. These multi-episode stories will also take players all over the city, delve deep into lore, and present more challenging and tactical encounters. Sounds pretty neat to us!
A couple of months ago, after we learned about the sunset of Marvel Heroes but before it actually happened early, we asked our local Marvel fans which MMO they planned to play next to fill the hole left by the end of the popular MMOARPG. DC Universe Online and Champions Online were offered as contenders, of course, with the bigger crowdfunded games – Ship of Heroes, City of Titans, and Valiance Online – all getting mentions too.
But since many of those games aren’t actually out yet, and two of them are on the older side, I’m wondering where you actually went – and if it’s outside of the superhero world, what was it that made you trade in your capes and tights. We asked this same question when City of Heroes closed down, for example, and a lot of folks had scattered to some surprising destination rather than the superhero games – Secret World and Star Trek Online, as I recall, led the pack.
Me, I just logged into and swooped around in the City of Heroes Paragon Chat a few times and got it out of my system for another few weeks.
Marvel Heroes players, where did you actually go?
We are going to kick off this week’s exhibition of player screenshots with a few email submissions (yes, some of you still email them in, and bless you for it!).
It doesn’t take much of an excuse for a celebration to break out in Final Fantasy XIV, as Souseiseki notes: “A certain Miqo’te had a little too much fun celebrating Heavensturn (and too much to drink!). Although, I think she had more fun opening the bottles than actually drinking them! Fortunately, I had the foresight to hide the good stuff. Don’t worry, her chocobo was parked safe in the stables and we confiscated her saddle.”
Postscript: That chocobo was later seen perched high on top of a temple summit, wrapped in toilet paper and spray painted with an incomprehensible slogan.