Archive for January, 2012

Will we see a City of Heroes 2?

January 15, 2012 6 comments

NCSoft West is currently looking for a couple of people to work on a next-gen MMO at their Mountain View office. The Mountain View office is Paragon Studios, so it sounds likely that there is ongoing work for a new MMO for those of us who like to put on virtual spandex.

Given the positions mentioned I guess the work has gone past the concept stage and into some early development. Maybe in 2-3 years we will know for sure?

Categories: MMO Games

Death Incarnate announced – Issue 22

January 12, 2012 2 comments

Paragon Studios have announced some information about the next content update for City of Heroes, Issue 22: Death Incarnate.

A major feature of this content update is a revamp of the zone Dark Astoria. Instead of being a low/mid level hazard zone on the hero side of the game, it now becomes an incarnate zone (level 50+) for both villains and heroes. The zone has not been used much in its current incarnation and players have asked for something more to be done with the zones for years.

This also means that incarnate-specific content goes from being pretty much league-sized only to cate for smaller teams and solo also, which is also something people have asked for – a quite welcome change I believe. However, I do worry a bit that the zone might be a bit like Cimerora when it was introduced – a number of rather generic missions and a task force. Remains to be seen what kind of mission content will be there. My guess is that it may be something in between Cimerora and Rikti War Zone (the latter with significantly more content than Cimerora).

A new low level trial is also introduced, for level 15+. Also some new low level mission content, which seems to be aiming at the teen levels, given the zones that get them (Cap au Diable and Steel Canyon). Probably a lot of players with characters in that level range, so makes sense to add some more there, even though there are other level ranges that would benefit perhaps more from additional content.

The Team-up Teleporter will be fixed so that you can queue up for a trial even when you are in an instanced mission. This was not possible before, which kind of made the tool close to useless – unless there would be a very short waiting time, no-one would be idle waiting for a queued trial to happen, which you would be forced to do if you cannot jump into other instances while waiting. Remains to be seen how this will affect player behaviour. I think it will definitely benefit the low level trials, at least.

Another item which I am a bit excited about are the new Darkness-oriented powersets for Dominators and Controllers – Darkness Control, Dark Assault and Darkness Affinity. I will definitely make another dominator once the issue goes live!

There are also some changes to Gravity Control powerset.   What is mentioned in the overview is not all that has been discussed and considered before, if these are the only changes then it is a bit … tame.

The changes to Stalker though looks more interesting though and should increase the already high damage dealt even more – stalkers are mainly single target focused though, so it is understandable that there is a boost to sort of compensate for the lack of area oriented powers.

Overall I say there is an interesting mix of new content and features and I look forward to try it out!

Categories: City of Heroes

The re-education of returning players

January 7, 2012 4 comments

Many of you probably have at some point decided to return to an MMO you used to play, perhaps years ago. Perhaps in that case, you have also found yourself with a number of old characters which are full of skills/powers you are not quite sure what they do. Perhaps the game has also changed to the point that even if you remember a bit of the old skills, they have anyway revamped your classes/archetypes and skills, so you are not really sure how things work now, anyway?

More than once have I found myself in that situation, feeling that either I start from the beginning again or I do not bother. If the option is to start over, then there might be some memory of the old times or some of the early parts which you simply do not want to do yet again, even after a long time.

MMOs are relatively complex systems as far as games are concerned and constantly evolving. If you are playing a specific MMO regularly, that can be a good thing. But getting back into one of these MMOs can be quite a hurdle at times.

With a lot of games being converted from primary subscription-based to an F2P/subscription hybrid, there is a lot of opportunity for old players to return. But there seems in generel to be very limited efforts to make the transition back into a game smoother for returning old players, besides giving some extra features compared to a completely new player.

I would really like to see some middle ground for a returning player rather than choosing between jumping in head first with an old character and figure out everything at once, or start completely from scratch again. Perhaps some accelerated progression from start unlocking features of an old character, until the pointone feels comfortable to take on the old character completely.

Or perhaps a trial period deciding whether to use a character slot for a new character or to keep an old character there. After trial period ended, one would have to decide whether to go with the new character or the old character for that slot. In particular looking at some of the hybrid conversions where the non-[gold/VIP/subscriber/whatever] options have very few characters slots available to them and probably not any free slots unless you delete old characters.

Personally I have jumped into a couple of old MMOs, only to find myself asking “why should I bother going through all this to figure out this game again?”. This is in particular true for many level-oriented MMOs and even more so if they have been a bit grindy or a bit much too of the “kill ten rats” progression, even if only in some parts of the game.

A “welcome back, old-timer” system in a game which could get you re-introduced into a game in a fun way without giving up all of your old stuff would be a welcome feature, I think. There is no one-size-fits-all option here though, so there would need to be some flexibility in how this re-education is played. But so far I have not seen anything that I remember as a conscious effort to get returning players back into the game in terms of re-learning the game mechanics.

Categories: MMO Games

Wrapping up 2011

January 1, 2012 Comments off

The year 2011 has ended and we have started with 2012. The past year has been interesting in a few ways for me, but perhaps more in areas outside of MMO gaming. While I have been writing a couple of blog posts the past year (123 according to WordPress) I must say that I have felt less inspired when writing posts for large chunks of time.

I used to hop around quite a bit in different MMOs, but this year it has settled down a bit – the past few months I have been pretty much exclusively playing City of Heroes.   The year started out with a few other titles though:


This game in theory had a lot of promise, or at least there was a picture painted that this could be an interesting and fun sandbox-style SciFi MMO. Closer to launch it showed many signs that this was a potential train wreck to be launched. I bought the game knowing that very well though, mainly because I wanted to support a non-mainstream developer, in case they had some good ideas.

The launch was indeed a train wreck and I was a bit disappointed looking more into detail of some actual gameplay elements – not as inspired as I had hoped it would be, not in areas I liked anyway. Even if  the performance and bugs were sorted out I do not think I would have enjoyed the game anyway, so that was it for me.

The current state of the game seems to be that the game still has some quality issues and that they have started a transition to a “free-to-play” model – no new accounts can be created from December 1st and this will be in effect until the “F2P” revamp is completed some time in 2012.

Wurm Online

Played this in the early parts of 2011. The open sandbox world was quite fascinating, but also consumed a lot of time. In the end I decided I did not have the desire to invest enough time in this game/world for it to feel worthwhile. Not sure if I will fo back to this particular game, but would definitely want to try something in the same sandbox spirit as Wurm.

Star Trek Online

Not a big fan of the Star Trek Universe, but I did enjoy creating my own races to play and making up some background and story for my characters. I played STO primarily a bit in the first couple of months of the year and also ended up playing on the Klingon side mainly – very much enjoyed playing my Klingon-sided engineer type (but my own race). I was very enthusiastic about creating missions with the Foundry also initially, but ended up now being anything completed. My inspiration for creating soemthign for the Star Trek universe ended up a bit lacking, although I did look into Klingon material (including the language) a bit as part of the research.

I will probably revisit the game when it changes its payment model.

Champions Online

Visited the geme a couple of times, mainly playing one character. I am a life-time subscriber, so the cryptic points keep piling up in the game. It has been ok to visit a few times, but for my spandex fix City of Heroes works so much better. At some point I should try out the content I have not treied out yet, but I have had difficulty building up enthusiasm to do so. Which is a shame perhaps.


A very hyped game in the early part of the year, which also is a well executed and polished game. I did avoid reading about the game consciously precisely because of all the hype and in late April/early May jumped in and tried the game. I liked many things with it, although I found the combat a bit annoying with the global cooldown timer and the skill trees which quickly cluttered up multiple hotbars. The soul system was nice, but I would have liked a different skill progression model within these souls.

Unfortunately for me, I signed up with a 6 month subscription. In June, after around 1  1/2 month of playing the game I quite quickly lost all interest in logging in and playing the game anymore. I had a brief attempt later in July to get back into the game, but could not muster up enough interest to keep playing. This was very similar to my play experience with LOTRO, which played out quite similar – although in that case I had pre-ordered and played in beta also. Lesson learned – do not sign up for a long payment period initially with a subscription-based fantasy game.

Star Legends

My only major visit into mobile MMO gaming and this on my Eee Pad – the screen is too small for my taste on a phone for these games. Was very fun to play for short periods of time, but after a while I lost interest. Still have the game installed, but rarely visit it any longer.

DC Universe Online

Bought this game for PS3 shortly after launch, primarily to see if there could finally be something MMOish to play on the household PS3 – which primarily is used to watch blu-ray movies. Dropped it quite quickly – not a DC fan and it felt like you had to be that to appreciate the content. The controls were really awkward to use also.

Reinstalled the game again on the PS3 after the “F2P” revamp and I thought the game was better now from a UI/control perspective – but could not find that much enthusiasm for the DC content. Maybe I will play it more – maybe.

Anarchy Online

My very first MMO. I jumped back into the game just prior to its 10th anniversary and I have had a pretty good time in the game, with some nice people. Still, the combat mechanics are quite different from what I appreciate nowadays, being too much auto-attack dependent. Funcom does not seem to spend much resources on the game currently, but have indicated that when the conversion to new engine for the game (same one that Age of Conan and The Secret World uses) is done _and_ they have done a profession revamp, they will do a relaunch effort for the game.

The graphics engine revamp is what mainly has been talked about, but I think the profession/combat revamp is just as important for the game, if they get it right. A new graphics engine can get people to come back or to try the game, but it is a profession gameplay revamp that may potentially keep them in the game. I have not played AO since I decided to focus on City of Heroes, but I hope to get back into the game at some point – hopefully Funcom gets to the point where the new engine and the revamp will be done during 2012.

Forsaken World

A quite polished fantasy/steampunk title from big Chinese MMO maker Perfect World. Same as Rift, this game is very well executed – just not something I could muster up continued interest for.

Black Prophecy

A SciFi space shooter kind of MMO. The initial PvE storyline part of the game had me hooked and the space combat is very well executed and fun. But the story part ended abruptly and then it was mission grinding and/or PvP. While some mission were quite enjoyable it became a bit too repetitive for my taste, so lost some interest here. Should get back into the game again at some point – if they have more of the story-oriented content that the game started with I would love to play that.

Star Wars Galaxies

Signed up for SWG again when I heard the announcement that they were going to shut down the game. Manged to play a bit in the game, primarily with some new characters I created. Really loved some parts which I remembered from the old days when i played the game, but also remembered why I ended up playing my particular combination of professions originally (ranger/creature handler) – that was one combination that did not feel grindy to me and which also supported scratching my exploration itch back then. It was not quite now.

I would have played the game longer, but a credit card related issue stopped my access to the game prematurely. I do not like the way SOE handled the shut down of my access; but at least my memory of the game is less coloured by what its current state was.

Gods & Heroes

Bought this when it was on sale from Steam, after a brief visit in beta. Looking at what Heatwave had eleased before Gods & Heroes I am not quite sure why they decided to with a traditional MMO route, perhaps someone thought they might be able to make some easy money on a game that was in beta when the original game company went belly-up. This was another of those game where I really could not muster up enough interest to keep playing (and paying).

City of Heroes

This is my main game and in the past few months my only game, pretty much. This part will be very brief here; most posts end up being about this game anyway. For good and bad, City of Heroes has evolved quite a bit over the years and at the same time been the same as well. The community aspect is important here, it is a game that feels like “home” to me more than any other MMO. It is the one game that I can be fairly sure to get a happy greeting from someone else when I log in and where most people I end up interacting with (friends or strangers) are for the most part friendly and nice to each other.

Other stuff, not gaming

A lot of other things has happened in this year, but not related to MMOs. In August I changed employer, after working for more than 12 years for an American software company.  I really liked my actual job there and the collegues I worked with, but it was also a position that required a lot of travelling to other parts of Europe, and a few times to Middle East. During very long periods I only saw my home area/town/country on weekends and impacted how I my non-work life was handled.

With my new employer I can do a similar job to what did before and enjoyed, but also pretty much work so I can get home every day, instead of staying in a hotel room.  It is a great company and a great group of new collegues.

My general fitness have had its ups and downs in recent years, but not stayed at a good level. In the past 11 months I have done a better job though with continued improvement and am in better shape now than a year ago, and also lost perhaps 17-18 kg. Still more to be done, but feels quite good.