Coming home back to Sweden today I noticed when I checked if thee had been any game updates of the MMOs I play that The Foundry is now live!
I played around with it briefly in the beta, but decided to wait for the live release – which is now here. I loved to make story arc missions in City of Heroes Mission Architect and I am quite curious to see how this feature works out.
Cryptic has put up a nice web page for The Foundry with a trailer, some basic getting started info and also some player made tutorials and highlighted missions.
But before jumping in to create some missions I jumped into the game to see what was already there. I tried some of the player created missions and also signed up as a reviewer. Before missions are released to the general public a mission has to be reviewed and completed a number of times. This is good, both for perhaps finding content that would violate any rules that have been set up, but I think also to give some additional eyes to find issues/bugs with missions and give suggestions.
This is something I think Mission Architect would have benefited from. There were a number of missions available in the game, but not the huge explosion of missions found through Mission Architect. I believe they had not enabled any ability to move mission content from the beta to the live system, so I guess it now would be a matter of people recreating the missions they had started with in beta.
My favourite of the missions I played so far was “When the War Began” – starting as fight/rescue operation to New Australia, which had been invaded by Romulans. Some good humor and fun to play and some of the features included made me quite eager to try to think of some missions to make myself.
It turned out also that this mission is also just the first part of a bigger story arc. There were a couple of these that I saw in the mission list also stories/missions spanning multiple missions in the list.
Another thing that I like about Foundry is also that the missions are available from the same interface as all the other missions and thus just as easy to access. This is another thing I felt Mission Architect could do better – it is more cumbersome to do the MA missions, unless one dedicates specific sessions and agrees with people beforehand to do them.
Anyway, I had justa brief look at it so far on the live system, but I think it is looking good and promising so far!
This weekend my MMO gaming was pretty much focused on space combat – Black Prophecy, Star Trek Online and Battlestar Galactica Online. The “pretty much” part comes from that not all combat in Star Trek Online was in space 😉
Actually a large part of the playtime was with Black Prophecy – the game had now released (in Europe) since I last played it and all characters had been wiped, so it was time to start again. This I did not mind at all – the prologue that you go through at least once with a character is a great introduction to the universe and setting of Black Prophecy.
For our North American friends the game has just got into closed beta – not sure how they handle Asia and Australia and other parts of the world.
Massively recently posted a developer diary with designer Tim Sweeney from Paragaon Studios. The post talks a bit about the new Incarnate system for advancement for max level characters in City of Heroes.
I think this system is a pretty nice one that tires to cater for both casual players as well as the more hardcore ones. In general, each incarnate slot provides some ability or boost. For each slot there are four different choices which allows variations of that ability or boost. For the initial Alpha slot there are four general type of boosts:
- Cardiac – improves (decreases) endurance consumption when using powers
- Spiritual – improves recharge time of powers
- Nerve – improves accuracy of powers
- Musculature – improves damage of powers
For each variant there are also four levels of rarity – common, uncommon, rare and very rare. A more rare items gives higher boosts and/or additional boosts than the less rare ones. But even common incarnate abilities gives a significant improvement in some area.
In addition to this no choice here is eternal; one can swap and change different variations suited for a certain slot as one see fit.
There is also no gating of gaining the components to build these new abilities – certain ways are faster, but it is always possible to get there. A casual and dedicated solo player can get the abilities, but it may take some time. Team play is encouraged, but not enforced, which is how it should be IMHO.
This pattern seems to have been applied for all the different incarnate slots – four different varations for each slot and four levels of rarity and different ways to combine things for the different rarity levels.
I like this system – if I want to get to a certain point quick I would need to think a bit what to play, but otherwise I can almost play whatever suits me and feels fun and I will improve that way also. That is much better I think than to be forced to do certain pieces of content to get anywhere.
However, when I was thinking about the SciFI MMO situation and that I prefer that to fantasy MMOs, I realized that at least for me, it has come true. SciFi is a rather broad term and when looking at what I play, it is only SciFi MMOs really.
- Star Trek Online. Definite space, hi-tech and pyjamas-wear SciFi. I play it perhaps once per week on average and I enjoy it every time.
- Fallen Earth. Post-apocalyptic theme, a bit more low-tech. Had a short break now, but went in again after the 1.8 patch. It has a low intensity pace for me, which is a nice change to some of the other games.
- Black Prophecy. It may be argued if it is an MMO or not, but I do like the dogfight style space combat and the game looks great. I really hope the storyline will continue to develop after the prologue.
- City of Heroes. My eternal MMO additiction. Perhaps borderline what some may consider SciFi, but it definitely fulfills the requirement for fictional science in my book. Best casual team friendly MMO available.
- Champions Online. Does not have the story background and character & faction attraction that I see in City of Heroes, but good for brief visits and some fun combat.
That is not to say I intend to keep it only SciFi-themed. I have made brief visits lately to fantasy side (Guild Wars) and I am looking forward to horror/myth reality theme in The Secret World whenever that is released as well as Guild Wars 2. Guild Wars is a really good fantasy game and Guild Wars 2 of course looks very interesting.
But I am also really curious to see how Blackstar will turn out on Android; will probably get a tablet at some point with Honeycomb (Android 3.0). At that point I might revisit Vendetta Online again also.
This Friday I got my 13th character to max level, in City of Heroes – Wolf Sente, my Arachnos Bane soldier.
Wolf Sente is almost 3 years old now, I think. He was one of the two characters I created when the villain epic archetypes were released. The other one, my arachnos widow Tatiana, reach max level after about a month – very fast for a slow leveler like me. But Wolf has been more normal speed and so now finally reached the max level.
The last two levels were very quick, doing two task/strike forces roughly one hour each. A bit more playtime on Saturday and he now is also alpha slotted and has his first incarnate ability slotted as well.
He has been very fun to play lately, but was not always so. A big part of that problem was my power selection and slotting, which was a bit unfocused. Taking a step back and thinking more about how I wanted to play him and what was available to me I respec:ed him and now got a build which is more fun to play.
At some point I will probably look at my Archnos Widow also and see what I can improve, although she is fairly ok as it is. But it gives a good amount of satisfaction to take a character you have be able to make it noticeably more fun/better than it were before, through different power and slotting choices.
One of the announcements for City of Heroes at Pax East is that the European and North American server lists will merge – i.e. now all server will be available through a common list instead of separate lists for each continent. This is great news!
This will mean more servers to choose from for everyone and hopefully also address the issues with separate chat channels, emails, global handles, everyone can play on the same test servers etc. I am happy to see this happening, although they did not say exactly when this would happen.
In a recent Massively post about Gamigo, it was mentioned that Black Prophecy currently has a European open beta running. This is a game for which I have had hopeful curiosity, tired disappointment and a few things in between, ever since I first heard of the game and wrote something about it.
Now almost 3 years later there was actually an opportunity to try it out. Start the game and as usual the first step is to create a character. The character creator, or perhaps rather the head creator, is fairly sophisticated and there is a lot of tweaking that can be done to your character’s head.
All this tweaking is currently not that useful though – no-one will actually see you. As of now your character is your ship as well, there is no walking outside of the ship – not yet anyway.
Jumping in with your character pretty much gets you right away into the action. A cutscene sets the setting and you then start a gunner on a Sapiens ship helping to fight off an attack. It is pretty good and at the end of that tutorial session, you get promoted to become a pilot and fly your own ship.
You start as a Sapiens. This is the current name for “normal” humans, which currently in the human society is considered second class citizens. The more prominent humans are instead from the two “super-human” factions, the Tyi or the Genides. The Tyi have enhanced themselves through cybernetic means, while the Genides are more into bio-engineering to improve themselves.
These two are the currently playable factions. However, after leaving the initial tuorial section you are still a regular Sapiens. There is a continued story here, which is part of a prologue that sets up the story in more detail.
This prologue is quite good and will continue to build up quite a story with a number of missions. At the end of the prologue you will get a choice to join a faction. After the first character has completed the prologue, later characters do not have to complete it again.
Gameplay is centered around various space stations; with the SPIRE station being the center during the prologue. At these space stations players can dock their ships, perform skill upgrades, craft, buy & sell (NPC) and some other activities. Mission are picked up either from designated NPC mission contacts, or from a general mission terminal at the station. Transport to the area of the mission is then pretty much immediate – just select the area to go to. Many of the missions have their own instances for each player/team that plays them. However, some areas are also shared between players.
The space combat in Black Prophecy has a dogfight style to it; I have not been a big fan of such space combat in other games, but I must say that I quite enjoyed Black Prophecy here – it works quite well and is fun to play. As I have played I have noticed a couple of bugs; primarily some mission content which does not work as intended – sometimes redoing that mission worked fine for it, sometimes not.
Around level 5-6 (depending on how many side missions have been done in addition to the prologue missions) the prologue ends and the player chooses a faction.
As an old Earth & Beyond player, I get some flashbacks when I look at the factions in the game. I would not be surprised if the developers had some inspiration from that game. The Tyi has at least some visual similarities with the Progen in Earth & Beyond, while the Genides kind of fits with the Jenquai from Earth & Beyond – and for the 3rd one the Terran from E&B matches the Sapiens, although they were a bit more equal in Earth & Beyond.
I hte forums some people think it is a bit too buggy still to officially release it. Maybe the concern will be more valid as the levels are increased, but as far as I have played now it has been quite fun, and few it any bugs to consider.
This post is only a quick glimpse of the game and what I have seen so far is promising and fun.