City Of Heroes Inspired The Phoenix Project Kickstarting

By John Walker on July 26th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

I loved City Of Heroes. As someone who tends to find MMOs somewhere to run around in on my own, gobble up everything single player, and then quit out and never play again, City Of Heroes was different. It was a place to me. I don’t think that’s testament to the world-building therein – I’m not sure the towns themselves were anything particularly special. I don’t think I can put it down to the superb powers, fun biffy combat, or amazing character creator either. For me it was about a certain time, with certain people. Which means I’m super-excited to see what can be done with The Phoenix Project – the fan attempt to create a spiritual successor to the now gone-forever MMO. Soon to be Kickstartered.

To be more fair to City Of Heroes, while I say the towns weren’t anything special, the design of them, and the ability to move around them, certainly was. I never, ever got tired of leaping from one building ledge to another, bouncing off the very corner of a chimney to make a perfect jump to the top of a radio tower. Reloading it over the years, either for some lunatic attempt to review a new update despite having entirely lost track of it all, or just because someone said the words “City Of Heroes” near me, employing Nitefall’s superjump was never any less of a supreme pleasure over the years. I’ve never found another game that can match it.

Missing Worlds Media are going to have a go, though. We first heard about this community-based studio is a collective of programmers, designers and fans back in January. Now there’s far more to learn via a great piece on Polygon about the project. In fact, Polygon has another strong post about it, speaking to the project’s lead, Kaylan Lyndell-Lees. You should read those.

Obviously they have to tread carefully, as NCSoft will still own the rights to the original game, despite their taking it offline. And of course to do it all, they’ll need money, and that’s where Kickstarter will come in. They’re planning to launch the project on the 8th September, but a figure to aim for doesn’t seem to have been revealed yet.

So, yes! Good! Do that then! I want City Of Heroes back, but ideally without the mad amount of clutter that clogged it all up in the later years. I loved bouncing, not collecting scraps of metal to turn into capes/discos.

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18 Comments »

  1. Screwie says:

    I’ll definitely be interested to see whether they can recapture the feel of playing CoX.

    Also I wonder how they will budget it as a Kickstarter-friendly project, and if this means the result will end up being a full MMO or something a little cheaper that still has online co-op. Which would still be fine by me.

    • -Spooky- says:

      They should buy the whole franchise from NCSoft and setup their own servers.

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        That would make logical sense though.
        Fan remakes of MMOs don’t use logic. They also fail pretty hard at the “remaking an already existing game” part because they vastly underestimate the amount of work required to code, model, animate, texture etc. everything the game needs to exist as a game.

        • Quinch says:

          If NCsoft was willing to sell the whole franchise {or a relevant part of it, for that matter}, we wouldn’t even be at this stage in the first place. As it is, when NCsoft was approached about selling the IP, they didn’t even respond. There were/are movements on other fronts after that, including server emulation, but the successor games {including HaV and VO} are collectively called “Plan Z” for a reason – it implies that all other options have been exhausted, and now the only one that remains is to revive CoH the hard way – by rebuilding it from scratch.

      • TormDK says:

        This was already attempted. NCSoft said “Nope!”.

        • Screwie says:

          Indeed. If the game’s developers themselves couldn’t buy the game from NCsoft, the fans basically had no chance.

    • Shuck says:

      Since it’s a Kickstarter Budget, that means “not even remotely matching the content and features” rather than just “cheaper with online coop.” And I mean less than the originally released game, not what it eventually turned into. Kickstarter doesn’t come to close to generating that sort of money.

      • Quinch says:

        The thing is, though, with Kickstarter you need less money as well – without an outside publisher, you remove layers and layers of needless micro and macro-management. There’s no force from on high dictating design decisions that you need to either bend over backwards to accommodate or waste months trying to implement them without breaking the entire game. Basically, a Kickstarted project has one obligation only – to deliver, and that applies to games as well.

        A MMO doesn’t need to be an AAA kind of enterprise to succeed.

        • rokku says:

          The recent news out of Double Fine shows that maybe having *someone* riding herd to keep things on track is not a bad idea.

        • Klempky says:

          The problem with this is that, yes, MMOs really do need AAA development to pull in any money. The sheer amount of content that’s expected for an MMO now is beyond belief in terms of development costs, and coupled with the current western market already being incredibly MMO-unfriendly, this whole Kickstarter is just kind of a last grasp for nostalgia winning out over logistics.

          Basically, just because it’s developed independently doesn’t mean that it’ll magically become a perfect machine of efficiency and game development. This is true of all releases, and even more with projects as stupidly complex as MMOs.

  2. MarcP says:

    I loved CoH, but there was so many different things about it to like, so many different ways you could approach the game, much of it thanks to lenient game balance and inclusiveness. I doubt any spiritual successor will manage to recapture its essence, because going further with any particular vision of what made the game great will push aside things other people liked.

    i.e., I liked collecting scraps of metal to turn into capes…

    • Quinch says:

      Well, that’s kind of the goal of a spiritual successor – to keep the elements that were appealing while improving everything as a whole. The only situation where a spiritual successor would have to be inferior to the original if it were perfect, and while CoH was awesome in a lot of ways, it still had lots of room for improvement. And that it is, in fact, being made by people who were by and large its players gives TPP pretty good odds of keeping the same uniquely appealing core elements as CoH had.

  3. JD Ogre says:

    I miss City of Heroes. It’s sad just how quickly it went downhill in quality and started hemorraging players (after an initial boost) once it moved to a raid progression endgame and then went free to play. :(

  4. Casinix says:

    If they come out with a reasonable showing of what’s in store, this is an insta-back for me. I get nostalgic for CoH so often now that I can’t have it. There’s a warehouse on my way to work that is grey, derelict, and always makes me wonder if it’s inhabited by a gang of lowly Skulls…. I need help, or at least something to support my unhealthy fixation.

  5. oceanclub says:

    I’d be interested in this too, as someone a bit nostalgic for COH. I had some fun times in it in casual team-ups. moreso than any other MMO.

    P.

  6. PopeRatzo says:

    For me it was about a certain time, with certain people.

    The time has passed, the people have gone.

    You can never recreate something like that. It’s a fool’s errand. It doesn’t work out for the company and it just ends up pissing off the customers.

    That’s why we have memories. So we don’t have to chase the past.

  7. rokku says:

    The fact that there’s three different projects makes me suspect that the talent pool for CoH “successors” has already splintered too much to be likely to produce anything worthwhile.

  8. ghoststalker194 says:

    This sounds too good to be true! =D
    I’d love to give this game a try!