AIR RAID! PARAGON CITY! THIS IS NO DRILL!

(Here’s a cunning scheme from NCSoft…)

Any and all Superpowered individuals are needed immediately to stave off the Rikti Invasion that threatens all of humanity! To support the fight against this ruinous alien invasion, all former players in good standing have their accounts reactivated from Thursday, August 2nd through late Sunday night (August 5th, 8:59PM PST / 11:59PM EST).
Anyone who has previously played City of Heroes or City of Villains is able to log in get into the fight! Spread the word to your supergroup or guild mates and online friends who might not be playing CoH that now is the time to come back and check out the great new Issue 10, for FREE!
Welcome back to these Heroes and Villains! Join the fight against the Rikti Invasion Force and have a great “City of” weekend!

City of Heroes Official Forums

Week in Review

Tabletop
Played a little Spirit of the Century this last weekend. It wasn’t the session I’d dreamed up for the game I had to abort last week, since that would have been totally inappropriate for the group we’d assembled, but it was still fun. We had…
Mongols
Mob Mooks
Mysterious Vanishing Zeppelins
Mushrooms, Giant
Mushrooms, Glowing
A lost civilization of cannibals (sorry, ran out of M’s)
… and a whole lot of fire.
Best of all, the most “turtle-up” player got drawn right into the middle of the story, which I think both startled and pleased him. He habitually makes people who are kind of distant from everyone else he’s working with, and hard to socket in, and with very little work on my part (and thanks to a great idea from Randy) he was right in the middle of the whole story. It was ABOUT him, really, which was cool.
I think the best part was when he rescued the starlet of his favorite Radio program — Esperanza Kittredge — and she threw her arms around his neck and said ‘get me out of here!’
And… see… he has this Aspect about how he loves this radio show…
And he has this OTHER aspect of “No one touches the Master of Shinanju!”
So I held up a Fate point and said “She’s sobbing into your shoulder, and her voice is even more amazing than it is on the radio, but No One Touches the Master of Shinanju…”
And he could either take the Fate point and shove her rudely away, or
let her cling and instead pay ME a Fate point (and it’s not like he had a ton at that point).
Does he comfort his idol, or stick with the hard line, elite attitude?
Bang, baby. 🙂
And he thought about it a bit, and paid me the point, and let her cling to him as he carried them away from the giant burning mushroom on the rope ladder dangling from the escaping zeppelin.
It was cool.
MMO stuff after the cut.
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Continue reading “Week in Review”

Fiddly Bits

One post before I hit the paving stones of the work-street… possibly with my face.
Hmm. I was going to make this a long, drawn out thing, but instead I’m going to boil it down to a few bullet points.
I’ve played CoH a long time. I like it.
I’ve played WoW not as long, but also like it a lot. Possibly more than CoH, but that’s an apples to oranges thing — CoH is not WoW, nor vice versa.
One of the things I DO NOT like about CoH is that leveling takes ages. This is a design choice from NCSoft, because there’s no end-game content in CoH — once you hit the top level, there is, in short, f#ck-all to do.
Compounding this is the fact that, between leveling dings, there’s nothing HAPPENING to your character. Except for the dings, there’s just nothing going on. When you get to a new level, you either get a new power, get a few points to improve a power, and can maybe upgrade the effectiveness of all your powers (with new enhancements for said powers).
But that’s it, and it all happens when you ding. Other than that, you just slog slog through the same 50-odd, random mission maps, reading the story-lines in depth because those stories are the only things differentiating the missions.
I think that’s why RP is so much bigger on CoH than WoW (in my experience) — adding your own personal stories to the characters is the only way to have new things happening to your characters with more frequency.
Contrast this with WoW. When you level, you ALWAYS get at least a new Talent point, which at the least is going to improve you character, maybe give you a whole new ability that not everyone has. Plus, you get new skills, et cetera. That’s all pretty much like CoH.
However, you level faster, MUCH faster, because there’s LOADS of stuff to do at the max level for the game — many folks actually think of getting to 70 as “the first part” of the game, while the stuff you do once you get there as “the rest of the game.”
But then there’s all the other things you have going on BETWEEN levels. Skill-ups as you’re moving around, doing stuff, be it for defense, weapons, fighting, or a profession. New gear that might possibly be an upgrade to the stuff you’ve got… maybe an obvious one, or more of a lateral promotion that emphasizes a different strength of the character… either way, something to look at and ponder.
In other words, fiddly bits.
Some folks don’t like fiddly bits. For myself, the fiddly bits that fill in the ‘in between leveling’ is what keeps the game INTERESTING, long-term.
No where near a level? That’s fine, I’m working on getting my Alchemy skill up — I wanna be able to make water-breathing potions! Plus, I’m working with the forces in Thrallmar a lot right now, and they have a lot of cool stuff that they’ll give you… IF you reputation is high enough with them, so I’m doing missions specifically for them, to get up to Honored, then Revered, then Exalted with them, cuz look at that fancy bow they ha–
Oh, I dinged? Wow, I didn’t even notice I was getting close — I was busy playing THE REST OF THE GAME.
There’s always something to do, and I really, really love that.
CoH folks are starting to get a taste of this with the Inventions system — now, in between those leveling dings, you can keep an eye out for cool inventions that fall your way — stuff that, just like cool new gear in WoW, tweaks, changes, and improves your guy without a ding — stuff that, in some cases, is really worth CELEBRATING.
Hell, Pummelcite make 2 million influence yesterday, just selling off stuff he had no use for — that damn near made back all the money I spent on upgrading him this weekend. That right there is a cool thing — between missions and leveling, I’ve got something to DO.
It made me really enjoy CoH more. It improved my experience, so kudos, design team.
Now let’s take it to the next level.
How about a series of missions you can do (like the police-band missions, yeah… tie it into that) that raise your rep with certain groups in the city, allowing you to get your hands on inventions, recipes, and enhancements that you can only get if you’re on their good side?
I’m not talking about a single mission to get you a Nemesis staff for three days, I’m talking about working SERIOUSLY with the Kings Row Police until they give you access to their “Riot Gear” inventions and craftable temp powers.
How about the idea that if you work your rep up really high with certain groups (Brickstown Police), it drops ESPECIALLY low with other groups (Crey Corp), who then randomly ambush you, because you’re on their most-hated list? Boom, you have a NEMESIS!
Repeat throughout the city. Repeat for the 35+ factions and groups around town. Wanna bet i wouldn’t dust off my level 50’s to ‘grind reputation’ with some of those groups? HELL yes.
Fiddly bits.
I think there’s an appeal here that goes beyond MMOs as well. Some games really attract their following through all the little fiddly bits that you get to tweak and play with on you character. DnD is definitely this way (and, to a comment De made, maybe so complicated it’s better handled by a computer), but also Champs, Tombstone, even Heroquest (little constant improvements), and maybe even Dogs (again, little constant improvements and character changes). Compare to other RPGs with few changes and ‘dings’ that are few and far between (AmberDRPG, even PTA).
Very interesting way to examine and evaluate some of the games on my shelf, and understand why I like some of them more than others.

Multiple Choice

The invention system on CoH gives me:
a) A way to improve my non-50 characters beyond the glacially slow leveling process.
b) A way to improve my 50s, at all, and in very neat and interesting ways (5% chance to heal 15% of my health every time I fire an energy blast? Psychic damage added to my holds? Yes please!)
c) Something useful and cool for my level 50’s to work on — dangerously like actual end-game content.
d) The ability to save and maybe even make money on these improvements through a little research, diligence, and personal effort, by making the stuff myself and selling off the good stuff I don’t need. (CoH develops its own Loot and Crafting system which, like the rest of the game, is a comic-book-simplified/streamlined version of that found on other MMOs — unfortunately with a much crappier interface.)
e) A slight headache.
f) All of the above.
Prompted by a few good drops Slip and Markov got last weekend during our TF run, I hopped onto CoH yesterday and poked around the Auction House for the first time. Got some new inventions. Picked up the ingredients for same. Made them. Slotted them. Found myself poorer, but quite pleased.
Logged in Hyperthermian. Repeat (though foolishly buying stuff made by other folks instead of stuff I made myself).
Logged in Hangtime… repeat… Bear Claws… Strategist… Pummelcite…
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Wiped out the bank accounts on a couple of them, but generally improved most of them and spotted a few REALLY WANT TO HAVES for each one. Good stuff. Actually made the utterly static level 50’s interesting to me again, and opened a world of fun for the mid-20 to mid-30 toons. Still need to check out Kethos, I think, though he’s not quite in the sweet-spot range (32 and up) where inventions are better than the stuff you can just buy from the store.
Anyway. Was finishing up Pummelcite (which involved a quick respec to move his slots around juuust a touch to really max the HELL out of Granite armor and take full advantage of his main attack powers) when I got a tell inviting him to a level 35 group-up.
Pumm’s level 34, and I really wanted to get him to 35 in time for Issue 10, so that he can run that new content and spend some quality time with the other folks who’ll be logging back in to run the TF — dude doesn’t even have the ATLAS MEDALLION, for pete’s sake.
Anyway. Joined the group. I wasn’t too optimistic of my leveling chances — he was BARELY 34, and solo leveling takes an age in CoH — more than any other MMO, they really reward you for group, and grouping BIG.
Lordy, does it ever. The group ran between 6 to 8 players for 2.5 hours. Pumm was the only tank, there were three defenders, and everything still dropped so fast I could barely establish aggro before everything dropped. Yowsa.
More importantly, I dinged level 35 and THEN some in the short time playing, picking up a new Area Effect attack (Tremor) and a couple fun inventions enhancements I could actually use.
Most importantly, it was fun. I miss playing the big guy — the amount of punishment he can absorb while in Granite Armor is positively unbelievable. I wanted a guy who could tank anything for a group of eight, at the cost of some soloability, and by god I’ve got it — he’s incredible.
Anyway. I also spotted Statesman standing around in Independence Port. Something about a Task Force? We should do that.

Awesome

"City of Heroes" champions virtual queer prom

Hundreds of super-powered lesbians and gays let their magical hair down at a new LGBT prom recently. They danced, flirted, elected a prom king and (drag) queen, played outdoors in their underwear at a mountain ski resort, and levitated with robotic boots and angels’ wings until they crashed the server. Yes, they were in a virtual online world called “City of Heroes.”

It’s about friggin’ time, Batman.

Starting on Tuesday, July 17th, the Training Room Test Server will have two new game features enabled for testing: Character Transfer and Character Rename.
* Character Transfer will allow customers to move characters from one server to another.
* Character Rename will allow customers to rename a selected character.
Both of these features are not part of Issue 10: Invasion. Although we are beginning to test them now, we anticipate that they will not be enabled on the live service until after the launch of Issue 10.
We estimate that both features, Character Transfer and Character Rename, will carry a transaction fee of $9.99 each per use (there will be no fee for transfers to or renames on the Training Room). Should a Character Transfer have a name conflict on the destination server, a free Character Rename will be made available to resolve the conflict and rename the moving character.
These new features exemplify our commitment to improve the quality of the City of Heroes experience. We feel the price of these features is enough to prevent potential abuse, but also reasonable enough to not be prohibitive for those who want to improve their gaming experience by moving servers or changing a character name.
IMPORTANT! Customers who are interested in taking advantage of the Character Transfer service should know that it is possible in the future that we may make changes to the game that would remove the need to Transfer servers. One example of such a change would be a “server-less” game configuration where all players can group with anyone, without the restriction of which server they play on. We are not committing to this “server-less” configuration, and in fact there are no plans to implement a “server-less” environment this calendar year, but because we are charging a fee for these services, it is important that our players understand that the possibility exists. We want to be very clear in this regard so that those who do decide to make use of a Server Transfer, when it becomes available, understand that they may not need it in the future.
For those interested in assisting with the testing efforts of Character Transfer and Character Rename, keep your eye on the Official City of Heroes Announcement Forum for further details. Thank you for your continued support!

Game reflects Life

Although it’s ostensibly about WoW, this post from Terra Nova: “Our avatars, ourselves”, makes some great observations how we relate to (and interact with) stimuli in virtual worlds in general, specifically our and others’ avatars.
In brief, research to this point indicates we react to virtual stimuli exactly the same way as if it were real — for example, we don’t want our characters standing too close to other characters, because it’s a social convention in the real world that we all have our own individual space. ((This is particularly notable in WoW, where there is no “body buffer” as there is in CoH, and it’s possible to actually stand ‘inside’ or walk through people, but people go to GREAT (if unconscious) effort to prevent that from happening if at all possible.))
Also (and obviously) we react positively to attractive avatars, more ‘upbeat’ locales, environment conditions, and surroundings. Again, I’ve seen this. The avatar example is easy to see — there are toons whose abilities I really like, but whom I don’t play simply because I don’t like looking at them much (Zero at the Bone, or any undead WoW character) — but I know there are areas in both CoH and WoW I just won’t want to linger for long (they’re DEPRESSING), while others I enjoy (Talos waterfalls are neat, and there’s something very relaxing about doing some deep sea hunting with a potion of water breathing for a few hours.
As they say in the post, “You can take the person out of the real, but not the real out of the person.”

Mayday, mayday

Although they are just as flammable and thus, just as fun, the zeppelins of World of Warcraft are quite a bit smaller than the Big Uns folks then to think of when they think of Zeppelins for pulp games. The ‘passenger’ section (which is basically water-going ship design, handing from the hydrogen balloon on ropes) is only about 20 or 30 feet from stem to stern, with a top deck and an enclosed lower deck — in the Amber game or the regular SotC game, it’d be a ‘personal zeppelin’, which right there is a concept I hadn’t even thought of, and kind of love — an aerial houseboat. 🙂
Also, this shot of a downed ‘mini-zeppelin’ caught in a tree in WoW’s Stranglethorn Vale gives me ideas. 🙂

More Amber Pulp!

Jvstin of long-time Amber DRPG fame just finished up a pulp-Amber game using Spirit of the Century at “The Black Road” Amber-con. Details at The Children of Amber in… the Machinations of Duke Icarium.
I like the implementation — unlike the very detailed complete rewrite of the rules I’ve seen elsewhere, his implementation changes relatively little in the core rules themselves: renaming a couple skills, dropping Science and just leaving the Medicine aspect of it, and breaking Riding out from Survival (which I didn’t do simply because Riding just seemed too narrow a skill to me, in comparison to the rest of the list.
All in all, it totally works: I think TCoA is more of a traditional Amber setting, so dropping stuff like Science makes sense, as does lumping all Vehicles into one gestalt skill (though again that makes Riding seem kind of narrow) — for NPiP, I’m injecting a lot of non-canon technology, weird science and pulp trappings, as WELL as the pulp ‘feel,’ so those differences are understandable.
Either way, it demonstrates that Amber/SotC is an easy-peasey hack.
I like his take on Art as both the core skill behind a “Trump Artist” stunt (which I’m doing in my NPiP game) and the idea that the art skill also equates to a USER’S level of skill with interacting with Trumps (which didn’t occur to me); that’s kinda hot. Daddy like.
All in all, great stuff — I’m looking forward to finding out how the session itself ran.

When you know the indie designers are doing something right

“Story Game” (400 page, hard-bound, beautiful, hard-crunch, sci-fi blaster, smacking) Burning Empires won Origins’ RPG of the year award, beating out Exalted, 2nd Edition and the new RuneQuest.
There is a vanishingly small difference between a mainstream RPGs and indie productions in terms of print quality (since most use Indie Press, Lulu, or another POD), and has been evident in the last couple years, no difference at all in quality of design.

Random MMO Bits – the tasty new cereal

  • People call bad hunters Huntards. I didn’t understand why until yesterday, playing with my paladin. One guy who didn’t understand that Hunter = easily sustained, ranged DPS. What part of “I am a marksman spec.” didn’t you understand when the words came out of your mouth, moron? Another one who was outdamaged, easily, by the group’s main HEALER. My god.

Continue reading “Random MMO Bits – the tasty new cereal”

The new Holy (long, with a smile at the end)

Okay, so a few days ago, just for my own lazy-bookmarking, I linked to a guide on making a “AoE”-specced Paladin. The reason for this was because the instructions on that post (and here )revitalized my enjoyment of playing my sub-main, a dwarf paladin who’s been gathering dust for awhile now.
I’m going to talk about that in more detail in this post, because I keep thinking about it.
It was a great, fun day of playing with her, and since she was unceremoniously booted from her guild a month or so back for not being logged in enough (writing a book, helloooooo), those moments of enjoyment with this character have been few and far between.
So anyway, it’s Tuesday. I’ve hit level 59 with Grezz’k and I’m 1001 points from 60 (in one-third the play time it took me to hit 50 with Hangtime, and half the time it took me with Hype. *coff*), and I don’t want to level any further with him just yet — there were some lower-level quests I wanted to finish with him before dinging, so I left him sitting.
I’d been reading the paladin thing, so I logged on Kayti and followed Ze Instructions.

Continue reading “The new Holy (long, with a smile at the end)”

A game within a game

Last weekend, the WoW Insider guild on Zangarmarsh “It Came from the Blog” (200+ low-level alts and going strong) ran a scavenger hunt. The idea was to get screenshots of the following items:
1. A parrot
2. A Wanted Poster
3. An Ogre
4. A Yeti
5. A Well (water-type)
6. A Waterfall
7. A Kodo
8. A chemistry set
9. Lava
10. Dragonkin
11. An Outhouse
12. An Armor stand
13. A Tapestry
14. A Tiki mask
15. A zombie
16. A Boat
17. A gate
18. Hanging boxes
19. A Coffin
20. A fountain
21. A siege engine
22. Intestines
23. A Dead tree
24. A crashed flying machine
25. The rez angel
You don’t have to know WoW to (a) see how that could be pretty fun and (b) how such an idea could be ported easily to other games.
The results? I did horribly — and after looking at the collections from the two guys who tied for first with 24 of 25 — realized I should LOOK at the landscape more.
Cool idea. I think I might rip it off later. 🙂

Burning Aspects

This is a SotC rules tweak. I didn’t come up with it, though I am tweaking it.
FATE and Spirit of the Century already let you change a character’s aspects whenever it’s appropriate or interesting or just plain cool to do so. That’s well and good. It’s a kind of ‘staying put’ character advancement.
I want to put a spotlight on that, when it happens. Some of the most dramatic moments in stories come when characters experience a radical change of heart. In SotC, the character is exchanging one aspect for another. In the Shadow of Yesterday (which has MANY things in common with FATE and SotC) it would be when you Buy Off a Key, which is a pretty awesome thing in that game.
So combine the two.

Continue reading “Burning Aspects”

In a highly volatile nutshell

Fred Hicks asks:

What do *you* think needs to be in a 15-minute demo of Spirit of the Century?

The best, though not necessarily most useful response:

Small mook group to be scared/confused by the talky types, then mowed down by the brawlers, but not before the BigVillain joins in.
On a Zeppelin.
Which is on fire.
Over Manhattan.
With a bunch of cute socialites on board as passengers.
And the Zeppelin is heading straight down for an orphanage.
That you finance with your immense wealth. Someone stop me!

That would be an awesome 15 minute demo.

*blows some dust off*

I’m finally done with all the stuff that’s been keeping me from playing any WoW or CoH — I’ve been offline so long (coming up on 5 or 6 weeks?) I’m not sure I remember how to log in.

Hmm

I think, assuming that Birdwell Island is a Chancel (which is clearly is, otherwise all the mortals would have gone insane by now), Emily Elizabeth must be the Imperator.
I’ve tried to work it with her as a Noble and Clifford as her anchor, but it just doesn’t work, since he’s got like… three anchors himself.
So she’s the Imperator. Obviously aligned with the Light — no one else could be that positive.