Dev Blog: Doomsaw Update #1

Hello there! I’m Doomsaw, a member of the design team on Marvel Heroes. In this blog I’m going to give you an update on some of the things the development team has been working on recently. We want to make dev blogs a regular event and would love to hear your feedback in the forums.

Fixing the Defense System

We are almost completely reworking the defense system to scale better into the late/end game. This is taking a decent chunk of time because of the wide-ranging impact it has to powers, items and enemies, but it will get done, hopefully in time for the big July patch. Our plan is to lock down everything by next Tuesday and test, test, test until it is rock solid.

We have been talking a lot about ensuring we don’t do anything that punishes melee too much more than ranged. That’s why we pulled out Ignore Defenses from the game and tried buffing the heck out of Defense from items. But, none of that solve the issues of scaling into end game. A percent based system will fix a lot of that, along with astute use of avoidance and other mitigation powers based on the heroes’ powers.

By the time we are done, melee characters will be able to melee as expected and characters won’t get one-shotted unless they are bad at moving from the fire on the ground.

Difficulty Levels – Heroic and Superheroic

Difficulty modes are one of the highest priorities for us. There is still engineering, enemy tuning and item work to done for Heroic and Superheroic difficulty modes, so they will not be on the test server next week, but will make an appearance shortly after the big July patch.

One of the best things about Marvel Heroes compared to other games that I’ve played are the number of fun little ’discoveries‘ that occur throughout the game (like two HYDRA guys getting a crate with a dinosaur in it or killing a bunch of muggers and rescuing a civilian). The other thing I love are the ’treasure rooms‘ that are all over the game (the orange doors). Having difficulty levels means players can encounter those things and not just grind the same terminal missions or Limbo over and over. (Everything can be fun, but it’s nice to have variety.)

We wanted difficulty levels at launch, obviously, but just ran out of time and felt we should launch when we promised. My best guess is that these make it to the test server in August and release shortly after, assuming nothing gamebreaking.

Player vs Player

The goal is to make an extremely robust PVP system for Marvel Heroes. As we polish content, fix bugs and get all of the heroes and systems into solid shape, we will introduce a full tournament system for PVP with some MLG style elements, prizes, rankings and so on.

Modes in development include modes that are more casual and more serious. For each of “casual” and “serious”, there will be a quicker map and a more in-depth map. The quicker maps should always take less than 30 minutes to play and the “in-depth” maps could take up to an hour to play.

The casual PVP modes will have more adventuring and PVE content included in the maps. Think Alterac Valley from World of WarCraft as a rough example of something you’ll see for our casual in-depth map.

The serious PVP modes will place more emphasis on individual skill, hero selection, power selection and PVP tactics. The first mode is in the late stages of development and should be on the test server in a week or two. The mode is based on the ARAM mode from League of Legends, with two teams competing to get past turrets and destroy the enemy base. It’s a 5v5 map with a full queuing system built in. The map gets tested and adjusted daily. Just 10 minutes ago the team was naming and planning out the PVP rewards associated with this map. The PVP items are particularly good for PVP and won’t be needed for high-end PVE encounters but they will still be decent in PVE.

The existing PVP “Beta” map will be pulled out soon along with the team/faction system that is currently in game. It’s being replaced by a full-fledged queuing system similar to LOL/WOW. There is an engineer entirely dedicated to the system who is super smart and sitting just 15 feet away working on this system every day.

We know not all players care about PVP (maybe even less than 50%), so we are keeping PVP as a super-high priority, but also keeping PVE, difficulty modes, end-game raids, item hunting and other stuff as super-high priority as well. PVP will be an option for people who dig it, but will never be needed to get the best gear.

For people who do love PVP, there will be some items and likely an emblem system beside your name based on PVP ranks (replacing the current icons beside player names). We will likely do some kind of cosmetic rewards as well.
Note that we have technology to adjust powers while a hero is in PVP, so we will never have to nerf a power in PVE because it’s “too good in PVP”. I wish other games had that tech!

Items

The items team is currently working on a few things:

  1. Removing or changing affixes that just aren’t fun or are actually bad (example: We are getting rid of +attack speed on a certain tree)
  2. Adding in more affixes that are fun, powerful or allow customization of your builds
  3. Adding new levels of rarity and new item types. These will sometimes just be more powerful and sometimes be powerful in certain circumstances or with certain builds. As an example, we are releasing Cosmic Items with the next patch (may even be live by the time you read this).
  4. Adjusting how items scale to make sure every level of upgrade is a noticeable upgrade. This is an extremely high priority for us.
  5. Adding new artifacts each week that will support different build options for players.
  6. Adding items to support new heroes (Human Torch items were worked on today)

Raids

We will be introducing raids into the game. Mostly just 5-man raids to start with. Doctor Doom will be retooled for level 60 players with changes to his mechanics, difficulty and rewards to support raiding. We have a ton of guys with top tier raiding experience on the team and will make sure this is as fun as possible. We haven’t done a ton of work on this, but we have discussed the strategy for these this week. This is something I’ll be creating a feedback thread on when the time comes (likely after July).

Free Retcons When Needed

Our policy is to give a free respec (retcon) to every hero whenever any of their powers has increased or decreased in power. We manually set this for each hero when the Hero Design team adjusts anything significant. This was not as clear at launch of the game, but is super clear now.

Hero Reviews

We have a hero design team that is continually reviewing heroes nonstop for improvements. We take the feedback from the forums, from internal sources and add our internal plans for how these heroes will be awesome.

Right now, we are mainly concerned with keeping everyone fun and powerful. As you know, our philosophy is not to nerf unless there is something truly gamebreaking. Nerfing a person’s fun is the opposite of what game design is intended to do.

Today the team worked on some Wolverine adjustments, Storm and Black Widow along with some adjustments of other characters. Every character will continue to have iteration passes and get better and better each time.

The new hero design team (tasked with working on new heroes!) has done a lot of work on Human Torch this week. The old Ultimate Power was moved to a regular power and an epic new Ultimate was created. Four other new powers were created to support multiple build options and playstyles for Torch. That gives Human Torch 25 powers, more than any other hero. (Note that other heroes will have new powers added periodically as we determine they are missing important options).

The animation team has some insane Torch animations which you’ll see on test server soon. He is always flying and always on fire and looks smooth and fun.

Test Server

Next week we are opening the test server to the public. This is huge for us and will speed up our development time pretty significantly. Everyone will be allowed to play.

When the server launches, you will see hundreds of bugs all over the place and may even have trouble getting your accounts set up. Be patient for the first few days as things get ironed out.

Hero Synergy System

We have done some work on a new system that rewards players for having other leveled heroes. This system would reward you for having a hero of level 25, 50 and eventually 75 and 100 (if/when we go there). The reward would be a small bonus to every other hero you own. Example: Leveling Spider-Man gives all your heroes a small boost to dodge. Leveling Deadpool gives all your heroes a small boost to rarity find. This list of buffs isn’t finalized yet, so feel free to suggest which bonuses should be associated with each hero, especially if you have something creative in mind.

Hero Prestige System

Once the endgame has a lot more content, we will allow players to restart their characters if they wish. Like Call of Duty, there will be a cosmetic indicator if you are doing one of 5 prestige levels.

Many DOTs

The engineering team is working on the tech to make Damage Over Time (DOT) crit and also get rid of the bug that has DOT damage not being reduced in groups.

Limbo and Groups

We are updating the design for Limbo to make it more fun and less of a slideshow. We may end up reducing the number of players at the same time as we improve the flare and threat scaling system. If we actually make the zone challenging and appropriate for 5 people, we could put special unique zone rewards on the zone. This is something we really need to think about and iterate until it’s fun and actually interactive. We intend to keep buffing other zones until they are equal or slightly higher exp than Limbo, since Limbo is not really how the game is intended to be played.

Feedback

We spend a big chunk of our evenings reading and digesting feedback. Keep it coming. I personally read almost every post in every forum. I love the feedback, whether it’s polite, rude, angry or happy. Everything is fair and everything matters. If someone is unhappy, we figure out why and figure out what we can do to improve their player experience. We have a big group of smart, experienced people here in every department, so we can solve almost anything with a little time. The company is a real gaming company and not a corporation. Because of the quality and dedication of the people here, I know this game will be around for a long, long time and will get better every week.

I am constantly impressed by the quality of the engineers, artists, animators, producers and designers. Even the management team is top notch. It doesn’t matter if they are in marketing, development, finance – they are all gamers who care about the game more than anything. Not to mention we are lucky to have Brevik as the president. He is a real gamer and a smart man. I’ve never had a company where even the president has smart lists of game improvements after playing a hero over an evening or over the weekend. He is constantly pushing every department to do the right thing and make Marvel Heroes solid and fun.

Next Blogs

We’ll try to get other folks in the company to write blogs. Most days are nonstop working, but we will find some time. There are many issues I didn’t cover, but rest assured we know about them. Our list of priorities is long and it gets done. If there is anything you want me to cover, let me know. I will keep answering stuff on the forums and doing an occasional blog to cover big stuff.

Other Quick Hits and Teasers:

  • We just had a playtest for a new patrol mode that was great. I think it will be set in Manhattan and feels very heroic.
  • We are working on a new mode called “The Breach” (AKA the Kobayashi Maru mode!)
  • There is a new level of costume cores being made
  • It’s not my department, but there are some very cool new costumes underway
  • The engineering team is working on some very promising improvements to performance
  • A big upgrade to crafting will roll out after defenses and heroes have been all fixed
  • Scarlet Witch is getting a new resource system and Ultimate
  • We are allowing people to use “U” to use their Utimate (Social will be moved to “O”)
  • Legendary items, Relics, Superteam items
  • Halloween stuff
  • Christmas stuff
  • Ragnarok

Thanks as always for playing Marvel Heroes! I’ll see you in-game or around the Forums.

Doomsaw