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Rise of the Phoenix (City of Titans, the successor of City of Heroes)

For those of you not in the know, (and judging by the amount of messages I get about this on Twitter, it’s a few) The project that went by many names, that had started with the Save City of Heroes petition, morphed into “Plan Z” when attempts to secure a City of Heroes private server fell through, (at least that’s what I believe happened judging by the amount of “city of heroes private server” searches that led to this site.) and finally was reborn as the Phoenix Project, a means of creating a new IP based heavily on the mechanics, playstyle, and environment of City of Heroes, dubbed “City of Titans.” Said project is now running full steam on Kickstarter.

(I’ve also found out that Plan Z and The Phoenix Project were two names for the same ideal that ended up splitting off into two different teams, Phoenix Project (Missing Worlds Media) becoming “City of Titans” and Plan Z becoming “Heroes and Villians”. No idea why there was a split between the community, but this article is about City of Titans. Those interested in the other game can check out the Heroes and Villains site by clicking here : heroes-and-villains.com)

I’m not here to tell you that you need to donate to “make City of Titans a reality” because that was covered within the first week. The game has met its initial goal, and is now fully ready to reach the market… but since reaching initial goal, donations had slowed incredibly, which is a pity now that we’ve got some stretch goals that make this far more interesting.

The team developing this title, affectionately dubbing themselves, “Missing Worlds Media”, have a lot of interesting ideas under their hat, and I’d love to see how they’re going to be fully developed, such as the idea to allow multiple approaches to “instance dungeons”, making instances more logical and realistic to navigate, offering individual storylines and much more. You can tell this is a game made by fans that are not only trying to rebirth the game they lost, but bring about fantastic and interesting ideas to light, and I have major respect to that.

I know a lot of people like to trumpet the supposed merits of games recently released, or soon to be released, despite those games being obvious IP-based WoW clone cash-ins. While I await their inevitable “3 month cycle” of eventual abandonment of, and disappointment in, those titles, City of Titans is a title seriously worth getting excited over… provided they can pull half these ideas off.

My concern?

Being an upstart comes with a lot of ideas, and sudden realization those ideas aren’t as easily realized.
I read somewhere that MMOs are one of the hardest games to program, similar to playing Jenga. Take out one problem, and you potentially create a whole slew of new ones. Add some more content, and the balance shifts wildly potentially causing the whole thing to come crashing down. This is clearly a development team with a LOT of fascinating ideas, but sharing those ideas without being certain they can implement them will bring about Molyneuxian levels of hype, and a ton of players feeling betrayed because of “broken promises”. It’s probably best to illustrate your points as “Here’s what we WANT to do. Here’s what we CAN do, and here’s what we’ve already done.” Otherwise you’ll have a ton of media sources leaving out the important bits and talking about all the things your game will have to offer when you’re not entirely sure even a quarter of them will make it in. I’m not sure how far in development things are, but this would really be better served to remember the importance of “Show, don’t tell.” and especially “Entice, don’t promise.”

The game is looking to go the “buy-to-play” route, with a subscription option, and cash shop, which I honestly think is the smartest move in this market. I honestly think the sub-only market is dead, and despite people wanting to cling to games like FFXIV and WoW as “proof” the model is viable, it’s pretty much a death knell for an upstart title and developer. Look at everything that happened to “The Secret World” when it hit the market with an initial purchase, a subscription, AND a cash shop. People saw it as a company being “greedy” and not just someone trying to get an initial turn in their investment. (MMOs are NOT cheap. Look at EA’s constant whining about how much SWTOR cost them if you need proof.) With as many people that were happily subbed to City of Heroes, I don’t think City of Titans will have any trouble making back their investment. Time will tell.

While initial stretch goals were kinda…. pointless (basically 2 app ports of the avatar builder), a ton more have been recently added, and while much more enticing, like the addition of more skins, costumes, and powers available at the start, the money isn’t pouring in nearly as fast as it was to make initial goal. I really REALLY don’t see this reaching it’s ultimate stretch goal of 2 million, which would expand the game’s starting content by 10 levels, and add more starting zones, but one could hope.

If you want to get in on the ground floor, and see what perks are available to donors, or at the least go check out what’s in store for this new game based on an old classic, visit the Kickstarter by clicking here, or if you’re unable to click links for some reason, search Kickstarter for City of Titans, or “The Phoenix Project”, or visit the link here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/missingworldsmedia/the-phoenix-project-city-of-titans
It’s up for nearly another 2 weeks at the time of this post, and while I’m hardly a massive draw to anything, I’m hoping I can at least give this game a slight “signal boost.”

Just… if I end up reviewing this game when it’s released… could ya’ll maybe.. ya know… chill the hell out?

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Posted on October 21, 2013, in News and Updates and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Hello, John.
    Are you thinking of making full episode of Planetside 2 ?
    just wondering.
    ps. Sorry if posted it in wrong place.

    • Suggested MMO List is the best place to ask about titles.

      As for P2… probably not. It’s pretty much an online battlefield with nothing beyond that, and all the pertinent info was covered in the Sidequest. The audience for that game has been found, and a full episode would end up sounding really redundant.

  2. $200,000 short & only 5 days to go. Not looking flowery for CoH fans. I only played that game for 2 days, but I know what it’s like to want to save a sunken game or faithfully recreate one, so I hope they manage something.

  3. Okay, this is pretty funny, my buddy M_Sipher just mentioned getting in touch with you, I go to look, and you’ve just posted about our project.

    First, of course, thank you very much for the posting. Secondly, anything you want to know?
    I see you have some concerns, and I can address one or two of them by pointing about. Firstly, we’re using the Unreal Engine (Version 3), which several MMOs already use. Some of the heavy lifting is done for us, and more critically, it means we have a solid foundation to build on. This is going to give us more time to perform some of these experimental routines. The other thing is, a lot of the issues we face aren’t programming issues, they’re conceptual ones. Once you can figure out a new way to do something, you can generally figure out a way to program it in. The hard part is figuring out the right way to look at a project. There’s a number of things that looked impossible in our design that wind up being ‘wait, it’s the same as this… and this, and add this, and hey, then you just have to adjust to fit.’

    Secondly, it is ten years after City of Heroes was designed. A lot of work has been done in computer game evolution, and we can use that to our advantage. There are tools and products around that CoH couldn’t utilize. Especially procedural generation of all sorts of things.

    Thirdly, we haven’t promised anything we don’t have an 80% plus confidence level on being able to fulfill. We’ve got some _really_ out there ideas that we’d like to pull off, but we’re not discussing those yet.

    As far as the low price, we’ve got some reasons. Firstly, we’ve gone through our ‘discard everything, start again from scratch’ process already, with our CryEngine experiment. Secondly, of course, no salaries. Thirdly, we’ve got a strong view of our end result, and a solid vision, which means we’ll have fewer false paths along the way. Nearly everything we do is going to wind up in the final game, because we’ll have a place for it.

  4. Actually, City of Titans is Plan Z. Heroes and Villains came along several months later, founded by a former member of the original Plan Z team who found herself unwilling to work as part of a team, co-opting the Plan Z name for her own purposes. Rather than have a fight, Plan Z agreed to use the term as a catchall for all spiritual successor projects, and now it applies to City of Titans, Heroes and Villains as well as Valiance Online.

    • An important distinction to make is whether or not the name was used by anyone first, the company name behind HaV is literally “Plan Z Studios” and referring to MWM’s title as “Plan Z” now is confusing and irrelevant. The more I hear about the other title, the more easily I can speculate the kind of drama that went down. Amazing what one can do with “just a little bit more research ;)”.

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