The Circle of Thorns has apparently improved its equal opportunity employment status.
City of Heroes has launched its free-to-play hybrid model at long last, and all that remains for players to do is enjoy all of the options that City of Heroes Freedom provides. Well, and possibly wonder what the game's development schedule will look like from here on out, maybe ask a few questions about the pricing in the store, debate which player options have the most value, and so forth. Come to think of it, there are a lot of things to still be done.

We had the opportunity to ask a few questions of executive producer Brian Clayton about what's going on behind the scenes of City of Heroes Freedom. Jump on past the break for a postmortem of the launch, discussions of what's to come in the store from here on out, and more information about what VIPs can expect from future updates.

First Ward: Not as nice as Praetoria, still better than the Rogue Isles.  Even with the giant plant monsters.Massively: How satisfied has the team been thus far with the early start? Are there any major issues that have cropped up behind the scenes?

Brian Clayton: All of us at the studio are proud to finally be able to share City of Heroes Freedom with all of our players. We knew this would be our biggest undertaking ever, and thanks to a rigorous beta program, as well as our recently concluded VIP Headstart, I'm happy to say that so far we've been able to deal with every major issue as soon as we got wind of it. As we open the doors to all free players, I expect we'll uncover a few more issues, but our development, publishing, and operations teams will be working around the clock to be sure we swiftly address any new problems and ensure the best experience possible for our players.

A lot of players noticed an extra 400 points in their VIP allotment -- was this intentional?

Yes, it was a way for us to thank all of our loyal players for their dedication and support. Everyone who had an active account when we started the VIP Headstart on 9/13 received an extra 400 Paragon Points as thanks from the dev team. Players will receive their next 400 Points on their respective billing dates in October.

How fixed are the prices in the store? Some items, such as consumables, seem a little high for what they do -- will these be adjusted in the future?

The prices you see in the store are based on our own analysis, feedback from our players, and also what we've seen in the industry. Right now, most prices are at a level we're comfortable with, but that doesn't mean there won't be updates later on. Additionally, every week at least one item is on sale, so if that XP Booster you wanted seems a little out of your reach this week, you might find that it'll be on sale soon.

How regular will the sales events be? Are there any items that are never meant to be placed on sale?

There will be at least one sale or promotion every week or two, and a new item in the store every week as well. We're still evaluating the Paragon Market, so I think it's too soon to make any definitive statements on what we might or might not offer.

The ruined Galaxy City: Not as nice as the Rogue Isles, still better than the old Galaxy City.  Even with the rock monsters.Several things can be unlocked via veteran's perks or bought in the store, but there are other features only unlocked via perks. Will those items eventually be added to the store?

It depends. There are some rewards we want to keep as unlockables in game. These are rewards that players have earned, and they should enjoy the prestige of having unlocked them. On the other hand, there are some quality-of-life convenience unlocks players have asked for, such as global unlocks for Capes/Auras. So it's a matter of balancing the in-game benefits versus the convenience factor.

Any idea on the timeframe players will have for acquiring the Tier 9 celestial pieces?

We'll be announcing more details about the Tier 9 costume sets soon. We want to make sure that we give our players enough time to earn those costume pieces, but we also want to make sure they can enjoy the exclusivity.

Currently it can be a bit hard to see what new costume sets have been added. Are there plans to change any of this?

If you're asking about new Costume Sets (such as the Barbarian or Circle of Thorns Costume Sets), every time a new Costume Set is introduced to the store, we announce it through our website and Facebook fan page. New sets are also on the front page of the NCsoft Launcher. What's great is that when we introduce a new Costume Set, you can preview it from the Character Creator or at the Tailor, which is a great new feature since we have millions of costume combinations. But having said all of that, we are working to improve the presentation of the "New" section on the Paragon Market home page so that it's more useful to the players.

We know a couple of items that have been held back from release, such as Titan Weapons and Street Justice -- are there more on the way?

All I can tell you is stay tuned just a bit longer. We've got a lot of great things coming this year, and even more coming next year.

Anti-Matter: Not as nice as not having radiation poisoning, but still nicer than Statesman.  Even with the radiation poisoning.Players have been a bit unhappy about being locked at 20 for the Signature Arc -- will this change in the future?

To clarify, we allow characters from level 10 to 50 to join our Signature Story Arcs, and we use our Exemplaring system to auto-adjust their levels to match the level range of the actual missions. We want to tell an epic story, a story with a sense of growth and progression, and because the Signature Story Arcs are episodic in nature, each arc continues the plot and raises the stakes. Part 1 is meant for players up to level 20, while part 2 is meant for players up to level 30. And as the levels get higher, the challenges also rise. But like I said, the cool thing is that any character of any level can partake in all of it.

What will the balance be in the future for VIPs receiving free content from the store? Obviously they won't get everything for free with the 400 points each month, but were the costumes and Temporal Manipulation a one-time gift?

VIP Players are going to continue to receive free content with every issue. With Issue 21, it was the Time Manipulation Power Set, Defense and IDF Costume Sets, access to First Ward Missions, and access to the Going Rogue Content. So we've set a pretty high bar for ourselves for Issue 22 and beyond, and we plan to exceed it.

We'd like to thank Mr. Clayton for taking the time to answer our questions.

This article was originally published on Massively.