On Wednesday, we heard from various Missing Worlds Media developers about their initial venture, the Phoenix Project. The Phoenix Project is a spiritual successor to City of Heroes, and the development team at Missing Worlds Media is comprised primarily by players of that game. The following is a continuation of our interview with Missing Worlds Media, and the theme of giving players the game they want is apparent in everything they say.
"The Phoenix Project" is a working title, of course. Do you have a list of possible actual game titles and would you be able to share any with us?
David Mackay, President of Missing Worlds Media: "We are in the process of exploring other game titles, but we’re not in a position to share them at this time, I’m afraid.”
Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "We are currently considering a very large pool of possible names. Once we've narrowed that pool down, we plan to seek input from the community regarding the potential choices. Once we've considered that input and made our decision, we'll announce the actual game name."
Jim Bishop, Game Architecture Lead: "The name of the game is one of the biggest decisions we will have to make as a team; we will only get a chance to do it once, so we are trying to consider this as carefully as is humanly possible and land on a name that is the best outcome."
What business model will the Phoenix Project have? Monthly subscription? Free-to-play? Micro-transactions?
Cameron Johnson, Creative Director at Missing Worlds Media: “The Phoenix Project will be adopting the hybrid model that is becoming the standard for the MMORPG industry: free-to-play with micro transactions and an optional subscription for a special access status. It is likely that the subscription will come with a stipend of "free" cash-store points as well as additional perks which would be much more expensive purchased individually. The goal is to make the game accessible and enjoyable to anybody interested in playing, no matter their financial circumstances. We want even the free-to-play player who never spends a dime to feel like they're able to experience a full game, while the increased convenience and options for subscribers and cash shop patrons will serve to enhance the experience still further.”
David Mackay, President of Missing Worlds Media: "The business model we will be using has not yet been finalized, but we hope to focus on a hybrid model which includes the option for a monthly subscription, micro transactions, and the ability to play for free."
What engine will the game be built around and why did you choose it?
Nate Downes, Technical Director: “We began with a list of what players wanted, by asking them. We then began testing out every game engine we could practically. Ultimately, the game engine which we settled on was CryTek's CryENGINE 3, which recently added an independent license which fit our needs. Ultimately, it gives us the flexibility to produce the game the players not only want, but deserve. A modern engine, realistic physics, which looks frankly amazing. Once selected, it then became "let's see what more we can do with it" and have been expanding upon the basics which we began with.”
Two areas in which many City of Heroes players found that game lacking were merchandising and marketing. There just weren't a lot of tie-in products or advertisements to gain new players. Do you feel Missing Worlds Media will be able to do a better job in these two areas?
David Mackay, President of Missing Worlds Media: "As we have already begun to discuss options along the lines, we certainly hope so."
Will missions/quests be primarily instanced (as in City of Heroes) or open-world?
Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "We want to see a combination of the two. Instanced missions were very popular with many people, and have consistently been requested by the COH players. However, just as many people have bemoaned the fact that all of the beautiful scenery of COH was just that - scenery on the way to your next instance. We plan to have multiple dynamic world events in every area, as well as small things that you can help civilians with in passing. Players should be encouraged and rewarded for exploring the world and meeting new people, but should still have the option of retreating into a quiet instanced mission if they feel like playing alone."
Jim Bishop, Game Architecture Lead: "Ultimately we would see both. While instanced missions would seem to be the 'norm' due to each character's objectives being story driven, open-world mission content represents an opportunity for us to have a living and breathing, spontaneous world for the player. It should also be done in a way where it is relevant and not just a 'kill this' or 'gather twenty widgets' and it's over. It should either be integrated into the fabric of your character's story or a gateway to new adventures."
Richard Robertson, user-interface lead: "We not only have both options available, but will also have an in-game mission creator. I can't divulge much about it, but the plans I've heard are particularly exciting and unique. To say that The Phoenix Project is going to be fantastic here goes beyond an understatement."
You've stated that you'll be releasing the game's avatar builder or character creator as a stand-alone "module." How soon can we expect that release?
David Mackay, President of Missing Worlds Media: "We are aiming to release the character creator sometime in 2014."
Cameron Johnson, Creative Director at Missing Worlds Media: "It's still extremely early in our business development, but we're hoping to have it out there by the middle of 2014."
Thanks to all of the Missing Worlds developers who spent time answering our questions. For more info on Missing Worlds Media and The Phoenix Project, check out their official website and forums here, and subscribe to this column for all the latest updates.