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In the latest community driven "Ask a Dev" Q&A with a member of the City of Heroes team we talk to Melissa "War Witch" Bianco, the CoH World Designer. She answers a slew of questions in amazing detail, all of them from the community.
Remember, for our next installment, you get to ask the questions of Senior Programmer Vince D'Amelio. Check out the intro here.
Answers by Melissa "War Witch" Bianco, World Designer
Questions from the community
Marcian_Tobay: there were some drastic variations between map design for Heroes and Villains, both in the artistic style (colors used, decorations, attitude of environment)and the practical aspect (the size of the maps, the linear design of the Villains versus the more varied and open ended Heroes, etc.). Would you care to discuss the differences, and what inspired the change of approach for Villains?
War Witch: Well, we didn't want Villains to be Paragon City DARK.
Paragon City has a really unique style to it. The palette is brighter; the streets are more linear. The 'City', in general, has an organized and clean feel, despite being overrun by Skulls and Council and a whole host of other Villain Groups that constantly attack its citizens every day. But we're talking in generalities so, yes, I'm going there. Again, we didn't want to simply 'copy' our Heroes assets. We wanted a completely different feel so there would be no comparisons. So a lot LOT LOT of time and effort went into creating completely new assets for the game. You'll notice they're pretty swank. Your computer probably notices, too. The Rogue Isles are grittier, more 'chaotic'. The whole feel of Villains is that THIS is what happens when evil squeezes out good, when a tyrant like Recluse takes over.
What started with Striga became the key model for all zones in CoV. There was a lot of effort made creating an overall story for each zone. Paragon City zones had more of a 'general flavour' at launch than Villains did. This is why when you see us go back and 'makeover' a Heroes' zone, oh it changes. We're not just trying to make it more 'fun', we're trying to give it a purpose, especially if we add missions to the zone.
Sir Quixotic: Building up new zone from the ground up must be quite intensive. So my question is, what is the process that goes into making a new zone and can you also give us a bit of what you guys did in creating the new Ritki War Zone for I10?
War Witch: It sure is a lot more work than it used to be!
So basically, once we have the concrete list of items we're working on for the Issue we go back to documentation. This is where everything starts. NCSoft signs off on the idea, but we need to give them more information so they know where we're going with things so that they can begin thinking about marketing and promotion for the issue. The zone concept will be short and concise, but when it comes to implementation, we need to be specific so that testers can go in and do their jobs. So I'll give the list of what I do and then expand on each one.
- Documentation (blurb)
- Fleshed out documentation
- Asset Documentation
- Create Zone 'Core'
- Build Spawns
- Write dialogue
- Place spawns (piggy back with Art)
- Incidentals (doors, contacts, etc.)
- Mission Support
- Touch-Up / Bug-fixing
- Easter Eggs (if time)
- Update Documentation
- Submission for approval
Most of this is pretty obvious. We come up with an 'idea' based on player requests, bang for the buck, cool factor, story advancement, and plausibility given time/tech/scheduling constraints. You've heard it all before. We say it like rote, but it's true. We have a set amount of resources so we need to make them stretch as farrrrrr as they'll go.