July 2019 - latest bit of launch date news

A common question that comes up is 'when will SoH launch?'

The answer is that no date has yet been set. Here's a couple of quotes from Consultant on the official forum dated 15th July 2019:
...we need to complete and assign quite a few animations to powers and create quite a few missions.
At the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 we will be taking a lot more community feedback into consideration, looking hard at the remaining technical issues and picking a date. We are not picking one now.
So, still to come in 2019 is the Character/Costume Creator beta, then an Invasion beta. When those are completed and they've dealt with any issues that may arise and taken the communities feedback into account, we can look forward to a launch date.

Devs Looking for Info -- Can You Help?

The Heroic Games team is looking for some information. Here's the content of the post on the official forum. Head on over there if you can help...

What we want to know is the actual date (month and year) that the first closed Alpha or Closed Beta of some other MMOs took place (list below). And if you have a link to a source document that supports your data, that is awesome! But some of this may be stuff that you remember, because you participated.

So, first (this would usually be closed) Alpha or Beta for these games:

  • Dark Age of Camelot
  • Star Wars Galaxies
  • World of Warcraft
  • Everquest 2
  • Warhammer Online
  • Star Wars, the Old Republic
  • Elder Scrolls Online
  • The Secret World
  • Guild Wars
  • Guild Wars 2
  • DCUO
  • Path of Exile
  • Crowfall

If you know any of this, or can figure it out, we'd like to get your help. If there are both alpha dates and Beta dates, please tell us which one you have uncovered.

Thank you.

Heroic Games is on LinkedIn

A reminder for those who haven't seen the forum post. Heroic Games is on LinkedIn.

If you are interested in following, it is simple and free. You log in to your LinkedIn account, search for Heroic Games, and what pops up should have a big blue button with white letters saying "Follow."
Click that and you are in.
LinkedIn is part of the overall social media outreach for Ship of Heroes. We know that our audience skews a bit older and more professional than most games do, so many members of the community will already be on LinkedIn.

FAQ - Ship of Heroes

There's a really useful FAQ in development over on the official Ship of Heroes site.
Adding an index into it here for completeness...

Basis Of The Game And Why We Are Here
The FHS Justice
Combat, Missions And Leveling
Loot, Augments, Temp Powers, Infusions and Crafting
Enemy Groups
Power Sets
Game Cost and Tokens

Auction House and 4th July Celebration Video

The devs at Ship of Heroes are involving the community in the developmental progress of their game.  In this video they are wishing everyone a great 4th of July, and showing that another piece of their game is now in working order.  In this case it's the auction house, which is named Ivar & Sons.  This is the 30th video that devs at Heroic Games have published about SoH.

In this video hero Snow Drift demonstrates that the auction house is working by putting an augment up for sale.  It’s a simple thing, but it's one of hundreds of seemingly simple things that need to be in place to enable a modern MMORPG.  Functional trading system for players?  Check. 

The devs are still polishing their starting gameplay area, known as Apotheosis City. But it already looks great, especially with the day/night cycle and the fireworks over the city center.  This is another small detail that speaks to the immersive power of this game.

Ship of Heroes is being developed in an extremely transparent manner.  One nice aspect of this is that progress shown in previous videos reappears in later videos.  We've seen Ivar & Sons on previous tours of Apotheosis City, going back to 2016.  But now it looks completed.  It's decked out with plants, signs, and working NPCs.  The heroine in the video, Snow Drift, has been shown before to have super-speed with an ice-based FX trail, and she still does.

Since the arrival of private servers with the old City of Heroes content on them, the SoH dev team hasn't slowed down at all.  They’ve shown combat with leveling, augment, power-ups, and buffs all working.  They’ve shown the super-speed travel power, and some great little additions to their city.  And now they’ve shown an auction house with trading functionality for players.

Watch the video on the official Ship of Heroes Site.

Ship of Heroes has conducted three successful Alpha tests, one in 2017 and two during 2018. The next big test with their community will be a character creator Beta, which is scheduled to be followed by a raid test.

June 2019 - superspeed video, new animations, Hazard Zone!

Ship of Heroes introduced a new travel power with their latest video: superspeed.  More information on the official SoH site.

Developers have been able to use flight for over two years in the game, but superspeed is one of the three travel powers that the dev team promised to have for launch, with teleportation still to come.  Superspeed in SoH is actually faster than flight, but it is balanced by the need to go around obstacles, making it roughly equivalent.

In this video hero Snow Drift shows off her superspeed power by racing around Apotheosis City.  During SoH’s recent login tests, over 200 supporters were able to jump into the city for an FPS measurement.  During that event, one of the most requested upgrades was to add collision to the trains in the city.  The devs listened, and you can see Snow Drift jump onto the top of a moving train. 

The devs are allowing players to choose from five different FX options at the character’s feet, so that superspeed can be customized to the players characters concept.  The four choices with FX are fire, electric sparks, ice, and darkness.  It’s also possible to choose no FX at the feet.  It’s pretty obvious from watching the video that superspeed is really fun.

The devs are announcing that in SoH, superspeed is a travel power and not an unbalanced attack power.  So a player can race up to an enemy and attack, but if they do, superspeed turns off and cannot be restarted until the combat is over.  There’s no racing back and forth, hitting the big boss 800 times while taking no damage in this game.  But on the plus side, superspeed does not use much energy, so you can keep going indefinitely if you want to.

Apotheosis City is coming alive with more verticality, more stairs, outdoor restaurants and more urban realism in general.  There is much less of that unrealistic architectural uniformity in this MMO than in most others.  There is also a first look at something in the center of the Hazard Zone, which is still mostly bare soil at this moment, but has a substantial hint of a dangerous heart of darkness.

The devs at SoH like to point out that they record their videos in the same kind of client/ server arrangement using a packaged game version that a player would experience.  This is not a special marketing piece produced in the Editor.

The devs are also taking some time to create some non-combat animations in response to requests from their community.  Ordinary things like walking and sitting down are on display.  SoH has three distinct character models for a player to choose from and incredible customization is possible from each three.  They have male, female and big guy models, each with a unique Unreal Engine skeleton, there are subtle differences in the animations.  Females walk like real females and male characters walk like males, increasing immersion.  SoH is not simply morphing their male character into a female shape and leaving the animations intact.

Ship of Heroes has conducted three successful Alpha tests, one in 2017 and two during 2018. The next big test with their community will be a character creator Beta, which is scheduled to be followed by a raid test.

Status Report for Ship of Heroes

Things are looking good on the Ship of heroes development front. Here's a post by Consultant on the official forum:

Some of these top things are in the game already:

1. We have done, and will continue to do, everything we can to enable people to play, even if they have older or graphically weaker computers. You may not be playing on Ultra settings (we can only do so much from our end), but we've done a lot in this regard.

2. You can solo most content, and do not need to team in order to advance. In fact, there are a lot of features designed to make solo play fun. We all solo, don't we?

3. Keeping up as a casual player. You should be able to play at your own pace. Since we are committed to positive community, you should be welcomed on any team, even if you are new or inexperienced. And you should be able to form a freindly team of your own, even without a guild or buddies, and do most anything.

4. The powers are different. Every class, every powerset has plusses and minuses. You need to think in advance and overcome the weaknessses your character has, and to make some lemonade out of lemons, at least part of the time. and DPS is just one factor; sometimes not the most important factor in combat success.

5. We do not have sidekicking built yet. But we do plan to have it included in the game.

6. We've shown about a dozen emotes already. More are coming.

7. We plan to top the COH character creator. We will see if that is possible, but we feel good about it, right now.

8. Our augments system provides customization above anything we've seen up to this point in another MMORPG.

Watch this space for a new video coming up soon...

CoH Private Server?

Comment from Casey:

With the surprise news yesterday that a private server for City of Heroes may have been operating for years, possibly with hundreds of players, we just want to reiterate that Ship of Heroes is developing full-steam, and that we will launch as planned on the schedule we have announced. Ship of Heroes is the next step in superhero gaming with a completely unique setting, new story and missions, new engine and graphics, and infinite room for future game expansion. Our goal is to provide a gaming home to all of those who want to continue to experience the positive community that we have already assembled on our forums and in our Alpha tests. After all the support we have received, doing anything else would be a betrayal. Please show your interest by continuing to support Ship of Heroes.

Closing my Twitter Account

Due to rampant and disturbing political censorship on Twitter, I have decided that I am no longer willing to use their platform. You can find me on https://gab.com/lunawisp.

Official Note About Derived Targeting

Here's something of interest regarding targeting in Ship of Heroes, spotted on the official forum.

From our lead coder, this morning:
"Derived targeting is now working. If you target an enemy who is attacking and ally and use a buffing spell it will buff the ally who the enemy is attacking. And if you target a friend who is attacking an enemy the same will also happen."
Right now the slider is for all UI elements at once. It is complex to allow individual UI elements to be resized by themselves, but we are looking at that issue this week.

Talking about hair models and physics

Latest update from Heroic Games regarding their hair models:
We'd like to give a quick update regarding where we are on the idea of adding new hair models. We added a new, highly skilled artist to the team and he is working on hair models for us, beginning with the transfer of the hair models from Paragon (very nice free assets provided by EPIC Games to their community). We have grabbed those assets, converted them to our standards, and also now have LODs for them.
The next step, which is underway right now, is to adapt them to our models, add the collision features and bone physics we want to employ (which we are creating from scratch), and then to test the resulting hair models in SoH.
We've begun testing, and of course appearance is the first issue. They do look good by the way.  :)
We also need to fine tune the physics, and the collision issues, and make sure we can easily afford the models within our FPS goals. That is not done yet, but it is all looking pretty good as we move forward. Our current selections for this system seem to be delivering a big improvement in FPS compared to APEX physics, which was our prior system, from 2017.
We still need to pull it all together in the game (the assets are not pushed to the real SoH yet, they are in testing), and settle a few things, and also make sure we like the color options for hair. But it is coming along quite nicely.

 This update, and the community's comments are on this thread on the official forums, and there's an associated older thread talking about hair choices.

Apotheosis City - latest look

Here's a couple of images posted on the official forum showing the latest view of part of Apotheosis City. The area certainly isn't flat, offering many points to jump onto unsuspecting bad guys (or be jumped on!) and plenty of interesting areas high up providing landing pads, etc. This is starting to look like a really interesting place to explore.

There are some more on the forum.

Mission Difficulty Sliders!

Here's an interesting post by Consultant on the official forum...

We are working on the code for missions, and this reflects our plan for the mechanics of how missions should work. I thought that perhaps we should start describing what we have in mind so that all of you can weigh in before we settle on this approach. Each of these factors is more less independent from the others.

First we still plan to let characters set their difficulty level for most missions, so if you are level 20 you should be able to dial the level of the mission up or down and get level 21, or level 19 enemies to fight. And perhaps a few more levels as well.

Next we also intend to allow characters to affect (perhaps with a slider) the composition of enemy mobs. So you want more trash mobs? Fine by us. More lieutenants, bosses and maybe an Arch-Villain? Again fine by us.

Enemies need to scale to the size of the hero team, so a mission that has a solo hero obviously needs to spawn fewer enemies and lower level enemies than the same mission being played by a team of 10 heroes.

These factors do all interact, and we are planning this out right now, in detail. And some mission types begin at higher levels of difficulty than others. So any given mission can deliver a totally different player experience, depending upon how the player makes his selections and forms his team (or does not form a team).

So we'll basically be able to choose our own level of difficulty. They really are going all out to make this as friendly to play as possible. If you have any comments about this, hop over to the forum to add your voice ;)

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