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Archive for April, 2009

Meme time: MMO Firsts

April 30, 2009 Comments off

Noticed this meme at Ysharros’ blog, MEMEnto:

First MMO Played? Anarchy Online

First Character Class/Role Played? Engineer

First MMO Subscribed For More Than A Consecutive Year? City of Villains, if that includes active playtime. For game paid for more than a consecutive year, that would be Star Wars Galaxies.

First MMO You Fell In Love With? Anarchy Online

First Guild You Really Felt Attached To? My guild in Earth & Beyond. Technically it was two guilds, since there was an exodus from the original one after some guild drama. Most of the members reformed under a new guild.

First Character/Game You Leveled To End Cap? My Jenquai Explorer in Earth & Beyond

First “Wow” Moment In A MMO? First time entering a city in Anarchy Online with all the bustling activity and people running around.

First MMO You Burned Out On? Earth & Beyond. High levels had so much grind.

First MMO You Followed Avidly Prior To Launch? None really. I tend to have a look at info on new games from time to time and sometimes even apply for beta entry. But avidly following? No, not really.

First Time You Felt Truly Noobish In A MMO? A lot of my initial time in Anarchy Online.

First MMO You Went Alt-Crazy In? Anarchy Online. If there were slots available in a game they were filled with alts.

Feel free to pick up on this if anyone feels inclined.
Categories: MMO Games

City of Heroes 5th Anniversary – European forum backlash

April 29, 2009 Comments off

Yesterday was the start of the 5th anniversary events for City of Heroes/Villains. What the CHAOS promised consuisted of seemed to be basically triggering all sorts of events and special characters that had been in place in the game for the past 5 years. A pretty neat thing I think. I was not logged on for long yesterday due to other committments, but I found the parts I participated in to be quite enjoyable – however, it seemed to be quite a bit of “downtime” between some of the event triggering.

There was an anniversary address by developer Positron in the evening US time and at least in the European forums there seemed to be quite some hype and expectation built up for that address. Then came the anniversary address. This seemed to have created quite some negative and sometime harsh comments among some European forum dwellers and triggered some “I am leaving this game” type of posts.

This was followed by new threads and a bunch of “I am staying” posts also. Overall, there has been a fair amoint of negativity and frustration expressed in the forums. I do not read the US forums, but from what I have read there is no such backslah on that side of the pond.

I cannot say I am disappointed with the news about Issue 15 that was included in the address – I had really no expectations on what should be there, so how could I? But I must agree with people saying that the address itself was perhaps a bit dry and underwhelming. In that regard, the post from War Witch regarding the 5 year anniversary was more along the lines what I think an anniversary address should contain. 

I find it a bit interesting to see that some people are asking for some substantial upgrades in terms of assets and game mechnics for the game and that it will be necessary to compete with Champions Online and DC Universe Online. And those people are also complaining that this has not happened already. Now, if Paragon Studios are doing such revamps I would expect that to take much longer than a year to get ready. Such changes are quite substantial and may involve rewrites of large pieces of software and recreation of lots of assets.

If it might take 4-5 years to make a new MMO with perhaps more people than the 50-something at Paragon Studios, why would big revamp changes be possible within a year?   Frankly I think many of the people hired would just be to fill the spots necessary because the team was not part of Cryptic anymore. 

Paragon Studios released Mission Architect and for me that is a big, bold and perhaps innovative step to be taken by an MMO developer. I do applaud them for doing that and I hope they will continue to try and refine that experience.

Without City of Heroes/Villains, I think the MMO market would have been a more boring space to watch and participate in.

Categories: City of Heroes

Tuesday birthday celebrations

April 27, 2009 1 comment

This Tuesday, April 28th, seems to be a day of MMO birthdays. City of Heroes will kick off their 5th anniversary with some special event where CHAOS is going to break loose. Whether that means actul chaos, some new supergroup named CHAOS or something else remains to be seen.

In Guild Wars the 4th anniversary celebrations have already started, but it seems that April 28th is the main day and when everyone will get the birthday presents.

And for the new kid on the block, SOE will be giving birth to (i.e. launch) Free Realms on Tuesday as well.

I will definitely try to attend the birthday events for 5 and 4 year olds on. For the newborn I will probably wait a bit, but the parents and their friends all seem to consider him/her really cute and fun, so will probably give some playtime a bit later.

The 300th ding

April 26, 2009 1 comment

Last night my mind/ice dominator Niefelheim hit his final ding, reaching level 50. So what is this 300 coming from? That is the total number of levels on the 6 dominators I have in City of Villains, i.e. all of them are now at max level.

It was roughly 2 years ago that I decided to create characters with the dominator archetype, covering all powersets available. It was simply the most fun archetype for me in City of Heroes/Villains, so I wanted to try the different powerset combinations available. There were a few false starts until I found the powerset combinations I was reasonably happy with to play.

Initially I had a goal to get all the pets available to dominators (available at level 32 for 5 powersets) but once that was reached, the goal transformed into getting them all to max level, at some point. But that should not happen due to hours and hours of grinding – I have been through such a phase years ago in Earth & Beyond and I am not going through that path again. This became a bit of a problem on the villain side of the game – if you have played through most of the content several times before, motivation and fun can be challenging to muster. For a while I thought it would perhaps never happen.

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Categories: City of Heroes

The people’s city of heroes

April 20, 2009 4 comments

A useless rating system. Full of farming missions. Difficult to find good story arcs. Missions are not canon.

Many great stories and missions, on par or better than much of the developer created content. The most fun in the game for ages. An excellent reward system.

Opinions about the Mission Architect release of City of Heroes/Villains can vary significantly. A number of people love it, others think it is a waste of an issue. And both positive and negative remarks are correct in a way – although I would not go as far as call much of it a truth. But certainly opinions. With around 27000 story arcs and constantly increasing a good chunk of the player base has said that user-created content is somethign I would consider creating.

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Categories: City of Heroes

Equipment update

April 19, 2009 Comments off

The broadband connection here at home is an ADSL connection, which works quite well. Unfortunately the phone jack the ADSL modem has to be plugged into is at the kitchen bench. This means the modem and the wireless router is on the kitchen bench, next to the microwave oven.

Not an ideal spot, in particular for a wireless router. Using the micro while gaming was generally out of the question. All the euipment (computers, internet radio, PS3) are in different areas also, so using cables would not be so fun either.

A collegue recently suggested though to have a look at network adapters that uses the powerlines. So I bought a pair of those and used them between the ADSL modem and the router and placed the router in the work/computer room. This worked like a charm. Nominal speed through the poweline adapters were up to 200 Mbps. With this connection it seemed to degrade to around 60 Mbps, which is still a bit faster than the ADSL connection itself.

While buying the adapter pair I also picked up a multi-function printer (Brother DCP-585CW) and hooked that up to the network also instead of directly to a computer. With copier and scanner built-in as well it will make more space available in the work/computer room.

Categories: Equipment

Paragon Studios has seen the light of day

April 15, 2009 Comments off

Yesterday it was announced that NCSoft NorCal has changed its name to Paragon Studios. This is the part of NCSoft that develops City of Heroes/Villains, so the name fits well and it certainly an indication that NCSoft believes in the game.

Back when NCSoft bought the half of the game that Crypic Studios still owned there were 15 persons working on the game at Cryptic as I recall. Also, NCSoft stated back then that they would double the size of the studio to work on the game. Looking at the group photo on the new site they seem to have almost 50 persons there and they are hiring.

They would of course have to have more people for the game engine development, administration and a few other things, but it is still encouraging to see that NCSoft do put some money into this, especially with the debacle around Tabula Rasa in mind.

Categories: City of Heroes

Architect creators and players – the first dates

April 13, 2009 6 comments

A few weeks ago I wrote a few notes about the Mission Architect mission browser and put together a few charts for the story arc content in the open beta. I decided to have a look at what the numbers were now, a few days after the release of Issue 14.

At the time I collected the numbers below, the total number of story arcs were almost 17000. With the number of distinct missions in an arc being somewhere between 1 and 5 missions, this means the total number of missions are somewhat between 17000 and 65000.  My guess would be that the total number of missions are  around 40000. A few MMORPGS can claim to have more than 1000 quests, so the sheer amount of mission data generated by the player community is quite fascinating.

Of course, not everything is top notch quality missions. And not everyone will have the same taste. Some people want good storylines, others want mainly tactical challenges, some others might want to have farming efficient content etc. Whereas in many other MMORPGs the mission content is fairly organised and spread out according to some developer-determined pattern, in Mission Architect we have pretty much everything in a big bucket. We can slice and dice the bucket content a bit, but it still remains rather large chunks of data we have to work with.

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Categories: City of Heroes

The fantasy of superheroes

April 10, 2009 6 comments

Since Issue 14 of City of Heroes/Villains was released on late Wednesday I have played mainly with my dedicated architect, as well as one of my dominators. A number of the patterns seen in open beta repeat themselves here, but as time goes by I think there will be changes.

Last check there were almost 9000 story arcs published – probably a large amount of the ones that were created in open beta, but also a lot of new story arcs as well. With a number of new people trying out the mission editor there is bound to be many arcs which are of the “this is my test arc” type. Some of them say that explicitly, others don’t. In the latter case they usually do not have an elaborate description of the arc.

There are also a number that are published multiple times due to that the user interface is really not particularly obvious what you should do when you want to update a published arc. I think it is likely that most people will fall into this trap and they should consider clarifying that in the user interface.

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Categories: City of Heroes

Mission Architect is live

April 8, 2009 1 comment

So has finally Issue 14: Mission Architect been released for City of Heroes/Villains! For me this has been one of the most awaited MMO game updates in a long time and I am happy to see that it is finally in place. The update was apparently not entirely painless – the scheduled downtime was 5 hours, but it took almost 9 hours before the game servers were up and people could log in properly.

As expected a fair amount of story arcs has been uploaded already – when I checked about 2.5 hours after logging in there were roughly 1200 story arcs published. Of those, about 0.167% of them are mine – I republished the two story arcs I had created in the open beta. It was not quite straightforward though – both arcs had bits and pieces that were “unlockable content” and I had to earn some architect tickets and unlock some content to get rid of the errors reported for this content. That was roughly 300-400 tickets, which was not too bad.

My story arc page is updated with the new Arc IDs for these arcs, in case someone would like to try them out. Actually I really hope they will be played…:)

Categories: City of Heroes