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Eric: Eight is the Charm: the periodic City of Heroes post

It's a new year, and so it's time to talk about City of Heroes. You knew it would be coming one of these days.

I'll admit, I got very, very close to cancellation there. The game had simply stopped being fun. I felt like the people in charge were focusing on their internal vision of the game to the exclusion of the actual fanbase who were playing it. After a full development cycle for the City of Villains expansion (at this stage, one really can't call it a different game), followed by nearly a full "expansion issue (number 7, for those playing along at home) focusing on City of Villains and a staggering amount of development for a Player versus Player system that only the tiniest percentage of the player base used, this meant that many, many months had gone by with no love for the game that had brought the players to the table.

But, if people were feeling ignored, that was okay. There was also several months of "play balance adjustment" to make us feel loved. Powersets being changed to 'balance' them. "Enhancement Diversification" to force players to use the enhancements system the way the book said they should instead of the way they actually did. And, of course, arguments arguments arguments.

Things seemed pretty dark. I'll admit that. But then, a change happened -- one that would reverberate throughout Paragon City like an earthquake. Jack Emmert, Lead Designer for City of Heroes (and known as "Statesman," the top superhero of the city) got a contract to make a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game for Marvel Comics, and passed the lead designer duties over to Matt "Positron" Miller. And Matt Miller seemed to understand that his game was in trouble.

Immediately, there were shifts in how things were done. The (very) occasional events that took place in the game before (like the Halloween event of a couple years previous) were ramped back up in a clear effort to make the city seem dynamic. Information about Issue 8, a new free expansion that would heavily favor City of Heroes was seeded. And "accidents" began happening on the test server. Accidents like the upcoming crafting and auctioning systems being previewed "by accident," generating buzz through the community.

Now, maybe it's unfair to lionize Miller and demonize Emmert for these decisions. After all, events like the recent Winter event (more of which I'll discuss later) clearly took months to develop. It had to have started when Emmert was at the helm. But what Miller clearly and solidly brought to the table was an understanding of his fan base. He knew how to get very jaded fans interested, and he knew how to whet their appetites for more. In short, he understood that the war to save his game was a public relations war, which Emmert never seemed to get.

So. Now we have had Issue 8 come out and be solidly tested. We have also had both the Halloween Event and this year's Winter Event take place. The focus has been heavily on City of Heroes while still allowing the bad guys the chance to enjoy Christmas fun. And what, precisely, has taken place as a result?

Many, many good things.

Let me start with the major events. Unlike before, there were tangible benefits for participating in the events. The original Halloween Event from a couple of years back was fun, mind, but had little true, practical, enduring benefit. The major perk you could get from punching out ghosts, ghouls and oddly hot witches were badges. The badge system is designed to reward doing things or seeing things, and that's a nice enough perk, but people stopped really caring about it almost immediately, with the exception of those few badges that led to bonus powers (like the accolades). Well, this year you had the chance to earn bits of costume salvage which could then be 'turned in' for a whole new costume slot. That was a perk that was seriously worth earning, and players burned through the game getting costume pieces and setting up supergroup bases and salvage racks for putting spare costume pieces into, so that they could continue to redeem pieces for costume slots through the year.

We just had the winter event, and like other winter events it had badges and temporary powers you could earn (such as "snowball," which is just good clean fun). Unlike other winter events, it also granted new costume items to characters that they could add to their costumes permanently. One showed up just for logging in. Others could be earned. This was extremely popular, and encouraged people not only to run through trials and earn winter boots and gloves and earmuffs on all their characters, but in fact encouraged them to change their costumes into good 'winter outfits' to get into spirit of the season. Further, a whole transdimensional ski chalet was set up for heroes and villains alike to congregate in and ski down the slopes together in.

Which leads to another common theme to both the Halloween and Winter Events: task forces were set up that heroes and villains could participate in together -- true common Player versus Environment events, to unite against common foes, save time itself, and rescue the ugliest baby known to polygons. This was a blast. I did a couple of runs with a mixed group, and it was truly fun to have corruptors and masterminds fighting alongside defenders and scrappers. It felt comic-bookish, and that is nothing but a good thing.

Next, let's discuss rewards. Two different rewards became available recently. One came when one bought the City of Heroes/City of Villains Good Versus Evil pack. As a side note, if you've never played this game and you want to try it out, this is the version to buy. Period. The pack-in powers are that good. But, you can also get the in-game powers for a pittance on the PlayNC website, and they're totally worth it. Beyond some nice costume stuff (which was an important thing), there is the VIP Pass to Pocket D -- a transdimensional aperture and nightclub with exits into several city zones -- and a jump pack that gives 'flight' to low level characters. (I put it in quotes because the jump pack is more a thing that flings you though the air and speeds your travel powers up, rather than a true flight device.) The VIP pass gives you an ability to teleport from anywhere in the game into Pocket D, then emerge from one of the other points. This is a monumental perk -- one of the worst aspects of the game was the deeply boring trudge from one zone to the next to get to your missions. One of the least satisfying of all the missions was the dreaded "pizza run," where you had to cross two zones and use two different mass transit systems so you could click on a contact back in the Atlas Park zone to get your next mission. As it turns out, this is not even slightly fun, and anything that mitigates it is an unqualified good thing.

Which brings us to Veteran Rewards. Now, City of Heroes grants certain powers, costume parts and perks based on the length of time someone is a player in the game. This is a great thing -- of course, I was one of the first players of the game, so I get the rewards essentially as they're released, but that's neither here nor there. This includes strongly desired costume parts like wings or trenchcoats, permanent powers that give you more attacks, and a supergroup base teleporter which works similarly to the Pocket D teleporter.

As a side note -- Superbases have been a disappointment all along. They were designed essentially for PvP, originally -- the idea would be superteams would create bases, and then rival teams would raid them for a series of Perks and Good Things that would be passed around by whoever was... well, best at PvP, I suppose. However, the base raid system and the Item of Power system has never worked right, and as it turns out most players don't really give a damn anyway -- they want a base that gives them tangible Player vs. Environment benefit.

Well, one of the base items you can get are teleporters. And those teleporters can be aligned to the different zones when beacons are earned. Get enough teleporters and enough beacons, and you can go to any zone in the game with a click. Add that to the Veteran Reward that lets you automatically teleport to the base, and between that power and the Pocket D teleporter you can almost eliminate the aggravation of the pizza run.

Almost.

Which brings us to the big prize. Issue 8. The new content.

Wow.

Issue 8 does many new and shiny things for superheroes. First off, one of the in-game zones that had been a devastated landscape of horror and misery (called a Hazard Zone in the game's parlance) has been remade into a partially repaired landscape of horror and misery. With a donut shop. And opened as a standard zone in the game instead of a wasteland. This gives us a sense that maybe -- just maybe -- the efforts of the players to reclaim Paragon City after the Rikti War of several years ago has borne some fruit, and the city is beginning to rebuild. There are also new contacts and mission trees to be found in this rechristened Faultline -- and these missions are actively superior to the older missions in the game. The developers have learned a lot about designing fun missions that seem distinctive, and it's a blast to go ahead and run through it. There's also a greatly improved sense of storyline that runs through them.

And you get to sink submarines! How cool is that?

Sorry.

In addition to the new zone, however, there's also a sudden and pronounced renewal of police presence in the city. Patrolmen and Longbow now walk the streets and help engage the enemies. There are now precincts in every zone. Once again, we've got the idea that Paragon City is recovering from the war, and redoubling its own efforts. And hand in hand with this new police presence are Police Band Missions. Essentially, the Newspaper system of City of Villains, which let players look up missions in the paper and take a proactive approach in spreading mayhem instead of waiting for a contact to tell them to spread mayhem. Now, players can listen to the police bands and hear about crimes in progress, running to them and engaging them immediately, once again without a need to go running off to contacts.

And -- and I can't say this clearly or strongly enough -- these missions, either Police Band or new missions in Faultline -- can be done by a solo player. You don't have to be on a team to succeed.

This is major. You see, it was the stated philosophy of the developers during the Emmert era that the game was meant to be played by teams. You could solo, but it was much harder and there's stuff you just couldn't ever do. As stated above, it was a triumph of the vision for the game actually trumping what the players who played the game wanted, and it sowed discontent. Casual gamers, gamers who preferred soloing, and shy gamers were discouraged from playing the way they wanted to, and ultimately that turned into them leaving the game.

Well, now the game can be soloed. In fact, the game subtly reconfigures itself around soloing versus small team versus large team play. The ultimate enemies of mission trees are where this is most obvious -- in the old days, a lot of missions culminated in Archvillains. And Archvillains were meant to be beaten by teams. Period. When a Tanker was able to solo an archvillain, that was publicly held up by Emmert as a clear design flaw that needed to be corrected -- generally by wrapping the tanker's hands in soft foam while handing his enemies kryptonite.

Now, if you're soloing or have a small team, that Archvillain isn't an Archvillain. He's an "Elite Boss." A really tough fight, mind, but one that a solo player can win if they're smart. Elite bosses don't give as much experience as Archvillains, and Archvillains give everyone a really nice enhancement when they're beaten (which Elite Bosses do not), but it's fine to have tradeoffs like that. If I choose to solo, I should have a different experience with different rewards than the folks who exclusively play in teams of 8.

In other words, supervillains now scale.

I wish I could take credit for this -- that my essay back in 2005 lit some fires and made people change their minds -- but let's be honest. It was an obvious idea with too many obvious advantages not to simply do it, and the developers figured that out.

Finally, there's also a perk to doing Police Band missions. Do enough of them, and you get a Safeguard Mission. A major villain and a pile of mooks are robbing a bank and wreaking havoc in a section of the city. It's up to you to stop then. Beat the main villain and you get a certain amount of time to run around the zone finding sub missions and smaller side quests and pummeling evil. It's an experience point bonanza and heaps of fun, and the missions often have really cool temporary powers you can earn in them. Most particularly, the early missions have temporary travel powers, like a superjump-faking zero G pack, or a true flight harness. This means that the traditional near requirement that you tailor your character around getting a travel power as fast as possible has been lifted. It's now optional -- do it when you feel like it.

The result of Issue 8 is a much faster paced game that's eminently soloable and deeply satisfying. Heck, if you stick to Police Band Missions, you have absolutely no pizza runs, no running back to contacts to get your next mission, and all your missions are in the same zone as you are, no exceptions. That increases speed of play and the overall fun factor exponentially right there.

It's worth noting the developers have figured a lot of this out. Every contact has a cell phone. Work with them long enough and they give you their cell phone number so you don't have to run back over to them to clear the mission and collect your next one. It's really nice and a massive time saver. And all of the faultline missions (for example) allow you to get your contact's cell phone number within one or two missions, so that for most of the mission tree you have it.

Well, I have a character in the thirties now (more about this in a moment), and I'm in the Brickstown zone, where I've never spent a lot of time, so I decided to do the traditional contact run instead of the police band missions, at least to start. And these are are old missions, developed early on in the game.

And they have me running to half the other zones, going on pizza runs, and six missions in these bastards won't give me their cell phone so I have to run all the way back to Brickstown, then go see them to click them in person. I'm beginning to think they don't want me helping them out. And that's fine with me -- I got a police radio right here that'll give me missions in the same stupid zone I'm already in, pally!

It really, really highlights how much the developers have learned over the years.

Going back to the character in the thirties, and the speed of the revised game. Bear in mind, I've played this since 2004. I'm old school. And yet, during this time I never had a hero go higher than level 29. I liked playing alternates too much, and the lack of soloing options meant that I had to wait for when my friends or teammates were on and in a mood to play characters of that level to advance.

Now? I can play whenever I damn well feel like it and be successful. And so a character (admittedly, a dark/regen scrapper -- one of the best soloing options) I created since Issue 8 came out has rocketed past all my other superheroes into the 30s, and is on track to be my first L50 character. This scrapper's now within one level of my highest level character ever, a Villain Mastermind -- Masterminds practically being powerlevellers by design.

And I'm having a monumental blast. And I know that decent crafting that's worth the effort and an auction system are on the horizon, and I'm excited by them. Hell, in just a few months, City of Heroes will reach that exalted peak -- a game that's essentially as good as World of Warcraft was at launch.

But I kid, I kid....

To sum it all up, under Miller City of Heroes has made a dramatic comeback. It's not perfect -- I had a friend who went on a run with me and my regular friends in City of Villains one day who had fun, but noticed that the maps were essentially the same, and that there wasn't enough real change to catch his interest. That friend would feel the same about much of issue 8. But there's hope, now. And Miller knows Public Relations -- something the developers have needed for a long time -- and knows how to get us excited for what comes next. I can't wait for Issue 9. I can't wait for the next seasonal or holiday event. I can't wait....

And for a three year old video game, that's a very good thing indeed.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at January 4, 2007 12:29 PM

Comments

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 3:05 PM

I have to agree -- issue 8 was a huge boost to the game. I actually *did* quit for a while after the uber-nerf issue (which is why I don't qualify for all veteran rewards... there were three months I was out of the game) but I came back when City of Villains was released, and issue 8 sort of won me over.

As it also happens, I am also one of those long-time players whose highest level character is only... uh... 32 or 33 at the moment, I think. I spend too much time playing around with /bind to actually focus on playing the game...

Comment from: Tom Lynch [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 3:14 PM

It's weird, but while I love the Police Band, the biggest thing for me (as someone whose level 42 main has no supergroup and no teleport-power perks, so I travel exclusively by leaping) has been the fact that when I use the tram, I can click through to zone selection instantly even if one's in the station, rather than having to wait.

This is incredibly mild, but it's still something I really like.

...Oh, and I solo primarily, and yes, I love Epic Bosses. (Even if two out of the three I've encountered my Spines/Regen scrapper can't solo.)

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 3:19 PM

You know, the thing that bewilders me to an extent is that many of these problems that you described are just MMO variants of classic RPG complaints.

Having to return to your contact to actually complete the mission? That's just a variant of the ever-dreaded fetch quest. Volumes have been written about how bad fetch quests can get, particularly if nearly everything is one.

Having villains meant for a certain set-up, and at fixed levels? That's been a complaint ever since the beginning of levelling systems for the heroes. If heroes can get better, so should villains.

Though it's worth noting that in at least two instances, you can break level-based enemies by intentionally supressing levels (for the curious, the two instances are Final Fantasy 8 and Lunar: the Silver Star).

Oh, and the so-called pizza run... let's put it this way. Do you know why Final Fantasy took off as a role-playing series immediately? Because even in the first one, less than halfway through the game, they give you a mode of transit that allows you to zoom across the world in the matter of seconds that's free of enemy interference. There are still limits as to how close you can get to certain destinations (there's usually some sort of parking limitation), but taking the tedium out of travel was such a huge innovation back in the day that nearly every console RPG made since includes something (usually fantastical and airborne) to allow for such a thing.

Granted, plenty of games still manage to be fun despite these problems, and CoH did have a few issues unique to it. But still... how much do players have to complain about the same problems in a given game before someone gets around to fixing them?

Apparently, three years of continuous updates.

Comment from: Montykins [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 3:26 PM

The jetpack from Good vs. Evil is my favorite addition. I always feared starting a new character because I knew that somewhere around level 5-7, I'd have to go kill Circle of Thorns in King's Row, and it takes forever to get up to a roof at that level. Giving new characters a fast jump like that helps a lot.

Comment from: Joshua Macy [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 3:31 PM

My DarkMelee/Regen Scrapper that I created after I7 hit is also poised to become the first character I've taken to 50 after 33 months of crippling altitis....

And I'm pleased as punch that they plan to make the ski chalet a permanent fixture.

Comment from: Joshua Macy [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 3:52 PM

As far as getting to the Circle of Thorns on the rooftops in Kings Row, it's probably moot now that you have your jump pack, but you could always just walk up the fire-escape of the closest building to forward and to the left of Blue Steel as you face down the steps (over the edge of the wall that separates the hill that the police station is on from the lower buildings and construction areas; the fire-escape is in the alley). Once there, there's another fire-escape to the higher part of the building, and you can jump from building to building with nothing more than Sprint, getting all the CoT you need and incidentally picking up the Upgraded badge.

My favorite GvE bit is the Pocket D teleporter; as Eric points out zone to zone travel is pretty much a non-issue between that and the veteran base teleporter. Yeah it's fun to travel around the city, particularly by flying, and just gawk, but not when you have a short amount of time to play and want to get something done. And that's where World of Warcraft falls down completely--all travel is excruciatingly slow there. It gives the sense of a bigger world, but slogging through that bigger world seriously sucks.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 3:52 PM

The only thing that keeps me from creating new alts these days is that I can no longer think of any names for characters that haven't already been taken...

Comment from: FlyingFish [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 3:54 PM

I'm fairly sure the Elite Bosses came last issue, if not the issue before that. Also, we've had hero/villain teamups before, during the Valentine event. The rest was this version, though, and it's all been a godsend. (I'll admit that 90% of my playtime the past few weeks has been devoted to present-opening and rescuing "the football" from Snaptooth with all my characters, but hey, even then, the teleporter has been much appreciated.)

Frankly, though, I think CoH has always been a little superior to WoW on one front you were just complaining about: travel time. Once you get your travel power at level 14 (about 10-20 hours of playtime), you can get from any point in the game to any other in 15 minutes tops, less than 10 for most. With WoW, that's how long it takes to cross one zone. And they don't have cell phones.

Comment from: Tina S. [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 4:47 PM

Elite bosses significantly predate I8, yes. They were already in when I started playing, which was between I6 and I7. Oh, and those patrollers in the city and stuff? Those came in the 'villain-heavy' release. Yup, I7 is what gave us new NPC dialogue and patrolling police and Longbow. Not I8.

Most of I8 doesn't thrill me.

Safeguard missions? Yeah, beta-tested those puppies. Hated them with a passion. It's all my least favorite mission types rolled into one!

Police band missions? Come on, they're even more boring a grind than the regular ones. No story to shore up the same 'kill x baddies and find the clickies' at all. The only thing in their favor (and in the newspaper missions villains get) is they tend to be quick. Yeah, okay, it's nice that I don't have to run all over G-d's creation to get back to my contact over them. But that doesn't stop them from being the same ol' same ol' grind.

The Halloween event? That wasn't fun if you were trying to outfit 30 alts. Trust me. It was a terrible, boring, agonizing grind if you weren't in a big group where people could click doors every 2 seconds. Done solo, it was the most boring thing on the PLANET. I was watching TELEVISION while I did it. Especially with those stupid skewed drop rates for the pieces, it took forever.

And don't get me started on trying to find Jack-in-Irons. I got the badge on ONE character high enough to participate in a monster hunting group. ONE. It took HOURS of killing Eochai over, and over, and over, and over. And over. And over. And over. And, um, did I mention over?

Yeah. I didn't even bother with the winter event. I guess I missed out on the costume options, but I'll live.

The only place where I was at all interested was Faultline, which is the first zone they've perked up in a new and interesting way. That one, I'll grant, is a big positive change -- not only the nice feeling that the game is not static, that things heroes are doing do change the world, but in what they've populated the area with in terms of missions and NPCs. It was the only part of beta-testing I8 I actually enjoyed.

I may go back to CoX -- I've still got paid time, since I was on quarterly payments, and it's not like I outright dislike the game or anything. And I'll concede part of the reason I stopped playing had nothing to do with my enjoyment of the game, but rather a personal thing. But I8 did not perk me up the way it perked you up, and I've yet to be convinced the game is heading in any better of a direction as before.

Comment from: HKR [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 5:09 PM

^And here we have the classic "EVERYTHING PUT IN THE UPDATE SUCKS!" MMO post.

I've been thinking about getting back into CoH for a while now (I bought the game when it first came out, played it for three months and quit for my second stint of FFXI). Would it be worth it to start with the copy I already have, or should I go and seek out the Good Vs Evil pack? I don't really want to go out to find it, and I can download CoH and CoV off of playNC's site, but not the pack.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 5:13 PM

Careful not to tread over the line, RE other posters. ;)

Hm. You should go with the copy you have. You can get a GvE update code from the website, which will give you the VIP pass and jumppack for a lot less money.

Comment from: cartoonlad [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 5:41 PM

But the big question: When you hit someone in the game, can you have CoH display ZAP! BIFF! or POW! instead of a certain number of hit points of damage?

Comment from: Nick F [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 5:42 PM

EBs have been in since Issue 3 [http://www.plaync.com/us/support/doc_1866.html?prod=9]. They were introduced with Frostfire and Atta. However, until I7(AV spawn decrease)/I8(Faultline),they were pretty much the only ones Heroes experienced in the game. Oh, come to think of it, they added an EB into the Positron TF, but I don't recall when that happened.

City of Villains was designed with EBs as a more common occurrence, and Issue 7 introduced the AV/Hero Spawn change.

RE: buying GvE, it comes with a "free month" attached to the serial code, which you would need to pay anyways to reactivate the account. This can be used to upgrade your already existing account. The items by themselves cost $10, the month would cost $15, so depending on how you look at it, the CD,with a full install up to issue 7, and the map and extras will just be an increase of about $5 dollars, which isn't that bad an increase

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 5:47 PM

cartoonlad's suggestion would be awesome if A) you could customize your own bubbles (I want one that says "Copyright Infringement!") and B) you get cooler bubbles (larger, better font, etc.) for doing more damage.

Comment from: Tina S. [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 5:57 PM

You might want to read again, HKR. I said 'most of', not 'all of', and I specifically said the Faultline changes were a big positive change.

I'm sorry if you don't get why I don't think the addition of more boring grinds is thrilling. There's a reason I get bored easily with grinds, and that's that they're boring. At least with the regular missions, there's some story reason for me to be doing it, some sense of uncovering clues and getting somewhere and learning things.

Faultline's changes are cool because they're an update to the story. But that's only a small part of I8, and so overall the release didn't thrill me.

Of course, on the flipside, I was one of the few people who thought I7 had positive changes for the heroes and positive implications for the future, so I'm doomed to be in the minority, I suppose. When I supported that, I got to be told I was just blindly supporting the developers. This time I get to be told I'm just one of the "changes are bad" crowd. Whatever.

Comment from: Joshua Macy [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 6:04 PM

If you already have COH, you might want to just buy the GvE goodies from the website ($10, it's just an activation code). If you want to play CoV as well, I think you'd have to pay to upgrade and I'm not sure whether that would be cheaper than just going out and getting a copy of the GvE edition.

Comment from: kviri [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 6:23 PM

A couple of things to note, in the "GvE Box or $10 GvE Goodies Code" debate:

1. The GvE box does come with one free month of play ($15 value), so it might still be worth it if you can get it for $25 or less and/or want a more recent (though still not fully up to date) hardcopy of the install media.

2. If you don't yet own CoV, see above... but also keep in mind that some places have been known to sell the shelf-space-devouring CoV Collector's Edition on clearance for the value of its included month of playtime -- or, in some cases, even less than that. (I found a $15 copy at a local CompUSA a while back, a friend in New Jersey spotted one for $10, though that was several months ago.)

Comment from: Stephen G [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 4, 2007 9:35 PM

Whoa, nice changes. I stopped playing nearly a year and a half ago, so it's interesting to hear about them brushing up on things like Faultline and fiddling with how well you can solo the game.

Comment from: leons1701 [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 5, 2007 5:37 AM

Yeah, I8 is solid. I just came back to the game about 3 months ago after most of a year away, not because of game issues, but because it took that long to get my computer replaced (sigh). I know what your saying about alts, my main has been 47 forever and I currently have, I believe, 8 characters in the 20's and dozens below that. I'm primarily a solo player since all my friends quit playing ages ago. Getting the game to where I don't feel the need to join every pickup group that invites me just to have a team is a major plus. I'll second that recommendation for GvE as the edition to get if you're just starting the game. That jump pack rocks.

Comment from: LocalAreaLeech [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 5, 2007 8:22 PM

Um, Safeguards are based off of Mayhems, which were part of CoV, which Jack had a huge part of.

Matter Miller (Positron) was the driving force behind getting badges into the game.

Can't recall if the snowball temp power was in the first winter event, but I know it, alongside the Build Snow beast and Jingle Jet Temp powers were in the 2nd one. So was the Santa Hat.

And the holiday missions were Co-ops, not Strike or Task forces.

On the other hand - I do find Faultline to be awesome, and it has one of my favorite temp powers. And the best corner grocery in existence. (how much for that bomb in the window, anyway?)

i8 was great - it just seems like this guy is really praising Matt and bashing Jack. And Jack is still involved in CoH/V, just not as much as he used to be.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 5, 2007 8:33 PM

The key area Miller has been a strong improvement over Emmert, in my opinion, isn't behind the scenes. It's in public relations. I understand plenty of cool things predated Miller's reign and i8 -- including plenty of things referenced in my essay.

What Miller has been able to do, which Emmert had trouble with, was build tremendous buzz over these things. And that in turn brings people back to the table. People who didn't feel represented by i6 or i7, because they weren't into the Villain or PvP side of the equation. i8 was a slam dunk for the Hero side of the equation, contained a ton of innovative and cool things, and really strongly highlighted things like Elite Boss/Archvillain scaling. And it hit on the heels of the Halloween Event (which was a strong build on the original event), and then the Winter Event hit on the heels of that, and they've managed to leak exciting stuff for i9 and i10 and moving forward....

...which builds excitement, and momentum, and great enthusiasm. And Miller deserves huge credit for that.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 5, 2007 8:54 PM

A reminder on this thread, since it's seeing some activity -- there may be some trouble commenting from 11 pm EST to 2 am EST today. This is expected downtime, and not the server throwing up. Please enjoy a delicious cruller.

Comment from: Eric Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 5, 2007 10:27 PM

Let me just say, that every single time that you've posted on the subject of City of Heroes, I've tried to post a comment, sometimes wrestling with Typekey for over an hour.

Now, finally, I can comment on a City of Heroes post on Websnark! Yay! Happy day!

Eric, if you are at the level of enthusiasm where you think you'll be leveling a character to 50 at last, I think you are in for a treat. Speaking as a player with multiple characters in the upper levels, I think you will be quite impressed with how much the quality of the stories improves in the uppper levels. Several distinctive and interesting (and challenging) villain groups are exclusive to 40+ in CoH.

I think the best written CoH storyarcs are in the 30+ range.

and wait until you see the Shadow Shard (level 40+ Hazard Zone). Visually gorgeous. Sadly under-used by players due to some navigation issues.

Ok, I'll shut up now. But my opinion: Mr. Burns, you have some fun times ahead of you.

Comment from: Meagen Image [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 6, 2007 2:31 AM

Quick heads-up if you don't follow the official game forums, Eric. A Community Relations Manager by the nick of Lighthouse posted a link to this article.

I can't help but think he's done you a bit of a disservice. People will dissect your article as if it was one in the video game press, when it's clearly meant ot be more of a personal opinion piece.

I wonder if they'll start linking to the City of Heroes posts by Ben "Gryphon" Hutchins or Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne next...

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 6, 2007 6:09 AM

Hardly a disservice. I'm actually pretty stoked about Lighthouse linking. That a number of people didn't like, disagreed with or were unhappy with the essay is the cost of doing business. They stand by what they say, I stand by what I say, no harm and no foul. The whole point is discussion, after all.

Comment from: TroyHickman [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 6, 2007 12:31 PM

Don't mind the CoH board folks. They're all reprobates and chronic bedwetters. One of them even stole my wallet (you know who you are!).

I'm pretty happy with the I8 content (though, as you might imagine, still waiting for the Cyrus Thompson Community Center).

Comment from: Tony Amore [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 7, 2007 12:45 PM

This is an open letter to Matt "Positron" Miller.

Dear Matt:

Congratulations on taking over the helm of CoH. You have made some very positive changes to our beloved Paragon City, and have given a lot of heroes a reason to pull their now-ill-fitting old costumes out of their closets and start sticking boots back into villains' butt cheeks.

I ask that you please take into consideration the following requests and suggestions to further improve and enhance CoH:

1. Please, please PLEASE get rid of Enhancement Diversification!!! You KNOW we all hate it, and we don't care if it will "make sense" in Issue 9 or Issue 10 or Issue 4,862. If we want to six-slot our Empathy healing powers with all greens instead of three greens and three recharges, we should be able to do so with no penalty.

2. Please, please PLEASE get rid of the nerfs!!! Superheroes are supposed to be super, not average. Did you ever see a certain guy in a blue-and-red suit with a certain letter of the alphabet on his chest get stomped on by twelve thugs and hit the pavement? Of course not! I may be wrong, but isn't the whole point of being an Invincibility Tanker is to be... maybe... invincible?

3. Can you have the hero contacts cough up the digits after completing the first mission of that contact? Cell phones rock!

4. The PvP stinks. But more Hero/Villain team-up missions would be great!

5. If you see Jack Emmert walking down the street, can you push him in front of a bus for us?

Just kidding... maybe just a flight of stairs or something...

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 8, 2007 12:36 PM

To counter at least one point of the above post...

You know, games aren't that much fun if you're suddenly unable to lose. There's a reason some people find Superman to be the most boring superhero out there. Could you imagine playing as him with the whole set of powers at the appropriate levels? Games suddenly become less interesting if you're guaranteed to win.

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