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Exclusive Interview: Ship of Heroes: Mission Control

Nephthys

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What's an MMO, especially a superhero MMO, without missions? Going in, beating up the bad guys, saving the day - that's what being a hero is all about. Today, the Ship of Heroes team has gone into more depth about how their mission instancing will work, and I was lucky enough to catch up with Casey McGeever for a few more details about several things including the creation of the game and their difficulty sliders.

But whatever happens, it needs to be FUN.

This video showcases the current stage of mission instances, and it is interesting to note that one of the devs was connecting from Europe, and 2 were on laptops. The Ship of Heroes game development model emphasizes building a small core game at a high quality level, and then progressively adding features, code, and art to expand the game as launch approaches. I would definitely say they are succeeding in this method, as the game is noticeably improved to my eyes with every video. The animation improvements in particular really stood out in this video. I am definitely looking forward to the launch of this game!



I would definitely say the look of the character models, the animations, special effects and the general environment all look significantly improved! And now, on to the interview...  
 
Casey McGeever: The first step was to decide what did we like in the old City of Heroes?  And what about other games we could or should draw inspiration from?  After all, we're not re-making COH -- we don't own the IP.

The first thing to realize is that we, and most other people, loved City of Heroes.  It was not a casual fling for most of us.  People, including me, still dream about their COH experience, even today.  A big part of that was the positive community.  So positive community was actually the first thing we wanted to provide to our players.  We know that we cannot have any continuity of story, or of location or of signature heroes, so all of that has to be completely new.  but the player experience can echo the things we like in other MMOs.

2P: You've mentioned the positive community a lot. I'm curious how you intend to intentionally create that, given how negative MMO communities tend to be by default now.

CM: There are multiple elements to creating a positive community.  First is that we're committed to a code of conduct for players, including in game play and in chat, with 24x7 live moderation.  Violate the code of conduct and you'll be silenced for a short time.  Keep doing it and  eventually you'll be banned.  We know this makes our game different (and smaller) than other MMOs.  We also think it will enable  Ship of Heroes to deliver a different player experience.  One that a lot of players want, but cannot find.   Then there is the large team size, which supports the idea of guilds or groups coming together to do regular content, rather than repeating the same dungeon again and again.  Similarly for big raids.  The crafting, trading and harvesting part, along with the day-jobs, allows for a lot of things to be happening other than just run in, blast bad guys and level up.  It is inherently more social.  And then subtle things like the fact that our setting is beautiful -- dangerous and beautiful.  Not post-apocalyptic, or survivalist semi-horror.  That stuff is way oversold now.  Lots of elements are self-reinforcing in the game design.

The three things that we decided players for a new MMO would want to see were these:  a great character creator, a unique persistent level, and powers/ powersets. 


We plan to have the community volunteer and take some of this one.  We're a tiny team, and this is a community effort.  We're with them, and we hope the community is with us.

At the start we also knew we'd be using the skills of volunteers during development, and fusing them with skilled technical professionals like coders and artists, so one of the first things to figure out is what the volunteers can actually do, that needs to be done in the early stages.  This is a really important subject, because most volunteers want to write the story, or organize public events, or stuff they know how to do in real life.  Only rarely do people tell you that they want to volunteer to perfect multiplayer server structure...

2p: Do you have a list of things players can volunteer to help with?

CM: We don't have a list for volunteers yet because we determined that we need to develop three critical things first, and then integrate them into a prototype game.  If we did not do that, we concluded we would be doing too many things  and possibly lose effective control of the game development, as a project.
The three things that we decided players for a new MMO would want to see were these:  a great character creator, a unique persistent level, and powers/ powersets.  We reasoned that if we could get those three things going, and then integrate them into a prototype, we would have the clear basis for a game.  Sixteen months later, we think we were right.    What we did not expect is that our audience is really hungry for combat video.  Combat apparently is where it all comes together.  Most players are looking for evidence that the game will be fun to play, and combat more than anything else shows them what to expect.  So now we have added combat to most of our recent videos.

Initially we thought there were two questions people would want answered: can these guys make a game?  And will it be really fun?  We expected more doubt on the first one than we have really experienced.  Our community knows we can make a game already.  They want to move on to question 2 and see more combat, more videos, and Alpha stuff.
Thank
You!
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