City of Heroes: Exclusive Interview With Matt Miller & Floyd Grubb

Dana Massey | 21 Apr 2008 19:26
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Wolf Spider
Wolf Spider

Now fully settled into their NorCal office, NCsoft is hard at work on the expansion of both the City of Heroes/Villains game and the team that supports it. The publisher turned developer of the original super-hero MMO has taken to the ground fast and we spoke to Lead Designer Matt Miller and Senior Designer Floyd Grubb about the transition, Issue 12 and more.

"We thought it was going to be a tougher transition than it was," said Miller of the switch from Cryptic's leadership to NCsoft's. "We kind of hit the ground running once we got into the new studio"

As NCsoft NorCal is exclusively focused on all things City of, they had promised to dedicate more resources to it. For example, when they release new elements of micro-content, such as a recent wedding pack, the money they make off it is put right back into the game's expansion and development.

This tighter focus and increased budget has allowed them to do some of the things they always wanted to do, but never could quite fit into a past issue. The main one for Issue 12 is Epic Villain Archetypes.

"It's something we've always wanted to do ever since we released City of Villains," explained Miller, who served in a similar capacity at Cryptic. "They would usually be the first thing on the cutting room floor because they're not accessible to all the players."

And it's true. This is largely content for level characters in the Villains half of the game only, but it balances things out between the Heroes - who've had their own Epic Archetypes for quite some time - and the Villains. Miller directly credited the proceeds from that wedding pack they released for making Epic Villain Archetypes possible.

The expansion unlocks the Blood Widow and Wolf Spider archetypes for all villains. They first specialize at mid-career, with the Blood Widows being a lighter, martial arts driven choice and the Wolf Spiders being the heavier, shock-trooper types.

For those who go down the Wolf Spider route, they have the choice between Crab Spider and Bane Spider at level 24.

Bane Spider
Bane Spider

"This is the first archetype that we've designed that halfway through their career they get to choose what path they're going to go down," Grubb told us.

The Crab Spiders have some pet and stealth tools to go with their melee arsenal, while the Bane Spider takes the warrior thing to an even further degree.

On the other side of the career tree, those who go down the Blood Widow path get to choose between Night Widow and Fortunata.

Night Widows use stealth ability and mental blasts to go with their innate martial arts skills to destroy their enemies.

The Fortunata combine their offense with control abilities, to create a mind-powerful hybrid.

Ultimately, Miller and Grubb wanted to see a parity between the Villains and Heroes in the end-game and this expansion provides both sides with an even playing field as far as epic archetypes of their high level characters are concerned.

Aside from the other major features of Issue 12, Miller pointed out that the team has spent a fair amount of time on basic and long requested quality of life improvements, particularly in the user interface.

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