City Of Heroes
..:. .: .::.:.
Featured Hero #69
Name: Weapon One
Origin: Technology
Archetype: Blaster
Primary: Energy Blast
Secondary: Devices
Server: Triumph
Weapon One was a weapon system engineer for the US goverment's WEAPoN Project. He devolped the nanobot tech that powers his suit, and was forced to don it during an attack by Archnos on the lab. Now trapped in a symbiosis with the nanobots, he seeks the others who were orphaned by The Project, hoping to forge a Supergroup out of the disaster and ensure that all who were hurt by his research now have a home, with The Weapon Project.

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noisyparker [userpic]
City of Titans Kickstarter in the final stretch

Just an update in case anyone meant to check it out but hadn't got around to it yet. It ends just after midnight EST on Sunday night.

I've been crawling through their updates and their forums and I have to say I am impressed. The approach they are taking is very unusual, but it seems very possible, largely because of the unusual circumstances surrounding City of Heroes life and death and community. Another plus is that they seem to have gotten the stuff I would expect might derail a volunteer project (direction-impacting drama and technical questions) resolved months ago.

[ Actually, though it is probably hard to tell, this is me resisting writing more on it. :/ I have alpha- and beta-tested a lot of [mostly crappy] MMOs in the past, so I am kind of fascinated by seeing an effort by folks, many (most?) of whom are professionals in other fields, who have personal experience with what made CoH special, and who share a desire to make a new home that is better while still feeling the same. It's a big change from the often depressing-to-me approaches I have seen taken by companies that were producing MMOs the "normal way". ]

So, yeah, I dunno if they will blow up or run out of steam or manage to somehow contract drama but, so far, it is definitely a thing. :) I'd suggest checking out the updates there even if you have zero plans to KS.

Forums: (I am on there as Wanders)

Edit: Kickstarter is done... 5003 backers, and $678,189 total (more than 200% of the target). :)

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful
Current Music: The Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane

What's driving me batty is that the kickstarter began right when a financial crisis hit, and will end just over 24 hours before my paycheck arrives.

GAAAAH. *sigh*

Well, since KS charges a credit card, as long as you're confident you can pay the credit card bill you should be okay, unless you were planning to try doing the alternative PayPal route and would need to put funds into PP.

Financial Crisis = My bank doesn't want me even LOOKING at my credit card by this point, until I can throw some money at them. (It's a very low-ceiling card.)

Ouch! All I can suggest is hoping they open a Paypal store after the campaign's over. Or maybe you, and not the friend I was thinking of giving it to, would like to be the beneficiary of my upgrading to Dynamic Duo?

Oh, no, no... you should be an awesome friend to your friend. I missed out on this, it's okay. I got in on a couple other KS projects (Ursula Vernon's Digger Omnibus and Patrick Rothfus' playing card set) that I was quite jazzed about earlier in the year, and if City of Titans comes to light then I'll sign right the hell up when the time comes.

I'm chagrined, not broken and weeping. *wry grin*

The hubby and I both got monies to the kickstarter we went! XD [yes, we went with 'Dynamic Duo' ^_^]

Can't wait to see what it ends up being in the end, but hey, we got up to Wings!! Yaay!!!

Not sure if the hubby's *quite* as jazzed about this as I am, but he even admits that he really misses the community. And we're going to have a home again! **jumps up and down excitedly**

Yeah...we have to wait a bit still...but hey, I can wait, I'm patient that way.

Just Curious

So since you've been following this . . . . given that they designated how they'd be spending all the money up to their first goal, if they had only hit that mark does that mean their team would have been doing *all* this art, programming, writing and promotional work on a volunteer/spec basis? Even with the stretch, if their group is genuinely 100 people that extra $250k only provides a few months living expenses, so you would think that everyone's going to need to have other jobs (or at least means of support) while they're doing this work.

How long is it going to take them to put this together as a "part time" project, or do they say that everyone is going all-in and quitting their day jobs once the Kickstarter triggers?

Re: Just Curious

[ Caveat all that I say here with the reminder that I am just an observer. I would be happy to volunteer my personal time and services to the project, but I have no insider info. Anyway, now you get to reap the torrent of words I was so good about holding back in the OP. ^_^7 ]

Yep, it is all volunteer. The actual approach to that is up to the individual volunteer. In some cases, they are doing it basically as an unpaid second job, some families have gone to one income so that the other person can work on this fulltime, etc. It's crazy, right? I mean, there are some very complicated opensource systems that have been created in that way, but that is not at all the model we are used to seeing for MMO development.

This kickstarter doesn't represent the beginning of the project, exactly, since the first parts of this effort started shortly after the end of CoH was announced (you can see those discussed at,138.0.html and,138.0.html). So, what has kept them at it? My guess at that comes back to what I had said in the OP implying that this feels like a pretty unique combination of circumstances. When compared to MMOs, CoH provided an unusual gaming experience and that (coupled with the subject matter of the game, imo), gave rise to a community that was devoted to that game experience.

How it ended was important, too. The kind of abrupt and arbitrary way that NCsoft turned off the lights caused a much different feeling than it would have if the game had actually reached the point where it wasn't covering expenses, and especially if there had been some lead-up discussion of the possibility by the devs we knew, etc. That, and the lack of communication afterward, gave it all a flavor of injustice, and certainly made it clear that the impact to the community was not a consideration in the decision.

So, you can't just run off to some other game to get your jones. You have participated in passionate efforts to try to save the game, but these have been met with silence. You are someone who has devoted years and years and years to the game, and who really had no particular plans to stop that devotion. You are likely a professional in some other field, so you have a lot of experience with managing projects, and have worked in companies that have produced products that required a lot of coordination. So, what do you do with your remaining devotion?

You are realistic enough to know that you can't reproduce the game through any normal MMO development means. For one thing, people are not going to throw money at a new project made up of people like you. For another, their money would likely come with fundamental design strings that would be prevent you making the kind of game environment you need to create. So, what do you do?

If, at that point, your answer is still that you are devoted to the game, and you want to bring it back, then you are where the CoT folks are, I think. It seems like they have just decided that they are committed to this project, that they can't expect to get paid for the work they are doing in pursuit of it, and that they have to look at that as the price of making it happen. How they can act on that commitment, in a practical sense, will vary from person to person, as I'd mentioned above.

That said, I fully expect that part of the Kickstarter effort is to prove that there is interest out there, so that they can use that data to secure non-traditional funding sources that won't compromise the direction of the game. Depending on how that goes, the shape of the effort may change, maybe some people get paid, who knows? Even people who pledge for that $5 amount will be registering interest, and helping to make that case.

If nothing else, they will need additional funding for it to go live, and it will have to be done in a self-funding structure that will allow it to cover operating expenses (including employees). If they can take it that far, however, they'll have already cleared higher hurdles than that.

Re: Just Curious

As for the schedule they are looking at, they have said, "What we have done is conceptualize what we want our game to be like at 5-years post-release, and worked backwards to our initial beta release, planned for in mid-to-late 2015. By having that years-in-the-future target, we can design the systems, stories and plotlines now with that in mind." They have also announced that they will release an Avatar Builder ahead of the the game release, which should be a sweet way to both guarantee that we have an offline character creator and to generate interest.

That approach also turns some MMO expectations on its head. Even though we all know that MMOs develop over time, the release of MMOs is frequently accompanied by complaints that they aren't finished enough, etc. A big part of that, imo, is that most new MMOs are pretty easily replaced by any other MMO. There is very little reason for someone to be committed enough to a new MMO that they can be patient if it doesn't launch with something they expect to be in the game.

In this case, just getting to that launch will be an amazing thing that overturns expectations. On top of that, they'll start with a blob of commitment to the very existence of the game, in the form of people who already are familiar with CoH, and it are looking for a way back into the City (since this project represents the only realistic way back in there). To deliver even the spirit of CoH by the time of that beta, they will need a ginormous amount of stuff to be in place by launch, but there will inevitably be things people want that won't be there yet. (For instance, they are currently thinking that Masters (the MM class) would not be ready by then, which they know is huge for a lot of folks). If the launch and their future schedule can prove they are willing and able deliver it going forward, however, my guess is that they will be working with a different set of managed expectations than a new generic MMO does. After all, it isn't like they can run off somewhere else to get that thing for which they are waiting. :/

Then again, as we all know, people can have a crazy notion of what they deserve. I fully expect there will be some who will complain loudly about this or that not being in place. I am just thinking that there will be more folks than usual, in the form of City veterans, who get that a volunteer effort to replace that City is a special case.

Re: Just Curious

So, I now see I cleverly gave the same link twice and, since I replied to the post, I can't fix that. ^_^7

That should have read...

This kickstarter doesn't represent the beginning of the project, exactly, since the first parts of this effort started shortly after the end of CoH was announced (you can see those discussed at,138.0.html and,170.0.html).

Re: Just Curious

Indeed, and that's very well explained and thought out. And it makes perfect sense to me in the case of the writers and the artists and the project managers and the people who have been "involved in the game industry" but not necessarily sitting behind computers writing code. I'm mostly just thinking of the masses and masses of sitting behind computers writing code that would be needed for an MMO on this scale (unless they're just somehow cleverly "parroting" the COH code without getting caught out for it). That seems like it would require more-than-volunteer level contributions or else it might just take forever. But then again, I'm basing that on pure conjuecture rather than evidence.

Re: Just Curious

Well, given that they are not coding a game engine (they are using Unreal 3... that licensing is part of what the KS money is covering), I don't think the remaining code tasks are as gaming industry specific as they might otherwise be. I'd go even a bit farther (perhaps mistakenly) and say that a lot of the systems involved (distributed server maintenance, account management, databases, monitoring, etc.) have often seen better solutions in other industries than gaming (I work at an Internet-infrastructure company that demonstrates that (imo)). The issues related to latency are more gaming-specific, though.

It may be because I am a coder and not a project manager, but I think the hardest job will be keeping things organized and moving properly. The actual skillz involved in any one of the remaining steps are not that amazing, but being able to break stuff up into steps, and taking all the right steps in the right order, is a prereq for not tripping. So, for my own part, I think the biggest threat is the organization burning out or blowing up in some way.