A projection of what we can expect Apotheosis City to look like at night

This is an internal development picture from yesterday, showing our view of what night should be like in Apotheosis City, in the Arch Park. Note the the clouds are lit by the moon, and that we've updated the road surface with a new look.

 Looking good! As I've said on the forum before, the hard part is waiting...

It looks as if the login test might slip to June while they bring their new power set and the day/night cycle into the game and do lots of optimisations that they want to complete before starting the test.

There was a lot of information about progress in May on the thread that this picture was attached to.

And here's a few more of the latest images...

Loads of new images on the SoH Instagram Account

Just a quickie - there are a lot of new (to me anyway) images on the Ship of Heroes Instagram account. Hop on over and take a look at https://www.instagram.com/shipofheroes/.

SoH May Update

An early update for May 2918

  1. A system called TrueSKY has been adopted. It is intended to be used to handle the day/night cycle and some other interesting effects.
  2. PopcornFX is also being incorporated into the game engine with, apparently, good results on effects for powers, etc.
  3. Animation blueprints are undergoing more changes which is being blamed for the current lack of video releases.
  4. A couple of new people have  been added to the team.
  5. What Heroic Games describe as a 'login test' is still on the cards and is expected soon™.
  6. Consultant described the latest round of polishing and improvements for the Arch Park area of the city and says things are looking great. 
 As usual, you can read the full update (and it's a long one) on the official forum.

Further Expansion of the Development Team

We learned that Heroic Games have recently added two new members to the team.

Dave Smith, the new lead coder and Steven, an environment artist/level designer and city prop designer.

You can read more about them on the official Ship of Heroes website. 

They are also in the process of recruiting another guy named Steven, keeping up the unusual tradition of employing people with similar names...

This continuing expansion of the development team can only be a good thing for the future of Ship of Heroes. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.

MMOGames: Ship of Heroes’ Casey McGeever on Powersets, Scale, and Player Choice

Here's a quickie - more of a shoutout really, for an article written by Chris Hughes for MMOGames about his meeting with Consultant (Casey McGeever) of Heroic Games.

There's a lot of information in that article of interest to people new to Ship of Heroes and it's well worth a good read.

Massively Overpowered - PAX East 2018: Talking superhero MMOs

There's a really interesting article over on Massively Overpowered talking about Ship of Heroes and an interview at the PAX East 2018 with Casey McGeever.

Of particular interest to me was what Herioc Games has planned for the first half of this year.
  • April, will be work on the day/night cycle, adding more effects, and a new healing powerset.
  • May, will be all about a login test, one revised power set and one added set, also a new mission map and lighting changes.
  • June will see costume testing, peeks at Controller and Debuffing powers, and preparations for raid testing.
  • The overall plan remains for the game to enter some form of beta testing later on this year. 
 The whole article is very well worth a read.

Plenty for solo players to do in SoH

Here's an interesting comment made by 'Consultant' on the SoH forum confirming that those who want to go it alone will have plenty to do.
One of the most common questions we get from the press is about the archetypes, and future variations on the themes. Which contrast with the mail I get which has a common question of "what about solo play?" That question has a very positive answer, so in case anyone was wondering, there will be tremendous opportunity for all kinds of solo play, from street sweeping to door mission to repeatable missions, and more. I always think that everyone knows that, but since I'm getting the question, maybe I need to say it.

Suggested Worlds You Would Like to see in the Game

You really should see some of the amazing ideas people have been coming up with for worlds to visit in Ship of Heroes. Some of them are detailed to an astonishing degree. Take a look at the thread on the official forum.

Ship of Heroes Upgrading to Unreal Engine Version 4.18

UE4 Upgrade to  4.19

 Heroic games have announced the latest upgrade of their game engine to version 4.19

During development, they usually stay one version behind the most current Epic release, but expect to upgrade to UE 4.19 in a month or two. When they get closer to a launch date, they'll decide which version to go with.

Here's an interesting quote:
We are now developing Ship of Heroes in a completely stable version of Unreal Engine 4.18, which is good timing because 4.19 was just released, and is being evaluated by other dev teams that like to be early adopters.

 You can read the full article on the Ship of Heroes wesbite.

Reflections on GDC 2018

 (From Casey/The Consultant - CEO of Ship of Heroes/Heroic Games)

My reflections on GDC 2018

1. About Epic Games: Epic had a huge booth, as usual, not too far from the Amazon Lumberyard booth. There seemed to be less of a focus on engine developers this year, except for these two. Epic was in fine shape, and we had some very meaningful tech discussions with them and made a couple of new contacts for the future. This year Epic was busy explaining how they made Fortnite, in an entire series of talks. This was, in many ways, the technical highlight of the convention for us. We're still watching and re-watching the videos form a couple of these talks. One of the key conclusions was that upgrading to UE 4.19 is very significant for any team making an MMO with Unreal. Shortly we'll have a newsletter out about what we are doing with the SoH engine version, and why. But changes in 4.19 are significant enough that a lot of key tech suppliers are also releasing updates geared around the 4.19 release from Epic.

2. We were able to speak with a lot of industry insiders and experts at the convention. Not only do they often present, but they are generally accessible before and after their talks, as well. We walked the show floor multiple times as well, speaking with devs from SpeedTree, TrueSKY, and many others about their technology.

3. We were able to set an appointment in place with the founder and CTO of PopcornFX, with their superb game FX technology. This was really exciting, since Epic is moving away from their Cascade system and toward a newer system called Niagara, but has fully enabled PopcornFX in the Engine. We are going to be doing much more with PopcornFX (this also relates to engine version for us), which is part of our strategy to upgrade and also level the FX from superpowers in Ship of Heroes. It's hard to convey how exciting the Popcorn stuff is, when you see it. But our community is going to be seeing more and more of this kind of advanced stuff in-game.

4. On a personal note I had a number of very meaningful meetings and lunches. I have a favorite little Thai restaurant near to the Moscone Convention Center. I was able to meet Gordon Walton of Crowfall for lunch there one day. Gordon always offers me insights into MMO development -- he's an incredibly smart and generous person that I first met several years ago at GDC 2016. I also had a really fun meeting with Andrew Ross of Massively Overpowered. This was the first time I'd met Andrew, and we had a wide-ranging, fun talk, which became a very in-depth interview on MO. If you have not read it, it is worth looking at.

But one of my favorite moments was meeting up with one of our coders in person at the show. As some of you may realize, SoH is a small team, but we've still managed to get two guys named Casey, two named Chris, two named David and two named Justin. We also have two surnamed Smith (no relation). So here we were, in my favorite Thai spot -- the two Casey's, talking shop. As a virtual team, this was an unexpected bonus to the trip.

5. Summarizing: we spoke with many people, listened to many talks, and visited many booths. Some of my takeaways are the following:
  • The big move in MMOs is toward having more players on the screen. This is a good thing for SoH, as the underlying tech issues for this feature are significant, and every tech company that helps with this feature is directly good for SoH's development.
  • In single player games, the big trend continues to be in the direction of movie-quality visuals.
  • AI is big and gets bigger every year. Applications are apparently unlimited, from writing dialog to monitoring chat.
  • I think there is a move back toward subscriptions for MMOs and multiplayer in general.
  • More and more people and organizations are pushing back against toxicity in gaming.
  • I did not see anything that suggests to me that a niche game like SoH will not succeed. Just the opposite in fact.
  • I am always interested in the stories of other development teams and what kind of market research they utilized, when they decided to make a new game. I think this is an under-published field, along with some confusion over the difference between features and benefits, in gaming. Features are about the game. Benefits accrue to the player.

Anyway, this post has become far too long. But I enjoyed the conference, as I do every year, and I learned a lot. We're still following up on meetings we had last week. Now it is back to work for me. :)

The Map of Apotheosis City

  Just released - the official map of Apotheosis City

Every new MMORPG gets to the point where they can begin sharing the current version of the persistent level with their community.  Ship of Heroes is at that point right now.  The map above is the first viewable version of the map of Apotheosis City.  While every part of the city has not be allocated to a zone yet, it is clear that there will be about a dozen zones in the first playable level.

Apotheosis City is one of the most important cities on the FHS Justice and benefits from its proximity to the engineering level. It was one of the first 8 levels built of the Justice, while still in Earth's orbit and is the one of the most Earth-like environments, including a body of water, green spaces with grass, trees, and vegetation, and a holographic Earth-like sky, which will offer night and day and eventually changes in season to accommodate its human residents. Of course, many engineers live in Apotheosis City – it also has a special problem with Prometheans who inhabit unmapped access ways under and through the city and the Ship at large.

The Apotheosis City level is large – larger than the starting maps in City of Heroes and probably also SWTOR, for any of the first four game-entry worlds.  It is a large open world, not unbounded but large by modern game standards.  The devs have managed to avoid the dated look of endless prairie, desert, or similar-looking Soviet architecture that became common 10 years ago.  Comparing to modern games, Apotheosis City is about the same size as the map of Fornite’s Battle Royale, for example, but with much more urban space.

The FHS Justice uses a modular in construction with 20 levels (and sublevels) along with helm and engine levels, each level is .75 miles in diameter, like Apotheosis City but very different in function and appearance. The ship is 20.4 miles long. As the game grows, each level will become playable area for missions, careers, harvesting, and possible bases but there is a literal universe of potential expansion with alien and human ships and other worlds. 

This map will become a tool in-game, as well as providing fans with the ability to zoom in and place some of the scenes they already become familiar with – such as the Arch, the Science Park, Heroic Plaza and the Warehouse District.

The maps were created by the environmental art team at Ship of Heroes and exactly replicate the in-game maps from the beginning of 2018, which was used for the successful combat Alpha which was just completed.  The map will be periodically updated, and the next update will likely be in April of May.  Now that the first combat Alpha is over, the devs have a backlog of improvements to install into the game, and some of these will affect the map.

The devs at Ship of Heroes know that it can take an Indie team a long time to make a playable space really immersive – it’s all in the details – so they have been giving regular updates on the persistent level of Ship of Heroes for 15 months, and still have the rest of 2018 to complete the planned portion of the map before Beta begins.  The devs plan their newsletters, videos, livestreams and Alpha activities to showcase sustained progress in creating the new world aboard the FHS Justice.

The Devs of Ship of Heroes will be describing the zones in greater detail in future updates - for now players can speculate on the roles that each zone will play in Apotheosis City, the base level for launch where the adventure begins in Ship of Heroes.