Matt "Positron" Miller, NCsoft's NorCal Senior Designer, was snatched and grilled by the gang at Ten Ton Hammer just recently. Among the topics touched on were speculations about the impact of upcoming costumed nemeses in the super-hero-themed MMOG genre.
City of Heroes/Villains was, back in the day, something of a dark horse. While Cryptic Studios and NCsoft were working on the game, there was intense speculation and skepticism about the material. How could it even work?
Well, work it did, and very well. Miller is confident that it will continue to do so.
Miller acknowledges that it's hard to predict what impact the new games will have on CoX's player numbers. We wouldn't be putting any money down on predictions ourselves, but it's going to be interesting.
CoX has the home-field advantage. It's got five years of updates, expansions, tuning, new content and new systems going for it. It's NCsoft's best-performing Western game, quarter after quarter. While Cryptic Studios (now working on upcoming competitor Champions Online, currently in closed beta) wasn't difficult to work with, now that NCsoft has all of CoX's development in-house, they're able to allocate resources in ways that weren't possible before, allowing the team to accomplish far more than previously.
CoX looks to get another boost with upcoming release of the client for Intel-based Macs, and the graphics engine is being reviewed for a facelift with some long-awaited graphical facelifts for higher-end systems.
All in all, it looks like we can expect a lot from NCsoft in the coming months. Still, if anyone can take the genre in a new direction, it would be their former partner, Cryptic Studios. After all, they not only have the tools and talent, but the experience in making a successful game in this genre.
It seems safe to say that we can expect great things from both of them.