Monday, October 26, 2009

MMO Manners

People online are notoriously rude. Whether or not one is actually being rude, it is usually how they are interpretted as acting anyway.

Two days ago, I was running some RWZ (Rikti War Zone) missions with my friends. We had a team of heroes and villains, are were doing the story arc where Longbow (think S.H.I.E.L.D.) tries to steal Vanguard's (think an even more badass S.H.I.E.L.D.) thunder. One thing leads to another, and much to the delight of the villains on the team, we start busting Longbow skulls. Fun.

Eventually, our battle takes us head to head with a Longbow Hero (Archvillain), who could make Chuck Norris's blood run cold. He smashes into our group like an angry bull, and we wipe. Once. Twice. Three times.

Finally, we re-order our team a tad, trade one or two of our players, and lower the difficulty. We go in for round four, and we start to win, but then our tank panics, jumps into the backline, right as the Hero fires an AoE at him. The result is a lot of dead support characters, and a fifth wipe. We rally, and keep the fight going. The tank runs back in, then gets knocked back into us. Again things get hairy, when I realize that our tank has no KB (knockback) protection. I try to get him to stand in a corner, in order to negate the KB, but he won't listen. As a result, he keeps getting bounced back into the team, who then eat AoEs in the face.

It doesn't take long before I flip a monumental shit, and start screaming at the guy. A few moments after my tirade, he falls in line, and we are able to take the Hero out.

We exit the mission, get ready for our next run, and I apologize to the guy. It turns out he was brand new to the game, so I took the time to explain what was going wrong, and what could be done in the future to fix it. As it turns out, he did have KB protection, he just failed to use it. I give him some slotting advice, as does the scrapper. As I wrap up with our tank, one of the villains chimes in:

"Wow, that's the first time I've ever seen someone apologize for something like that."

And that bothered me, because he was right. Online, far too many people are not accountable for what they "say" or how they "act". I play games, online and offline, in order to relax, not to yell at people. I don't enjoy acting like that, and it's important to me for people to understand that.

That's why I apologized, because I meant it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


As long as my incredibly simple, done with a calculator math is correct (funny thing, it was wrong the first time, but I fixed it), then that is the chance on any given attack that it results in an instant kill (That is, rolling three natural 20s back to back). It's a rule variant from the 3.0 Edition DMG, one that I've used in every game I've run.

I've actually, as a DM, rolled trip 20s three separate times, twice against player characters, once for an NPC attacking a Slaad. Both times it resulted in player death, and much endless bitching. Sorry guys, player death happens. No character is invincible, and sometimes as a DM it's important to remind the players that they are mortal.

But last night, my wife's Paladin 5/Pious Templar 4/Griffon Rider 2 rolled trip 20s on a smite against a mature adult dragon (CR 13), slaying it instantly. Now she's a Griffon Rider 3.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Um, what should I call you?

One of the things that I've always found fascinating about playing MMOs, or any game with online multiplayer, is how people choose to interpret the names of others. That is, how a persons name, or the name of their avatar/character/toon is changed/shortened/altered to make it more convenient in conversation.

Now, character names break down into five rough categories:
  1. Actual names
  2. Long multisyllabic names
  3. Statements as names
  4. Plays on words
  5. Other
  6. Actual names are easy enough to work out. Guild Wars requires you to have a first and last name for any of your characters, so usually you simply need use a player "first" name. I have a Warrior named Roland Dresden, a Paragon named Rook Enassi, a Mesmer named Freya Dresden, etc. Whenever I played them, people simply addressed me by my character's first name.

Longer names pose a small problem. When I played WoW briefly (Up to level 33), I had a Troll Warrior named Alavatus. While not a huge name, it is four syllables, and in general, people addressed me as "Ala" or "Al". Then, you have other names I've used like Kammorremae, which people shortened to "Kamm". I know people like Quatermain, or Abraxxus, who's names are shortened to "Quat" and "Brax" respectively.

Statements as names is where is gets weird. If you hook up with a mage named "Fase Pwner", what do you call him? "Fase"? "Pwner"? Generally, people will just use the first part, and call you "Fase", but every once in a while you get someone who recognizes "Fase" as the adjective, and "Pwner" noun it describes, and then everything goes to hell cause the whole team except the smart ass healer is calling you "Fase", while he is calling you "Pwner". Ass.

Plays on words sometimes overlap with Statements as names. For example, my Defender is named Combative Medic. My old friend Patrick had a Defender named Apathetic Empath. I have no idea what people called Patrick (other than asshole, cause he was one, not that I'm not), but people refer to me as "Medic" or "Med". Why they shorten it to "Med" is beyond me...

Finally you have Other. And honestly, most names these days are Other. My sisters-in-law ran characters named "Super Funky Peach", "Snuggle Bunnies", "Gorgeous Tsurugi", "Panda Mei", etc. My most recent Guild Leader in GW had characters like "The Devil Himself" and "The Devil Herself", while a friend of mine from CoH has toons like "Molten Slowa", "Insane Slowa", or "SWAT Drone SL-OW".

And frankly, that's the best way to go; having a common theme amongst your names that allows people to use the same moniker for all of your characters. These was an asshole from my old guild who had the name "Cangzhen" as a preface to all his character, with their. profession following it (Cangzhen Monk, Cangzhen Warrior, etc). Of course, that naming convention can defeat the point of some MMOs, like City of Heroes or Champions Online, where the point is to create a truly unique avatar that represents precisely the type of character you want to play.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Real Money Traders (RMTs) hurt games. So do the players who buy from them. They cause inflation, they harm drop rates, they generate underskilled players. In extreme circumstances, they hack and steal players accounts.

Don't be a dillhole, don't buy in game cash (or gear, or runes, or powerleveling, etc).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Crab Battle!

Firstly, I squandered yet another Double Xp Weekend, having fun instead of religiously powerleveling my toons. How dare I? All told, I gained a scant 16 levels across all characters (and that includes a Brute I soloed to 12 on Virtue). I even teamed with Icey Pants 2 again. During my absence, the ability to "rate" players was introduced. I currently have it set so that all my personal rankings are displayed above a players head, and the game tracks these ratings across the player's account (So if someone rates me a well deserved 5 Stars, that rating is reflected on all of my other characters). So, upon joining a team with Combative Medic, I saw that my team leader was ranked 1 star with the comment "Hates tankers and scrappers". However, I then saw that there was a lvl 28 Martial Arts/Regen Scrapper on the team (and better yet, the Scrapper was a brand new player!). Icey Pants 2 certainly had her rating go up after that.
Regardless, last night, I decided I wanted to take one of my mid-40 characters up to 50. After a brief debate, I settled on Police Drone TH-01, my human-form Peacebringer. In short order, I was teamed up with the Vampire's Coven SG (none of whom seemed to be vampire themed, oddly enough), saving the world.

No, literally, the name of the mission was "Save the World".

After a lot of fighting, and I mean a lot, we finally reach the +4 AV. After a pitched battle, waves of ambushes start spawning and attacking us while we're still engaged with the first AV. Once he drops to 1/3rd HP, and cutscene triggers and we get to see a second +4 AV approach, promising much doom. The battle continues, we defeat the first AV, and engage the second. This AV, not to be outdone, also triggers ambushes on us.

After much gnashing of teeth, and player death, we finally work him down to 25% of his HP. So he triggers Personal Force Field.

A collective groan issues forth from the team, as we watch him regenerate much of the damage we dealt, but then the force field drops, and we start working him over again. And again, at 25% HP, the field goes up.

Such is the battle for the next hour. Whittle whittle whittle, shield, regenerate, whittle whittle whittle, shield, regenerate, whittle whittle whittle, shield, regenerate, whittle whittle whittle, shield, regenerate, whittle whittle whittle, shield, regenerate, whittle whittle whittle, shield, regenerate, whittle whittle whittle, shield, regenerate, whittle whittle whittle, shield, regenerate, whittle whittle whittle, shield, regenerate, whittle whittle whittle, shield, regenerate...

You get the idea.

It reminded me of the fact that City of Heroes is functionally very similar to dozens of other RPGs, in that at the beginning of each fight, either you are, or aren't, strong enough to win. Where as, in some games, pure skill can overcome a statistical disadvantage, it usually cannot in a game based almost purely on preprogrammed percentages.

So, despite the fact that we were all very competent players, with powerful characters, our team was mechanically insufficient to handle the task at hand (we needed either massive regeneration debuffs, or large amounts of stacked holds to prevent him from casting PFF).

It's a shame really. For 95% of the game, a group can get away with having an unbalanced team, since competent play wins battles, not powersets and ATs.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"We don't team with your kind here."

With the release of Issue 16, Defenders were given access to the Assault Rifle secondary set. My heart leaped with joy when I found out I could finally roll up an Empathy/Assault Rifle Defender, so first chance I got, I did.

At the time, I had been trying to find a way to turn this picture into an outfit, as a way to lure a friend of mine into playing CoH again. In the process, I fell in love with the idea of playing a medic from a Warhammer 40K or Starcraft scenario, so I rolled up Combative Medic (and I changed the outfit, along with color scheme).

Combative Medic is now level 26, blasting and buffing his merry way through all manner of task force, AV battle, and general tomfoolery. I'm still trying to find my inner Defender, but having a Council Assault Rifle to blast my way to said inner Defender with helps.

So, yesterday, after having some trouble finding a team, I end up grouped with two Controllers, whom we will call Icey Pants 1 and Icey Pants 2. Both were Ice Control/Cold Domination 'Trollers from the same SG. Upon joining them, the leader (Icey Pants 1) laments how few people are within our level range, and how none will join. I comment that I have a friend who will join us, to which the leader reacts favorably. After a few minutes of plowing through Sky Raiders at +1, I mention that my friend is now ready, with his Tanker.

And so it starts.

Icey Pants 2: Oi vey.

Icey Pants 1: No tankers, no scrappers.

Combative Medic: As a policy?

Icey Pants 1: SG rule. We don't allow them.

::After a few moments of politely testing the waters of the issue (while
still performing my job admirably), I address it directly::

Combative Medic: So do you also exclude Brutes, Stalkers, Blappers, and

Icey Pants 1: No, just tankers.

Icey Pants 2: And tankery storm defenders,

Combative Medic: Why?

Icey Pants 2: We deal with enough of it on PUGs, so we don't allow it when
our SG runs a team.

Icey Pants 1: Chasing a tank around as it runs blindly into spawns get old

Combative Medic: Why not ask them not to, and boot them if they refuse?

Icey Pants 1: Have you ever asked a tank to listen to you?

The rest of the conversation is more of the same, but you get the gist. Rather then exclude all melee or melee capable classes, they simply exclude the two ATs most suited to deal with the damage they will inevitably take (I love my blapper to pieces, but anything less than perfection when I play him at +4 results in bloody violent death for moi). And this exclusion isn't truly against the ATs, simpley how some people chose to play them. But rather than having 30 seconds of patience with a player to see if they will play nice with others, they discriminate against a large portion of the player population, then lament that there aren't enough people around to join their team.

In the end my response to them was this: I will give almost any player and any AT a chance. Unless my team absolutely does not need, or will be hurt by the presence of a particular AT (a team with 6 blasters doesn't need a 7th), there is no reason not to include another player. If said player causes issues via their play style, I speak with them. If they adapt to the needs of the team, they can stay. If they refuse, I politely ask them to leave, and failing at that, I simply boot them myself. Conversely, when I play my Tanker, or any other AT for that matter, I almost always defer to the judgement of the team leader. If he has a problem with something I'm doing, I'll stop. Sometimes this means I end up doing stupid shit cause the leader sucks, but other times it means that I help the team running better by accepting the fact that my way isn't always the best way. Maybe I should be corner pulling on a Nemesis map, or maybe I should be on the opposite side of the AV from the team to protect them from melee cones (these are things I already do, btw, but that many Tanker neglect).

However, at no point can I ever expect another player to accommodate to my wishes if I refuse to do it in turn. Icey Pants 1 & 2 refuse to play with 40% of the available ATs, based on what they perceive as an issue with the classes, when in truth it's an issue with play style (one that can be found in every AT, Red or Blue side). I have no time for people who discriminate, but at the same time, to their credit, Icey Pants 1 & 2 were very polite, and answered all of my questions. So, rather than leave in a huff, I finished the mission with them, politely excused myself, and went off to team with my Tanker bud who had been left out.

This applies equally to all classes, ATs, professions, in any game, MMO or otherwise.