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Reader Comments (13)

Posted: May 12th 2010 12:27PM Calrissian said

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Great article. I agree with sharpening the story for the hero side. I tried COH from August last year until this spring. By the time I was in the mid-30's, I was just bored. I had no sense of what I was doing or why. I would have loved to embrace the mythology, and even tried reading the comics and the like to see if it would draw me in more. Sadly, it just didn't.

I'm not an experienced MMO player. My first was LOTRO, and I know my enjoyment of that one for the last few years has been aided immensely by my love for that IP. I wanted to enjoy COH too, but just didn't sink into that mythology in the same way.

Posted: May 12th 2010 12:57PM Raithnor said

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Hero side revamp - I think replacing a lot of the more "cookie cutter" Skyscrapers with more distinctive building would help a lot. Each zone has a "style" to it, some more than others though. The trouble with the Heroside contact system is that most of the contacts had a certain amount of "Street Hunting" Missions built into them since this was before the police radio missions. I generally will Ouro/Flashback the more worthwhile stories much later. Keep in mind though Going Rogue is going to revamp the 1-20 experience in addition to adding choice to the game.

Sense of place - I play a little fast and loose with the origins. I regard them more as a starting point rather than a be-all end-all. I also take into account how the origns are connected: Science borders on Mutant and Technology, Natural borders on Magic and Technology and so on. The backstory of City of Heroes is open enough that you can base it off of the established Lore or ignore it totally.

Older costume bits - Mostly agree, the older pieces need some updating now that Ultra Mode is here. However I doubt we're going to get away from the "Mitten Hands" until City of Heroes 2.

Power Pools and Power Sets - They're going to add some new powersets but I don't think we're going to see a massive rework of the existing power system until City of Heroes 2.

I realize CoH2 is a ways away, but I'd be very suprised if it doesn't come out around 2014 or so. That will creep up faster than you'd think.

My only requirement at this point for CoH2 is: Give us the means to recreate our old character, but at the same time give us more options that the standard AT/Primary/Secondary method. CO had some nice ideas (and some horrible ones also) but there were certain powertypes that were iconic to the CoH-Verse that didn't make it to CO.

Posted: May 12th 2010 1:00PM mattwo said

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Isn't this the Q&A column or am I confused?

Posted: May 12th 2010 10:27PM Eliot Lefebvre said

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My Time-Looker-Forward-Tube proclaims that the next question-and-answer column will be on June 2nd. That's not so very far in the distance, but it is not today.

Posted: May 12th 2010 1:12PM Enaris said

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You've got some pretty good ideas there, though I see a few other things that could stand to be done.

1) Give the Faultline treatment to the other neglected zones, especially Boomtown and Dark Astoria. They're both cool zones, just begging to have a concrete story arc connected to them, as opposed to "places where you get sent for the occasional mission".

2) Have a greater level of focus on continuing story from Issue to Issue. For instance, the Lady Grey Task Force more than hints that the Rikti storyline is far from done... but despite it being 2-3 years since that came out, they've never revisited it. Likewise, with the Menders.

3) Have some events that fundamentally reinvent a large part of the landscape. Both physically as well as in terms of the "lore". The return of the Column is a small example of this, but go whole hog. An event where entire zones change. Not just the "threat" zones, but core zones.

4) Reinvent a low level baddie group. We're all used to crushing the Hellions or Outcasts. Have them find a source of serious powers, and become major players.

I'm sure I could come up with more..heh. But yes, absolutely new power sets, and do what they've done with the new sets recently, make them fundamentally different from what's come before. Dual Blades requires a different mental approach to play, as you figure out your combos. That's the kind of thing we need more of.

Posted: May 12th 2010 2:48PM Superfan said

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Some great ideas here but the problem is resources and the people who allocate them. You can only do so much and do not have an army to add/revamp things to the game. So, storylines, new powers etc take time.

Sadly, we have no real say in what gets added. They have not added anything new and fun to play since i12 - the Imperius Task Force is the best in the game and none of the other TFs/SFs can compare. It actually makes most of the others look really bad. There's a reason players do this TF over and over - it's good and a better option than the other junk they have in game. So, when you add items make them of a decent quality. The Reichsman TF/SF kinda stinks, Day Jobs never gave us much to do, power coloring is nice and all but for all the work it took, was it worth it at this time?

So, who decides what next goes into an CoH? The Devs, I guess. I don't think they have done a good job lately. Since i12, we've had Day Jobs etc with i13. Shields are cool but Day Jobs were not
-i14 - they bet the farm on this and lost...kinda. I love the system but it was underwhelming. Was it worth the time and effort? Not sure. I would hate to see what else they could have added instead of Mission Architect. They may have finally given us a solution to Architect but we'll see.
-i15 - light and the Reichsman/5th Column stuff is not great. I also dislike them using factions that are Nazis-like. For a game where the Devs could add some wild, fun new stuff...they rarely do.
-i16 - coloring. Not bad. Not much new stuff to do here though.
-i17 - we waited 8 months or so for this one. Decent issue and a revamp on Posi TF. Most of the old TFs are awful and look like they've been written designed by a child.

The game also is highly repetitive. We have seen the same warehouse, cave, office, base, tech setting and sewer maps far too often. Games are very visual and the new maps have not been added often enough. Variations of the same thing doesn't cut it. I also don't think the same map, enemies and look counts as new content - that is done far too often and all they do is change the limited dialogue. Lame.

Anyway, CoH has a ton of good points but it's repetitive nature hurts it and so does the content stagnating. It's going into year 7 and it needs to have some fresh, new looks and things to do.

I don't think Going Rogue will add this. They are using old storylines and ideas. They are making many new enemies just 'alternates' of existing signature characters. That happens way too much here. I have low expectations for GR but I hope I am proven wrong.

Posted: May 12th 2010 3:54PM J Brad Hicks said

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Some of the things you've said you want them to do are things that they've said that they want to do. Whether or not they get them done before somebody else steals their thunder is an open question, but at least there's hope.

One of them, though, three consecutive lead developers have said that they don't want to do, and that, I'm afraid, is the one that's killing them: revamp the mind-numbingly awful level 1-20 hero-side game content that dates back to issue 2 and before. The last time she was asked about it, War Witch said, in effect, that Praetoria, the new starting city coming with Going Rogue, was designed so that they wouldn't have to go back and revamp the 2/3rds of Paragon City's level 1-20 contacts that stink on ice. I admire the heck out of War Witch's work, but she is 100% dead wrong on this for two reasons. First of all, it's a paid expansion; the vast majority of people who pick up CoH won't have access to it. And secondly, and even more importantly, the old awful content is still there for people to stumble into it.

We know from long experience that when people start a new game, 2/3rds to 3/4ths of them start "good guys." And if you've soloed the CoH hero side lately, then you know that after your starting contact, you have two contacts. One leads to the revamped, much improved, The Hollows zone, but the other one leads directly to the old, issue 0 to issue 2, content. I haven't seen their server logs, but that suggests to me that somewhere between 1/3rd and 3/8ths of the people who pick up a trial account or buy the game on a lark are going to end up looking at content that was written in 2003, that hasn't been improved since then, that has no visible story line to it, that just consists of running anywhere from half a mile to four miles in order to kill ten rats. I mean kill ten gang members. Same thing.

They so badly need to completely rewrite the content in King's Row, Perez Park, Steel Canyon, Skyway City, and Boomtown that it just frustrates the heck out of me that the dozens or hundreds of forum users who've tried to make this case to them, the dozens or hundreds of people who've traveled all the way to the west coast Herocon to explain this to them to their faces, the results of at least two informal hand-counts that they've done that I've seen, have all failed to persuade them of this.

Posted: May 12th 2010 4:00PM Ogged said

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I'm not sure I share the author's view on the early levels blueside. Assuming the char does all the safeguard missions in the respective level ranges, there's an easy path to 30.

Atlas Park (or Galaxy City) gets you to lvl 5
After that, doing the Hollows completely takes one up to somewhere between lvl 12 and 13.
Then it's off to Steel Canyon to get your Midnight Club membership card, finishing that arc puts you at around lvl 16.
After that, you can finish the first half of Faultline, leaving you at lvl 18.

Granted, now to get to 20, you need to visit "regular, run of the mill" contacts, but once your char hits 20, it's paradise : Faultline part 2, the Midnight Club contact, Striga, the new I17 contacts, and at lvl 25 you get more content in Croatoa and of course Ourobouros.

Except for the two hell levels before stamina, errr level 20, I think that's a rather smooth ride :)

Posted: May 12th 2010 5:01PM Superfan said

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I kinda agree but that old hero side stuff really is weak. I would be happy if they just did a TF revamp of the first few. The Synapse TF is the worst. It's like a broken record. Similar map and enemy for almost the entire thing. Just awful.

I would be happy with a revamp of the TFs and improving the quality of any new content. Making the TFs/SFs etc the same quality of the ITF is essential.

I would love to see some new, unique powers like power armour. A different mission type or mission - maybe give you options of which way to go in the mission which effect the outcome.

These Devs need to understand that 6+ years of similar game is not the recipe for long term success.

Oh, and it would be nice if they gave the players a say on what is going to be added. I still laugh over their big secret promo for Architect. A year before release they promised us something 'big' and 'new' and 'great'. Well, we all know what happened there. Why not take a poll on the forums that allows us to vote on one feature per issue?!

Posted: May 12th 2010 10:29PM Eliot Lefebvre said

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You're right, there is a very easy path to 30 if you know where you're going. But it's not a very easy path to stumble into -- and most new players are going to be stumbling.

Harsh though it may sound, the experienced players can fend for themselves. It's the newbies you have to watch out for.

Posted: May 12th 2010 4:46PM lmollea said

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Regarding your suggestions:

- hero side needs some revamping: signed. Hazard zones are generally empty (save hollows that had a decent revamp lately), Shadow Shard isn't a decent zone where to exp (save from the TF). Most of the Hazard zones should be transformed in PVP or Co.Op zones.
- we do need meaningful choice. agree
- our characters need more sense of place. yep, nice idea.
- an update pass on old costume parts. signed
- We need new powersets/our old powersets could use some revamping. Agree. Some "must have" powers like the fitness pool, hasten should really have alternatives or at least different combinations that give the same result. I am personally involved with energy manipulation secondary. That set is good, but - especially in pvp - there isn't anything barely competitive with that. A general review so that more secondaries can be as effective as /nrg. Conserve power, boost range, power boost and total focus are awesome. My /ice blaster is simply underperforming and its tier9 power is just plain crap, as most of the other tier9 powers compared to total focus.

They should also remove a bit the repetitiveness of the game (kill all, get mission bonus, rinse and repeat). Competitive missions maybe (a different idea of pvp, maybe not necessarily implying direct confrontation), give open zone play meaning (all missions are instanced - and that's a real strong point of the game - but some real open zone play would really be a nice addition). Level 50 content (Incarnate is coming, hope it won't be another variation of farming something).
I'd add also that pvp need to be looked again into. Base raids, empty zones (bloody bay), small rewards, no experience rewards and lack of purpose for the whole competitive play need to be looked into. Better power balance between villains and heroes (recent buff to defenders is again in favor of heroes, villain epic pools aren't as effective as heroes'). I13 has changed much things, some for the better, some are a bit hard to get used to, but in the end they put some new ideas in pvp, but it all stopped there. I enjoyed pvp really much both blue and red side, but the more meaning they can give to it, the better (DCUO will be pvp focused). The nice thing is that pvp is completely optional for this game and that is good, but a bit more love is welcomed.

Posted: May 13th 2010 4:02PM (Unverified) said

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About 20 players (Seers supergroup annual 'meet who you play with' from Infinity) will be at Dragoncon this year, perhaps the Devs (even One Dev would be way cool) will join us (yeah we know they hate the south) THIS year and listen to what the players think instead of telling us about all the so called goodies headed our way if we continue to give them their almighty bucks for another 5 years.

Base Raids? PvP? Underwater cities? Outer Space?
Our list goes on and on!

Posted: May 14th 2010 12:46PM Valdamar said

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I've played CoH/V since I5 (around 4 years ago) and I still love it, but I do agree with a lot of what you've said - especially on the need for zone revamps of old CoH zones/quests (pre-I2/launch content specifically), more character choice in storylines (the new split dialogue options for missions should help, if it's been used well in GR), costume revamps, more powersets, etc.

In particular I agree with your point about power pools - I don't take Hasten on every character, but most of mine have it and they all have Hurdle/Health/Stamina - most have Combat Jumping too as I like the mobility in combat - so most of my characters take SuperSpeed or SuperJump as travel power (as they already have the pre-reqs Hasten and CJ) - fitting most of those pool powers into the first 20 levels does make the "teen levels" a bit samey when building new characters. It delays you adding in primary/secondary powers that will define your character and it does prompt players to cut down their own options for how to build a character if they want to be effective.

I don't always take all or even most of my primary and/or secondary though - I have a L50 Blaster with only 4/9 of the powers from his secondary (one of them a mandatory pick that I don't ever use) and a Dominator taking only 5/9 of his primary and they're both very effective and fun to play.

Despite its flaws I still prefer CoH's powerset system to CO's open system which should add more choice, but just drives Cryptic's nerf culture against whatever power has become too popular/useful, because everyone has a free choice and can take the "best" power in any build.

I think War Witch taking over from Positron as lead dev of CoH will prove to be a good thing - she seems more focused on adding new content to existing systems (more powersets, more costumes, more tilesets, more missions/zones, etc.) rather than adding major new systems to the game like Posi did - we could be about to enter a renaissance period for CoH. Though I think Positron stepping down as lead of CoH1 to work on the endgame content system is really just a pre-cursor to him being announced as lead dev of CoH2 once they officially announce it.

Positron ruled out zone revamps, but War Witch was heavily involved in the Faultline revamp and was an outdoor zone builder before her promotion, so I suspect we'll get some revamps as well as new zones now. Positron did a lot of good for the game, but he sidelined the storyline - also the meagre amount of new missions added between I11 and I16 were almost universally poor compared to the excellent I8 and I10 mission content in Faultline's and RWZ's revamps. Also some of the worst lore in the history of the game was attached to good systems that Positron introduced like Mission Architect and especially Inventions (the cringe-worthy Doctor Brainstorm - gah!) and the "Coming Storm" storyline started during his tenure is still "coming" over 3 years later and seems no closer with Going Rogue on the horizon. Hopefully War Witch will get the storyline back on track and take us back to the story writing quality of CoV, I8 and I10.

Thanks for such an interesting and thought-provoking article - it's the best opinion-piece I've ever read about CoH on any MMO site.

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