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City of Heroes Releases Marketing Research and Plans for the Future

by: Michael Hartman ; edited by: M.S. Smith ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

A recently released marketing research proposal has created quite a stir in the City of Heroes / City of Villains community. Many of the potential features are things players of these games have been dreaming of for many years.

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    NCsoft hired a survey company to poll its customers about some potential features it is considering. The details were released on their official forums where players and staff alike commented on it. Some of the more interesting potential features included:

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    Basically, this is the ability for heroes or villains to switch sides and maintain their archetype (character class). So a brute could become a hero, or a scrapper could become a villain, for instance.

    The Going Rogue system is a new game dynamic for City of Heroes and City of Villains that allows players to alter the morality of their characters, eventually opening up the opportunity to turn their Hero into a Villain or vice versa.

    This could help undo one of the worst decisions the City of Heroes developers ever made: splintering their player base. With two separated worlds for people to play in (hero side or villain side), they effectively made both sides emptier. Over time, people gravitated mostly back to the hero side, leaving villain side almost completely empty. My guess is that this going rogue system will eventually finish off the "villain side" of the game as anyone who wants to play a villain character class will simply go rogue right away and then team up with their friends "hero side."

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    One of the most widely requested zone additions has been either a moon base or some kind of space travel. It is possible that 4 years and thousands of posts may finally produce results:

    For existing City of Heroes and City of Villains players who have previously reached the level cap of 50, the Expansion will take them into outer space where they can now find challenges that test their powers and skills to the max. On an alien space station that mysteriously appears over Earth, Heroes and Villains will race to unlock the secrets of the place and be the first to reap the rewards that are only available to the best of the best.

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    A new archetype was discussed, the spy. Very little details were included about this archetype, however. One wonders how this would conflict with the already existing Stalker archetype. This is an odd choice for new content since people are not exactly clamoring for new classes. In fact, there are bigger concerns with the lack of balance for the existing classes and power sets.

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    Possibly the most widely desired feature is the ability to change colors and visual effects for one's powers. Some are disappointed that this sounded like cosmetics only, with no ability to tweak any of the actual effects themselves. This feature appears to be a response to information that Champions Online and DC Universe Online will both have power customization. Many posters on the official forums believe this is pure vaporware intended to mollify the faithful.

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    They have been hyping this for a while but details have been scant. The system will basically allow players to create their own missions and storylines for other players to play. This sounds intriguing, but one has to wonder about the idea of developers running up the white flag and basically saying "we can't create compelling content, so you guys try!" In theory, players will be able to write their own dialog, create plot NPCs, build bosses, configure maps (level range, size, map type, mission goals), and more. Players will then be able to play the missions or story arcs and even rate them via a web based interface.

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    It will be very interesting to learn over the coming months how much of this is hype, how much is vaporware, and how much actually comes to fruition. NCSoft/City of Heroes has a history of announcing bold plans and then trickling out a significantly inferior version of the promised feature or content. Fans of the game are desperately hoping this marketing research points to some actual content looming over the horizon. As someone who has played and enjoyed the game, I hope they are right.