[Kick It] City of Titans Interview – Heroes Never Say Die

Will you be the hero the City of Titans Kickstarter deserves?

Welcome to [Kick It], where we chat with developers and creators about their Kickstarter projects.

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I’m going to assume at one point in your life you’ve asked someone the question: “If you could have one super power, what would it be?” With the help of an ambitious new Kickstarter, we’ll be able to answer that for ourselves once again.

Today we’re talking with Chris “Warcabbit” Hare and DJ James about their Kickstarter for City of Titans.

The former super-hero MMO, City of Heroes, is being resurrected by fires of the Phoenix Project and Missing Worlds Media in the into the newly-forged City of Titans MMORPG. The game has been a passion-project of the City of Heroes community for the past year and the developers are calling retired heroes out of retirement to help fund the endeavor with Kickstarter.

City of Titans will offer MMO players the opportunity everyone has wanted since they first learned about super heroes: be your own hero. It will fill the vacancy that the super-hero MMO City of Heroes left. 

City of Titans is the perfect project for a Kickstarter. The whole project has been community driven, it is based on an obtainable and well-directed end goal, it plans to build on past success and offer things previously unobtainable, and it needs help. Help from heroes who have both played the previous game and from everyday heroes who can pitch in a couple of bucks to help out. If this game rises up from the ashes, it will be stronger and better than ever and ready to take on the MMO by offering sanctuary for hero-gamers everywhere. 

So, who are you? What is your background in gaming?

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare, Project Lead: “I’m just another gamer, but I’m lucky enough that the people around me think I do a good job keeping this project moving forward. 

“I’ve worked on some video games in the past, but my gaming history involves playing them, since I was knee high, mostly TSR and its successors, and hanging around with writers for them, offering little bits of history here and there, and adjusting systems.”

DC James, Business and Marketing Manager: “I’m DC James, also known as Terwyn, the business and marketing director for Missing Worlds Media. I’m one of the original co-founders of the company, having my stamp on the initial DBA that allowed us to get the ball rolling on incorporating.

“I’ve always been much more of the kind of person who plays games than the person who makes games, but I’ve helped my friends and brothers with various homebrewed projects that never propagated past our group.

“I got my start in gaming when my grandparents gave my brothers and myself an NES console for Christmas of 1989. We then later obtained a Sega Genesis console, and then jumped a generation to a Playstation. All of our older consoles still work, and since there are three of us, we’ve each gotten the one we preferred.”

Anything else interesting about your life?

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “Well, there was, and then I started this project. Now I don’t even have time to touch a guitar any more.”

DC James: “Aside from the fact that my twin brother is also involved in the project, there is not anything particularly interesting, save for the fact that it is very amusing when people finally make the connection that we are related. The last one went catatonic for a few minutes.”

Right then, what is City of Titans and how did it get started?

DC James:City of Titans got its start as a last-ditch effort to keep the community of players from City of Heroes together. It has since grown far beyond anything we had expected.”

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “Well… back when the great announcement came from NCSoft that City of Heroes was being shut down, there was a very brief period of complete incomprehension. 

“A year later, we’re here, looking at Kickstarter, and saying ‘They still believe in us. Wow.’”

“Immediately after that, the community of players came together, and organized into roughly three teams: One decided the best thing to do would be to go reverse engineer City of Heroes and build grey servers. One decided the best thing to do would be to convince someone else to buy the game. And one decided to build our own. We’ve got the talent, we just needed the tools. A year later, we’re here, looking at Kickstarter, and saying ‘They still believe in us. Wow.’”

Can you explain some of the inspiration behind the game and the game’s design?

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “We are not replicating City of Heroes. We are building something new, but true to the spirit of the old. It’s been ten years since CoH went into development, and the gaming world has changed. 

“We have engines now that could do what CoH couldn’t. We have design experience of its flaws and failures, both electronic and thematic. We listened when people said they didn’t want to be Lord Recluse’s lackey anymore. 

“So. We’re building a spiritual sequel. A City of Heroes 2 that never was. We’re looking around at the world, finding the fun, and eliminating the boring and bad. This doesn’t mean we don’t have disagreements about where the fun lies, but it does mean that we’re all talking about the same thing.”

“We’re looking around at the world, finding the fun, and eliminating the boring and bad.”

DC James: “I think the key thing to recognize as the inspiration behind the game and its design is that folklore always leaves an indelible mark on the society that creates it, and as much of the mythos we are creating is drawn from such sources, I think the game will have a surprising amount of realism that meshes effortlessly with its more fantastic elements.

“As for me, in the rare occasion where I am proving input to elements of the game, one of the key inspirations I draw from are the many paradoxical concepts that exist in society.”

So how exactly will City of Titans be different from City of Heroes/Villains?

DC James: “It will be different. How, well, that is not exactly something that I can accurately describe.”

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “We know what can be done. But part of City of Heroes was that it went places no other game could or would go. 

“So we’re pushing things further. Story like Star Wars: The Old Republic, but even more involved. 

“And we can do that, because we aren’t using voice over. Customization of powers, like City of Heroes had, but customization of animations and customization of emission points as well, because we’re designing it that way from the start. 

“Ability to write your own missions, yes, but even more, ability to tell a story that’s valid in the world of the game and have it interact with the other players, without being walled off in a test room. 

“That one’s still experimental, but we’ve got some good results from testing. More effects. Bigger effects. More dynamic powers. The one thing that’s not changing? Heart.”

Character customization is huge for this kind of project. Can you walk us through some of the more unique options players will have?

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “You will look like what you want to look like. Put your logo over your heart, or down your leg. Look like Bruce Lee or Lee Marvin. Turn a wolf-man head into a werepug. Animated costume pieces, glowing molten lava running down your sleeves… or a hand that turns into a gun when you activate combat mode.”

“Look like Bruce Lee or Lee Marvin. Turn a wolf-man head into a werepug.”

DC James: “Aside from a large-scale upgrade in technology and capability from what City of Heroes had available to it, I think the most unique option that players will have would be the ability to customize nearly everything they can think of, and plenty of things they wouldn’t.”

How long has this idea been brewing?

DC James: “Long enough to have aged like a fine scotch.”

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “In our deepest heart? Decades, for some of us. As a project? Just over a year.”

What do you think is the most exciting thing/what are you most proud of about COT?

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “It’s always the next thing, the part we haven’t gotten to developing yet. I have some ideas for the year two expansion ‘box’ that are going to blow your mind.”

DC James: “I think the most exciting thing and the thing I am most proud of about CoT are one and the same. 

“Back in my second year in college, I had a large number of group projects, many of which were related to video games in some way. In one such class, while my classmates were talking about the games they were most interested in playing, I was talking about the games I wanted to make. There were doubts as to my honesty and my ability with such a statement.

“At the time, I thought I was describing a dream that would never come to fruition. I suppose that if I were to throw out a “Look who’s laughing now,” I’d still not be the person laughing, because I never saw this coming as a possibility. As I am trying not to be one of the more villainously-minded members of the project. 

“I’d simply like to thank that group of classmates for the challenge. I hope my reply is sufficient.”

What is the payment model for the game and what is your reasoning behind this choice?

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “There are two or three competing issues here. 1: Value for Money. If we’re charging you, we need to make sure what you get is worth the money. 2: Ease of Access. I remember the old spinner racks. “Hey kids! Comics!” You’re not going to find an 8-year-old with a handful of new comics anymore. I want to bring that back. 3: A solid play experience. We need to make enough to keep the game going, and a bit more to improve things. 

“You’re not going to find an 8-year-old with a handful of new comics anymore. I want to bring that back.”

“Cheap out, and things don’t go well, long-term. With that in mind, we’ve decided on the Buy To Play experience, with an optional subscription, and a cash shop, though we’re watching other MMOs and running market research studies for specific details. 

“The BTP concept means that people pay for the box. In the current case, we’re looking at the cost of three month’s subscription, plus a little extra to cover bandwidth, publisher overhead (that is, Steam charges a little fee, and we’d be glad to pay it) and issues of that nature. You get, for that, the game and three months subscription. This means that, unlike a Free To Play system, if we catch a gold farmer or griefer and ban them, they need to put a little money in to get back into the game. 

“Which means they’re basically paying for our enforcement system, as well as reducing the total numbers of farmers or griefers. Which results in a better play experience for everyone. The one thing we’re sure about? No lockboxes.”

DC James: “We’re still in the process of working everything out down to the finest details, but we’re definitely looking at taking a Buy to Play model with an optional subscription, with a fully integrated cash shop.

“However, we’re engaging in ongoing research as to the specific details we’re going to be using, by observing what other MMOS and the over-all game market is doing. We’re going to do our very best to make sure that for every dollar a player pays for this game, they get more than they paid for in entertainment and replay value.”

“We’ve got the tools, we’ve got the talent, we just need to get to work.”

After the Kickstarter campaign is completed, what will be your next steps?

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “Get a little quieter, shrink public updates to once a week, and get to work on the Avatar Creator and the first district of the game. We’ve got the tools, we’ve got the talent, we just need to get to work.”

DC James: “Roll up the sleeves and dive into the guts of running the business side of things. This will include handling the necessary legal aspects, handling the advertising and marketing ventures, as well as orchestrating convention appearances. 

“In addition, I’ll probably be writing material for use in game. Designing our in-game office s certainly something I’m looking forward to having a hand in.”

If the Kickstarter had failed, what where your contingency plans?

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “Well, it can still fail, though it’s unlikely at this point. The plans are as simple as it gets: Keep working. These tools we’re buying are just to make a better game with. We could still make a game without them. Just slower.”

DC James: “We always have contingency plans. If an insurmountable obstacle is in our path, such as the failure of the Kickstarter, we would revisit our navigational charts and plot a new course around that obstacle. 

“Obviously, it’s fairly clear that our Kickstarter hasn’t failed, so that obstacle isn’t an issue.”

Can you describe your interaction with the Kickstarter process?

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “Same way as I interact with anything. Face on. Be honest. Prep for everything, and make sure everyone gets something to see.”

DC James: “While one might think that I have the higher authority when it comes to the Kickstarter, the truth is that I’ve been deferring to those who actually have experience with them. 

“This is the first Kickstarter I’ve been involved with, so I’ve been handling the things that people don’t see. I much prefer being the one behind the curtains. No one pays attention to you, so it becomes possible to spend the whole day plotting various dooms.”

What advice would you give developers and creators aspiring to use Kickstarter?

DC James: “Adapt. Ensure you have at least a passing understanding of game theory and evolutionary biology; because knowing those two subjects will give you boundless reasons as to why you should never forget to be adaptable. 

“Be absolutely willing to admit where and when you could be wrong, and be honest about it when asked.”

“But most importantly, have a plan to shoot holes in your plan. Or in other words, be absolutely willing to admit where and when you could be wrong, and be honest about it when asked.”

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “Things are going to go wrong at the worst possible time. Stay focused and work through it. And prep. Plan through every element of the Kickstarter you put up, and every day of your campaign. Know what you’re going to be doing when.”

What do you think makes a successful Kickstarter campaign?

DC James: “Many different things have a role. You’ve got the nature of the project itself; you’ve got the advertising and marketing, you’ve got the audience, and you’ve got the passion and interest. Missing even one of those things could spell disaster for your Kickstarter. 

“You could have a very weak overall project, but if enough people believe in it, you can still reach your goals. However, even if you have the strongest project imaginable, if you can’t convince people to believe in it, no one will support it.”

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “One word: Passion. We cheated. We don’t deserve the passion our backers show us. We’re waving the bloody banner of an old friend’s body. But we will be worth it, in the end. We will prove that they made the right choice. We’re building the game.”

“We will prove that they made the right choice. We’re building the game.”

If you were to redo the Kickstarter, what would you change?

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “At the moment, not much. Maybe more lasers.”

DC James: “I think there is only one thing that I would change with the Kickstarter. The date it started.”

What kind of hero will YOU be creating in the game?

DC James: “I actually already have one. A lot of us have already created signature characters. Not to go into any significant details, but my hero is the subdued type. You wouldn’t notice him until after he’s already solved the problem.”

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “There’s something satisfying about a nice punching hero.”

That about wraps us up, anything else you’d like to add?

Chris “Warcabbit” Hare: “Comics can be fun. We’re making them for everyone.”

DC James: “Humans have been telling stories since long before the first stone of the first city was laid, and we will be telling them long after the last steel frame of a city falls. 

“We simply want to carry on the defining tradition of our kind. Most of those who are working on the project can be found scattered across myriad internet communities. We are among you.” 

In Closing

I want to extend a warm thanks to Chris Hare and DC James for taking the time to answer my questions! If you are looking for more details about the project you can visit the City of Titans Kickstarter page, or visit the website. You can also keep track of development and updates on Twitter by following @MWorldsMedia or on Facebook

Do you have a Kickstarter campaign or a project you’d like to see talked about on GameSkinny? Drop me a tip for future [Kick It] articles on Twitter @ZacaJay using #KickItJay!

Or, you know,write about it yourself!


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