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City of Heroes Architect Edition Q&A

Posted on Friday, March 6 @ 16:02:01 PST by Chris_Hudak
Just in case the combination of: A) your own vibrant, inner super-hero fantasy life and B) the pursuit of MMO games in general doesn't quite take up enough of your life, here comes NC Soft to the rescue with the City of Heroes Architect Edition. Perhaps you're already familiar with the game's cook-up-your-own-custom-superhero/villain concept (if you're not, please check out GR's review of the original game here), but the forthcoming Architect Edition adds a new twist that's just interesting enough to be dangerous: It lets players design, script and populate their own missions, for other gamers to play (and critique) online.

We sat down with lead designer Matt Miller and senior game designer Joe Morrissey at the Bentley Reserve in San Francisco—sort of a posh, supervillainous lair for evil-banker types--for a quick & dirty Q&A on Architect Edition:



Chris Hudak: So, you can set up the mission parameters and populate it with goons and monsters—what about the maps/environments themselves? How does that work, both now and in the future?

Matt 'Positron' Miller: You are [currently] limited to the maps that we've already done in the game; we've actually already done a lot of the work with them—we've placed the 'spawns' in dramatically-appropriate places. There's a lot more hand-holding and work that's gone into those maps than just, “Oh, it's time to slap together a few rooms and you have a map.” But that being said, Mission Architect is going to ship with approximately a thousand maps for players to put into their missions—and this includes all the Sewers maps, all the Tech maps, all the Warehouse maps...every one of those we've done, plus all the unique maps we've done, where we've taken sections out of the game and made a mission.

CH: Are the maps modular in any way? You know, “I want the entry hall to that warehouse, and I want it connected to the central hall of--”

MM: Yeah, that's not where we're at right now, but it's something we're looking at doing in the future. But we do have---if you want a smaller map or a certain layout, you can say “Okay, I want a smaller map”--and it's giving you, like, twenty choices. And it's giving you the layout in the Mission Architect. And it's like “Okay, I don't like that layout, I like that one--it's nice and simple, it's pretty linear, not a lot of branching,” so you pick that one. So you can see the layout, or you can pick a random one—you can say that every time somebody selects this mission, it will have a random map.”

CH: What can you set up in the mission creator to change the mission environment, or to set up a puzzle-solving element, beyond just beating up one enemy after another?

MM: Well, for example, you can use cascading objectives: You can say “By clicking on this object, you will spawn this entity,” and that entity is what's needed to defeat the map. You can make it so there are 50 'clickies' on the map, but you need to find the right five. You can set up a puzzle where those five are slightly different, and you have to really pay attention to what they are, or if they're in a certain part of the map, so you can figure that out from there.

CH: So what do you have in terms of a tutorial to create your own missions?

MM: So, you go to Mission Architect—and it's actually a mission. You've got a contact inside the building, and you go to various NPCs in the building, and they basically explain the situation, explain what the building does; you're taken into a 'quiet' room where Powers don't work, so people aren't spamming their Powers where you're trying to work. They'll give you a tour of the facility, explaining what each area of the facility does. We want to make sure that the player isn't just let go in the world, having to remember everything; next to every option in Mission Architect is a question mark, and that's going to bring up a tool tip—it explains what that one little dialogue option is going to do, and gives an example of how you would use it. We want to make it easy as possible, so players aren't throwing their hands up and saying “I have no idea what's going on!”

Be sure to check out our full hands-on City of Heroes Architect Edition preview next week..




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