Respecification sounds positively Orwellian, doesn't it?

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For point of reference, today we're talking about the video game City of Heroes, not the comic. Just for the record.

Over the weekend, the development team announced Yet Another Change to the underlying mechanics of the game. This one's far less dramatic in appearance than the Issue Five Radical Restructuring... but in actuality is far more pervasive.

You see, City of Heroes has an "enhancement" system in the game. These are little pie shaped doohickeys you apply to your superpowers to customize them. You put a "damage" enhancement on it to increase the amount of damage you do. You put an "accuracy" enhancement on it to hit more often. And so on and so forth. You have to choose what powers you want to enhances (all powers get one "free" enhancement slot, and with time you can add up to five more enhancements on popular powers).

Well, the development team is now looking to change the underlying core of enhancements, so that after two enhancements of a given type, all others have diminishing returns. So, whereas before the enhancements would each add another X to the effect of a power, up to a maximum of 6X, you can now get 2X, and then 3(X/.9), or 4(X/.7), or....

(Note -- I'm pulling the math out of my ass. The principle is the same.)

They claim they're doing this to encourage "Diversity." Everyone, it seems, slots five damage and one accuracy to their powers.

The practical effect is, someone will figure out the perfect build for every power, post it to the boards, and everyone will use that instead.

And on my side, I find myself... well, exhausted with the whole affair.

I haven't done a mathematical analysis of the change, but I can tell already it's going to be huge. Characters built on defense (and most defensive powers only have one or two enhancement types they can take to begin with) are going to have their defenses lose effectiveness rather significantly. In all cases, powers are going to stop working as they have. Pretty much all characters of any level at all will need to be respecified, which means you run a utility that lets you remake your character from level one up to your current level. (Respecs, as they're called, used to only be available after you do heavy in game trials that involve your character getting hit with heavy radiation or the like -- which was an in-joke nod to Champions, which used to call the wholescale remaking of an existing character a "Radiation Accident." These days, we get a new respec for free every time they update the game, because they keep screwing with the underlying mechanics.)

And maybe the new system is vastly better. I dunno. Maybe it will truly improve gameplay.

But I really, really, really don't want to respec my characters again. It's an exhausting process that isn't even slightly fun.

Truth be told, I don't like the enhancements process to begin with. It's not that it's bad -- it's that I honestly don't play a Superhero game to sit there and tinker with my powers. I like punching things in the head. I like it when they fall down. I like needing to organize tactics with the team I'm playing with. So, I always just slot as basically as I can. I slot for damage with attack powers, because it's simple and I can live with the tradeoff that I might not be fully efficient with damage over time. I hit harder, but I don't hit as often or as fast as some others. Fine, whatever.

Having everything drop that critically actually takes that choice away from me. Now it's not a matter of me being less efficient. Now my characters will be demonstrably inferior to characters who are tuned for maximum enhancement effect. Which means I'll need to follow the online recipes.

The excuse they're using is "diversification." They want people to make more diverse choices. As it is, I'm now going to have to have all my characters be cookiecutters of the optimum builds I find online, because that's now the simple way to deal with things. Sorry, guys. Diverse this ain't.

This next iteration doesn't just make respecs necessary, it makes long, organized thought into your choice of enhancements necessary. It makes it a numbers game. And I don't have any interest in that at all.

And I just don't want to have to remake all my characters again. We just did that after Issue Five's changes.

The most astounding thing to me is this is taking place on the eve of their release of their spinoff game/expansion pack, City of Villains. I mean, they just built up tremendous goodwill among their base by announcing there would be absolutely no additional monthly cost to play both games -- which makes City of Villains a one time cost for existing players. And the game adds a free month to your time, so you mentally have to deduct fifteen bucks from the price. And it adds a ton of new content and four character slots to every server, and... oh, right, lets you play supervillains, too.

People were honestly psyched last week. There was enthusiasm.

This week? Not so much. The hardcore base is incensed, and the number of casual players who are upset is surprising. I mean, most casual players take these changes in stride. They look at all the cool new stuff being added and say "well, I guess I can accept they need to balance the game."

Those people, like me, are all completely sick of play balance. "Just let me play the stupid game," they say. "Walk away from the tweaks. Just put it down and walk away. You've got me already. I like the game. I play the game. Stop screwing with it."

I know of people who canceled their City of Villains preorders based purely on the announcement that they intended to go through with this. Which would seem like an overreaction, but I don't think they're canceling because of "nerfs" or enhancements, or whatever. (Well, one or two are, maybe.)

No, they're canceling because respeccing their characters isn't fun. It breaks the roleplay aspect. It makes the whole thing a grind. And they're just sick of the mechanics being changed. They just don't want to do it any more. They're not having enough fun to want to remake their characters again.

I honestly wonder if they just don't have any PR people at all over at PlayNC or Cryptic, because this was a terrible move. It's completely harshed the City of Villains buzz right when they want that buzz to be frothing. They want the diehards who stuck with the game after the PvP fans went to World of Warcraft to be babbling with excitement to those fans. "We're getting new zones, and we can do villains! And there are henchmen, according to the website!"

Instead, the base is bitching and moaning and complaining about it. People are calling for Jack Emmert's head on a pike. People are talking about how the dev team are a pack of liars and cheats who hate fun and (and they may have a point with this one) care more about their vision of the game than the people who are actually sticking around and playing it.

And the dev team may figure -- and may be right -- that this will burn itself out and calm itself down. Which is fine. But scant weeks before their major sequel is coming out, the base is pissed off instead of psyched. And that's just stupid.

As for me? I'll say it again. I honestly don't know if this is the end of gameplay as we know it or not. I just know I'm sick to God of respecs. I don't want to think about the mechanics of the game any more. I'm done with that for now. Please, Cryptic, just let me play the game.

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The actual math for the downclass is quantified here in the LJ of one of my blogstalkees, if you're curious.

Stories like this make me glad I didn't pick this up when I had the chance. I play static RPGs and am sometimes reduced to the point of compulsive build-figuring. One time I had to give up Arcanum for a couple months because the constant number-crunching was interfering with everything else I was doing with my life. And that was with a single character on a fixed system. Compound this, my mentality, with a system where they keep dorking with the build every couple of months and you have, like, eight characters to take care of, and I think I would be a regular wreck.

Man, I don't even play any more and just *hearing* about it frustrates me to no end...

As I said in the comments two snarks ago, they'll beat against a brick wall here unless they either enforce diversification by making common builds less effective automatically, or enforce diversification by making each upgrade change how the power plays so that it's not so much a tactical decision as a 'what won't send my power spiralling out of my control' decision. I can totally understand that they don't want people to just copy a cheat sheet build, but they probably should have planned for people just wanting to hit things and made the choices a bit more obvious.

Then again, I also said two snarks ago that MMOs are fundamentally broken because they're copying a game (EverQuest) that was copying a system (The DIKU-style MUDs) that wasn't designed to be used by more than, say, a thousand people, and even then would have a full retinue of wizards, the archaic term for game masters. The system just doesn't scale well, and research has been carried out on these old MUDs that seems to be completely ignored by most modern MMOs.

(I'm referring to the Bartle player types; the concept is that there are four major playing styles: achievers try to 'win' the game; explorers try to dig into the mechanics and content and see as much as they can; socialisers are there to interact with other players; and killers are there to interact on other players. It also outlined how the balances of playing styles can tell the developers how the playing styles are going to change, and what the proportions of playing styles for every game will be eventually. (They settle in to either: all socialisers, so everyone just talks and no-one does anything; achievers and killers, so basically a FPS; and a fragile truce between all four types, hard to achieve unless you know exactly how to get there.) Very few seem to actually understand the function of the killer-type players: they're griefers, sure, but they keep the socialisers on their toes and keep the achievers playing. You want them there, but not too many of them.)

I study a lot.

I like doing respecs. I've done 2 on one toon already, and I've never even run Terra Volta. =)

I honestly think City Of Villains is taking the archetypes in the right direction though. The mixing up of the traditional CoH power sets means everyone is going to be playing an offensive roll from the outset with other abilities tagged on. I thought the whole tank, healer, dps and utility class structure they tried to enforce in CoH was pretty stupid and didn't work well at all.

Guildwars also did this to some extent but the skill system there gave you a much greater range of abilities to select from and you could change your roll whenever you liked.

As for these latest changes. Well I plan on playing CoV and they'll be in there from the start. I don't expect the developers to show the player base any more respect than any other big company though. They probably never will.

My biggest fear is the loss of power. Everquest 1 is the perfect example. One on one vs. an even level monster the chances are you are going to die. If CoV ends up like this it will fail. The best thing about CoH was the ass-kicking you could deal out.

You know what? Reading your last few posts about City of Heroes, its comic, and its nerfs, I completely agree.

Statesman DOESN'T care about us.

He doesn't! This isn't about making the game better for the casual players. This isn't about making the game more accessable to newcomers. This isn't about making the game more FUN. This is about balance issues, and those kinds of issues are supposed to be dealt with in the Training Room and in Issue Five, and they weren't. For the uninitiated, here's a breakdown:

Once in a great while, the developers of the game (hereafter refered to as The Devs) look across the land and furrow their collective brow. 'What ho!' they boom, 'it appears that those players using a Claws/Regeneration Scrapper seem to be doing much, much more damage per capita than others! Those dastardly devils! We'll have to do something about that!' And so into the Grande Checklist of Changes it goes, and The Devs go about their business. Slowly but surely, those hardy souls in the Training Room, a sort of purgatory for changes to the game, begin to notice that the Claws/Regeneration Scrappers are less effective. 'Oh well,' they sigh, 'just another temporary fluctuation of powers The Devs sometimes implement every once in a while, nothing to worry about.

Suddenly, The Devs announce that there will be a new Issue, an update to the game. 'Excellent!' the players cry, 'perhaps there will be more powersets, or a new Zone to fight in!' And perhaps there will be. But hidden in the Issue is a terrible secret: instead of making the other types of Scrappers more powerful, or making the enemies more resistant to Claws/Regeneration, they simply make both powersets less... well, powerful. 'Alak!' the Claws/Regeneration users scream, 'we have been de-powered, as if our once potent blades were replaced by Nerf guns!'

And there is much gnashing of teeth.

This cycle has happened in the past, of course, including the quite necessary Claws/Regen Nerf (an instance where a Nerf was truly required, as they were taking over the game. Another example would be the rampant use of Energy/Energy Blasters that needed to be curbed). But this new change? This "diversification"? This isn't needed. First off, this is a Nerf across the board. EVERY power will be lessened. Everything. Tanker Defenses will be slashed, to be sure. Defenders with Empathy will be unable to Heal Others enough in time to save them, to say nothing of Force Fields. Controllers will now, at long last, be rendered truly unable to fight villains on their own. Blasters, the weakest class already, will crumple like paper dolls.

Cats and dogs living together. Mass hysteria.

Of course, maybe it's not all gloom and doom. It'll just make the game harder, the menu system more obfuscated, drive away newcomers and casual gamers, and frustrate the hardcore crowd. So no biggie.

I'm... kinda angry at the moment. But then again, this is my first post here ever, so I'll try to take it in stride. Hello, all!

I've played City of Heroes for a little over a year. I've got roughly fifteen characters scattered over four or five servers (though Virtue, the "unofficial roleplaying server" hosts the heroes that I play most often).

During the character creation process, I first develop a look for the hero, then (and I realize that this is backwards) decide what archetype and origin suits him or her best. Then I assign powers and, finally, write a backstory.

I've never once worried about the best "build" for my heroes, and I don't spend a lot of time worrying about which powers to slot how much and with which enhancements. I just slot the powers I perceive I'm using most often and drop in whatever enhancements I've got handy. If I find that I've got a ton of influence, I'll go buy some Dual- or Single-Origin enhancements, drop them where I think they'll be beneficial and carry on.

Now, this may not be the way to build the most efficient, powerful hero on the block (far from it), but that doesn't matter to me. I'm there to play the game, and whether one archetype/power/powerset or another has been "nerfed" is inconsequential.

What matters is that I'm a crime-fighting android who was built as part of some mysterious, automated army, but is now being programmed by an eleven year old girl. Or maybe I'm a former assassin who lost a bet and has to work on the "right" side of the law for a couple of years. I may also be twin mutant siblings who now share the same body after their powers went haywire ten years ago.

Whatever the case, City of Heroes isn't about enhancement slots and percentage points for me, it's about being a superhero, and nothing that I've seen people raise an unholy racket about on the LiveJournal communities or the official forums has ever impacted that.

I'd like to say this change lost me, but the fact is that happened several months ago with another one. That thing they did to Controller powers, where they became almost useless for *controlling* in favor of "enhanced damage" that basically wouldn't mean shit in a teamup. That's what disgusted me enough to leave.

Now? Well, look up Terrisa on Dark Iron or Ahana on Shadow Council. For the Hoarde/Alliance!

KJToo -- that's what I'd like to focus on, too. Honestly. This stuff doesn't matter to me.

The problem is, I team. I have dedicated people I play with.

If suddenly I'm dying more often, or running out of End all the time because my six slotted Stamina stopped working the same way, or otherwise just not living up to my end of the team, it makes me feel... well, less than super. I need to pay attention to enhancements to keep up with my friends who do pay attention to them.

(Plus... well, I play an SR scrapper. She dies a lot more now than she used to as it is. This won't help that. And there's not much I can do about it.)

I actually like the respec process, largely because I can never decide exactly how I should have built my character in the first place. So any change that leads to a free respec is okay by me!

I realize I am in the minority, though.

Are you sure that Sony doesn't secretly own Cryptic? Or has Cryptic just adopted Sony's evil ways?

Recently, Sony nearly lost me. I got over it... but I'm not sure my husband has yet. In an effort to "increase challenge" in a game I like specifically because I can play it casually, they respecced every class type. This respec has caused nearly everyone I know to have to learn all over again how to hunt, so as not to die. It's huge... and it's in the interest of "increasing the challenge" - as if taking away one's ability to solo, even with mobs that are lower than you, is going to keep players.

You see, they've been losing people back to EQ1.. not because the game is "too easy," but because they left those level 50's without anything significant to do for about 6 months too long. That's right, you could actually get to a point, until the expansion just came out, when you had literally done everything! And instead of adding content, they "nerfed" everyone.

This is totally counter-intuitive. And, obviously, makes me a bit steamed. I am a casual player, sometimes logging on for an hour, sometimes for an entire evening. I seldom go on raids, because I like to solo/duo. I am not one to worry about gear, never shopping for new until I notice that I'm getting the crap knocked out of me, and I realize I haven't upgraded in 10 levels or more. I don't *care* what my save v. cold is, unless it's getting me dead.

I just want to be able to log in, smack a few things or build some furniture, and have some fun. If someone is on in my guild, I'll talk to them a bit while I do so, if I'm of a mind, and they are. But for me, it's about "Die, evil spawn of Cazic Thule!" and not about "am I uber enough?"

In the past several updates, I've seen a serious trend to make EQII more like the original game, in an effort to attract the 12-hours-per-day-what-do-you-mean-I-need-a-shower type, and I'm worried. I upgraded my home pc specifically so it could play EQII, because it was NOT like that... if it becomes all about experience, and who's bigger/better/baddest, I may just be shopping for a new game...

No, I didn't say that right. I know from previous experience that I *will* be shopping for a new game. I hear that GuildWars is fun, and I have friends there.... and no monthly fee.. hrm.

I have over forty characters. I am not going to respec them. I'm done with CoH, and I returned my CoV pre-order yesterday.

Maybe I'll try Guild Wars or something. Too bad I found WoW boring, and the lack of customization frustrated me. CoH may have spoiled me that way.

I feel your pain, Mr Burns. How many RetCons did we go through? :)

Eric Burns, Lord of Illusion said:

The problem is, I team. I have dedicated people I play with.

Well, that's your problem, right there. Who in their right mind would log onto a Massively Multiplayer Online Game and then team up with other players? Preposterous!

Seriously, I sympathize with you, I really do. There are, simply put, some people that I won't team up with because their obsession with conforming to the exacting standards of the Internet Authority on Hero Creation interferes with my enjoyment of the game. This is not meant to suggest that you're teaming with the wrong crowd, it's just my personal preference. I'm interested in playing with people who want to make sure that the Banished Pantheon don't get a stronger foothold on Striga Isle, as opposed to those who are intimately aware of the math behind how much damage their powers do.

Thankfully, the handful of people I regularly team with is more concerned with getting out there and kicking some villainous keister than with building a carbon copy of what someone else has declared to be the ideal "toon."

The up side to not worrying about six-slotting power X with enhancements Y and Z in equal parts (as prescribed in Ub3rHero's Guide to Making the Same Blaster Everyone Else Has) is that changes to the way enhancements work don't have the dire effect on my heroes as they would to someone who has been relying on the "diversity challenged" builds.

In short, as with pretty much every change made to the game in the last 14 months, I don't let it detract from my enjoyment of the game.

Change is water.

I am a duck.

And hey -- they've just announced that as a "balance" to this they're cutting the debt cap in half. So, when your hero dies much more often (and he will, with the corresponding reductions in defense and resistance), it won't slow you down too long.

Well, except you'll continue to die more often.

Sorry -- I don't mean to say you should care if you don't. But you really will need to start paying attention, because your effectiveness pretty much across the board is going to change... and the villains' are not.

Eric Burns, Keeper of Keys, said:

And hey -- they've just announced that as a "balance" to this they're cutting the debt cap in half. So, when your hero dies much more often (and he will, with the corresponding reductions in defense and resistance), it won't slow you down too long.

Latest rumor is that there will also be a 13.33% across-the-board Endurance cost reduction for all powers.

Not that it matters to me.

Change=water.

I=duck.

I'm really failing to see how this is different from any other nerf/buff round. Maybe it's because I don't actually play (not to mention that I'm used to games which have diminishing returns in stats anyway, namely Ragnarok Online and Guild Wars) CoH, but it seems just like a universal nerf to me (technically it wouldn't be a nerf, but... well, everyone's weaker now). You need more points to be as strong as you used to be, and so does everyone else across the board. What you used to do no longer works the same way, so you either change your build or change your strategy.

I'm not trying to imply that Eric or anyone else who dislikes this is "whining" or anything of the sort, but I'm really failing to see how this is any different, at a functional level, than just saying "OK, Powers X Y and Z are now weaker." I mean, if you WERE a number-cruncher like I am (that's half the fun of the game, if you ask me), then I could see where it would make a difference (though if you truly enjoyed the number-crunching and not just the end result of being uber, this would arguably be a GOOD thing), but for the more casual player, it functionally doesn't seem to make much of a difference than any other round of universal nerfs. I mean, so long as X power now does 150 damage instead of 200 damage, who cares if it's because there was a damage cap installed on it, or because the stats now give diminishing returns, or because the base attack power of it was weakened? For the casual non-number-cruncher, all that matters is the end result.

Clearly I'm missing something, because if it was as simple as all this, nobody would be having such a hard time with it... so what part am I failing to understand?

Zaq, I suspect it's the scale of it.

i5 was a HUGE nerf to powers -- it so changed the way some power sets worked (or, as some of us maintain, damaged) that a fair amount of long-term players cancelled their accounts (including me). But others persevered, and apparently settled into the new world.

Now enhancements -- the way players increase the effectiveness of their powers -- have been scaled back so that after a while you get diminishing returns from them. The problem with this is that in i5 the powers were already scaled back so much that cutting the effectiveness of enhancements this go-round is just a dramatic a change as changing the powers themselves. I know more than a few tankers who have no idea how to make their primary powerset -- defense -- effective with the combined reduction in strength from i5 and the reduction in enhancement effectiveness in this nerf.

Basically the Hulk stomped down right on the small of the gaming communities back, and just as it was starting to stand Wolverine wandered by, kicked it back down into the dirt, and disembowled it.

Snickt.

It's not a universal nerf, though, because it hits certain sets which have many powers that only accept one kind of enhancement (or one kind of useful enhancement--reduced recharge on a toggle power that only takes 3 seconds to recharge is technically possible, but practically ridiculous) much harder than other sets that actually have viable trade-offs. They're not even presenting it as a universal nerf, but claiming that the intent is merely to encourage diversity.

What's more, the casual player is really hosed because the diminishing returns thing doesn't even kick in (because you can't slot the enhancements that it effects) until you are at least level 22, and if you slot naively (more slots in a power you like = better) then when you hit the diminishing returns point you have slots that don't make any sense, and in some cases are incapable of making a measurable difference in your power (e.g. if I'm calculating this correctly, going from 5 Single Origin Enhancements to 6 in any of the Super-Reflexes passives will improve your chance of being missed by an attack by 5% of 7.5%, or about one third of one percent.)

Joshua makes a good point and I'm wondering why they didn't introduce caps for training and dual origin enhancements as well.

In order to do the most damage I can do between the levels of 12 and 22 I'm going to slot 6 damage (ignoring the common sense 1 acc slotting). When I get to 22 I suddenly only require 3 damage enhancements to achieve the same effect. So what you have is not only a massive reduction in power but a total removal of the upgrade that single origin enhancements provided.

Hitting 22 felt GOOD. It was a MAJOR leap in power for any character. So much for that.

Lowering xp debt is like a kick in the teeth. If they really want to increase diversity they should also reduce mob dps and hp by the average amount things are being nerfed by.

The thing that drives me crazy about this is that Hover provides a small enough defense bonus even with multiple sockets devoted to Defense buffs. Now I'm going to be getting kicked in the teeth even more.

The person I most feel sorry for, though, is the friend of a friend who slotted Flight with six speed boosts. It was all about zooming over the city like a ballistic missle for him, and now? Not so much.

That thing they did to Controller powers, where they became almost useless for *controlling* in favor of "enhanced damage" that basically wouldn't mean shit in a teamup. That's what disgusted me enough to leave.

This really isn't the time or place, but I've been Controlling since Day 1, and if you're even noticing the lack of control, your teammates are not pulling their weight. I got hit harder by the mechanic change that nerfed Burn than I did by the quartering of Glacier's power. Glacier was *absurd*. Also, the modification to the way pets worked lowered Controller damage potential rather dramatically, post-32. And I would have *killed* for Containment back when I was level 19 and had no missions and people hadn't yet figured out that non-/Emp Controllers were worthy members of your team.

Back to the post.
Having everything drop that critically actually takes that choice away from me. Now it's not a matter of me being less efficient. Now my characters will be demonstrably inferior to characters who are tuned for maximum enhancement effect. Which means I'll need to follow the online recipes.

I think they're annoyed that they spent all this time designing a ton of different enhancements, only to have doing anything at all but slotting Damage in everything demonstrably inferior to anybody who teams with defenders. (If you're soloing, you needed one Acc SO.) Sufficiently so, in fact, that at the high end, doing anything but all-damage and having people around to shove you the rest of the way made you entirely ineffective.

My thoughts on this are:
- It won't work. They didn't allow for multiple, significantly different optima, so the cookie cutter will just change.
- They'll have to lower everyone else's numbers to compensate for this, if they want to keep the leveling pace the same (they did sort of claim they thought they'd gotten it right in I5).
- People will scream nerf even if they do this because the numbers are smaller. (See also: the global Defense modifications in Issue 5. My /SR didn't even have to respec, that time.) I swear, they could make everyone do 50% more damage, and the make all the enemies have 150% more hit points, and the forums would cheer about how much extra ownage they were going to get. Which brings us to...
- The forum discussion I've read has been so monumentally stupid it wouldn't surprise me if they *did* hold their base in contempt. A lot of the vocal base

Funnily enough, your friend with the six Flight Speed enhancers in Fly won't experience a change--at least if they're all Single Origin. Fly has a speed cap that you can almost hit with 3 SOs, and easily overshoot with 4. Now people like me who 5 or 6-slotted _Hover_ with Flight Speed so it was actually bearable to move around in missions with it....

Eric, I got into CoH because of the Babbage ambush snark you did way back at the end of last year. Thank you. It has been and continues to be a good experience. The constant change can be a bit frustrating, but pretty much all MMOs have this problem. I'd much rather changes and additions to the game than stagnation.

These are the facts from what I can gather:

- Most powers now have an enhancement cap of 70% where further enhancements are not as effective, and another one at 100% where further enhancements are nearly pointless.

- A few powers gain slightly different values out of enhancements so they have different cap values.

- This is not a nerf to SOs per se, but TOs and DOs really don't get you to the 100% enhancement level so SOs are mostly affected.

- The biggest effect of this is to decrease the effectiveness of the main must-have power: Stamina. To compensate they are reducing endurance costs for *all* powers by 13%.

I don't believe for a second that this is the whole package. It will be going to the Test server and hopefully it will get necessary tweaks done there. Unfortunately the devs are going to be up against it with CoV release coming so I really don't think we'll see many changes from what they will release initially (much the same as I5).

Why do the CoH forums hate Mozilla? That page won't stop loading! And I'm not saying it just takes a long time to load, I mean it actually does not stop loadingŰit just keeps on going until I get low memory errors and have to force-kill the app. WTF?

Honestly, I don't see it as a big deal. When I came into CoH (in February), I thought it was diminishing returns. That's what I expected. It was a pleasant surprise to be wrong, but it doesn't really bother me a whole heck of a lot that it's now changing to what I originally thought it would be.

I think what the majority of CoH's forum posters are forgetting is that diminishing returns is not the same as "it's useless". That sixth damage SO you plonk in isn't hurting your damage stat, and it's not giving zero bonus either (unless you've already hit the cap, of course). It may not be as much as the first or third you put in, but it's doing something, so if you've got nothing else to do with that slot, go ahead. It won't hurt, and you will get some benefit.

Will it be as much as before? Guess not, and I do feel a bit sorry for anybody who has to get used to that. A bit. But I can't say I've changed my playstyle for any previous "nerf" that affected my characters, and it hasn't hurt me any. I really doubt this will be any different. CoH players tend to have a very Chicken Little attitude sometimes.

As for slotting different enhancements in... it ain't that hard. Getting your enemies to drop enhancements all of one stat-type, now that's hard. And early on, enemies are the main way of getting enhancements; at least, I found them to be too expensive to buy regularly. So it's easy training to get used to having damage and accuracy. Would be nice if the enemy drops were tweaked to be a bit more relevant in the later levels, though; I should never see a level 33 training enhancement. :rolleyes:

All that said, while I don't foresee this really hampering my enjoyment any, I do definitely sympathize with those who are sick of respeccing. I've only ever respecced to fix my own dumb mistakes (Teleport Foe proved useless to me), or just because I was curious, but it is tedious. And I have to say that the idea of doing this for the purpose of "diversification" is pretty weak; sure, it'll eliminate the allure of the ubiquitous Perma-toggles, but that's about it. I would have had no problem with things continuing as they were.

But I just don't see this as being that big of a deal. Now, if they keep making big structure changes, yes, that'll start annoying me. But as relatively young as the game is, and as complex as it is, this much doesn't even surprise me.

Under the new schedule, unless they change it, going from 3 SOs in Stamina to a full 6 SOs will save something like an additional .08 End--or about enough to run Combat Jumping, the cheapest toggle in the game. Going from 3 SOs to 6 SOs in one of the Super Reflexes passives like Dodge will increase your Defense vs. a single aspect of combat by about 1%. If that's not nothing, it's the closest thing to it, and SOs are frickin' expensive. You're not going to just plop another one in because what the hell. If they weren't adding something to the enhancement screen to tell you the percentage that the enhancement would add, you wouldn't even be able to tell with some of these powers unless you tested obsessively. Versus even-con minions, Super Reflexes Scrappers will end up with a grand total from all their powers of about 30% Defense, which is about what a small purple shield inspiration grants.

Another way of looking at this is that unless the power really does have several viable enhancement types (pretty much only the slower attacks which could trade damage for recharge--reduced End Cost and Reduced Recharge isn't going to help, say, Neutrino Bolt) it's like removing SOs from the game. A power with 3 SOs is equivalent to one with 6 DOs, so the only thing switching to SOs is going to do for you is open up some slots that you may or may not be able to use. To me that's a very big deal, pretty much a game-breaking deal. My characters are far from min-maxed (my 25 MA/SR Scrapper doesn't even *have* Hasten), and getting to the point when I could start slotting SOs has always been a struggle. Hitting 22 and being able to start slotting SOs has often (always for my Tankers and Scrappers) been the point when I could start playing without excessive down-time between fights, even before the I5 nerfs. It's the point where the characters started to realize their potential and really be fun. This change makes that just-before SOs point the plateau--you may get new powers (important for some builds that mature even later than the 20s), and tweak some End Costs on others, but you're largely as effective as you're even going to be, for the next 30 levels.

And that's not even getting into some of the powers, like the controller mass holds, or Recovery Aura, or Unstoppable or Elude (Elude is on a 17 minute recharge timer, for crying out loud), that were given huge recharge times to balance for perma-Hasten....

It's the combination of questionable game mechanics changes with an extremely poor and increasingly dismissive explanation on the part of the development staff that has more people than usual tetchy over this.

While this is, I hear, pretty much par for the course in Massive Multiplayer games, a lot of people playing CoH are doing so because of the belief that this game isn't like that. If dissuaded from that belief, they will probably wander off.

Enhancement Diversification would have been a great idea 14 months ago when the whole game could have been balanced and given a proper UI around it from the start. It would have been an okay idea wrapped in with I5's global rebalancing where there was a fairly long test period to allow for all the criticisms - valid and non - to filter through. Now, thrown together in a package that is barely explained and not available for test 18 days before it'll be live, not so much.

The icing on the cake is how they announced it. It was first announced on the CoV beta server, as part of a new patch they would be testing. A sizable percentage of the population over there went, "Whoa, hold on!" and immediately started posting NDA-breaking threads on the CoH main board left and right, until finally the developers were forced to put the information up themselves because the cat was already out of the bag.

This then led to the impression that it was a "done deal" and it wasn't until many hours (and literally thousands of posts and tens of thousands of thread views) later that they added that it would go to the Training Room first, and alsothe bits about the 13% Endurance use reduction and halving the debt cap.

Furthermore, a lot of players are up in arms over the fact that they had decided to do this as long ago as March and had been testing their I4 and I5 changes against it internally without telling the players. They seem to feel that the developers were outright lying (by omission) by letting players think that the changes were being driven by their testing, when they were in fact being driven by the developers' secret unannounced visions of How Things Ought To Be.

That this should come right at the time, as Eric said, when they should be trying to whip up the maximum amount of subscriber hype, getting people to hook their friends on the game and so forth, is just the icing on the cake. I have seen some of the most ardent boosters of the game—like Miss Abyss, who has made 11 City of Heroes music videos (many of them very popular) with her husband—saying that they feel betrayed and shaking their heads in disgust. I'm not planning to cancel over this, at least not yet (darn that RP Congress for getting me hooked on them anyhow), but I have gone from planning to pre-order City of Villains to deciding probably to wait a couple of months for the price to fall; by that time the friends of mine who did buy it should have enough in-game money to bankroll me through the annoying training and DO stages.

I have to wonder what kind of a negative response it will take for the developers to see what an error they're making. So far, people cancelling hasn't been a major deciding force in rolling back changes; one of the Devs (I forget if it was States or Positron) said basically that this was how MMORPGs were: some people leave, other people join.

It seems clear to me that what the developers are after is preventing people from being able to hit their caps. As it stands right now, some Tankers and Scrappers can typically cap their Resistance or Defense very easily, and with the help of Hamidon Enhancements and Aim and Build Up, almost anyone can either cap or near-cap their damage. My Tanker has two Damage/Accuracy HOs and 4 Damage SOs in each of her main attacks, giving her a +67% Accuracy bonus and 320% of base damage; she can cap her own damage by hitting either Fiery Embrace or Build Up. What they want to do is make Defenders more "necessary" so if you want good Defense you need a bubbler along, good Damage Resistance take a sonic. They don't seem to want people to be able to solo.

One good thing about all the uproar, I suppose; Issue 6 is gonna have the utter crap tested out of it when it finally hits the Training Room.

KJToo wrote:

Thankfully, the handful of people I regularly team with is more concerned with getting out there and kicking some villainous keister than with building a carbon copy of what someone else has declared to be the ideal "toon."

Actually I've found that with each set of changes, gloriously inefficient builds with lots of showy, fun powers become less effective; and, more importantly perhaps, they became less effective at a faster rate than power builds. For example, I had the fortune to play with one person for a while early in CoH's evolution who had all the travel powers, and a wide variety of flashy, knockback-tastic attacks. Somewhere along the line of balance changes this went from amusing and entertaining to "I'm sorry I keep getting you guys killed".

Many players find repeated contact with the hospitals to be upsetting.

Fortunately, nuclear radiation makes everything better.

That page won't stop loading!

All I can imagine is Scott McCloud's new infinite canvas explanation of usability concerns: "I Can't Stop Loading!"

Myself, I find this whole decision odd. Unlike the other MM games I've played, City of Heroes has always seemed concerned about what's fun in a game. Defeats in COH are not crushing, healing is not a long-term process, fighting a decent opponent does not mean you'll be squatting and resting for the next five minutes. All very good, non-boring, genuinely _fun_ decisions.

For me, respecs are a chore, mainly because I don't want to accidentally cripple my character (The Pink Panzer is my main) when I respec. So I go over to the test server, respec, and see if my new build does what I thought it would do. So yeah, stupid chore, just like the one they made me do in issue five.

The other thing that this ignores is that there are a lot of powers that don't accept a variety of enhancements-- defensive powers, travel powers... Hasten. It's like a universal nerf, and I haven't actually heard a reason for it. Sure "promoting diversity," but I agree with Eric's deconstruction of that argument. Even assuming that it's a decent goal, though, is it worth this kind of unremitting hassle? When games become a hassle, that's when players leave.

Not that I'm threatening to leave. I'm just annoyed. Pointlessly annoyed, which is the real rub. If the system was that broken then they shouldn't have invented it to begin with.

Matt
www.likelystories.com

It seems that a lot of what's got the CoH people upset, and worries, are the same things that have me worried about my drug of choice, EQII. I like that it's full of fun, with a mostly painless death, exploration experience, etc., but the constant changes to game dynamics without ever fixing the things we've been reporting with /bug... well, it's irritating.

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