Did You Know: Twitch Stream

Way back in our early days, Missing Worlds Media made a Twitch channel. We used it to show developers at work, concept artists working, and even roundtable discussions. But it was really too early for such constant exposure, and it was distracting the devs, so the channel went inactive.

A lot has happened since then. Volunteers have come and gone and come again, management and internal structure have shifted in our search for the most effective formation for our very unusual corporation, but most of all, we have made progress. Sometimes that meant throwing out something that wasn’t working or had been replaced by something better, but always, we have been moving forward. And now City of Titans has reached a point where we could reconsider that Twitch channel.

About two months ago, we experimented with running it again. Response was good, so we kept at it. The inevitable early fumbles and stumbles have worked themselves out, and the Missing Worlds Media Twitch channel is now a weekly peek behind the curtain, an opportunity to see under development content and learn how the sausage is made. If you don’t mind what might possibly constitute spoilers for launch day, we invite you to answer the call Fridays at 7pm Pacific (10PM Eastern). And if you’re not sure if this is your cup of tea, we invite you to check out our Twitch Highlights Reel, showing off the best points of the past two months.

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Brought to you by the City of Titans team!

Discuss this update at:

https://cityoftitans.com/forum/discuss-did-you-know-twitch-stream

Tom Stillwell, the writer for CoT’s webcomic

https://www.patreon.com/HiJinx

will be at the 1st annual Chicago Retcon August 12-13th. 

Watch our feeds for more info

https://www.chicagoretcon.com/

Tales from the Underworld: The Murderer of Detective Aragon

 Daybreak Ridge annoyed Castilucci. Decades ago, the place had had character: brick warehouses and factories for regular, working stiffs. Then the industry had faded, and developers had bought up the old buildings, repurposing them into artists’ lofts, overpriced stores, and nightclubs. Only a few of them remained shuttered and quiet, like the one he and Aurelia approached through the gathering dusk.

The old building stood well off the busy streets and far from the touristy waterfront area. Its huge front doors looked rusted shut, but a light shone over a side door set off in an alley. Paint flaked from the building’s side, the remnants of an advertisement for a soft drink that hadn’t existed in decades.

Aurelia gestured at the old, rust-spattered door. “The Tarot’s in here?”

Castilucci shrugged with a nonchalance he didn’t feel. “Don’t think so. They got better things to do than sit around guarding some hero. My information says they just hired a couple thugs to keep watch on that Topaz guy.”

“Thugs,’” said Aurelia flatly, cocking an eyebrow at him. She tried the doorknob, but it seemed locked.

To his own surprise, he felt a little hurt. “I am not a thug, lady,” he said. He kicked firmly at the door, smashing it open. “I’m a troubleshooter.”

Aurelia rolled her eyes, then shook her head. “You may be a troubleshooter, Castilucci, but I’m a professional. And that’s how we do this: fast and professional. If I tell you stop, stop, and if I tell you go, you go. And no gunplay unless I say so.” Aurelia drew her weapon and held it down at her side.

Castilucci started to enter, but she gestured him back. She carefully surveyed the small room just inside from an angle so that she wasn’t silhouetted in the doorway. Only when she was sure it was empty did she motion him inside.

They passed through a small, dark office, furnished only with an abandoned, dust-covered desk and a broken lamp. Dirt covered much of the cement floor, but a scuffed track leading deeper into the building showed where many feet had passed or where something had been dragged. Aurelia motioned at the track with her chin, and the two of them followed it deeper into the building.

Most of the warehouse consisted of a huge room, lit only by moonlight and streetlight coming in through high windows. Despite the openness of the space, a maze of old, half-moldering cardboard boxes blocked their vision in most directions. Cozy place, Castilucci thought sourly.

A dim light glowed from around the next corner. Aurelia put a finger to her lips, unnecessarily, Castilucci thought. He could hear the quiet voices coming from around the corner as well as she could.

“Why are we doing this?” one voice said. It had a hollow, whining note, like a beat-up tin whistle. “The curses will kill us, anyway.”

Unforgiven, Aurelia mouthed to him, equally unnecessarily. Castilucci fought down the urge to spit on the floor at the thought of those creepy, whiny, magic-touched gangbangers.

“This is our way out,” said another, slightly deeper voice. “He promised. And you know who stands behind him.”

“Impossible,” said the other, sounding even mopier than before. “Antithesis—“

“Don’t say it!” shouted the other one. “It brings bad things.” For a big, bad crook, he sounded terrified.

“Super—superstitious twits,” said a third, muffled voice. The speaker sounded tired, maybe like he’d taken a few punches to the mouth.

Castilucci knew that voice, too. Topaz. Sounds like the heroic idiot really did get himself captured instead of “rescued” by Tarot.

“Quiet, you,” said the deeper-voiced Unforgiven.

“The curses may take us,” said his partner, “but they’ll kill you, too, first.”

Aurelia mouthed, Now. “You’re under arrest!” she shouted as she stepped out of hiding, gun trained forward. “Hands in the air!”

Castilucci rolled his eyes. If Aurelia wanted to give the thugs a chance to kill her before she had to shoot them, it was her business, but he wasn’t about to make himself the first target. He peered around the corner carefully instead.

In the light of three electric lanterns, he saw Topaz, costume soiled and torn, one eye swollen shut and face smeared with dried blood, slumped on the floor. Castilucci couldn’t tell if he was breathing. The kind of chains they used on battleship anchors bound him to a support post.

There were three Unforgiven, not two. He drew in his breath at the sight. He’d seen some rough customers over the years, but Unforgiven always looked especially creepy. All three wore a mixture of dark and pale green clothing and were unhealthily pale, but the similarities ended there. The one in front wore an axe shoved into his wide belt and a tattered backpack. Oddly, it looked completely empty.

The second hid his eyes behind sunglasses, but what Castilucci could see of his face was an inhuman mass of scales, bony lumps, and scars.

The one in back had long, stringy hair and wore an open duster and a mournful expression. He carried some kind of black gadget, a smartphone or something, in his hand. As Castilucci watched, he flung it to the floor and stepped back, screaming, “Get them!”

“Fire!” Aurelia shouted unnecessarily. Castilucci had already put a bullet through the upper chest of the monster-faced one just as he reached for his sunglasses. The Unforgiven sprawled at Topaz’s feet, dead or seriously wounded.

“Hit ‘em before they can use their powers!” Castilucci shouted.

Aurelia fired at the one with the backpack, but she was too late. He’d already closed the distance to her and shrugged out of the thing. As he dropped it, a roiling cloud of darkness coalesced in the air behind him. It billowed toward the Unforgiven—Castilucci could’ve sworn it growled at the gangbanger—but swerved suddenly toward Aurelia.

She shot at it, but the bullets passed through. Tough as she was, Aurelia cringed back, teeth clenched.

Castilucci had fought one of these creeps before. It wasn’t her fault, he knew. It was curse-magic. “You can’t hurt the curse itself!” he shouted. “You gotta—“ The black cloud swerved toward him. A wave of shudders, cold, and terror swept through him, but he fought it down. He ignored the oncoming cloud and shot the running Unforgiven in the back. The cloud dispersed in an instant.

Castilucci scanned the shadows for the last Unforgiven, but all he could see was the thing the thug had dropped and Topaz groaning faintly in his chains. “You all right?” he called to Aurelia.

She nodded, the color returning to her face now that the supernatural attack was over. “Check behind Topaz for the last one,” she said. “I’ll cover you.”

Cautiously, Castilucci made his way toward the bound hero. He passed the thing the Unforgiven had dropped. It was just a hand mirror. “Huh,” he said. As he passed it, he caught a flicker of movement behind his own reflection. He turned to look just in time.

A hulking, muscular thing clad all in black, a thing Castilucci was sure hadn’t been there a second before, swung at him. He dodged. A black mask completely hid its face. It snarled incoherently at him.

Aurelia pumped five shots into the monster, but it only stumbled. Castilucci fired into its face—if it had a face—at point-blank range. The wound didn’t bleed. The thing didn’t flinch.

Castilucci tripped over a couple of broken boards as he retreated. The faceless monster roared and raised its hands to crush him.

A burst of automatic gunfire echoed through the dark warehouse. The bullets tore into the creature. With a scream of rage, it charged off.

Castilucci rolled over to see it attacking a huge, man-like shape covered in black and white plates and emblazoned with a TCPD badge. He caught sight of a determined, grinning face behind a plastic view plate. With one arm, it blasted the monster with more bullets while its other fist crackled and glowed with energy. A COP Suit, he realized.

“Thank you, Lenny,” Aurelia said softly. “Castilucci, while he’s got it distracted, return the mirror to the Unforgiven. He’s gotta still be in here somewhere. That’ll make the monster vanish.”

Clearly, she had fought Unforgiven before. He nodded and grabbed the mirror. He scanned the warehouse again.

He spotted the Unforgiven in the shadows just beyond the dim, electric light, watching the fight between the armored cop and the monster he’d summoned. “This belongs to you, buddy,” Castilucci said. He threw the mirror at the man.

Just as he’d hoped, the Unforgiven’s reflexes took over. He caught the mirror. The monster vanished in an instant. “Blink and eat a bullet, you pasty-faced creep,” said Castilucci as he trained his gun on the Unforgiven’s chest. The Unforgiven glanced at his mirror speculatively.

Another shot rang out, and blood burst from the thug’s head. The cop in the armor crashed through a pile of debris and hurried over. “He was about to drop the mirror again,” the cop said through the suit’s speakers.

Castilucci blinked. He recognized the voice from the night the two cops had burst into his place.

Officer Alvarez,” said Aurelia as she came closer. “Man, I have never been so happy to see you. What took you so long? And where’s everyone else?”

“’What took you so long?’” repeated Castilucci. “You expected this guy? I thought we were doing this together, alone!”

“No offense,” Aurelia said as she holstered her gun, “but how stupid do you think I am? You’re a known member of the Black Rose, a suspected murderer, and a generally brutal man. I’d be crazy not to have another set of eyes on you. I called Lenny from the ferry from South Titan.”

Castilucci grudgingly nodded. He wondered if Aurelia’s cop instincts would extend to letting him walk if he didn’t make any trouble. He holstered his weapon, too.

“All of SWAT’s going crazy about you, Aurelia,” said Alvarez, the one in the suit. “I didn’t think it was safe to tell the Chief about your message. He mighta arrested you when you stepped off the ferry. There’re all kinds of reports that you’re hanging out with scum.” He glanced at Castilucci. “No offense.”

Castilucci just rolled his eyes.

“I’ll … explain when we get back to Preszewski Center.” Aurelia looked vaguely uncomfortable. Maybe keeping Castilucci in the dark about Alvarez was bothering her. “Let’s get Topaz out of those chains.” She made her way over to the hero.

“Aurelia,” Alvarez said, “look at him. Topaz is done for. I’ll radio for medical attention, but …”

 

“Yeah,” said Castilucci, still standing apart. “I mean, look at the guy.”

 

“I’m not just leaving a hero lying chained up to die!” said Aurelia. She bent over beside the hero. “Come on, Lenny. Maybe the suit’s energy fist can melt the chains.”

 

“You’re such a nice person, Kathleen,” said Alvarez. He sighed. He lurched closer to her, the COP Suit dwarfing her as he leaned over her.

Topaz’s head stirred slightly. He murmured something.

 

“Did you say ‘antithesis?’” Aurelia asked the hero.

“Dang it, Aurelia.” Alvarez’s whisper echoed in the warehouse’s silence. “You just never know when to quit.”

 

He raised the suit’s gun-arm and shot Topaz in the forehead.

 

Castilucci jumped in surprise. Aurelia screamed wordlessly. Topaz slumped in his chains.

 

Aurelia rounded on the COP Suit. “You,” she screamed inarticulately, “you!” She went for her gun, but Alvarez backhanded her with his energy fist, flinging her away.

 

“Always having to charge in!” Alvarez shouted. “Always making a name for yourself! Always kissing up to those heroes!” He fired a burst at her, the multiple barrels on his suit’s arm whirling, but Aurelia ducked behind a heavy, metal crate.

 

Castilucci stepped away as slowly and quietly as he could, keeping the COP Suit in sight the whole time.

 

Alvarez stalked over to Aurelia’s hiding place and flung the crate out of the way. She fired at him point-blank, but the bullets left only scratches on the COP Suit’s plates. Alvarez grabbed her with his energy fist and smashed her face against the floor.

Castilucci stumbled against an unstable pile of debris. Wood and metal scraps clattered to the floor.

 

Alvarez twitched around. He flung Aurelia into a heap of containers that collapsed on top of her.

“Oh, I didn’t forget about you, you scum,” Alvarez said. He pointed his gun-arm at Castilucci and fired.

 

The aging gangster dove behind a shipping container, but a bullet caught him in the leg. He yowled in pain.

“It was supposed to be so simple!” Alvarez raved. “The blame hangs on Topaz, the Unforgiven kill him, then get taken out by their own curses. I just come in and discover the tragedy, and everything’s all right again.”

 

Castilucci ignored him. He tried to stand and couldn’t.

 

Alvarez shoved the shipping container aside like a cheap shoebox. “But you had to shove your nose into it!” Castilucci twisted around, teeth clenched, and emptied his magazine into the COP Suit’s faceplate. All he got for his trouble were some scratches.

Behind the clear plate, sweat poured from Alvarez’s face. “You people are always making trouble for me!” He grabbed Castilucci’s jaw with the glowing, crackling energy fist and hefted him into the air. “Always ruining things for me! Well, I’m going to ruin your life!”

 

Castilucci’s skin tingled painfully at the energized touch. He choked at the scent of his own skin cooking. He’d have a burn if he survived this, he realized.

“I think the city will accept you as the murderer of Detective Aragon,” 

Alvarez said. Then he began to squeeze.

 

Castilucci had lived a long, savage life in Titan City’s underworld. He’d been shot, stabbed, beaten, and blasted with everything from magical beams to stun-rays. But he had never felt pain like this. He screamed as his jaw began to flex.

 

“Can’t have you talking,” said Alvarez. Castilucci blacked out as his jaw snapped.

The COP Suit carried him away, leaving the warehouse silent.

Except for a soft clatter of movement under the fallen heap of shipping containers.

 

Next time: The Series Finale!

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By Jack ‘Olantern’ Snyder

Discuss the update here: https://cityoftitans.com/forum/discuss-tales-underworld-murderer-detective-aragon

Tom Stillwell, the writer for CoT’s webcomic Hijinx (https://www.patreon.com/HiJinx) will be at the 1st annual Chicago Retcon (https://www.chicagoretcon.com/) August 12-13th. Watch our feeds for more info.

How We Made: Rook Slicer Costume

 

Some of you may remember the Rooks – if not, you can find their entry under Guides>Capechasers in the site header. Today we’re going to show you how one of the 3D Titans, Fleshforge, made the outfit for one of their minion types, the Slicer.

 STEP ONE

 The first step in our modeling process is to get some guide lines for where the important parts of the garment will be. Since many of our garments are closely fitted to the characters, we use surface snapping to basically draw splines (the white lines) on the base character’s surface, which can be converted to vertices or strips of polygons if needed, or can simply be used as visual guides.

STEP TWO

 Then we build a low-detail mesh that meets the requirements of the garment and fits the character. While there isn’t anything wrong with simply copying the base character’s mesh and modifying that, in cases where the shape of a garment is different enough, it’s better to create new geometry. For example at the border of the pants or the top of the bustier, these areas are quite different from the base character’s geometry, so we create new polygons appropriate to the garment.

STEP THREE

 Here are the boots with the polygon detail required for the piece.They aren’t textured, which includes a sculpting pass to apply things like wrinkles, creases, wear and tear.

STEP FOUR

Some more detail on the pants and some basic material selections are set up on the boots.

STEP FIVE

 More detailing is done on the pants, and we started a set of suspenders based on the concept art reference.

STEP SIX

More detail for the bustier and suspenders and belt, to match the concept art reference.

STEP SEVEN

 And here is the set with the low poly geometry completed; sculpting of details such as the laces in the pants leg, wrinkles and wear and tear will be done in a later pass. You’ll see it all in-game someday.

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Credit to Paul ‘Fleshforge’

Discuss the update here: https://cityoftitans.com/forum/discuss-how-we-made-rook-slicer-costume

Support City of Titans at our Patreon and read our webcomic, Hijinx! https://www.patreon.com/HiJinx

DEVELOPER’S WORKSHOP: ANIMATING WHILE HOLDING

Welcome to the first of a new kind of City of Titans release, Developer’s Workshop. We will use these to feed you various behind the scenes gifs and videos that we know you all want to see but aren’t polished enough to make an update about. 

These will always be accompanied by a What to Look For and What to Ignore paragraph, to help people know what to make of them (and what not to make of them).

Today’s video shows when Fred proved he could successfully execute big sword attack animations while the character held a bow in the other hand. This is promising for certain requests people have made for chaining attacks using different weapons (Props in our game language – thanks to Aesthetic Decoupling that’s all they are).

 What to Look For: It’s a big sword attack animation, but he’s holding a bow in his other hand. Proving we can do this opens new possibilities for chaining attacks using different weapons/props. Also, the changing FX – as we explained in our powers update, YOU’RE going to be able to pick which one you get.

What to Ignore: Almost everything else. Animations, FX, and props are ours but all else is placeholder/ clean test environment.

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Thanks to: Fred (AmIEvil) and Shadow Elusive

TWITCH STREAM THIS FRIDAY! 10 PM Eastern!

https://www.twitch.tv/missingworldsmedia 

Come see Dr. Tyche show off a running multiplayer mmo server – live and in color! Will it crash or are we stable? 

Support our Patreon! Read a fun webcomic! 

https://www.patreon.com/HiJinx

Discuss this update at:

https://cityoftitans.com/forum/discuss-developers-workshop-animating-while-holding

What’s The Plan: Finances

 It’s one of the trickiest questions to answer for any game: how do you make sure it all pays for itself? Once those servers open to the public, the costs to run skyrocket. But if sales haven’t been built into the game design from the beginning, it can all become an over-bloated mess. And most of all, it has to be done tastefully and with fairness to the players. How do you make a system designed to get money from your customers that does not take advantage of them?

THE BIG PICTURE

In the beginning, all MMOs used the same sales model – the subscription. People paid between $10 and $20 per month to get unlimited access to a particular title. However, this model has lost a lot of ground to a new model, the Free to Play. The Free to Play approach has obvious benefits: people pay as much as they want, for what they want. Of course, it also has drawbacks: that upfront cost is a very reassuring thing to developers, who often have a lot of investors waiting for payback.

A few games, however, are a hybrid of the two, and City of Titans will be one of those.

THE DETAILS: Overall

The model we’ve embraced includes an up-front cost. This buys you full access to the game: all content, all systems, all features. This purchase also includes a set number of months VIP status, and the up-front cost is gauged by the cost of subscription. By default, you will pay the equivalent of three months subscription status up front, and then receive three months of VIP status before defaulting to Free status.

Once in the game, it’s much like any Free to Play – there will be a cash shop, and the option to subscribe for benefits. Subscriptions will get, monthly, a stipend equal to their subscription fee, plus a bit more. So, a $15 subscription gets you $18 in store credit, every month. They also get earlier access to new material in the store, typically two months before the free to play can gain access to them. To be absolutely clear: no game content or features will be locked behind a paywall or require a subscription to access. All who buy the game will have equal access to content, features and systems.

THE DETAILS: Subscriptions, the Kickstarter, and you.

By tying our sales price to subscriptions, we create the opportunity to make limited time offers, or discounted sales, simply by including fewer months of subscription. Three months is the default sales unit, as market research shows people who play for 3 months are more likely to play for the first year.

There are also rewards for those who stay subscribed for longer. These loyalty tokens can be stored over time, to be redeemed for various bonuses and unlocks.

We want to make sure everyone understands how all this works with their Kickstarter perks, particularly the tiers that included game accounts and VIP status. The months of subscription our Kickstarter promised along with game accounts at certain donation tiers are in addition to the VIP months a game purchase comes with automatically. The default purchase includes three months subscription, so donors who qualify for the $50 tier will have those three months plus the bonus month mentioned in the tier description for a total of four, and those who elected for the $75 tier or above will get 5 months total subscription upon launch – the three default plus the two promised bonuses.

THE DETAILS: The Cash Shop

The cash shop will use a currency we’ve nicknamed Stars, and will primarily sell in-game global unlocks. In-game unlocks will cover a wide range of things, from costume pieces to Aesthetic Animation sets, and are, again, global. When you purchase an unlock through the store, it is unlocked for your account in perpetuity, available to every character you have made or ever will make.

If you can’t or won’t buy though, you can unlock any of the in-game store items for a single character through gameplay, by earning certain in-game badges. A few badges will be global, but only a few. Purchasing these items does not grant a badge: badges themselves are exclusively earned in-game.

Character slots are a special case. While these can be purchased normally, the free unlock works differently. Instead of badges, you will unlock a new character slot each time you level a character to maximum. Every character that hits level cap will unlock a new character slot. We did promise Alt-City.

THE PROMISE: No Lockboxes

One large problem in MMO’s today is something called Whale hunting. Whales is an old term for high stakes gamblers in Las Vegas, who would generate the lion’s share of any casino’s profits. When Free to Play became popular, those who paid the most were given the same nickname as these high stakes gamblers, Whales.

One unfortunate consequence of the Free to Play model were games that began to hunt these Whales at the expense of your average player, with exclusive content hidden in “lockboxes” or the like, designed to catch Whales and milk them for all the game can get. The gambling mechanism these boxes use can fuel an addictive cycle, which is good news for the game revenue but bad news in many other ways.

This is something City of Titans plans to avoid at all costs, and we’ve put a great deal of thought into how to finance profitably but ethically. We recognize the reality of game addiction, and want to ensure this is difficult for our players to develop. We call our solution, our alternative to lockboxes, Whale Watching.

Instead of lockboxes, we will include bonus random chances within booster packs – bundles of related unlocks sold together for a discount. So, for example, you might buy the Ninja Pack (just a random name for now), and you would gain the ninjitsu animation set, multiple props associated with the Ninja, Ninja costume set unlock, and a random extra piece from somewhere else in the game. So instead of buying a slim chance at rare exclusive loot, you get a chance to get a special cash shop item free along with your booster purchase.

Everything evolves, and each generation improves on the last. We at Missing Worlds Media studied the best and the worst out there very closely to find the best solution to an ethical business model that profits us and you, and we look forward seeing all you Titans in Titan City one day.

What We Think We Know About: Scorpion, Part 2

 Stated Purpose/Goals/Motives: Scorpion seeks world conquest at all costs[1,3,4]. Its agents often pursue smaller, simpler-seeming goals[5,7,9], but ultimately, Scorpion seeks only power and destruction of all rivals. While Scorpion occasionally makes a show of espousing some particular philosophy or “bringing order to the world,” its true goal seems to be to ensure its eventual dominion over the entire world and the elimination of all moral codes aside from “obey Scorpion,” which essentially translates into personal power for its members [citation needed].

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Part 1: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/missingworldsmedia/the-phoenix-project-city-of-titans/posts/1658304

Rick Henshaw, wiki editor for Cape Chaser, was back at his computer, scribbling on a notepad as he went through the paper files he’d brought home from the Scorpion base. The hard drive he’d taken had been mounted in an external bay and was being decrypted by his laptop. He was hoping that the drive would have more useful information; the files so far were mostly human resources matters. Some of them had notes about individuals recommended by people in other bases, and the names of those doing the recommending was useful, but not enormously so given that first names were never used for anyone with a rank above Trooper – which is to say, nobody who would be doing recruitment. He was making copies of the files as he went through, just like he’d copy the drive once he got a chance.

After he got what he could from the files and drive, though, he’d be passing the copies on to capes he knew, with the originals going to the local TCPD, where they’d either be passed to the proper homeland defense branch or disposed of, depending on whether Scorpion had people inside the TCPD. Rick didn’t think it likely, but the copies were insurance, just in case.

He chose a particular file out of the stack, opened it, and began his real work.

“DeCryptKeeper?” asked a soft, low voice.

The editor nearly jumped out of his skin, and instinctively grabbed a letter opener to brandish as a weapon against the unknown intruder in his apartment. Wheeling around on the other person in the room, he saw someone in a fairly low-key super-outfit with black spandex, gauntlets, a cloak and a helmet that looked more protective than what you normally see on super outfits.

“Codebreaker,” he said, recognizing the ‘super detective’ of the Paragons, and gradually relaxing. “Geeze. I didn’t know you were that stealthy.”

“I’m not,” she replied. “You were just really, really really focused on that information.” She paused briefly before saying, “You have something personal against Scorpion.” It wasn’t a question, and Rick didn’t bother pretending she was wrong; instead, he just grunted.

“It’s mostly my irritation as an editor,” he dissembled, “but there’s some other things in there too.”

“Is one of the other things your artificial leg?” By now she’d moved over to the area around the copier and was thumbing through the copies. “Thank you.”
Rick frowned. He’d been about to complain about the very personal question she’d just dropped on him, but this caught him by surprise. The second sentence didn’t really follow from the first, so he didn’t know what she was thanking him for.

“For keeping them from destroying this information,” she explained, answering his question before he’d asked it.

“Oh. No problem. Sorry I didn’t stick around after, but I didn’t want to lose another leg.” Codebreaker nodded, her expression seeming like that statement had answered a lot of questions for her. It probably had, but Rick couldn’t imagine what most of them were. He’d known from his work on the Capechaser wiki that Codebreaker was both brilliant and unusual, but meeting her in person was a bit off-putting. It felt like she was having two different conversations with him simultaneously, and also doing other things as well. He decided to change the subject.

“How’d you find me, anyway? I didn’t think I’d have any problems until I brought the decrypted info to the cape community.”

She reached into a pouch and drew out a gift card, which she tossed onto his desk. It was the same one he’d used to hold the door open at the Scorpion base. “There’s still fourteen dollars on it. But you and Endless Appetizers should probably see other people for a while. You get a lot of these.”

“Duly noted,” muttered Rick as he returned to the file he’d been working on earlier. He pasted in a photo.

Codebreaker looked at what he was doing – from across the room, he noticed – and actually gasped a little. “Oh, that is very dangerous.”

“Sure is,” agreed the editor as he doctored one of the files. “But it could also get me into one of their bases long enough to learn more than just the contents of one hard drive which doesn’t seem to have a lot of majorly useful info on it. It’s probably just their local activities.”

The super-detective nodded. “You’re probably right. They wouldn’t have major organizational info on there because they wouldn’t need it at such a small branch. Are you sure you want to go through with this?”

“No, of course not. Do you have anyone who’s willing to impersonate a Scorpion agent? Someone who can be here before whoever they send to find and destroy the hard drive does so?”

She shook her head.

 

“Then I guess it’s up to me.”

 

She looked at him in evident confusion for a while. “You really hate them, don’t you. Are you one of the people who like talking about the reasons for their vendettas, or one of the ones who don’t?”

 

Rick answered her question by clamming up.

 

She sighed. “Please move aside. I’ll take care of the documents for you.”

 

He wanted to answer, but realized she’d almost certainly do a better job, so he went to the photocopier to get the next batch going.

Somehow, Codebreaker actually had most of what she needed to edit and forge documents on her person. Rick didn’t know where she kept it – especially not the extra lighter fluid – and wasn’t going to ask, either. Because I have manners, he thought sourly.

 

He went to get a drink from his kitchen and offered one to his unexpected guest, which she declined. While he was up he also checked to make sure the door to his apartment was locked again, finding that she’d taken care of that herself, and had also propped a chair up against the handle.

 

He brought the drink to her; she tensed a little when he got close enough to hand it to her, so he backed away again. He’d heard she was strange, but figured everyone has their own problems, and also decided he wasn’t one who could cast stones anyway. Instead, he left her to her work and went to copy the next folder.

 

“You walk like Anthem,” she said.

 

“What?”

 

“Anthem. She walks like–” Codebreaker paused in the middle of the sentence. She spent a while thinking about what to say, before settling on “You were a Marine.”

 

“Are a Marine,” she amended, correcting herself before he could.

He nodded. “Right. Technically the ‘were’ is correct, though. Can’t stay in active combat with an artificial leg.” After a pause he amended, “At least, not the kind a guy like me can afford. Those crazy super-cyborgs are another story.”

 

She looked at him as though she wanted to ask about all that, and he sighed resignedly and finally gave in.

 

“My squad was sent after some terrorists holed up in a cave network in the middle east. We thought it would be the usual locals, people who’d have IEDs at the worst. It wasn’t what we thought it was, or maybe we got the wrong cave. Either way, we walked into a Scorpion nest. My squad was good, but we weren’t ready for crazies with magic spells and power armor. I’m the only confirmed survivor, and that’s only because I managed to survive the landing when I was blown free of the cave entrance by…” He frowned. “Something. I still don’t honestly know what it was. Their weapons are strange.”

 

She listened, paying rapt attention until he finished. “I see,” she said. After a moment, she continued, “I’ll help you with this. You will need a way to convince them that you were chased by those of us who raided their base. They’ll be here soon.”

 

Rick frowned. “You sound like you have a plan.”

 

She nodded. “I do.” She reached down and unplugged Rick’s uninterruptible power supply from the wall; it began bleating its alarm to let everyone in earshot know that it wasn’t receiving power. She took that, the laptop and the external hard drive and put them into a wad against Rick’s chest. “Hold these. We’ll be going into the parking garage under the building.”

 

They exited his apartment– he turned the lights off as they went– and took the stairs down. As they went, Codebreaker made some calls to her teammates. By the time they’d reached the garage, she was nodding to herself.

 

“All right,” she said. “They should be here soon.”

 

“Your teammates?” asked Rick.

 

“Scorpion.”

Rick blinked, dumbfounded. He’d heard that Codebreaker could determine probable outcomes from the most improbably scant evidence, but he’d never seen it in person. Is that what was happening? Had she gotten her teammates to lead them here? Either way, he looked at some sudden noise from the far end of the garage and there they were – armored Scorpion troopers just as real as you please, fanning out and looking for–

 

“There she is!” said one of them, pointing at Codebreaker. And they charged.

 

Oh good, Rick thought. I was worried this might be something dangerous.

 

Out loud, he asked “Okay, so how do we convince them that–”

 

Codebreaker kicked him in the jaw.

Rick was a large man who had combat training and excellent physical fitness, but the Paragon was no slouch either. Maybe her suit augments her strength? he wondered as he reeled from the kick. Around him, the situation was continuing to worsen; another of the heroes from the raid, not one of the Paragons, had shown up and was using some kind of wind power to delay the Scorpion Troopers while Rick tried to keep himself from dropping his laptop despite Codebreaker’s assault. The other hero hit him with a small blast of air, and he fell over, finally dropping the equipment.

 

“This is what we need!” he heard Codebreaker say as the world swam around his eyes. “Help me get it out of here!” She scooped up the laptop and the hard drive and the power supply, still squealing its irritation at not being plugged in.

 

The Scorpion Troopers ran up after them, firing on the heroes as they left, the wind-powered hero carrying Codebreaker and her cargo away. “Damn! They’re getting away,” said one.

 

“Nothing we can do,” said another. “Drive’s a loss. We’ll need to inform citywide. What about this guy? Is he one of ours?”

 

“No idea. I think I saw him in the base when the capes attacked, running around like everyone else who was stuck in civvies.”

 

A fourth trooper was leafing through the files and saw the doctored one. “This one has his photo in it. Guess he’s new?”

 

The first one to speak was silent for a while. “If he’s not one of us, he knows too much. Either way he’s coming with us.”

 

Well, Rick groused internally, that’s one way to do it.

__________________________________________________________________

Written by William ‘Robin’ Strickland

Discuss the update at: https://cityoftitans.com/forum/discuss-what-we-think-we-know-scorpion-part-2

Support City of Titans! Enjoy our webcomic at https://www.patreon.com/HiJinx

What We Can Do: Powers (Anniversary Special)

 When we started to design City of Titans, we had one rule. Keep everything modular. Doing this has challenged us, but given us great flexibility.

Concept: Aesthetic Decoupling

Aesthetic Decoupling is one of our Big Ideas. It’s very simple. We’re making the powers the same way we make the costumes. For the same ranged attack, you can choose to throw a fireball, shoot a missile, or summon a satellite laser. It’ll do the same damage, take the same time, but you get to choose what it looks like.

 How It Works: It’s Simple

 

The mechanical attack and what you see on the screen are designed as two independent systems. The visual part is stored as part of the player’s costume, just like your spandex and cape. The power itself triggers the corresponding visual theme.
 

The Catch: The Theme

 

The visual half of a power is a combination of animations and FX. Some need more parts than others. A character hit by a hold needs to freeze in place. A character struck by a punch just needs to react. We bundle these into what we call themes. An example: if you chose Super Strength for your power set, you now have some options. Pugilist, a classic stand-up brawling theme. Muai Thai, a hard martial arts theme. Or you could always go for the old standby of a Baseball Bat.

 What: Props

 

We’ve talked about weaponless attacks, which include anything from punches to kicks to eye lasers. But you can go for more. Choose a customizable weapon, from swords to knives to guns to claws and beyond.

When you choose a weapon or prop as your attack focus, the animations for that prop become available for your powers. And yes, that includes Magic Princess Wand Action.

What: Primary Power Sets

 

Your primary is your class. It says what you do best. Stalwarts tank. Enforcers mix it up. Rangers befuddle and blast. Guardians mend and defend. Commanders lead teams. Operators control the battlefield. Their power sets are defined by what they do. Evasion vs Resistance. AoE vs Single Target. Buff versus Accelerate. Slow versus Sap.

 What: Secondary Power Sets

 

Your Secondary Set is your Specialization. Each Secondary Set has its own style of play. Enforcers can become protective Bodyguards, or solo-focused Gladiators, or go for broke with an attack-focused Striker. We’re only launching with one Secondary for each Primary, but each Secondary Set has its own constellation of Power Sets. That Bodyguard could chose from multiple armors. Don’t like the Secondary you start with? You’ll get the other Sets in time, and be able to swap between them when you change your Build.

 

What: Tertiary Power Sets

 

There’s always something more you want. That one solid punch. The ability to lead others. A way to reach out and knock those darn fliers out of the sky. That’s what Tertiaries are for. You’ll be able to choose a power or three from them as you go along. Some of them are like the Primaries and Secondaries, and some of them might just be unique in and of themselves.

 What: The Extras

 

There’s some freebies as you go along – your basic attacks, melee and ranged. Nothing too fancy, but at least you can reach out and touch someone – and hey, it helps with your attack chain. Everyone gets both.

 What: Travel Powers

 

Travel powers are a whole different system. They don’t depend on your level, just on how much time you invest in them. Ignore them entirely if you want. Or go for all of them. We’re trying to make sure you can make your concept live.

 

How: Customizing Powers

 

Over the course of the game, you will unlock customization slots on powers and earn the Augments that go into them. Augments can be slotted with Refinements. This dual system gives us the flexibility and control to maintain balance without forcing builds, and opens new possibilities.

 

In Summary: Modular Design Makes Your Character Yours

 

Your Bulwark (Stalwart with Melee secondary) can be a melee range telekinetic, using psionic animations for both defense and offense. Your Ranger can use shockwaves delivered through martial arts moves. Your Enforcer can deliver AoE damage using an electrified baton. When visuals and mechanics are independent, the only limit is your patience and time.

 Launch Powers List

 

(all names tentative)

Protection

Burning · Agility · Invulnerability · Solid Form · Grit

Melee

Super Strength · Burning · Brawn · Dark · Kinetic

Ranged

Force · Burning · Kinetic · Psychic · Dark

Support

Heat Generation · Sonic · Devices · Force Field · Kinetic

Control

Gravity · Mind · Cold · Illusions · Force

_________________________________________________

Thanks to Shadow Elusive, Warcabbit, Terwyn, Doctor Tyche and 

A very special thanks to Fred ‘U2WillDie/AmIEvil’ Prince for FX, animation, sound and AI work, 

and Cody Spahr for the excellent city assets we used for this update’s map

Discuss  this update at: https://cityoftitans.com/forum/discuss-what-we-can-do-powers

City of Titans has a Webcomic on Patreon! Support City of Titans and check it out at: https://www.patreon.com/HiJinx