Archive for September, 2012

Kuddle with Kronos

September 30, 2012 Comments off

Tonight there was a bit of a special event on Defiant – a league fight with multiple Kronos Titans.  Kronos class Titans are giant robots from the Malta group, which spawns when the mission leader enters a zone again after completing a certain mission.

What had been done here was that multiple players has completed the mission, but did not exit the mission the normal way, but instead move to Ouroboros and Pocket D, two zones that are excluded from the list of possible zones that the Kronos Titan will spawn in. Then everyone who did not have the mission move to Talos Island and with everyone in place the mission holders travelled to Talos Island from their “safe zones”.

The result was a large group of Kronos Titans spawned in one place (and two stray ones a bit away from the big group) and from then on the big fight started. The big group contained 9 Kronos Titans I believe – plus the two stray ones to a total of 11 of them. It was quite a different and fun event! Thanks to @Defcon Kid and @Gully RX for organizing the event, much appreciated!

Categories: City of Heroes

Get the word out

September 30, 2012 Comments off

Although things look quite bleak, the work to try to save City of Heroes continues.  Unless you have not checked it out yet, look at the SaveCoH web site, which provides a a pretty good summary and view of different things going on in the efforts to save the game. In a recent State of Titan report, TonyV of Titan Network reports on the efforts going on from Titan Network.

As Tony states there, the chances that NCSoft will reverse their decision are very small and other options are looked at – e.g. various options to acquire the game from NCSoft. That is a troublesome road as well, there is bound to be licensing issues that might be complicated even with reasonable staffing. But it is probably a better chance for that to happen, at some point.

One event that I think many people can support is the Extra Life charity event on October 20-21st. This is an event that has run before within the City of Heroes community to raise support for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Be a hero.

If you have not looked at it already, the blog City of Heroes Tube is one that has sprung to life again with more frequent posts sinc the sunset announcement – a number of people of people have contributed videos to show their support for the game, as well as express their feelings about the situation.

Categories: City of Heroes

NCSoft and City of Heroes shutdown

September 30, 2012 Comments off

About four weeks after NCSoft decided to pull the plug for City of Heroes development and cease all billing, they finally decide to tell this to the players. Of course, many players knew this already – either through gaming websites, through the City of Heroes website or though in-game friends. But this is the first time they actually communicate this in a way that is bound to reach all players – at least assuming that they sent out this to all players.

In this case they refer to VIP players, so I am not actually sure if something was sent to everyone. But I hope they did. The tone in the email is better than the limited communication NCSoft has made up to this point; although I do not think it makes up for the past four weeks. Hopefully someone has realized it might be a good idea to try to treat their customers somewhat nice at least.

So far they have not really encouraged people to play for during the final times and it is noticeable – there are fewer people around than in quite a long time. A game like this that has been around for more than eight years deserves better I think, if it is shut down.

Categories: City of Heroes

NCSoft’s middle finger

September 27, 2012 Comments off

The City of Heroes web site recently posted an update about the sunset of the game in the form of a short FAQ. It is a bit terse, giving a bare minimum of expected information and is focused on the financial matters.

This FAQ combined with the really limited communication from NCSoft in the past month or so does not paint a picture of a company who has any interest in trying to get positive vibe from its customers. It is more along the lines of “sigh… ok – we can give you some money back in some cases. Why are you still here? Get lost and get off my lawn!“.

I do not expect that NCSoft gives this matter a lot of attention, they have other concerns on their minds probably. But even so I think a little bit more could be expected in dealing with existing customers.

Categories: City of Heroes, MMO Games

Positron’s Ally and playing for Paragon

September 23, 2012 3 comments

When I heard about the announcement that Paragon Studios and City of Heroes were going to be shut down, my MMO game time schedule changed somewhat abruptly.

During the summer I had essentially taken a break from City of Heroes to focus the little MMO time I had on The Secret World and a bit on Guild Wars 2. But with the availability of City of Heroes potentially coming to a stop fairly soon, I changed my focus to switch back to the Rogue Isles and Paragon City again. Not much time has been spent in The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 play time came to a complete stop. Almost all of the MMO time I have goes into City of Heroes now.

Dr Vahzilok is ‘arrested’

While the situation looks bleak, there are still efforts going on to rally people for supporting the game and the effort to save it. The latest of these events was Positron’s Ally – an event where people would join up to play Positron’s Task Force part 1 and 2 and show support for the effort to save the game.

The event was running at two occasions – Thursday the 20th and Saturday the 22nd. I was not around on Thursday, but joined in on Saturday with one of the three task force teams that formed on Defiant, with TonyV from Titan Network in the lead. While there were three separate task force teams, everyone joined in the same league chat – good fun and good spirits! After the task forces were completed, most of the team members joined for a photo session to show the support for the game:

Positron’s Ally rally event on Defiant

Thanks to TonyV and Titan Network for arranging the event!

Due to my planned summer break, I had not renewed my subscription to the game, for the first time in more than 6 years. But with the sudden shut down announcement there was no opportunity to get back my VIP status, sicne NCSoft immediately stopped all billing. And there is no indication that they will re-enable that or allow people to try out anything that has been exclusive to VIP status.

Since I was restricted to premium status a number of restrictions were put in place, although less limited than for people who had just started out with the game. My character slots were limited to 18 slots in total, 15 of them assigned to the Defiant server and 3 global slots available. While this means I will never be able to access all of my characters, at least I will be able to access enough of those that I really like.

For the Paragon Rewards I had unlocked all tiers, which meant that I have access to most of the features in the game. But a few things I cannot get access to:

  • Any incarnate related content and any incarnate powers. So there are maybe 6-8 characters that are a bit less awesome than they used to be and a bunch of content that I cannot play. Not the end of the world – while I did enjoy a number of the incarnate trials and the Dark Astoria story arcs, it is something I have played through multiple times. I will miss some of the awesomeness though.
  • Cannot access Night Ward story arcs – this annoys me a bit, since I never played them – did not have any characters in a suitable level range when they were released.
  • Less storage space – a bit inconvenient, but manageable.
  • Have to re-acquire some powersets. Any powerset that were released as “free for VIPs” now has to be bought. So far this has been the case for one of the characters that I have unlocked.
  • Signature Story arcs. Technically it is possible to access them through using Paragon Reward points as non-VIP, but they are priced at a quite high price, not really worth it.
  • Not able to pay SuperGroup base rent. This one annoys me. I have a supergroup and a base that most of my villain characters are members of. The super group have enough prestige saved up to pay the rent for the base for more than 100 years. But I am not allowed to pay the rent as non-VIP and thus access to the base is shut down, because the rent is not paid…
  • Not allowed to play on beta test server. Some people have started to play on the beta test server instead, where pretty much everything in the store is free currently. Not a big deal for me at the moment, prefer to hang around where most people I know are.

Luckily I had a few thousand Paragon points which I have been using to unlock some of the powersets I wanted to play. This has also included buying access to two new powersets which everyone had to pay for – Water Blast and Nature Affinity.

I started a Water Blast/Kinetics corruptor, Hydronizer, to play with this water oriented powerset. It has been a blast (pun intended) – it is a fun and fast paced powerset. I have never leveled any character to any high levels with Kinetics, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to do that. Currently Hydronizer has reached level 20 and it has been quite enjoyable to play him.

My second new character is another corruptor, a fire blast/nature affinity one named Skogsbrand (forest fire in English). Only at level 9 so far, but has also been quite fun.

In addition to these I have three controllers that I plan to level up more, two of them in the low 40s and one in teen levels. These are Nashira (plant control/trick arrow), Vortexer (gravity control/dark affinity) and Mentis Restio (mind control/time manipulation).

Controller Nashira

I suspect that 2 of them might reach max level before the end and I will probably play a few of my max level characters as well. With a bit more than two months left, if matters do not take a turn for the better, I plan to play the way I have enjoyed the game most of my time here – leveling up a number of alts and a bunch of teaming.

Categories: City of Heroes

NCSoft update about player account status [City of Heroes]

September 20, 2012 2 comments

After almost three weeks without any communication at all from NCSoft there was finally some announcement about what will happen with the different player accounts and refunds of paid for subscriptions and Paragon Points bought.

I cannot say that I like that they were silent for that long after the abrupt shut down announcement that was made.  That is not a good treatment of customers. It is good that they will refund some of what people have paid, although this is not without its issues if one reads the forums. It does not seem either that customer support has been well prepared for this either, judging from what some people report that the customer support has responded.

Before this announcement a positive interpretation of the silence was that they perhaps could not say anything because there were actual negotiations going on about continuing the game in some way. I think this announcement points to that NCSoft has not been moved in any direction towards continuing the game in some form, that much is obvious.

I think it is also quite unlikely that it will be sold off to some other company – there is probably too much issues around software licenses and intellectual property not exclusive to City of Heroes that the effort is not worth it for them.

Frankly I also think that they are not really bothering to try to keep people as customers. It is not a target demographic for them any longer and such a small part of their whole portfolio. Note also that the only communication from NCSoft (besides the interaction with Paragon Studios employees) has been throught he two announcements made. No in-game information, no emails sent out.

If people do not visit the web site or the forums regularly, they would not know about it – at least not through NCSoft. Even now the last weekend I encountered people in the game who did not know that the game was shutting down.  All this to me points to that they are not really interested in making any effort to keep people as customers.

Despite the doom and gloom I still intend to support any efforts to save the game. Futile perhaps, but there should be a place for MMOs and their communities that are not huge mass market offerings. Even if NCSoft does not bother with it, perhaps others with the same or similar passion in the MMO marketplace will take notice.

Categories: City of Heroes

The 30+ Atlas Park event – Save City of Heroes Unity Rally [Updated]

September 8, 2012 Comments off

Still a bit of time to the event on Virtue server and there are 31 instances of the Atlas Park zone currently.

Players join to show their support for Paragon Studios and City of Heroes

Players join to show their support for Paragon Studios and City of Heroes

Update: Apparently Virtue is completely full, with 300+ people in queue – so people are starting to fill up Atlas Park in Freedom server.

Update 2: Apparently Freedom is completely full, next stop is Atlas Park in Infinity server.

Categories: City of Heroes, MMO Games

Dinged sub 50

September 8, 2012 4 comments

Today I ran a 10km race here in the Stockholm area, Kistaloppet. This worked out quite well and I managed to beat my old personal record, running the 10km in 48:51. This means that after 26 years I fixed something that annoyed me back in my first 10km race, where I missed beating the 50 minute limit by just a few seconds. Since then, I have not ran any races until this year. The past 1 – 1 1/2 year has been a slow but steady work to improve my general health and well-being.

This has been a great day so far. Yay me 🙂

Categories: Other, Running

NCSoft is not evil

September 8, 2012 2 comments

NCSoft has received a fair amount of heat from MMO fans lately, in particular from parts of the City of Heroes community. I consider myself part of that community and I am not happy about the way the shutdown of Paragon Studios and City of Heroes seems to have been communicated to the people involved. Still, I do not see NCSoft as an evil company that cares nothing for its customers/players nor will I boycott everything that has NCSoft attached to it.

My emotional side wants Paragon Studios and City of Heroes to continue running and thrive and I really hope it can be saved in some way.

My analytical side see good reasons for this happening; Ysharros @ Stylish Corpse pointed to a good post by Unsubject on the subject. NCSoft bought the remaining parts of City of Heroes that it did not already own from Cryptic almost 5 years ago. At that time thee were about 15 employees at Cryptic that were working with City of Heroes. Paragon Studios has/had about 80 employees, more than 5 times as many employees.  Efforts supported and financed by NCSoft did not include just “safe” bets, but also major efforts like Mission Architect and the Going Rogue/Praetoria expansion.

Paragon Studios seems to me to have had quite a bit of freedom to decide how to improve the game, grow it and make it more profitable. Also, some persons have been working on a “next gen MMO”.  Not an infinite amount of money for sure, but probably quite a bit and with a decent amount of creative freedom.

Compare this to Perfect World and their handling of Champions Online. For it seems that the financial reins are significantly tougher there – much more geared to be in line with the rest of the family of Perfect World games and with comparatively limited resources to improve on the game and interact with the community. I am quite sure Champions is profitable, possibly even more so than City of Heroes – percentage-wise.  But that is just guesswork from my part.

If City of Heroes will be saved after all, I suspect very much it will be run in a way similar to Champions Online – a quite reduced crew and content updates accordingly and with more focus on getting people to spend money in the store. And probably also server merges to make the game more crowded overall. There may be fewer people playing Champions, but the game feels more crowded since everyone is in a single world and Millennium City zone  always has a number of instances.

Would Paragon Studios grown and been able to do the things they did over these 5 years under a different company, like Atari or Perfect World? I do not think so. A few years back NCSoft was a company that were probably my favourite MMO developer company – they supported, ran and developed a number of games that stood out, had some innovative ideas and were not stuck in the typical high fantasy template most other MMO developers worked within. That did not play out well and they have done some significant cut-backs over the years, in particular in the Western market.

They are probably more shrewd businessmen now, but I think there may still be a fair amount of passion about games there. But it may be difficult to grow and stay profitable on passion alone.

The fight for awesome continues

September 5, 2012 3 comments

A recent post with an in-game quote from one of the Paragon Studios people have raised a glimpse of hope among City of Heroes players:

[Admin] Alpha Wolf: Sorry guys but I don’t have any new update. I know Paragon management is having discussion with ncsoft and investors. Continue get people to sign online petitions, post on game forums, and just continue to make noises so ncsoft cannot ignore players.

While one should not try to read too much into it, it is encouraging that there is at least some kind of discussions going on. There are various efforts going on to try to save the game, including petitions, campaigns to write to NCSoft, Unity rally (September 8th), media attention and more, like the banner below.

I am impressed, but not really surprised by the amount of effort going on to try to save the game and the studio and in the end the community itself also. This is a passionate community.

Categories: City of Heroes