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/Jkj6464. See you there...

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.

Civilians and Cars

Realism

 Areas frequented by players in MMO's need npc's to add immersion. The September 2018 newsletter  tells us about the developers vision for populating the city with civilian npc's and levitating cars.


The images above show Dr Strikewell standing in the street with hovercars behind her. The cars levitate constantly, even when parked, to facilitate easy entry and exit. Whether or not we'll actually be able to use vehicles is unknown at this time, though with superpowers at our disposal, we could probably get around faster under our own steam...

 This image shows a bunch of npc's standing around singly doing their own thing or in groups making the city look alive. This is very important in MMO's in order to add a hint of realism. Here's a quote from the devs:
There are over 100 civilians in the Arch Park, and at any given time, a player can see about 20.  We think this strikes a good balance between immersion and FPS.  As a supporter of SoH, feel free to weigh in with your opinion in the forums on whether this is the right density of civilians.

You can read the newsletter on the official Ship of Heroes Site and add your thoughts in the forum.


In Other News

  • Heroic Games are still working towards running that login test they've been talking about for a while so keep an eye on the official site (or here!) for news about that.
  • An engine upgrade is expected, to 4.20, soon which will give the devs some interesting new capabilities.

Cars? On a Ship?

Here's a glimpse of what cars could look like on Ship of Heroes. Note the lack of wheels! We don't yet have a backstory to explain their hovering, no doubt that'll all be made clear soon!


What can I say except... I want one!

Ship of Heroes, Community Poll

Heroic Games like to know what people think. The latest Community Poll asks the question:

"You’re in-game and you come across a new player who needs help with a mission. What would give you the greatest motivation/incentive to assist them?"

If you'd like to add your views, you can see the poll at https://www.shipofheroes.com/ and join in the discussion at https://www.shipofheroes.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=6

What's Being Worked On (first half of 2018)

The team have been working on six main areas of the game:

1.    The characters, costumes, morph targets, and related character art.
2.    The city, props, buildings, mission maps, and other environmental art.
3.    The code that works with the Unreal Engine, and creates the game.
4.    The powers, animations, FX, and SFX.
5.    The mission and big battle systems.
6.    Leveling and advancement.


Taking transparency to a whole new level and going into far greater detail than we'd normally expect from development teams, the lead developer for Heroic Games has provided a long list of work done in the last four months or so.

- Upgraded to 4.18
- Changed GM Calling command structure.
- Lots of meshmerge work.
- I'm not sure if Popcorn FX was added around the time of this upgrade or if it was new from shortly before but I see a lot of the early Popcorn stuff in there. Adding example beams and such. Many popcorn FX integration tweaks which can be branched into this note.
- Lots of Mission and Public Quest work as well as Quest Tracker upgrade.
- Damage Meter changes.
- Improved menu interactions, widget resizing, dynamic UI, and settings tweaks.
- Significance Manager
- Lots of folder restructuring and cleanup, that would break any reference to the moved items.
- Power system revamp.
- Targeting system revamp.
- Focus targeting system for things like target of target and focus assisting.
- Follow target.
- TrueSKY which is our day/night system.
- Status Effect Resistance and other improvements to Status Effects.
- Capsule shadows.
- FPS Meter
- Cast speed enhancements.
- Many optimizations.
- Custom character movement code.
- Civilian NPCs can now be spawned in large numbers.
- Update Rate Optimizations and skipped renders of invisible objects.
- Grounding optimizations.
- Health bars and nametags.
- Inventory slot improvements.
- Ability to hide/unhide UI.
- Target Frame Rate selector.
- Can activate keybinds when using the chat widget now.
- Targeting socket changes.
- Cooldown Buff/Debuff implementation.
- No longer tries to open up secondary programs when launches.
- Mouse controls now in C++.
- Controller ticks now in C++.
- Completely revamped the Character Player Hierarchy
- Re-setting movable UI in place

You can read more about this and any follow-up on the official forum post.


Here's some attached notes:
1. TrueSKY gives us day/night in-game. It as supposed to be a simple plugin but it turned out to be much more complicated than that. And implementing it has had several implications. For example, we can now link our FX intensity to the time of day automatically, so that subtle FX, like buffs, can be seen in the day but not become eye-searingly bright at night. Also, it's a bit of an issue to get the shadows just right. And finally, once we had this working we discovered that the city would look much better with emissive textures on the windows that light up at night. And then we decided that they should be subtly glowing during the dayas if the lights were on in the offices behind the glass. So altering the emissives and integrating them with our CROM system has taken over a month already. But it looks really good.

2. Significance manager is also a pretty cool idea. this allows us to help a player keep his game moving along quickly, as opposed to be stuck with low FPS, if there is a lot going on. This system, which we have custom-coded using capabilities of the Unreal Engine, means that the movements of the guys you are fighting have priority -- they are more significant -- than the distant shadows on buildings, if you are in a situation in which your FPS has dropped below a design setting. That's a simple case. We have a lot of metrics built into this feature.

3. Whenever you see a listing that says we have re-coded something out of blueprints and into C++, this is almost always because C++ is faster. BP are really easy to do, as they are a visual scripting language. You don't need to be a coder to write blueprints. But very few MMOs are every published without going through the BPs and converting them to C++. Unreal has automated tools for this conversion, but the tools do not always give us the very best (fastest) code structure. A skilled coder can do a better job. So we are steadily converting BPs to C++ as we move forward.


Since FPS (frames per second) is sort of fundamental to an MMO, we measure it a lot. Getting decent FPS in any multiplayer game is the coin of the realm. You can't just toss purchased assets into a framework and expect them to function with high FPS in a multiplayer scenario, even if they work well in a single player situation.

So we've done a simple thing. We added an FPS meter to the screen (it can be turned off), so that we can get community feedback on FPS during the upcoming login test. Instead of us telling you what FPS was achieved, we can all tell each other, and relate our results to the kinds of computers and graphics cards being used.

I've not heard of this being done before by a dev team, but it seems like a natural thing to do in a transparent situation like the Ship of Heroes development.

A second item is that we developed our own methodology to spawn scores of NPC civilians with modest FPS cost. Civilians are important -- a city looks empty without them. And the bigger the city, the more NPC civilians it needs to have, or it looks funny, and kind of dead.

You guys may recall that we are currently running Unreal Engine 4.18. But 4.19 was released a while ago, and 4.20 was released withing the last week. After the login test, we plan to evaluate the results that we get, and then double-jump to 4.20, because 4.20 has several things in it that will help us (and all MMOs) to increase FPS and to handle mobs of civilians. So first we'll test what we have already created, and then we will see how much effort we need to apply to get improvements using the engine upgrades.

This is a good example of getting lucky. We built the code systems we thought that we needed for SoH, and now Epic is adding more resources to our toolbox.  :)





Just to finish off, here's a few more screenshots of the (incomplete so far) night sky with partially lit buildings. It's worth noting that the lighting has not yet been balanced and not all buildings are lit - this is very much still a work in progress.