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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.

Missions Without Minions

Posted by Missing Worlds Media (Creator)

People come to me, and they say, “Listen, we know how this game’s going to play. You go in a mission, you walk down a hallway, and you punch things like mad. WITH EXPLOSIONS.” And I say, “That sounds pretty darn boss!” And they say, “YEAH!”

But then I tell them the big secret; we can do more than that! I'm seeing a lot of missions where a whole pile of minions aren't the right thing for the story we want to tell. And we don't want to just make one guy in a mission a big sack of hitpoints.

It all goes back to comics. It’s all about playing the adventure you always wanted to be in. It’s true that classic Batman villains always have goons or minions around. Heck, that’s how we got Harley Quinn; Paul Dini thought up a quick walk-on character working for the Joker.

But that’s not how all comic plots go. Swinging to the other side of the spinner rack, in your stereotypical Marvel comic, Spidey swings across the Shocker robbing a bank, or the Vulture attacks Spidey on patrol. There’s no gang of Vulture-ettes backing them up.

No, sometimes, you want to have a mission where the mission’s about one guy, and him trying to beat the living heck out of you. Or you trying to beat the living cheese out of one guy. But how do you make it something you can play through? One guy in a room by himself, that’s not much fun. Well, unless you make it fun. (Check out Orc And Pie, for people doing just that.)

Here’s a couple ideas we’ve been working on.

I will remind you that the game is in a pre-alpha state and not everything written here may make it into the finished game (especially not by launch). Everything here is intended, but much will depend on support, resources, and time.

One is 'on patrol', a string of missions with one or two Boss level villains each. But that'll be a lot of work compared to a normal mission run. It’ll be even harder if each boss you defeat gives you a debuff. Remember those comics where Spidey just has one bad thing happen after another, the long days where nothing goes right and he still has to get Aunt May her medicine or to a date with Mary Jane? We can do that to you. And you’ll love us for it.   

One is the Phased Capture, where you fight the guy as an a super hard enemy, then a really hard enemy, than a normal boss. If he knocks you down or out in the first two, he runs further into the mission, while you rez in the mission staggered. I think the Phased Capture mimics a lot of Spidey random villain events. Ock takes Spidey down, with a surprise attack through the roof, but then Spidey pulls himself out of the wreckage and fights back. (I like Spidey a lot, man. He’s not incredibly powerful, but you can tell great stories with him.) 

There’s also the Phased Capture that doesn’t decay: Fight the guy as a boss. Get him to 1/3 health, something explodes or someone pies you in the face, and he retreats. He doesn’t heal, though, and you chase him, fight him again. Bit by bit you wear him down. 
Heck, we could even make the guy tougher after every fight. But you’d expect that sort of thing. 

There’s a lot of things we could do to replace the old ‘stop the bad guy from running away’ missions as well. One would be 'keep the aggro of the villain for two minutes', while the NPCs evacuate. "Protect the structural integrity of the pillar while defeating the baddie." 'Defeat the baddie in under two minutes', to stop him from setting off his trap. 
Things can get even more complicated as we look at more specific examples. What if a building was on fire, and you had to put it out while the villain tried to stop you? Or in reverse, what if you had to light a building on fire to conceal evidence of your crimes while a hero came to arrest you? 

Let’s say you hear about a bank robbery in progress and rush there to confront the Meadowlark. But after you defeat him, he tells you that a series of explosives he set are now on a timer; he trades their locations for his freedom. After reaching and disarming the explosives, you’re ticked off and ready to hunt the Meadowlark down via clues he left behind and beat him up again, this time in his rigged lair. 

Clues. Yes, that’s right, you can do things with clues in a game that aren’t just ‘click glowie, get arrow.’ What if we kick it up a notch, keep it to fighting only one villain, but add more difficulty to the plot? 

A group of school kids are kidnapped. Following clues, you track them down to various locations where each kid is rigged with a death trap. Outwitting a series of traps nets you enough clues to locate the mastermind behind it all, whom you can then confront face to face. Of course, you can figure out where the mastermind is, without freeing all the kids. The villain might escape if you spend the time rescuing them all. 

But there’s more things you can do. Add a little plot, and we wind up with something like the next scenario. 

You are a villain researching parts for your Gigantic Death Ray stored in a 1/6th gravity environment. You find out that a certain hero has been given the mission of transporting the macguffin from the Science Lab to the City Courts. You set up an ambush at the Lab, but after defeating the security there, you find that the hero has already picked up the device, but is currently at the scene of a disaster he is trying to mitigate. At the scene of the disaster, you have to brave/mitigate the harsh environmental conditions and accidentally rescue civilians while trying to dig the macguffin out of the rubble. After suffering the indignity of being thanked by the hero for your help, you can then chase the hero down and mug him for the macguffin before he arrives at the Court Building. 

Of course, there’s other ways to change traditional stories. What about that classic escort mission? You love them, don’t you? Don’t answer that, I’ve had my tomatoes for the day. What if, instead of following you, you were the one being escorted? The NPC is just hugely stronger than you; you just freed them from prison. All you have to do is get out. Of course, the alarm’s been triggered. The NPC is considerably stronger than the enemies, and he makes a beeline for wherever he needs to go, smashing everything. Can you keep up, while the game spawns more and more enemies around you? If you fall behind… well, it won’t end so well for you. 

Just punching through minions to the end boss is fun, but it wears after a while. Let’s mix things up. Make our goal something else. Something bigger, more heroic. Not every time, but more often than before. Create a goal bigger than just punching a desk till it explodes. That’s how you make missions fun. 
- Warcabbit


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    1. David Guillot on

      what I like Patrols- This is one thing the other gsme doesn't have and I wish they did. One note though please find a way to keep them fresh. a timed mission could be fun, I looove the Detective style missions. also the escort of the stronger guy sounds great.
      What I don't like Dull Escort missions and it seems you have that under control. Great update

    2. David Phillips on

      Like it, but have to concur with those that have pointed out that much of this sounds good for solo runs, not so much for teams. IF you can get some of the above working so that it's enjoyable at the team level, great.

      Also, and I think this was mentioned on a previous update, or something like it, I'd like to see at least a few missions with variable outcomes. Bad guy gets away with his plan, you stop the plan but bad guy gets away, and of course the old stomp the bad guy and watch as he's taken away by the authorities.

    3. Cinnder on

      Loving these ideas and the variety they promise, but a couple words of caution:

      1) Be careful with missions that dump you into a second *timed* mission without warning. Realistic, maybe, but not fun when you had only enough time to play the first mission.

      2) Defeat boss in less than 2 minutes can be awfully biased against characters with low DPS.

      3) When it comes to mission scaling, while I understand the desire not to outlevel missions, keep in mind that someone having difficulty with a mission may want to level up without the mission's doing so as well.

      4) There's nothing wrong with escort missions as long as the escortee knows how to follow you and not run off insanely.

    4. Missing avatar

      Michae Sctt Bauer on

      A few likes, and a few dislikes:

      Likes: The Secret World's mission structure is very much like this. It does keep things interesting. You never know what you'll find in a mission, and it keeps you on your toes and makes the world you're moving through feel very dynamic.

      Dislikes: It also is VERY frustrating, at times, and very team-unfriendly. Teams of people don't want to wait around as one of them tries to figure out what to do, and they also don't like it when that one guy who's already run the entire arc finishes everything while you stand around still unsure what needs to be done. This is a REALLY tricky thing to pull off. Even in The Secret World, where this is done incredibly well, it makes teaming for these kinds of missions all but unheard of. Likewise, it makes you often have to look online to figure out the one thing you've missed to help you progress. So much so that they had to embed a browser in the game client so you could easily find the answers online. This is NOT GOOD.

      If you do this, I -strongly- suggest restricting the clue-style missions to solo arcs. Make these arcs that must be completed while soloing, and designed around that. Let the team missions be team centered, and these styles of missions be solo-centered. If it's worth the extra work, also give it better rewards.

    5. JMadden_Phoenix Rising Initiative on

      thank you for the response @MWM. I'm glad you folks are so approachable. Love all the updates so far. I looking forward to play COT for the next 10-30 years.

    6. Steel Phoenix on

      If I may make some more suggestions: What if while you're simply hanging around in a zone, a nearby phone rings. If you answer, you find a rival villain or an archnemesis or someone on the phone taunting you. They've managed to track you down for a personal challenge mission. This could happen randomly any time you happen to be near a phone or, say, near a computer terminal... or even more interestingly, standing in front of a television that suddenly display's your rival's face taunting you from inside the TV store.

      Similarly, you mgiht also get reports of urgent events unfolding in a similar fashion such as public raids (such as the public group raids from Rifts, as an example) -- the television suddenly warns you of shuttle disaster unfolding in space or an alien invasion aboard the orbital space station or the sunken city of Lemuria has declared war on the airbreathers and is invading the nearby beach.

      It would be interesting to have skills at researching leads -- perhaps you have contacts at the local newspaper (or work for that local newspaper)? Perhaps you have a friendly recluse in a wheelchair with a perchant for hacking the web like it was their personal playground? Or maybe you just want to go to the local library and investigate what the strange latin phrase you overheard that street thug repeating. As you acquire a "base", perhaps you get an assistant or supercomputer or something that can help research items while you're out patrolling.. sometimes the lead is right, sometimes it's a red herring, depending on the level of success (or failure) -- sometimes it leads to something that is even more important completely by accident.

      As your portfolio grows, you might end up with a series of cold cases that suddenly come to life with renewed urgency. An intelligent gorilla has decided to devolve humanity to take over the world once and for all and the devolution bomb that he has designed bears an uncanny resemblance to the mutagenic ray prototype that you managed to capture last year.

      Sorry... my inner game designer came out on that one....

    7. Sean Malloy of Phoenix Rising

      Patrol missions were one of the big letdowns in City of Heroes -- you would get sent to check in from various locations around a map that served no purpose other than to get you to send you all around a map, and only at the _end_ of the patrol would you find the 'real' mission; in many cases, a 'Patrol [zone] for [villaingroup]' mission would take you to zones and areas where that villaingroup didn't even have any spawns, so you'd never see any of them. Having a patrol mission where you, say, got a report of unusual [villaingroup] activity in [area], and you'd have to cruise around that area looking for the appearance of members of that group, and each group you defeated would give you a piece of a clue that, when you got enough pieces, would lead you to a confrontation over whatever the group's activity was actually leading to. Or, for the mobs that are normally in a particular area, some of them could drop clue fragments that would lead to a mission with enough pieces (or civilians might see you making your presence felt on the street and approach you with a lead), giving you a reason to street sweep beyond just random XP and drop rewards. Mobs just standing around to provide a target for street sweeping seem pointless after a while. For example, the 5th Column/Council spawns that had the leader up on a box haranguing passersby were more interesting as a group than the spawns that were just random minions standing around.

    8. Missing Worlds Media Creator on

      @Jennifer - yes, working on a few ideas to avoid out-leveling, and absolutely.

    9. Catherine America on

      Options, gang. Options.

      They aren't distancing their efforts from what made CoX fun.
      Defeat all, Deactivate all [15] bombs, Find No_Mercy the vicious AV and defeat her will still be there for us.

    10. Missing avatar

      Jennifer on

      Will you be working in level scaling and player side difficulty setting? Most times we do tend to out level the mission. And how about optional waypoint setting?

    11. Missing Worlds Media Creator on

      Yes, we are planning on a way for you to filter mission types. Several ideas on how, not settled yet.

    12. JMadden_Phoenix Rising Initiative on

      yes its you're not your gentle, no edit

    13. JMadden_Phoenix Rising Initiative on

      Hopefully there would be a way to filter through the missions available so players would be aware of if they are facing a standard old school mission and a mission with objectives and time constraints. This is equally important for teaming. I like this direction your exploring and I would love to do the content, but some days you get home from a bad day a work and you just want to roll up your sleeves for some good old fashion butt kicking.

    14. Josh on

      More options is always better and I am quite ecstatic about the possibilities! These kinds of missions was something I always felt that CoH was missing in order to shake up the monotony of the "go here, clear this building, repeat".
      Don't get me wrong, there are times where I had tons of fun with a full team just clearing out building after building, but these other options excite me to no end!

    15. DeathSentry on

      And looking forward to having this flexibility available in the mission creator as, almost at 500k!!!

    16. Amenephis

      Actually, what I'm reading here makes me think that this game could definitely benefit from a system akin to the Instant Adventure system in Rift, if you're familiar with that. If you're not, you queue for it, and then it throws you into a group and has you guys wander all over the current zone doing things. "Go here and kill ten of these." "Go here and break X of these." "Go here and beat up this boss."

      It would be cool to have solo versions of the above as an "on patrol"-type deal, you start the process and it just throws stuff from a collection of random options your way. Never know what'll happen.

    17. Eric J D Ruessink on

      that sounds awesome, although I do like the clear maps of all minions, it might be a cool badge thing to enter a missions filled with minions and try to stop them from escaping... the higher the number of captures the better the badge. From a comic perspective, most minions would run for the exits if they ran into Superman. Good stuff guys! Keep up the innovations.

    18. Kelly Creighton on

      This alll sounds great, the variety will certainly be interesting! Will there also sometime be missions involving more mundane hero tasks, like rescuing cats out of trees or Timmy from having fallen in a well? :D

    19. Safehouse - Ranger of the Phoenix Rising on

      I think this has so many possibilities to it! Putting a twist to the system is what the mmo industry needs right now. I hope that you don't eradicate minions and lieutenants in missions altogether, because sometimes those minions are fun to pummel. I think a good combo of the simple beat'em'up Missions and the complex ones. Sometimes when I logon I just want to "kill skuls" that kind of stuff.

      I also had a thought. What about arch nemeses? What if, depending on the path you take, there is a certain villain who becomes your worst enemy? You have Superman and Lex Luthor, Spider-Man and Green Goblin, Batman and The Joker, Thor and Loki. In my CoH novels I have Safehouse and Danny Darwin. Maybe the path system is too complex but I think that would be cool to see!

    20. Rogue Seraphim of Phoenix Rising on

      Sounds cool as more options but it would be nice if it was evident when picking a contact or mission what type of mission it would be. Taking on lots of baddies at once was a lot of the fun of CoX. Also certain types of ATs would be less effective against big bosses. I'd hate to be trying to solo on my controller type and get a string of boss only fights and end up frustrated. On the other hand my single target focused scrapper type may love it. So please just find some way of marking the type of mission we are signing up for, thanks kindly

    21. Missing avatar

      Eric Jones on

      Meatshield sounds dangerously like Escort Missions. Remember, everyone hates escort missions. Everyone. If you show me someone who likes escort missions, I will straight up punch them in the crotch.

    22. Izzy on

      Filet Mignon? ;) rofl

    23. Izzy on

      He said "Must have IMPACT". That Alone was the reason i liked CoH. You Knock the baddies down, they dont get up that fast.. and I liked that.

      Also, It pissed the heck out of me when the KB or KnockDown was interupted by someone elses attack and the baddies got right back to their upright positoion and attacking me. That anoyed me. It broked the immersion.

    24. Brook Monroe - Phoenix Rising Announcer on

      Hopefully one of the downtown restaurants is the secret hideout of the villainous chef "The Filet." That way we can stop in from time to time to challenge one of his Filet minions.

    25. Chris Halliday

      I have to say, the more I hear about this project, the more psyched I'm getting. Keep it up, guys!

    26. ET3D on

      I applaud the attempt to make the missions more interesting, though I don't know if I will like this in practice. Part of the reason I enjoyed playing CoH (at least at the high levels) is that it let me feel like my character is a superhero, who can easily go through large crowd of enemies. This also let me play short sessions, just quick mission or two.

      Of course, it's possible that this will be done in a way I'll enjoy, but it feels more hardcore, so I'm worried that as a casual player I might not.

    27. JMadden_Phoenix Rising Initiative on

      I like it. Heroes usually have to do more than one thing at a time. Save a person under time pressure and defeat a villian, many times simultaneously. Anything adding depth to the experience is welcomed. Choices always shape a character through their consequences too. Lots of potential. That said, sometimes I just want to kick the crap out of a bunch of baddies without using my brain. As long as there are old school type missions along with new school missions I'm all in. Keep up the good work!

    28. Missing avatar

      Scott Jackson on

      Nice! Another mission type that I'd love to see more often is the triple choice between total stealth, careful guard takedowns, and epic ambush. Some of my favorite gaming moments came up when (by intent or accident) we triggered ITF attack waves. The Payday heist games are almost entirely built upon this mission framework as well.

    29. Scott Starkey on

      I like where this is going, but I'd like to suggest having a variety of options available in order to advance a mission, perhaps one for each 'alignment'. Also, your Super Antagonists should probably change difficulty to match the emotional level of the current mission, but you can offset it further by including minions, death traps, race to the target(s), and moral quandaries, for instance.

    30. Michael O. on

      This sounds AWESOME!!! As another Spidey fan, I can't wait for the multi-single bad guy arcs. [In fact, I was such a big spider man fan that I got hit by the Marvel Virus :-( ]

    31. Michael Davenport on

      I love everything about this and want to sign up for your news letter...oh wait!

    32. Fulcrum on

      (snip) but please let us have the option to simply break face if we choose to. (!snip) Agreed, 100% There are some days when breaking-face is just the thing to do for a few minutes before bed!

    33. Fulcrum on

      @MWM Options is the key word... I remember skipping the ones that simply got on my nerves. The 7-storey *rachnos interior buggy lab/reactor map ring a bell for anyone? Or how about those days when you just didn't feel like rescuing Dr. Philo for the third time that day? :D

    34. Magnus Mercury on

      This sounds awesome! Something that I always felt was missing from City of Villains was playing as an archvillain, and single-handedly fighting off a team of heroes bent on stopping you. Or ordering your minions to proceed with your plan (theft, kidnapping, etc.) while you deal with the heroes. Classic comic situations, but with the player on the "other side of the fence" from normal!

    35. Missing Worlds Media Creator on

      @Tormentoso - the goal is to offer more options, keyword "options" here. Just like radio/newspaper missions created more options in CoH.

    36. Tormentoso on

      A part of me is liking this, but another part doesn't. Part of what made CoH memorable and fun for me was how easy it was to put PUGs together and jump straight into the mindless fun. Prior to newspapers and mission drop, I'd often end up as team leader with all my missions being go fetch, click this, or some random unfun aspect.

      Missions where the team has to think too much are fun, but please let us have the option to simply break face if we choose to.

    37. Missing avatar

      Wyatt Holland on

      Sounds very cool. Wondering if XP rewards will be passed out for doing things other than punching through those minions as well. It's very awesome to approach a goal differently, but I would still like to be rewarded along the way and not depend on a giant pile of XP at the very end for punching out the "boss". (That could get frustrating if you were kicked offline halfway through)

    38. Craig E Ransom on

      Better and better!

    39. Missing avatar

      zmonkey on

      There they go getting me salivating again. Great ideas!

    40. Missing avatar

      Garry David Owens on

      Liking the look and feel of the game already.