City of Heroes' latest expansion finally launches today! We've been talking with the developers over the past couple months to get the inside scoop on how they put the expansion together and and giving you a look into their processes. They've been working like crazy to get to this day, when players can finally play all their new content. So how are they feeling now? What are they going to do first in the game? And which of them are dastardly villains in disguise? We check in with them to find out all this and more!
Giveaway: We're giving away 10 mutant booster pack codes to CoH fans that tell us an anecdote from their time spent playing GR so far or what they're doing first when they get to play the GR expansion. The codes require that you have an existing account and winners will be picked tomorrow.
PC Gamer: So Going Rogue is finally out the door: what are you feeling right now? Happy? Nervous?
Senior Design Lead Matt Miller: Nervous relief. I'm glad we're done, but now the players get to see the fruits of our labor.
Lead Designer Melissa Bianco: I'm both, and then some. Mostly, though, I'm proud. I've been working on this expansion since it was a kernel of an idea and seeing all of it come to life and finally get into players' hands is an amazing feeling. Working on this expansion as Lead Designer is the first time that I've been involved on something so big at this level, so while it's exceptionally exciting, it's tempered with a heavy dose of responsibility for its success.
Sr. Producer (and the most rabid CoH player I've ever met) Jesse Caceres: I'm excited and nervous. I'm excited to finally see something that we've been working on for such a long time finally “LIVE”! I'm nervous because MMORPGs are as much about the service as it is about the game, and while we finally shipped the Going Rogue expansion, we always have to anticipate and react to player feedback.
Art Lead David Nakayama: I think the overwhelming emotion for me is giddy anticipation. We've all been bunkered down a long time working on this, and it's quite refreshing now to talk about the game openly, in detail, and to finally share it with people.
PCG: Loyalist or Resistance: choose your side!
Miller: Resistance. I love electric blue. Those guys made the right fashion choice to get me to sign up with them.
Bianco: RESISTANCE, baby!!! I rock that Resistance costume and Calvin Scott is IT! Besides, when it comes to Emperor Cole, I simply cannot trust a guy who is determined to wear white past Labor Day.
Caceres: I pledge my allegiance to Emperor Marcus Cole as a Loyalist! The Devouring Earth are still a threat to the citizens of Praetoria, and Emperor Cole is the shining light that beats back the darkness! All who oppose his goals and leadership must be crushed!
Nakayama: I'll almost certainly play Resistance first, because we all identify with the underdog, right? But one of the beautiful things about GR is the branching paths. In fairly short order, I'll of course make a true-blue Loyalist as well.
PCG: Are you personally going to be changing sides on your current favorite hero/villain character? Why or why not?
Miller: My Dominator will probably end up going Rogue and eventually Hero. They always were looking out for themselves, and now I can cement that point of view with Rogue. Eventually I'm going to want some of the stuff that Hero Merits have to offer, so I'll join the side of the angels eventually.
Bianco: I have always created characters that were true to their archetype. Historically, I have usually created Heroes because it's a realm where I feel most at home; however, I do plan to create a Villain for the express purpose of redeeming her. That, I think, is an excellent vehicle for character creation and RP opportunity because while you do the missions, you can live the change from the inside out. That, to me, is very exciting and rewarding.
Caceres: Absolutely! I have many heroes in Paragon City that will be embarking on their journey to the Rogue Isles. I don't have one favorite character because I play with three clients at the same time (aka triple-boxing or multi-boxing). This type of play style means that I don't focus on one character, but the collective team and party that I play simultaneously.
Nakayama: I can definitely see my main going vigilante, but I don't think he has it in him to become an honest-to-goodness villain. On the other hand, I love the idea of taking my main villain and turning him hero, and then, after a dramatic existential crisis, returning to even greater villainy. Bwa-ha-ha!
PCG: What are you going to be doing the first time you log into GR on live servers?
Miller: Probably run a few Tip Missions with my Dominator, then make my Praetorian and level up with that initial wave of players. It will be like starting a brand new MMO again! I can't wait.
Bianco: I'm going to stand in Praetoria and listen to what the players around me say as they explore and broadcast about it. I did the same thing when we released City of Heroes and City of Villains. I sat in the starting zone (outside of the tutorial) and just absorbed the comments, the excitement, and the feedback. This is the gut response. This is what people really think of your game. It's both exciting and nerve-wracking, but very satisfying.
Caceres: On Day one, I'm going to fire up all three of my accounts and bring three characters from Hero to Villain simultaneously. Why? Because I'm a Producer, and my day job is all about maximizing time and efficiency. During the day, I drive the team. In the evening, I have family commitments. When 9:00 PM rolls around, it will be “ON” in Paragon and I'm going to tear into City of Heroes : Going Rogue and get my Hero characters on the path of Villainy. I've been waiting for years for the Going Rogue system to launch, and I'm very, VERY excited.
David Nakayama: First thing I'm going to do is to check out the world as a living, breathing entity. Of course we designed large plazas like the Magisterium for hundreds of players, but seeing all those characters actually in the space running around, talking with each other, and going off to missions will be amazing. It'll be fun to interact with actual people.
PCG: What's the one thing (tiny NPC, small quest text, etc.) that you think players will be surprised to find in the new expansion?
Miller: Sometimes you get a mission where you end up killing one of your contacts. When you go back to where they are in the game world, they are gone. I love that we can do the “little touches” like that to sell immersion.
Bianco: I don't know that they'll be “surprised” because I'm sort of known for this, but I think they'll appreciate my Easter eggs as they find them. It'll also prompt them to look for them, which is kind of funny because people attribute Easter eggs to me that I don't think were ever intended as one. But that's fun, too. I will give a hint though: Resistance.
Caceres: I don't want to ruin the “one” thing, but when players find it, it will shake the foundation of their belief in…
David Nakayama: Little things like the Resistance graffiti and Loyalist propaganda are small touches, but they really bring the world to life. I think players will enjoy discovering all the different flavors of each.
PCG: What's one thing you wish you had had the time to add or tweak in GR?
Miller: I would have loved to get some of the End-Game system that we had planned. We even beta tested it and it was living up to our expectations, but the players pointed out they wanted a bit more out of it, so we pulled it in order to get the players what they asked for. I'm glad that we won't have long to wait to get it back into the players' hands.
Bianco: I definitely learned that scoping back to meet deadlines is part of the game and never have I learned that lesson more I did with this expansion. There's a lot I wish we could've included, but if I had to pick one thing, it would be the zone we had to cut. I was very attached and sad to see it go. But I'm nothing if not tenacious, so I expect I'll find a way to make it right in upcoming issues.
Caceres: For players who have Alienware computers with AlienFX enabled, they will see their system lights change according to their 'alignment'. There are different colors assigned to Heroes, Vigilantes, Villains, Rogues, Resistance and Loyalist alignments. For example, when a Vigilante becomes a Villain, the system lights will turn 'Red'. It's one of those polish touches that enhances the overall user experience. I wish we had more time prior to launch to explore other uses and applications of using Alienware's AlienFX light system.
Nakayama: There're always more signature characters I'd love to add to the game. Fortunately, we do regular content updates, so we'll just have to be patient and find a way to include them in an upcoming release.