Of course, this brings up some pretty hefty questions about the future of the City of Heroes setting, since such a death is about as high-profile as in-game-deaths can be. We had the opportunity to ask Matt Miller a few questions about the ramifications of Statesman's death, the team's motivation, and what players can expect in the wake of his passing. After all, even though the hero is gone, the villain responsible is still out there...
Massively: Statesman's death will no doubt alter the balance of power between Praetoria, the Rogue Isles, and the heroes of Paragon. Is this something that the team is planning on exploring?
Matt Miller: The implications of Statesman's dying are far reaching, and everyone here has ideas for the stories that he wants to tell in the new vacuum that has been left. Suffice it to say that we had an overabundance of ideas for the second Signature Story Arc and had to scale it back a bit just to get to something we could deliver on time.
What will happen to Statesman's existing task force? Will it be accessible only via flashback? What about missions in which players encounter or fight Statesman?
In Issue 23, later this year, we'll be making significant changes to content involving Statesman. His Task Force will be given out by someone new, and there will be changes made to the other content that involves his character as well. We knew this going in, that it would be a big effort to remove them from the game, which was also a reason why Freedom didn't launch with his death. Characters will still mention him in mission dialogs, but for the majority of the game he will be replaced by other characters. He will not be removed from the tutorial (which chronologically takes place before his death) or from the title screen and other marketing materials for the game. He's a defining character for the City of Heroes brand, so removing him entirely like that would be very difficult, even if we wanted to.
Considering the obvious superheroic parallels, we wonder: Are there current plans to bring Statesman back at some point in the future?
We have no plans to bring him back in any of the issues we are currently working on or planning. We have over a year's worth of content already planned that will explore the ramifications of Statesman's death. Removing him from the game is a massive undertaking, so it's not like we can turn a switch and undo it right away. I won't say "never," but "extremely unlikely" might better cover it.
Why did the team let everyone know early that Statesman was going to be the one to die?
There were a lot of reasons for the early reveal. We really wanted to super-promote Issue 5 of the Signature Story Arcs, and we found that still holding the "secret" didn't let us say anything new that we hadn't said the past four months. There's also the nature of secrets and the internet. Someone was going to spoil it, undoubtedly. We got to do it on our terms.
Can you give us a hint of what the remainder of the arc will hold after the eponymous death?
Darrin Wade will grow in power. He will wreak havoc and start involving factions that, up to this point, have stayed out of this conflict, such as the leaders of Arachnos. The player's character, of course, will be at the vanguard of stopping him from destroying the entire planet.
Will there be any sorts of in-game memorials, either as a permanent structure or for missions?
We have plans for something memorializing the character in the game, but it's a ways out, so we're not really going into detail on it yet.
Last but not least, will there be a new hero to come forward and take the role of the man on the box?
We need to promote someone from within the Freedom Phalanx to be the new leader, but that will still leave a hole to be filled. We have plans to fill that hole with a character submitted by a community member in a contest. We did this prior to launch and picked Numina to be one of the Surviving Eight, and we'd love to do this sort of thing again. We'll have more details on that in the coming months, but suffice it to say that your character has a chance at making into the official game lore as a member of Paragon City's signature supergroup.