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Alleged NCsoft survey may lay out spectacular new CoX direction

Adrian Bott

Please note that the following article concerns information that is as yet unconfirmed by any official source, but we feel it is sufficiently well substantiated to report.

UPDATE: Lighthouse has now commented. 'I want to reiterate what Niviene said here and remind that this is purely market research.'

The news broke last night on the City of Heroes forums that a company had been doing a survey for NCsoft which related to potential future content. The list of what was mentioned looks, as one player said, like a wish-list compiled of all the various CoX player requests over the years. For example, '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.'

There's a lot more, which we'll reproduce verbatim after the break. Adding to the post's feel of authenticity is what appears to be a screenshot of the new mission creator.

It's the kind of information that almost looks too good to be true. Poster Beef Cake - such a stalwart of the game that he has guest-starred in the City of Heroes comic, asking Positron for a badge in exchange for Salvage - states that Alex 'Lighthouse' Von Minden has confirmed it in a private message. Redname Niviene, commenting on the relevant thread, has so far only confirmed that 'Our marketing department has been working on survey research for City of Heroes. The goal is to get valuable player input. We are "testing" multiple ideas and features, and this research will help guide our development efforts.'

Here is the survey's content, as summarized by poster Hawkeyed, who brought it to the boards' attention:

City of Heroes and City of Villains let players create unique characters and set forth as virtuous Heroes or evil Villains in a MMO comic book inspired universe. This expansion to the City of Heroes/Villains universe blurs the line between good and evil, between hero and villain. 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.

By visiting different contacts in the game, players can start the process of "moving their moral compass" towards being a hero or a villain. Making this choice dramatically alters the gameplay for the player, as they will now be able to bring an Archetype (class) that was previously only available to players of City of Heroes into City of Villains, and vice versa. Once a character has switched sides, they can continue down the path they have chosen, or use the opportunity to subvert their new allies through a series of espionage-style missions.

In addition to this new game altering dynamic, new neutral starting zones allow new players to select their Archetype (class) first, and then let their actions determine their hero, villain or rogue identities. At the high levels, rewards for these moral choices will be found in new PVP, PVE and Co-op zones. Accomplishments will lead to rewards that will significantly distinguish level 50 characters from one another.One such reward is the Universal Enhancement Slots. Ten Universal Enhancement Slots are available to be earned in the expansion, and each one has the potential of adding significant power to the character, essentially bringing them to a hypothetical "Level 60" once they have earned all ten slots.

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.

A brand new Spy Archetype (class), power sets and player costume options will lead to a massive amount of new character and gameplay options. And a significantly enhanced character creator system will now allow characters to customize the effects (looks and colors) of their super powered attacks and defenses.

Here is some other things that were mentioned in the survey...

1.) New high level Space Station Zones (PVE, PVP, & Co-op)
2.) Characters that do not wish to change sides are rewarded by becoming exemplary heroes or villains, and earning rewards not available any other way
3.) Heroes and villains who go to the other side can also act as Double-Agents
4.) Character Creator 2.0 includes Powers Customization, allowing players to customize not only the character, but also the actual look of its powers
5.) Players undertake missions that define their character's morality and steer them in a more heroic or villainous direction
6.) By switching sides (going from good to bad or bad to good), players can access content "on the other side" (heroes can experience villain zones and content, and villains can experience hero zones and content)
7.) Completely new low-level player experience/zones for new characters in which new characters do not begin a hero or villain, rather become one or the other through early gameplay
8.) New Spy Archetype, Power Sets & Costumes
9.) Universal Enhancement Slots - at level 50, these enhance powers to the character, essentially bringing them to a hypothetical "Level 60" once they have earned all ten slots

Here are some of the suggested names you had to choose from for the new content...

Rogues or Vigilantes
Rogues or Spies
Spies or Vigilantes
Moral Compass or Morality Meter
Shades of Gray or Crossing Over
Allegiance or Alliance

Now this part of the survey offered information about the new Player Based Mission Content....

This is a new module for City of Heroes, fictionally presented as a training exercise for Heroes and Villains, that allows players to build their own Missions and Story Arcs and share them with others in the game. Using an intuitive interface similar to the game's detailed Character Creator, players can create missions by selecting options like size and type of map/environment, mission objectives and encounter types, and difficulty level of each encounter. Additionally, players can write all mission story fiction and character dialogue.

Players can create their own missions and they can play missions that have been created by other players. Once you have finalized and "published" your missions, they are accessible by all players across all servers. All players can rate player created missions and a Mission Browser lets players find available missions and story arcs through a variety of tabs, sorts and filters in an auction house type environment.

As missions are played and more people positively rate them, the creator gains rewards and access to unlockable content for his/her missions. Rewards will also be given to players of the missions. Players will gain rewards such as badges and even XP for playing user created missions and StoryArcs.

Here is a list of the feature from the player based mission creator...

1.) Write your own dialog for all aspects of the mission.
2.) Build Missions and Story Arcs using a Character Creator-like interface
3.) Players can build powers for some NPCs by selecting from a group of primary and secondary power pools and attaching them to the NPCs
4.)Players can build a boss (and other NPCs) to place within their mission by creating its looks in the Character Creator and assigning it the powers of an existing NPC (non playable character)
5.) Select a variety of components for the overall mission including Level Range, Map, Length, Villain Group, Pacing, Time to Complete, Goals/type of mission, etc.
6.) Customize Encounters to your preference (Place in End Room, Select Villain Group, Name Boss, Select Critter Type, Select Hostage NPC Critter, etc.)
7.) Using an in-game auction house type interface, other players can find user created StoryArcs across all shards
8.) Creators can include their own character as a contact within the mission(s)
9.) Creators don't have access to high level content (environments, NPCs, etc.) until their own characters have encountered/defeated them in the main game.
10.) Using an out-of-game web interface, other players can find user created StoryArcs across all shards
11.) Rewarding creators of the most popular content with exclusive unlockable content such as signature heroes and villains or unique maps
12.) A rating system that allows players to rate missions or flag them for inappropriate content, allowing the developer to remove bad content and potentially ban players
13.) Players can enter the mission maps to adjust placement of the NPC spawns from their pre-selected positions

What are we to make of all this? Our reaction here at Massively is that it is genuine, if only because Beef Cake's integrity is not in doubt. The question is how much of this content will be coming to the game, and how much is being speculated upon with an eye to possible future release. It is, after all, a survey.

That said, the nature of what is mentioned here ties in perfectly with the sense of 'big revelations just around the corner' that NCsoft have been giving off lately. The only point in its disfavor is the mention of customizing the look of your powers, which has previously been discarded several times as an enormous amount of work, while not technically impossible to achieve.

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