Saving City of Heroes – linkage

This is as much for my own use as anything else – I came across this post yesterday but haven’t had time to do more than scan it. Thanks to whoever else I read who linked it in the first place, even if I don’t remember who you are!

City of Heroes / Villains: An End of the World Event

I was surprised to see a large spike in my site traffic today, especially to older posts about how many players CoH/V had. Then I looked further and saw that NCsoft announced its intentions to shut down CoH/V and Paragon Studios. This has taken a lot of people by surprise, given that it seemed that CoH/V was doing well since its conversion to F2P and lots of extra things being announced.

Go read it, it looks very interesting. I know I will once I get done with work (yes, I’m skiving off for a quick blog post because I need the sanity break, relatively-speaking).

Protecting Paragon City

Since it was covered extensively elsewhere, I didn’t comment on last week’s news that City of Heroes is being shut down by NCSoft – you know: work, travel, yadda yadda.

Dusty Monk, however, has an excellent and personal reaction post to the news, and it seems the fanbase are getting organised to try and prevent the game from closing its doors. Go read it. Snippet:

I don’t usually participate in fan or community organized movements.  I’m keenly aware that businesses are businesses, and once a decision has been made, most of the time no amount of fan outcry will change that.  But this is important to me.  And there are some cases where the community did make a difference.  Perhaps this time it’s different – perhaps we can show that are making this decision that it does matter, and that there is still money to be made here.  So I’m getting involved, and I hope that perhaps you will too.

I agree with Dusty that once a business decision like this has been made, it’s usually pointless to Canute the inevitable – but I also agree that when we care a great deal about something, we should be prepared to speak out for it. I could make political parallels… but I won’t (other than saying: whatever you believe, politically, GO VOTE; democracy doesn’t work if people don’t show up).

I played City of Heroes at launch, leaving a still-buggy (if enjoyable) Star Wars: Galaxies to do so, and still remember my friends making fun of me for spending literally 3 hours on my first character’s costume. Actually, it may have been 4. I didn’t play it for more than a few months, because that was the Year of Major Game Launches (WoW, EQ2), but a bunch of us had a blast for the time we were there, if only because of:

– KAPOW; come on. No combat beats KAPOW!! combat.

– FLYING; ’nuff said (but boy CoX did it well).

– COSTUMES; also ’nuff said. Actually, that one needs to be COSTUMES!!!

– FLEXIBILITY; alone, in groups, in duos – didn’t matter how you wanted to play, you could do stuff and you could usually get to doing stuff pretty quickly.

Flying!!! … in COSTUME!!! … soon to KAPOW.

I returned to CoX a couple of times over the years, and always enjoyed my stay. It didn’t grab me, truss me up and enslave me the way some of my other games did, but it was there, it was fun, and it tried to do some interesting things. I wrote about the Mission Architect system a few times in 2009, and although it was immediately picked up by players as an excellent venue for exploiting xp and whatever, the idea was still brave and I’m glad they tried it. I still think we need some way for players to create some of their own content, and I’m sure it’s something we’ll see more of in games as the years go by.

So when I heard the news last week I was a little shocked, though the game is over 8 years old and we all know no MMO lasts forever (especially not at NCSoft, it seems). I’m not much of one for post-mortems, but I am interested to see if fan reaction to this news can actually make a dent in a decision that was probably made thousands of miles away and based purely on numbers and finances. What if the game were concatenated down to a couple of servers, instead of however many they currently have? Could it be run by a skeleton staff? Is it worth it? We don’t know that, but we won’t find out if we don’t try.

And I happen to think City of Heroes might be worth saving. /insert saving heroes ironic joke here.

Per Dusty’s post: go here to sign a petition trying to keep City of Heroes open – and keep a few Devs in their jobs, incidentally. There have been entirely too many layoffs in the games industry in the last few years already. At this moment the petition is 13,550 strong – make that 13,551, since I just signed it.

And, if you think you can do it politely (and all of you are paragons of courtesy here), it might be worth posting on this forum thread. Staff may never see the petition, but someone official will be moderating that thread, so we can add our voice there (until it gets locked, says the cynic in me).

Go forth and protect!

EDIT: Sente has also posted on this, as I’ve discovered upon catching up with my RSS feeds… Sente’s had a lot of interesting things to say about CoX over the years, so if you don’t read his blog already, you should do so now.

EDIT: Pete at Dragonchasers has also written. Lo, the movement grows and I’m late to the barricades bandwagon!

EDIT: But wait! There’s more! Syp and Ardua, respectively. I’m running out of amusing things to say on my edits. And Tobold thinks we’re hypocrites because we didn’t play the game this year. Whatevs. That said, his Kickstopper idea is pretty funny.

Can you say “disingenuous”?

(It’s pronounced: pwn)

I first saw mention of this yesterday through Massively‘s tweets (see? it’s worth being a twit! be on the cutting edge of breaking news so sharp it hurts!).

Being human, I followed a few of the links and read on for a while. Being not entirely stupid, I gave up when the drivellous nature of some of the comments on various blog posts made me fear for my sanity, and for my few remaining IQ points.

In any case, Lum the Mad Jennings does his usual elegant summing up complete with exposition, quotes, authorities and commentary, so I can just send you over there. There’s coverage elsewhere, too — can’t you see the info-tsunami cresting on the horizon? And no, I’m not paid to link to Broken Toys… but hey, that’s not a bad idea! — how about it Scott?

Carrying out sociological experiments in MMOs is nothing new, and as an MMO player I don’t find the idea strange at all. MMOs are strange little crucibles of human behaviour at its most normal and at its most extreme — many of us are asshats online, thanks to internet anonymity, but I suspect  the only thing that proves is that most of us are asshats, period.

Carrying out an experiment to see whether being an asshat will attract attention and vilification, but justifying it by saying “Oh, I never expected this to happen, honest” — that’s disingenuity for ya right there. By all means experiment with being a dick and a griefer, but don’t pretend you had no idea you were being a dick and a griefer. Especially after taking so much care to stay within the bannable boundaries so you could continue being a griefing asshat, purely for the purposes of scientific research of course.

Either the man experimented on something whose outcome was painfully obvious from the start, or the man isn’t nearly as savvy on the subject of sociology-and-MMO-playing as he claims. It’s something the “soft” sciences are really good at — claim to be studying something when, from the outside, it sure looks like you’re just giving yourself permission to be a dick. But wait, that’s probably me projecting.

It’s not the experiment I mind — it’s the “Oh dear, dear me, look at what I stirred up” expression while standing there, dripping spoon in hand. At least have the balls to admit you’re studying asshatitude; it’s not like you’ll be lacking for research material.


CoX Mission Architect update

In typical Ysh knee-jerk fashion, after /ragequitting a few times in frustration at how difficult the MA enemies seem to be, I’ve discovered that this only holds true for custom-created enemies. Groups/mobs drawn from the existing pool are about the same as they are outside the MA system.

There are already some excellent story arcs out there, and here’s where I once again prove my craposity — I forget to write down their titles. Here’s what I can remember, and it should be enough to search on until I get my act together and get the full details down.

— “You wouldn’t steal a car” (Lars from MMOment of Zen)
— “Rescuing the Boss” (Jennifer from GirlIRL)
— “Demonic Love Story” — intended for villains really, but a great story and a truly awesome-looking demon mission-giver
— “Heroic Rescue 1” (I think — it’s by @Robzilla, which will help narrow it down, or you can search by author name)
— “The Sole Success of Project Saturn” by @Perplex 

There are several more I’ve played but can’t recall — and one thing that’s missing from the system right now (unless I’m being blind, which is entirely probable*) is a way of looking back through completed missions. If this can be done through the mission “souvenir clues” then I’ll have to remember to use the arc’s name as the clue name also.

I’m working on some more missions myself, but I suffer from the usual “OMG everyone else’s work is so much better than mine, I might as well go drown myself with those kittens” syndrome. Pfft.

In other news, I actually hit 20 for the first time ever in City of Heroes — I never made it that high during my first stint, and I swear levelling was slower, but maybe I was just more of a noob — and so, clothes ho that I am, the first thing I did was to get that second costume slot opened up. Todestraum, my sad goth/vampire wannabe (well, she is one — does that make her a wannabe? or does it make ME the wannabe?), now has the full black/red “Hey look, I’m a vampire!” getup one needs for any serious gathering of the denizens of the night. Gotta project the right image and all. Corny though it is, it’s a look I love, probably because it’s not one I could ever in a million years carry off in real life.

I'm too sexy for my coat
I'm too sexy for my coat
2009-04-06 20:55:25
Dr Vahzilok is history... for now
Rikti invasion mosh in King's Row
Rikti invasion mosh in King's Row


* I’m the person who had no idea where to find architect ticket counts on my char until Jen helpfully snapped my attention to the obvious “Architect Tickets” stack in my salvage window. Ahem.

CoX Mission Architect – the countdown commences

Sente over at A Ding World has the real skinny, I’m just passing it along.

We shall be Mission Architecting on Live from April 8th. D -4 and counting! Don’t expect to be playing on Wednesday, if a hundred major patches from a dozen other games are any indication.

I’ve tried the architect on CoX Test, as those of you who pay attention will already know, but I haven’t been back to it in the last week or so for several reasons. One, I have too many other things to do. Two, as release dates approach (and we knew it had to be getting close), doing things on test servers starts to seem more pointless (other than testing, obviously). And three, I was so awed by other people’s creations that my peasly little cat-themed arc started seeming rather paltry in comparison. But I wasn’t sulking! I was … resting. Pining for the Fjords. Mostly, I was just too busy with other stuff — it’s been one of those months where you spend a lot of time WANTING to play and much less time being able to indulge that desire.

That’s it. I’m off to work and wish I could play.

CoX Mission Architect – My First Mission

NOTE: Issue 14 (the one with the Mission Architect system) is still only on CoX’s Test Server(s). It’s slated to go live sometime in the next few weeks.

I finally created my first story in the new Mission Architect; I was aiming for what I thought would be something relatively simple, humorous rather than really dangerous, and thus hopefully easy to write.

Lesson #1: I should have stuck with premade bad guys. It would have been a lot easier. On the other hand, I now know how to make my own custom groups and characters, and it’s not that difficult. It does, however, chew up a chunk of “save” space.

Lesson #2: The mission architect isn’t that difficult to use. Hurrah! Sure, it has a learning curve, but every option has a clickable ? that gives you more information and examples.

Lesson #3: No matter how well drafted you think your mission/arc idea was, it wasn’t detailed enough. This, however, will get easier for subsequent creations, since I now have a much better idea of how missions/arcs are put together.

I didn’t time myself to see how long this arc took to create, but it was spread out over several sessions starting sometime last week, as time allowed. If I had to guesstimate, I’d say 6-8 hours including the time to read the tutorial, enter the info, create custom chars and groups, test the various missions (4 in total), edit what needed to be edited, and test some more.  Greater familiarity with the creation tool will cut this time down considerably, as will better preparation beforehand.

Various criticisms have already been levelled at the Mission Architect system, including the fact that it doesn’t let you custom-place opponents and the like — but then again, that’s quite consistent with CoX missions in general. I’m just glad they’re actually putting this kind of tool in the hands of the players; I’ve already played 3 player-created missions (and abandoned several more as just too difficult for my gimped scrapper self), and there’s a distinct added flavour to playing something another player made.

For those of you who have access and the inclination, the Story is called Catnapped! and it’s Arc #18799 — you can search strings, which should make it easier to find if you’ve a yen to try it out. Me, I’m going to try out Sente’s Missing Geneticist story! Well.. as soon as the Test server comes back up. Ain’t that just typical?


That shiny new smell

On the one hand, Dragonchasers writes that after a few days “off” games, it’s hard to remember why they’re so addictive and why you should log into GameOfTheMonth instead of, say, reading a good book. (Very true — personally, I’d pick a good book any day.) On the other, you have Syp explaining why he’s happy to play “slowly but steadily” — I think Syp is the extreme opposite of a content-locust, and that his playstyle is the only sane one to adopt to avoid total burnout.

And on the third hand, there’s the heady joy of the “new-game smell” you get when you start something new, or even — as I’ve discovered — when you go back to a game you hadn’t played in years. I find myself really wishing there were payment models other  than the subscription one (for games I like, that is), so I could maintain more than a couple of subs; not necessarily as a matter of budget (though right now, it is), but mostly because paying $15 a month for a game I may only play for a couple of hours just isn’t something I’d consider justifiable.

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