Missions in Ship of Heroes Part 1: The Vision
Sword Blossom’s office in Engineering. “Either I’ve just been spotted sneaking around, or this is a mission contact.”
First, let’s talk about difficulty. Players are often going to play while distracted, or tired, or inexperienced, and they will want to win even if they make mistakes. At other times players will be intensely focused and experienced, so they’ll need a real challenge to have fun. By default, a solo run on a typical mission arc might allow a player to also be watching TV with the family or keeping an eye on the kids. Some might even be on a boring conference call at work – don’t worry, we won’t judge. Players will be able to change their mission difficulties to suit their situation. For those who want to die from every mistake, we’re also making some far more dangerous content. We plan to add PVP some time after launch, so that will eventually be an option as well.
Try not to go idle in the middle of a fight, though.
Each of the Founding Five heroes has a major story arc for players to do. Each arc has a different focus and feel to it, but all are important; your actions may shape the future of the entire ship. Players will also unlock a couple of extra crafting recipes from each major story arc, for those who are interested, and each arc reveals important information about different aspects of the Justice. For example, Iris the Great is the head of the Mage’s Guild, which is powerful but politically divided. Her arc is all about trying to strengthen the shaky pro-hero stance the mages currently have. New heroes can learn more about all the options from Ambassador in the “Welcome Hero” tutorial mission.
Heroes aboard the Justice face problems rather larger than stopping muggers.
But suppose you don’t want to get involved in the story. Maybe you just want to jump in, join a pick-up team, and start fighting bad guys. Well, there’s another option for you. There is a door to the engineering tunnels beneath the ship that’s marked on your map, and any low-level team can simply head down there and fight Prometheans. No muss, no fuss, conversation optional – just a pure combat scenario. We call this a sewer run, and veterans of CoH will be right at home there. Solo heroes can try their hand as well, though we recommend gathering a team first.
Go to exotic, closed-off places! Meet interesting people you need to punch in the face!
There are other kinds of mission content, of course. You can find reward missions in several places. Reward missions are less about the plot and more about the challenge. They are self-contained stories meant to last 20-60 minutes, and can be done solo or in a team. Reward missions give higher rewards, but they are not easy; you may need to turn the difficulty down to complete some of them.
Task forces are also repeatable, but they’re lengthier affairs and are designed for a group of at least three heroes. Task forces are not too difficult for a team, but they can be almost impossible to complete alone because they don’t scale down for solo players.
Most of these missions play differently depending on your circumstances. So as your team gets larger, more enemies appear. If you reduce the difficulty settings, the enemies will be easier to defeat. And if there is a boss to be found or defeated, he will not be in the same spot every time. The glowie you need to click may shift position as well, and in some cases, the dialog changes depending on the powers or archetype you have selected, or even due to the decisions you make in the story. Some arcs are straightforward, but there’s at least one that you’ll want to replay several times to see all the details – more on that later.
“Where is that glowy? It was in here last time!”
Not going anywhere for a while? Grab a Snickers TM.
Finally, we’re adding something called the Causality Chamber to the ship, which is a portal for players to go back in time and play content that they missed, or that they want to go through again. The Causality Chamber will have a major role in the overall plot of Ship of Heroes, but we won’t spoil it here.
Players will also have the ability to easily get customized missions in the Causality Chamber by scanning alternate timelines for battles that fit your criteria. These are called quantum missions; think of them as a cross between the Architect Editor and Radio Missions from City of Heroes. You will be able to choose the map from a list, select the enemies in it, and even add deliberate surprises to the missions. You can save a particular mission and fight through it repeatedly, if you want to. This feature is not ready for public testing yet, but we’ve been planning for it for quite some time; the first few maps are complete, and the prototype version is coming along nicely.
Good thing respawning doesn’t affect the timeline – or does it? You’ll have to play and find out!
We’re building these missions right now, and we plan to let some of our donors and supporters begin beta testing soon. A future newsletter will cover some of the technical aspects of how we create missions, and the flexibility and limits our system delivers for Ship of Heroes.
“Well I could walk out the front door like normal person… or I could show off by teleporting away. It’s really no choice at all.”
We’re getting closer to launch. As with many indie MMOs, we will launch SoH as a small, fun game and publish quarterly updates to add more content over time. So we need to have enough content to keep the community happy for a few months before we launch, plus a pipeline of missions for the first update. And that is exactly what we are working on. Will we be ready to launch at the end of 2020? The answer depends partly on your feedback in our polls and forums. But there is a lot going on, and we think you will enjoy being with us for the ride.
For example, if we wait to launch SoH until we have “enough” content, how much is enough? Obviously, the character creator is content for many of us, and so is exploration. But for simplicity, we are only counting missions, task forces, and the like. For us to understand your answers, let’s assume we are talking about content for just one alt, though I for one intend to create several. This is the poll question up right now, and you can see it here.
Aboard the FHS Justice, there is always more work for superheroes.
1. Most mission content in Ship of Heroes occurs in instanced missions which are unique to the player and/or team who has the mission. We do have some situations in which multiple teams can go into the same large mission map. When this happens, it is deliberate – and we think it will be more fun for the players.
2. Snickers bar is a trademark of Mars, Incorporated. We sure hope this product is still around in the 25th century.
3. One of the technical innovations of the current version of the Unreal Engine is that it enables the use of a dedicated mission map for more than one team at a time without the teams in the map seeing each other. This is called a replication graph technique, and we have it working, but with one or two minor issues. That means we’ll be asking some of you to test it with us soon, to see if missions work as intended with multiple teams on the same map simultaneously.
4. The mission content we are creating is consistent with the lore we’ve been publishing for the last three years. Expect to see familiar characters, themes, and factions appear as your character progresses along a hero’s journey. But the story will evolve, giving you more and more insight into the complexity of life aboard the Justice. In SoH, you create a unique character, and the path each avatar takes as you gain power and experience is your own. There are plenty of things to do, but you don’t have to do any of them to advance.
5. If you have been with us for our community events, and think you have seen most of Ship of Heroes already, you will be surprised when the mission content rolls out. Every week we add things to Apotheosis City, as well as creating numerous mission maps. The enemies and the stories that go with them are going to be surprising and sometimes amusing. Keep an eye on the dialog; we’re having some fun with that.
We’ve created some really cool maps to explore, too.