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Archive for February 24, 2008

Eyes of Staal

February 24, 2008 Comments off

In the past week I brought my engineer to Ligo Crucible, the first area to visit on the Ligo continent on Arieki.

Arriving at the location of the remaining forces from the Bane attack on Fort Intrepid, one quickly realizes that the war has not gone that well for the AFS side here. Morale is low in parts of the remaining forces and a number of people have deserted also.

The central location of the area is the former Staal detention center, where the Brann kept some of the less upstanding citizens.
View of Staal detention center

Nowadays it is the center of operations for some of the local crime lords. Each group occupy their area of the complex, which has a decent size. The center area also have various merchant running their trade.

staal-crucible-1.jpg

While these groups are not entirely getting along, they are an important potential ally for the AFS and so some officer came up with the idea that my engineer, who is so skillfull, should smoothen the relationship with these Brann (I am sure he says that to everybody). While these groups have their differences, they all listen to and respect the Kappa Grupa (boss of all bosses), so I’d have to pay him a visit.

The Kappa Grupa’s place - nice view

Talking to the Kappa Grupa, he (surprise, surprise) wanted me to so some missions in order to get on good terms with all the crime lords and by that also with him. It took some work, but finally I got Lohen (the Kappa Grupa) to more friendly terms after sucking up a bit.

Glory to the Kappa Grupa!

While a significant portion of missions were related to the Brann mobsters, there was also some dealings with deserters and genome business, in order to enable the Thrax/human hybrids. And some regular AFS war support. For some reason, pretty most of them involved some killing of Bane soldiers and officers.

Moving around in the Crucible area can be pretty hazardous. There are Bane patrols in most places and not that far between the different patrols. In the areas where no Bane are seen, the surroundings are dominated by robots or the local fauna. The latter consist basically of flaregashers (fire-spewing wolfs) and lashers (hoovering octopus-like critters) and the odd magmonix. The gashers and lashers often appear in large enough groups that moving around in the territory can be challenging – I like it:)

Some areas are not easy to reach due to the rocky landscape; for example I had some trouble getting to the Prometheus Outpost. The long obvious route on the map required passing through a lot of the Bane and fauna-infested areas, which was not always met with success. I did find some shortcuts after a while, which made the travel significantly simpler, but not trivial.

Nearby the Prometeus Outpost is the Bane encampment Khulago Base, which is of course crawling with Bane troopers and also a bunch of Juggernauts. A couple of missions originating from Prometheus dealt with Khulago base, so a fair amount of travel back and forth was done and lots of fighting, including the Juggernauts.

Khulago Base visit

Hello to you too, naughty Jugger

With Prometheus being a control point, a fair amount of time was also spent on either defending or attacking the control point. The mission givers taking part in the defense of the outpost and running around, order needed to be restored to be able to talk to them. And of course the control point needed to be in AFS control to be able to access them at all. I enjoy fighting at the control points just for the fun of it. But also fighting for access to the mission NPCs gives another boost to the motivation 😉

The instances in the area is still on the to-do list, this will probably be when a few of the clan members can go together. Overall the zone has been a good fun place and the music scores have been a great addition also, quite good. Most zones have had quite good music scores and the various sound effects and voices have certainly also helped to set the mood properly.

Categories: Tabula Rasa

Heroes that makes sense – Champions Online

February 24, 2008 Comments off

It all starts to make sense. When Cryptic Studios announced the Champions Online MMORPG website on the 20th, the bits and pieces from the past months such as the rumors and cancellation of Marvel Universe Online, and Cryptic closing down its game-related forums. The latter pretty much only covered Marvel Universe Online at that time.

One can only speculate what was going on between Cryptic, Marvel and Microsoft. But my guess is that the Cryptic forums closed down when they had the Champions deal in place and were leaving the joint venture with M&M. Combining the agendas of all three companies were probably far from easy, in particular the both Ms I believe. For Cryptic, the MMOG business is their only business, so I think it is perfectly understandable if they felt it did not quite go where they wanted to get out in some way.

Cryptic Studios has acquired the intellectual property of Champions and Dark Champions, which is the characters and places and events included from Hero Games. So they have effectively bought the framework for their lore and story-line to use as they please. They have not bought the game system that the Champions RPG uses (HERO System), but they indicate that their game system is inspired by the HERO systems flexibility.

Both parts make sense. They now have over a quarter of a century’s worth of story material to work from, with no restrictions from other parties on how to use it – other than possibly issues with fans for the original roleplaying game. I am pretty sure the game systems they have conceived are as much borrowing from HERO system in spirit, as things they wanted to have in City of Heroes/Villains and included in Marvel Universe Online.

Essentially what we will be seeing is City of Heroes 2 and Marvel Universe Online without Marvel. The game engine and everything related is something Cryptic developed in-house. Since they plan to release the game in 2009 I think any major feature is already in place to some extent. Story content need to be worked out to fit Champions universe and probably some modifications and continued refinement to game systems and engine.

Apparently there is an article in the game magazine Game Informer about the game. I have never read that magazine and normally do not read game magazines at all, so some of my speculation here might be way off. I’m not sure if that particular magazine is on sale arund here at all. There is also an article at Massively aboutthe game – that one I could read 🙂

The game is said to be soloable through all levels, which means that there will be levels and lots of solo content. If City of Heroes/Villains is any indication, there will probably be scalable instances when content is instanced. Team sizes of up to 5 players sounds a bit small though; I like the upto 8 person sized teams in CoV/CoH. Although with the introduction of games to the consoles in particular there is probably a need to reduce the amount of information cluttering the screen.

One of the good things of CoV/CoH is the ease with which you can assemble teams. The sidekick/exemplar systems helps with that and I love that feature. That being said, I guess and hope they will not have that feature in Champions Online. I rather think they might pursue the level-less enemies that CoV/CoH has in the form of Giant Monsters and Rikti Invasion forces. In this case there is no need for sidekick/exemplar – anyone can team up with anyone anyway.

This would also fit in with the concept of a changing world a bit better. Anyone can play any content at any time and participate in events that change the world.

The customisation options sounds like they will be at least as good as CoV/CoH, which means that Pagaon City and Rogue Isle residents may finally fall to second place. Cryptic has before indicated that technical limitations with the game engine and graphics hardware limited them in this regard when City of Heroes was initially introduced and how much more they can do now (at the time they were working on MUO).

Adding alter egos and archenemies seems to be just natural for a superhero genre game, so one may just wonder what took them so long. Ayway, still good that it is being added.

I think there is great potential here, but I cannot say that I am particularly excited about the game. But then I cannot say that I am particularly excited about any future MMOG. Trailers, screenshots and feature lists may be great, but does not necessarily add up to a really good game play. In the end it is the people and company behind it. I think Cryptic is in a good position here. But time will tell.