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Jack Emmert Responds to Your Questions

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the many-thanks-to-the-paragon-city-messenger-service dept.

Role Playing (Games) 198

A while back we passed on some your questions to City of Heroes Lead Designer Jack Emmert. He has responded with details on the upcoming CoH expansion, the future of MMOGs, and commentary on some of the decisions that led to City of Heroes in the first place. Read on for his responses. 1.) When will City of Villains be rolled up with CoH? by S810

I was curious when City of Villains will be rolled up with City of Heros?
It would be very kewl to be able to choose, at time of character creation, either a Hero or a Villain.
Please let us know if, and when, this should happen.

Jack Emmert:
We have not yet made any final decisions about how City of Villains and City of Heroes will interact, but here is the direction we're leaning:

City of Villains is a stand alone game - which means that you can purchase City of Villains without City of Heroes. But you will only be able to play a villain and never a hero. If a player already has a City of Heroes account, then City of Villains is an expansion. In other words, it opens up content in addition to what the player already has access to. He can play either a hero or a villain on a server.

2.)How do you plan to get me back? by bugnuts

Jack, I played COH for a while, and am still very impressed by it. You should be proud of your remarkable achievement of finding the right niche. But after playing a couple months and doing several story arcs, I fell into the level-grind abyss. Things stopped being fun. The distance to my next power was seen in terms of xp, not in terms of heroic adventure.

So, what is going to happen to get me back? How can you significantly reduce the "level grind" (even if it's just the feeling of grinding levels) to get casual players like myself back?

Jack:
The first step, I think, is to make missions less repetitive. Every single expansion we release includes significant mission customization. This means that we go back into pre-existing missions and add new art & features. For instance, the infamous 'rave' mission now has an actual rave going on (as opposed to NPC's standing around in a warehouse).

The second step is adding new gameplay. In Expansion 2, we introduced badges which reward explorers and achievers. Certain combinations of badges open up Accolades - which are permanent powers! The next major new feature is our skills system, which will answer the question, 'what do heroes do besides fight?'

The third step is to create more benchmarks in the game; 'carrots' that players strive for. For instance, a player can get a cape at level 20. At level 30, a player can add ongoing special f/x to his avatar. We're adding two more important landmarks with Expansion 3. At level 40, a player can begin selecting Epic Powers that increase his characters' abilities outside the normal Archetype restrictions. And at the highest level, 50, players open up two Epic Archetypes, which are dramatically different than anything else in the game.

3.) I hate subjects for asking questions :p by DragonPup

Is Geko still nerfing accuracy? Kidding, kidding.

Real question: Looking back at CoH's development, if there was one thing you wished you did differently, what would it be and why?

Jack:
I think I would approach Archetype balance differently. We relied heavily on some time tested MMP tactics. In other words, one Archetype attracts aggro, another deals heavy melee damage, while the long range Archetypes sit back and help. In addition, all Archetypes become more powerful at the same rate. If I had an unlimited development time, I would have loved to create a different system of balance between the Archetypes so that the urban, low powered vigilante could fight alongside the cosmic powered champion - and each would have something to contribute to combat.

4.) Boring Games by rlandrum

I've played MMO's, and I haven't been impressed. I think some of the lingo speaks for itself ('grinding'). The last game I got into was Star Wars Galaxies. While technically the game was very nice, and the gameplay was decent, the game became extremely boring after only a few hours of gameplay.

I've also played games like Zelda, Ocarina of Time (a classic), and the newer Zelda, Wind Waker. Both games contained a series of puzzles that needed to be solved before allowing the story to progress. It was this sense of achievement that made the games fun to play.

In MMO's, I have no sense of achievement. Obtaining the next skill level doesn't get me anywhere, it only makes me more powerful.

How will MMO's of the future fill this sense of achievement? Or do you see games progressing more towards the "Life simulator", like the Sims?

Jack:
The popular answer would be 'user generated content.' As someone plays the game more, they can create more content of their own. Traditionally, this had taken the shape of crafting or housing, though one can certainly imagine a player generating missions or quests for other players.

But, to be honest, some game mechanics are entertaining for some, but not others. I personally loathe puzzles, riddles and jump games. I would avoid any game that had these features, even if it was an MMP. It sounds to me that the current crop of MMP's don't appeal to you - that's no crime - and I'm sure eventually MMP's will start incorporating other tried and true game systems. Planetside, for instance, was the first mass market MMP to capture the feel of a FPS. Recently Star Wars Galaxies added twitch combat in their Jump to Lightspeed expansion.

5.) Death penalty? by claytongulick

I understand that without some risk, death in a MMORPG would lose a lot of the "tension" that game designers feel that players need in order to stay "hooked". As a player, I can tell you that the exp penalty of dying is usually what ends up getting me to cancel an account. When I see all that debt/exp loss/penalty I start thinking "Why am I wasting my time here? Its a nice day outside..." Even the illusion of "exp debt" that CoH has still amounts to the same thing: total playing time added to make up for dying. Since death is frequently not a player's fault (lag, imbalance, etc...) I can tell you that I am very attracted the the approach that WoW is taking with having no death penalty other than travelling as a ghost back to your corpse. My question is this: What goes into the decision for death penalties? Has anyone actually asked the players if this is what they want?

Jack:
If players lose nothing by being defeated then naturally the players won't see death as an issue. Players will begin to look at their characters like those in FPS games such as Counterstrike or Battlefield 1942. In other words, the player's avatar is perceived as disposable.

The key, however, to a successful MMP is to create a connection between the player and his character. If the player feels that he can dispose of his character at any time, then the player inevitably doesn't care very much about his character. This works in a short term FPS model, but not so much in a game which is depending upon long term commitment.

By making death a penalty, players now have a goal to strive for: survival. Some players will inevitably be better than others, but players want things to distinguish themselves from others. So the players who aren't killed often level quicker, and thus are demonstrably 'better' in terms of the level difference. This is no different than one person earning a special piece of armor by going on a hard, long quest, and another one who chooses not to go on that quest. The former then gets the recognition for his effort.

6.) MMO Competition by servognome

With several highly anticipated MMOs launching this year and next year (WoW, EQ2, Matrix Online), what is your perception of competition in the MMO industry, has it become too crowded? Do you believe new games can be supported by drawing new players into the genre, or will these games pull mostly from the existing player base?

Jack:
I think the MMP market is growing quite nicely. City of Heroes hit 180,000 in just a couple of months; as far as I know, the existing MMP's did not suffer an equivalent 180,000 drop in subscriptions. Certainly, some fans of the other MMP's kept their old accounts and played City of Heroes, but I doubt that a significant percentage of players has more than a single account with a MMP. In other words, I think City of Heroes brought 100,000+ new faces to the MMP market.

7.) Demo / Trial? by InfinityWpi

As a gamer geek but also a new father and a victim of the economy, I have to be very careful with my 'entertainment' money. I've heard good things about CoH, but I can't justify buying the game if I'm only going to be playing it for a month (I can really only justify that with $15 bargain-bin titles). Will CoH have a one-week (or, better, two-week) trial available in the near future?

Second question, if I may: Everyone talks about how MMORPGs are different from 'traditional' RPGs mainly due to the lack of a strong, world-changing storyline. Granted, comics aren't always world-changing except for the occasional crossover, but you never see Superman's secret identity being revealed to the world in the pages of, say, JLA. Comics have a definite 'solo' vs 'group' theme going. Is it possible to really have a single-character-changing experience in CoH, or is it all mainly "Nothing major will happen; this isn't his book" vibe?

Jack:
Currently, the basic City of Heroes game is available for $39.99 and comes with a free month. I don't know when or if other price discounts will occur; but I do know that we've discussed internally a short free trial period, but nothing is imminent.

Your second point, world changing events, is something we're aiming for in City of Villains. The activities of even a single player (hero or villain) can have a noticeable effect in the world.

8.) Biggest surprise after launch? by DevNova

Since the official launch, can you think of something that really, really surprised you about the game? Did the players start to do things you didn't expect, or did some game mechanics/results turn out far differently than you thought it would (for better or worse)?

Jack:
I never foresaw how many characters each player would create. It seems that having a dozen or more 'alts' (alternate characters) is the norm, rather than the extreme. People love making lots of different heroes - and lots of costumes.

9.) A more general question... by Gothic_Walrus

My question is simple, but I think we need at least one question that's not related to the game or to Mr. Emmert directly.

What do you think of the MMOG market as a whole? Over the past few years, we've seen a flood of games released. We've seen sequels to established games - Everquest II, for example. We've seen games based on licenses, such as Star Wars Galaxies. We've seen high-profile titles such as Mythica cancelled. We've seen completely unique ideas, like A Tale in the Desert. Obviously, the market is completely different than it was even a year ago today.

Put simply, what do you think of the market in its current state, and what future do you see for it? Will you be a part of that future?

The question might not seem very exciting, but I believe that Mr. Emmert is in a very unique position to answer it...

Jack:
What the MMP medium has NOT had is the breakout hit that defines it. Duke Nukem and Doom, for instance, were so popular that they created the FPS explosion that continues to this day. In the RTS medium, every game is still compared to Warcraft and Starcraft. Successful MMP's have sold hundreds of thousands of copies, but nothing has yet sold the millions to match what these other games have. Eventually, there will be one. Of course, it's impossible to predict something like that until it already happens.

10.) Developer made content vs user made content? by Gldm

Recently I started a thread on the COH suggestion forums [cityofheroes.com] that got a high rating about wanting a new ski area zone after having seen how ice worked in one of the missions I played. I also mentioned in a later post if there was a map editing tool I'd probably make it myself.

Do you think most future MMORPGs are going to stay with the developer-based content model like COH and Everquest, or do you think we'll begin seeing more user-based content such as in Second Life [secondlife.com]?

Do you think Cryptic will ever release some kind of content editor (aside from the already incredible character creator) to the users?

Jack:
I think user based content - where the player creates nearly all the material from preset building blocks - is a red herring for game development. The problem is that most player created generated content isn't very good. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone; good level designers, for instance, spend hours and hours on creating good fun play experiences. It's no surprise that someone creating levels in their spare time isn't as good. Naturally, game design requires talent and experience, so that the really good novices will produce cool stuff.

But if that content is regulated in some way - either by the tools or some sort of player feedback - then I think I agree that user generated content is the wave of the future. For example, our City of Villains product (target release for 2005) includes super group bases. Players will be able to lay out their rooms and hallways according to a basic template.

11.) RPG "light" by Hays

I'm an active COH player and an ex-everquest player. I must first give you kudos for making a really polished, fun game. It's really a great take on the MMORPG.

The game has a bus-load of fun ideas. The badge system is great. The costume system and character creation are amazing. Technically, the game is top notch-great mapmaking, great animation, etc...

One of the best ideas is simplicity. Starting players don't have to worry about complicated inventory systems. They just go out there and start kicking butt. Kicking butt is not too difficult, because the player is quite a bit stronger versus the environment compared to previous MMORPGs.

But that simplicity becomes a drag in the later game. I've got 3 characters approaching the high end (mid 30s) and I'm starting to dislike the slow experience grind, with nothing to look forward to but a new ability every 3 levels.

Missions are fun, but they get a bit formulaic. With one huge exception, they offer uninteresting rewards and have cookie cutter goals. (The exception being the wonderful respec mission.)

I'm sure it was a conscious design decision to have no inventory system, no armor, no weapons. And I think that's a great idea, at first. But by the time you're level 30 and you've played the game for a couple of months, you really start to want MORE. The enhancement system doesn't cut it. That's just a trip to the store every 5 levels. I'd like to get a cool piece of (origin specific) armor when I complete a task force.

Even baby steps in this direction would great. A way to distinguish myself (other than aesthetically) from other players would be nice. This could also give origins a chance to actually matter.

So the question in all of this is- why the aversion to traditional RPG elements, even at high levels? Is this going to change?

Jack:
Yes, we eschewed many of the typical elements of fantasy MMP's such as body slots and crafting, but that was more to do with the choice of genre than anything else. If we had something akin to body slots, and a player equipped his character with armor, the game certainly wouldn't feel like a modern day hero game. And if someone doesn't feel like a hero, he won't feel immersed in the game. And if that happens, the player won't feel committed to play, because that player bought City of Heroes to be a super powered hero!

But what we've started doing is adding more mid and high level content. Currently, there are badges to collect. There's missions to earn capes or other visual rewards. Coming soon, we have a skills system. And then there's the Epic Archetypes which a player obtains by reaching a certain level or completing a particular Task Force. In the future, we hope to add such things as power customization. And with the release of City of Villains, there will be the ongoing war between good and evil.

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Is it tough (0, Offtopic)

strict3 (827367) | more than 9 years ago | (#10866942)

not being able to make it with the ladies?

First and second post (0, Offtopic)

strict3 (827367) | more than 9 years ago | (#10866975)

I rule?

And third post? (0, Offtopic)

strict3 (827367) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867001)

this would be just plain silly - Slow Down Cowboy indeed!

Will THIS interview ever get done? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867073)

Good to see answers to this one, but apparently, /. forgot about this one [slashdot.org] .

Sucks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867098)

I personally loathe puzzles, riddles

You sir, have the boorish manners of a yalie!

'tard

Open Beta a MMORPG "Free Trials" (4, Insightful)

FatPaulie (197122) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867099)

As an experienced gamer, but one who's about to take my first plunge into the MMORPG realm, I think that a valid point is raised about the free trial being needed for MMORPGs.

With a normal HL2 or D3 type game, I know what my $50 is getting me. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end to the game. When I shell out the same cash for a MMORPG, I'm basically getting a 1-month teaser, but then being asked to put forth more money to continue. It's like Gauntlet in the arcade, or a long distance phone call.

If not for being invited into the closed beta for World of Warcraft, I most certainly wouldn't be picking up the game next Tuesday.

I think if more MMORPGs offer a free trial, or invite more non MMORPGers into their beta tests, they'll end up with more paying customers in the long run.

Re:Open Beta a MMORPG "Free Trials" (3, Interesting)

calibanDNS (32250) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867175)

Even if they never offer a free trial, I for would love to be able to download a demo that would allow me to design my character. I understand that the character design options in CoH are supposed to be huge, but I'd really like to play around with it a bit before I drop $40 on the game.

Re:Open Beta a MMORPG "Free Trials" (1)

Tyndmyr (811713) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867595)

The ten day guest pass included with WoW collectors edition is nice, but ten days is generally a rather short time to test something for those less than fanatical players(Don't look at me, I got a lev 24 druid and six other somewhat smaller chars over stress test and open eta) and its not included with the regular version, let alone offered for those who don't have friends who play.

A two week trial would entice me to play CoH, a game I certainly wouldnt buy otherwise. With MMORPGs, a bit demo risk, that people will simply keep playing the demo, is almost entirely removed as well, since who really enjoys repeating the process of hitting lev 10, ad nauseum?

Re:Open Beta a MMORPG "Free Trials" (1)

twbecker (315312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867335)

I agree completely. I've had friends that play MMOs (EQ, SWG, etc), and I just was never able to get into them. I never bought one, or even played much, because they just looked about as exciting as watching paint dry. I'm a huge Blizzard fan though, so I jumped on the open beta for WoW, and now I'm hooked. Was it because WoW is a terrific game (which it is), or just because they let me test drive it before I spent my money?? $15 a month isn't pocket change for a computer game that still costs you $50 up front. I don't think a trial is too much to ask for before making that kind of committment.

Re:Open Beta a MMORPG "Free Trials" (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867651)

yeah, I agree. I played the open beta of WOW and now I need a new computer so I can run it and get more than 5 fps if there's more than 2 PCs on the screen. There's no way I'd drop 50 bucks on it as is, but after getting a week of playing in, I'm starting to save for a whole new computer for the damn thing. Stupid addictive personality.

give away the razor (2, Insightful)

lubricated (49106) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867503)

Really even $40 is way to much to pay for a game that requires a subscription. They should just give away the game or sell it for 15. Alot more people would jump on just to try it and more would end up staying on.

Re:Open Beta a MMORPG "Free Trials" (1)

NaugaHunter (639364) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867806)

The economics against a free trial are a lot higher for MMORPGS. First of all, it's not trivial but relatively simple to release a demo of a standard game that is simply short on content. The best you could do with a MMORPG is limit it to level 10 or something.

But that's not the big issue. The $15 monthly goes to server support and maintenance, including things like electricity and bandwidth. There were 500,000 applicants accepted into WoW's Open Beta; who knows how many applied. If a standard MMORPG allowed a free trial they would see thousands of non-paying players using their resources for free. And either they run the risk of having the free players disrupt a standing server with no real repercussions, or they have to maintain trial servers for free.

Everyone understands the 'more likely to buy if allowed to try' principle. It's the 'hey it's free and I can do what I want' principle that gets in the way.

Re:Open Beta a MMORPG "Free Trials" (1)

tukkayoot (528280) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868715)

EverQuest (the original) has offered free trials in the past (with a free download or by including an installation CD in magazine advertisements), so it's apparently it's viable in some form. I think they let you play your trial on a "newbie only" server and the trial was relatively short (14 days or something). It could give you a taste for the game and at least give you an idea if you consider the game a "must buy" or a "must avoid".

Also, I don't see why an offline demo/tutorial for an MMO couldn't work. EQ originally offered a rudimentry offline tutorial that was helpful in introducing the nevigation of the user interface and basic interface, and did a good job of whetting my appetite to play the actual game.

These days, EQ actually includes a superior online tutorial (where you are essentially introduced to the basics of navigating, quests, combat, spellcasting, communication and tradeskills) and can level your character to a point, earn a few items and a limited amount of money before leaving. Other new players/new characters play with you in this small "tutorial world". When you reach a certain level, or when you decide you've had enough of the tutorial, your character is transferred, along with all of their possessions, to the "real world".

It's really great way just to educate new players, and that alone justifies the resources devoted to developing it, but with just a few small tweaks, it could also serve as a "free trial zone" for prospective players. Just don't let players leave the tutorial zones until they pony up the cash for a copy of the game itself. The extremely limited amount of content leads me to believe that the strain on their servers that would be produced by offering such a trial wouldn't be in any way unmanagable.

There are just too many MMOs out there right now for me to make drop $50 on a game that I may end up hating right off the bat. Back when it was just EQ and UO, not offering a free trial was fine. However, now it would be nice if there were some way to size up the different games and make a decision about which one is the best fit for you. The only way I'll start playing a new MMO now is if I have at least a couple friends who share similar tastes with me who are playing and enjoying that MMO.

Unfortunately, a limited demo/tutorial, or even a full 30 day unrestricted trial only tells you so much about an MMO. The real long term flaws and strengthes usually don't become apparent until after a few months of play. However, if you drop $50 on a game (and maybe $25-30 on subscription fees) and it gives you 3 months of solid entertainment, that's not such a bad deal, even if you eventually decide the game isn't for you.

It would be nice if more MMOs dropped the price for the game itself from the standard $50 to something like $30 or less. Maybe they could offer a "free" trial, at the end of which you could either pay the standard monthly rate for the trial you just played, and start a regular subscription, or you could say "no thanks" and not be charged anything beyond the $30. If you choose to keep playing, you end up paying $43 or so dollars compared to the $50 you would have paid for the game + trial. If you stop playing, then the $30 you paid for the game should easily cover the expense for any load you placed on the game servers, customer service staff, ect.

The older MMOs have an advantage here, actually. They don't cost $50, because they don't include all of the expansions. You can buy the EverQuest "Trilogy" (original game plus the first two expansions) for $10, or the EQ "Platinum", which includes the original and all expansions (7 of them) except the most recent one for $30. The latest expansion costs $30.

This very reasonable, and with some adaptation, they could probably do pretty much the same thing with newer games. Just sell a "basic" (crippled) version of the game for $15-20, with certain features disabled, features which any long term player is bound to want... and sell a "deluxe" version for $40-50. Let people upgrade to the deluxe version by paying the difference between the two versions (or perhaps an amount slightly greater than the difference).

So, you can see there's a lots of ways they could handle it... using one of these methods, or better yet, a combination of them would give players a fair taste of the game without putting an unacceptable strain on their resources or bottom line.

Re:Open Beta a MMORPG "Free Trials" (1)

freakmn (712872) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868765)

Actually, there were 500,000 or so into the closed beta. The open beta was just that, open to all. I have one brother accepted into the closed beta, and one who was not, and later downloaded the client for the open beta. Personally, I avoid those games like the plague, as I can't handle the time commitment, with 3 part-time jobs, full-time school, and a girlfriend. I can barely squeeze in time for an occasional FPS.

Re:Open Beta a MMORPG "Free Trials" (1)

Gooba42 (603597) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868121)

I played CoH on someone else's account for awhile and finally did get a copy of the game for myself when I finally got hired.

I was really dismayed to find out that the "free" one month trial in the box was actually a "subscribe and we'll give you another month free". It was *not* a "Play for a month and pay us if you want to keep playing" *trial*.

I was really looking forward to being able to collect *a* paycheck before being forced to subscribe but wound up having my brother pay for a month so I could get my free month while I establish my own income. In all I owe him just the $15 but even that hassle could have been avoided with a *real* trial rather than simple bait.

I don't mean to imply it's a CoH only thing either. None of the MMOs out there will let you play their free month without signing up for a subscription up front. It really ought to just be labeled "Buy one month, get another month free!" rather than a trial.

By beard of Zeus! (1)

2ManyClowns (744364) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867103)

You pooped in the refrigerator... and... ate the whole wheel of cheese??? No... I'm not mad.. Actually I'm more impressed.

Interesting, but... (5, Interesting)

kjones692 (805101) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867104)

While I have a lot of respect for his work, some of his responses to basic questions struck me as plain silly. How is getting a cape supposed to make a big difference in the tedium of leveling? Sure, it's something to move towards, but so is pretty much everything else.

The problem here is larger. Doing stuff over and over and over again is tedious, no matter the game... hell, leveling in Pokemon is downright tedious too. The solution, methinks, lies in making things new and fresh, and making quests interesting and original.

I think he hit upon this in his interview when discussing user-created content. Within the massive user bases that these games have lies a lot of creativity and talent. Granted, most user-created stuff will suck, but there will be a LOT of stuff that is fresh, new, original, and fun to do.

If a game could integrate user-created content into the ongoing quest system, I think it could avoid the tedium of the level grind.

Re:Interesting, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867164)

How is getting a cape supposed to make a big difference in the tedium of leveling?

Because MMORPG players are junkies. It's another hit, man. A new item. A new thing! It doesn't have to be useful, but it's a new item!

You should see some of the crap these people brag about. "I got level 50 cooking! I can now create Apple Pies!" Uh, good for you. I got a stove and some ingredients. I can create real apple pies.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867922)

Sure it's easy to say MMORPGers are junkies. Because its so much worse to be spending hours leveling a character than it is to be playing an FPS every night.
As a gamer I have avoided MMORPGs because they seemed too time demanding and too complicated. I really DON'T want to be involved in the politics of the nation of Geldorard or whether Peldopar the Wizaaard should be chancelor. Or overly complicated crafting and player based economies. I know these are features that some people love but that's not me.
COH was the first MMO I played and I like that its stripped down a bit. Yes level grinding does occur, but really the real fun is in playing with friends in a group setting. Trying different tactics and alternate characters is much easier with a helpful group.
That being said - as a working parent I only get a couple of hours a day to play a game. Its nice to be able to log on, hook up with some friends for a little baddie bashing. Perhaps because I'm not spending 10 hours in a stretch I don't feel that level grind as much. A carefully built character can also significantly reduce the grind by enabling you to fight baddies several levels above you.
So where I used to play an FPS like Battlefield or UT, now I play a COH.

Re:Interesting, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867246)

User-generated content sounds good at first, but how would it work? How can you let users create content, and keep the game balanced and high-quality? It sounds like a mess to me.

Re:Interesting, but... (2, Insightful)

ghostlibrary (450718) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867432)

> How can you let users create content, and keep the game balanced and high-quality?

1) A /.-like moderation scheme, coupled with:

2) Max Exp limits for user-made content.

So anyone can toss in a new module or area, but the Exp anyone can gain is capped (to prevent abuse, i.e. 'enter my quick level-up lair!').

Caps can get removed by the game staff, who, thanks to the moderation scheme, need just browse the "+5" levels that players actually liked.

To organize it, start with a few theme zones, for example, a 'Murderworld' kind of place where it makes sense to have a bunch of random, disassociated challenges.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

Tyndmyr (811713) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868734)

The main problem is that most user content just really does suck. If I could get my hands on any major way of getting decent user content, I'd be a happy programmer. Hell, Id be releasing games constantly if all I had to do was code a bit. If anyone does feel motivated, feel free to email me a model or two(any popular format). Then, I'll tell you why its unusable in a game. In the unlikely event that I can actually use it, you'll get credit. :-)

Re:Interesting, but... (4, Funny)

ZaMoose (24734) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867425)

Besides, capes are a bad thing, as anyone who has seen The Incredibles knows. They just lead to untimely superhero deaths.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

Rhys (96510) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868074)

It's okay, capes in CoH don't actually exist as "physical" objects (in the virtual world). Your hair, armor, and cape happily intersect and move through each other.

Given that, we can infer that capes don't have any real physics in the game. On your machine, they may, but they don't on the servers, which means they can't check for cape jet engine collisions.

Besides, in CoH aircraft would be point-sources just like cars. You'd just get shoved to the side.

Spoiler in parent's post. (I think!) (1)

freakmn (712872) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868831)

Mind using the word spoiler? I haven't yet seen the movie, and I'm sure there are at least a couple others that would like to have a choice of what they know about the movie ahead of time. From the context, I don't think it is a major plot part, so I'm not angry, just thought it might be considerate to let people know.

Re:Interesting, but... (4, Funny)

Slowping (63788) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867443)

First, watching any episodes or reading comics of superheroes, their lives are pretty repetetive. Save the world. Save the world. Save the world. Did you expect the game to be any different?

Second, playing a MMRPG from a single-player perspective is definitely going to get boring. The key is to have a system where capes, badges, and insignia plays a social role with other players and NPCs. In effect, you want them to give a "non-functional" quality to the game.

And finally... dude, it's a game. For real dynamic, fun, and interactive experiences... leave the computer and do some real human activities.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868256)

I think you hit the proverbial nail on its head -- a good MMORPG should have its rewards revolve around team-play or inter-person play.

If it doesn't, its just a single-player game.

I've played several MMORPGs that were just cheasy levelling single player games with other people playing the same plot. That sucks.

One of the things is to not allow multiple people to complete the same quest simultaneously and know about it. "Hey, I'm carrying that purse back to the same lady!" kills the suspension of disbelief. Its hard to role-play when your role gets usurped.

There are lots of thoughts that go with that, and non-static teams should be part of it. Ever played Ogre Battle 64? If you put two mages together in the back row of a combat group, they each do their own thing for a while. If you leave them working together for a few rounds (many rounds), the get to know each other and start to do combined magic that is much more powerful.

If I cooperate with another player lots, or another *type* of character even?, then we should each start getting benefits in the game of knowing each other, even if no formal arrangement is made (adding to buddy list, team, mentor list, etc.)

I want to go to grab an arrow and have it lit on fire by the mage I hang out with without the mage or I having thought of it. Just a cool "hey, look what happened" effect.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

SuperRob (31516) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867655)

I have to agree here. I stopped playing COH precisely because the supposed "carrots" are just not big enough to warrant paying for.

Still waiting on a MMOFPS (2, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867113)

Customize Vehicles-Use a designer to build your own depending on cost, slap in seating/engines(conventional and jet)/fueltanks/armor/weapons/acesssories like radar or a snow plow in front.

Customize Fortress-Pay for all sorts of wall and floor pieces, gun turrets, fortifications, special buildings, etc. Design so players can really spend time making big castles.

Basically power sources would appear in the wild, and all the clans would have to compete for them. So teams would secure as many power sources as they can, but some would become hot zones where players fight over. Some basic rules to keep clan power in check, and you're set. You could even add alien invasions down the line.

Re:Still waiting on a MMOFPS (1)

calibanDNS (32250) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867214)

I don't subscripe to CoH, so can someone with some in game experience let us know if the game supports vehicles and lairs?

This idea would be excellent. Every good super-hero needs an awesome ride and a comfy place to hang his cape.

Re:Still waiting on a MMOFPS (1)

Elsebet (797203) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867276)


The game did not have vehicles when I cancelled and I didn't see plans for them mentioned. Heroes have a number of travel powers to choose from (super speed, flight, and super jumping).

By lairs, do you mean enemy lairs to invade/conquer? CoH does have static missions and places on the world maps in which certain enemy types spawn. There are no player "lairs" (housing) right now but per the article it seems super groups (guilds) will be getting access to those in the expansion.

Re:Still waiting on a MMOFPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867249)

As an avid FPS player, and related to a avid MMOG player - my mom is a Sims, Star Wars Galaxies nut - i'm also waiting on the MMOFPS. In my POV it's a FPS, but it's a world i join, that has other players doing the same thing, reaching a common goal, or fighting against each other. MMOWW2? I would definetely buy that, and pay monthly.

But I don't see the value in paying monthy for what is out now. (I did just put 60 down on my HL2 though)
It's just a matter of preference. I prefer the twitch games to levelling up, and finding items, etc. (I did just put 60 down on my HL2 though)

Re:Still waiting on a MMOFPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867271)

thanks for idea sucker... I'll be off to the patent office now...

let's see MMO game that entails custom vehicles. and....

So very wrong about Multiple Accounts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867141)

"....but I doubt that a significant percentage of players has more than a single account with a MMP. In other words, I think City of Heroes brought 100,000+ new faces to the MMP market."

That is so wrong as to be laughable, and quite worrisome that he does not know his own market. In Asheron's Call, many players have multiple accounts...and I see no reason why AC would be unique among MMORPG's.

-- Alpha Swift of FF

Re:So very wrong about Multiple Accounts (2, Insightful)

zabieru (622547) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867530)

Um, multiple accounts as in more than one MMO game at a time. I don't know many people who play AC and EQ at the same time. Usually they drop one to take up another. So his 180k means people who, by and large, aren't still playing DAoC, they either quit (but then, other games didn't lose players) or are new to the genre.

Re:So very wrong about Multiple Accounts (1)

Kesh (65890) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868894)

... which is exactly what the interviewee said. They aren't "taking away" players from other games. They're drawing new players, or picking up folks who already quit playing other games.

Re:So very wrong about Multiple Accounts (2, Insightful)

klocwerk (48514) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867557)

many, if not most of the hardcore players have multiple accounts, but there are lots of casual players who don't have known names, don't join groups/guilds, and just generally aren't on the radar of the hardcore players.
These are the majority in most MMO games.

Re:So very wrong about Multiple Accounts (1)

Tyndmyr (811713) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868063)

I believe original post, and grandparent were referring to multiple accounts being of different MMORPGs. IE, a SWG accnt, and a WoW accnt, kind of like my current, temporary situation. Sorry, SWG, but you just got boring after umpteenillion credits, and a collection of all the cool items. Ebay for you...

Re:So very wrong about Multiple Accounts (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868324)

I am sure many COH players have accounts on other games. Some diehard players may have more than one account but I doubt very many do. Since each account allows you 8 characters per server about the only reason to have more than one is if you want to use one character to power level another. Since you can usually find a Super Group that will help with leveling alternate characters - this isn't really necessary.

Levelling pace != skill (5, Insightful)

Elsebet (797203) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867197)

By making death a penalty, players now have a goal to strive for: survival. Some players will inevitably be better than others, but players want things to distinguish themselves from others. So the players who aren't killed often level quicker, and thus are demonstrably 'better' in terms of the level difference.

Levelling pace in an MMORPG has little to do with how much "better" a player is but more with how much time said player has to invest. An experience debt/loss penalty hurts a person who has 1-2 hours to play a night far, far worse in the short term than one who has the ability to play for 8-10 hours at a time. This is one reason a casual player could get upset and quit after amassing a large amount of loss/debt from an unfortunate death or series of deaths in an MMORPG.

Yes, I do realize knowing how to maximize xp gain can be considered a "skill" (a challenge measured by how hard it is to google that info) but for the most part my previous point stands.

Re:Levelling pace != skill (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867612)

No, it really doesn't hurt the short-time player that much worse since the time spent paying off the debt, expressed as a percentage of time played, should be the same.

As someone who has played MMOGs both casually and obsessively, the commonly proposed idea that there should be some crutch for people who play less than others is just ridiculous. Someone who plays less has access to the same content as someone who plays all the time - it just takes longer to get to it. Should someone who has only an hour a day to play Final Fantasy X be able to finish the game in the same two days that the person who plays straight through might?

Re:Levelling pace != skill (2, Interesting)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868167)

I would be interested in a game that rewarded how much you accomplished versus the time you spent doing it.

There are some balancing issues to that thought alone, but its an idea.

My other thought has been as a result of playing Morrowind with its practice-makes-perfect skill system and other related game styles. I'd like to see unused skills atrophy.

I know for myself, I often chalk up enough points in each skill I want to be uber-good and then lay waste to stuff, frequently not using my jump skill till I need it, for example. But what if I went to jump high and, having not practiced lately, couldn't jump as high anymore? Or if it took more of my energy to accomplish?

This would keep players within a smaller range of skill -- you may develop your CQC skills for a few levels then decide to move into ranged weapons. After 10 levels of doing that, your hand-to-hand skills are down from where they had been.

1) Skills should increase with practice, with limits
2) The ability to progress further should be taught by higher-level players or NPCs, but that shouldn't grant you the skill levels -- just uncap you somewhat
3) Your skills should *very* slowly atrophy with disuse; infrequent practice should keep things level.
4) Atrophied skills should remember where they'd got to, and reach that point again with a lot less effort than the first time

Just my $0.02

Re:Levelling pace != skill (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868422)

Debt in COH is very connected to play style and risks taken. I know some players who die very often and get angry about it. I've also watched them play and its more often than not their (lack of) tactics that is getting them killed. Doing melee attacks with a Blaster? Good way to get killed. Using your Blaster's nuke attack on a too high level group? Here comes the debt. Your scrapper wants to be a tank? Debt.
Yes the occasional lag death occurs but it's rare.
Also maximizing XP in the game IS about being a better player. Having a good well-rounded group of players will help you to level faster. Making good choices in your powers and then figuring out the best way to use them will get you XP faster. My second character caught up with my first level wise in half the time do to my better knowledge of how to play the game not through abusing exploits.

Re:Levelling pace != skill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10868910)

There's also the matter of groups. I tend to solo (no friends), but I spent a month in FFXI. As most people know, forming parties is a requirement of the game. I don't think I actually hooked up with the same person twice, ever, which meant finding random people to play with every night. When they were good, we did well. If we couldn't find a healer, we died a lot. If someone didn't know their role, they got other people killed.

So while my skill didn't vary (whether it was good or bad), some days I did great and others I died 4-5 times. Should I be penalized for not knowing anyone online today?

Thanks... (1)

Zugot (17501) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867223)

Thanks for the interesting answers Jack.

I played CoH for a couple of months, but the same thing always seems to happen: You get sucked in, and you lose of alot of real life time trying to push your character higher.

Someone needs to create a MMORPG with a fast track, so someone who has a real job, and a family commitment can reap the benefits of the game that they pay for every month.

The funny thing is, that even though I haven't played in a couple of months, I still can't force myself to cancel my account.

Re:Thanks... (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867552)

I posted this before [slashdot.org] but it seems relevant again: (I've been karma capped since the day karma caps were created so don't worry about that...)

The levelling treadmill is a fundamental result of trying to apply the levelling system to MMORPGs. Anything that tries to apply the idea of levelling runs into two fundamentally conflicting forces:
  • 10% of your customer base accounts for 90% of the logged in time, and
  • 90% of your customer base (and by extension, income) doesn't do that.
You need to make the game fun for both groups, because the first one is loud (and will impact whether anyone buys the game at all disproportionately), and because the second one accounts for the majority of your cash flow.

Any system that rewards the player for spending time in the game, or, equivalently, requires significant time in the game to advance in skills, will always have the same flaws modern "levelling treadmills" do. Until you do away with the level idea as the central organization of the game, MMORPGs will not advance significantly over what they are now. (I'm not saying they have to go away completely, but they can't be the central number used in every RNG computation.)

It's not something that can be designed around, it's fundamental to the genre and the technique. Fortunatley, all hope is not lost. I know of at least two systems that eschew the levelling treadmill: Puzzle Pirates, which uses head-to-head puzzle competition as its combat technique, and Planetside, which I've heard is more FPS then level-based. (Could be wrong. I haven't played either.) Until these alternate techniques go mainstream, MMORPGs are going to be stuck in the same rut they've been stuck in since Ultima Online.

(PS: Half a year after I posted this and I still see no reason to believe this is wrong. The D&D mechanics are still too strong in modern MMO games, and they do not work. It is a testament to the power of MMORPG's draw that people are playing them in spite of this flaw.)

ADitD (1)

SeanDuggan (732224) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867920)

A Day in the Desert also eliminated some of the levelling. You had a multitude of different directions you could go with your skills and some of the "grinding," repeating a task over and over again, could be automated to be run while you were gone. (I think... I only played for a short while before life intervened, so most of this is based upon my brother's experience, him having spent much time on the original and its sequel.)

Re:Thanks... (1)

Kesh (65890) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868452)

Perhaps the solution is as simple as some other RPGs use: your experience points are used to purchase new abilities/powers/items/etc.

Using that method, one could still set arbitrary 'levels' for making sure challenges are appropriately powered. However, it allows players to gain abilities at their own leisure, picking up lots of small ones or saving for that expensive one. It rewards those who play a lot with faster 'levelling', and those who play less can gain less expensive abilities as often as they want.

Re:Thanks... (1)

psychokitten (819123) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868383)

World of Warcraft. It's possible to max your level out at 60 with very little actual effort at all whatsoever - especially if you avoid grouping and play solo. Unfortunately, you're also doing the exact same things over and over, and even if you do it only a few hours a night it gets tedious REALLY quickly.

Yet again, western devs are short sighted... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867250)

Jack: Successful MMP's have sold hundreds of thousands of copies, but nothing has yet sold the millions to match what these other games have. Eventually, there will be one.

Umm, didn't Linage (number 1) sell like a few million? See that's what irks me sometimes about western game makers, that they are so narrow sighted in the western market...

Re:Yet again, western devs are short sighted... (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867291)

Also funny, because NCSoft is in charge of both CoH and the lineage games.

The reason Lineage sold so well was because everybody in Korea has a copy.

Re:Yet again, western devs are short sighted... (1)

Cyclone_TBW (812384) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867354)

Well Jack, I guess no one had the balls to step-up and ask the BIG question: What does Cryptic Plan to do with this looming lawsuit from Marvel even when they plan to release there own MMORPG? *still waiting*

FAILZORS!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867288)

for trolls' I'm sick 0f it. official GNAA irc Don't walk around Slashdot's

More video games? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867316)

It seems like every other front page story on this site is just more silly little games.

Death Penalty Question (4, Insightful)

ggeezz (100957) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867339)

I believe he hit the nail on the head with the death penalty question. Sure it's frustrating when you die and lose experience (and thus time). But shouldn't death be at the very least frustrating. If it isn't then why do I care about protecting my character.

I do, however, think there is a happy medium. Games such as Nethack, where death is permanent and final, scare me into not putting too much commitment into a character because the next key I hit could berieve me of my character. While this does make every choice I make intense, I don't want my games to be like real life where death actually causes pain (because you put so much effort into a character only to lose it). I think the experience penalty is good compromise.

Missing question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867357)

How will the EA class action lawsuit going to affect the subscription system, and online games in general? For example, will I have a mandatory maximum of 3-5 hours of play per day, because NCSoft can't afford to pay admins to monitor the servers 24/7?

Up for a laugh? COH Dress like your Hero Contest! (3, Interesting)

DoorFrame (22108) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867393)

If you're in the mood for a chuckle, check out this contest [cityofheroes.com] that City of Heroes had for people to dress up like their hero. Some of them are actually pretty good. Who would have thought?

what about Shadowbane? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867418)

i never hear anyone talk about Shadowbane by Ubi/Wolfpack. i think its a cool game, but it is kind of old now. has something replaced it?

(obviously im not a very hip gamer geek)

Re:what about Shadowbane? (2, Informative)

kashani (2011) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868019)

Because it sucked.

1. Pitifully slow on a machine that plays CoH flawlessly.
2. Charged you for more content in the form of expansions.
3. UI was one of the worst.
4. Unstable clients and servers.

kashani

Capes as a reward (1)

dglo (21986) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867430)

For instance, a player can get a cape at level 20.

Somebody hasn't seen "The Incredibles"...

The big title in MMO's (1)

Ignignot (782335) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867447)

What the MMP medium has NOT had is the breakout hit that defines it.

From this guy's numbers, CoH has about 200k people playing it. World of warcraft had 500k in the public beta, and I would expect a whole lot more people to play the full game. 2x? 2.5x? 3x? Who knows. But from what I've seen so far, it does an amazing job of putting together things that already existed in MMO's but hadn't really been used correctly, and certainly not all at once. I think this is going to be the breakout title of MMO's. This isn't fanboy enthusiasm, I really think that Blizzard has a very polished and fun product on their hands, and they have a history of producing breakthrough titles - warcraft, starcraft, and diablo.

Re:The big title in MMO's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867798)

I'd really be surprised if they hit anywhere near 500k when they release (or even given until the first of the year to allow for christmas time). The European WoW is still in closed beta, so a lot of European players were playing in the American open. There are also a lot of players that won't be back. Either people that signed up and never finished the download (took forever even on a T1) or that just played because it was free.

Re:The big title in MMO's (1)

Miaowara_Tomokato (757775) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867819)

World of warcraft had 500k in the public beta, and I would expect a whole lot more people to play the full game.

I would probably expect half of that to play the full game, and that's a liberal estimate. A public beta is going to attract a few different varieties of customer:

*People who've already decided they're going to buy it and wants to get in as early as possible to enjoy the game- close to 100% of these will probably end up subscribing
*People who play some MMO's already and want to see what the 'new kid' has in store. Maybe they're bored with their current one(s), or looking to add another. Maybe a quarter of these people would choose to pay for the game.
*People who are fans of Warcraft/Starcraft that have heard the buzz, but not played MMO's, but join to see what the fuss is. Who knows how many of these stick.
*Freeloaders - Public Beta means a free game! this population will dry up instantly on the game's release and seek out newer greener freer pastures.

Public beta numbers are a shaky foundation to build estimates of subscription on.

Re:The big title in MMO's (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867848)

From everything I've seen and heard (I have several friends who have been in WoW since the first beta), WoW is a great game. However, in all the descriptions, it sounds like a single player game that you must connect to a server to play. Once you finish the quests (which are really, really good) and then maybe do the quests for one or two other races, what will it have to keep you around? It sounds like if you don't like PvP then there is no end game for you, it's just a single player game. When the quests run out, I expect lots of folks to quit playing.

There are EQ players who have played for 5 years. I played for 4 years myself before I had to quit because of time constraints. The *main* reason I kept playing was because of the folks in the guild I was in. We had fun tackling encounters and stuff, but the grouping and guilding (basically the online relationships) is what keeps many people in EQ. WoW doesn't seem to have much, if any, grouping or guilding and what grouping it does have is just to complete some quest, at which point the people who grouped seperate and go about their own business, probably to never see each other again.

Our EQ guild had a number of get-togethers over the years that didn't necessarily coincide with the FanFairs that SOE ran. Will WoW have this type of following?

I'm by far not the only one who has done this, but I met a girl playing EQ who was a member of the guild I was in at one of our guild get-togethers about 3 years ago. This past August we got married after dating for about a year but being friends for several years prior (we were friends in game before the get-together). Would you expect to see these type things in WoW?

Re:The big title in MMO's (1)

DigitalDemon617 (761895) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867935)

WoW had 500k in just the North American beta. They had similar numbers in Korea I believe. I expect the European beta to have similar numbers. WoW probably has the best shot to be that genre defining title that Emmert said MMO's don't have yet.

Re:The big title in MMO's (1)

jhutch2000 (801707) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868114)

Actually, I expect the opposite in WoW's launch... Remember, open beta was free. Everybody and their brother grabbed an account (some people, multiple accounts). Not all of them will get the final game.

While I think WoW will set some records on player totals at launch, it will be significantly BELOW 500,000 accounts during launch.

*NOTE: I define the launch period as the first month after initial launch.

Re:The big title in MMO's (1)

twbecker (315312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868300)

I tend to take the opposite view. Sure, 500k people signed up to play the game *for free*, but how many of those are going to dish out the $50 +15/mo? By contrast, how many people that intend to purchase the game wouldn't have signed up for the open beta? WoW is gonna be huge no doubt, but 1.5 - 2 million huge? I don't think so.

Re:The big title in MMO's (1)

SuperRob (31516) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868772)

Good question. I think it's more than you think ... I played open beta for all of THREE DAYS, and I immediately went out and pre-ordered the game when the open beta ended. Calling WOW the breakout hit of the MMO genre isn't that much of a stretch ... given Blizzard's track record, if anyone can do it, they can.

Shattered Galaxy (1)

talaphid (702911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868472)

Shattered Galaxy, a phenomenal game if the game itself is your cup of tea, had pantloads of beta testers. Then it went commercial.

And because the game is entirely PVP, they discovered they needed to bolster the playerbase with free accounts.

Yeah. The playerbase went DOWN from beta. Why? Because it turns out a lot of people like playing for free (read: beta) and not so many like the subscription fee. (You're welcome to posit your own analysis about the actual merits of SG, but, whatever)

How many people purchased Warcraft III? How many MMO players are there currently? How many Warcraft III players are in for spending money monthly (consider one of the major selling points of War3 - free online play...)

But hey, who knows. I just think you're making assumptions in the wrong direction.

Re:The big title in MMO's (1)

Kesh (65890) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868567)

I'm wondering if D&D Online [turbinegames.com] might be able to do it. Pull the video game geeks together with the pen-and-paper geeks to make a massive online geek fest.

Geeks of the world, unite! :)

NO CAPES (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867470)

Sheesh, you'd think that recently released documentary [imdb.com] would teach people...

Capes? (0, Redundant)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867569)

I can't see why anyone would *strive* for a cape after watching this [go.com] !

I wonder if there's anything that he could say (1)

Steeltalon (734391) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867570)

about the impending Marvel bul... er, lawsuit. I feel really bad for the CoH team. They put together a fun game and they're getting sued for giving players options.

Totally disagree on the death penalties (1)

Synn (6288) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867575)

If the player feels that he can dispose of his character at any time, then the player inevitably doesn't care very much about his character. This works in a short term FPS model, but not so much in a game which is depending upon long term commitment.

First off many FPS games have been around as long as or longer than MMORPGs, so that arguement right there doesn't hold up. But players stick around in MMORPGs not because death penalties somehow give their characters depth, but because of the player community and because of the long term achievement goals.

I can't wait until World of Warcraft blows this myth out of the water.

Wrong "short term" (1)

SeanDuggan (732224) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868185)

First off many FPS games have been around as long as or longer than MMORPGs, so that arguement right there doesn't hold up.
I suspect that what he means is the short-term experience with the session you're playing. While I've been playing games of Eradicator for over 5 years, it hasn't been the same session that I've been playing. In comparison, in an MMORPG, you may have been building your character for years. *shrug*

WoW death penalty (3, Informative)

yeoua (86835) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867616)

Note that in WoW (I was able to get into the open beta before it closed) the "penalty" is not quite a penalty, which is quite good.

In WoW, you lose no experience, no gold, no equipment... infact, your character comes back intact. What you do lose is time... and a lot of it. And you can also lose your place in the game.

Basically you spawn as a ghost at some graveyard, and now you can either hike to your body or pay the penalty of 10 minutes with a curse on your stats (a major curse) and all armor on you and your inventory takes a hit on durability. This basically puts you out of the game for 10 minutes, loss of potentially a substantial amount of gold, and you spawn fresh at the grave site which could be many minutes away from where you were. That's a decently big penalty of basically... you have to wait 10 minutes before you can attempt what ever you tried again, which could have taken half an hour.

If you attempted to walk back as a ghost, you have to walk back for potentially 10 minutes (Barrens comes to mind), and when you get there you have a chance of not having a safe spawn point in which case you could just die again and repeat this process.

So yes there is no character based penalty... but with the potential of needing to basically start a segment of your quest from scratch (especially where its instanced since you have to start at the start... and enemies respawn at some rate) after a relatively long run back to perhaps a hostile spawn area (and you spawn without buffs at that)... or a choice to take 10 minutes of ability drain and gold sacrifice...

WoW is not without its penalties. But the penalties are not your character... the penalties are on you the player.

Re:WoW death penalty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10867894)

A few corrections for those interested: http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/info/basics/death.h tml [worldofwarcraft.com]

I never felt majorly upset after dying as the penalty (compared to EQ) is relatively light. Some argue, however, that a heavy death penalty makes the game more exciting. Currently it is a decent balance IMHO although a 50% durability reduction would probably been a better punishment.

Re:WoW death penalty (1)

Samrobb (12731) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868485)

Why not allow the player to select their death penalty at character creation time? The idea would be to make it so that the characters who are more likely to suffer when they die are also the ones more likely to advance...

For example:

A casual player could take the the minimum death penalty - something like WoW, where there's a time delay only before you respawn somewhere (relatively) safe. In return, they get normal experience from the game.

A more dedicated player could take a medium death penalty - item deterioration/theft, stat deterioration, etc. In return, they would get an experience bonus - say, 25% extra experience. They're risking more, so they're earning more as well.

A hardcore player could take the "he's dead, Jim" level of death penalty: you die, that's it. But they'd earn 50% extra experience when compared to their less-adventuresome brethren.

Hmm. Now that I think of it, you could adapt this idea to solve the 2 hours a night vs. 12 hours a day player problem, too. Keep track of how many hours a player has been online in a particular day. Players online for more than, say, 4 hours, get nada. Players online for less time get a sliding percentage of some standard experience award at the end of the day, so that the player who's playing casually (1-2 hours every couple of days) can "keep up" with the hardcore players. Maybe not even with them - where a hardcore player might be pulling down 8000 xp from 8 hours of play, for example, someone who plays 1 hour might get a bonus award of 3000 xp. Enough so that they're not completely outstripped, but not enough that the hardcore player feels like the casual Joe has the better deal.

Re:WoW death penalty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10868582)

Imagine telling a player with over a year and $200 in monthly fees that their character is permanently gone after lagging out in a battle.

Can't see it happening.

Re:WoW death penalty (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868602)

You now have a gold penalty in the form of equipment wear when you die (at least that's how I read it in the forums). Not that it's much, mind you, but it's not nothing.

Re:WoW death penalty (4, Informative)

SuperRob (31516) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868701)

This changed late in open beta. Death now results in a 10% reduction in the durability of all items (which have durability ratings to begin with). If you choose to use the Spirit Healer, you are resurrected without finding your body, but you get a 25% reduction in durability. This basically costs you a little money in addition to the curse, which isn't that bad a deal. The death penalty in WOW is very minor compared to a lot of games.

Re:WoW death penalty (1)

tachi_ (227522) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868717)

what you dont realize is... all mmorpg death penalty is ultimately a hit on players time. the gold/xp lost upon death can all be gained back w/ players time. before wow went public beta the choice upon death was between taking an xp loss or retrieve your body. and sometimes taking the xp loss and using the time you saved to gain back the lost xp was LESS than the time you spent traveling back to retrive your body. most players dont realize this tho, wow did a good job "hiding" the death penality as most players have an easier time accepting the time loss "travling" vs killing mobs for xp. ultimately the death slowed down your chars progression and maked you the player spend more time playing the game.

The Problem with CoH (1)

Ratphace (667701) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867634)

I have played CoH in beta to the present and as the game slowly matures (and I use that term loosely, it still has a LONG way to go) it becomes more and more unbalanced. If you play anything besides a tanker or scrapper you are destined to die quite often and quite easily as opposed to those other 2 AT's I mentioned. It really comes down to having a couple badly overpowered classes that as you get closer to the high end (40-50 range) the gap of ability vs survivability is huge. Most blasters, controllers and defenders die very, very easily. Once they realize the imbalances they are creating and address them, I think this game has a lot of potential to be one of the more successful games. Just my 2 cents...

Free month indeed. (2, Insightful)

Stalin (13415) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867944)

I can't believe people accept that if they pay $39.99 for the game they are getting to play it "free for one month." /me knocks on the fools head "Hello in there. You just paid over twice the monthly fee for your 'free month'." I wish MMOs would adopt the business model that Vendetta Online [vendetta-online.com] is using. You can go to the store, buy the box which comes with goodies like a map and a plastic disc, and get your "free month." Or, you can go to the website, download the installer, and then play for a free eight hours. What is so wrong with that that games like CoH can't do that? "Free month" indeed.

Re:Free month indeed. (1)

trisight (306703) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868790)

I will say this much about purchasing the game itself. It costs lots of money to develop these games. Imagine if you only financed a game for a year and had to pay all the developers salary alone.. imagine what that costs that's not counting all the building, machinary, and misc costs not to mention graphics designers, midi and wav composers, etc. Reallly, game development is expensive, it would take a lot longer to comp just the loss of revenue put in (in advance I might add) on $10 a month per player. You also have to consider that that money also goes to pay for the fees that it costs to run the server itself (manpower, maintenance, T1s (or whatever they use), etc).

Really.. this kinda stuff costs money to perform and no one is going to do all of this without pulling down some kinda profit.

Coming to the Mac? (1)

davco9200 (13848) | more than 9 years ago | (#10867968)

Any one know if this is coming to the mac? I just ordered WOW and I am not sure what the economics are, but it does seem like there is a blossoming market for multi-player games, but there are so few available for the mac.

Re:Coming to the Mac? (1)

NetNifty (796376) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868255)

Yup. [worldofwarcraft.com] Mac client available at launch.

no death penalty != disposable !!! (2, Interesting)

Paolomania (160098) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868018)

Jack:
If players lose nothing by being defeated then naturally the players won't see death as an issue. Players will begin to look at their characters like those in FPS games such as Counterstrike or Battlefield 1942. In other words, the player's avatar is perceived as disposable.


This fallacy is very popular amongst MMOG devs. Avatars are disposable only if the player considers the cumulative time that they have put into developing their character as worthless. I believe that most people value their time, and therefore value their developed avatars with or without some penalty for dying that equates to hours of game time.

Re:no death penalty != disposable !!! (1)

psychokitten (819123) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868481)

"Avatars are disposable only if the player considers the cumulative time that they have put into developing their character as worthless." That's actually the effect I've noticed in CoH with it's increasingly steep XP debt. I know a lot of people who wind up with characters every month or so because the sheer amount of XP debt they accrue makes it not worth their while to spend time with the character any longer. I encountered people disposing their characters and starting over in CoH more than I have in any other game.

Re:no death penalty != disposable !!! (1)

trisight (306703) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868721)

What would be good is if they did it on a time based system. For instance if the player died then he would return as a ghost and have to find someone (npc or pc) to resurrect him (much like the old days of ultima online, I haven't played it recently in the past many years so I don't know if it still holds true). Then there would be a time limit to get back to the body, if the user didn't make it back to the body in time he would suffer xp debt and also his body would be lootable. Remember the old days of UO when if you died everything you had on your person was able to be taken? It sucked, but it made the game more interesting.

Also, if there is to be a time limit, it would need to be realistic, not a simple 15 minute timer, maybe an hour or two of real time.

Here's another idea, if there is going to be XP debt, don't make it so horrible! What's the point of spending 2 or 3 hours gaining xp to lose half of it in a second.. that's real discouraging..

Re:no death penalty != disposable !!! (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868850)

This fallacy is very popular amongst MMOG devs.

That fallacy is very rare amoung MMOG critics, because few people are stupid enough to misinterpret straightforward statements that way, while still retaining enough intellect for minimal literacy.

Avatars are disposable only if the player considers the cumulative time that they have put into developing their character as worthless.

No. Just like Jack said, avatars are disposable if you don't lose anything by disposing of them. Your suggestion that time would be lost is completely contradicted by his hypothesis that nothing would be lost.

Rip-Offs (1)

LilMikey (615759) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868106)

I bought into these for a while. I was a member of Galaxies. Beta member of WoW. Beta member of CoH. SecondLife member. I can't fathom how these people can charge $50+ for the game then an additional $15 a month and people actually pay it. You want to get your product out there... free download then pay the monthly fee.

If I pay $50 for a game that sucks and then after a month it's no use to me, I would feel completely screwed. Give me a free download and a $15 first month... then if it sucks I'm out $15. (and unfortunately, a lot of MMORPGs suck... bad). Better yet, use the SecondLife model. $10 for life and then you only pay for the game resources you use.

Re:Rip-Offs (1)

twbecker (315312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868418)

The problem is that if they lose the revenue from initial sales, that fee will be more like $20 a month. Or did you think you were paying for the packaging? But I definitely agree that free trials are essential for mass MMO adoption. WoW got it right, download and play for free, then if you want to continue, buy a retail box and pay the monthly fee.

Re:Rip-Offs (1)

trisight (306703) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868673)

Or there could be a happy medium. For instance offer a free two week trial where the software is downloadable and you have to pay say $10 for the two week access. Then if the user likes it they could purchase it, if not they are out the time it took to d/load and the $5.

MMORPG masochism (2, Insightful)

WombatDeath (681651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868294)

A couple of things:

"So the players who aren't killed often level quicker, and thus are demonstrably 'better' in terms of the level difference."

Really now, this is frothing idiocy. I haven't yet seen a MMORPG where skill and strategy isn't entirely overwhelmed by the time invested in playing - a high-level character is simply demonstrably 'older'.

"This is no different than one person earning a special piece of armor by going on a hard, long quest, and another one who chooses not to go on that quest. The former then gets the recognition for his effort."

This is the main problem with this sort of game, I think. You go on a hard, long, arduous quest. It takes effort. It's a struggle. It's not fun! And if you're anything like me, perhaps you'll grit your teeth and force yourself through it to get the reward at the end. Or you might decide that it's not worth the effort.

The MMORPG watershed he speaks of will, I think, come when someone manages to create a game where the grind is replaced by something consistently entertaining, rather than something which must be endured. Ask a typical player if they'd do the typical levelling activities without getting items or experience and they'd laugh in your face. That's the key; a game which simultaneously rewards and entertains will change the industry.

Guild Wars (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868344)

I'm personally very interested in Guild Wars [guildwars.com] . Not really a MMORPG except for some aspects, but very little grind, no monthly fees, a lot of content and even more to be released in expansions that *you* decide when to buy and not absolutely necessary to play with those who have the expansions, excellent graphics (see website), Player vs Environment areas, Guild vs Guild areas, Player vs Player arenas, and questing and a decent storyline. Overall a new kind of game genre and I have already pre-ordered the game. :-)

User created content not very good? (1)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868575)

Tell that to the NWN scripters who have spent literally years creating fantasticly detailed worlds, the kind of thing that can only be achieved free of commercial pressure and driven by the players.

Most is dross but a significant minority is OUTSTANDING and the man is a tool to ignore it.

Re:User created content not very good? (1)

Kesh (65890) | more than 9 years ago | (#10868786)

You just killed your own argument.

The point he was making is that most of it is crap. And in an MMORPG, you don't have the option of avoiding the crap... it's part of the server!

At least in NWN, you can read reviews and choose not to download the crap, or uninstall the crap once you see how bad it is. With an MMORPG, you don't get that chance. It's simply there and you have to deal with it being there.

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