Upgrade to Unreal Engine version 4.21

Heroic Games have announced an upgrade to version 4.21 of the Unreal Engine they're using to develop and run their new MMO, Ship of Heroes. You can read all about the benefits offered by this new engine on their website.

Also last year, was the release of an enormous amounts of assets by Epic Games which developers can use as a base for their own creations. Some of the hairstyles have been shown by Heroic Games - it's worth noting though, that these can't just be copied to Ship of Heroes, a lot of work is required to modify them to fit the new character models used in SoH.




Here's part of the newsletter, copied verbatim:
Our skilled coders and artists have done engine upgrades many times before, and we usually take a moment and tell all of you what the advantages on the new version are going to be.  And once again, we’re going to provide the top-level summary, but moving from 4.18 to 4.21 means that we have integrated over 400 improvements into the game code, many of which are visible to our dev team but are not visible to our players.  Some of the most important upgrades that you’ve be able to see or hear us discussing and reacting to are the following:

  •     Dynamic Resolution supports linking resolution to FPS for console games made in UE. We are not building a console game, and we already have a custom version of this feature coded and working in SoH, but having DR as an engine feature helps us optimize.
  •     Advances to the Niagara FX system in terms of realism. It’s possible that we may use both Niagara and PopcornFX in our FX, depending upon the situation, so this gives us options, including with powerset creation.
  •     We can pull the art and FX assets that Epic gave to the community from their game, Paragon, and re-use or re-create them in our MMORPG. While the costumes from Paragon are not directly useable in Ship of Heroes, they do give us advanced 3D concept art to work with, and also some really cool hair models (that we still need to extract and optimize for our purposes).
  •     The Replication Graph feature allows a significant reduction in server work for the kind of instanced missions that will be our bread and butter. We still need to code this capability specifically to our game, as it does not deliver results “out of the box.”  This is a tool specifically designed for high-volume multiplayer games.  Thank you, Epic!
  •     The introduction of the Proxy LOD system in version 4.19 is an extension of their Hierarchical LOD system, the system we use to help reduce draw calls and improve LOD performance over long range. This will be an especially welcome improvement during some of our Beta events later this year.
  •     In Epic’s 4.21 version of their Unreal Engine, they added a feature to detect and mitigate DDOS attacks. While we will need some time to figure out how to integrate it with SoH, we believe that this may ultimately improve both the security and performance of the game during a potential DDOS attack. Of course, we hope we don’t ever need such a thing, but historically DDOS attacks have taken down MMOs before and we would prefer to avoid the experience.
  •     Finally, Epic has given us a year’s worth of bug fixes, LOD enhancements, animation improvements, Sequencer upgrades, and debugging tools that our dev team is looking forward to adding to SoH.

Over 10000 accounts registered on the SoH forum!

Another milestone reached, over ten thousand registered accounts on the Ship of Heroes forum in two years. As Consultant said on his thread, that's pretty good for a team of mostly volunteer developers making a new MMO...

Ship of Heroes - Post Holiday Video

  • Ship of Heroes has released its second annual Christmas video highlighting a future holiday event in-game: fighting winter-themed seasonal monsters. Those looking carefully will notice that the flashing presents from the 2017 Christmas video are still in use in this year’s build. This video was released a week late because the devs conducted a series of login tests on December 15 th with several hundred supporters, and that pushed back production of the holiday video.
  • This time, a team of seven heroes defends the city. There is one tank and six ranged damage-dealers, two of whom can also heal. Civilians run away from the invading monsters as the heroes run in to fight them. Nice touch!
  • This video shows several new game mechanics. First are waves of extradimensional monsters invading the FHS Justice. Each wave spawns once enough of the previous wave has been defeated by the heroes. The video also shows brand-new temporary power-ups called infusions being used in-game. Finally, players can now buy infusions; this is the first time we have seen vendors working in Ship of Heroes.
  • This Christmas video is the conclusion of a big year for the SoH development team. They’ve conducted a major combat Alpha in Q1 and a hugely successful set of login tests in Q4, allowing 200 real players and supporters from the community to run around inside Apotheosis City for the first time.
  • Ship of Heroes has now published 26 videos over the last two years, showing the steady construction and expansion of the MMORPG. One of the hidden benefits of this process is that we can go back and look at any of their prior videos, even the very first one, and see how their game prototype is evolving in an extremely focused manner. These devs understand project management, and are illustrating their development philosophy of “build excellence, then expand it.”
  • The devs at Ship of Heroes are also asking their community to make donations directly on the SoH website, as a beta is now in the offing for the end of 2019, plus several additional events that the donating community can participate in. The video was sent to more than 10,000 newsletter and YouTube subscribers, and contains a soft appeal to help the self-funded indie developers at Ship of Heroes to achieve their goals.

Ship of Heroes has planned multiple events open to their community for the coming year, and is currently scheduling a Beta launch at the end of 2019.
 
You can see the video on Youtube - https://youtu.be/fHJuoFohhYI

Ship of Heroes Community Server

Parkhyeyeon has been kind enough to set up a discord server for people who want to chat about Ship of Heroes. https://discord.gg/YNk2Kx7. See you there...

Login Test Update

The registration phase of the login test is over and emails have been sent out to those who indicated they wished to take part. The email asks you what time slot(s) you would prefer to paricipate in.

If you registered and haven't received your email, you should check your spam folder, etc. If you don't state a preference for any particular timeslot, one will be chosen for you.

It's anticipated that a further email with a download link and login details for the character allocated to each participant will be sent out later this week.

See you there... And remember the discord link - https://discord.gg/Jkj6464

And here's a quote from Consultant on the official forum...

OK, we're closing registration now. We left it open for a bit of extra time, in case there were some who were last minute registrants.

We're also sending out an email to everyone who registered, this afternoon. In it we are asking you to select from a list of three times (all in eastern US time zone):

10 in the morning

1 in the afternoon

4 in the afternoon

In the ideal case you will choose more than one of these and we will then put you into one that allows us to allocate 300 people into three roughly even groups.

The Login Test is Here!



Our chance to get into Apothoesis City again has arrived. The login test we've all been awaiting has been scheduled for about 10am on 15th December 2018. It's open to anyone who has donated $25 or more to Heroic Games for Ship of Heroes.

There'll be no combat and we will be very limited in where we can go. Initial indications are that we'll be restricted to the area under the arch. This is purely a stress test, they want to see how the systems hold up with up to 100 players online in the same area at once and gather performance data.

If you want to take part and meet lots of other people who'll be playing, and the devs - take a look at the official Ship of Heroes Website.


Restorative Nanites Powerset Video Released

Direct quote from Heroic Games:
The 30th of November marks six years since City of Heroes closed.  Two years ago, we launched the Ship of Heroes website and announced that we were using the closed MMORPG as a major inspiration for a completely new game.  CoH had many wonderful traits, one of which was how much fun you could have playing healers, buffers, controllers, and other non-DPS archetypes.  Today we are releasing a video showing our first version of a new support powerset focused on healing and buffing, as an homage to CoH.

Here's the video, or you can watch it and read more about the powers on the official Ship of Heroes website.



The controller in City of Heroes added a lot of options to any team, it looks as if Ship of Heroes similar class if going to be just as much fun to play.

Restorative Nanites is likely to be more of a secondary power for most people, giving healing options to other classes. As a primary powerset, it's utility to a group will be indispensible when dealing with tougher enemies.

The video also shows off a very nice looking character, Nicky Nanite. It's immediately obvious how much better this character looks than some of the others on earlier videos. Heroic Games are making amazing progress on Ship of Heroes, it looks better each time I see it.

Consultant comments on Ship of Heroes beta question

Here's an interesting comment from Consultant, spotted on the official forum:

We're planning to do a Beta at the end of next month, of something. The likely candidates are a big raid, or the CCT upgrades.

Beta for the entire game, with the mission system, leveling, augments, and the whole thing is currently planned for the end of next year. That launch has been pushed back by a few months (we were previously saying the middle of next year) because we now know more about what our schedule in 2019 has to contain.

However, we will be doing more and more activities, in-game, with the community between now and then. Including letting supporters create characters and save names at some point between now and then.

Things are looking pretty good from where I'm standing, or, more accurately, sitting.

November 2018 Newsletter - FPS Success in Ship of Heroes

Heroic Games have released a newsletter in which they go into great detail about the work they are doing to ensure players have a great experience when playing. One of the challenges in MMO's is keeping response times and the graphical quality high enough to please players as more and more resources have to be displayed in real time. The developers of Ship of Heroes are taking this issue very seriously and have taken the unusual step, for a game this early in development, of telling us what they're doing to increase FPS (frames per second) and the results they are achieving. There's a lot of technical detail in the newsletter, far too much to go through here, you can read all about it on the official website.

Of particular note is that they have achieved an FPS gain from 20 to 64 by modifying the character models and developing their CROM 4 system for map optimisation, they have done this with no loss of quality - a very important consideration in an MMO.


Here's are a couple of interesting, and quite important, quotes from the newsletter:
We are currently planning 50-man invasions with 50-70 enemies as a typical maximum.  If these FPS numbers hold up, we may be able to go even higher.
Based on these tests, we think it is reasonable to assume that we can conduct a login test with 50-100 unique heroes, and that we can conduct a raid test with at least 50 heroes and 70 Nagdellians, with the expectation of success.


An FPS test with 103 heroes and 103 Nagdellians under the Arch.  FPS is 31.6. 
Sharp eyed viewers will have noticed that there are some new, hitherto unseen, costumes on show in this image. There has evidently been some exciting stuff going on that has not yet been revealed to us :) We're keeping our eyes peeled for more...

Here's the link to the associated forum post if you'd like to join in the discussion on this latest newsletter.


And, finally, here are some more interesting quotes:

Some of the FPS results are kind of startling.  Screengrabs showing over 200 characters, in motion and using FX, in close proximity are highly unusual for MMOs at any stage of development.  While this is testing, and not gameplay, the shots are still very compelling.  This is a good sign for the MMO industry, which has been running into a rough patch lately.


It seems likely, based on this data that SoH will be able to exceed the numbers of players that City Of Heroes could sustain on raids and invasions.  This spiritual successor to the beloved superhero MMO is looking good.

Ship of Heroes Login test News

Nope, not the actual login test, don't get too excited :) Just news that Heroic Games have said they're looking to carry out a test in 2018 and they're now looking for a guide as to the numbers of people they can expect. If you're interested in logging in and having a chat ingame (there'll be no combat or anything like that - as the name suggests, it's just a test to see how their systems stand up to large numbers logging in) pop over to the official website and vote in the community poll to let them know your favourite day and take a look at the associated thread in the forum.

Apotheosis City at Night Looks Fantastic!

Ok. I have to admit, the city looks great at night. Take a look at the video attached to the latest newsletter where the devs compressed a complete day/night cycle, which will last about 3 hours ingame, down to a few minutes. They're still working on perfecting light levels, etc. but it looks pretty good to me as it is.


More civilian paths and vehicles have been added to the map which is starting to take on a life of its own. It looks like a real city now with movement as npc's go about their business.

We also see our first image of a train in the city, in the image it's below Meltdown as he flies around!

Here's a quote from the end of the newsletter. See you on the forum...
Currently we are working on multiple efforts in order to integrate a couple of upgrades into SoH  for the future.  We intend to fundamentally test our CROM system to determine just how much of an FPS advantage it gives our players.  Similarly, we are completing a major –and unscheduled – round of player-character optimizations and improvements.  These two activities have pushed us back from our original schedule, but we’ll be showing and quantifying the positive effects of these changes in the near future.  We don’t often see dev teams being transparent about what they are doing on the technical side of a project, but we like to show quite a bit more detail than is common, and we will continue to do so in the future.
The next big thing will be a Login Test, which will occur before the end of the year.  Please keep watching and giving us feedback on the forums.