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Eric: So Help me, if Jack Emmert starts calling himself Defender I'm going to punch a puppy....

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City of Heroes has had a bad month.

I've been building towards a City of Heroes post, really. It's been a while and some really amazing things have been happening in the game for a while now. In the time since my last post on the subject City of Heroes has released two more "Issues" (issues being a massive influx of new mechanics, playability, and content) for free. They've had several special events that have gone brilliantly, including a (dual) city wide invasion by the Rikti, a Halloween event with some cool adds to last year's, the same for Christmas and other stuff. They've created a cooperative zone where heroes and villains can come together to fight a greater central threat, redesigning an entire city zone as part of the process. They've created a system that lets you go back in time and play content you missed the first time, as well as adding all kinds of new time travel based content. (Hey, I had no idea I was responsible for the destruction of the Fifth Column or Lord Recluse's rise to power. Good to know!) They've given deserved props to Troy Hickman. They've added new powersets including the flashy and cool dual blades set and the extremely functional Willpower set (finally, 'Natural' heroes and villains have a chance to make some sense in the Scrapper, Tanker, Brute and Stalker ranks). They finally started letting you customize powers, by letting you customize weapons -- so your Mace tanker could come out with a baseball bat or a pipe wrench instead! And they've added a metric ton of new costume options, new veterans' rewards (dude, I can finally have a Clockwork Gear of my very own!), new badges, new invention sets....

...in short, there is no damn reason for anyone who likes City of Heroes to complain. Things are going great.

And, in a move that excited a lot of people and frightened some others, NCSoft, the company that distributed the game, bought the game lock, stock and barrel from Cryptic Studios, the original designers. Jack Emmert, who we once called Statesman, had moved out of the day to day with City of Heroes and was concentrating on other projects anyhow, and Matt "Positron" Miller had been going great guns and sticking with the game regardless. A new studio was founded, mostly made up of the City of Heroes development team, who essentially all crossed over with the game. Cryptic was out of the picture now, and NCSoft was all in-house, and they clearly had a lot of hope for Paragon City and the Rogue Isles -- indications were this didn't come cheaply to them.

And if there's one thing that seemed certain, it was that Cryptic Studios was in trouble.

They were selling off their one real success, and one had to believe that was so they could make payroll. Their major known project was the Marvel Online Massively Multiplayer Roleplaying Game, developed in conjunction with Microsoft for Vista and the XBox 360, but it had been months since we had an update and all indications were it was about to be cancelled. Things looked black for the house that Jack built, and within a few weeks the rumors were confirmed. Marvel Online, at least the way Cryptic was designing it, was dead, and Microsoft wasn't going to be working with Cryptic any more.

So, February looked like was going to be a banner month for City of Heroes.

Well, sometimes the world is more interesting than we expected.

Now, February started well. They announced and executed one of their massively popular Double-XP weekends (a weekend I missed, as at the time I was in Las Vegas doing server training. Also, there was some drinking, here and there. And gambling. And I was three feet from the underside of a lion. But I digress.) And they had announced their annual Spring Fling -- what's usually just called "The Valentine's Day event" probably because Spring is still months away, but what the heck. And, as with other years, they were adding new content.

Which, unfortunately, is where the trouble started.

See, this year they decided to go with a signature character event: the wedding of Manticore and Sister Psyche. This came out of the last issue of the published comic book, and it also corresponded with Sean Fish, the Developer who had been tagged/conflated with "Manticore," returning to the game. Now, Sean and his wife have a yearly Valentine's tradition where they find a new way to renew their vows each year. That's a very cute idea, and adorable, and all kinds of warm and fuzzy stuff. And when the developers heard it, they decided to actually go through with the Manticore/Sister Psyche wedding, letting Sean play Manticore and his wife play Sister Psyche.

And, you know, that is a nicely romantic idea, and it's a nice romantic thing for the game. The idea was, on the surface, not a bad one.

Now, hand in hand with this romantic event, NCSoft decided to release an actual paid content expansion pack for the work -- this is the City of Heroes Wedding Pack, which for ten bucks gives you some new costume options for your characters (wedding dress bustiers, tuxedos, ugly womens' shoes, stuff like that) and some appropriate emotes for weddings (rice throwing, getting down on one knee -- stuff like that.) So, for ten bucks you get some new costume options that let you dress up for the wedding! Good enough, right?

Well, let me pause here to make something clear. I don't have a problem with paid content packs like this one. Not at all. And I dropped my ten bucks on this even though the wedding didn't much interest me. I did it because I like the game. I did it because the new costume options are actually really cool -- heck, being an old fan of Zatanna, just being able to do a female hero in a tuxedo tail coat with vest was worth it. I like options, and these are nice. And at the same time, nothing is in this pack that's so seminal to the superhero experience that I'd get mad over needing to pay for it. There's nothing wrong with optional content you need to pay for. Frankly, I'd like to see more of these packs come out.

The problem is, this was tied very closely to an in-game event.

A live in game event.

Now, there are thousands upon thousands of subscribers to City of Heroes. And when they decided to do the wedding, they elected to have it on Valentine's Day, and reenact it three times, once an hour, so that lots of people could get to attend it. The wedding would allow an equal number of heroes and villains to attend each reenactment, and at the end of the wedding proper there was (as is appropriate at a superhero wedding) a supervillain attack, and all the villains in attendance got to beat on all the heroes in attendance in the first honest to God PvP free for all I've heard of in this game that sounds like it would be a lot of fun.

From all accounts, a lot of people showed up. Thousands, even. And there was a mob surrounding the click-door (an usher), alongside some jerks who did jerk stuff.... but mostly, when they opened the door, it was an orgy of players in slow frame rates desperately trying to click the usher to get in.

As far as I know, fifty heroes and fifty villains were let in the gates for each of the reenactments. With three total reenactments, that's three hundred characters.

Which means a couple of thousand people who didn't get to go, and countless thousands who didn't even try. For them, there was exactly one mission's worth of content added -- heroes have a chance to save the happy couple's wedding presents, and villains have a chance to steal them. Presents which include Sister Psyche's wedding night lingerie (why on Earth did she elect to store that in a crate in a warehouse) and a "gag arrow" from her bachelorette night which is pretty clearly supposed to be a dildo.

Rated T for Teens, kids!

The mission? Is literally a warehouse map -- a very standard warehouse map -- where you fight either Arachnos (if you're a hero saving the presents) or Paragon Police (if you're a villain) to click on seven glowing crates. No hero or villain shows up as part of the fight. No custom content other than textual descriptions of the picture frame Lady Grey gave them. It was the sort of mission a level designer can come up with in fifteen minutes. There isn't even a special badge to earn for stealing or saving the presents.

So... you could spend ten dollars... to get clothing options for a wedding the vast majority of players had no chance to attend.... and then do a dull-as-dirt mission in 'celebration' and not even get a marker for doing it. Needless to say, this particular iteration of Valentine's has not impressed people as much as earlier years. Really, for the first time in at least a year the developers blew their PR roll, and excitement has been relatively minimal as a result.

To add insult to injury for the CoH Devs, they had a screwup in their patch notes system. See, when they update content, they also put out comprehensive patch notes so people know why they did things and what they've done. Well, this last patch the Patch Notes only included a patch to fix the new Wedding Veil.

They missed some fundamental changes to how the mission spawns in Task Forces work.

The sort of fans who go ballistic over such things went ballistic. Positron himself jumped on the forums, explained the changes (and I'm not complaining about the changes) and that missing them in the patch notes was a mistake that upset him a great deal. Now, why they didn't, at the same time, go in and add the changes to the Patch Notes is beyond me (I just checked and as of right now, it's still just the Wedding Veil), but it's still a pretty crappy mishandle.

As for the wedding itself -- all the people who didn't get to go get to read a 'special comic' instead. And it's a well made screenshot comic, done by one of the top fan screenshot comic makers. And they put it right up on the same page as all the PDFs of their actual comic book series.

The thing is? It's a meta-comic. A fan comic, with lots of game in-jokes (including one person shouting HAX when Positron beat her during the fight). What it isn't is a comic done in the same style as the other comic books in the page, including the comic where Manticore proposed to Sister Psyche in the first place. The result, for people who go through and read these comics, is Batman in the Operating Room. The styles are discordant. The payoff feels cheap and disrespectful to the (at least six) people who were really into the comic book.

Which is really weird to me, since the one thing we absolutely know is true, in Real Life, is the depth of feeling of the two people playing Manticore and Sister Psyche. They're really reaffirming their love for each other there.

So, this wouldn't be enough to ruin the month for City of Heroes. Okay, the new content is lame, but the old content for the Spring Fling is fun and it was fun to take new characters through it once more (including my current project -- a villain hight Lady Velvet from my Banter Latte Justice Wing stories). And while I can understand why people who bought the costume options for the wedding were pissed that the wedding was essentially inaccessible, as someone who bought them because I liked the concept of them, I was happy enough.

However. Over the last couple of days? Cryptic done come back from the grave.

Cryptic has announced their next game.

Cryptic has announced a game that could well be the death knell for City of Heroes.

Cryptic has announced Champions Online.

Champions Online is a new MMORPG that isn't only based on the Champions Intellectual Property that Hero Games developed for their seminal Champions Role Playing Game back in the early 1980's, but is that Intellectual Property. Cryptic bought the Champions IP from Hero and licensed it back to them for Tabletop RPG sales. Millenium City, Doctor Destroyer, Foxbat, Mechanon, Defender and the Champions -- Cryptic owns it all. UNTIL and VIPER and CLOWN. The Dark Champions stuff. Grond. GROND for Christ's sake.

From what they've said so far, Champions Online takes one of the great strengths of City of Heroes -- the costume system, which lets you greatly individualize your look -- and goes across the board with it, as a game based on Champions should have. You have archetypes, but no archetype is denied any power. You can customize your power effects. They're promising a unique experience for every player.

And, they're promising an Archfoe system -- you, as a player, get to design your very own Arch Villain, design his look and backstory, design his basic powerset, and let him bedevil you until you're ready to defeat him once and for all... at which time you can design a different one.

For the record -- and don't think I was the only one to suggest this -- I proposed just such as system for City of Heroes back in 2005. Am I excited to see someone is doing it? You're damn right.

What is more? They're going to have Secret Identities. In an interview, it was said that one of the big in-game choices was the moment where your hero either has to decide to go public or to maintain his secret identity with all its troubles.

Now, I love Champions. I've loved Champions since their first edition, back in the Stone Age. And from everything they're saying, Champions Online isn't just going to be the Champions experience online, it's going to truly be a next generation Superhero Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game. In effect, it's going to build off of the learning experiences that City of Heroes listed.

And that? Sucks for City of Heroes, because they're already coming out and saying they're going to have City of Heroes's big strengths, along with some really cool features people have wanted for years... and be a much more modern game engine and system to boot.

And let us not pretend they can't exceed City of Heroes. When City of Villains came out, I was amazed at how richer the experience was than City of Heroes. The couple of years they'd had had taught them a bunch of things. Now there's been a couple more years, and while the City Of development team pretty much all went to NCSoft, we can't pretend that Cryptic didn't learn those lessons too.

They're projecting Spring of 2009. Which means City of Heroes has a year to position themselves as the solid, time tested frontrunner, adding as many cool new features as they can. Because if this game comes out, having learned not just from City of Heroes but from World of Warcraft and other such games, and actually delivers on its promises? Then City of Heroes is going to become the Everquest 2 of Superhero Online Games.

I mean, I love City of Heroes. Absolutely love it. And I'm not the biggest fan of Jack Emmert in the world. And the second this game comes out I'll be right in there playing it, unless it just absolutely fails between now and then. And if it can give me that sweet heroic crack in a new and exciting way....

Yeah. It's been a bad month for City of Heroes.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at February 20, 2008 4:45 PM

Comments

Comment from: Elizabeth McCoy [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 5:51 PM

Ah, but will there be a Mac version? O:>

Comment from: Nentuaby [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 6:06 PM

In point of fact, Champions Online would have to be a truly pale shadow of its elder brother not to make me jump ship, solely because after several years of play I've completely worn out City of Heroes. It's good to see a new game coming from the same place.

Even if Emmert is going to be in charge again.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 6:12 PM

We shouldn't forget that for all we've had to say about Emmert... he is the man whose vision became City of Heroes in the first place. And I've spent way too much money on that game not to call it a really good one.

Comment from: BZArcher [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 6:23 PM

I disagree. I think it's still been a pretty good month for CoX because in general, I see a lot of people on (hell, I came back! Remember me, a year and a half ago saying I was done? Yet I came back!), and generally people are playing the hell out of it. If they can dust themselves off and deliver more stuff like the i11 expansion and knock a few more cool things out of the park...all they have to do is convince players not to leave.

I think Cryptic's going to have a -lot- of challenges in Champions Online, not the least that the Champions fanbase isn't that big, comparatively. Certainly I doubt that they're going to be big enough to support the subscription base that CO will need to keep financially stable. (I'll go on record as predicting, after chatting with some friends, that they will need somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 subscribers to be a viable business - and at least 50,000 to actually make money.)

They're going to need to get this out there to people who have no idea what Champions is and no reason to play it instead of City of Heroes except for the technological shinies, so those shinies better work damn well.

(I'm also kinda skeptical about how Cryptic has the dev team horsepower to pull off stuff that they repeatedly said was either too difficult to implement or way too taxing on the game's performance in City of Heroes - particularly custom color swaps for various powersets. Maybe they learned some new tricks, but didn't the people who learned most of them leave to go to NCSoft?)

I also -really- want to see where the money comes from for getting it off the ground. If they're hard up enough to sell their dev teams and IP to Cryptic, and ate all their losses from MUO, I can't imagine the NCSoft sale money is going to last beyond a certain point...and this time they're going to need to pay for / support all that infrastructure, marketing, distribution, and other overhead that NCSoft previously had taken care of for them.

And y'know, those screenshots, despite some changes, still look -a lot- like CoX stuff especially for some of those costume parts. I wonder how carefully they can walk that line before NCSoft starts asking for licensing fees, or a lawyer shows up with C&D letters. Even if they licensed some of it for the purposes of MUO, I can't imagine they said "Aw, just keep it around in case something comes up!" after MUO folded.

If it works out, and it's a good game, and I have friends who want me to pop in and play with them? I may come back in a year or two and say "Well, I guess I was wrong", but I'm very cautious about it right now.

Comment from: BZArcher [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 6:35 PM

Eric: Umm...actually, I thought that Emmert came into the City of Heroes project after it had already been in development for over 2 years.

Was he the closer? Absolutely, and coffee's for closers, but he wasn't the "overarching vision" guy from the start.

This might technically be the first game we actually see start-to-finish with Emmert as the lead, so that'll be interesting, too.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 6:39 PM

I also -really- want to see where the money comes from for getting it off the ground. If they're hard up enough to sell their dev teams and IP to Cryptic, and ate all their losses from MUO, I can't imagine the NCSoft sale money is going to last beyond a certain point...and this time they're going to need to pay for / support all that infrastructure, marketing, distribution, and other overhead that NCSoft previously had taken care of for them.

Actually, my assumption is our assumption that they did the sale of CoH to make payroll was wrong. Instead, this was seed money.

Add to that, if you will, kill fees from Microsoft and Marvel.

Add to that the near-certainty that all the development work they've been doing for -- what, a year or more -- on Marvel Online reverted back to them, meaning they may already have a working engine.

They're not likely to have any issues with the look and feel because they're rendering in a hybrid cel shade, to make it look more comic bookish. They'll be able to too easily demonstrate that the look and feel is significantly different to have stuff come back at them.

To be honest? I don't think that Champions fans will be a significant influx of players. However, there's a lot of MMORPG players out there, and as new games come people tend to move to them. If, as I say, they deliver on the promises they're making....

...well, no one on Earth thought World of Warcraft would eat Everquest and Everquest II's lunches a year out from launch. But the experience was way better, the buzz got really hot, really fast, and in the end EQII felt old in comparison. And here we are now.

Give us an experience closer to WoW in the superheroic mold, and a lot of the casual fans will move over to Champions.

City of Heroes isn't dead, but (assuming Champions Online delivers) they have a lot to do in the next year if they don't want to lose out. Otherwise, it's likely going to take an actual City of Heroes 2 to compete.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 6:41 PM

Oh, as for "how they can pull off" power customization? It goes back to engine design.

The reason it's really hard to pull this stuff off in City of Heroes is because CoH wasn't designed for it in the first place. In effect, they had to remake new colored... things. Stuff. If, on the other hand, art elements are designed to be modular, letting you set effects as you will... well, there's no reason that they can't be just as customizable as, say, City of Heroes auras, which are power effects designed to work with a broad variety of colors essentially seamlessly.

In other words, it's not that it's impossible to do -- it's that it's really hard to retrofit.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 6:46 PM

BZA -- interesting. I hadn't heard he was brought in later.

That said, the design was clearly very strongly influenced by him. I know that the original Alpha of CoH got scrapped entirely (from what I have heard, it had a very Freedom Force feel originally), so the question becomes when he came in.

Comment from: millionbells [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 6:52 PM

Meh. It sounds a bit heavy on crunch to take over from CoH. WoW's defining characteristic was it's ease to get started. And I still don't like that they're talking about action and fighting games type gameplay. FPS aren't friendly to casuals. Especially in a lag environment.

I'm just not familiar enough with the console side of the house when it comes to games, but it sounds like they're building more off of the Xbox 360, than the PC model.

And how do you balance game play between someone with a controller and someone with a keyboard?

Comment from: PatMan [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 6:55 PM

Speaking of World of Warcraft, they have a system that could have handled multiple instances of the wedding, allowing everyone to attend. Battlegrounds could host 40 guests from each side, and there would be enough copies of the battleground to accommodate everyone, provided the servers could take the load. Does City of Heroes have anything like that? It would have been nice if everyone could both see the wedding and not suffer crappy frame rates from 300 attendees.


By the way, wouldn't WoW in the superhero mold involve being such slaves to the sorting algorithm of evil that by the endgame, you are punching the Anti-Monitor through the Sun?

Althoug an end-game mission arc that involves becoming Galactus' herald and breaking free would be AWESOME.

Comment from: MasonK [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 7:55 PM

Elizabeth McCoy: Ah, but will there be a Mac version? O:>

Hah! Funny. :) We're lucky WoW does.

However, there will be an XBox 360 version.

Comment from: MasonK [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 7:56 PM

Elizabeth McCoy: Ah, but will there be a Mac version? O:>

Hah! Funny. :) We're lucky WoW does.

However, there will be an XBox 360 version.

Comment from: BZArcher [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 8:49 PM

I swear, Eric, I'm not trying to argue with you. :D I'm just having fun discussing this and I'm quite interested!

You're right that there's a lot of MMORPG players, but they're going to need to have something to grab them - just doing a game and saying "Here it is! Isn't this cool?", and doing it in a genre that's already out there...well, we saw that before.

It was called Vanguard, and it didn't end so good.

They may just have a pretty big hook beyond what we've seen - but I don't know yet. WoW is a bad example for "attracting the casual gamer", because they had a built in audience all the way back to the first time a bunch of kids playing Warcraft clicked on a Footman until he yelled "STOP TOUCHING ME!" at them. :D There's a brand there, and it's part of why it went pure wildfire.

I also wouldn't put the possibility of CoX unrolling an engine update out of the picture, either. EVE already proved it can be done (and for free, hot damn!), and the major graphical upgrades that came with CoV says they at least know how to bolt some pretty impressive stuff into the game.

Perhaps seeing an EVE style graphical engine update of "Premium content" for users with powerful enough machines, while maintaining "classic" for those who are on older hardware? Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.

Comment from: Polychrome [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 9:57 PM

Hey, Grond has the best origin ever.
Back when CoH was in development they basically tried tried to make it Champions Online, but discovered that balancing the point system was really hard so they went with the standard race/class thing instead.
Also, Steve Long has announced that DOJ is working on a 6th edition of HERO to coincide with the release of COMMO. There's discussion about rules changes on the forums at herogames.com

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 10:04 PM

From what I've gathered, they're not going to be implementing the actual Hero system on Champions Online, but are using its flexibility as inspiration. And there will be archetype style stuff -- I suspect the old Champs 3rd "Brick" and the like will inform things.

I'm hoping it's got easy default or flowcharted stuff, so people who don't want to get into rocket science don't have to, but with a lot of variety just below the surface for people who want to tweak.

Comment from: Ununnilium [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 10:59 PM

Honestly, to me, all the CoX problems are tiny stuff. The wedding was nice, but I knew there was a snowball's chance of me being there even if there'd been a thousand players each showing. The patch? Meh, I didn't even notice. The only real problem is no new content for Valentine's, but even then it's not too bad because I get to do the stuff I didn't last year.

Champions Online looks interesting, but IMHO, can only be a good thing for CoX. It's actual competition, and NCSoft definitely seems to be on top of things on this one. Some things from CO look cool, but some others don't; costume parts that are tied to your powers are a downside. And honestly, other than Archfoe (which is indeed quite cool) I don't see anything that'd tempt me to drop my definitely-awesome game for that maybe-awesome-but-maybe-not game.

Comment from: GG [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 11:35 PM

Honestly? Strikes me as... well, not quite "mountain out of a molehill" level. Maybe "making a speedbump out of a molehill."

My reflections follow, commenting both on your post and the reactions I've seen on the boards in general.

1. Didn't attend the wedding. I've been at live developer events before and they almost always wind up an unplayable slideshow in the best of cases. That people wound up locked out of it comes as no surprise to me.

The wedding mission? I think people have read far too much into it. I think it was just intended for you to do it, read the gift descriptions and chuckle to yourself (and go into crazy OMG SPECULATION mode if you're so inclined) and move on with your day. I don't think it was meant to be a serious story or anything of actual import. Just a little levity surrounding the event and call it good.

2. Didn't buy the wedding pack. If I have a character who seriously needs one of those costume pieces, I'll grab it for them, but at present, I can do without. (Although, now that I think of it, perhaps my mastermind COULD use some formal wear. For those occasions when you're commanding your unswerving horde of death-dealing killbots but still want to meet the dress code.) In all honest, I think the wedding pack is probably the thing over which I've seen the most fanwank. If you want the costume pieces and it's worth $10 to you, you buy it. If it's not worth $10, you don't. I have trouble with the "we're being charged for content" rhetoric, since I, personally, don't interpret "content" as "costume choices," but that's ultimately an issue of nomenclature. The level of bile that's been displayed over the issue is just... laughable to me. I don't think it's different from any other product -- you buy it or not and it doesn't require "Is NCSoft trying to KILL THE GAME?!"

3. Patch notes. Not even remotely a new issue. They've had trouble accurately reporting patch notes since time immemorial.

4. The fan comic. I think it was more to give a sense of the event to people that couldn't attend than anything else. "Here's what someone put together based on what we did," not "the secret final issue of the comic book can finally be revealed!"

5. Champions. I... honestly don't know. For all my love of reading (and never playing!) RPG systems, I've never acquired Champions material, so I don't know a lot about the property.

I also don't know what it means that The Artist Formerly Known as Statesman is associated with it. I mean, I guess I have gut feelings about him based on playing CoH and reading the forums and the like. But I'm acutely aware that I've only seen a tiny, tiny fraction of the whole story. It's certainly tempting to say "Everything bad about the game was Jack's and everything good that's happened has happened since he left," but... I suspect the truth is far more complex.

So I guess my reaction to Champions is "I'll wait and see." It saddens me to think of CoH (and particularly CoV, since I consider myself primarily a redsider) nearing the end of its life cycle, so I hope that this doesn't represent the death knell.

More verbose than I'd intended. Teal deer, etc. Summary: "Come now, it's not as bad as all that."

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 20, 2008 11:43 PM

Hey, a bad month isn't the worst thing that can happen to people.

With luck, this will spur serious effort on NCSoft's part. Capitalism can work!

Comment from: LurkerWithout [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 21, 2008 10:21 AM

You know what would really help them kill CoH/CoV? Wider ranger of female body types and costuming. I've got several female friends who are just driven UP A WALL by the limitations in building female characters...

Comment from: gothfru [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 21, 2008 4:20 PM

Hmm. What's even more interesting to me personally is that my SO is going to Cryptic to work on the design team. He owns all of the Champions stuff, and has a really good knowledge of the system. I'm pretty excited to see what they do with it!

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 22, 2008 12:47 AM

I don't know if it's going to be all that much of a death knell for CoX.

I mean, on the face of it, it sounds pretty neat. I do like the idea of making your own arch-nemesis (it'll be really cool if it also has both hero and villain paths, and that your arch-nemesis can be an ally of folks on the opposite path as you, but that'd probably be asking for too much).

But on the other hand, I really believe that CoX is the much bigger name now. NCSoft has made themselves into the name for MMO-exclusive gameplay (as opposed to Blizzard, who still do work on non-MMO stuff). Meanwhile, Champions is a game that hasn't been managed well for years - not to mention the system is such a bear that I know dozens of people who refuse to touch it because it's so awkward to work with unless everyone involved understands the system innately.

And to be honest, I don't think I would ever want to play it. Because I'm one of those guys who didn't understand the system until about 7 years after I first played it - that was admittedly in part due to a lousy GM, but it was also due to the fact that the system was the least-intuitive thing I ever dealt with.

I know plenty of people who will be right there with you when this comes out, Eric. But I don't see it succeeding - because I know so many more who would see both games and go for CoX precisely because it *wasn't* Champions. And that's before going into NCSoft's rep (while Cryptic certainly is a name worth noting, development houses attract surprisingly little actual attention - the only ones I know of that do are inseperable from their parent companies, like Team Sonic).

Comment from: theliel [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 22, 2008 12:02 PM

It's important to point out that 30k isn't that hard to reach these days, and that 'killed' games are still profitable.
Sony is still raking in cash for everquest and eq2.

Eve's mere 100k players allowed ccp to merge with white-wolf and allow some serious mingling of IP.

also - vanguard was not nifty. in any way shape or form. it was Horizions, take 2. IT was buggy and horrible and just utter awefull, complete with the 'just one more patch' before it was full of awesum. it wasn't. it was just full of loose and fail. which is why it did. but note that soney is still squeezing money out of it.

also, eric, i'm officaly jealous of you for getting to sit down and chat with deadlands guys. we played the fuck out of that game back int he day, and it's sequel.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 22, 2008 12:25 PM

I don't chat with Deadlands folks for the most part (Matthew DeForrest notwithstanding). But I did indeed own tons of Deadlands stuff. I loved the poker based magic system.

Comment from: leons1701 [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 28, 2008 8:55 AM

On a total aside, I own darn near a complete Deadlands collection and am so with you on loving the huckster magic system. Now if I could only find people to play it with.

On the whole CoX/Champions thing. The moment I saw the article in Game Informer, my first thought was, "Darn, guess I'll be canceling my CoH subscription sometime next year". then I actually read the article, and I'm not so sure. Yes, it promises to be packed full of nifty. Custom personal nemesis? That alone would pique my interest. Better eye candy? A choice of custom power animations? Heck Yeah! But then they went and spoiled it. X-Box 360? An interface designed for optimal use with a console? Skepticism sets in. This means a very limited menu of powers. The description of the combat system sounds very twitch based, much more so than the traditional MMO. If I wanted that, I'd go play Unreal Tournament or Star Wars Battlefront. And what about chat? Lets assemble groups of people who can't talk to each other? Solo only game maybe? Or are we going to be stuck with voice chat only (channel sorting problems, not to mention all the morons that you really wish would shut up and never will). And everything they're promising is going to come with significant performance penalties, even if I've upgraded my system by then (most likely) just how far upscale am I going to have to go just to make the game function properly? I'm very much in wait and see mode, from where I sit, Cryptic has to prove that not only can they deliver what they've promised, but that they can solve the problems I thought of immediately and they have yet to address publicly.

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