The people’s city of heroes
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.
The “useless” rating system is probably more useful for Paragon Studios than the players – this is with the assumption that they have the ability to a lot more data mining on the ratings than what users can see. With a single simple 0-5 star rating for each story arc as the major way to categorize them, they are falling short to help people find the type of arcs they are interested in.
There is clearly an interest for actual story-focused arcs. There is also an interest for arcs that optimize the xp or badge gain and there is an interest for arcs that provide tactical challenges. All of these are very difficult to combine, in some cases maybe two of them can co-exist.
The ‘farming’ missions are clearly the most controversal here – optimized for the numbers/achievement aspect of the game rather the virtual world content. This is really nothing new – most MMOs over the years have trained players that such player behaviour is rewarded and/or a necessary part of an MMO.
When the developers now have given part of the control to the players they respond by doing what they think is best for them, rather than what the developers perhaps intended with the tools. But when giving control to the players, developers must understand that they also give up some of their previous control.
I do think that this is something Paragon Studios is aware of though and has been more prepared to go down that route than many other developers. Take for example the sidekick/lackey system in the game; which allows a lower level character to be raised to a level close to a fellow higher level player, allowing them to play together. A brilliant mechanic, but not many level-based MMOs have copied that. I think one reason for that is about control.
If players can raise their level temporaily it means that they may not play the content in the order the developers intended it to be played – they can simply skip large parts of the game. That might mean that they could miss/bypass some content/story element that the developers wanted them to experience in a certain order.
A remember a blog post regarding the Everquest 2 mentoring system where it was stated that a significant reason for not allowing character to get their levels raised and instead lower the level of a high level character was precisely that content/story elements could be skipped.
While I do very much appreciate efforts put into an MMO to create great stories, lore etc I think that this type of reasoning is a bit flawed. Regardless how good the story content is, playing together with friends and other nice people will generally be the preference when opportunity arises. Give the control to the players to decide what is more important for them.
This is something City of Heroes/Villains already has done with a number of game mechanics that encourage team play, but may sacrifice following the stories properly. The game has been more about giving players some level of control than many other MMOs (with exception to EVE and a few other sandbox games) and Mission Architect is another step in that direction.
I am glad that this piece of control of the game has been given to the people of the game, the players. I am happy to take both the good and the bad with it, just as in many other venues of life, and find those pieces that works for me.