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We present City of Titans, a spiritual successor for the superhero MMORPG City of Heroes, being developed by Missing Worlds Media.
5,003 backers pledged $678,189 to help bring this project to life.

When Fist Meets Face - Momentum (Game Tech)

Posted by Missing Worlds Media (Creator)

In the greatest comic book fights, we are witness to battles of epic proportions. When titans clash, only one will be left standing! 

As the battle stretches out, the warriors often become energized by the vigor of the challenge, drawing on new levels of power in order to win. They grow in direct response to the battle, and the combat becomes almost mythological.

Giving players magnitude is easy. But part of what makes these battles super is the acceleration. It's as much about where you start as where you finish, and the gap between the two. It's about a sense of pushing your limits, going as far as you possibly could, and then taking a step beyond. Sometimes that means you wind up on the floor, defeated, but the wreckage behind shows that you had a heck of a fun time getting there.

Carrying that feeling over to a video game is a difficult challenge which can be taken many different ways. Many modern games have used “Action MMO” systems, adapting techniques and methods from First Person Shooters and incorporating them into the role-playing game. Others have tried build-up effects, where combat fills a bar to enable powers. And yet others use quick time events to create a canned response chain, animation or effect. While these methods can increase the pacing, it can also feel hollow – you're not truly being more epic, you're just being more active so you don't notice the sameness. Your enemies do the same things from the beginning of the fight to the end, and so do you.

We're not doing any of them.

Rather than trying to adapt the techniques of the FPS, limiting powers to a build-up container, or using fancy special effect tricks, we took on the challenge of how to adapt ideas found in an old friend, and in other innovative titles and use them in new, novel ways. Lots of research, lots of examination, lots of number crunching involved. But we came up with a solution we think everyone will enjoy.

We call it “Momentum.”

Momentum is another statistic bar, like Health and Energy, but unlike those two, it starts off at 0%. When you engage in combat, taking damage, triggering powers, be they attack, defense, buff, debuff, control - whatever your build does to win a fight - your momentum builds. Like health and energy, momentum, when not in active use, “heals.” Health and Energy heal back to full. Momentum slowly drops back to 0%. But it's not a total loss - Momentum bleed-off turns into Reserves – that extra jolt of willpower, of capability, of heroic might which allows you to temporarily boost your abilities over and beyond what even your powers grant for a brief moment. Those of you from our old home know how inspiring this can be. (Reserves are going to be discussed in detail in a future update.).

Momentum is thematically generic: it can mean whatever you want. Is it your lyrical flow? Keeping your Ki focused? Your character getting angrier the more he fights? Learning the tactics of your enemies and striking them in their weak spots? Believing in the will of the cards? Thematically it doesn't matter what you, the player, decide to call it - the mechanics are the same but the story is yours.

But what, mechanically, does Momentum do? Well, that depends. Momentum is our wild card meter. It exists for all characters. But different powers and masteries will use it differently. Some will use it in predictable ways, adding damage or reducing endurance cost for instance. Other sets or masteries use Momentum for global buffs or attribute shifts. And yet others actually burn Momentum for super-powerful actions, turning your basic PBAoE into a nuke, or allowing your single target control to overcome the resistance of the most powerful archfoe. By balancing between what burns Momentum and what uses it, we can ensure nothing becomes overpowering, while allowing you that heady sense of growing power, of rising to the occasion, superhuman style.

Momentum can apply to any set, be it defense, support, ranged, pet, control. We have ideas on the table to do stranger things, but we're leaving those for a future update, once we've got them better nailed down. Let us just say some of them allows you to hit them where it hurts.

Momentum is not just for PC's. Your enemies gain momentum as well. Of course a Minion class mob has such low limits it hardly matters. But a supervillain is a different story. What a supervillian can do with a full bar of Momentum can change the entire course of the battle. How you handle that will, of course, depend on your character or team.

But it's not just about how the supervillain will burn his momentum. Its momentum levels will affect other things too. Their tactics, which powers they use in what combinations, their entire style of combat will respond to their momentum. Instead of your big boss fight being against a giant bag of hitpoints with nasty unique-powers requiring warning signs, you now get a dynamic battle, one where the opponent responds to the pace of combat itself. Run and gun fights produce less momentum than in-your face battles, resulting in your opponent responding appropriately. While it will take much playtesting to perfect, the enemy AI can be programmed to use momentum to change its reactions, attack chains, and power combinations, all to match the fight at hand.

So two groups facing the same enemy may not have the same reaction sequence, or face the same attack chain or power combinations – it all depends on your PC or your team. This ability to adapt also neatly avoids the whole “We need a Battle Thief for Magma Chamber” problem we find with other games. Different player builds give different combat results, enabling adaptation without relying upon traditional MMO raid gimmicks.

Why should “The Sleeping Dragon uses Deathtouch after it rears on its rear legs and roars once past ¼ health” be the only way for game designers to challenge their players?

Momentum adds the dynamic of action packed combat without the need for ActionMMO controls or locked-out powers. It also adds an element around which you can further define your character, and allows us to 'see' how you have done so and give the game world a way to respond. And it enables more dynamic boss battles without relying on the crutch of pregenerated routines to give a challenge.

See you next time, and let's carry the momentum forward.


Written by - Nathaniel 'Doctor Tyche' Downes

Discuss this update here:

Andrew Reyes, Andrew Cheydleur, and 42 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Thunder on

      Great! I love this project so much, the way you're building it without hurry that would only break things. You're actually thinking about all aspects in a way where your player-soul perfectly meets your developer-possibilities.
      I'm with PeaceMack, this kind of updates really makes me interested more than anything else (but I understand you cannot give us only these or it will just increase pauses between updates, so the others are better than nothing :D).

    2. Arlo Collier on

      "To be honest, I'm a bit leery of any changes to the CoH fighting mechanics by successors."

      Amen to that. CoX did so much right in char building and fighting that has never been learned from in any mmos that followed, it would be ironic and more than a little sad if it's own successors failed at this too.

    3. Missing avatar

      PeaceMack on

      Thanks for the mechanics update! I'm very interested in how the game is going to play because it's game play that makes a game a game instead of a novel. I like the high level lore updates, but mostly I like to discover the lore of a game by playing it.

    4. Missing avatar

      snate56 on

      I'm excited by the potential here. This game isn't going to recreate CoH, they have a brand new, powerful game engine here that requires upgrading the mechanics involved. While I would like to play a CoH-like game for nostalgia reasons, I'm getting anxious to see a new top of the line, state of the art superhero game.
      As for lore, I won't be tired of it any time soon! And they could give us lore stories every day until release and I don't think it will scratch the surface. They aren't writing a novel here, they're writing a thousand novels, all intertwined!

      I hope I haven't blown up too big a bubble here... ;)

    5. Missing avatar

      Kenneth Kestner on

      To be honest, I'm a bit leery of any changes to the CoH fighting mechanics by successors. I never was a big fan of the brute Fury bar, or any of the later power sets that required you to "build up" before you could get maximum DPS from your powers.

      Dual Blades, Water Blast, Titan Weapons, all of them felt very "meh" to me. I just couldn't make them work for me. I'm of the opinion - "keep it simple".

      I'm going to go with the successor project that feels the most similar to the original CoH. Go too far astray, and I personally will not feel that's its a true spiritual successor.

    6. Magnus Mercury on

      Does this mean Momentum can give a supervillain a chance to stop and monologue if they're winning the fight? That's something that's missing from pretty much every preceding supers game!

    7. WesFoxx on

      +1 you're doing fine with the current lore/tech update balance. This sounds awesome to me

    8. Kurt Knippel on

      This is awesome this concept!

    9. Joshua A. Dexter on

      I love the updates- and I love the LORE updates.. I certainly for one hope we do not get LESS. If we can get more gameplay updates, that's great.. but knowing there is only going to be so much information to share, it'd make more sense to pace it out so you don't end up either running out of meaningful updates long before launch, giving us information that's early and ends up changing significantly, or having both happen.

      Of course, I also don't want the entire lore spelled out in detail before the game's even out but I don't think that'll be a problem.

    10. Missing avatar

      Jason King on

      First, I have to speak up for those of us who enjoy a STORY, an immersive experience, not just fancy SFX-- at LEAST as much Lore as Mechanics. Your balance has been admirable.
      Now then, this Momentum thing sounds GREAT! Finally, Captain America's ability to overcome enemies who are significantly more powerful than him through experience, courage and determination-- or even Dr. Doom's ability to rise above defeat after defeat to remain a daunting challenge to the greatest heroes, can be replicated! And yes, the repetitive Super-Destroy Power, combined with sack-o-HP will be unlamented at its passing. It will be good to see the endless replayability of missions that this will provide, and YES, the end of "If you're not a (insert build or class here) we don't need you for this team" will be SO welcome!

    11. Michael Davenport on

      This is my dream of an MMO boss battle! No more bag-o-hit points! Also I have to agree with Chris, more game progress and less lore, save it for the beta.

    12. Missing avatar

      Chris Penepent on

      More like this and less lore, please. I'd like to know what progress is being made on the project, and lore ain't it.

      I like the idea of being able to boost powers with Momentum, I'm just imagining summoning a giant mech...or a giant killer klown?