For years there has been an MMO that has captured the imagination of players. An MMO that has filled a void in a genre. That genre was super hero comic books. And that MMO was City of Heroes.
Launched almost a decade ago, City of Heroes went from the single game MMO, to the expansion City of Villains, and finally City of Heroes: Going Rogue, which allowed heroes to go to the villain side and villains to go to the hero side. That being from Paragon to the Rogue Isles.
It was announced a couple of months ago that CoX, as it is more commonly called, was closing down. The servers will be shut down later today. Barring any eleventh hour save that has been pushed by fans. So that leaves many in a void that hasn’t existed for years. Granted, it’s not completely empty. CoX fans will attempt to find a new home, and many aren’t exactly looking to join a fantasy game. Some have already said they’re going to The Secret World, other are moving on completely, and some are going to the other super hero MMOs.
One is DC Comics MMO, which I’ve played but not fully. The other is Champions Online.
Champions is based on the old pen and paper game. The game has made news, and it’s received some rewards. And players from CoX will attempt CO. There’s naturally some pros and cons that come hand in hand with moving from CoX to CO
Those familiar with the CoX character designer will love the Champions character designer. Champions is very much as complex as City of Heroes/Villains. With a small addition. Champions allows players to change stances, manipulate individual shoulder pads, arm pads, gloves, bracers, leg attachments and boots, whereas City didn’t allow the differences between left and right side.
Champions game play is a bit more dynamic. Whereas in City, your hero/villain is rooted during an attack. So a gunslinger can flip and move and run while shooting, whereas in City, they remain stationary. Champions is also a lot more free when it comes to power choices. Unless you’re a free to play player, Champions allows the player to start their character, choose an opening power (say Martial Arts) and choose powers from other archetypes (like munitions, gadgets, might, ego blades, sorcery, fire, electricity and more). There is some limitations as to what powers you can take at certain times, but you’ve got a lot of freedom. In City, you are locked into a set of powers based on the archetype you chose, and what power sets you chose. Even when doing a retcon, which is basically going back to level 1 and choosing your powers and enhancement slots over again, you’re locked into your archetype and your power sets. The only exception is the power pools. You aren’t locked into that. In Champions, when you do a retcon, you can choose completely different powers, including different opening powers from a completely different power set (unless you are a free to play player).
Many of the larger team missions, such as Therakiel’s Temple or Shadow Destroyer, are not long, drawn out missions. That was one complaint I had about City, whereas a large task force would take hours to play, and often no one really cared how well we did by the time we got to the last couple of missions. The worst was the opening Task Force, offered by Positron which was also dubbed The Baton Death March. A level 10 Task Force, longest, hardest and most difficult due to lack of powers. Since then, Positron has been split into two task forces, but if you really like long, drawn out slogs (because we’re all a little masochistic at times) Positron’s complete Baton Death March is still available through Oroboros, a time displaced area where characters can go back and do missions they missed and claim badges that were available through missions they may have out leveled.
This is more a knock on Champions than a pro. City had epic powersets at level 41. Based on the character’s archetype, players could give their characters some extra power with these epic powers. They could choose four powers from a set and enhance them as much as they could. This went on until the player reached level 50. Further, players could continue to gain powers by doing some of the extra events that would allow characters to gain further powers through a series of trees that would give them a touch more flavour. The character would still register at level 50, but would seem like level 54 or higher. A lot of these missions to achieve these additional powers, however, while fast, were kind of a grind. It was essentially end game content and a lot of people complained about it’s set up. Champions, there’s just one epic power that a character can get once they hit level 35 and have unlocked the Vibora Bay content. Some of those powers are really kind of meh, and the players can’t level past 40 (though there has been talk of upping the level cap to 45, but that’s been a rumour for over a year now).
Vehicles! Champions has vehicles, City doesn’t. Though, the vehicles are more reminiscent of Star Trek, as they’re all fighter craft and hover tanks at present. There is talk about adding motorcycles and cars at some point. And the vehicles aren’t easy to acquire. Either using real world money to purchase a vehicle from the in game C-Store, or running an opening mission to acquire what’s called Drifter Points to unlock one of the vehicles he sells.
The biggest pro about Champions has to be the leveling curve. It’s not nearly as steep as City and casual players may find that it won’t take long to hit level 40. I did that with Rocket Fox in two weeks.
Regarding PvP, while Champions is like City in that it has specific zones in which players can battle players, players can also challenge other players out in the open. By right clicking on a character and choosing DUEL, the two players can engage in a slug fest in the middle of Millennium City or any other zone in the game (with the exception of Club Caprice or the Minefield, two of Champions social areas).
Unfortunately, Champions has a lot of cons, and quite a few of them don’t really need long comparative descriptions. One of Champions major failings is customer service. I’ve made support notes in both CoX and Champions and found CoX had far superior support. I never waited more than ten minutes before a GM would come to assist me with a problem that I had. In Champions Online, I have yet to interact with a GM to help solve an issue. And issues seem to take months to resolve, making some missions unplayable.
Champions is also plagued by the fact that while the first of Cryptic’s MMOs under it’s new direction (remember, Cryptic started City before NCSoft and Paragon Studios took over), it seems the team of developers for Cryptic is concentrating more on Star Trek Online and Neverwinter Online. The latter two are seen as the major money makers, and thus Champions development has suffered. Aside from vehicles and one new mission, there has been no new content, no new areas, and no new development on the horizon. Players are promised a lot of stuff, but some has taken over a year to complete, or has been completely forgotten.
Another con for Champions is the fact it is developed by Cryptic Studios. A lot of people who played City felt they got shafted by Cryptic. The studio left a huge bad taste in their mouth and anytime a new game would be announced like Star Trek Online or Neverwinter, there was some excitement until readers saw the developer; Cryptic Studios. That made their decision for them to never try the game because they had a bad experience with Cryptic.
In the end, the choice is up to the player. Already there have been several people who have logged onto Champions who have the tag in their bio that says “CoX refugee”. How long they stay will be another question entirely.
The link above tells the entire tale, how by November 30 of this year, NCSoft will be shutting down the servers to the first Superhero based MMO ever to succeed in the online marketplace (or at least succeed as well as it did). City of Heroes, City of Villains, Going Rogue. They made an interesting package.
I think, even though I’ve left the game and haven’t really played in a year (or more) I kind of owe City of Heroes something. If it wasn’t for CoX, I’d have never met some of the people in a role play group that I had a great deal of fun with over the course of time in the game. And had it not been for CoX, and that group, then the creativity I had wouldn’t have really come out as it did. There’d be no Black Mask & Pale Rider, no Canyons of Steel, and certainly no Rocket Fox. I’d have been languishing in my ability to write and wouldn’t have been further ahead.
It may be a silly thing to credit to a Massive Multiplayer Online RPG, but that’s the truth of it. Had it not been for City of Heroes, and for the RPCongress (the role play group I had met and joined), none of those ideas I had would have really come to life. So, because of that, this announcement from NCSoft, coupled with the farewell at Paragon Studios, meets me with mixed feelings.
Oh, it was a good run, indeed. In a way, CoX made strides to become comparable to WoW, even though they were completely different genres. And I don’t think CoX was seen as a WoW-killer, like so many other MMOs hoped to become, but I think CoX was seen as a game that could co-exist with WoW and compete on even terms.
But again, for me, CoX will always mean that I managed to kick start Black Mask & Pale Rider, and start putting those ideas I had onto paper (or more realistically, into a wordprocessor).
Totally not what it sounds like.
Role play, as defined by wikipedia, refers to the changing of one’s behaviour to assume a role, either unconsciously to fill a social role, or consciously to act out an adopted role. While the Oxford English Dictionary defines role-playing as “the changing of one’s behaviour to fulfill a social role”, the term is used more loosely in four senses:
The latter two, RPG Video games and table top games, are more what this discussion will be about.
Role play can be a lot of fun, it can be entertaining and it can be used as an educational tool. The main focus of role play is to act out a role, a character that the player wouldn’t normally be. That can range from anything and everything; a starship captain, a stealthy thief who gathers information, a brave knight, a mad scientist bent on completing his (or her) death ray, or even a victim of a medical experiment that has granted them strange new powers. The only limitation to what a person can come up with is their imagination (and maybe the game mechanics as well).
Often we as players might try to separate real life and the fantasy video game life, which is healthy. But people have to remember, behind each avatar on screen is a player, and no matter how many times you say “it’s all in good fun” sometimes your actions can go beyond good fun. There are players who role play that know what they want for their character and know how far they will go in certain situations. Other players just want to have a good time, and haven’t really set limitations for a backstory for their character. And then there are those players who are very timid in real life and are attempting to play a much more bold character (though often their shy nature may bleed through, it happens).
Role play is that escape from reality and moving to create something, or be a part of something fantastic. Larger than life. Leave behind the mundane routines of life and do something epic. Even if it is only make believe. Still, all of those people playing together, there will be some rather abrasive attitudes that run into each other. In a private server or in a friendly table top game, we know the other players and can often walk away from a game without a feeling of dread or being threatened. But in an online environment like an MMO, often times we don’t know who’s behind the keyboard. Thousands of faceless entities who are all vying for the same items, bosses, and in some cases, glory of being noticed by thousands of other players.
Along the way, however, some players tend to feel threatened through role play. Either by constant harassment during quests or harassment during down time at one of any games’ central hubs of activity, where players can role play and story tell. Harassment comes in many forms; childish name calling, constant attempts to “PvP gank” a target, or by unsolicited demands for “erotic” role play. There’s other examples that are out there, but any one of them can make a gaming experience for a player uncomfortable, even to the point where they might quite the game and never come back. I’ve seen that happen before with players, and I’ve even done that myself.
Often when players feel threatened, many others will state that the player can just “press the ignore button” on the offender. Which is great, that the Devs have put such measures into place, but often times that’s just not enough. And it’s not a case of telling players that they need to suck it up, or that it’s all just role play. Or, possibly the worst, telling them they’re too sensitive and should never have started playing the game at all. There seems to persist this idea that because it’s on the internet, it’s okay to be an asshole.
And it really, really isn’t.
I could continue and tell players that the number of players who do act like assholes is small, but unfortunately that really doesn’t do anything about the assholes. So, instead of telling people how to defend against harassment in MMO’s, time to tell the assholes how not to be assholes. If a player doesn’t like the way a role play is carrying out, then stop. Don’t chastise them or say they’re too much of a “sissy” for not liking some aspects of role play. They have just as much right to stop a role play as someone else has to start it. Just as movies, television, books and other forms of medium can be triggering to people (especially with regard to violent actions), so too can stuff in video games. I know people that hate going to certain areas in Champions Online because the sun never comes up. There’s other players out there that are going to feel uncomfortable with any number of different things, including triggering role play.
So, to the assholes that prey on she, introverted players; stop it. It’s not funny the things you do, and it never was. To those who enjoy role play, and don’t know how to approach some players, just ask. There is nothing wrong with asking a player what limitations they have. If you know, you’re better prepared.
Finally, while a video game environment may be an imaginary place, a fantasy world, that fantasy world is filled with real people on the other side of keyboards and computers. They have feelings, they have hearts, and they can be broken. Keep that in mind not only when you deal with people in real life, but also online.
For a while now, I have wanted to move things around in my living room. Just for a change of pace. So, today, I did most of that. Mainly moving my computer desk and cleaning up my book shelf (which, I realize I need a new one).
It gave me the opportunity to move things around, change things up, clean things up and pitch out some things that I don’t use anymore.
It also made me scramble, because there’s nothing like having a computer but no internet.
The rearranging of my apartment living room is partially to blame for this massive outage in super highway communication. I had moved my computer desk, taken and arranged my books, had cleaned off my components on my desk, and had set to work moving some furniture.
Namely, my couch.
My couch isn’t heavy, it’s just really cumbersome. Not that I’m going to go all Heman and move it five miles by myself, that is. But this is a lesson in watching what you’re doing.
My DSL cable modem is… old. Almost eight years old, to be correct. So, it needed changing anyway.
With the mention of my couch and the mention of my cable modem, I believe that you readers are intelligent enough to put two and two together and get the definite crunch sound that happened when my grip slipped and the couch landed, heavily, on the cable modem.
Thus, I had to scramble, thinking that the local computer shop was closed. I made a call of desperation, first to Home Hardware, then to Sasktel, and finally to Thorstad Computers. Luck would have it, there was someone there. And I got a new cable modem.
Let this be a lesson, however, always watch and remember where you put things.
Unless it’s an eight year old electronic device and needs to be replaced anyway.