When we heard Paragon Studios were preparing the death of City of Heroes’ iconic hero, The Statesman, we were shocked. Not only due to the fact that killing off any game’s star is a bit of a faux pas, but also because Paragon’s superhero MMO is less about following in the footsteps of others and more about forging your own heroic existence, disregarding those that went before. So in order to learn what exactly the future holds for City of Heroes, and to find out how the recent free-to-play transition went, we tracked down Lead Designer Matt Miller to ask every pertinent question we could think of.
How has the player response been to City of Heroes going free-to-play?
It has simply been an amazing time for City of Heroes. We don’t publish our numbers, but suffice it to say, we were blown away with not only the incredible number of VIP subscribers we have, but also in the sheer amount of new and returning players. I think one of the reasons we’re now seeing so many new players is the new Paragon Rewards program we launched with Freedom. It’s allowed even non-subscribers to receive some of our best in-game rewards, just for playing the game. We’ve really broadened the idea of what a free game can be to a lot of people.
The grander City of Heroes fiction has always been in the background in order to give players free reign to make their own impact in the world without feeling inferior to the ‘official’ heroes. Is that an issue Paragon is looking to address with the signature Story Arcs?
The signature Story Arcs are specifically designed to take your character deeper into the lore behind City of Heroes and the signature characters. We have a wealth of background information on the various enemies, groups and characters in the game, and through normal levelling players only see a fraction of it. Signature Story Arcs allow us to expose all players to many of the characters that they may have missed, all the while giving them a chance to star in their own monthly comic book.
Now that Statesman has died, how will that affect the wider experience in the game?
His removal from the game world will be happening with the launch of Issue 23 later this year. We want to give everyone an opportunity to play the Signature Story Arc and understand what happened to the character before we remove him. People will still refer to him and his exploits in mission dialogs, but for the bulk of the game he will be replaced by other characters.
Some places he will not be removed from are the tutorial (which chronologically takes place before his death) as well as the title screen and other marketing materials for the game. The Statesman’s simply too iconic and defining for the City of Heroes brand for us to remove him entirely like that, even if we actually wanted to.
Are you planning on adding any updates to the store? We’d really like to be able to demo certain powers or items for a limited time in order to see how they work with our characters before purchase.
We’re always looking for ways to improve the store, with specials and new stuff being offered at the forefront. A lot of players have asked for some sort of demo mode for new powersets, and that is something we are looking into for the future, but there’s no timeframe on when we can get that out to players.
What sort of issue updates are being planned for the future?
We’re working on multiple issues simultaneously. This has already helped us to bring our players amazing new content on a more frequent basis. This year we have three major content updates planned with Issues 22, 23 and 24, along with a new summer blockbuster event.
This is just a taster of the full interview which appears in the current issue of MMOZine. To download follow the link below.
Tags: City of Heroes
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