Gazillion discusses the change to Marvel Heroes 2016, 'ANAD' Marvel, controller support, and more

Marvel Heroes is jumping to '2016' with a major December update. To learn more about what's coming up, Shacknews reached out to the folks at Gazillion to ask about the All-New, All-Different Marvel, controller support, and what to expect from the last days before the big update.

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The Marvel Universe is undergoing a major change. Comic book readers have seen the beginning of the changeover to the "All-New, All-Different Marvel," a new status quo that fast-forwards the comic timeline six months after the events of the Secret Wars story, which is currently ongoing. The change is widespread and is also being felt in Marvel Heroes 2015, where Gazillion's MMORPG recently introduced new content based on what's going down.

While we're excited about what's coming from that corner, All-New, All-Different Marvel isn't the only thing about to change with Gazillion's massive dungeon crawler. Over the weekend at New York Comic-Con, the developer announced that the game would make the formal switch to Marvel Heroes 2016 in December. That means even more new content is coming, including a new story instance based on the Secret Invasion comic from 2008. To learn more about what's coming up, Shacknews reached out to the folks at Gazillion to find out what's on the horizon in the soon-to-be-titled Marvel Heroes 2016.

Shacknews: I remember at PAX Prime, the All-New, All-Different Marvel content was teased for Marvel Heroes 2016. But the rollout started on Friday just before MH2016 got its release date. What made you want to get the All-New, All-Different Marvel content out before the big 2016 update?

Chris Baker, Sr. Social Media Manager: We did say that, didn't we? It's actually still true – there'll be plenty of "ANAD" content that comes out with Marvel Heroes 2016. There were actually two big things that prompted us to release these a little earlier than originally planned: First, it just made sense to release some of the costumes during the same week all hit the same week that the "ANAD" initiative began in the comics, so it was obviously great timing for a tie-in. And then, secondly, we were basically done with Captain Marvel, Spider-Gwen, and Jane Foster as Thor, so we figured, why hold them back? Getting X-23's All-New Wolverine and the new Scarlet Witch costume in there in time was a bit more of a challenge, but we wanted just a little more substance to better tie into the event – and based on fan reaction, I think we've succeeded.

Shacknews: You pulled the curtain back on the Marvel Heroes 2016 release date at New York Comic-Con. What will the update include? And what makes December an ideal release for the changeover?

Baker: There are a lot of little things that hardcore players will notice right away, but there are four big things that the rebrand will launch with that we think player will find most attractive.

First, we have our first new story chapter in quite some time with Secret Invasion, which of course is based on the big Marvel event from 2008. Our own version is a little bit different since we're essentially our own universe with its own continuity, so you'll see a similar story told in a different manner, all culminating with a showdown with Kl'rt, the Super-Skrull – his debut in the game!

We're also looking to widen our audience a bit with the inclusion of controller support, and we're trying to get as many relevant controllers to be compatible as we can. At this time we can confirm support for Xbox controllers (Xbox One and Xbox 360), most Logitech controllers and the Steam Machine controller.

One of the most immediately obvious changes is what we're calling Visual Updates – much like we went back to our original 2013 launch characters to enhance their power sets, we're now updating their looks to be more in line with the new character models we're creating. We can confirm Jean Grey and Captain America will be ready for launch – possibly more, but no promises just yet – and we'll continue to update more character models in the months to follow.

And the fourth big thing, our fans have been asking for leaderboards for ages, and now they're finally coming. The feature will be there for the launch of Marvel Heroes 2016 and continue to grow – including tournaments – throughout the year.

Meanwhile, you can also expect things like the Mac version finally coming out of beta and Steam achievements by the time we launch – plus lots more to come, like the Thanos raid and the Savage Land Patrol Zone. And that's only what we can talk about right now...

Shacknews: I remember one of the biggest aspects of Secret Invasion is the idea that Marvel heroes and villains both had to unite to take out a common threat. Now that Marvel bad guys are starting to become playable, is the biggest challenge with story updates finding arcs that make sense for both heroes and villains?

Ryan Collins, Creative Designer: If you watch our Age of Ultron motion comic, you'll see that it's actually Doctor Doom himself who brings the invasion to light in our story. I think that any big event or storyline has a place for the villains to take part in, and you see that in the comics too. In Secret Invasion, villains are being replaced and sometimes ousted too, and then even in the Civil War comics, villains were being used as Thunderbolts even though the story was predominantly about heroes fighting. If you make the conflict big enough, the entire Marvel Universe has to join.

Shacknews: Adding controller support to an MMORPG is tougher than people imagine. How was the team able to find a controller layout that they found satisfactory?

Andrew Hair, Gameplay Engineer: We experimented a lot with different layouts at first. Our primary goals were to maximize the amount of buttons that can be mapped to the controller and to mimic the mouse input on a controller while still having the controls feel responsive.

Marvel Heroes has over 35 different gameplay commands that can be mapped to the keyboard but a standard game controller only has a dozen or so buttons. We started toying around with the idea of modifier keys, which we've made the left and right trigger buttons. When you hold one of these modifier keys down it changes what action the controller face button does. For example, holding down the left modifier button and pressing X will activate the power that's slotted in your second power slot, but holding down the right modifier button and pressing X will activate the power that's slotted in your sixth power slot. This allows players to have a wide variety of gameplay actions readily available while using the controller.

Another thing we've added for controller support is a targeting lock-on system. A mouse has a high amount of fidelity so clicking a target and attacking is quite easy, but trying to navigate the cursor to follow a specific target around with an analog stick would be frustrating. With the controller a player can lock onto an enemy target so their attacks will fire toward that target without having to move the mouse cursor.

Shacknews: What other elements of the All-New, All-Different Marvel is the team looking into for the future?

Baker: At the moment, we're only speaking to costumes – including Blade's ANAD costume, which was announced at the NYCC panel. But we've got a whole year’s worth of material ahead of us...

Shacknews: What can players expect to see between now and the changeover to Marvel Heroes 2016?

Baker: There should be plenty happening around Halloween, highlighted by our 52nd playable character, Blade. Look out for his Hero Pack soon for preorder, which will also include his first alternate costume, based on his original appearance in Tomb of Dracula #10 – he looked... different back then. We'll also continue to release new costumes and playable characters, with Iron Fist next on the agenda. Perhaps most exciting, though, we'll launch the Danger Room – a major new area of the game that will test your skills with all sorts of diverse challenges. A few other things are planned as well, and we’ll be sure to let you know about them as they come up.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
    • reply
      October 15, 2015 4:11 PM

      so basically costumes and nothing else. i wonder how a controller will work with dr. strange, he needs 2 bars (16 buttons) of skills to use efficiently. alot of heroes need 10-12 just for skills, not even counting the potion button and ultimate skill.

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        October 15, 2015 9:42 PM

        triggers and shoulder buttons being toggles for the 4 face bring the count to 20 if they go that route.

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      October 15, 2015 9:49 PM

      Ozzie, did you discuss the recent "departures" from Gaz with them? Just curious.

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      October 16, 2015 3:39 AM

      leaderboards for what? theres no way to rate people in this game, unless its for pvp that nobody cares about, account level? no idea what they'd be for.

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        October 16, 2015 3:42 AM

        achievement points? dummy clearing time?