Ship of Heroes has a fresh dev blog up today on stuff you can’t even see. I’m talking, of course, about nanites, ridiculously tiny robots that work in unison to make big stuff happen across the literal spaceship your superheroes are flying around on in the game. Of course, what the different nanites do depends how they’re programmed. Some of them are effectively magic clean-up crew, fixing busted infrastructure and scrubbing away graffiti. Others serve players in combat.
“Nanites are also useful for combat, though not as much as one might think. They are completely ineffective for offensive purposes, because everyone carries standardized counter-nanites for personal defense in their bodies. Counter-nanites have been around and standardized for more than a century, and the common models are rugged, reliable, and simple enough to be unhackable. The Justice requires immigrants to get counter-nanites as part of the citizenship process if they don’t already have them, and children get them from their parents. The ship itself also has counter-nanites in case of any attempt to attack its systems.”
Check out the whole piece on the official site (and the new screenies below!).
It would be unfair to say that superhero MMOs are based entirely on the strength of their costume creation, but that costume creation is pretty darn important just the same. So it’s good to see Ship of Heroes demonstrate what the opposite-gender costumes will look like by showing off the female soldier armor, based off of the armor for one of the game’s signature superheroes. More than just that, though; the developers are showing it off in multiple poses and with a variety of different color tints just below.
The costume consists of nine separate pieces and can be mixed and matched with other pieces, as well as having two color channels on each piece. It should be familiar stuff for people who have played a similarly freeform costume-building game, so if you’re looking forward to making your very own hero you would do well to take a look at the gallery and start thinking about how to use those pieces.
What makes an alpha? If your answer is “marketing jargon,” you’re not entirely wrong. But the team behind Ship of Heroes is going for a slightly more formalized definition, and it’s explained on the official site right now. In short, an alpha is when you have people who aren’t part of the development team running around in the game, because that’s when you can find the bits that are broken without developers who just know to avoid that stuff.
The team is also preparing for its next major alpha milestones, starting with a 50-player login test with everyone logging into a spot and running around. Assuming that goes well, it’s time to move on to the same thing with a full-fledged invasion, adding combat into the mix. If you’re curious about the exact divisions between alphas, betas, and closed vs. open status, check out the whole piece on the official site.
If you wanted some clear visuals on how far Ship of Heroes has come over the last year, the video Heroic Games published over the weekend is ponying up. It stands in clear contrast to a similar mission map video the team put out just about a year ago, as the new one shows off how that same map has been upgraded and adapted for the new engine version, with more props, textures, materials, doors, viewscreens, and lighting and reflectivity tweaks.
According to Heroic, this particular map is expected to take around 30 minutes to beat, although the PR notes that the devs are “pretty flexible about player strategies” such that “if a team figures out how to complete the mission in 5 minutes, more power to them!” As for what’s coming up in the future:
“We’re working on several tasks in parallel right now. Our next video may show off the new Healing Nanites powerset, but it’s not set in stone yet. We have some additional lore related to Nanites in the queue as well, and we’re hoping to get that published before we go to the next Alpha event. The next alpha event is a login test which will help the dev team prepare for a raid test later this year; we’re hoping to get a couple dozen or more members of the community to volunteer to participate.”
The transparency that comes with crowdfunded and indie MMORPGs is awesome – when everything is going to plan. But what about when it isn’t? That’s what Ship of Heroes has addressed in a new forum post today. Heroic Games’ Casey McGeever explains that the studio’s milestone schedule is an internal tool, helping the team figure out what to do next when it gets ahead or falls behind. And fortunately, he doesn’t think the players freak out when the schedule goes awry.
“We don’t feel a lot of negative feedback from the community when we miss a milestone,” he writes. “And of course, we try to set the milestones so that we can achieve them. But we have missed a few — We’re late right now on delivering a new powerset and our date for the login test is slipping into June because we have people who come into and out of the project. Our core is a group of unpaid volunteers, supplemented by committed contractors. But people, resources and technical issues arise in every project — even if a big firm like Google or Microsoft is doing the project. The point of our schedule is to communicate to you all of you, our community, what we are trying to do and to enable you to understand what is happening at any time. To show what we are focused on at the moment.”
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.