As you may have heard, Cryptic is making Champions into an MMO. Cryptic, in case you don’t know, made City of Heroes, now owned and run by NCSoft. They also were making the Marvel MMO before it was cancelled. I presume that most of the code was recycled into Champions, which will get content and appear in 2009ish. For me, this is exciting, because Champions is basically what I wanted City of Heroes to be. I still love my big blue book, although I could see how a player might want a computer to do all the math for the game. Viola, MMOs solve that problem.
To explain the appeal of Champions, it is a generic system (Hero Games). It recognizes that damage is damage, and whether it is a club or a fireball is just a special effect. It becomes a fireball because you declare it to be fire damage, you bought an AE effect, and maybe you also bought a small DoT or having the enemies blinded by the flash. It simplifies so much of the game when the crunch and fluff are explicitly severable. Haktar has a flamethrower, Dul’kash is a fire-breathing demon, and Torchy McTorcherson is a mutant, but you don’t need three sets of rules for energy blast (8d6, cone, special effect: fire). Champions is also (character) skill-based rather than class based, so I pictured its in-game character sheets being something like Asheron’s Call or EVE, where you assign points to whatever categories you want.
I usually describe City of Villains as what City of Heroes would have been if they had another year to develop it. Really, publishing CoH one year later would not have yielded CoV, because it also shows confidence in getting away from the standard MMO holy trinity. I expect Champions Online to be what City of Heroes would look like starting from scratch with the experience of having made City of Heroes. Which is pretty much what happened. Big things like moving away from classes (though I am told they will still exist; I have yet to research much myself), smaller things like letting you have purple fireballs. Of course, if you prefer the direction that CoX has taken under the new lead developer, you might not want to see the Vision made flesh. But my sparse Champions reading does show things from the original CoH plan that were missing from the published game; perhaps Champions’ class system will be like the original origin plan.
In a way, this is a sequel. To a game they sold to what will be a competitor. I expect many similarities between the two games, and it feels odd to me. If it were an explicit sequel, no worries, lift as much as you like. Since NCSoft now has City of Heroes, it feels kind of like plagiarism to re-use chunks. Wait, no, that’s stupid, every MMO looks a lot like other MMOs, so it does not matter that WoW and The Lord of the Rings Online™: Shadows of Angmar™ have rather similar character creation screens. But that costume designer in CoH is a big selling point… but how can you rip off the game that you made? I have many buts here. Toss in your thoughts. We have a long time to discuss.
Lest we forget, “The Orcs [in Middle Earth] were obviously stolen from PC game maker Blizzard and its Warcraft series. Too bad Blizzard is apparently too scared to sue New Line over it.” Let’s not even get into how AE Mythic is ripping off Blizzard.