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City of Heroes Sr. Designer Talks Architect System

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the farming-made-easy dept.

Games 56

Kheldon writes "The MMO Gamer sits down with Joe Morrissey, a Senior Designer at Paragon Studios, to discuss the inspiration behind, and current implementation of, the Architect user-generated content system in City of Heroes. Quoting: 'Really for me, wanting tools so the rest of the team could actually come up with content was the idea. Because we have a lot of guys on the team that are hardcore players, they play the game all the time. Then they come to me like, "I’ve got this idea for this story, we should really do this arc with this guy!" And I’m like, "That’s great. I haven’t got time to do it. I’ve got plenty of other story arcs to work on." But, if we made the tools easy enough, then they could actually come up with the arcs, and we can put them out. Then somewhere along that road it dawned on me: Why stop with the rest of the team?'"

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56 comments

I Heard about this. (-1, Troll)

lemur3 (997863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30734006)

it is like Second Life but worse.

Yes, it's exactly like Second Life... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30734024)

...except for every single possible way in which it could vaguely resemble something even a little bit like Second Life. You're an idiot.

I'm sure there's plenty of crap (5, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30734052)

However it's not like Second Life. There are two important differences:

1) There is plenty of professional content. The game has loads of content designed by Cryptic's team. In fact, when it was launched, that is all it was. So you aren't running around in an amateur user generated world, that is just something you can play around with if you like.

2) It's an actual game. Second Life had no real point, it was just a place for a bunch of people to get around and act like jackasses. Like IRC, but with giant walking penises and such. City of Heroes is a videogame, there's fun stuff to do, if you like the super hero thing.

Also, user generated content can be really good in some cases. Have a look at Fallout 3 Nexus or the like, there are some amazing user made mods for some games. The main problem comes down to filtering it, because there'll be a lot of crap mixed in.

Second Life's failing was no filters, no professional content and no point overall.

Re:I'm sure there's plenty of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30734218)

> Like IRC, but with giant walking penises and such.

Wait, how is that any different from IRC again?

Re:I'm sure there's plenty of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30734588)

1) There is plenty of professional content. The game has loads of content designed by Cryptic's team. In fact, when it was launched, that is all it was. So you aren't running around in an amateur user generated world, that is just something you can play around with if you like.

2) It's an actual game. Second Life had no real point, it was just a place for a bunch of people to get around and act like jackasses. Like IRC, but with giant walking penises and such. City of Heroes is a videogame, there's fun stuff to do, if you like the super hero thing.

This is also why I quot CoH when Architech came out. As you say, this is an actual game, where part of the game is leveling up. CoH has 50 levels.

Architech introduced user-generated "dungeons" to the game, which essentially ended up "Put as big group of mobs as tightly as possible in easy to navigate levels". Players were now able to create the ultimate powerleveling tools, in-game.

This horribly unbalanced the game to the point where there was no longer a point in trying to gather a group of players for leveling, as everyone was doing architect missions to powerlevel their characters.

Re:I'm sure there's plenty of crap (3, Insightful)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735688)

And then they nerfed the worst of the AE abuses and people are running real missions and task forces again.

The cycle of MMO continues.

Re:I'm sure there's plenty of crap (1)

AkumaKuruma (879423) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735960)

if you read the book SnowCrash, you will understand the exact purpose of second life as it is modeled after the Metaverse. but overall, its just an animated chatroom, kind of like how MSChat made IRC look like a comic book for no real reason

Re:I'm sure there's plenty of crap (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744990)

I have read Snowcrash, one of my favourite books. However, I like it because it is an amusing story, not because I think the Metaverse is at all a feasible idea.

...and then... (2, Informative)

happy_place (632005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30734028)

...and then I was like, "I know, we'll create a program that lets the players create their own content!" and I was like, "We could call it, I dunno..." And then, I had this really original idea, "A level editor!" I announced. And then, I played DOOM, and realized that level editors have been around since the dawn of modern gaming! So then a little devil appeared on my shoulder shaped like the microsoft logo that said, "Hurry! Patent it! And claim originality!"

Re:...and then... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30734130)

And then you were like, "Gosh, I really want to mock this guy, but I can't find any fault with anything he actually said". And then you were like, "It's cool, I'll just make up some bullshit strawman and pretend he said that because I'm a lying scumbag!". And then you were like, "See, look, I'm attacking claims of being the first person to think of supporting user-generated content, even though nothing at all implying anything of the sort appears anywhere in the article!". And then you were like, "Now I'll congratulate myself on my withering critique even though I know I'm not capable of actually making one!". And then you were like ,"Oh, god, my crippling array of mental inadequacies is too obvious for even me to deny so now I'll cry myself to sleep mired in the knowledge that I'm an utter failure".

Re:...and then... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30734422)

The Mission Architect is a bit more than 'just a level editor'. You pick the map, populate it with enemies (who you can design or use the standard ones), allies (who you can design or use the standard ones), and mission objectives of more than a dozen different types. Then you can write the intro text, the mission text, the villain's gloats, the hostages heartfelt thank you's, etc... etc...
 
And that's just for *one* of the three stories you pack together into your custom mission arc.

Re:...and then... (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30734690)

What, you mean exactly like the more-than-just-a-level-editor in (for example) Neverwinter Nights?

Just because it's the first level editor that you've used does not make it original or special.

Re:...and then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30734890)

NWN wasn't a MMORPG - your point is moot. It's the first MMORPG level editor.. therefore it is original/special.

Re:...and then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30735168)

And the major difference between RPG and MMORPG is what exactly? That there are lots of people who aren't all members of the same adventuring party?

Your statement just smacks of "yeah, I know it's just like X but this time it's IN SPACE!!!11one"

2 different NWNs (was Re:...and then... ) (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735686)

Actually...

\begin{pedantic}
There were two Neverwinter Nights games --- the recent one which you're familiar w/ (and correct about) --- and the old one, the on-line AD&D multi-player Role-playing game on AOL which used the old ``Gold Box'' engine and back in the days of $4--8/hr. on-line fees was a huge moneymaker for AOL.

Unfortunately, there was never a level editor for AOL's NWN, though there was _Forgotten Realms: Unlimited Adventures_, a re-packaging of the level design tools used by the developers of the Gold Box games which allowed one to create modules for others to play.
\end{pedantic}

William

Re:...and then... (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735760)

The actual mission editor is comparable to NWN, actually not as good iirc.

What's different is the integration - your mission goes into a global list available to everyone playing CoH with no installation required. There's an in-game feedback mechanism, a rating scheme etc.

I'd be interested to know how many hundreds of thousands of times the most popular AE missions have been played, and compare that to the most popular NWN modules (a stat that obviously doesn't exist but you get the idea)

Re:...and then... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30739072)

In a universe where the CoX Mission Architect was the first level editor I've ever used, you'd have a point.

Re:...and then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30735404)

What I read:

The Mission Architect is a bit more than 'just a level editor'.... You get to design the level, And that's just for *one* level, you pack together into your custom collection of levels.

All level editors allow you to design a complete level (thus the name) which includes the components of the level. The mission Architect in now way qualifies to be more then a level editor.

Re:...and then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30735776)

N00b! Never mind recent games like Doom, there was a great level editor in Loderunner (Brøderbund, 1983, apple 2) which I enjoyed playing with at the time on the school computers.
In fact the game is pretty much "Space Panic" with a level editor.

How much variation, though? (2, Insightful)

Labcoat Samurai (1517479) | more than 4 years ago | (#30734056)

How many variations of go to X and kill/collect Y of Z are there, I wonder? Granted, I remember a long time ago playing user created campaigns in NWN, and they weren't half bad, but even professional designers seem to have difficulty putting together compelling mssions in MMOs... color me skeptical.

Re:How much variation, though? (1)

Jarnin (925269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735648)

It's no different than any other medium for storytelling. How many televisions shows or movies are just variations or hybrids of some other works? The question is, are they good variations or bad? Since this is amateurs at work, most of the stuff you're going to end up with will be crap, but it only takes a few great missions to make the whole system worth while.

Re:How much variation, though? (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735782)

The engine is limited, so the quests pretty much have to take that form.

You can still have clever or funny stories within that framework.

Re:How much variation, though? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30739004)

How many variations of go to X and kill/collect Y of Z are there, I wonder?

Well, there aren't really that many variations of 'go to X and kill/collect Y of Z', but there are more possible goals than just 'go to X and kill/collect Y of Z'. For the basic mission goals available in CoX, see Tutorial 104 [paragonwiki.com], for more advanced goals see the 200 series [paragonwiki.com] of tutorials.
 
There's also some deeper tricks you can play - like chaining goals. (Goal 'y' won't spawn until goal 'x' is accomplished.) If you have a 'boss fight' goal, you can arrange it such that he gets reinforcements as his hit points decrease. For 'rescue a hostage' goals, the hostage can be someone who must be escorted out (and survive) or simply killing his guards may suffice. Or maybe he becomes an ally (an NPC who fights alongside you), or betrays you (leads you into a trap).
 
 

Granted, I remember a long time ago playing user created campaigns in NWN, and they weren't half bad, but even professional designers seem to have difficulty putting together compelling mssions in MMOs... color me skeptical.

Sure, mission arcs published via the Architect are subject to Sturgeon's Law [wikipedia.org] much like anything else. But that is what the rating system is for, filtering out the 90%, and mostly it works.

Re:How much variation, though? (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30743434)

Even within the limits, I've seen people do some amazing things. For example: a murder mystery where you need to figure out which boss to defeat from the clues given, because you don't have time to defeat all four. Or a horror story where you're spending the entire mission finding nothing to fight and wondering when the statues scattered throughout the area are going to come to life and attack you. I've seen efforts at creating stealth-based missions, but the game mechanics aren't quite there: there's no way to make an automatic "you lose if you engage in combat" situation.

Yes, 99% of the missions are simply "defeat X/gather X/rescue X" missions, but the remaining 1% more than make up for it.

I Played it (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30734060)

I used to play City of Heroes like a die hard fan, Now its just a few times a year.
I stopped playing b/c there is only one thing to do in COH, and thats combat, no other form of content in the game, at least none that is actually, entertaining. I play Eve Online now for content, much better.

But COH isn't bad if you like combat games, the Architect system is actually, one of a kind, I do not know of any other MMO where you can design your own missions, and let others play them. the system is very nice, and effective. The only problem is, the Devs, within a week of the system going live, they realized that players were smart, some smarter then them. Players would use the Architect system to create missions that were nothing but easy progression, essentially, a developer designed power level tool. Once the devs realized that this mess let players play their way, and not the Devs way, they nerfed the hell out of the Architect, reward pools, gained experience, credits, all of it limited.
When i do play, I do not run the Architect anymore, It was great in its first month, but If i want to play to advance there is no point. But if i want to play different stories, and create my own, or see a wide veirity of other players creative ability, then yes, the Architect is incredibly great.

Re:I Played it (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30734178)

The only problem is, the Devs, within a week of the system going live, they realized that players were smart, some smarter then them. Players would use the Architect system to create missions that were nothing but easy progression, essentially, a developer designed power level tool. Once the devs realized that this mess let players play their way, and not the Devs way, they nerfed the hell out of the Architect, reward pools, gained experience, credits, all of it limited.

You say that as if the developers were surprised by these events, as if they did not fully expect exploits to happen. They did. You just can't find out the full extent of what exploits exist until the system goes live (else they would have had all that worked out by the time it hit the test server). As much as some players like to think so, no game developer has ever, EVER been taken by surprise by their willingness to exploit. Ever.

Why CoH rocks. (2, Interesting)

oGMo (379) | more than 4 years ago | (#30734064)

In the (admittedly short .. only got around level 30) time I played CoH, the biggest thing that impressed me was the writing. Not that it was super great literature or anything, but I was coming back each day to do quests not to get experience or items, but to see what happened next. That's a good sign. I never got very much into the AE stuff, but the concept was great. Some people complained about balanced, but really... so what? Personally I play games to have fun, not balance formulas.

I compare this to the newer Champions Online. Great hopes ... costume customization was a bit better, more powers, etc. But boy does Champions fail hard on everything else. Lots of flavor text is self-referential tongue-in-cheek commentary felt like the programmers put stuff in as a placeholder and they never bothered to hire writers to fix it. The stories are super generic and feel committee-written, the settings are just about as generic as you can come up with, and ... there's just nothing to come back for. WoW has better writing and content. CO just doesn't take itself seriously, and the only real reason to play is to get exp to get to the next level, and as soon as you have the powers you want, suddenly there's no reason to keep playing. Making hero concepts is the only interesting thing.

This brings us back around to CoH's AE. The ability to make your own content plays especially well with super heroes---especially player-made concepts---because you can go beyond just a costume and description, and create and play your own entire story. And that is just awesome.

Re:Why CoH rocks. (1)

Jarnin (925269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735866)

It's a bit unfair to compare Champions Online (which came out in 2009) with City of Heroes (Which is nearly 6 years old). I beta tested and played City of Heroes for about 3 months after it launched, and it was probably worse than Champions Online at launch. Champions is basically a very streamlined version of vanilla City of Heroes. I'd say most of it's systems are superior to the systems that CoH shipped with. That said, City of Heroes has 6 years worth of content additions and bug fixes, where CO has less than a year. If you want to play a superhero MMO, I'd suggest CoH over CO any day. However, unless City of Heroes does some upgrades in the next 2-3 years, City of Heroes is going to look very dated compared to CO, and by that time CO will have a lot more content (as long as people keep playing it).

Re:Why CoH rocks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30736856)

Considering that the developers who remained at Cryptic Studios after NCSoft bought out their interest in City of Heroes are the ones that developed Champions Online, I'm not particularly surprised that Cryptic was able to put out a superhero MMO that was, at launch, less buggy than CoH was at launch. However, you should also look at the pace of changes. While Cryptic had development for CoH, it was very much Jack Emmert's baby -- any proposed changes had to pass the hurdle of whether it fit with his "vision" of the game. And the process of change was kept opaque to the players; we would get told that there would be a "small tweak" to a powerset, which would turn out to be a significant rewrite to the way it worked. Or another incident where we were told that a powerset would be reduced in power because internal testing had shown that characters with this powerset could easily defeat significantly higher-level opponents in quantities appropriate to a full team, and the changes were put in place -- despite the ultimate revelation that the internal testing server had a serious bug that didn't reduce to-hit and damage when fighting higher-level opponents, so that their testing was done with the characters hitting four to five times as often and doing ten times as much damage as they should. So going into launch, I would expect that Cryptic would have learned enough from their years working on CoH to make CO a better game at launch than CoH was at launch. But I don't think that it's enough better than CoH was when NCSoft acquired it from Cryptic to make it worth playing, and NCSoft has continued development with much more openness about the development process to its player community than Cryptic ever did; if Cryptic continues the development style that they evinced when they had CoH, I don't believe that CO is going to catch CoH any time in the forseeable future.

Re:Differences (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736038)

Having played COH extensively up until Mission Architect came out, and having tried CO for the open beta, I gotta say the 2 games are completely different. I realize CO is in its infancy, but its a different style of game. COH feels like a PC MMO and can have considerable depth and detail. Character classes have distinct roles - and quite frankly it still has the best group combat system of any MMO I have ever tried (and thats dozens of them). CO is a console game, it feels shallow, it feels simplistic, roles are extremely poorly designed while seeming flexible and the action never stops. Now, that may be your thing, but CO was complete and utter crap to me and my friends, because it felt like it was designed for the 8-12 yr old console crowd. COH is a mature game with a lot of great content in it.
MA was an obvious mistake: if you let players create their own content, they will use that ability to create easy missions with huge benefits and massive powerleveling will ensue. They will not (typically) use it to create great new content that is clever, literate and challenging - because the majority of players are not that clever or creative. Whats the quote: "Think of how stupid people are on average, now realize that half of them are stupider than that" or something to that effect. I would ignore MA, and just play COH for the developer created content first, then you can check out MA if you want. See the quality first, before playing the crap, so that you see the great potential of the game, not the worst sheise the public can cough up in an attempt to get everything for nothing.
If you haven't played COH its worth downloading the trial and checking it out. I am not a comic book/superhero fan per se, I played it reluctantly at first when my friends and my wife decided to give it a try, and to be honest I was blown away. That feeling continued for more or less 5 years off and on.

Re:Differences (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30741756)

CO was complete and utter crap to me and my friends, because it felt like it was designed for the 8-12 yr old console crowd. COH is a mature game with a lot of great content in it.

A representative at PAX [wikipedia.org] 2007 told us that they were in fact aiming to make the UI usable on a game console. They may have had to give that up. I have trouble imagining the full range of abilities being used from a controller.

On the other hand, you may be reacting to the fact that CO takes itself a lot less seriously than City of Heroes does. Missions like "How the Westside was won", heroes like Foxbat, Lunchador arena costumes....

But if you're not having fun while playing a game, something is wrong. Play what entertains you.

Re:Differences (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#30746664)

When I played CO, I played it with an XBox controller and it was *quite* playable - I really never used more than 9 "active" (read: requiring a button press) powers, so left trigger and 3 buttons or right trigger and 3 buttons or no trigger and 3 buttons handled all my powers. One button would jump (if no trigger was used), interact with an NPC/object (if left trigger was used), accept (right trigger), or decline (both triggers). The D-Pad would cycle through targets (left) allies (right) follow my target (up) or assist my target (down). Left stick moved me or when pressed in turned my travel power on/off, right stick moved the camera, or when clicked zoomed my camera all the way in/out. That still leaves the top buttons.

It sounds like it'd be a mess, but actually it was pretty much as playable as any other console game, and quite easy to use after about 5 minutes of fussing and configuring.

Re:Differences (1)

oGMo (379) | more than 4 years ago | (#30743272)

CO is a console game, it feels shallow, it feels simplistic, roles are extremely poorly designed while seeming flexible and the action never stops.

Eh. The problem with this comparison is that the primary console MMO is FFXI ... probably deeper and more complicated in many respects than many (other) PC MMOs I've played, especially the 800lb gorilla, WoW. CO on the other hand feels like WoW lite ... like someone played a few level 1 WoW missions, then made their entire game based on that without any real variation.

Now, that may be your thing, but CO was complete and utter crap to me and my friends, because it felt like it was designed for the 8-12 yr old console crowd.

Pretty much.

Well done (2)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30734256)

I take it the headline is obnoxiously hard to parse* on purpose, right?

(* at least for anyone who's not necessarily familiar with every damn MMO out there)

Re:Well done (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30739520)

I defended the last idiotically written headline someone complained about, but I give up - these are consistently terrible. At least some quotation marks would help.

As a hardcore MMO fan... (1)

oljanx (1318801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30734590)

You can take your story arc and... I'm not that interested. Let me slaughter lower level players and give me challenging group content. That's all I need.

Re:As a hardcore MMO fan... (1)

Labcoat Samurai (1517479) | more than 4 years ago | (#30734824)

Let me slaughter lower level players

Ah, one of those. I've never understood the appeal. What do you get out of killing low level players that you don't get out of killing low level computer enemies? The satisfaction of having inconvenienced a real person and reduced enjoyment of the game? I myself have killed players who were lower level than me in MMOs, but generally only if they had it coming. Otherwise, I really don't see the point. For all I know, there's some nice guy on the other end otherwise enjoying his evening, and I've just made his life a little more difficult for no good reason. Maybe if there were some genuine sport in it, and I had the feeling the other party was up for some healthy competition, but there's nothing particularly sporting or challenging about killing a lowbie. Presumably the low level player had some other thing he was trying to do that didn't involve picking an unwinnable fight. Hurray for misanthropy...

Incidentally, I have played on PvP servers in the past, and I think they're great if you get in at the ground floor. I like the dynamic quality of having to keep an eye out for enemy players and engaging in a little cat and mouse with them sometimes. Inevitably, though, the server ends up overflowing with high level characters, and it becomes harder to capture that for any new characters you roll. Once that happens, often as not, if you encounter someone, they can outrun you to chase you down and then kill you effortlessly if they so choose. No real fun in that.

Re:As a hardcore MMO fan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30736916)

The satisfaction of having inconvenienced a real person and reduced enjoyment of the game?

He is likely fat, an outcast in his Real Life(tm), and this is his outlet to make other people feel as unpleasant as he feels. Truth.

Re:As a hardcore MMO fan... (1)

WinPimp2K (301497) | more than 4 years ago | (#30738456)

"Inevitably, though, the server ends up overflowing with high level characters"

And the way the Warhammer Online folks handled this issue was indeed brilliant. Watching a lvl 30+ ganker heading into a lvl 10 PvP area and being turned into a lvl 1 chicken was great in and of itself. The further touch of his intended victim one-shotting said ganker and getting full rewards for the win - priceless. Pity the game did not otherwise keep my interest.

good thing // bad thing (1)

b04rdr1d3r (1079225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30734948)

When AE went live, it was really crazy and the AE buildings where completely filled with peoples, to the point that entire game zones felt empty. Some peoples were creating missions for the sole purpose of farming, with buff bots following you, preventing the player from taking damage so a group could deal with massive amounts of boss at the same time, yielding enormous amounts of XP. Hell some people went from 0 to 50 without leaving the AE building... and when they were out doing regular missions, did they suck. As soon as there were none of the bubble bots around, they had no tactics and were really poor players... As time passed, those missions starting being removed from the system and gradually lost popularity to the "real missions", with proper story arcs that players spend hours developping testing etc... The best are indeed very good missions, on par with some of the best story arcs of the game... so is AE good, yes. as long as you use it for what it was intended to be. A tool to provide more ontent to the players, not a tool to powerlevel ! And needless to say, the ability to create entirely custom enemy groups is really cool ! CoH ftw !!

Worst idea ever. (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735212)

If you ever want to know how to destroy an MMO the AE will be the best example of this.

I was a hard core COX player. I have to say I really enjoyed the game. AE killed it.

First you need to know something about how instances are made in CoX. They are cookie cutter dungeons made with the same map layout blocks. So if you have played for more then a month you will know how each corridor is laid out, where monsters spawn.

There are exceptions to some of those dungeons, but very rare. Now they did attempt to improve on this at one point. For example Striga island and Croatoa have really good quests/arcs compared to other content. However apart from the Ritiki warzone redone the instances had not changed at all.

So AE was meant to fix this in that you could create custom content. Except you can't. It is all cookie cutter dungeons. There are some nicely done stories by player content but the instances are all the same. So it gets boring fast.

Add to that AE being easier then the actual rest of the game, meant that everyone was camped out in the AE building while the rest of the city zones were pretty much ghost towns.

At that point I wondered why the heck was I playing the game anymore. The developers had no interest in putting any real new content into the game (except with micro-payments).

Re:Worst idea ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30736732)

AE's been a ghost town since September or so when they were 'balanced'. I play pickup teams every few nights and they're always radio missions. The new SK/exemp system has injected new life back into pickup teams, because you don't have to fiddle with individual SKs.

Re:Worst idea ever. (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 4 years ago | (#30740188)

AE killed it.

Your enjoyment or the game? The game's still there, and with the latest adjustments to AE, the problem of PL from 1-50 in a couple hours is pretty much moot.
You CAN still fight all-boss maps if you really want. But your XP and ticket earnings will be next to nothing. Essentially you HAVE to run balanced missions (mobs consist of all three critter types (minion, lieutenant, boss) or your earnings get slashed. Dramatically.

Additionally, the various difficulty levels modify your earnings now and come with a minimum list of powers taken. Running at too easy a level cuts earnings, and trying to shave off powers doesn't work anymore.

Note: If you want to still fill a map with tons of enemies and saw through it as a form of PL, you're welcome to. The fact is, you're fighting as hard or harder than the regular content would make you do to achieve the speedy leveling.

First you need to know something about how instances are made in CoX. They are cookie cutter dungeons made with the same map layout blocks. So if you have played for more then a month you will know how each corridor is laid out, where monsters spawn.

While this is true, you have a plethora of maps to choose from and while some of them are quite similar, their spawn points are just different enough that you can't simply say "oh, this is the twisty base corridor so spawns will be here, here, and here." And since the mission editor allows the maps to randomize...

There are exceptions to some of those dungeons, but very rare. Now they did attempt to improve on this at one point. For example Striga island and Croatoa have really good quests/arcs compared to other content. However apart from the Ritiki warzone redone the instances had not changed at all.

Content like you're talking about is fairly labor intensive. It also has the least amount of long-term return. You get a couple guys working 40+ hours a week for several months to put in a buttload of new content and players blast through it in hours or days (weeks if they are lazy).

AE was put in to help OFFSET the problem. Not be a complete remedy.

Add to that AE being easier then the actual rest of the game, meant that everyone was camped out in the AE building while the rest of the city zones were pretty much ghost towns.

Again, this is no longer the case. Plus, with the adjustments to the difficulty settings, the new Super SideKicking, and especially the modifications that now allow higher levels to earn XP in lower-level TFs, there's no excuse for anyone not to run regular content now.

Difficulty settings changes.

  • You now have control over the relative level of the enemies to you. From -1 to +4
  • You have control over spawn sizes from solo player spawns up to spawns normally used for teams of 8. When teaming, it uses whichever setting is greater (team size or your spawn size setting).
  • The ability to fight bosses even when solo
  • The ability to fight Heroes/Archvillains when solo

So now, if the game seems too "easy mode" for you, crank up the level of the enemies, bump the spawn size, and turn on bosses. Turns it into a completely different game.

Additionally, if you feel that leveling isn't coming fast enough for you, doing any of the above will dramatically increase your XP earnings and leveling speed.

Also, if you want to control how fast you're leveling, you have the option available to turn off XP earnings (as if you were Level 50) and earn double Inf (money) instead.

Super SideKicking.

The way the old sidekicking/exemplaring worked, you had to have one player of the appropriate level for each lowbie. This was sometimes referred to as "mentor tetris". A lot of times it was difficult to get a team of the right mix together. And, if a mentor had to leave, either the sidekick had to leave too, or everything stopped until another mentor was found. Also, wandering too far from your mentor would cause you to revert to your regular level, which was pretty much a death sentence in high level content.

Now, whenever you join a team, everyone is sidekicked in at one level below the mission holder. Additionally, if you're higher level than the mission holder, you retain the next 5 levels of powers over and above the current level they are playing at. Additionally, they have the option to either continue earning XP or forego XP in favor of higher Inf earnings. Finally, you no longer have to worry about wandering too far from your teammates. For the duration of the mission or Task Force, the level change is permanent.

High level character XP earnings.

Previously, running task forces would forcibly exemplar you down to the maximum level of the task force. At that point, higher level characters stopped earning XP (even though they were earning Inf, merits, and salvage/enhancement/recipe drops). This was putting something of a damper on the enthusiasm of people who were actively trying to level their characters for these types of team missions.

Now, you still earn XP as if the task force was relative to your actual level. This way task forces on large teams are now a good source of quick XP earnings, with the merits, drops, and Inf being icing on the cake. Also, because of how the exemplaring works (retaining 5 extra levels of powers), your toons, even if they're losing some of their enhancement bonuses, are noticeably tougher, making the undertaking less of an ordeal.

The developers had no interest in putting any real new content into the game (except with micro-payments).

Sorry, but this is bull of a high order of magnitude.

The amount of free content released outweighs all the content made available by the super boosters put together.

For those who don't know, super-boosters are $10 add-on packs that contain a few new costumes, costume-change emotes and a limited temporary power like:

  • Self-Destruct Power: A way of avoiding XP debt in a bad situation that allows you to effectively blow yourself up (die), causing some damage to the enemy at the same time. Usable once every hour.
  • Mystic Fortune: A power that applies a randomized low-level buff to an ally, but with a small possibility of a slightly negative effect too. Usable once a minute, non-stackable.
  • Access to the SuperTailor. While in more general use now, the SuperTailor allowed you to completely rebuild your character's look, including body type (Female, Male, Huge), that wasn't previously available.
  • Ninja Run: A pseudo-travel power. Faster than the sprint with a small jump component too. Actually a very nice power that allows some players to forego regular travel powers and some possibly unwanted travel power prerequisites.
  • A mission teleporter that takes you to the door of your mission instantly. Usable once every two hours. This was released with the Mac client (later pared down to the Valkyrie pack for PC users).

Post issue 16, the game actually got a new power. Walk. Prior to this, characters actually ran everywhere. While this is seen as a somewhat useless "power", the machinima artists in-game quite literally had multiple orgasms over this off-issue/off-booster addition.

Issue 16 included power set color customization and some newly proliferated power sets (to archetypes that didn't previously have them).

Issue 15 brought costume change emotes (which were previously only available to people who bought the SuperScience booster) to everyone, two new task forces, several new costume pieces, and a metric butt-ton of QOL changes in the game (improved signage, improved soundscape, etc).

Issue 14 brought AE, several new costumes, base revamps, PVP IOs, new Arena match types, etc.

Not to mention there are several score of costume options in each and every section portion of the costume creator even if you have NONE of the costume packs.

Plus, in the last year, there have been not one, but TWO new zone events introduced. For free.

Yes, right now they're working on a BIG paid expansion. Going Rogue is going to add several new zones, and tons of content to the game. Moreover, it's going to introduce "Ultra Mode" graphics options as part of a graphical refresh of the game.

The booster packs aren't there to provide an extra payday bonus for the guys at Paragon. The money is being reinvested to fund further development of the rest of the game. Were we or were we NOT told that VEATS (Villain Epic ArchTypeS) were introduced at least an issue earlier than intended because sales of the "Wedding Pack" brought in enough money to hire the additional personnel needed to make it happen.

So please, before you make Paragon and NCSoft out to be *nothing* but money-grubbing, careless dickwads, THINK about what you're saying.

Don't take my word for it though. Go read through the patch notes [paragonwiki.com].

Re:Worst idea ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30751798)

Good points, but:

Post issue 16, the game actually got a new power. Walk. Prior to this, characters actually ran everywhere. While this is seen as a somewhat useless "power", the machinima artists in-game quite literally had multiple orgasms over this off-issue/off-booster addition.

No, they didn't. "Literally" does not mean "figuratively" or "hey here's some exaggeration for effect". This is an early warning sign that you may be developing Internet Retard Syndrome. The good news is that it can be cured if caught and treated early. Please, act now, before it's too late and you wind up endorsing Ron Paul for President.

Re:Worst idea ever. (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 4 years ago | (#30756708)

No, they didn't. "Literally" does not mean "figuratively" or "hey here's some exaggeration for effect"

You obviously don't know a couple of our machinima authors. Sorry, but I did mean and intend it as "literally".

So please take your insults elsewhere Mr. AC.

Re:Worst idea ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30765788)

No, you didn't. You're just trying to cover for yourself, rather than admit you made a simple mistake. This is further proven by your attempt to cast as "insults" what was obviously good-natured ribbing.

Re:Worst idea ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30761522)

LOL super power "Walk". I can see the all died hard superheroes wishing they had that power.

A lot of what you mention as good to me sounds like the dumbing down of the game.

Ryzom Ring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30735384)

All I can say to this is "Ryzom Ring". It allows players to create their own "level" (it's an area you can reach via teleport). The time I tried it you were able to select from a number of area templates and had the ability to place all kinds of objects (i.e. bushes, trees, tents/smaller buildings, fences and whatnot), as well as mobs and NPCs. You were able to define events for spawns, drops and dialoges and all these things for creating quests. No idea how it turned out, but it was great to fool around with.

Correcting common misunderstanding (1)

mr_gorkajuice (1347383) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736032)

CoH is not the first MMORPG with a level editor.
http://www.ryzom.com/en/ryzom_ring.html [ryzom.com]
Couple of years old, and the game itself is indeed MMO *and* RPG.

Re:Correcting common misunderstanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30736932)

Hey, let's keep on posting things that were already said multiple times before! Way to read and contribute, bro.
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