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City of Heroes and Villians: Issue 9

Interview with lead designer Matt Miller

NCsoft presents this insightful interview with City of Heroes and Villians: Issue 9 lead designer Matt Miller.

City of Heroes & Villains Interview: Issue 9

Answers by: Matt "Positron" Miller

Q: Give us an introduction into what Issue 9 will offer players for both City of Heroes and City of Villains.

A: Well, first off we have the Invention system, which adds a whole new dynamic to the game. Heroes and Villains will collect salvage and recipes by defeating enemies. In keeping with City of Heroes "casual friendly" game design, the collecting of these items adds extra spice to the gameplay of defeating foes, rather than becoming a hardcore task of "grinding," "camping" or hours of "raiding." With this salvage, players can use the recipes to assemble an all new class of Power Enhancements or costume pieces (depending on the recipe), which they can then use. Unused recipes and salvage can be sold at the new Consignment Houses (for Heroes) or the new Black Market (for Villains).

Next we have a revamp to the Hamidon encounter. For those not familiar with the Hamidon, it currently is one of the big "raid" encounters in the game, requiring a large group of heroes to overcome. We've changed the way Hamidon plays to improve the experience and also made an attempt to make the encounter better for smaller groups of characters. In addition, the Villains get their very own "Hamidon zone" in the Abyss.

Finally we have Statesman's Task Force, which allows Heroes to take the fight to Arachnos. This is on par with the Lord Recluse Strike Force and has the same reward pool to choose from at the end.

Q: What made you use the name "Breakthrough" to describe the free expansion?

A: Several reasons. First, it shows off the invention system by declaring a scientific breakthrough in getting better Enhancements into the hands of Heroes and Villains. Next, we have Hamidon breaking through in another part of the world, and finally we have the Heroes breaking through the Rogue Isle defenses in Statesman's Task Force.

Q: Obviously crafting has become a major part of MMOs. Tell us what the Invention system will offer players?

A: Since the "City of" games never had a crafting system or hard "loot" of any kind, we are kind of easing our playerbase into the concept. What you won't find is a hard core crafting system that you must min-max numbers in for weeks to make the best "product". What you will find is a fun new way to gain Enhancements, and Enhancements you actually desire. In addition, you can collect various "sets" of Enhancements which slot into specific powers. When you collect multiple pieces of the same set and slot them into the same power, you start to unlock new bonuses for your character that they didn't have previously. This includes stuff like overall Damage bonuses or Defense bonuses versus specific attacks. Number crunchers will love the challenge of stacking these set bonuses, whereas more casual players will simply be happier that their character gets more powerful with each set they collect.

Q: If I am playing a Villain and stumble upon some loot I can salvage, how do I incorporate it into my Invention abilities? Can you walk us through a typical scenario for players?

A: Sure. First off you need access to an Invention Worktable. These are inside the Universities in Paragon City and Rogue Isles. For players with a Supergroup base, they can add an Invention Worktable to their base. Built into the table are "Invention Origin" recipes of the 28 standard Enhancements. These "IO's" act just like normal Enhancements except they do not expire, and their bonus stays static no matter what level you are. Lower level IO's are strengthened around that of Training Enhancements, mid level IO's are about the power of Dual Origin Enhancements, and IO's level 25 and above have about the same punch as current Single Origin Enhancements. Of course the power of the Enhancement is better with level, so high level invented Enhancements are slightly more powerful than the equivalent SO.

You go to the worktable and open up the interface. Here you see what Enhancements you can make with the salvage you currently have. Higher level Enhancements take higher level salvage (i.e., salvage that comes from higher level enemies), so you should always have salvage appropriate to the level of Enhancements you want to build. These "built-in" recipes also have an Influence/Infamy cost to build, but they only take common-level salvage. Uncommon and rare salvage is reserved for use by the one-use recipes you find in the world.

Q: What are some of the uber-enhancements players will be able to build for their characters?

A: Well, all the recipes you find while playing the game are multi-purpose Enhancements, or something equally as cool.

Here's an example:

Sting of the Manticore (a set of 6)

- Slots into any Sniper power


Damage/Endurance Reduction




Toxic DoT Proc

If you have 2 Enhancements in the set slotted: Bonus to your Regeneration rate

If you have 3 Enhancements in the set slotted: The above plus Energy/Negative Energy resistance

If you have 4 Enhancements in the set slotted: The above plus Overall Damage Boost

If you have 5 Enhancements in the set slotted: The above plus Overall Recharge Rate Boost

If you have all 6 Enhancements in the set slotted: The above plus Toxic damage resistance

I'll talk about the Enhancements. The last one in the list is a Proc, meaning a procedure that has a chance of happening. Every time you fire your sniper power with the Toxic DoT Proc Enhancement slotted in it, there is a chance your target gets hit with a Toxic Damage over Time effect as well as the normal damage and effect of your Sniper attack.

The other Enhancements are all multi-purpose. This means that their overall bonuses are lower than a single-purpose Enhancement, but they fill multiple rolls for only a single slot.

Next we have the set bonuses. The numbers are not set in stone what the bonuses are going to be, but as you can see, you get a lot of little advantages out of your Sniper power that you normally wouldn't have. These bonuses make collecting sets highly desirable, as they can shore up holes in your character that you didn't have any other way of shoring up before.

One thing to keep in mind is that while the new crafted Enhancements have some nice bonuses and set improvements, the design intent is such that they do not completely overshadow the performance of currently available Enhancements. That way, someone who isn't all that interested in collecting and crafting can play the game as they always have and still have a strong hero or villain. We don't want this new system to reinvent the game and how people play it, but rather add a new dimension and avenue for fun.

Q: What other types of things can players put together using the new Invention system?

A: Well out the gate we have some new costume pieces that you can find the recipes for. We've got a bunch more wings for characters to make. The wings we introduced in Issue 8 with Veteran Rewards were really well received and having more wings that are available to everyone has been a popular request. We hope these new wings will make a lot of players happy. And since recipes are tradable, you can give the wing recipe and the salvage needed to make it to a 1st level character so they can have their super-special wings at the start of their careers.

Q: Auction houses can offer a huge boost to a player economy. What will players be able to buy and sell in CoH and CoV?

A: Anything they can trade right now is sellable in the Consignment House. The Hero's Consignment House and Villain's Black Market take a fee on listing and selling items of course, but now you have a greater market for your goods than just selling them back to the origin appropriate stores. Many players are going to seek out the last pieces of their Enhancement sets here, or that one piece of rare salvage that they just could never find in order to make their costume piece.

Q: City of Heroes is getting a new PvE portion of the game to explore; can you talk about the Statesman's Task Force?

A: We really wanted a parity to the Lord Recluse Strike Force, and the Statesman Task Force fit the bill. I don't want to spoil anything about it, but rest assured that the heroes will be taking the fight to the Rogue Isles.

Q: Do you feel the Villains will be let down by giving only the Heroes new content?

A: The Villains got a bunch of new content to play with this past year, and the Heroes felt let down. We are just trying to bring the Hero experience up to par with the Villain one, so yeah, some people could feel that they are getting the short end of the stick, but I hope most people can see that these changes make the game better as a whole.

Q: What can players expect from the new Hamidon encounter?

A: Smaller raids, better tactics, and less potential for griefing. Since the Hamidon encounter will be much more do-able with small groups now, we've had to go ahead and put the "once per 24 hours" restriction on the Hamidon Enhancement you can get from it, so it doesn't become farmed 10 times in a day. Once players start seeing the power of the Set based inventions, they may start picking the "Rare Recipe" option upon defeating Hamidon instead!

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