City of Heroes has a long and wonderful history with fun April Fools Day jokes. Though they weren’t always well received at the time. In fact, there was always someone who failed to realize what the date was and would fall for the joke every time. Some of them were great ideas that should have been introduced, some of them…less so. Either way, here is the history of April Fools Day in City of Heroes.
2005 – Vomit
In 2005 a power description was added to City of Heroes for the Temp Power Vomit. Players spent all day trying to work out how to unlock it but sadly it was never a real power. Though…now that I think about it, that might have been for the best.
2006 – April’s Fool
In 2006 the development team was back once again, this time with a badge called April’s Fool, which was first found in pigg files in March. After April passed it was revealed by Positron that the badge data was the joke and that the badge was never intended to be released.
2007 – Toy Bat
For a third year in a row the development team added fake data to the game files to fool players into thinking they were getting something, this time, a Toy Bat Temp Power.
2008 – Visual Sounds
In 2008 NCSoft NorCal announced Visual Sounds were being introduced to the game, based on comic books use of onomatopoeia. Here are a few quotes from that announcement.
“I know it sounds crazy,” said Brian Clayton, the Executive Producer and head of the NC NorCal office, “but our research shows that a lot of people are building their own computers nowadays, and sometimes you forget to purchase speakers or headphones. Our market is those gamers who want a full gaming experience without having to listen to the game.” Visual Sounds will be included in the upcoming Issue 12, which is being re-christened “Issue 12: Pow, Biff, Boom, Bam!” in honor of this new system.
“I have always been an advocate of using the theater of the mind,” said Matt “Positron” Miller, Lead Designer on the titles. “When you read a book, you give the characters their own voices, and when you watch a movie based on that book you can’t help but be disappointed when what your mind came up with was better. That’s the way this system works. Whatever sounds we put into the game can’t compare to what you can imagine with your own mind, so why even try?”
Ken Morse, the Lead Artist on the title was excited. “It’s going to be a lot more work for our department, but I think the end results are totally worth it.” He said. Players can optionally disable the Visual Sounds in the options menu, but are encouraged to keep them on, as all the sounds in the game are being removed to make room on the players’ hard drives for the new Visual Sound graphics.
I’ll be honest…I kind of wish they had done this. It would have been so much fun to have the option!
2009 – City of Heroes: Golden Age
Experience Paragon City’s Golden Age the way it would have been experienced then…in the 1980s. That’s right! City of Heroes was going to be turned into a text based game with some pretty amusing recommended system requirements.
- DOS 3.1 or later
- 386 Processor or higher
- 640k of RAM
- 1200 baud Hayes-compatible modem
“We feel that with system requirements like these, the sky is the limit on the amount of users we can reach,” said Development Director Art Min. Mr. Min was quick to add that, “the game will also support sound through the AdLib soundcard.”
Take the fight to the streets! Fight super-powered foes! Interact with other players! Become more powerful than ever in City of Heroes: Golden Age!
2010 – City of Sidekick
In 2010 it was once again time for a new game, this one was City of Sidekicks, a game where you aren’t saving the day, you’re screwing up, dodging attacks and other…fun(?) activities. You would get bonus points for quipping during a dodge and permadeath was also a possibility. It was supposed to be released exactly one year later on April 1, 2011 with an “expandalone” title City of Henchmen following 6 months later.
Oh what could have been…
2011 – Running Out of XP
In 2011 City of Heroes was facing a crisis, they were running out of XP! And well…honestly? You should read the full text of that year’s announcement for yourself. It is some high quality writing.
In an interview given earlier today, Paragon Studios Senior Designer Matt “Positron” Miller was asked “Why can’t we level our characters past level 50?” In a surprise admission, Miller replied “We’d love to but we simply can’t allow it. We’re running low on Experience Points to hand out and want to make sure that we have enough to cater to lower level Heroes and Villains.”
Running out of XP?! Has this ever happened before? Our investigations led us to several examples of companies running out of seemingly unlimited virtual goods, but never anything on the scale of an MMO running out of the basic requirements needed to level up your character. “Everything seemed to be on pace in the early days of City of Heroes”, said Brian Clayton, studio manager for Paragon Studios. “We were looking good to last several comic book life-death-resurrection cycles, but along came Going Rogue and threw our projections out of whack.”
When asked to comment, Lead Designer Melissa “War Witch” Bianco mentioned other things that have impacted the supply of XP. “All those Task Forces, Trials, Strike Forces, Mayhem and Safeguard missions;. It adds up. We tried alternative forms of rewards, but players still want XP, and our stockpiles have continued to dwindle.”
“We even implemented a feature that allowed a player to turn off XP as an austerity measure,” said Senior Designer Tim “Black Scorpion” Sweeney. “Unfortunately the major marketing push to raise awareness of the issue was tangled up and shelved, and the whole ‘Conserve XP’ movement never really took hold. Patrol XP was a possible substitute, but it just whetted the appetite for the real thing. Proposals to raise revenue through increased XP debt penalties were never on the table to begin with.”
Nate “Second Measure” Birkholz, Producer for City of Heroes, had this to add: “We’ve tried to increase supply, but it’s difficult. Every point is handcrafted from the finest gems of insight, pearls of wisdom and seasoned with the harsh sweat of overcoming your setbacks. That’s a time consuming process, not one you can rush.”
When we asked experts outside of Paragon Studios, we got some surprising rebuttals. “Their accounting methods budget a full 50 levels of XP for everyone who steps into the city. How do they know if that character is ever going to actually reach level 50? They could be a simple entrant to a costume contest, or just there to keep tabs on a fellow Super Group, or even try out a new Power Set. Level 50 is an aspiration, not a requirement. We are far from the days of ‘Peak XP’.”
“Based on current usage and our projections,” Destin Bales, Development Director for Paragon Studios said, “we predict we will run out of Experience Points exactly one year from today, April 1st, 2012. And I would like to point out that Influence isn’t looking too hot either.”
Sean “Dr. Aeon” McCann, one of the masterminds behind the player generated content system Mission Architect was only able to give the following statement: “No Comment.”
2012 – New Vanity Pet, Clown Summoning, and There’s Always One
In 2012 the Paragon Market was going to get a few new interesting additions:
- Liger Pet – Bred for their skills in magic, the liger pet is the perfect thing to show off your favorite animal (pretty much). This half-tiger, half-lion vanity pet is an unwavering companion for your tater-tot eating hero. Why buy a time-machine online when you can buy a liger for a fraction of the cost?
- Vanity Pet – This four legged companion pet will act as a true reflection of your character. Its fine wood exterior can withstand even the toughest super powered attacks. Assembly required, allen wrench included, but other tools will be needed.
- Custom Power Set – Purchasing this item will get you a phone call from the designers at Paragon Studios who will walk you through the process of creating your very own customized power set of unimaginable power. You decide the Archetypes it works with, what attacks and buffs it has, and what the animations and effects are supposed to look like. Please allow up to 8 months for the power set to appear in the game.
- There Is Always One Identifier – This will give you 5 charges of the “Who Hasn’t Clicked The Button?” power. Executing this power while you are one person away from entering an event or Incarnate Trial will highlight name of the character you are still waiting on. In addition, a giant arrow indicator will appear over their head, the game will sent them a tell, email them, send an SMS to their phone, call their home telephone and dispatch a local security firm to their house to get them to click the “Enter” button.
- Babysitter – Want to get in that Shadow Shard Task Force without worry? Need someone to watch Junior while you blaze through the newest content update? Purchasing this will allow you to schedule a four or eight hour babysitting session where one of several Paragon Studios employees will come to your home and watch your little one(s) while you play City of Heroes. (Maximum four children and eight hours at a time).
- Clown Summoning Power Set – With the Clown Summoning Power Set for Masterminds, you will be able to command and control your own circus of clowns. The minion pets are three traditional happy clowns, with squirting flower ranged attacks and balloon-sword melee attacks. The lieutenant pets are of the sad clown variety, and finally the boss clown is a vicious mime with a very powerful self-containment attack that puts himself inside of an invisible, shrinking box. Clowns arrive on the battlefield via a single tiny car that they all pile out of.
- Rularuu Costume Change – Changes your character’s model to that of Rularuu, the 50 foot tall insane god-like, dimension eating, being that is trapped in the Shadow Shard. Please use outdoors only, as your character may not fit on many indoor maps.
- Bee Bark Upgrade – City of Heroes has dogs. City of Heroes has bees. Now City of Heroes has dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you. This upgrade power will work on the wolf companion pet, the black wolf companion pet, the umbra beast, and the minion and boss summoned wolves from the Beast Mastery power set. It will give those creatures the ability to shoot bees out of their mouths as a ranged attack. “Simpsons did it.”
Unknown Year – Cel Shading
At some point in time Cel Shading was added to the game as an April Fools joke, only this is a joke that stuck around! Yes, you can play CoH with Cel Shading right now.
Which year was your favorite April Fools Day in City of Heroes? I have a soft spot for the Bee Bark Upgrade. Special thanks to ParagonWiki for many of the images in this article.