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Archive for May, 2010

Support character design

May 31, 2010 Comments off

In a number of MMOs a typical support character can or have been good at healing, buffing/debuffing and/or crowd control, but have perhaps been a bit weak on the offensive side of things. In slightly old MMOs we have support characters that are very dependent on their teams to progress, while in some newer MMOs character canbe a bit more all-round.

Dropping the dedicated focus on a certain aspect can have both good and bad points to it – the bad can be that characters are less distinct from each other, the good is that the charcters might more fun to play solo as well as in teams.

With this in mind I found the new Vigilance power in City of Heroes to be an interesting approach. Vigilance is an inherent power for the Defender archetype in the game. As the same suggests, this archetype is good at assisting the rest of the team to do better. Vigilance thus was a power that as the overall health of the team dropped, the cost of using the Defender’s powers also dropped. I.e. the more trouble the team was in, the better the capability of the Defender to support his/her teammates became.

Fighting solo or in small team more viable now with new Vigilance

In the latest issue (issue 17) Vigilance was changed. They still kept the endurance (power cost) discount, but also added a damage bonus. If the Defender plays solo he/she can get a damage bonus of up to 30% (at level 20+). If the defender plays in a team the damage bonus is reduced based on the number of team members – at 4 to 8 team members there is no damage bonus at all.

I like this approach because it does not change inherently what a Defender is, or make it more similar to other archetypes. But if the player plays solo or in a small team the character becomes a bit more viable for the offensive part of the team as well. It is a rather simple change, but one which I think works out quite ok.

Categories: City of Heroes

Leo Ericsson: Into the hole

May 30, 2010 1 comment

[This was a rather quick write and a somewhat adjusted story to the original game play]

Leo woke up early with a terrible hangover. He and the members of his special task force team had been out celebrating the promotion of one of the team members; Vincent DiMarrio. Vincent had received a new assignment in St Martial, which by most of the soldiers in Mercy was considered a significant improvement in location.

Leo did not particularly like Vincent and thought that he was much more suited for a promotion. While Vincent was a good fighter, Leo was pretty sure he could beat him, if he had to. He wondered how Vincent had been able to pull this one off.

At the table next to the bed was a small note with some text on it. Leo vaguely remembered that some man had given it too him. That was probably right after he had stood up on the table in the bar, somewhat intoxicated, and shouted “I have a destiny, just wait and see!” at Vincent.

The note was short:

If you want to find your destiny, come see me at Fort Darwin.

– Alan Desslock

Weird name, Leo thought. Maybe some wacko, but if he actually is inside Fort Darwin he must be someone. I could hear him out. It will probably not be good to tell him that his name sounds a bit like a part of a toilet in Swedish. Some people might take that as an insult. Better not comment on that – at least not yet.

But that will have to wait for a bit, time to get on the daily business – beating the crap out of the low-life scum and help with the arrival of those “destined ones” that Arachnos was getting out of the Zig.

Most of the thugs were just a bunch of Hellions or Skulls, some of the local gangs. But sometimes there were also a few creepy guys who could barely walk but had glowy eyes – they never ran away or gave up, so one had to take them down permanently.

While he was beating a few of the Hellions, he noticed that he was watched by a beefy guy in some kind of black armor. Not a normal thug, so probably one of these guys that had been transported out of the Zig.

– Hey you, soldier!,  the dark guy said. Do you want to do something a bit more dangerous than beating up those thugs?

The dark guy approached him. – I am Dark Titan. I am here for an investigation and you seem to be a good soldier that would be useful to me to reach my goal a bit quicker.

Leo walked up to the big guy: – A challenge? Sure, I am up for it.

Dark Titan smiled. – We can make a good team. Let me fill you in on the details.

Dark Titan told Leo that he had gathered some infomation about the Snakes, a group of intelligent snake-like creatures that mostly live underground in the caves below Mercy Island. He had killed a number of them, gathering skins and other data from the creatures for his benefactor.  From this material his benefactor had deduced that there was a special breed of these snakes called the Trueborn. Supposedly these are the progeny of an ancient goddess Stheno, which these snake creatures believe in. Thus these Trueborn could be very valuable, but also dangerous.

Dark Titan said that he had managed to track down what possibly may be a hatchery for these Trueborn. He was now going to strike at this Hatchery, defeat any snake creatures resisting and grab some DNA from any Trueborn that could be found.

Leo thought about it for a while. He had heard about these Snakes, and occasionally seen what could have been one at a distance. Many of the civilians and thugs were thought to have become victims of these creatures, and even turned into them by their bites.

As long as they did not bother him, he had no interest in them. He certainly had no plans to be heroic and make life easier for the weak trash that walked around on the streets of Mercy. But it could be worthwhile to network a bit with one of these “destined ones” and perhaps some useful intel could be gained from it – these Trueborn were something new to Leo.

Said and done – Leo and Dark Titan joined forces and were soon jumping into a hole in the ground that DT pointed out. – This should be the place.

And they certainly seemed to have hit the right spot. Soon after entry they encountered a group of Snakes which attacked directly.  Throwing daggers and wielding knives, those creatures were no match for Leo’s submachine gun and Dark Titan’s powerful punches. Going deeper into the caves, they found more groups of snakes which they attacked.

After a long walk further down into the caves the path suddenly opened up to a big cave hall. In this room there were many groups of Snakes, each group seemingly working on something near a number of huge eggs.

– These must be the eggs of the Trueborn, Dark Titan said. – If we beat up the snakes and crack the eggs we should be able to get some good DNA samples.

As they approached the first egg, the nearby snakes took notice of them and attacked with a feriocity that was a bit beyond what the initial snakes had shown. If anything, that may be a good indication that they were on the right track here. As they had defeated the first group of snakes and started to beat the egg to crack it, some of the other snakes in the cave hall further down had took notice of them and came screaming, with knives raised.

– Here comes the cavalry, Leo smiled. Swiftly the new group of snakes were dealt with. The egg was cracked and some of the goo inside was put in a canister by Dark Titan.

– Now we have the DNA. Let’s kill the rest, he said with a twisted smile.

Suddenly two of the other eggs nearby cracked and out from these eggs crawled two huge Cobra-like creatures. They blinked and looked around a bit and then fixed their gazes on the two humans. One of them picked up a big sword that lay next to the egg. The two Cobras slithered  towards Leo and Dark Titan.

– Right, time to see how tough these ones are, Dark Titan said.

Before any of them had done anything though, one of the Cobras started to spit out some kind of green fluid which hit them both. Leo felt a sudden dizziness and a burning sensation where the fluid had hit him. Crap, some kind of toxic, he thought. Both of them lept forward and started to beat on the two big creatures.

The creatures hit hard, aiming for the legs and Leo started to feel numb in his legs. He was barely able to walk and suddently felt a stinging pain in his chest and fell to the ground – one of the Cobras has hit him with the sword and the tip of it had managed to penetrate his armor. He turned towards the Corba and managed to raise his submachine gun and fire half a dozen bullets into the face of the Cobra, who dropped down on the ground, stone dead.

Turning his head towards the other Cobra, he saw Dark Titan wrapping his arms around the Cobra’s head from behind and with a loud snap! twisted the creatures head. It fell down from his arms, dead.

– Mission accomplished soldier. The other snakes seem to have fled the scene. Dark Titan picked up the canister and indicated towards the path they came from. – Let’s go back.

Back up on the ground Dark Titan motioned towards Leo with his hand. – Thanks for the assistance. I am sure we will run into each other again. Bye, soldier.

When Dark Titan had left Leo opened a pocket and took out a small container with some goo in it. He knew some of the Arachnos scientists – a mad bunch of people, but sometimes brilliant and useful to know. He would give this goo to one of them. If it turns out to be valuable the scientist would owe him a favour – which could be useful to collect at some point later. A bit painful, but possibly useful day.

Leo walked back Fort Cerberus where his quarters were. The sun was about to set and he thought he saw a few snake-like creatures far away. He motioned with his hand towards them like a gun. – Bam bam, you are dead.

Categories: City of Heroes, MMO Games

Meet Leo Ericsson, villain

May 28, 2010 Comments off

This is Leo Ericsson, a villain and Arachnos soldier. He is a young man that has no special powers or abilities like the various super heroes or super villains; he is just one of many soldiers in the service of Lord Recluse. But Leo has ambition.

Meet Leo Ericsson, villain and Arachnos soldier

As a young boy Leo and his mother emigrated from Sweden, away from an abusive father & husband, and settled down in Cap au Diable. Quite soon Leo learned that getting somewhere in the somewhat rough societely that is the Rogue Isles, one must be strong. He mixed early with the local criminal gangs, but while he admired the gadgets that the Goldbrickers employed, he still thought of them as not ambitious enough – he wanted to hit the big league.

And for a man in the Rogue Isles, there can hardly be anything bigger than Arachnos. Leo admired Lord Recluse’s darwinian approach to ruling with survival of the fittest, even within his own organisation and army. As a young man he got himself enlisted as a soldier at the very bottom of the Arachnos hierarchy. Already a year after enlistment he had managed to advance in the organisation to a special task force assignment to Mercy Island.
Read more…

Categories: MMO Games

That’s a horse

May 23, 2010 Comments off

Caught this picture below in a City of Heroes forum thread:

Nemesis horse

Apparently this is a horse from the Nemesis villain group (steampunk:ish villains), but never actually been put into the game for real. So when will NCSoft add this as a $25 pet.. 😛

Categories: City of Heroes, MMO Games

Going Rogue packaging

May 23, 2010 1 comment

I just had a look at the Going Rogue FAQ, prompted by a note in the City of Heroes forums. In addition to the expension module, there is also going to be a “Complete Collection” version, which both includes the original game, the expansion Going Rogue, a month of game time and couple of extra items. Those items include a few emotes, some additional costume pirces, more auras and an invisibility power, Shadowy Presence. The latter is not that useful though, IMHO.

Considering that only the expansion costs 20 Euro and the Complete Collection package 30 Euro, the big package is a good deal. The items in the package will be possible to buy separately for 6 Euro.

However, for early access to the dual pistols and demon summoning powersets, one has  to “pre-purchase” (Paragon Studios terminology) the expansion package.

Release date is set to “Summer 2010”, which is slightly different from “July 2010”. I suspect that we might not see the expansion released until the end of the summer.

Categories: City of Heroes, MMO Games

The Serpent Lantern

May 21, 2010 2 comments

Cryptic has unveiled some details about their upcoming advanture pack, The Serpent Lantern.

As one might guess from the name, the stories in this pack is around the organisation VIPER and the article on the Champions wbe site outlines a few pieces of what to expect.

I am glad that they have started to create these adventure packs: it is a kind of content that provides a bit more choice to the player. The pack can be played at almost any level and with any size of team – it will scale accordingly And it is repeatable if one wants to play it multiple times.

I really hope they continue to add content in general in this form, even if it is not everything. This approach give player more choice of what to do in the game, at least at some point in the future where a number if adventure packs hopefully has been released – and that at practically any point in time of the superhero career.

A good move, hopefully this works out well for them.

Back to the architect

May 16, 2010 4 comments

I believe it was late last summer that Paragon Studios announced that it was possible to buy additional story arc slots, on top of the 3 slots that every player received. I jumped on this opportunity directly and bought additional 5 slots – which I think was the max allowed.

A bit later Champions Online was released and my main focus diverted away from Paragon City and Rogue Isles a bit.  While I went back to play City of Heroes/Villains to play, I still did not start to make any new story arcs – the four arcs I had already published were still there and nothing more was done, except to check on the arcs once in a while to see that they are working.

And I like my arcs, so I did not mind playing them every now and then. But no effort to actually make any additional arcs or change the existing ones.

You are not Cylons by any chance?

And so Issue 17 went live. Already before Issue 17 most of my MMO game time was spent in City of Heroes/Villains and it has not decreased after that. But now I am also getting back into writing story arcs again. There are some important reasons here:

  • Story arc size doubled to 200KB, plus custom critter data made more compact.
    My existing story arcs were all in the 90-100% range of the max size, but now suddenly they shrank to around 30-50% of the new max size.
  • Much better control over XP given by custom critters
    In order to combat exploits in the previous issue the XP for custom critters was essentially reduced in a stopgap measure, or rather the challenge vs XP ratio was set so that pretty much only quite tough custom mob would give the same XP as a much easier standard mob. The new detailed power customisation makes that gap much smaller.

Issue 17 also brought a new type of objective (lead ally to different objective), added new maps and also giant monsters – I have used 2 out of 3 of those now.

For anyone interested in my story arcs I have a separate page here on the blog for those (see also at the top of the blog page): Mission Architect story arcs.

Read more…

Categories: City of Heroes, MMO Games

Samuraiko game tribute

May 16, 2010 Comments off

Recently I ran across the City of Heroes/Villains video Retrospective by Samuraiko. It is a quite nice video going through the history of the game with the different issues from the very start up to today, 6 years later. Some of will perhaps mainly make sense if you have played the game and that particular content, but it is a nice tribute to a game that is slightly older than that Blizzard game.

(Some details that are perhaps not quite in the right place in the timeline, but that is artistic freedom for you 🙂 I am still impressed that some old in-game footage was possible to include)

Samuraiko (Michelle Travis in RL) has a number of videos uploaded on her YouTube channel, including a City of Heroes version of Do you want to date my avatar?

Categories: City of Heroes, MMO Games

Monthly trekking

May 15, 2010 Comments off

It has been a while since I wrote anything what I have been playing. One of the games I have played is Star Trek Online; although I cannot say that I play it particularly much.

In the past month or so I have had one STO session. I played through a story arc, Saturday’s Child, and a few patrol missions. The story arc was ok – negotiations for rare resources with people who left technology behind them a long time ago and now live a simpler life. Throw in a bit of Klingon conflict and spice it up with a meteor that threatens to destroy this world.

Captain, anti-meteor goo is at full capacity!

Safe to say is in the end I beat the Klingons and stopped the meteor. There was not really any surprises here, which is perhaps one reason I do not play the game more often.

For most of the stories it is a bit like I am pulled through by the nose, very few surprises and very few choices to be made. In fact, almost all of the time my crew tells me what I should do or should not do.

It it also supposed to be a time of war, but unless my crew tells me we have enemies nearby and and that I should probably shoot them or something, I see little evidence of this war going on.

So as the game is now it is a nice distraction that I can play for a bit once in a while, but I have not really any urge to play it. I have a 12-month subscription on the game, 1 character which is Commander of some rank (2 or 3 I think), so until Febaruary next year I will probably play once in a while. After that we will see, game and/or payment model perhaps have changed by then.

Rebuilding the theme park and levels

May 14, 2010 2 comments

In the past few weeks Funcom received both positive and negative remarks for their new offline leveling system. Massively had a positive post about the feature, which received a lot of comments.

I think both the author of that post and also Funcom are on the right track here. Many MMO games have run into a trap in that leveling itself in a game has become a key purpose for playing. People talk about speed of leveling, if there is enough content to support leveling to max level etc. And when talking about alternatives to the mob killing/leveling part, we may talk about crafting or similar features.

But these are very abstract concepts and if we do not lose this abstraction the different MMOs become just a grey blur – they all have mob killing, crafting, PvP, PvE or whatever – in one form or another.  For some people that is fine and enough. But I would hope that we somehow can get past the pure abstract mechanics and get back into the virtual worlds.

I want to play a game because I can be a kick-ass space pilot, or command demons from the underworld to wreck havoc. Or I can explore worlds with strange creatures that no-one has heard of, or see twin suns set on the horizon.

Read more…