Meta’s Verse: City of Heroes Innovations
By Meticulous Meta, OnRPG Paragon Reporter
We only have a few short weeks left with City of Heroes. Compared to the player base there used to be there aren’t many of us left. Each time something goes wrong is a time to panic. Last weekend Virtue and several other servers mysteriously went offline. Those of us who call those servers home sat on foreign servers talking to eachother, realizing that there was every possibility that we may never get those servers back. Thankfully our paranoid feelings were wrong and the servers were back up again in just a short time. But it is heart wrenching each and every time. It’s so close to the end now, none of us want to say goodbye. So, instead of focusing on that right now, I want to talk about what City of Heroes has accomplished. Ways it has innovated the MMO industry. In researching this article I actually learned a lot, like the fact that City of Heroes holds four Guinness World Records. Not all of City of Heroes’ innovations have been in the Guinness World Records though. Here are six things that City of Heroes did first, including those four world records.
1. First Super Hero MMORPG
Yes, City of Heroes was the first. It is officially recognized by Guinness World Records. And for years it was the only Super Hero MMORPG out there. It wasn’t until 2009 it started getting competition. But City of Heroes remained the most popular despite the new competition. Even at the time of the closure announcement Paragon Studios billed it as the most popular Super Hero MMORPG.
2. First MMORPG to use Mentoring System
Teaming has come a long way since the early days. I love looking back at old screenshots and remembering how the Mentoring system was. It was one of the things that I found so appealing in City of Heroes to begin with. After all what hero doesn’t have a spunky sidekick? What is a villain without his or her lackey? Of course in 2009 the mentoring system was changed in favor of the new super sidekick system. But City of Heroes was the first to have a mentoring system of any kind. And it was recognized for this by Guinness World Records.
3. First MMORPG to use Adaptive Difficulty
To me this is the really big one. City of Heroes was the first to use adaptive difficulty. What does that mean? Strength and difficulty are adjusted according to the level and number of characters in the area. Until City of Heroes mobs were what mobs were. If you couldn’t fight them alone you got with a group. With City of Heroes came the idea that mob size, and difficulty could change depending on the team. For this City of Heroes was recognized a third time by the Guinness World Records.
4. First Evil MMORPG Expansion
So, not only was it the first Super Hero MMO it was also the first to let you be an evil son of …Arachnos. In 2005 City of Villains was released securing a fourth Guinness World Record for City of Heroes. These days the in thing in MMOs is to let everyone be friends. But not long ago players were making their own archnemeses. I was late to the Villain party, I’m just not a very evil person. But I love my few villains I have.
5. Levelling Pact
Levelling pacts were first introduced in 2008 with Issue 13. At the time I wasn’t sure about them but I quickly changed my mind. Nearly all of my characters are part of a duo. And I was always faced with that annoying problem of one of us getting higher in levels than the other. This completely did away with it until it was shut off last year. According to Paragon Studios themselves City of Heroes was the first MMORPG to introduce this kind of technology. And personally I’m of the opinion that any MMO where level matters (so nearly all of them) this feature is a must. Yet it is nowhere to be found.
6. User Generated Content
Neverwinter is gushing about theirs, STO is quite proud of theirs too but City of Heroes did it first. It was more than a year after Issue 14 gave City of Heroes the Mission Architect system that Star Trek Online released The Foundry. Anyone who played around then may remember that when it came out it nearly broke City of Heroes. But that is all part of the process. When you’re the first to do something you’re going to have a harder time as you blaze a new trail for others to follow.
These six are just the obvious and easy ways you can point out that City of Heroes has been a leader of innovation from the start. It doesn’t include the less obvious things like the amazing, complex character customization that even today few MMOs can match. And of course there are the personal firsts that came, for me it was the first MMO I played with my husband, the first time I got to fly in an MMO, and led to the first time I ever travelled to the Eastern side of the US so I could attend the wedding of two dear friends I met in City of Heroes. I can happily say that City of Heroes changed my life and is something I will always remember and hold dear to my heart. And whenever I see any of these things in an MMO I will always think back to my days in Paragon, The City of Heroes.