To mark the first anniversary of the closure of “City of Heroes”, we’ve got a new development update, featuring
environmental and costume concept art, as well as a work in progress screenshot of part of the character creation area.
Costume Creator Progress
Costume Concept Art
Environmental Concept Art
03/08/2014 - Friday Update #66
This week, we’ve been doing some design work on the story structure for the game, to try and come up with the best possible way of presenting the various stories in a coherent and logical way, which is significantly harder in an MMO than in a single player game.
The biggest challenge comes from the overall storyline of an MMO being open-ended, so while the launch content is reasonably straightforward to create, as it’s able to progress in a natural way from level one to level fifty, planning for the post-launch content is where the main difficulty is, as new content portraying newer events in the timeline will need to be added in a way that makes sense in relation to the launch content – although we do have a framework that’s taking shape that should be able to solve this.
The other major issue is with significant player choices that alter the game world – in a single player game, these can be done much more easily, because the story will eventually finish, while the ongoing story of an MMO means that player choices that lead to large scale changes to the game world run the risk of seriously impacting the ability to generate new content to progress the timeline.
Using ‘City of heroes’ as an example, if it was a single player game, then the war between Primal Earth and Praetorian Earth could have allowed the player to choose which side to help achieve victory, with Primal Earth either destroying the Praetorian threat, or the Praetorians conquering primal Earth.
But in the context of an MMO, that kind of massive splitting of the meta-story into two alternative timelines would have resulted in a required doubling of all the post-war content in order to be able to let the player continue in a world that matched their choice in the war – so all the Coming Storm content would have needed to have had one version where Primal Earth had beaten the Praetorians, and one version where the Praetorians had beaten Primal Earth.
And having given the players a choice like this, they’d naturally also want the option to be able to side with Battalion to help conquer the multiverse – so then the timeline would be fragmented again, requiring even more content to cover the new branches, until it got to the stage where multiple Issues would have been required just to provide all the variations that would have been needed for a single new story arc – and it’s worth keeping in mind that complaints were already being made about the Praetorian storyline taking too long to complete in a non-branching form.
This means that for ‘Heroes and Villains’, we need to find ways to give players meaningful choices that affect how the game world reacts to them, but in a way that lets us keep a unified timeline that will let us progress the meta-story without constant branching events weighing down the production of new stories until the pace of the evolving timeline grinds to an almost complete standstill.
Have a heroic/villainous weekend!
The Heroes and Villains team