Game 1 as a Laboratory for Game 2?

It recently came out that City of Heroes is adding crafting to their game. This is something they’ve been talking about doing for years, so it’s not really a surprise. What I wonder is, are they in a position to experiment with game systems in City of Heroes that will eventually find their way into Marvel Universe Online?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Marvel is going to have a lot in common with CoH gameplay-wise. I’m sure they will act on lessons learned from CoH, and the code base they started Marvel with will give them a head start on much of that, but I suspect that the two games will have at least these things in common:

  • Extensive character customization
  • A lot of ambient life in the shared spaces
  • Instanced missions
  • Zones
  • Three dimensional movement and exploration
  • Physics (though I’m sure this one will be used much more in Marvel)
  • Combat that features one player hero on many NPC opponents
  • Total unwillingness to sacrifice PvE fun on the altar of PvP
  • Classes, races (or “origins”), and levels
  • A steep power curve as you level up

If Cryptic wants to make changes to the formula they had in CoH for Marvel, wouldn’t it be best to make those changes in CoH as an experiment and use what they learn from the results in Marvel Universe Online (MUO?)

There are very few teams I can think of that might have had that ability. Turbine and Sony have the only development teams to release multiple MMOs at this point. Did Turbine use Asheron’s Call as a place to experiment on new features for AC2? The core game systems in that case were so different that I’m not sure they could have. AC2 was obviously designed to address some of the perceived issues in AC, but Turbine couldn’t very well add classes to their skill-based game just to try it out. In SOE’s case there probably wasn’t much to try out in EverQuest when they were working on Star Wars: Galaxies (and Austin is a long way from San Diego anyway.) I’m sure that the EQ and EQ2 teams have a lot of people in common… I bet that EQ’s endless stream of expansion packs provided them with lots of useful data to put to use in EQ2.

Mythic is in a similar position. From a high level the game systems in Warhammer Online and Dark Age of Camelot will probably be pretty similar. Have they made any odd “next-gen” kind of additions to DAoC recently that could indicate such an experiment?

What about you? Have you ever put something in a live game just to see if it would work?

~Joe


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