Although City of Heroes is not coming back (I think we all need to come to terms with that), many successors are waiting in the wings with their own vision of how a superhero MMO should be. Valiance Online, City of Titans, and Ship of Heroes all have claimed inspiration from City of Heroes and claim that they will be replicating some elements of what made that title work so well.
But what did work well about City of Heroes? Why did it succeed when Champions Online, a title modeled after it and created by the same studio, failed? Why is City of Heroes so beloved, even years after its demise?
Let’s hash it out today in the comments. Break down City of Heroes for us and see if you can’t put your finger on what made this particular MMO fly high.
Hope your brightly colored spandex is back from the dry cleaners, because you’re going to need them sooner rather than later. The team at Ship of Heroes hinted at a test that sounds like it is going to involve a lot more players than have seen the game to date. The event itself, which will accept sign-ups, is just going to be a “milling around” situation around the game’s signature arch. Still, for fans that will be one giant leap forward from sitting and waiting for the next superhero MMO to take shape.
“We’re working steadily toward a login test, which is a very modest name for a pretty significant event,” the team posted on the forums. “If it works out well, we will have demonstrated that we can put the MMO into our MMORPG.”
Some other projects that the team is tackling include a day/night cycle, playing around with the new PopcornFX toolkit, improving the codebase, and polishing Arch Park. Ship of Heroes’ development was slowed by unspecified “personnel issues” in the recent past, but the team said that it is recovering and even adding new members to the team.
It’s spring cleaning month for Ship of Heroes, Heroic Games’ Casey McGeever has told forumgoers on the official site.
“What we mean by this is that we are reviewing our game code, looking at how it is organized, and then making it quicker and more efficient to compile through a set a changes,” he says. “It’s complex and a bit grindy to do, so we force ourselves to do it periodically.” He says the studio is working on picking the best maps, testing character models and costumes, iterating on animation code to reduce lag, improving buildings on the ship, creating new props, and even working on the new healing powerset.
“Basically everyone is working away at their jobs, and we’re making steady progress,” McGeever explains.
In other SOH news, you may not see many MMORPGs on Instagram, but Ship of Heroes is giving it a go – check out some of the brand-new screenshots it’s put up so far:
The past couple of weeks has been wild as we dispatched writers to GDC in San Francisco and PAX East in Boston to gather up and bring back everything they could on the MMORPGs large and small on the spring convention circuit. In fact, as I type this, we’ve got Brendan in Reykjavik for EVE Fanfest too! So for this week’s Overthinking, we’re rounding up our coverage and then reflecting on the best and worst as we pick out what most excites, surprises, and disappoints us: First the roundups, then our thoughts. Read on!
With a combat alpha under its belt, the superhero MMORPG Ship of Heroes turns its attention to the challenges that lay ahead. The team has posted up a detailed roadmap that included a visual plan of the first half of 2018, including what’s to come over the next three months.
The aggressive development schedule for the near future includes a login and network test, more enemies, more powers, more costumes, a day/night cycle, the addition of PopcornFX, an initial look at Controller powers, and better outdoor lighting are all on the table.
Past that, the team hopes to accomplish a raid test in the third quarter and then move out of alpha testing into the beta by the end of the year. Ship of Heroes’development plans and a talk with its lead designer, check out our PAX East interview with Casey McGeever.
At this year’s PAX East, I discovered that my mental picture of Casey McGeever did not match the actual man in person, but that was a positive thing; meeting the man himself, he projects an aura of warmth and earnestness that’s almost impossibly infectious. Not that it should be all that surprising, as he’s spent so much time talking about the strength of community when it comes to building up the base behind Ship of Heroes as a whole.
McGeever and I had an opportunity to speak about a number of issues surrounding the City of Heroes-inspired superhero MMO, starting with some talk about the game’s roadmap moving through the remainder of the year. The roadmap covers the past few months and recent known developments, but it had to be delayed slightly while the team pushed through the early stages of pre-alpha, engine upgrades, and the associated tasks. Now we’re into April, and it’s time for the community to see what’s on the docket for the next three months.
Ship of Heroes just got a bit better looking.
Heroic Games announced that it upgraded the upcoming superhero MMORPG from Unreal Engine 4.17 to 4.18 to keep it within striking distance of the latest version of Epic Games’ graphic engine. This also means that the developer can utilize PopcornFX to jazz up some neat-looking special effects. The studio is looking ahead to version 4.20, which it says should be “better-suited” to building an MMO.
“It is important for a dev team to keep upgrading, since the engine developer makes hundreds of improvements every time they upgrade,” the studio said. “Eventually we will settle on a version to launch the game in, both because it is technically complex to upgrade to new versions, and because we plan to make changes to the engine itself to deliver the MMO that our community wants to play.”
With GDC 2018 in the bag, Casey McGeever is back from showing off Ship of Heroes and has a few reflections about the experience. Among many observations, McGeever talked up PopcornFX, which he said will be used to upgrade the visuals of Ship of Heroes’ effects.
He shared many takeaways from his meetings and panels, including “a move back toward subscriptions for MMOs,” a push back against toxicity in gaming, and efforts being done to put more players on the screen in online games.
And regarding his own project? “I did not see anything that suggests to me that a niche game like SoH will not succeed,” he said.
Of course, you could also get our take from meeting and talking with McGeever about this upcoming superhero MMORPG. We urged you to “keep your eyes” on this project and its scrappy team.
On this week’s show, Bree and Justin recover from an avalanche of expansion news, including announcements from Elder Scrolls Online and Star Trek Online. Also, did you hear that Bless Online is coming this May? Oh, they did, and they have many words to say on the matter!
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
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Let me be upfront: I’ve never gotten into a superhero MMO. I love comics; outside of work, it’s probably the only fiction I willingly read these days. It’s just the people I play with never got into hero MMOs, even when some of us finally tried DC Universe Online.
But I read all about them. And I know you superhero MMORPG players have been kicked around.
Heroic Games President and CEO Casey McGeever’s passionate about the need for the genre because of that, and that’s precisely why MMO Ship of Heroes was conceived. We’ve got superheroes everywhere these days, but as hot as the Avengers are, we’re largely given steaming piles of brown from their gaming-ignorant parent companies. So I sat down with McGeever to talk MMOs, tech, and a ship full of heroes during GDC 2018.
If you’re a City of Heroes fan – or any kind of superhero fan – then you’re gonna want to check out the brand-new and never-before-revealed early-game Ship of Heroes map that Heroic Games just sent over. Remember, SoH is literally set on a starship, but it’s so massive that it fits all kinds of real-world zones inside.
“Every new MMORPG gets to the point where they can begin sharing the current version of the persistent level with their community,” Heroic Games writes. “Ship of Heroes is at that point right now. The map below is our first viewable version of the map of Apotheosis City. While every part of the city has not be allocated to a zone yet, it is clear that there will be about a dozen zones in the first playable level.”
Last month, Ship of Heroes ran its first alpha combat test with backers, and it was a blast (literally). With enough time to process the test, the studio put together a dev blog that shared what it has learned from the combat alpha to use in development going forward.
There are many critical notes that the devs provide, such as this one: “Enemies should attack relentlessly. We have already begun an enemy AI upgrade. This upgrade will be affected by the poll results you’ve given us on this subject. Our goal to is to add a new level of challenge to the AI.”
Heroic Games said that it will be polling the community for several decisions that need to be made about adjusting the combat. There’s nothing like seeing it for yourself, so check out February’s combat alpha highlights after the superjump!
While it is certainly too early for Ship of Heroes to be posting its full system requirements, the team did discuss some of the graphics options that it has included to boost performance on older or less capable machines. These include reducing the resolution, turning shadows off, and using pull-down menus.
The forum post discussing this stressed that optimization is a work in progress and that improvements and changes are being made all of the time. The trickiest aspect is, obviously, to allow the client and server to handle multiple players in the same area simultaneously.
“Most dev teams really spend the last few months trying to optimize in a sudden rush before launch,” the team said.