Usually, when a game company goes under and the products in development aren’t picked up right away, that’s all there is to it. Players looking forward to that title now have to move on, because the product will never see the light of day. Heatwave Interactive decided to buck that trend and acquired Perpetual’s Gods & Heroes about a year ago. Since then, they’ve been hush hush on what their plans were for the IP. This GDC Online in Austin, they decided to open the curtain and give us a glimpse of their plans for the title.
While Heatwave has had the IP for about year, development on Gods & Heroes didn’t actually get into full swing until about 2 months ago. The development team is still figuring out what’s there, so there were many things they weren’t sure if they were going to change. Surprisingly, none of the original developers from Gods & Heroes areon the Heatwave Interactive team. Of course, it’s been quite a while since Perpetual went under, so perhaps it’s not surprising at all that most of those developers are likely gainfully and happily employed by now. Regardless, the original team has been in communication with the new developers, being very helpful, which is great news for the development of the game. Also, Chris “Binky” Launius, who was the community manager for Perpetual way back when has joined Heatwave recently, although he’s not actually on the Gods & Heroes team. His knowledge has likely been priceless.
For those that weren’t around during the hype-filled days when Perpetual was the developer for Gods & Heroes (before getting the Star Trek Online license, which then seemed to put this title on the shelf), the premise is simple enough. Pulling from Roman mythology, players are cast as demi-gods of sorts. Players will be able to swear fealty to one of the ancient Roman deities, and in addition to choosing classes and the types of minions, will allow for a great deal of individuality. Minions are an interesting concept, and when Perpetual had the title, they were boasting the ability to bring along up to 24 minions into a battle. Imagine you and 10 friends, each with 24 minions, on one screen. Yeah, a little chaotic? Plus, how do you actually manage 24 minions? That is one thing Heatwave has made clear they will be paring down. Right now, they have it set for 4 minions at a time in battle for each player (although this could change, along with many other things we were shown). Minions can be many different classes and it adds a collectible aspect to the game, since players can set up their party to include several types of minions and, if grouping, can coordinate with other players to make the best party they can. It’s definitely a management micro-game. Not only that, but minions are generally disposable and can be revived relatively easily, so think of them as cannon fodder. Minions also make the game more available to players who would like to solo.
While at the event, we were shown several of the epic-type mobs. Size matters in this case. Among the mobs we saw were Giants, Automatons, a Colossus and one very, very big named mob. When I say very, very big, the player characters sort of looked like ants when the whole mob was on the screen. Automatons are more like mechanical creations, blessed by the god Vulcan. One instance that was described to us was a volcanic area (which will be available at about level 12-13, one of the earliest instances) full of Automatons. Players would probably need to go into this area with a group of four and all their minions. The end guy would be very, very difficult.
This game will be heavily loot-driven. Players will receive items randomly when they kill a mob and a lot of those items will have random stats. Skills will level through use, rather than the use of skill points. Players will be able to choose from a great number of God powers, according to the deity they choose to align with at character creation. Between feats, skills and god powers, characters will be highly individual.
Heatwave is aiming for a 2011 launch, but gave nothing more specific than that. The game is already in a pretty polished state and the brunt of the focus seems to be on making sure the game runs well with a high number of concurrent players, which seemed to be what Perpetual had the greatest trouble with. They’ve made quite a lot of headway on this issue and are aiming for 1500-2000 concurrent players on a single server. They do plan to use a subscription model, rather than going the free-to-play route. Stay tuned as we get more info on this title’s return as it gets closer to launching.