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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.

You Have The Power! (Mini-Update)

Posted by Missing Worlds Media (Creator)
While the animations for powers have been pretty well explained, the back end of the process may still confuse some people. This is a mini-update to help cast some light on this dark and murky part of code design.

From the coding end, powers are actually pretty complex. The problem with describing them is that it often confuses people to see the guts of the process, so to speak, and we don't have a nice and friendly front end for them yet. But we are going to give a try at explaining it for the layperson. 

Development is not some single effort. A person does not sit in a room with an idea and a few weeks later creates a powerset. The skills needed are varied, from layout to balance. So, we instead set up a pipeline for development.

Functionally, a power is made up of multiple pieces. There is the Progression, how the powers are organized within a group, in a pretty standard tier structure. There is the Theme, or type, which tells us what kind of power it is (which can include additional power effects like burning over time, slow, knocking, etc). There is the Animation, which tells us the way it looks. 

We expect players will need to see only the completed Power Sets themselves. From a player’s perspective, you will pick a Power Set, which has the Progression and Theme readily set up. Then you would pick your animations for the set. You need not worry about the Progression or Themes directly; what is described below is how we, as coders, are developing the powers. 

Let us make an example. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll stick to the first four tiers. We want to develop a DoT-based ranged power set. Let us call it “Burning.” We do not call it “Fire” because its effects can be used to represent much more than just flame. It could represent laser beams searing opponents, napalm grenades, raining fire and brimstone, or acid burns. A player could even go all out and nuts with their theme, using it in combination with tan-colored, wind-based animations, and call themselves the “Sand Blaster."

First, we look at our Progression option templates for ranged attack Power Sets. These are examples only and do not reflect a finished product. Further, it is almost guaranteed that things will change before release as we playtest. 

EXAMPLE Ranged Attack Progression templates which coders use when designing a Set: 

Progression 1: T1 - quick single attack, T2 - medium single attack, T3 - cone attack, T4 - heavy single attack 

Progression 2: T1 - quick single attack, T2 - cone attack, T3 - quick targeted AoE attack, T4 - medium single attack 

Progression 3: T1 - quick single attack, T2 - medium single attack, T3 - moderate single attack, T4 -heavy single attack 

Progression 4: T1 - quick single attack, T3 - medium single attack, T3 - quick targeted AoE attack, T4 - moderate single attack 


So, we look at these, and since we want this rendition of Burning to splash over, so we (as developers) pick Progression Setup 2, which has less damage per-target, but hits more targets overall to give the same damage per second. 

We then look at the damage Themes, or types (once again, these are examples only): 

EXAMPLE Damage Types/Themes from which coders can choose when designing a Set: 

Damage/Theme 1: DoT 
Damage/Theme 2: Slow 
Damage/Theme 3: Knocking-around 
Damage/Theme 4: Accuracy Bonus 

As developers, we want a DoT for all of these powers, so Theme 1 it is. We combine these two and have ourselves “Burning” as a set. The beauty of this design is that it enables us to make new sets faster. In this case we wanted all DoT, so all attacks were Theme 1. 
Another set may mix Themes, and include an attack with DoT (damage 1), an attack with an accuracy bonus (damage 4), and an attack with knocking-around (damage 3), in that order. And other sets will be built in the needed order to get the desired result. The goal is to give us the tools to give you more options over time with less effort. 

Once this is assembled, we have our power balancing group go over the resulting initial baseline and figure out where things can get out of hand, either overpowered or underpowered. Then we do tweaks and adjustments, to make sure that each powerset is on a level playing field. Sometimes this means swapping one power's theme out, other times adjusting the numbers like recharge, endurance, etc. Once this is done, the plan is to playtest these sets, a lot.

We then have a set which we can present to you, the player. You then can combine this set with the Animation customization (described in Update #12) to allow you to make yourself something truly remarkable.

To make this update a bit more complete, we are including a new zone track from Hellwreckage.

Rock on everyone!


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    1. Siobhán Patricia Lynch on

      What about debuff power sets - I suppose you'll have themed sets with a debuff associated as well?

    2. Missing avatar

      Robert on

      I have to say that this is an interesting approach to designing power sets for the game. It also got me wondering. Using this design approach, would it be possible to separate the damage element from the power theme, much like in the same vein that animation is separate from the power sets.

      For example: instead of having this "Burning" ranged set doing "Fire" damage; could it be possible (for example) to select the "Energy" (for someone using laser beam), "Toxic" (for someone using acid) or "Darkness" (for shadowy magic users). I imagine that, balance-wise, the power set would do the same amount of amount, but the damage would be a different element. It's not quite the free-form approach, but it's opens up to more combinations. Just a thought.

    3. Missing Worlds Media Creator on

      @Ebon_J: Almost like some kind of.... Endgame challenge... Some kind of Signature Power....

    4. Nicolas "Hellwreckage" Grandell on

      @Grace I am actually more of a villain, but you are welcome!

    5. Michael O. on

      Great update too. I love the explanation. The ultimate expression of this, of course, would be to someday have the balancing system automated so players could build their own power set! (Have a Fire/Ice guy who has DoT and Slow/Hold effects spread out through all his power sets, for instance)

    6. Michael O. on

      I am SO getting the music extra!

    7. Grace - Phoenix Rising Medic on

      Somebody @ MWM: Tell Hellwreckage that he is my Hero <3

    8. Missing Worlds Media Creator on

      @Dustin the Wind - that's yet another system and is part of the balancing method.

    9. Dustin Hardt on

      I really like the diversity in the powers; one type of damage, but a multitude of applications. Also, that music is just....Wow! I can picture the epiciness now.

    10. Missing avatar

      Allan C Bauer on

      All the different combinations sound really neat. I like the idea, and it sounds like you guys are putting a lot of thought into each set.
      Though I have one question on this, you mention accuracy boost in the set. Does that mean you guys are using a similar ToHit-Check system that Co* used? Or are you expanding off that?

    11. Dustin the Wind - Phoenix Rising on

      @MWM what about sets that have special mechanics; like using "power A" to build a stack of "buff" that in turn is consumed to strengthen either "power B" or "power C"? like combo points or something.

    12. Missing avatar

      Matt Vadnais on

      That's a great zone track from Hellwreckage. I have my fingers crossed that the new combat
      system will be a big evolutionary step forward. Looking forward to CoT :-)

    13. Chrys Minouxchat on

      I really like the diversity of powers damage/theme and if we can chose theme is very cool for playing
      Its very good music i really whant to play at COT :)

    14. Nathan Gillispie on

      Yup, the music is in great hands.

    15. Mandrake - NameSake Radio on

      Hellwreckage just rocks solid. Great tuneage. Can't wait to hear what he comes up with for loading screen stoofs :D

    16. Nathan Gillispie on

      Well, I feel really good about the music for CoT.

    17. Rich Raymer on

      Awesome! I dunno about anyone else, but as an amateur animator, I would LOVE to see some of the uncompleted power animations, desktop vidcaps of animating, etc.

    18. Robin Harvey on

      AWESOME!! The sound bytes we've heard are amazing Hellwreckage!! Do you know yet which zones they the pieces we've heard will be applied to? I can imagine hearing this one as I fly over Ironport... yes? no? The coding information is fascinating. Thanks for showing us a little bit behind the curtain of the game. It will make me appreciate every little emote and blast of power all the more when I'm playing. *muah!

    19. Melinda Heilman on

      I adore this new zone track! It reminds me of the Rikti Warzone only with more metal and 2 parts more epic!

    20. Pleonast, Falling Star of Phoenix Rising on

      @MWM - thanks! That's what I wanted to hear. :D

      I more concerned about limitations being baked into the system preventing future flexibility than how much we'll be able to do at launch.

    21. Hazard Zone on

      This is really sounding fantastic. I really like the amount of customization you guys are putting into this. It's all of the stuff we had in CoX plus all the stuff we wanted and never had. This is really shaping up to be amazing. Keep up the good work.

    22. Missing Worlds Media Creator on

      @Pleonast - we've looked into that. That's all I can say on that subject due to the very preliminary nature of these systems.

    23. Missing avatar

      Scary Clown of Phoenix Rising on

      Just wanted to commend you guys on updates like this. I love seeing into the innards of the process of creation. MORE! (please?)

    24. Pleonast, Falling Star of Phoenix Rising on

      @MWM: I'm hoping for more options. :D

      For example, how many power choices will there be within a powerset? Must there be only one T2 power? Can we have two (or more) powers at each tier level within a powerset?

    25. JMadden_Phoenix Rising Initiative on

      All the tracks including the newest one sound bada$$. I definitely get pumped up hearing them. The power plan sounds pretty sensible, which should prevent some major game nerfs down the line.

    26. Missing avatar

      Wyatt Holland on

      The description of the possible options for just that one "burning" set really get me excited. (Sand Blaster? That's awesome) That sounds like I would log onto the game and marvel at the interesting ideas other players come up with on every team I join. This sounds like more player creativity and uniqueness than any other game....including CoH.

      You guys might be unto something very cool here.

    27. Missing Worlds Media Creator on

      @Pleonast - balance. We want to avoid global-nerfdom as well as all-powers-are-vanilla, which are the two options to make player-selection work.

    28. Missing avatar

      freewaydog on

      I hope that song will be in the game! :D

    29. Pleonast, Falling Star of Phoenix Rising on

      Thanks for the info!

      But a question: why are the developers doing the selection instead of the players? I'd rather be able to make my own selection for each tier power.

    30. Catherine America on

      Ranged Acid DoT?