So what brings YOU here?

[City of Heroes] Life must be odd in Paragon City, you know? Superheroes everywhere, and a lot of them are pretty freaky. I mean, to say nothing of the guys walking around on fire or covered in floating skulls, you have half-transparent floating squid creatures that can turn into some tank-like crustacean. Over here, the author wonders, “Just stop and think for a moment about how odd it would be if the world’s most powerful superbeing just stopped into a malt shop in full costume to share a milkshake with a girl.”

When you get on the monorail, you need to ask the guy next to you to please stop dripping his alien ichor on your groceries. “Pardon, my wife is expecting, could you not use your cloud of choking nuclear radiation just here?” Oh, and the equivalent of GNC, Image Inc., also has a big display case of firearms and special ammunition to go with your high-fiber cereals.

Despite all of this, after rescuing someone, s/he will frequently tell you, “I’ve never met a hero before!”


Another win for the home team

[City of Heroes] My original City of Heroes character, Zubon, hit level 50 (max) tonight. This marks my third level 50 (two Defenders, one Blaster). Part of me wonders what I could have done in the real world with that much time. Other parts of me enjoyed large parts of the journey.

The last bubble of experience came pretty quickly and smoothly. I was actually on a team running missions, rather than farming. When I originally hit level 50, in Issue 2, there were two common paths. One was to farm wolves – there were a couple of missions that spawned large numbers of easy to herd and clear enemies. After the developers gave the wolves stun attacks and put them on a timer, people moved to using Freakshow for the same purpose, and it seems to work even better. The other path was to farm Kora fruit – there was an endless stream of missions that required no combat if you could Phase Shift. After the developers added required combat to those, people could move to using Dr. Boyd missions, which are almost the same but give more experience, and 1/4 of them actually require combat. By my findings, those were going faster for me than Kora fruit did, so I am surprised that people are not farming that more. Or maybe they are, I just have not heard about it.

It is refreshing to see that normal play actually provides nice rewards. It can be hard to find a group for normal play at times, at least in a large, competent group. I think many people have been trained to believe that farming Freakshow is the fastest way to level, so they keep trying to do that, even if they don’t have a good herding team, even if they are not very good at it. I have had times when my soloing healer got experience faster on his own than in the powerleveling herds for which I was asked to assist.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled grind.


War against Paragon City

[City of Heroes] I returned to City of Heroes about a month before World of Warcraft and EverQuest II went live. A week into my return, I found a new supergroup, and which is still my main group (plus a couple of people from other groups). Having hit level 40 about two weeks before WoW went live, I knew I needed to put the pedal to the metal, especially since we were expecting a new Issue (CoH update) on the test server soon. This led to my “11 levels in 11 days” quest, which is not as easy as it sounds in the later levels. The first night of it, I went from the end of level 39 to the start of 41. By consuming hundreds of Kora fruit and detonating thousands of Shadowhunter’s wolves, I found myself at level 50.

Very soon after, EQ2 and WoW went live. We lost about half our supergroup instantly, probably more considering the newer or less hardcore players who disappeared soon after. We’re still sharing a TeamSpeak server, but we don’t cross channels much. We have occasional visitors, but it looks like people are in WoW for the long run. We have a couple dozen level 50 members who have not been seen in a long while.

Now, we have 6-8 members who appear regularly on TeamSpeak. Two of them just started playing Guild Wars. This could get ugly.

: Zubon

That’s my cue to leave

[City of Heroes] If you send me a blind team invitation…
…when I don’t have my LFG flag on…
…and you are two zones away…
…and don’t answer when I ask what is going on…
…after 1am…
…when I have three deaths worth of debt from other teams…
I will be going, thanks. Good luck.

In this situation, you have 30 seconds to answer a straightforward question, because that is how long it takes to exit to the log-in screen.

: Zubon

Pedro the Tank Smasher

[City of Heroes] Because the world needs irony points after that earlier post, I was out farming Dreck’s mission a bit.

We met Pedro the Tank Smasher. Pedro has been going on a series of magical adventures, and his story will be told in the upcoming picture book, “Pedro the Tank Smasher in the Land of Make Believe.” Cryptic is publishing it as a companion book to “Web of Arachnos” this fall, for a younger audience.

The other Tank Smashers and Slashers are never nice to Pedro. He just wants to be liked and accepted, but they always make fun of his off-brand cybernetics. They can’t see through the metal to the sensitive core within. After one particularly sad day when even the Warriors in Talos Island laughed at him, Pedro goes on a journey of exploration through his imagination. In the end, he learns to accept himself, and in doing so comes to be accepted by others. Later that day, a hero beats him into unconsciouness for 108 experience points.

It was a touching story. Our blaster is considering learning Spanish so that he can translate it for the international audience. I think it is a pretty universal message. No word yet on the film rights.

: Zubon

Drive-by Buffing

[City of Heroes] In most of my games, I play the healer or support mage class. There is nothing quite like turning your allies into massive engines of destruction. It is a lot like playing a pet class, only the pets are really good with a strong AI (few control commands, though).

Another advantage to being the buff class is that you can go help folks. I have a level 50 Kinetics Defender, so I can bounce around the low-level areas and buff everyone I see. The easiest one to give out is Speed Boost: vastly faster running, plus endurance and faster attacks. “The poor little guys, no travel powers until level 14.” *blue swirly* There he goes. In the second it takes him to wonder what happened, I have already bounced away, in search of more heroes. Ooh, there’s one who I can give the damage buff during his fight…

Kinetics Defenders also get an area-effect jump buff, Inertial Reduction. It is what I use to bounce around town, and since I have it more enhanced than I really need, I move very quickly. I think I’m around 375 yards per jump. It’s fun to toss that on a cluster of level 2s and watch them turn into flying monkeys. I hope they know it only lasts a minute.

Super-jumping around the low level areas gives you that real superhero feeling. Since there is a lot of float time at the peak of the jump, and the newbie zones are not that big, you can fly half-way across town in a bounce. Did you know that Superman originally just jumped like that, rather than flying? That whole “leaps tall buildings in a single bound” thing…

Another way that you feel like a real superhero is fighting while you are in those low level zones. Folks on the forums want to be more like comic book superheroes, but they are thinking of when Superman takes down muggers or something. Yeah, he can one-shot a huge group of them, does so for half an issue, and then tries to solo an archvillain. (Luckily, as an Invulnerability/Super Strength Tanker, he can solo an archvillain if he has enough inspirations and time!) Anyway, I spent a while bouncing around Perez Park and visiting the gangs on the street. Psychic Scream, and they’re all arrested – lovely. Telekinetic Blast, and he flies over that car. I wonder if I can shoot that one up the stairs… If I use Power Build Up before TK Blast, I can literally send one guy over the next gang down the street. Pretty.

Ooh, level 12s fighting slime monsters – more drive-by buffing! Do you feel odd if someone 40 levels higher than you follows you around a bit and, without comment, throws every buff and debuff s/he has during your fights? I worry that I was training that group to go after things much bigger than they can take.

: Zubon

Dreck: Hero of the City


Dreck, leader of the Freakshow, has been given an award by the Paragon City Council for his work in training the city’s heroes. Speaking from City Hall, the City Representative said that heroes owed Dreck a great debt of gratitude.

“When Dreck first set out to conquer the Council-ravaged world on the other side of the portal, we thought it was horrible that our dimension’s problems had spilled into the lives of those poor souls. Little did we realize that Dreck was not just terrorizing a planet, he was setting up Paragon City’s greatest training grounds. At any given moment, hundreds of heroes are in that dimension, honing their skills on the seemingly endless supply of Freakshow warriors that Dreck brings with him. It has become a rite of passage for every new Hero of the City to spend at least ten hours, and sometimes an entire career, crushing these Freakshow.

“The greatest virtue of Dreck’s cross-dimensional training camp is the ease and efficiency with which heroes can be trained. Not only does Dreck replenish his ranks in an eyeblink on the other side of the portal, but most heroes get their training while napping just on the other side of the portal. Dozens of Fiery Aura Tanker trainers work with Dreck’s minons to train groups of up to eight heroes who need not even be paying the slightest attention. This unique method of developing power and experience while on the mystic plane of ‘AFK’ has given Paragon City many of its mightiest heroes. While many of these heroes have moved to spend their time in the new arenas, rather than patrolling our streets, I feel assured that they will respond to the city’s call in its time of need.”

Not everyone is so enthusiastic about this award. Azuria, a long-time resident of City Hall who gets several visitors every task force and story arc, voiced her concerns. “What about those poor people in the Council-ravaged world who need to be rescued? Granted there are only four of them, but they need our help! Oh, and the Jewel of Hera has been stolen from MAGI’s vaults again, if anyone has seen that around.”

Heroes in Peregrine Island seemed to be of mixed feeling. A few still hold Shadowhunter in great esteem for his similar efforts training heroes with wolves, but Shadowhunter’s busy schedule keeps him from spending more than an hour with most heroes these days. “Sure, the wolves are nice,” a local Regen Scrapper commented on condition of anonymity, “but he gave them all rocks a while back. I hate those rocks. Man, back in the day, Shadowhunter was where it was at. Now I don’t even remember Maria Jenkins’ number.” Other heroes commented, “farming team needs bridge level 42-46 pst” or a cryptic “kan ne1 pl me plz!!!”

: Zubon


Hi, I’m new here. You may have noticed Ethic’s post about new bloggers. I seem to be the first one. This means I get the cubicle closest to the water cooler, which may or may not be a good thing in the long run. I’ll tell you how that works out. It also means that I get to learn to use WordPress, and it is always exciting to find new software to break. Many exciting things lie ahead, surely.

Oh, I’m the new City of Heroes guy. I get a cape and everything. Issue 4 went live last week, so I will find something really edifying to say soon. For the moment, though, Ethic wants a cup of coffee. Coming!

: Zubon