We haven't heard a whole lot about City of Heroes/Villains since the Going Rogue expansion pack launched, so it's interesting to see a new restrospective interview with lead systems designer Matt Miller and lead producer Nate Birkholz on Gamasutra.
The most recent update, Incarnate, was a response to the high-level endgames in other MMOs -- something the game lacked at its outset, thanks to the team's more casual approach to the genre. "When we first launched City of Heroes, the concept of an end game was an EverQuest 12-hour planar raid, right? That was not going to be our game."
The members of the team "liked MMOs, but we weren't hardcore MMO players," says Miller. "I wanted to make a MMO that was accessible to me and my friends, where we could have a bunch of stuff to do while we were leveling up that was akin to the things that we were seeing in other games."
The new endgame, however, fills "a perceived need. It was something lacking in our current content." However, he says, "I didn't really want to be a me-too onto the competition. I wanted to make our game better. I wanted to listen to our players. What were our players asking for?"
Like any good MMO developer, Miller turned to the forums, not to the competition. "It wasn't really in response to any other game out there... I think we have maintained our lead over all the [superhero MMO] competition because we do listen to our players."
Like Blizzard, Miller has found that players these days demolish the team's content -- as with Incarnate -- faster than anticipated. Says Birkholz, though, "We've got an awful lot of content in the game, so you can always find something to do and someone to do it with."
Miller agrees. "We have over seven years of content development in this title, right? That is something that brand new competition cannot say, and I dare them to match... The game is built around breadth and having things to do with alts that you haven't done with your main character."