Monday, March 25, 2013

The Phoenix Project Update: Monday, March 25, 2013

The Phoenix Project Update: Monday, March 25, 2013
By: Cameron 'Segev Stormlord' Johnson, Studio Director

As many of you by now already know, the Phoenix Project is going to release its components as they get ready. The big releases are planned to be:

  • The Avatar Builder
  • The Base Builder
  • Open Beta
  • Issue 0

There will be additional smaller releases, updates to the above, and other ancillary products coming out between those.

The general structure of a character as it will be represented in game mechanics - a sort of virtual "blank character sheet," for those of you familiar with pen and paper RPGs - is nearing completion at the time of this writing, and may well be in the hands of our technical gurus to translate it into code by the time you're reading this. The focus is on maximum flexibility and robustness for future creative expansions, allowing a wide variety of powers to be designed. The next thing on the docket from that team is "combat flow," which, despite the catchy name, is actually a dry and technical examination of the algorithmic steps that are required to resolve a given attack or other action when somebody activates a power and attacks another character (player- or computer-controlled).

The creative team continues to work on concept art and translation of our enormous body of potential setting Lore into specific usable pieces, while our mission-writing team begins work on developing story-focused narratives with PCs at the center, drawing upon that Lore. We've been working from an outside-in perspective, and we're now going to reverse that to let the stories we tell organically pull together the jagged edges of the background history and details about NPCs and their factions. Much like a good story doesn't give you the world-setting bible, but instead introduces you to pieces of its setting through events and the eyes of characters, the mission snippets and the clues dropped to lead to them will be your, the player's, window into the lore of the setting. Ideally, it will be possible to play the game as a total newbie and get the rich, fleshed out world out of playing the game, much as one learned about the worlds of comic books through reading those selfsame comics.

All of that being a fancy way of saying, "We've done a ton of work up through now, but have mountains left to go." 
Meanwhile, one of the districts - the one containing Phoenix Plaza - is being worked on in rough layout using stock assets. Beyond the stock assets that came with Unreal Engine, Doctor Tyche has been (among myriad other things) importing custom rough-draft assets into the engine for this zone work. It won't be the final work-up, but the layout is at least semi-final, and we should have a functional zone to run demobot around in before too much longer.

Here's a 2D concept drawing of the Phoenix Plaza itself:

Our coding gurus have been busy, as well; a lot of the little projects they've been working on are coming together. The authentication and sign-in work mentioned last week is nearing completion, and load testing continues on the chat engine.

Additionally, the Phoenix Project is proud to invite anybody interested to NorWesCon, where Doctor Tyche and Segev Stormlord (the Technical Director and Studio Director, respectively) will be holding a panel at 4:00 pm this coming Friday (March 29th) in Cascade 7 to discuss how this project got started, what its goals are, and where it stands. 
If you're in the Seattle area next weekend, come by and see us!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday update!

 In a dramatic twist, we've decided to move our updates to Mondays. (Because, you know. Who doesn't need something to brighten up a Monday?)

So without further ado, I'm handing you over to our lord and master, Studio Director Cameron 'Segev' Johnson for this week's offering. Don't worry, he'll be gentle.

-Lauren 'Rae' O'Neill
Missing Worlds Media Presents
The Phoenix Project: Update
Monday, March 18, 2013

In light of the success of our recent celebration for hitting 1000 Facebook friends, and because so much has been happening under the surface, we've decided to upgrade our regular Thursday Facebook updates into a slightly more formal Monday Update, which you will be able to find on our forums, our Facebook page, and on the Titan Network forums! The intent is to give some "under the hood" glimpses to you, our community, of where we stand technically and creatively. So, without further ado...

Having settled on Unreal Engine 3 as our client-side engine, we've already caught up to and in some ways surpassed any progress we'd made on CryENGINE. Screen shots from a few simple tests with stock environment assets and the UDK's included "demobot" have been promising; we anticipate equal graphical quality with the new engine, and superior customer support.
We are ahead of schedule in conforming the control system to the developed model. It's now down to tweaks, rather than implementation. Due to this advanced state, we have begun work on the inventory storage system a week ahead of schedule. Camera controls are also now finished!

With these control systems in place, we can begin conforming test levels to fully exploit them.

Additionally, UI design development is kicking into gear. Our team of artists specifically set to the task is assaulting the challenge with fervor and enthusiasm. Our chosen UI colors are Blue/Silver for heroside and Black/Gold for villainside. In 3D modeling and implementation, we've decided that we'll be using bones for scaling models and costume pieces.

Speaking of costume pieces and character models, a text-based "blueprint" for the avatar builder (and character creator) is undergoing refinement to nail down what elements all need be present for the establishment of a refined design. The goal is, as ever, to retain familiarity for those coming in with some super-powered character creation experience from other MMOs while making the process as friendly and convenient as possible.

Server-side, a "watchdog" system is being developed. Three stages are currently planned: data collection, launch, and shutdown. The first stage is currently under development; once all three stages are finished, the server will be ready for live testing.

A chat server has been implemented and successfully tested on small group loads. Large group testing will be performed over the next few weeks. Integration of the client chat system with the chat server is well underway. Once completed, we will be able to actually participate in group chats within the game itself.

Finally, because of the success of the Livestream event, we're planning on hosting more in the future. We're still discussing and debating how often to host them and what in particular to show during future events, whether as a semi-regular thing or as further benchmark-celebrations (such as reaching 2,500 facebook friends, 5,000, etc., as well as milestones of great worth in the Project's development).

Thank you all for your support, and stay tuned for these and other updates on our twitter feed (@mworldsmedia). You can also find us on Google+ as Missing Worlds Media, and look for videos of teasers and demos on our youtube channel!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Moar costumes!

I may have mentioned tomorrow's Livestream event where you'll get the chance to watch our Art Director in action, and hang out with a few of our devs, team leaders, volunteers and probably a few of our friends and family to help make up the numbers.

And hopefully me. You know. Just in case you have any questions about Facebook, or something ;)

So in the run-up to said Livestream event, here's a little more artwork, released for your viewing pleasure by our unbelievably talented art-team.

These pieces are all from the 'cosmic warrior' genre, and they are all intended as player costumes, for those of you who have a hankering for something otherworldly.

If you get the chance to come along to our Livestream event tomorrow, between 4pm and 10pm EDT, you'll get to see Jessica working on a piece for our project mascots, and hopefully working with our 1,000th Facebook friend, Donna Day, who'll she be diligently turning into an NPC for use in the game.

We've also selected some of the best superhero tunes we could find (with help from our Twitter followers), so in theory it should be a jolly spiffing event and we're all thoroughly looking forward to hanging out with you.

Sharp-eyed readers MAY have noticed there were two community questions that I've diligently not answered. We haven't forgotten them, and they will be answered.

Soon (tm.)

Lauren 'Rae' O'Neill
Blogger extraordinaire
The Phoenix Project

P. S Did I mention our Livestream event?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Costume concept

Good morning, Phoenixes.

..actually, we need a name. There's Browncoats, Twihards and Potterites, but the good people at TPP don't have an official term yet.

MWMers?, that just sounds silly.

Phoenixers? Erm.. maybe not. Answers on a postcard, please. How should I address you?

Anyway. With our Livestream event racing ever closer, and our developers brushing up on their best handwriting and favourite tunes in anticipation of meeting you all, it seems a good time to release some more artwork.

Front view
These pieces were created by our incredibly talented art team.

Although, as you can probably tell, the piece is currently in black and white, the plan is for the belt, gloves, boots and headband to be finished in a two-tone high-gloss or matte metallic finish. 

Side view
Rear view.

The big oval gems would be available in a few different options - including a steady glow, pulsating glow, no-glow and metallic finish to match the rest of the belt.

The sleeves and leggings are optional, and although this version of the costume is unisex, there are plans for a more feminine variant, with a halter top and miniskirt.

This costume probably looks best with some sort of cape, which I left off for clarity. There will, of course, be weapons accessories to follow.

It turns out the art team are feeling generous, so I'm thinking tomorrow, if you ask really nicely, I'll share some more with you.

Lauren 'Rae' O'Neill
PR, Press and.. gah, you probably know by now.
The Phoenix Project

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Community Questions - Part 7

Well, this is the last of the questions (well..almost..) we had from you guys.

Thank you all so much for putting them forward, and we hope we've answered them to your satisfaction, but if you'd like more information, why not swing by our Livestream event on Sunday? Throughout the day we'll have our volunteers, team leaders and developers on hand to keep an eye on our art lead, Jessica, as she gets to work doing what she does best and to chat with you all.

The event kicks off at 4pm EDT and runs until 10pm, so there's no excuses not to be there. Well, unless you're working. Or.. there's some some sort of emergency or..

OK, so there's a few reasons you might not be able to do it, but if you can, you should.

Anyway, without further ado or fanfare - the (almost) last of your questions. Until you send me more.

Lauren 'Rae' O'Neill
Official chick with questions coming out of her ears and answers coming out of her...
The Phoenix Project


1. Will all the powers we know from CoH be returning, and if so, how much different should we expect then to be?

Tom Filiaggi, Game Architecture Lead:  "Currently, our Power Framework is much more flexible and variable than that of CoH.

"Our goal was to ensure we could reproduce the powers from CoH (if we so desired), but at the same time allow for new and rather interesting powers and effects. Much of this is at the "idea" stage, figuring out how all of these myriad pieces will fit together. Once we are comfortable with the Power Framework as a whole, then we will see what technical limitations may exist that would preclude some of that framework, and adjust the framework as needed. Remember - our goal is to retain the "feel" of CoH, so even though we will be introducing new game mechanics, powers, and effects, we still want this game to "feel" like CoH."

That's Ms Liberty, thank-you-very-much. I reject the outdated endemic in a society that correlates a woman’s worth with a ring - or lack thereof - on her finger.
 2. Will we be using trainers like Miss Liberty or self-train/self slots of powers like in DCUO? Any teaser character movement to view before beta?

Nathaniel Downes, Technical Director:  "Part of the design we are looking into is enabling you to pre-build your character, select what powers and slots you take as you level up, at a trainer.

"In CoH terms, consider that you build your character in Mids, then could import it to the game proper for auto-levelling as you go. You would still need to hit a trainer for loading, or changing, your build, but being able to pre-build yourself as you level, for the advanced player, is something we've long wanted. This would be the biggest advantage to those who sidekick.

"Now, you can still level up the old fashioned way as well, selecting powers/slots as you level, and for new players not familiar with the tools this is what we expect will happen. And do expect teaser footage of all sorts before beta."

2b. Will we have to find a hero like miss liberty to level up and choose power slots?

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "The current plan is to allow dynamic leveling rather than having to go to a trainer. You would need to speak with a trainer or other NPC in order to respec, change your power customization, boosts, or other character power alterations."

Tom Filiaggi, Game Architecture Lead:  "However, we are aware how certain areas in CoH became social hubs, and trainers were often part of the reason.  We want to retain social hubs, and ensure various quality-of-life issues are easy to manage there. This could still potentially include trainers (it has not been ruled out). So, as Kaylan said, it is true we want leveling to be easy, but there may be special components of leveling that require a visit to some sort of contact."

Jumping, or flying?

2. Travel powers. How many? I sure miss super jump.

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "Superspeed, and Teleportation are all planned as travel powers. We are hoping to have other travel powers available if the technology allows us to do so."

Nathaniel Downes, Technical Director: "We've already verified that superjump, flight, superspeed and teleport will work. But we are working on expanding this list some, other games have some interesting ideas which we are exploring as well."

Tom Filiaggi, Game Architecture Lead: "We want to expand on the list of travel powers that CoH provided. There are a couple other super MMOs out there that have done that, to varying degrees of success.

"We are aiming to encompass those travel powers as well. Our approach also considers animation to be a simple component of each travel power as well. Free flight and rocket pack flight will both be flight, but with different animations. Ice slide and earth avalanche? Same underlying travel power, different animation."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Community questions - Part 6

Here's the next batch of answers to the questions you sent us - can you believe there's still more to come? Who'd have thought you'd have so many? (Probably not the devs, when they promised to answer them ;) ) 

I can, at least, see the bottle of the pile now, so you don't have to endure our waffling for much longer.

Somehow, we seem to have been a bit more sensible this time around.

Anyway, as I don't have anything particularly witty or intelligent to say today, here's the next batch of answers for you, freshly baked.

Lauren 'Rae' O'Neill
Yes, I'm still here.
The Phoenix Project


1. Has the team reached out to any mainstream studios or we'll known game designers for assistance? Can we expect the game to more resemble an I2 or I20 build. For example things like ED, Def, and, Acc will portray what time frame of the game? Assuming you use a system like this.
Nathaniel Downes, Technical Director:  "It will be closer to I24 than I2. The specifics of Defense, Accuracy, or ED are still nothing I would talk about yet, only play-test will settle them. It is not identical to what we had in CoH, but a refined version based on the experience we all had in CoH."

Tentative clip-art alert!

2. When does the first expansion go live? :-p

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "We can't really say when we'll have our first expansion when we haven't even reached the point of alpha testing, much less launch. Hopefully we'll be able to have two expansions a year, but that is extremely tentative."

Cameron Johnson, Studio Director:  "Taking what Kaylan said, however, I can assure you that the Lore and Story team have a lot of content "building blocks" ready to go, so the expansions, when they come, will be very satisfying.

"Two a year is, as she said, our current goal, so probably anticipate one every six to eight months after the game is launched. Again, no promises; until we get to pre-alpha, timetables on post-release stuff really can't be more than guessed at. Albeit a somewhat educated guess."

3. Mission Maps anyone? I think a map that looks like a gianttoy box would be epic.. and classic comic book (Mysterio, Toy Man... etc). There was a lot of design repetition in City of Heroes, and understandably so, but I always appreciated running into a unique mission map now and again. Even when it was a variation on a common map, transformed into something new. I hope MWM can adress the issue of map doors taking you into illogical locations... like an office door that takes you into a cave.. or a cave door that takes you to an office... etc.
Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "We intend to have a large variety of maps, and we plan on having the floor layouts of those mission maps make sense for the buildings that they're in.

"We are definitely planning to have office doors take you into offices, cave entrances take you into caves, and so on."

Nathaniel Downes, Technical Director:  "One of the things we are doing is the dual-purposing of tools. Instead of having a handful of fixed maps, we are building a map builder, which would also double as the base builder. As we enhance the tool for map making, our base tool would be improved along the way. As a result, making more interesting and unique maps will be easier."

Jessica Weaver (Yoko), Art Director:  "That has been something on the forefront of our minds when considering the world, how the player interacts with it and how to address instance maps. We hope that each map and mission will be a unique experience and help the player feel more immersed in our world"

4. there are older gamers who appreciate comics in the DC Vertigo vein and would like to see that represented in a game. I imagined having to provide proof of age, then being able to access either a Mature server or Mature zones, where the limits on what can be said/shown are more relaxed. So, the question would be, is that possible at all and is it something you guys would even consider?

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "During the process of writing the game's lore and history, we've done a bit of research on what's required to maintain a T for Teen rating from the ESRB. Unfortunately, what you're suggesting would prevent a game from having that T for Teen rating.

"We feel that it's important for us to keep the T rating in the game, as many of the COH community played with their families. We want parents to be able to comfortably play with their children, both older and younger, and an M rating would make that much more difficult."

5. May we see any in-game city modeling?
Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead:  "We will certainly show you some teasers and previews of models when they are ready for public view."

Jessica Weaver (Yoko), Art Director:  "Since we are an all volunteer force, there are a number of our artists and modelers that are rusty, adjusting to new programs or still in school and therefore not moving at the pace we all would -like- to dedicate to the game.

"We're working to the point of making some content that will end up in the final game for you to see, and when that time comes, we will certainly be sharing it with the community that has been supporting us from day one. In the meantime we ask your patience as we turn our engine into a purring, well-tuned machine ;)" 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Community questions - Part 5

Zomg, the questions.

I actually had a dream last night that people were shouting on me on Facebook because I wasn't getting the answers up fast enough.

Before I get the questions up, a huge thank you to everyone who sent them in - and mahooosive thank you to the devs who've been busy answering them and doing their best to keep you updated. It's ace to see that you lot out there are just as excited and interested in this as we are.

Aaanyway - without further ado - your questions, our answers. This time around, it all got a bit silly, I'm afraid. I'm not sure if that's your fault, or ours. Probably yours.

-Lauren 'Rae' O'Neill
Official press and community go-between
The Phoenix Project

1. Can we get you anything? Some coffee? Maybe a cookie?

Lauren O'Neill, Press and PR Lead: "I'll take a cookie. As long as there's no raisins in 'em."

Jessica Weaver (Yoko), Art Director: "Milk and soft gooey cookies sound awesome! I think I may need to leave my work to go make some..."

Cameron Johnson, Studio Director: "A billion dollars would be nice. Make this project a lot easier to pull off. The fewer strings, the easier it'll be--oh. Not what you meant? Um, well, honestly...the rest of my answer is better given to the next question!"

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "I'll take some Thin Mints and a good chai, please."

DC James, President of Missing Worlds Media: "Actually, there is a cook book that I've been neglecting to get published..."

2. I hear that Doctor Tyche guy is a real pain to work with. Is that true?'

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "Well, he's been really late on some of his writing for MY team, but I suppose I'll have to forgive him for it. He's a little bit on the busy side, after all"

Lauren O'Neill, Press and PR Lead: "He's ok. You just have to know how to handle him. Like tickling his belly after giving him bad news."

DC James, President of Missing Worlds Media: "Our resident mad scientist. Just apply the right amount of voltage, and there really won't be any problems."

3. I know TPP is meant to be a separate awesomesauce MMO but will there be non obvious pieces of CoH scattered around Titan City and its surrounding areas? Symbols or items that CoH veterans will find and recognize? A fellow CoHer posted a picture of tile work he saw in a real life hospital lobby. The tiles were placed in the shape of the Oroborous symbol. It made us all smile. so Fun! <><>

Jessica Weaver (Yoko), Art Director: "If we can find a way to bring them in, I don't see why not :3  I for one would love to have a doughnut you can fly through, among other things."

Science beware!

4. If you're driving in a car at the speed of light and turn on your headlights, what happens?

Lauren O'Neill, Press and PR Lead: "I intend to test this, using my 1.2l Vauxhall Corsa. I'll let you know what happens." 

5. How far along is the game production?

Nathaniel Downes, Technical Director: About as far along as you'd expect after 6 months and an engine change.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Community questions - Part 4

Another Monday, and we're still answering more of your questions - again, please don't panic if we haven't answered yours yet - without a heed for my own personal safety I am still chasing our developers for answers and am not afraid to poke them with sticks if needed.

I'm sure they'd be fine with that.

I'm really looking forward to the Livestream event next week. I'm hoping to come along for at least some of it (I'm in the UK, so timezones are not my friend. Nearly eight years of playing with Americans in COH and I still have no idea if I'm five or eight hours in front of them, or figured out why the only thing they want to know about is Doctor Who.)

I spotted today that we're not a million miles away from 1,100 friends on Facebook - it's great to see the numbers still steadily climbing - and thank you to everyone who has helped to spread the word and bring people over her to be a part of what we're doing.

Oh! I have some thank yous to pass on.

Jessica 'Yoko' Weaver our art director (aka Nytrinhia) said:

"Oh wow... I can't believe we have 1000 people who are interested and supporting us! This is amazing, and as we gain more supporters it makes all the hardships, tough work, and tears worth it.

"We're only a small way up the hill, but with your continuing well wishes, donations and efforts, I feel that we really will be able to make it to the top of the summit! Thank you for everything!!"

While Cameron 'Segev' Johnson, our studio director, said I had to pass along:

"You guys are truly the greatest community out there, and I'm humbled and awed at your support for this project. Thank you so much for your confidence and hopes.

"Thank you all for spreading the word about the Phoenix Project; this is something that could not happen without you, and the more you all reach out to tell others, the more this will succeed.

"So thank you all so very much for sharing with your friends, and their friends, and for being our friends. We have a long way to go, and a lot of work to do, but knowing you're out there, supporting us, drives us onwards and upwards, like the heroes and villains we want to take to the skies of Titan City!"

To your questions! Away!

-Lauren 'Rae' O'Neill
Still doing PR n' stuff.
The Phoenix Project

1. How many character slots will be available. I absolutely loved the extreme amount available on COH.

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "As someone with severe altitis, I'm with you all the way on wanting a large number of character slots. Our Tech Team is well aware of this, trust me."

Nathaniel Downes, Technical Director:  "Tons upon Tons. Talking thousands."

2. A large part of what set CoH apart from other MMOs was the structuring of powers (sniper attacks, BU/Aim, significant duration single target buffs, inclusion of toggles/passives/clicks in the same power set, mez protection that made people outright immune to effects up to certain thresholds, etc). They lent a particular pace to combat and a feel to the game. How closely are you going to emulate CoH, and at the same time, how are you intending to distance yourself from it?'

Nathaniel Downes, Technical Director:  "There are changes, I won't deny that. But the overall structure of design is a close parallel to the CoH model. They did so many things right, to ignore it would be foolish. What few areas are awkward, we can fix without hurting peoples playstyle. We've taken a long hard look at things in a similar vein to how Fitness was made inherent, for example."

3. Where do I send money?

Lauren O'Neill, Press and PR Lead: "You don't! Not yet, anyway. It's really kind of everyone who keeps trying to give us their money, but we'd rather wait until we have something to show you that proves you'll have a reason to part with it. "


Will there be flight and teleport i miss the tp wars lol and secound will this game be a armor typ or is it gonna be like COH ?

Nathaniel Downes, Technical Director: "I actually just finished the first testing of teleport a few hours ago, and while it's buggy, it is shaping up.

"The defense/resistance types are similar to CoH, but expanded. One model we've put into place are primary vs secondary damage types, to allow for some unusual damage types like Entropy, which combines the effects of negative, heat and cold in a new way."

4. so many good questions already asked ... ok just for S-n-G's, Will the street layout in Titan make better sense than those in Paragon?

Jessica Weaver (Yoko), Art Director: "I certainly hope so.  We have an actual cartographer in our inventory of volunteers, so we aim to make the city setting not only beautiful, but functional as well.

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead:  "Well, that depends on whether you think New England street layouts make sense.

"As Titan City is set in the general location of the real world's Boston, we'll be using elements of street layouts commonly found in New England cities for portions of Titan City. Of course, the final street layout is the province of the Art Team - the Lore Team will be making recommendations and requests in consultation with the Map Lead and Art Director."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Community questions - Part 3

The closure of City of Heroes was a terrible thing. I'd been playing the game - mostly the same character, come to think of it - for almost eight years when Black Friday hit.

I'd been on Virtue the entire time, except for a couple of lowbies I had on Freedom for when Virtue had fallen over under the weight of it's sheer awesomeness. In my entire COH career, I'd been in two SGs - The New Porter Institute for Psychical Research, for a couple of years, before heading off to start up my own group with a couple of RP friends.

Vandellia dings 50

My first character (I was an RPer, so she wasn't just an avatar for me.) was a spines/regen scrapper called Vandellia. I had a bit of a thing about making pretty characters who had gross powers, and I used to like graphically writing about bits of flesh flying around and muscle being torn-up when she popped her bones out. When we got colour customisation, I even added red to her spikes so it looked like she was bleeding all over the place.

My first villain was created to stop a friend badgering me to play red-side with him, and after faffing around for a while, I came up with Unseen Scarlet. She tended to prop up the counters in the quieter bars in Pocket D (I got distracted by scroll) and she was generally rude to people who tried to strike up conversations with her.

My favourite screenshot of Unseen Scarlet
The thought of losing them forever was unbearable.

When I came across TonyV's post in the Titan Forums (you know the one. We are heroes, this is what we do), for the first time in my entire COH career, I set foot outside my comfort zone - outside the safety of my friends in the SG, and the few people who could tolerate Unseen Scarlet.

I'm reasonably introverted in real life - and well, online, I guess - but COH meant so much to me, that the idea of losing it was enough to push me to these boards filled with people I'd never met before.  I'd been a part of my SG, and I'd lurked around the D, but I'd never really been an active part of the COH community. I doubt there's many people reading this who would have any clue who I was, or had even run into me before.

I'm the blue-haired chick, standing with some of my SG mates for the rally.

But somehow I found myself in the middle of things.  I took part in SaveCOH with relish. I held my torch alongside my SG mates (AP8 on the day of the rally, and AP33 after that).  I did what I could to keep SaveCOH in the public eye, I ended up convincing the Korean Times what we were doing was worthy of an article in their business section. I found out that I was actually braver than I thought I was, capable of dealing with more people than I thought I'd be able to, I had things in common with people, I could be diplomatic, or pushy, or chatty. I could have ideas that people thought were pretty good. And sometimes terrible.

I somehow ended up working on Hail Mary alongside Quinch, Ammon and Mercedes. I hung out with the Wentworths, and Captain Bacon, and Detra and Heatstroke and Pogoman and so many others on the steps on AP33. I tried to support them as they had supported me and kept my spirits up on the days when it seemed so hopeless. I wore my Paragon Backer badges with pride, I fought Kronos and Hami on the steps of City Hall (thanks to Hitstreak) and was turned into a Rikti monkey, a seagull and a yellow taxi for my trouble.

And when the plug was pulled, like so many others I retreated to the Titan Network forums for support, understanding and solace, and I found it there.

It was a complete no-brainer for me to volunteer to help The Phoenix Project. These were the people who had stood virtually alongside me as we battled to save City of Heroes, they were the people whose stories and testimonials I had read, and wept over (I'm looking at you, SithRose). This was the community that had come together in a way I've never seen in the real world, or online, determined to go down swinging and fighting until the end.

Although I knew of the guys behind TPP through the Titan Boards and had interacted with them there, working on the project was something else altogether.

A graphics glitch on my scrapper

I knew they were good people, I knew they believed in what they were doing and were determined to make it happen, but it wasn't really until I got involved that I realised just how hard they were working, the hours they put in, the passion, intelligence and creativity they have, and the drive.

I'm lucky, because I get to see it from both sides. I get to spend time talking with our community and seeing how excited everyone is - what this means to them. I get to read the emails we get - unsolicited, out of the blue, full of quotes, and thank yous, and telling us what COH meant to you, why you're supporting TPP and why you can't wait to take to the skies again.

And then I get to relay that to the devs, and I get to see them go all happy and excited and proud and motivated.

So as much as I miss COH - and I do, I really do - there is a part of me that is grateful for what the closure did for me.

My short-lived MM, Sha'etemmu (that's ancient Babylonian for necromancer - I can Google with the best of 'em) had a tendency to end up dead beneath a pile of her zombie buddies.

If there had never been that announcement, I'd never have made so many new friends, I'd never have learnt that when it comes down to it, I'm capable of rolling up my sleeves and getting ready for a bit of scrap.

I'd never have got to be a part of this amazing, exciting project, working alongside some of the most talented, passionate, supportive people I've ever had the pleasure to meet, and I'd never have got the chance to be a part of this community.

I'd never have seen the excitement, the impatience, the interest and your kindness. I'd never have known that over 1,000 people can be supportive and funny and inspiring en masse. I'd never have known that I could be a part of something that people wanted to succeed.

COH had an incredible community. I'd always known that, but I wish I'd been brave enough to be a part of it.

But TPP's community - coming through this together? Holding each others hands while we build a brand new home? Being a part of this is just incredible. And when we get there, we're not just going to be a community. We'll be practically family.

People keep saying that it's a rocky road, a long journey - and it is.

But it's gonna be one hell of an adventure.

..oh. Right. Yeah.


Yours follow ;)

Lauren "Rae" O'Neill
Press/PR/Social Media n' one-woman pep squad
The Phoenix Project


1. How will the servers work? Will we have different servers like in CoH or will it be one giant server? 

Nathaniel Downes, Technical Director: "Yes to both. The actual server architecture is to have a unified character database, but have multiple servers. So instead of having the frustration of needing a server transfer to change servers, there would be a single character database for you to use on any of the servers. Servers now are more specialized in nature, your Roleplaying server, your Player vs Player server, etc. By doing this, we can ramp up servers as we need to, or shut down ones when not needed, without hurting the players."


Lauren O'Neill, Press and PR Lead: "HOW I MINE FOR FISH????"

Nathaniel Downes, Technical Director: "Level 50 Arrow/Fire MoITF Run"

3. Laptops seem to be the 'wave of the future.' Will they be considered when developing the game?

Cameron Johnson, Studio Director: "Absolutely. I, myself, play on a 'desktop replacement.' Which is a quad-core, 2GHz-per-core laptop with a numpad. We expect to be able to be played on mid-range and hopefully even moderately old machines by the time the game releases, and while that might translate to slightly higher-end laptops, they will definitely be able to handle the game."

4. Endgame may not be on your radar but....Will there be an immersive end game story? If so, could we perhaps get a premise for it?

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead:  "There will be endgame story, and there will be quite a bit to do after you've hit maximum level. We haven't planned out much more than that at this early date, but I've talked extensively to our Story Lead about the various problems and benefits of endgame content present in other games. We will be heavily discussing how to balance endgame content between the casual player and the hardcore raider - As a casual player myself, I insist on having an endgame I enjoy!"

5. More info on the Titan Sentinal plus extractor tool data please. Will we have our CoH Legacy characters back?'

Nathaniel Downes, Technical Director:  "We have kept close tabs on Sentinel+, and honestly, in order to support imports from Sentinel+, we have been forced to limit other areas of the game. If it is a choice between supporting other players like us, or adding a new cool feature, we chose to support."

Community questions - Part 2

Yesterday we tackled five of the questions you'd asked us as part of our celebration of realising that more than 1,000 people like us. Today, we tackle five more.

Celebratory drinks with TPP buddies to celebrate hitting 1,000 FB friends
 But even more importantly, why not hang out with some of us next Sunday, when our lovely Art Director fires up Livestream and starts work on a piece of concept art? As well as watching her in action, we'll also be spinning some musical numbers by some popular beat combos who like to write and sing songs about superheroes, AND we're going to rustle up as many devs and volunteers as we can to come along and hang out with you all.

Until then...more answers to more of your questions.

Stay shiny!

--Lauren 'Rae' O'Neill
The chick what does PR and Press and Facebook and stuff, for TPP.

1. When is it expected to go beta?

Cameron Johnson, Studio Director: "Our current schedule is aiming for early to mid 2015 for open beta, but it's a very long way out so we don't want to make firm promises."

2. Will the game be free to play/micro transaction.. or subscription?

Cameron Johnson, Studio Director: "Yes."

"...oh, you'd probably like a bit more than that: We're going for the hybrid approach familiar to those who played CoH/V and who play such games as Star Trek Online and Champions Online and the like.
"Subscribers will have 'VIP' access and a stipend of the cash-store currency, but the free-to-play tier will still be a full game experience.

"I don't want to promise anything more than that right now, but we're exploring options that I, personally, find exciting which might make it possible for some very dedicated players to experience every aspect of the game they want without having to spend a dime of real-world money.

"But again, that's in a very exploratory stage, and may not pan out. Guaranteed, though: A subscription/free to play/cash-store model that will be very familiar to veterans of this community."

"easy on the 'tini"

 3. Bourbon or Beer?

Jessica Weaver (Yoko), Art Director: "I'm on the job.  So sasparilla ;)"

Lauren O'Neill, Press and PR Lead: "Heresy. Cider."

Cameron Johnson, Studio Director: "I stick to Mormon Champagne. *cough* By which I mean sparkling apple juice."

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead:  "I like a good, dry hard cider myself. I'll take a good craft beer if I can't get cider, but I've only recently forced myself to develop a taste for it. The things we do for our spouses..."

Nathaniel Downes, Technical Director: "Coffee..."

DC James, President of Missing Worlds Media: "Yes."

4. When I look at some of my game videos I captured over the years, and all the intricate detail in City of Heroes.. I'm like wondering... do you guys know what you're getting yourselves into? this undertaking is massive!!?

Cameron Johnson, Studio Director: "We do. We're constantly looking at what we're doing, and asking ourselves how we can do it better so that we can better grapple with the monster we've taken on.

"This is GOING to work, but we're well aware that we are going to need to continue to grow as a studio and a business to make it happen. And at the same time, we're remaining aware of our community focus. Why we're doing this.

"It's a balancing act, but it's going to be worth it, and when we succeed, we expect to have proven the ultimate virtue of real market economics: it provides value to everyone, and thus uplifts all."

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "Building a world is a hugely massive enormous undertaking in and of itself. And that's not counting all of the tech requirements, or the artists who have to translate all of the Lore team's words into graphics! Massive is something of an understatement, in my opinion."

5. Is there anything aside from donations that non-programmers can do to help?

Cameron Johnson, Studio Director: "You've given us more than I could have hoped just from helping us reach 1000 fans on FaceBook. If anything, we need more support and more word-of-mouth. Your kind words, both to us and about us to others, are positively wonderful. So, yes, spread the word, share your excitement, and stay engaged. This has a lot of 'grass roots' elements to it, being so community-driven."

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "Yes! We adore people who are good with spreadsheets, organization, information tracking, and editing for content and grammar over in the Lore Team, and I'm sure the other teams are looking for skills that don't appear to relate directly to what that team is doing."

Lauren O'Neill, Press and PR Lead: "I'd love to hear from members of the non-English speaking COH community who can translate our press releases and point me in the direction of websites and people I should be sending them to. I don't want them to feel left-out because I can't remember any of my college French and German lessons."

Friday, March 1, 2013

Community Questions - Part 1

We're not exactly how we've managed it - well, actually, I guess we do - we started posting stuff and talking to people, and you kept telling people about what we were trying to do, joined in the conversations, sent us stuff, told people about us and generally didn't think we were too terrible - and somehow, this week, we hit 1,000 Facebook friends.

Actually, we sort of blasted through it, like a fire/fire blaster taking on Skulls.

We were pretty much astounded when we hit 500 Facebook friends and even more amazed when the numbers kept going. But somehow it never, ever really occurred to us that 1,000 people would support what we're trying to achieve here.

When we hit the 950-ish mark, we tentatively started planning what we'd do to celebrate. I've promised you great things, and you'll have them. Gavin Romeo Wilkins, one of our community members suggested that
one of the things we could do would be to have our team answer questions from our Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

The questions came flooding in, and we'll be answering ALL of the ones we received. Because we managed to hit 1,000 people a little quicker than we'd expected, and because you sent in so many, we'll be answering them in stages, so if you don't see your question here, it'll be up soon, promise.

By coincidence, we also hit 400 Twitter followers on the same day. It's just incredible to think that 1,400 people actually like us. When you're working voluntarily, you can't know what it means to have that amount of people behind you cheering you on. It means everything to us.

Anyway. Before I get all misty-eyed again, here's the first lot of answers to your questions - keep your eyes peeled this week, because we've got something VERY cool to show you.

-Lauren 'Rae' O'Neill
Press and PR Lead, and general chatty chick on Facebook/Twitter

The Phoenix Project

1. Will you be having any easter eggs or nods to City of Heroes ingame? And if so, care to share one with us as a teaser?

Jim Bishop, Creative Director: "Absolutely on the 'Easter eggs'. We think they add a nice game within a game development. As far as nods to CoH, without going into IP considerations, we do have some homages in some of the outlay of the game both in certain areas that might feel familiar and a few story nods."

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "We have several nods to the Paragon Studios developers planned for the game. For example, Titan City's premier baseball field is named Lawrence Field. It was built in 1910, financed by a wealthy baseball aficionado, as one of the largest baseball stadiums of the day. Some of you might remember HitStreak, AKA Jesse Lawrence, being a huge baseball fan and he's given us permission to use his name for it. I shan't spoil the Easter eggs for you - it's far more fun to hunt for them - but we will definitely have some. Not all of them will be City of Heroes related."

2. Any teaser info on system/builds/AT powers? Or it still being planned?

Nathaniel Downes, Technical Director: "The AT system is a two tier system. The first tier is Classification, or Role. This is based on your primary power category. The second tier is Specialization, based on your secondary power category. Every Role has three specializations in our current plan. Specific powers are still being mapped out, but the final goal is for 6 Classifications, each with three Specializations."

3. Will the game have aliens like the Rikti?

Cameron Johnson, Studio Director: "Interestingly, the very first model that was imported into a client engine was a rigid 3D mannequin of an alien. It was just a test of our importing capabilities, but it was still 'the first.'"

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: Well, we aren't going to have mutated telepathic humans from an alternate dimension invading the world, but we will certainly have aliens! There are several off-world races already written, and players will have the opportunity to fight them, bargain with them, or even ally with them.

4. Coh had hero 1 and statesman as main heros Who is the main heros in this game?'

Kaylan Lyndell-Lees, Lore Lead: "One of our more recognizable heroes is American Star, the second to bear the name. She took up her mentor's mantle after he was killed protecting the city from a massive hurricane summoned by the supervillain Morpheus Rex. She's more of an exemplar hero than a main hero, featuring as part of the story without being the leading lady. Of course, we haven't forgotten the villains - While Morpheus Rex is safely confined in prison, the cunning, evil, and possibly immortal Antares leads a coalition of villainy known as XII. This is a loose coalition of twelve different organizations...and that's all I'm going to tell you about them right now. :) You'll see many heroes and villains in similar roles, characters who are supporting cast for the players but not the "Main Character" of the bulk of our stories."

5. I’m gonna try to ask one to make you think hard: What is going to make this game different than the WoW/SWTOR/GW/LoL/etc. games out there – why should people drop those games and come to this game, or start this game if it’s their first MMO?'

Jim Bishop, Creative Director: "Wow. That is a tough question for anyone. I guess I'd have to approach this from two directions. First, and most important, we want the player's choices to truly drive the game, the game should always align to the vision of the player as much as we can provide. To do that, we need to avoid the model of creating characters and powers and items that are must have models that can't be easily acquired, and I do mean easily, by anyone. To that effect we'd like to see game system where in the components that make your hero or villain better than the next guy are entirely based on what you think is important in your build.

"Second, in that thinking, we need to avoid being cast as a game that is simply WoW in spandex or carrying a light saber. The word 'gear' becomes this scary word where most MMOs use dedicated constructs/items crafted or not that modify states based on body locations. In those games they become redundant as you level far too quickly, expensive, and ultimately become too singularly the focus of the game. This game is about you!

"To undo that Gordian knot, we envision a game that like CoH, is power based with slots available to beef up a power in the way a player would dedicate. But to avoid the pitfalls of 'must-have gear', we have to implement a system where what you make has lasting value from the get go and has a value thereafter to anyone in any form.

"We cannot give you specifics at this time, but suffice to say that we would avoid *devaluing* anything that a player has invested in and give the player utility to deconstruct and modify on those investments and even sell off pieces that no longer apply, rather than the usual MMO way of destroying something outdated if it becomes 'bound'. CoH toward the end did have enhancement tools where you could lift the enhancement, so the question becomes how to make that most beneficial?

"So, why should people choose this game? Because it is being built for you. And because sometimes a cape is just plain cool."