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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?

“In Name Only”: A personal philosophy on the developer/publisher relationship.

If you think I’m doing this to discuss SWTOR, let’s let that one stew for a bit more. Right now feedback is related to restriction shock, and my voice acting comment. Again, I’ll give it a while before discussing it.

No, today, I’m talking about a line that was either ignored, or baffled many a viewer when I stated it in my Special Episodes: Guild Wars 2, and The Secret World.

Why would I place so much emphasis on saying that GW2 was published “in name only” by NCSoft, and TSW published “in name only” by EA?

Because people HATE NCSoft. And people HATE EA… and the worst part, they’re completely unwilling to separate a game from its publisher, even when said publisher has little to no creative control over the product.

Read the rest of this entry

R.I.P. City of Heroes

Since there seems to be a conversation going on in suggested MMO list, and I tend to occasionally delete comments on there, I suppose this is news that warrants being addressed.

When games shut down, it’s usually pretty expected. Luna shut down due to a poor conversion upgrade that changed many basic gameplay elements. Lego Universe got the ax due to poor publisher support and a refusal to embrace the concept of Free to Play. Pi Story was abandoned by its developer early in production, ended up wrought with lag/ framerate issues, and never got a cash shop implemented. Let’s not forget the numerous browser-based titles that come and go each year.

But this is… different.

For those of you not in the know, City of Heroes is officially shutting down in November, and Paragon Studios has been dissolved, giving the title three more months of life. Read the rest of this entry

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