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Archive for November, 2009

Confronting Nemesis

November 20, 2009 Comments off

Cryptic has started to push the marketing buttons for a new lair that is being added to Champions Online next week, Nemesis Confrontation. This is a 5-man lair for max level characters (i.e. level 40) which as the name implies, includes confrontations with the Nemesis characters of all people in the team. There is also a trailer available – warning though that the speaker voice is a bit cheesy IMHO…

The new lair is available on the Public Test Server and characters less than 40 can be bumped up to that level for testing. Some feedback in the forums seems to give that it is overall a good one, although the Nemesis part does not play such a big role as the name would imply and that they Nemesis characters are a bit wimpy. The main encounter seem to more frustrating than challenging for some builds at least.

My highest is at 33, so there will still be some time before I get to try this one out – perhaps close to Christmas or something like that. The lair will be available in the regular Champions world on November 24th.

Categories: Champions Online

Games I pay

November 20, 2009 1 comment

Instead of a games I play I wanted to do a games I pay, which are two different lists – only one game is currently overlapping those two, barely.

  • Saga of Ryzom
    Paying the subscription fee for this game, although I have barely logged into to it in the past 2-3 months. I like a number of things about this game, but it has not been the right environment for me to disconnect from the real world in. Besides, it is a bit too much fantasy-like and I don’t really appreciate anything fantasy-like at the moment. But I do wish to encourage small developers like WinchGate, so I am happy to continue pay regardless of whether I play it or not.
  • City of Heroes/Villains
    This has been my primary MMO since spring 2006, but lately I have been slacking in this area in terms of playing. Paragon Studios have added some neat things in updates, but seem to focus on the upcoming expansion Going Rogue, which looks promising.  Paragon Studios itself is not huge, but is still part of a somewhat large MMO company – NCSoft. So I am not paying because I want to support a small developer – instead it is to support a studio that make a good team-encouraging casual MMO with good stories. They also do seem to want to go in a bit new directions even after 5+ years with the game, as the expansion indicates. I simply like their ambitions and that they also seem to be reasonably good in execution, although not quite the top-notch that they used to be when they were a smaller group. I am happy to support them even though I do not play much at the moment.
  • Champions Online
    This is definitely the MMO which I think has the most fun combat and is the MMO I mainly play if I get some spare time. I even like the PvP in the game, at least the types of PvP I have tried so far (Zombie Apocalypse, Hunters vs werewolves, Stronghold Apocalypse).
    I do not pay for a monthly subscription with this one, since I bought the lifetime subscription back in August. I have paid a little bit afterwards using the Cryptic shop to buy some costume pieces and a character rename. So I do pay here, but not at regular intervals. The reason for buying the lifetime subscription was simply a longterm investment in that I believe to be Cryptic’s ability to create MMOs that I like to play.  Champions Online has not disappointed me; but I do think Cryptic has been a bit sloppy in some areas of execution and the game still needs more good content – but which PvE-oriented MMO doesn’t?
    It is a game that works well to have in a mix of other games; but probably not something for those that want to focus on one single game for many hours per week over many months or years. For my casual approach it works fine.
  • Fallen Earth
    I like the post-apocalyptic setting and the scavenging/crafting type of gameplay clicks with me here. The combat sucks IMHO, but thankfully this does not seem to be something that I have to endure too much. Again, this is a game from a somewhat small developer; I am quite ok with paying for this to support a small developer doing a non-fantasy and a bit sandbox:y game, even though I do not log in and play that often. More of those games.

I have played and play some other MMO games which do not require me to pay a regular fee; but that is for a different post.

Peek at Borderlands

November 7, 2009 5 comments

I realized this is not my type of game, so I decided not to play again after 1 hour. I liked the art style and the setting though.

Categories: Non-MMO games

Blood Moon flawed event design?

November 2, 2009 2 comments

Having played a bit more in the Blood Moon event I am left to wonder what happened during the design of the fallen hero/Takofanes part of the event.

HeroDestruction

  • Defeating fallen heroes commanding hordes of zombies and then save their souls? Check, good piece
  • Have a bit more special apperance of a representative of the Big Bad Guy, Takofanes? Yeah, can work
  • Have the fallen heroes appear all over Millenium City? Probably a good choice, it is a zone pretty much anyone can get to, there are vendors and many other facilities here
  • Have the fallen hero enemies spread out from level 14 to 27? A logical choice to make them be at about the same level as the surrounding area. This was later changed so that the instances scaled with the level of the character. That was a band-aid change, not necessarily a good choice in its context.
  • Have a timed open mission as first part and then an instance? Yeah, that in itself works well I think
  • Have a 2 hour reset timer on the Open Mission? Far too long. Many of my game sessions are probably less than 2 hours. Jumping instances to try to find a shorter timer is not fun gameplay. Later this was changed to 30 minutes. Again I think this was a band-aid solution. Better than the original timer, but still flawed given some other design choices.
  • Have a crypt-like instance, mostly beating up zombies popping up? So-and-so, too long with not enough variation
  • Have 13 almost identical crypt instances? Not a particularly good choice. The big flaw here though was to tie some rewards to it (perks and unlock of celestial powerset). If there were no incentives to actually get people to do all 13 of them it would be ok – people could sample one, get some reward and then get on with their game.  With 13 available there would be a better chance of finding one that might be activated soon.
  • A 6 hour timer for Mr Taco representative to show up and tie a rare loot drop to his defeat as well as the major event perk? Big flaw. In practive even encountering this villain has been ruled out for casual players – more obsessive and achievement-hunting players will have him killed in no time after he appears.

I would have liked to see less of the fallen heroes – 5 or 6 at most. Defeating and saving the souls of 2-3 of them would have been enough for any perk. Doing that should also trigger the opportunity to encounter the Taco guy also. Of course, then the PvE part of the Blood Moon event would have been completed much sooner and people would have complained that there were not enough content.

I do not see why there was an unlock mechanic for celestial powerset at all. If they had to have one I think saving the souls as described above would suffice, possibly also defeating Taco with the changed suggestions above, or as an alternative participating in a few of the different event activities. I.e. one can focus on PvP activities and get it or do the PvE stuff and get it or do a mix of it and get it.

Stronghold1Cryptic has obviosuly done some good missions and arcs in the game. I think content creation probably was a bit rushed and they did not have time to do a good job with lots of content. Since there was a fixed deadline for the event they likely had to make a number of compromises.

Hindsight is of course the best way to find flaws and I am sure they have very good and competent people in place for mission design which do a great job and much better than I could ever hope to do – other parts of the game has proven that. Reality tend to screw up good design intentions in various ways though.

I just hope that Cryptic will continue and put enough effort into new content to let it have a high quality without too much interference from reality and commercial conditions.

I also want to point out that I think the PvP elements of the event are quite good and fun and much of the setting in general is quite nice. It is just the fallen hero part that does not make me shout out in joy.

Categories: Champions Online