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Reader Comments (16)

Posted: Jul 15th 2010 6:17PM J Brad Hicks said

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The "spam a basically ineffective auto-attack for however long it takes to get permission to use a real attack" game mechanic is the number one reason I didn't buy Champions Online. There were others, but I knew that even if it had four times the starting content it had, and even if it didn't look ugly to me, I knew I would hate that gameplay. I mean no criticism of people who like it, I just don't find it fun. Even more than Pool > Fitness > Stamina spoiled me, what really spoiled me about City of Heroes is that every attack, every power (except maybe Brawl) actually does something significant.

Resource management is something everybody thinks they want, and then runs away from as soon as they get it. They think that whittling down enemies' hit points at a constant rate is boring (and it sort of is), so what they think they want is a gameplay style where you store up energy, kill something really fast, and then have downtime before you can do it again: you kill the same number of enemies per hour (or day, or whatever) but you feel more powerful when you're doing it, you need to use more strategy about when you use your attacks, and the downtime gives you opportunities for roleplaying, or to get a sandwich, or whatever.

Yeah, they think that. But they go running back to WoW, or any other more recent game that doesn't have forced downtime. Because if you ever get out from under forced downtime, from then on you can't get over how much forced downtime sucks.

Posted: Jul 15th 2010 6:22PM Ghede said

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The energy mechanics would work better (and without imitating others) if they had focused more on TIMING. As in, you could actually DODGE an attack without a dice being rolled in the process. Since every last projectile automatically homed in on you if you were targeted, that wasn't really a viable option, so running and gunning was impossible. It really got ridiculous when archery was involved. Ever see an arrow turn in midair?

Posted: Jul 15th 2010 6:51PM (Unverified) said

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This article I don't understand since there is never a time and I don't know of anyone else who feel like they have to build their energy up to do something. The energy mechanics in CO are the most lax (ie don't make me feel restricted by the energy bar or unecesarry timers) in any MMO I've ever played. And I am always attacking and always doing something. in City of Heroes, you aren't, not till much later in the game, when you actually have a combat chain to use, since it's punch and wait which can feel aggonising. Then of course, there is the energy management, until stamina, which makes life feel even worse.

WoW, oi, I remember the WoW days of fight, then have to sit and drink. Yea, I've read how they've got some nnate MR and regen going in the lower levels, but this is relatively new thing, not something that started out with WoW. This statemnt of forced downtime is just silly since comparatively, CO has none. Personally, if you beleive that then you did build your character wrong.

Posted: Jul 15th 2010 10:02PM eggmanjr said

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pfft the wait to replenish in WoW was nothing, compared to the original EQ, it would literally take more than 5 minutes of sitting and looking at a book on your screen to get to full mana.
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Posted: Jul 15th 2010 6:51PM Ardwulf said

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The energy bar might be short in many instances, but it fills up really fast, typically going from nothing to full in 3-5 seconds. I can, with my non-REC focused character, typically get off a good solid shot before having to build energy up again, sometimes two - although some builds are better at this than others.

Posted: Jul 15th 2010 7:23PM Kalex716 said

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I only played champions for the first month, but I found the combat loop to be one of its better features. I liked the bit of econ management that it had.

Posted: Jul 15th 2010 7:29PM (Unverified) said

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I think the complaints about energy in CO are pretty valid, while the comparison to other games like WoW is not entirely apt. The biggest difference between WoW's resource management and CO's is that every WoW class that has a resource to manage is also given tools to ease that management without requiring them to give up something else. You also have potions and other items that can be used to supplement the resource, and as you pointed out it's rare for a WoW mana user to run out of mana every fight.

In contrast, your "solutions" to energy problems in CO involve the player sacrificing flexibility or power just to be able to have enough energy to play the game. You suggest focusing on END, REC, and INT. That's great, if your powers are based on END, REC, or INT. But what about a character who's powers are based on STR/DEX (or whatever)? If they focus on energy building they'll have plenty of energy for a bunch of underpowered abilities. Yay. And then contrast that to a character with powers based on END/REC. They get it all, plenty of energy AND their powers function at full strength. How is that fair?

Your other "solution" is to use one (or more) of a number of specific powers, or essentially CO's version of Fitness > Stamina, the powers everybody takes because you have to for the game to be fun. Guess what, required powers aren't fun. What's the use in having massive customizability in character generation if it's all but required that you stack END, REC, and INT and choose certain powers JUST TO BE FUNCTIONAL!!

THAT is what is wrong with the CO energy system. That and the fact that energy builders are colossally boring. There was a time during the game's existence when energy builders were useful in their own right, but Cryptic nerfed their damage down to nothing.

Posted: Jul 16th 2010 1:30AM Patrick Mackey said

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If you spec STR, you are pretty SOL without a primary energy management stat right now. Sad but true. If you're STR though, you are probably melee and can get away with "form of the charge melee attacks to get focus stacks." Also, it depends on your secondary stats. DEX has a lot of energy return options, CON has Defiance. PRE has only one (thermal reverberation). EGO is also kind of out of luck, but EGO benefits a ton from blocking. Force shield is pretty good no matter what you do. The reason why I listed so many solutions is precisely because there isn't just "pick Stamina and you're done." Most of the unslotted passives only work with one powerset, but if you are clever you can mix and match a little. I think that force shield is the only really universal one, because most people don't replace their block skill. I have a STR/PRE tank with ebon shield, so I really do know what it's like to not have an easy energy trigger. I still got away with thermal reverb, though. It's not "get stamina." It's "think about your build and grab some synergies." Even if you don't do that you can rank up your EB, which is kind of a waste of advantage points but 20% more energy is still okay.

Also, STR/PRE or whatever the most impossible build is (STR/EGO?) to get energy for, should still have points in END/INT/REC. You can invest stats there without gimping yourself. Read the gear article and remember that there's a glass ceiling on superstats. Get 3-5 stats, not 2. Stat spreading is key.

Explore your builds. Being "forced" to think about energy management isn't any different than thinking about what might go in your passive slot. You have a character, he has a role, you think about energy, survivability, damage, and so on. Forcing you to think about those things isn't like picking stamina, it's like thinking strategically about a character instead of bashing your head against the keyboard until you've picked a power.

As for the EQ1 comment, I was going to make a comment about how bad going OOM was there. I played a wizard so most of my life was spent sitting on my butt waiting for mana to come back. It was kind of a balancing thing though, since spamming nukes did so much dps compared to anyone else that no amount of taunting could pull off of you.

Posted: Jul 16th 2010 1:57AM (Unverified) said

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I still think the best solution would have been to make energy building how I thought it was gonna be when I first heard of CO's meter system. Have a tier of normal attacks that built meter, and have a tier of attacks that used meter. The normal attacks would actually do damage, and would build various amounts of meter depending on what kind of attack it was, energy builders would just straight up not exist (as well as most if not all innate passives), and energy users would be fairly amazing.

That way you have resource management and fun energy building. And the devs don't have to balance the game around gigabolt.

Posted: Jul 16th 2010 6:19AM Unverfied B said

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In WOW i always loved the warlock class because getting more manna is one button press and a GCD (1-1.5 seconds) away.

While it's true that sometimes the players are the problem, if a class has its most effective (e.g. highest DPS) cycle/rotation include [long] periods of regenerating manna - it's just plain broken.

In WOW many classes had times when this was the case, hunters for example had a very long period where the way to doing most damage included pretending dead, going out of combat and just drinking, while the other players continue to fight the boss - that's bad game design if i ever seen any. Being rage-starved as a warrior is even worse, as you don't even have any mechanic to generate more of it and that makes me RAGE IRL.

[disclaimer: Never played CO and don't really plan to]

Posted: Jul 16th 2010 6:21AM Unverfied B said

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Oh yeah and on a tangential note... I find games that have cooldowns on every single active ability infuriating as well. For example most of the classes in AION - hit 1,2,3 then wait for 10 seconds for cooldowns to end... FFFFFFFUUUUUUU~
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Posted: Jul 16th 2010 10:01AM (Unverified) said

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They really must have made some horrible changes since I last played if this is something to complain about. I liked the energy system in CO and enjoyed messing with it to see how I could get the most out of it. Even had the equilibrium sitting at 80% of the bar at one point. I guess it helped that back then fire returned a lot of energy (heard that was nerfed). I also like the charge attacks that let you control how much you spent on the power, so you could do a cool move even if you didn't meet the max energy requirement.

You guys should have been there in beta when an item you could buy increased max energy by 10000% or some ridiculous number. Energy builders return a % of your max energy, so it'd only take a few to last a few fights.

Posted: Jul 16th 2010 3:19PM Patrick Mackey said

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@candor: Actually, if you had a lot of fun messing around with the energy management system in CO, there's actually a lot still to mess around with. High REC still lets you get an equilibrium bar that is as large as your maximum energy, and high END can let you get energy totals of 200 or more. Tons of powers are also available (huge list above) to alter the way your character gains and spends energy.

The main issue is that you -have- to mess with your energy bar in some way, because if you don't fix your energy somehow the base energy management in the game is not very good. If you have 110 energy and no INT or REC (surprisingly common at level 40) you build like 11 energy per hit with your EB. If it takes like 4-5 seconds to build energy and then 3 seconds to do a fully charged haymaker that burns all of that energy... yeah, that's not very fun. A lot of people end up in that scenario though.

On the flip side though you can have force sheath running and be getting like 50+ energy per second from incoming attacks, or get 80+ nrg ticks from defiance every 3 seconds, etc.

Posted: Jul 16th 2010 5:45PM (Unverified) said

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This all sounds strange. I will admit that I haven't played CO much in the past 6-8 weeks. But I am a 'lifetimer' and play when I get the time.

Isn't there a mechanic in the game called 'equilibrium'. It's the point on the energy bar that you will rebuild energy to when not spending energy. This is WITHOUT your energy builder!

(The game manual reference for this is http://www.champions-online.com/manual#equilibrium )

This point on your energy bar is based on your stats. I remember when building my characters in the Powerhouse that if built up my equilibrium. And yes, REC was the one that did the most, but so did the 'primary stats' for whatever framework I selected. So If I chose a Framework that had STR and EGO, then building up my STR, EGO and REC built up my Equilibrium point.

And then there's all those energy drops that mobs were dropping all the time. And the stat boosts from my primary and secondary Utility, Defense and Offense items.

I have no memories of any real pauses in playing the game from lack of energy.

Maybe I need to go back to CO again and see if they have gone and changed something when I wasn't looking and made energy recharging up to the Equilibrium point slower or gone or something... as what you describe doesn't sound like the way it worked when last I was playing regularly.

Posted: Jul 17th 2010 4:02PM Patrick Mackey said

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Actually, in CoX the game is just so easy, you don't really need enhancements. You also don't have to make choices about how you gear your character. It is trivially easy to get 80-90% in damage, recharge, endurance, accuracy in an attack power.

There's a difference between being "given a choice" like CO, where you can choose different superstats and be successful if you don't neglect key elements like energy management, versus CoX where you HAVE to pick stamina or be gimp, some powerset combos are nigh unplayable and there are optimal ways to slot powers.

I played CoX for years and know the invention system inside and out. There's a reason why I don't play the game anymore.

Posted: Jul 19th 2010 8:09PM Patrick Mackey said

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Math is a tool, not a crutch. No matter what game you are playing, math helps you get better at it. "Learning the rules" of a game helps you. How do you develop new strategies if you don't understand the mechanics of those strategies? How can you tell if they're good?

In a MMORPG, this is more problematic because your decisions are lasting. Picking a character class and abilities generally forces you into a particular way of play. If you are playing via trial and error, you may end up making a dozen or more characters, none of which you actually like, "just to see" if those characters are any good. Alternatively, you may just end up paying tons of in-game currency just to respec your character.

A player who understands the rules and knows the math is not bound in the same way. He knows that because 1+1 = 2, he can see two abilities and say "those don't work well together." He can also say "those might interact strongly together." By eliminating numerous bad choices that may suck, he can find the more viable choices.

When people claim that "strategy" should be the skill that is rewarded, I usually tell them to go play a competitive game. Beating up mobs in PvE isn't going to reward creative strategies, no matter how much designers try.

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