Marvel Heroes Interview with Stephen Reid
Community Director Stephen Reid answers some questions about the upcoming MMO, Marvel Heroes.
I recently had the pleasure of talking with Stephen Reid, otherwise known as ‘Rockjaw’, about Gazillion’s upcoming MMO Marvel Heroes. Excited to talk about the game, he answered some questions posed by myself and the community.
Metal Arcade: As Community Director for Gazillion Entertainment, what are your responsibilities in respect to Marvel Heroes?
Stephen Reid: I’m actually Director of Community and Customer Support, so I handle both of those departments. Either way, it makes me the ultimate person in charge of communicating with our customers and making sure they have a good time when playing the game (or even when they’re just considering playing).
Metal Arcade: Who are some of your favorite heroes? Are there any not currently in Marvel Heroes that you’d like to see worked in some point in the future?
Stephen Reid: I have plenty of favorites, and many more I’d love to see added in the game! Spider-Man is my all-time favorite hero, so he’s a given. I’m also a fan of Captain America, Daredevil, Iron Man… the list goes on. As for adding to the game, I’d love to see Captain Britain, Spider-Woman, Guardian (from Alpha Flight), Moon Knight and more… there’s a lot of heroes to choose from! Of course that doesn’t mean I’ll get my way!
Metal Arcade: What are the plans for introducing new heroes? Is there a particular interval you’re shooting for? How does the team decide who to add?
Stephen Reid: We haven’t talked about a specific interval yet, but we want heroes to be added on a regular and frequent cadence – we don’t want to go months between heroes. That said, we haven’t got an exact idea yet, so we’ll see. It’s a lot of work to create a hero, all of their powers, plus alternate costumes!
Figuring out which heroes to add is always difficult and there’s no set process, really. In some cases we add heroes because of their popularity; in others because of their powers, which would fit well with other heroes; sometimes just because we’re fans of theirs. Going forward after launch we’re hoping to involve the wider Marvel Heroes community in the process of choosing heroes too. We want to get the vote out.
Metal Arcade: Marvel Heroes is criticized by some for using established heroes rather than allow players to create their own. What was the reason for this design decision?
Stephen Reid: Pretty simple; we think it’s more fun. Personally I have never liked the idea of being part of the Marvel Universe in a game but not being one of the Marvel Heroes – they’re the reason you’re drawn to the universe in the first place! We know it was a bold decision, but we think it’s working out pretty well. Our only problem is that we don’t have enough hours in the day to get every hero we want into the game by launch!
Metal Arcade: Gazillion’s sister Marvel game, Super Hero Squad Online, allows for rudimentary customization of a home base, can players of Marvel Heroes expect something similar?
Stephen Reid: We’ve talked in very loose terms about the possibilities of hero bases, but Super Hero Squad Online is a very different game. Headquarters in that game are sort of like interactive dollhouses – you fill them with stuff and watch your heroes have fun. That’s very cool and unique, and we’re proud of it, but it might not be right for Marvel Heroes. Anyway we hope to do something fun with bases, one day.
Metal Arcade: It was ambiguously stated that heroes and costumes would be purchasable through in-game currencies, but this could mean anything, from relatively simple means to excessive luck and grinding methods. Can you offer more clarity about how heroes and costumes can be earned in-game?
Stephen Reid: Yes, all of our launch heroes and almost all of our launch costumes can be earned by playing the game. Every boss in the game can potentially drop a hero or costume after they’re defeated, and as loot is for you and you alone, it means if they drop something, it’s yours to keep. Now, heroes and costumes are quite rare, so you’ll spend more time getting gear to improve your hero’s abilities; but we’ve also ensured that on your first playthrough you’ll get a couple of heroes, for sure. We’re trying to keep a good balance so that people who just want to play for free always feel it’s worth continuing to play.
Metal Arcade: WASD movement is a feature currently lacking in the betas, and probably one of the most requested features I’ve seen so far. Are there plans to include this by launch, if at all?
Stephen Reid: There are no plans to include WASD movement by launch. While some feel it must be ‘easy’ to implement, the reality is anything but. It would mean rewriting many core systems including movement and targeting. We’re not saying it’ll never be added, but it’s not going in for launch. For anyone who’s never played a point-and-click action RPG though, I’d suggest they give it a try – it comes pretty naturally.
Metal Arcade: The skill system in the game has changed drastically from its initial incarnation at the start of these closed beta tests. Are there other gameplay elements the team plans to overhaul?
Stephen Reid: We like to think we made powers a lot better – essentially we ‘doubled down’ and decided to give every hero more powers, and more unique ones at that. Right now there are plenty of other systems that are being looked at, but the biggest one is probably costume crafting. That’s getting fully revamped into what we think will be an easier to understand and more fun to play system.
Metal Arcade: The betas currently take place for only a few hours on seemingly random days. Why is this, and can players expect a more traditional beta prior to launch?
Stephen Reid: Trust me – the days aren’t random. Right now we are keeping a close eye on our in-game performance and making sure we’re optimizing for launch, so we need to run each test during something close to ‘office hours’ for the team. In addition, each time slot was chosen to try and be in a suitable timezone for a different part of the world. Last but not least, we try and leave a gap between tests so that if we decide to roll out a new patch, we have at least a day to do it.
We’re planning on expanding testing before launch, and eventually we’ll get to 24/7.
Metal Arcade: Anything else you’d like to say on behalf of the game and the team?
Stephen Reid: Everyone’s working very hard to bring you the best game possible. We know the idea of a ‘Marvel MMO’ has taken on somewhat mythical status over the years and we also know we’re not everyone’s idea of what a Marvel MMO might mean – but we’re making some different choices and hopefully that’ll mean we don’t fall into the traditional traps. Try it, you might like it!
Marvel Heroes is currently in a constantly-expanding closed beta. For more information and sign-up, check out the Marvel Heroes website.