Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Level Cap=/=Fun Cap

I don't play World of Warcraft, for many reasons. Almost all of them are personal preference; as much as I don't like WoW, I can't say that it's bad. Far too often, people mistake their own opinion as fact, and I want to go ahead and put that out there before I go on.

Now, there is one thing that Blizzard has done, that I hate, and it's the repeated increase of the level cap in WoW. Also, by proxy, how this practice has lead to droves of people carrying over a faulty logic to other MMOs that, in increasing the level cap, one can make a game more fun.

Firstly, why I dislike increasing the level cap in an established, persistent online game. It tends to invalidate the work and effort of a player. If I've spent the last two months raiding with my guild, to complete my Tier # armor, I'd feel pretty shitty when the developer of the game decides that everything my character owns (and that I thought was good) is now worthless junk, because there are ten more levels for me to grind out, and each one has gear more powerful than the last.

Now, increasing the level cap certainly isn't bad for newer players, or ones who haven't dedicated depressingly large amounts of time to pimping out a character. It sucks for the hardcore players. Of course, they are also hardcore enough to suck it up and grind out those ten new levels, and work up to the newest Tier of gear. I sit somewhere in between casual and hardcore, where I care enough and play just enough to be well equipped, but I haven't religiously cleared the same instance dozens of times to earn a particular set of gear (this doesn't exactly translate into CoH and GW, but close enough).

This brings me to the crux of my rant; I'm tired of hearing people suggest upping the level cap as the best way to make a game better. Wrong, bad, fail. Firstly, not all games revolve around high level play. Secondly, not all games have an endgame the involves endless grinding for loot. For example, City of Heroes is more about the (admittedly downplayed) story of a world recovering from a massive invasion, and your role as a fledgling hero trying to save it. You start as a scrub fighting riots and taking down low level drug dealers, to traveling between dimensions, defeating evil super-powered despots and liberating entire worlds from tyranny. The scope of such an evolution is hard to appreciate if you blast past low level play to get to high levels, and it's completely lost when you replace one plateau of power with another one.

Guild Wars is another great example. While Prophecies, Factions, and Nightfall vary greatly in their PvE application, it's undeniable that the endgame in Guild Wars is PvP. Lots of PvP. Coordinated, uncoordinated, pro, scrub, hardcore, softcore PvP. Wanna do small scale? Arena. Large scale? Alliance Battle. Ultra cut-throat internationally competitive? Guild vs Guild or Hall of Heroes. Increasing the level cap offers absolutely no benefit here.

What can make a game better? What can extend it's life? Additional content, not at the expense of the effort players have already invested in the game. City of Heroes publishes a new issue of the game every three to four months, adding more content each time (including but not limited to: New Powers, New ATs, Inventions, New Zones, Power Customization, New Villain Groups, etc). Guild Wars released an expansion meant almost exclusively for max level players. Additionally, they added (early on) the ability to play all the low level areas as elite lvl 20+ zones.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Invention Origin enhancements: The mandatory option.

You ever found a really sweet free to play game online? Maybe it was a simple 2D flash game, or a really badass 3D freeshare FPS, but either way, it was way more fun than it should have been.

So you play this really sweet, free-to-play game for a few weeks, at which point you find out, "Hey, there is a whole 'nother level here I've yet to touch!" But then you find out that level comes with a $15 price tag to it, or that you can buy in game money (which takes forever to earn), or that in order to access a certain realm, where all the good items are, you need to purchase a subscription?

Yeah, IOs are like that.

They don't cost money (real money, at least), but the principle is the same. You don't NEED them to play. Quite the contrary; most players have been dominating in City of Heroes/Villains for years without them. However, the gulf of power between a Hero without IOs and a Hero with them is staggering. Furthermore, you can see exactly which bonuses a player possesses by looking at their powers tab. If you click on a Scrapper and find out he has 3 Ultimate Recharge Bonuses, you know that this Scrapper is filthy rich, as he probably has billions of influence worth of IOs slotted into his powers (::cough::Karou Non' Drak::cough::). Using this, people are able to pick characters which are seemingly more powerful, or at least wealthy, based on how many IO bonuses they have (Within SGs, this practice is nearly unheard of. In PUGs, in can be, at times, rampant.).

Now, I have no problem with IOs. They add a new level of depth to the game, and allow a person to make their unique Hero (or Villain) even more unique. However, I think it's a tad misleading to say that IOs are completely optional. By that same logic, all gear is completely optional. You don't need it, it just helps.

And I think we can all disagree with that (barring Vow of Poverty).

Issue 16: Power Spectrum

Powers Customization:

Hundreds of powers have been updated to allow new color selections and customization. Players can now pick new Themes for each powerset, adjusting colors, appearance, and even animations for some sets.

Key Features:
  • Thousands of Tintable particle and geometry effects for powers, such as Energy Blasts and Stone Mallet colors.
  • Customizable Primary and Secondary colors for powersets, with color choices themed to match the selected powerset.
  • Powerset Themes selectable for a complete set, or individual powers.
  • Powerset Themes selectable at character creation, as well as in the tailor screens.
  • Independant Theme selection for each character costume.

New Theme selections:
New Themes of Spines and Thorny Assault available, including themes of Thorns, Metal Spines, Crystal Spines, and Slate Spines. New Animation Themes for Super Strength and Martial Arts.Huge variety of customizable powersets, including Cold Domination, Dark Armor, Dark Blast, Dark Melee, Dark Miasma, Devices, Earth Control, Earth Melee, Electric Armor, Electric Assault, Electric Blast, Electric Melee, Electricity Manipulation, Empathy, Energy Assault, Energy Aura, Energy Blast, Energy Manipulation, Energy Melee, Fiery Aura, Fire Assault, Fire Blast, Fire Control, Fire Manipulation, Fire Melee, Force Field, Gravity Control, Ice Armor, Ice Assault, Ice Blast, Ice Control, Ice Manipulation, Ice Melee, Illusion, Invulnerability, Kinetics, Mental Manipulation, Mind Control, Necromancy, Plant Control, Psionic Assault, Psychic Blast, Radiation Blast, Radiation Emission, Regeneration, Sonic Resonance, Sonic Blast, Spines, Stone Armor, Storm Summoning, Super Reflexes, Thermal Radiation, Thorny Assault, Traps, and Willpower.

New Character Creator:

* The Character creator and Tailor screen have been updated to be easier to use and even preview the animation and color choices for powers!

Key features:

  • Tabbed Character Creator: Jump between Archetype, Power Sets, Costumes, and Character ID in any order without losing progress.
  • New Powers Customization screen, for adjusting powers and previewing animations.
  • Select colors and themes for each individual power, or apply it to the entire power set!
  • Preview live animations of all powers, showing the selected Theme and color choices.
  • Save and Load Theme settings for each powerset, saving colors and selections for all powers.

Costume slots: Your active costume slot is stored when you log off will be the costume slot used when you log back in. It will also display that costume in the character selection screen. _______________________________________________

Powerset Proliferation:
More power sets are now in the hands of Archetypes who couldn’t use them previously!

  • Archetype - Blasters * Radiation Blast
  • Archetype - Brutes * Claws
  • Archetype - Controllers * Cold Domination
  • Archetype - Corruptors * Archery * Trick Arrow
  • Archetype - Defenders * Assault Rifle * Traps
  • Archetype - Dominators * Earth Assault
  • Archetype -Masterminds * Thermal Radiation
  • Archetype -Scrappers * Electric Melee * Electric Armor
  • Archetype -Tankers * Electric Melee * Electric Armor
  • Archetype -Stalkers * Broadsword


Enhanced Difficulty Options:
The old notoriety system has been removed and replaced with a new difficulty system of independent settings. You can now fine-tune the difficulty levels of the missions you play by telling the game exactly how you want to be treated:

* Choose to fight monsters between a -1 to +4 level difference from the player's level.
* Choose to set your personal team size (1-8).
* Choose if you want bosses to scale down to Lieutenants when soloing or not
* Choose to have AVs scale down to EBs.

The difficulty settings of the mission owner dictate how the mission is handled. Actual team size overrides any difficulty setting, so you will always get Arch-Villains if the team has 6 or more members. The difficulty setting is per task, so personal team member sizes do not add together. You can change your difficulty settings at any Hero Corp.’s Representative in Paragon City or Fateweaver in the Rogue Isles.


Sidekicking Changes: Super-Sidekicking! One player can now sidekick or exemplar the whole team, everyone can always play together!

  • Each player in the group's level is set to the level of the owner of the active team task. If no team task is selected, everyone in the group's level will be set to the level of the team leader.
  • When the team level changes, players will be notified via a dialog and have the option to quit the team or immediately accept. The dialog will time out after 30 seconds at which point acceptance is implied.
  • While in the pending state, players cannot receive rewards and any critters they damage will be worth no experience.
  • Players can choose to auto-accept team level changes 0 to 50 levels above or below their current level.
  • Exemplars will now earn XP and a level capped person will get XP converted into influence like exemplars used to.

New Badges: Last issue we announced our future plans and design direction for new badges. Here’s a list of the new badges that can be obtained in Issue 16:

  • Master of Reichsman Strike Force
  • Master of Reichsman Task Force
  • Master of Imperious Task Force

Epic/Patron Powers Pools:

The balance between the Epic/Patron power pools has been revisited. Now all Epic power pools have 5 powers to choose from.

  • Force Mastery (Blaster) Existing Powers * Personal Force Field * Repulsion Field * Temporary Invulnerability * Force of Nature New Powers * Repulsion Bomb - Ranged (Targeted AoE), Moderate Damage(Smash/Energy), Foe Knockdown
  • Flame Mastery (Blaster) Existing Powers * Bonfire * Char * Fire Shield * Rise of the Phoenix New Powers * Melt Armor - Ranged (Targeted AoE), Foe -Res, -Def
  • Fire Mastery (Controller) Existing Powers * Fire Blast * Fire Ball * Fire Shield * Consume New Powers * Rise of the phoenix - Self Rez, Special
  • Psionic Mastery (Controller) Existing Powers * Mental Blast * Indomitable Will * Mind Over Body * Psionic Tornado New Powers * World of Confusion - PBAoE, Minor DoT(Psionic), Foe Confuse
  • Dark Mastery (Defender) Existing Powers * Oppressive Gloom * Dark Consumption * Dark Embrace * Soul Drain New Powers * Soul Transfer - Self Rez, Special
  • Power Mastery (Defender) Existing Powers * Conserve Power * Power Build Up * Temp Invulnerability * Total Focus New Powers * Force of Nature - +Res(All but Psionics)
  • Blaze Mastery (Scrapper) NEW Existing Powers * None New Powers * Ring of Fire - Ranged, Moderate DoT(Fire), Foe Immobilize * Char - Ranged, Minor DoT(Fire), Foe Hold * Fire Blast - Ranged, Moderate DMG(Fire) * Melt Armor - Ranged (Targeted AoE), Foe -Res, -DEF * Fire Ball - Ranged (Targeted AoE), Moderate DMG(Fire/Smash)
  • Body Mastery (Scrapper) Existing Powers * Conserve Power * Focused Accuracy * Laser Beam Eyes * Energy Torrent New Powers * Physical Perfection - Auto, +Regen, +Recovery (50% of the values offered by Stamina and Health)
  • Darkness Mastery (Scrapper) Existing Powers * Torrent * Petrifying Gaze * Dark Blast * Tenebrous Tentacles New Powers * Nightfall - Ranged (Cone), Moderate DMG(Negative), Foe –To Hit.
  • Energy Mastery (Tanker) Existing Powers * Conserve Power * Focused Accuracy * Laser Beam Eyes * Energy Torrent New Powers * Physical Perfection - Auto, +Regen, +Recovery (50% of the values offered by Stamina and Health.
  • Soul Mastery (VEAT) Existing Powers * Gloom * Soul Tentacles * Darkest Night * Dark Obliteration * Summon Widow New Powers * Darkest Night - Toggle: Ranged (Targeted AoE), Foe -DMG -To Hit
  • Leviathan Mastery (VEAT) Existing Powers * Spirit Shark * School of Sharks * Bile Spray * Summon Guardian New Powers * Arctic Breath - Ranged (Cone), Minor DoT(Cold), Foe -Speed, -Recharge, -DEF -Res, knock down
  • Mace Mastery (VEAT) Existing Powers * Mace Blast * Web Envelop * Disruptor Blast * Summon Blaster New Powers * Shatter Armor – Melee, Superior DMG(Smash), Foe –Res
  • Mu Mastery (VEAT) Existing Powers * Mu Lightning * Electrifying Fences * Ball Lightning * Summon Striker New Powers * Static Discharge - Ranged (Cone), Moderate DMG(Energy), -END Mu Mastery (Brute) Existing Powers * Mu Lightning * Electrifying Fences * Ball Lightning * Summon Striker New Powers * Static Discharge - Ranged (Cone), Moderate DMG(Energy), -END

Mission Architect:
Check out the improvements made to the Mission Architect:
Custom Critter XP Scaling
  • Custom Critters with Custom powers now reward XP proportional to the number of powers added to the critter.
  • Critters with no powers are allowed, but they are worth no XP.
  • Standard and hard critters are worth less than extreme critters.
Mission Browser Improvements
  • Author Hyperlink: Author names are now hyperlinked and will underline on mouseover. Clicking on the name of the author in the Mission Browser will do a search for all the other arcs that author has also published. Clicking it will search for arcs by that author only
Mission Creation Improvements
  • Runaway Boss Dialog: The boss now has dialog when he runs away.
  • Health Dialog on Allies: Allies and Escorts can be set to say things as they lose health.
  • Betrayal Options: Allies and Escorts can now be set to betray on any normal objective. They can also say something when they betray.
  • Drag & Drop Mission Goals: Goals in Architect missions can now be dragged and dropped to change their order.
  • Objective Counts: A count is listed on each detail creation button of the number of details that can still be placed.
Custom Villain Groups
  • If a player has all three basic critter types in their CVG, they will receive full rewards for the mission. If one critter type is missing they will receive 50% rewards. If two critter types are missing they will receive 25% rewards, and if none of the core critter types are in the CVG, there are no rewards. o This applies only to critters auto-spawned by the mission, not specific bosses called for by objectives XP Curve Adjustment
To go along with our new changes to sidekicking and exemplaring, we've made some adjustments to the experience awarded from minions, lieutenants and bosses in the level 5 to 24 range. In short these enemies are on average receiving a 20% experience and influence increase. This will slightly speed up the pace at which heroes and villains advance through the 5 to 24 range

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"'Burailion' Red!" or "I dream of heroes"

Last night I had a dream, in which I came into possession of a decoder ring. However, it matched up catchphrases in addition/instead of keycodes. As I examined the ring, I saw that one of the movable options was "'Burailion' Red!"

Needless to say, this stopped me dead in my tracks. I then spent the rest of my dream trying to get in touch with NCSoft or someone from Paragon Studios, so that I could collect my royalties.

Good times.

<---Original outfit, sans Piston Boots

Friday, September 4, 2009

Police Drone TH

Posting pictures in this blog is always a crapshoot; either I screw up royally and it looks terrible, or everything fits together supremely well, and it looks like a work of art. Anyway...
Police Drone TH, level 50 Assault Rifle/Energy Manipulation Blaster. He was my second character to hit 50, and by far my favorite character. Even with the PPD long gone, and most likely being one of the last "drones" patrolling the City, I still feel proud to wear that outfit.
As you can see, TH has been fully outfitted with IOs (on his primary build). Among other things, he has Sting of the Manticore 5-slotted, three sets of Positron's Blast 5-slotted, two sets of Thunderstrike 6-slotted, three sets of Mako's Bite 6-slotted, Gaussian's Synchronized Fire Control 6-slotted, Essence of Curare 6-slotted, and a few other unique IOs tossed in for flavor.
I specced him for ranged defense, and I succeeded. With Combat Jumping on, he has +32.88% defense to ranged attacks. Math time!
Base accuracy for an even con minion is 50%. With my defense applied, an even con minion has a 17.12% chance to hit me (effectively, I take 66% less damage than other blasters, at range). Of course, it's always important to understand the difference between positional defense, and typed defense.
All attack are classified by "position" and "type". An attack can only have one position (ranged, melee, area of effect), but it can have multiple types (smashing, lethal, fire, cold, energy, negative energy, toxic, psychic). For example, if a Council mech fires an energy blast at you, it's a ranged attack that deals energy and smashing damage. Resistance is applied separately to each type, however, only one defensive value is applied. If I have 30% ranged defense, 15% energy defense, and 10% smashing defense, the game will roll to hit against me using the highest relevant value (in this case, ranged defense). If the same mech runs up to me and tries to back-hand me with its' gun arm, the game then rolls to hit against either my melee or smashing defense (which in this case, my smashing defense is probably higher).
This is more important for melee characters, because different sets run different defenses. Super Reflexes is all positional defense, while Invulnerability is mainly typed defense. Knowing which you are when slotting is paramount for making sure IO set bonuses synergize with your character.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Battle Suit Justice Burailion

An insane anime mecha, Burailion has almost no IOs slotted up, but is still one of my favorite characters. I went Invulnerability/Energy Melee because I wanted him to be a PvP character, but interest in him PvPing gave way to mild RPing with him.
This isn't his original outfit, but it's my current favorite (mainly because most of the pieces didn't exist when I stopped playing). It's a combination of Cyborg (arms, legs, shoulders, belt, hat, face plate, and chest plate), Enforcer (gauntlets, chin piece), and Techbot pieces (torso and head), with Piston Boots tossed in for good measure.
I'll be adding some binds and macros to him later, fleshing out the whole deluded crazy robot angle. Such catchphrases to be added:
  • "Burning finger!"
  • "Battle Suit Justice beatdown!"
  • "I've seen this episode; it's the one where I kick your ass!"
  • "Last time on Battle Suit Justice Burailion: I was awesome!"
  • "Battle Suit Justice Burailion has high insurance premiums."
  • "You are a fly in the soup of justice!"
That last one seems more in the vein of what the Tick would scream out, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Oh, what's that you say?

Rather than apologize for months of inactivity, and pledge to remedy my ways, I'll just act like there was no sizable gap in my posting.


So, not only has Blizzard announced a fourth class for Diablo 3, but NCSoft has released a trailer for Guild Wars 2. Huzzah! The trailer depicting the new D3 class, the Monk, was very reminiscent of Fist of the North Star. I was initially skeptical of introducing such a decidedly eastern flavor to D3, but given the art I've seen, he fits quite nicely. Meanwhile, the trailer for Guild Wars 2 may or may not have turned me on (just a little). Z-Axis, Norn-bears wearing armor, Charr with guns, Asuran mechs. Let's just say, I hath been sated.

But forget all that, I have real news to share:

I renewed my subscription to City of Heroes.

BOOYAH. I never really realized how much I missed that game. It's been almost five issues since I last played (I stopped in I11, and I16 is nearing release). But now I'm back, many of my gripes have been addressed (Invul balancing, Kheldian performance, etc), leaving me with less room to bitch, and more things to enjoy.

Starting tonight, I'll be posting character bios for everyone I still play, to give some reference to everything I babble about.