Back in August, when Paragon Studios suddenly announced its closure and the impending shutdown of City of Heroes, many fans of that game were heartbroken. In addition to the suddenness of the shutdown, it seemed so pointless, considering that City of Heroes was still at least somewhat profitable for its publisher, NCSoft. In an outpouring of support rarely, if ever, seen from MMORPG players, City of Heroes fans did everything they could to save their beloved game.
It wasn't enough. On the night of November 30th, 2012, City of Heroes severs were shut down for the final time, never to be restarted.
But perhaps the hope of having a game like City of Heroes, where players can enjoy a tight-knit community and create super-powered characters the way they want to, is not entirely lost. A large group of former City of Heroes players have formed Missing Worlds Media, a new gaming studio dedicated to giving players a game with everything they loved about City of Heroes and much more. Their initial efforts are taking shape in the Phoenix Project,
Several developers from Missing Worlds Media were recently nice enough to answer a few questions about the new studio and its game. Part one of the interview is below; be sure to check back on Friday for part two.
The Phoenix Project has been called a "spiritual successor" to City of Heroes. Can you elaborate on what that means?
Richard Robertson, User-Interface Lead: "By a "Spiritual Successor" we mean that we strive to capture those intangible elements of the game we fell in love with and incorporate them in the worlds of our own making. Our old world was the parent to our child ones and, while the heritage and love is clear, they will be their own creatures with their own life and future."
Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "The overall theme of the game is, of course, going to be a game of super-powered people in a world where super powers are relatively common. One of the most critical points in creating a spiritual successor is to make a world that encourages players to work together cooperatively without forcing them to spend hours doing a single mission. That was one of COH's greatest strengths, and I feel that it helped greatly in fostering the sense of community in that game.
"I can't stress enough how much we're trying to listen to community input in our writing. We've been going through popular comics and identifying common classic elements. From there, we're designing our own groups to fill those niches common to popular comics in the ally and enemy groups we're creating. Many of those niches, or tropes, were also found in City of Heroes, and some of them have been expressed as almost critical to a fulfilling super powered game.
"Our ultimate goal is that when someone logs into The Phoenix Project, they will meet the same kind of friendly, helpful people that they met in City of Heroes, and that they will have a deep, rich lore creating stories they can play through in a spare 15 minutes - or over the space of a few hours. We want to make a game that we enjoy playing ourselves, a world that lets us fly freely in the sky, a world that encourages people to become friends instead of simply passing by."
How many people are currently working on the Phoenix Project? What sorts of backgrounds do they have?
Ian Hawkins, Project Manager for The Phoenix Project: “Our core team is around 55 people, from Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand and the United States.”
Cameron Johnson, Creative Director at Missing Worlds Media: "And we have a hundred or more volunteers from all walks of life. They range from students to professionals with decades of experience, in careers including everything from IT and computer programming to graphical design to home-making. We have hobbyists in pen-and-paper as well as electronic gaming. Our leads include business administration experts both experienced and fresh out of college, computer scientists and engineers, professional artists and people studying to be the same, and combined decades of experience developing plot lines for role-playing games. The Phoenix Project really represents a cross-section of America and Western Society in general, though the most common uniting factor is at least a minimal level of internet savvy and a love of super-powered action and intrigue."
Are efforts already underway to obtain funding for development?
Cameron Johnson, Creative Director at Missing Worlds Media: "Keep an eye out for our Kickstarter; while we're not going to rush into it, it is coming, and when that goes live, we'll have more information on the time it will take to complete the first of our products. This will fund essential components to the design and development of the avatar builder. Once we’ve got that product out, we hope it’ll help to support the creation of other stand-alone modules that will eventually build into the full MMORPG."
Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "We are not going to start our Kickstarter campaign until we have a professional, polished campaign write-up. We plan to fund the game in stages, releasing the stages such as our avatar builder and chat system as standalone modules that will later link into the game itself. By taking this unique approach to funding and game design, we hope to keep the former City of Heroes community alive and actively involved in our development process."
Be sure to check back on Friday to hear more about the Phoenix Project from Missing Worlds developers and head on over to their official website for all the latest news.