Into the Super-verse: A possible glimpse into City of Heroes 2

    
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In 2010, popular video game network MTV noted that NCsoft had filed an interesting trademark for a possible City of Heroes 2. While companies file trademarks all the time without always following up on them, these legal efforts do indicate intent and options. For a community that was greatly devoted to the superhero MMORPG, the thought of a sequel was intriguing. What would it be like? How would it tie into the first game, if at all? And could Paragon Studios actually pull off developing and operating two MMOs simultaneously?

As we well know, this never came to be. Instead, the original City of Heroes was closed down in 2012 and crowdfunded spiritual successors sprang up left and right to carry on the torch. It was rightly assumed that any possible sequel was canned with Paragon Studios, and everyone pretty much forgot about it.

Except that around the time that City of Heroes’ server code resurfaced back in April, so did an interesting PDF that claimed to be a concept proposal for City of Heroes 2 from 2008. It was on Reddit for about two days before being yanked (because you can only tempt the legal deities so far), but copies were dispersed and I had time to peruse it. While I’m not going to repost the document or images from it here, I did want to share a possible glimpse into what could have been, if indeed this document is legit. Even if it isn’t, it’s interesting to consider what a sequel might have been like.

From concept to launch in four years

The alleged concept document in question begins by going through City of Heroes’ history, noticing that by 2008 it had over a million registered accounts, 13 released issues, and a then-current playerbase of 107,000 gamers with an all-time high of 165,000.

With the superhero genre heating up in both movies and TV (hilariously, the document cites Heroes as a hit example of this), the company said that it was a prime time to consider a sequel, especially since City of Heroes was a fully owned and fully controlled IP in the NCsoft family. The target date for release? Ironically, it was supposedly going to be 2012.

The mission statement for this sequel was that “City of Heroes 2 makes the player feel unique and powerful.” To accomplish this, a “Character Creator 2.0” would be created with costumes that leveled up, customizable powers (which were also starting to be introduced into City of Heroes back then), and some sort of offline progression along the lines of day jobs.

Everything is better with 2.0

In fact, much of this proposed City of Heroes 2 sounds as though it was designed to take features from the first game and run with it, such as flexible alignment, a nemesis system, and an updated mission architect. Many of these ideas obviously got incorporated into the original game between 2008 and 2012, so what sounded fresh and new back were old hat. This was intentional, as the studio wanted to experiment with features in the live game to see if they were worth porting over to the sequel.

Other ideas tossed about for the follow-up were a “console accessible” combat system, better enemy AI, destructible environments, giant monster fights, and something called “player generated epic battles.”

According to the document, about 60 developers were slated to work on the project along with additional outsourced contractors. Production was supposed to begin in 2010, with alpha and beta testing in 2011 and the launch at the end of 2012.

City of Heroes 2 will innovate on key elements to retake our title of best superhero MMO in 2012,” NCsoft wrote. The company said that integration between the two City of Heroes game would be robust and a core design element rather than creating barriers between the game.

A moot point?

One of the reasons that this PDF feels authentic to me is that it is only partially complete, with many details such as the game’s projected budget and City of Heroes’ lifetime revenue left (purposefully?) blank. There’s also a defunct link to a concept video that I would have loved to watch, but alas is not to be.

So what to make of all of this? On one hand, you could say that while interesting, this is all a moot point because it didn’t happen and won’t happen. But it does show us that, if this is true, NCsoft was throwing support behind a sequel a little over a decade ago – or at least that Paragon was trying to get NCsoft to do so. It can drive you mad with the thought of an alternate universe where not only did City of Heroes continue on but an integrated sequel came onto the market.

That said, we live in our universe, and while City of Heroes is enjoying a new life of sorts, our superhero gaming future rests in the hands with those who were inspired by this game and are doing their best to carry that vision forward.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Eliot Lefebvre and Justin Olivetti covering superhero MMORPGs, past, present, and future! Come along on patrol as Into the Super-verse avenges the night and saves the world… one column at a time.
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Declan Hawke

Clickbait article… should be titled “Once the possibility of a Sequel to City of Heroes”, instead of what they used, to give us false hope that it’s possibly in the works. Thanks for wasting my time.

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Roger Christie

Because it killed you to read a five minute article.

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Declan Hawke

You’re too dense to understand.

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Grave Knight

Don’t trust NCSoft with a western title. The only western title they still have around is Guild Wars 2, and from what I’ve heard it’s suffered since going to F2P.

For that matter I’m not sure I trust them with anything that’s not Blade and Soul (and even then, I think BnS makes a better single player game, I enjoy the story more than the rest of the game).

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Blazing Coconut

I have to admit that when the source code “reappeared” from the wild and that there was no comment from NCSoft on all these rogue servers, was that they had finally realized that the IP was popular and were close to ready to release CoH2. They could use the re-release of CoH as a barometer to see what kind of reception it would get. What better marketing than for people to magically resurface the code from a long dead game?

Note: I know this is not true and just was my idle thought at the time. Still, it was my first thought.

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IronSalamander8 .

If it was done well and wasn’t full of microtransaction crap, I’d love to see it released today. I can imagine a game with modern graphics and an updated combat system along with the sidekick system, massive customization, and a well made world from the original game. That would be incredible.

But no Sappers dangit! Still hate those bastages to this day!

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Roger Christie

Console accessible killed it for me.

quark1020
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quark1020

Its not an impossibility for this game to become reality, if extremely unlikely. It would explain why NCSoft was so adamant to shut CoH down, despite interest in it and the super hero movie boom.

It would be nice if, after all this time, they were working on this game with a skeleton crew while subtly keeping interest in this game by allowing the rogue servers to live for the moment. Then, as soon as any of the spiritual successors are complete enough to start selling early access *BAAM!* The announcement is made!

Or, that’s how it would play out in my fictional world :(

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Utakata

One can hope that once negotiations are settled over the rogue servers, that the power that be might revive this project if they feel the interest is strong enough. At least that’s what the pigtail tingles say…

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Skoryy

What’s fascinating to me, is that this wasn’t what Paragon Studios was working on in 2012. If I remember right, Black Scorpion mentioned after the shutdown that they had been working on a Minecraft-inspired post-apocalyptic game that had nothing to do with CoH. Throw in the rumors posted elsewhere that stated that NCSoft was giving Paragon money to make CoH 2, that Paragon was making something else, and, ah, yes. Very fascinating.

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Does not check email

…and this is how misinformation is made and shared.

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Hikari Kenzaki

Totally not true and totally debunked many times over.

They were working on CoH 2 until it was cancelled very early 2012 and a second project (There is even concept art from David Nakayama out there) until it was cancelled mid 2012.

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Skoryy

I’m open to debunking if you have links.

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Hikari Kenzaki

So, I’m not going to provide you with links to disprove a well known conspiracy theory that you kinda sorta remember.

I know it not to be true due to my own research and first hand knowledge.

For instance, it wasn’t Black Scorpion who said this. It was an anonymous comment in a Kotaku article around the time Wildstar shut down. It gained further traction in another Kotaku article referencing no other source but the anonymous comment.
Already, we’re deep in poor reporting practices and credibility.

There are several articles about it here on MOP. The links you seek are already provided there.

There are several discussions on reddit by respected members of the community who were actually there and former employees. Again, all the links and proof you could want.

So, if it’s something you care about and not a spurious comment made on the internet, the I encourage you to find the answer yourself.

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Does not check email

shut up and take my money

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Denice J. Cook

Excellent article– I loved it!

At least NCsoft is apparently choosing to look the other way at the CoX communities’ rogue servers; that’s positive progress for them, even if it’s the only progress we ever see from them concerning this IP.

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Dug From The Earth

Sadly, as much as Id love to see this today, it would most likely be tainted with horrible micro transactions and other filth that would quickly get in the way of enjoying the game.

Games need to go back to being about making a fun game, and not so much about making the best money maker on the market.

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Doubleplusgood

Exactly, if they made this game today, the only costume option available in the creator when you first log in would be “spandex” with just three color choices of green, brown and yellow. Additional colors would be purchased in the cash shop starting at $10 for each shade, black and red being the most expensive. All other costume pieces would be locked in gamble boxes with the most desired pieces requiring you to spend at least $500 on lock boxes with the possibility you still won’t get the piece you want.