I Am So Popular

Does everyone have to turn down team invitations every five minutes?

City of Heroes lets you set a LFG flag to a variety of settings. I indicate that I am soloing by leaving if off. This does not seem to deter people. If I am in a mission, I cannot be invited, so I am safe there except for the occasional /tell asking if I would like to quit my mission and join theirs. In the time it takes me to fly between missions, someone will send me an invitation or, more politely, an /tell asking if I am LFG.

Apparently, they believe that I would like to be on a team, but I am not competent enough to operate the LFG button. That is not the level of competency you want your healer to have.

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Not a Hint of Corruption

Many gamers doubt the value of the gaming press because game developers can effectively buy positive coverage. They can offer magazines and web sites exclusive information, advertising dollars, free games for testing, and presumably other enticements that are escaping me just now.

Unless Ethic is hoarding the loot, I can assure you that no such thing happens here. We’re getting squat. No free copies, beta invitations, or even requests to check out a game on our own dime. Zip. Maybe it is our lack of advertising, or perhaps the gentle way that we explain our thoughts on issues in our current games.

If this continues, I must assume word has gotten around that we are moral paragons, above the influence of petty bribery or corporate chicanery.

: Zubon

I Miss Mayoi

Asheron's Call cover [Asheron’s Call] My first MMO was Asheron’s Call, a game I looked at only because my entire gaming group was playing it. At that point, I thought Ultima Online was a theoretical plan for what online D&D could look like; I knew of EverQuest as some fantasy RPG that I had seen in stores, but I had never heard of anyone actually playing it. Yeah.

My friends tended to play games on a 3-4 month cycle. Start, get obsessed, burnout and set it aside. They were apparently in AC’s beta, because they were approaching the burnout cycle as the game went live. I was always the late adopter of games, partly because I did not have a computer that would handle it, partly because I was poorer than most of them and so did not buy many games. Two friends let me make a character on each of their accounts, so I tried it out when one of them was off somewhere. This was just before the Sudden Season, the first event/monthly update.

Don’t we all love our early game experience? We spend the rest of our time in games trying to capture that magic of first discovery.

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Beta, Boys, and the USA-PATRIOT Act

[Mystery game] Before our ages reached double-digits, most of us realized an easy way to find out who someone was interested in. Romantically, that is, as much as that means when you are in elementary school. You simply ask names until you get a non-denial. “No” means “no”; “I’m not going to answer that!” means “yes.”

In a related story, after the PATRIOT Act, librarians were inflamed. We are not debating the politics of that one here, but librarian outrage was palpable enough to get the Attorney General joking about it. You see, one section (which no one has ever publicly reported being used) would let investigators seize all of a library’s records to check for suspected terrorists (kind of like in Seven); disclosure of such a record seizure would be a felony. One creative way someone thought of getting around this was to put up a sign by the front desk, “There have been no federal seizures of library patron records this week.” You’re allowed to say that. Take it down when appropriate.

Watch me draw this seamlessly back on topic…

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Best. Contact. Ever.

cov[City of Villains] Go create a character in City of Villains and level up to 30. Do enough newspaper missions to get Vivacious Verandi as a contact. Then do all her missions.

Do it now.

While the missions themselves are nothing special, this is a great example of how a bit of text can affect the feel of the game. Viv wants you to destroy things and cause chaos. Oh, and shout, “Wheee!” This is why we are villains: to break things and laugh as we trick our enemies into punching each other in the face. It is nice to have a contact with that spirit. Actually, many of us seem to play our heroes that way in a lot of games…

Oh, and Hardcase? You’re a punk. :p (You’ll understand that, since you’ve gone and run Viv’s story arc by now.)

: Zubon


coh[City of Heroes] One of the more annoying things in any game is that people who quit hang around the forums for weeks to complain. One standard way of dealing with this on the official boards is to retrict posting privleges to paying customers. We still complain incessantly, but most of us are busy playing rather than posting. Cryptic/NCSoft does this one better: if you cancel your account but still have time left, you cannot post during your remaining play time. (It does warn you of this at the appropriate screen, and you can wait and cancel your account just before your renewal date.)

: Zubon

Strike Forces and Task Forces

cov[City of Villains] Early in City of Heroes, task forces were repeatedly bugged, annoying, and generally not worth the effort of completing. After several fixes, they were still in the same status. Then they were mostly fixed, with badges added retroactively. Then they added some badges to the most tiring ones, not retroactively. These tiring ones are scheduled to be made less tiring someday.

City of Villains is aspiring to this track record.

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Simultaneous Systems of Character Choice

coh[City of Heroes/Villains] City of Heroes/Villains exhibits all the varieties of choice in games to which I referred recently, and it does it all before you even start the game.

First, the game is class-based, under the name “archetype.” Each game begins with five options. City of Heroes will be the most familiar: tank, support, crowd control, damage (ranged), and damage (melee). There you go: class-based game, five options.

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The New New Thing?

A year ago, World of Warcraft and EverQuest II were coming out, eagerly anticipated titles set to knock the current champions off their thrones. People were saying, “City of Heroes is just something I’m playing until World of Warcraft comes out.” Before that, guilds might have signed up for Asheron’s Call to practice until Shadowbane came out. Message boards for years said, “Wait until X is out, then I’m out of here!”

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Corrupt Bargain

cov[City of Villains] Since I was complaining about City of Villains problems last week, I thought I should mention that I am having fun. Ultimately, that is the standard by which I will judge the game, so the verdict remains positive.

I have mostly been playing my Dark Blast/Thermal Radiation Corruptor. Welcome to the life of a class other than the Mastermind and Stalker.

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