Roughly every month, we’re working to gather together a 100% fan generated Q&A with a key member of the Cryptic Studios development team. Lead Designer Matt Miller kicked things off last month when he agreed to sit for questions from our community. Next month, Creative Director Jack Emmert will be our guest. Read on for the answers.
Answers by Matt Miller
Questions by CoH WarCry Community
WarCry [Reighn328]: Are there any plans to, and if so when are they going to, redo the early level content? Over the past two years the mission design has gotten much better, but I’m still running the same old missions I was running when I started. From a new player point of view, I know some of the very early mission doors are deep within red zones. As a new player, I would find that very frustrating, to not even be able to make it to my first mission when I’m still actively trying to learn the game.
Matt Miller: Included with the launch of Issue 8, we revamped Faultline, introducing a whole zone of new content for level 15 to 25 Heroes. Our biggest concern right now is the level 35 to 40 content (for Heroes) and level 40 to 50+ content for both Heroes and Villains. After we address these levels, we will look where the community wants us to focus our attention, and if there is a strong enough voice, then the early level stuff will get looked at again.
WarCry [Poison Pill]: What are the cons or the downside of opening up the Villain Patron Power Pools. Specifically, turning them more into a buffet choice instead of a set of four for each archetype?
Matt Miller: We really wanted a strong story-tie element with the Patron Power Pools (PPP’s). The fact is that your choice of patron should consider Role-Play reasons as well as power-gaming ones. If we allow you to pick and choose powers from the various PPP’s then we throw out the RP reasons to choose a patron in the Arachnos organization, and the only reasons left are game mechanics ones. Once we distil everything down to that, then all the powers get scrutinized and the four “best” ones are chosen by the community, and suddenly every villain in the game has the same four Patron Powers, at which point we wasted a lot of work, and everybody becomes “cookie cutter” once again.
WarCry [Kyper]: Will we ever see new epic archetypes? I know we’re supposed to get some form of kheldian for villains, but what about incarnates? Are they coming? If so, when? If not, which epic archetypes are being worked on?
Matt Miller: Epic Archetypes (EAT) are never easy. Even simply opening up Kheldians to Villains is ripe with unforeseen consequences and problems. And designing one from the ground up, creating the new powers, animations, FX, sounds, and mission content starts getting expensive development wise. Then there is the game balance factor to consider.
EAT’s have been on the features list of most of the issues since Issue 4. The problem is, when determining workloads and schedules, they are unfortunately some of the first things that are cut. From a production standpoint, when given the choice between an expensive feature 10% of the players will get to see and enjoy, and one that 90% of the players will get to see and enjoy, it’s almost a no-brainer.
That being said, EAT’s will remain features to add to the game. We are not abandoning the concept (I’d have told you if we were). We just need to get them into a schedule and have them stick.
WarCry [ilr]: The most common complaint (aside from “Nerfs”) among players who’ve quit this game, is “The Grind”. Is anything planned in upcoming issues to smooth the “XP” curve and add variation in Tasks that grant XP?
Matt Miller: We’re always looking for ways for players to enjoy earning XP. First and foremost is that it can’t be exploitable. With Issue 9 we are getting some refined data-mining tools that will help us determine with better accuracy where the problem areas are and make adjustments accordingly.
WarCry [various posters]: Can you give us an update on basses? They’ve not had much added to them since launch and players want to know what you’re planning for them?
Matt Miller: Well, since they’ve launched we’ve added Empowerment Stations, Storage Items (for Enhancements, Inspirations, and Salvage), low-end power/control objects, and low cost rooms that help supergroups start using their bases’ functionality faster. In addition, a recent patch radically adjusted Rent (aka Upkeep) for owning a base, so much so that a Supergroup that uses just their starting 8×8 plot needn’t ever worry about rent!
Beyond that we’ve got plans for new objects, some UI tweaks to the Architect mode, and both a Hero Task Force and Villain Strike Force for the mission computer.
WarCry [LemonLass]: When will you add custom colors for powers? This is something alot of us have wanted since the game came out because I believe it is vital to a hero or villians uniqueness.
Matt Miller: As much as I would love to have a purple energy blast or green fire, I don’t see it happening anytime soon. The problem stems from both the way the powers were made, and the sheer amount of powers we have, some of which are obviously un-colorable. We did some internal experimentation with power colorization back before City of Villains launched, and while pleased with the results, it in reality proved to us that undertaking the task of adding this to the game was going to be monumental. Time and money would simply be better spent making content for the game that actually meant something to the power of your character as opposed to something purely cosmetic.
WarCry [SilverWeasel]: Will numerous sets that are now being overlooked due to their difficulty of play (AR: Solo Defenders : Empathy) get a look at to allow them to function efficiently solo?
Matt Miller: Some sets are just inherently hard to solo with, and this is by design. We wanted some powersets to truly shine in a team environment, hand crafted for the player who likes to play in groups. There are some powersets (and some would argue entire Archetypes) that are centered around solo play. This may not have been the answer you were looking for, but this was a design decision that was baked into the game from day one, and retrofitting it now would be a very dangerous operation, not only for game-balance reasons, but for “my character doesn’t play like she used to” reasons as well. When we make changes to the game, we are always conscious of the phrase “You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.” But in our case there are many, many, people who think the egg is just fine the way it is, and didn’t want omelettes to begin with.
WarCry [Flying Code Monkey]: Server Transfer, presumably for a fee. Will it ever happen? If so, how will you resolve conflicting names?
Matt Miller: It will happen. If you transfer to a server where your name is already taken, you will be asked to rename your character.
WarCry [Mr Remarkable]: Nearly a year and a half ago, you told us the next powersets you’d implement for heroes would be melee based. Is that still true? Will the Street Fighting set that Geko had on his white board at about that time ever see the light of day? What about more defensive sets for Tankers and Scrappers?
Matt Miller: When it comes to Powersets, there are no shortages of great ideas. Unfortunately, like Epic Archetypes that I talked about earlier, they are not easily implemented and are always competing with other features for the next Issue. If I could wave my magic wand and instantly create 10 new powersets, these would be the ones I’d like to see: (in NO particular order):
Obviously some powersets are more suited to some ATs than others. Demon Summoning for example, would be a Mastermind Pet set. Of course, if these make it into the game the names would probably change as well, and this entire list could change if the wind blows just right. And as a bonus I’ll pre-answer the obvious follow-up questions:
No, I don’t know when these will appear in the game.
No, they will not all appear at once in one update. When we introduce new power sets we’re more likely to do a couple at a time.
Akimbo Pistols is planned as a Corruptor set at first, and it is NOT, and never will be, a Scrapper or Stalker set.
Remember, we want your questions for Jack Emmert next month. Check out this article to read about Jack and then leave your questions.
You can comment on this Q&A here.