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Reader Comments (15)

Posted: Nov 17th 2010 5:59PM GumbyJD said

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...and Issue 19 is now officially delayed until after Thanksgiving. Yay. :(

Posted: Nov 18th 2010 1:44AM Jeromai said

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The day CoH devolves into a hamster wheel of endgame raids is the day I cease my subscription. After writing Paragon Studios a wall of text (and you know how wall-of-texty I can be!) on the forums and through their feedback mechanisms.

But I'm still fairly optimistic. As long as the culture of the CoH devs remains to listen to their fans and increase options/customization at every turn, I don't think we'll see that devolution of design. They might trip up for a patch or two, sometimes people are human and make mistakes, but I trust they'll course-correct after.

Posted: Nov 18th 2010 1:56AM Jeromai said

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Oh, and I can't say that I'm not thrilled to be able to break the ED barrier with the Incarnate system. (Haven't worked out the exact math details yet, but presumably some increase in power there.)

A long time ago, there were heavily imbalanced invul tanks who could stand knee-deep in +10 mobs and not get scratched, plus other crazy things like massed fire imps, etc. And the game still worked... to a point. (Flavors of the month were more common.)

Only problem was, there was nowhere to strive toward, we had already arrived.

The ED nerf brought people down several pegs, and by now, everyone has kinda gotten used to it, with inventions improving things back again. But there's still a little more room to get a bit more crazy powerful.

I think one of the most crucial points is to stop players from discriminating against those just in normal SOs. I do hope the Incarnate slots are easy enough to unlock that they don't become something for the elite only. The other thing will be ensuring that some players not being as well equipped do not automatically = team wipe. That will guarantee discrimination. I've had had enough of the pleading for granite tank/brutes for STF and LRSF a long time ago.
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Posted: Nov 19th 2010 10:57PM Valdamar said

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I think a lot of people would quit their sub on the day CoH got a full-on raiding endgame like EQ/WoW - I'd certainly be one of them - the sole reason I've been in CoH so long is to escape the endgame-focused MMORPGs.

So I should probably be worried by Incarnates, but I'm not. Before I9 I worried so much about the Inventions system being a loot/gear grind, that would separate haves from have-nots, that I took a year break from CoH - only to get back and find Inventions had added so much longevity to the game, and really didn't add much grind or any gear/build discrimination, that it's probably one of my favourite things about CoH now.

So I'm going to give the devs the benefit of the doubt with Incarnates - they've already pulled the system back into full re-development once based on playtester feedback, so they should have a fair idea what the playerbase in general wants from this kind of system by now. Though of course you can't please everyone.

I don't think the Incarnates system is going to be that hardcore, but I expect some of the uber-casuals in the playerbase will have their perceptions of it as such - especially when they run into those kinds of players you mention who insist on Granites to tank, or certain Corruptor/Defender sets, before they'll enter a TF - I suspect there'll still be prejudice against having Stalkers or Kheldians on incarnate TFs too - but I also think players with a few global friends who are not averse to PuGs will be able to make enough communal progress in thrown-together teams to keep them happy.

Just a feeling though. I just don't think Paragon Studios is about to release an uber-hardcore raiding system when most of CoH is uber-casual - it would be a very serious misjudgement and they should know their core audience by now - we've been with them long enough!
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Posted: Nov 18th 2010 12:17PM Shirogetsune said

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I'm pretty sure Positron has, at one point of time or another, said in his MMO blog how he *HATES* gated progression end game systems. And, with him being in charge of City's end game... I don't think a WoW-style system of becoming stronger is in the works.

Especially since we can turn basic Incarnate salvage into Task Force specific salvage, thus grinding out the high levels of our Alpha slot. Yeah, it might take longer... but that's the price us solo gamers (myself included) pay for not having the spare time to devote to an hour long or so Task Force. I think our development teams realizes City's playerbase is older than most games and thus, have jobs, families and lives to attend to. The hardcore can grab their Incarnate abilities faster, but we can still get ours eventually - something WoW doesn't offer.

Posted: Nov 20th 2010 12:26AM Valdamar said

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I certainly recall Positron saying words to that effect as well.

I don't think we have to worry about Paragon Studios going all hardcore on us. They know their core audience is uber-casual and they're usually pretty good at giving the players what we want (though it can take time :p ).
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Posted: Nov 18th 2010 4:15PM lmollea said

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"PvP will, however, still be pretty unbalanced and of minimal developer importance."

I have given up on seeing COX PVP getting some love from the devs. Although they have probably the best system around.

Posted: Nov 19th 2010 5:41AM (Unverified) said

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One small thing I've never gotten about Perma-Hasten (and I've been around since then, realize).

WHY would I want everything cooling down that fast? With my current cooldown speeds, and without ever taking Hasten at all, my cooldowns have never been an issue-- It's been running out of Endurance!

Is there some amazing secret method of Endurance boosting that I have never seen or heard of, am I cycling my powers badly, or what?

Posted: Nov 20th 2010 12:09AM Valdamar said

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I used to buy all my purples - from 100m inf seed money I could make 2billion inf per month easily just spending 10mins per day marketeering on a single character (and could make more/faster inf by using extra characters or spending longer, but I usually preferred to spend my time running missions/TFs as much as possible). Admittedly the scarcity on redside made it easier to get high prices and there were some big margins between the cost of recipes and the sale price of completed IOs (which is where I made my inf, off the people who couldn't be bothered to make their own IOs and had more inf than sense - i.e. farming PvPers mostly). I have no idea if I could still achieve that, what with the markets being merged nowadays, as the margins were always lower blueside and it could take me twice as long to make 2billion than on redside.

You certainly get your purples a lot faster buying them than running TFs or tip missions though. Just risking a little amount of inf as seed money up front can make you quite a bit in the long run though - just observe the prices of popular yet fairly common set IOs for a few days (checking both recipe and enhancement prices they sell for) and you may see some margins for profit. The sets that used to be good to me were stuff like Numina (pretty much everything but the unique), Luck of the Gambler (Def, Def/End, Def/End/Rchg), Obliteration (all but proc), etc - best sets in their niche, but not so popular there was lots of competition between marketeers over them, and they sold fast enough that it was easy to shift stock daily.

I suspect it's still viable to make inf off "lazy" people who'd rather buy enhancements than recipes to make up themselves. Just don't get too greedy - price things so that they sell fast but still make you a reasonable profit - and you'll soon start building up the inf pretty fast.
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Posted: Nov 20th 2010 12:14AM Valdamar said

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@Ariamaki
Re: why you'd even want powers recharging that fast - well, avoiding the obvious benefit (your long recharge powers coming back faster), the faster you can get your most efficient attacks recharging, the less need you have to even take/slot your weaker/slower attacks - and an attack chain consisting of just your 2-3 best attacks means that your damage-per-second is way way higher than what players with a "full" attack chain are doing. I have plenty of characters with only their 2-3 highest DPA (damage-per-animation time) attacks in their attack chain - it means less wasted slots/powers in the build (so you can take more situational powers), much better damage and a less-cramped hotkey bar.

And using Rain of Arrows with Build-Up + Aim every 20ish seconds on my L50 Archery Blaster is a beautiful thing as well :) I've seen a build that made heavy sacrifices but got RoA down to near 15secs - that's 4 annihilated spawns every minute without even breaking a sweat.

Another thing not to overlook is that builds with very high recharge (i.e. perma-hasten) tend to focus on attacks that do really good damage-per-animation time and/or damage-per-endurance cost, which is often the mid-range attacks in the powerset - the big-hitter attacks often have long animation times, and the early attacks in a powerset usually do far less proportional damage for their end cost than later attacks do, so there's a sweet spot for efficiency of both time-usage and end-usage - most high DPS (damage per second) builds hit that sweet spot, so they're not wasting end on weak attacks and not wasting time on strong attacks, so they often end up burning less end-per-second than characters using the whole powerset.

And yeah there are more efficient ways to cycle powers than just hitting certain ones whenever they're up - having high recharge gives you far more options really - for example my Fortunata would run into the same problem some psi-only builds get in that they can't damage robots/objects that well, but she has a smash attack with knockdown (TK Blast) and a negative energy fast-DoT that is very end-efficient (Gloom) from her patron pool and her recharge is so high she can almost just chain the two of those with no gap (it's like a 0.5sec gap atm) in situations where her psi attacks would only be doing half usual damage due to resists, so wouldn't be very end-efficient. Her other two single target damage powers are psychic ones, her Hold (Dominate) and an attack that sometimes Immobilises (Subdue - though I have a Hold proc in it as well) - she only needs to use 3 of those attacks for a gap-less attack chain, but they all recharge so fast she has a lot of choice over what she uses and when - plus having a single target hold that recharges so quickly means it's very easy for her to Hold Elite Bosses and Archvillains when their triangles are down (and over time I've held some when their triangles were up and their hold protection magnitude is like 60+).

There's lots of benefits to having fast recharge, beyond the obvious ones.
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Posted: Nov 20th 2010 12:24AM Valdamar said

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@Ariamaki
Re: endurance usage, Tempes Magus made a lot of good points - it's about stacking up the bonuses - if you halve your end-consumption and double your end-recovery your powers basically cost a quarter what they do unslotted (or poorly slotted) in terms of how much they take from your total end bar. You can increase the size of your total endurance pool with accolade bonuses and set bonuses too, which not only gives you more End in your bar but also proportionately increases your end recovery by the same amount (Hit Points work the same way - increasing your total HP by set bonuses also boosts your regen), because while the percentage recovery remains the same the end pool it's applying too is now larger numerically, so you regain more end per tick for the same recovery percentage.

Endurance usage also depends heavily on the powerset you're using and which powers. If you want to experience zero end problems then the easiest way is to go with builds that can have multiple endurance recovery powers - Regeneration and Willpower have Quick Recovery which you can combine with Stamina and also Physical Perfection from the Scrapper ancillaries for 3 +recov powers - or you can go with Electric Armour or Energy Aura to get end drains and end-conserving powers and maybe even combine that with Dark Melee for another end-drain. DarkMelee/FieryAura is another combo with 2 end drains. /Mental Blasters and /Psionic Dominators can use Drain Psyche to get ungodly levels of end recovery, but usually not permanently unless they have enough global recharge and perma-hasten to get perma-DP too. Or for support archetypes just grab /Kinetics and after L35's Transference (you get it earlier on a Defender) you never have end issues again. Warshades killing big groups of mobs don't have end issues either because their corpse-drain, Stygian Circle, is so good at topping up both their blue and green bars.

Or just play a powerset that rarely has endurance issues - Claws has an end-discount and Archery is so end-light (despite being one of the best blast sets for all-round damage imho) that I suspect my L50 Arch/En Blaster could get by without Stamina - admittedly he's heavily purpled with lots of +recov and +end bonuses which is the other way you can fix end issues the expensive way, with lots of IO set bonuses/uniques.

But some builds just aren't fixable end-wise without serious sacrifices - my purpled-up L50 Night Widow has ungodly levels of damage, but she still can't solo a pylon without blue inspirations because she runs dry on end eventually (despite recovering 3 end per second at rest) as her claw attacks aren't very end-efficient (unlike Stalker/Brute/Scrapper Claws) - in fact I'm hoping the Alpha slot will fix that - but by comparison my purpled-up L50 Bane Spider and L50 Fortunata builds do less damage over time but can fight continuously for hours without me even looking at their blue bar.

I always find Ice/ powersets very end-hungry too - my L50 Ice/Storm Corruptor in particular still struggles despite an expensive build, while my L50 Fire/Rad Corrruptor has no issues at all (but then perma-AM helps). My Mace/SR Brute again was very hard to end-balance (managed it in the end but had to make some minor sacrifices in his build) and my friend's Stone/SR burned end faster than any build I've ever seen and he never got it fixed without a /Kinetic in tow, but my L50 Axe/WP Brute and L50 Claw/WP Scrapper could fight forever if my fingers could last that long.

Ways and means.
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Posted: Nov 21st 2010 11:48PM Valdamar said

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I haven't played much since they added alignment merits so I'm totally out the loop - I will be sad if the market is as dead as you infer though - hopefully people are still getting enough random drops to keep a healthy trade going. I'll probably still find it easier to buy a lot of my recipes to save on alignment merit grinding, as I do have about 3-5 billion stacked up each side across various characters. Though maybe I will save that for purples.

I don't buy PvP IOs - they're the insane ones that are going for more than 2billion inf with off-market trading (can't really call it a black market when the villainside market is called that - maybe we should call it the "off-market market", or the "even blacker market" :p ).

I don't mind unregulated player markets if you can still get by in the game without using the market - and CoH is an exemplar of that - admittedly I'm a bit biased as I applied my RL investment broking and risk management experience to the game and made billions every month :p But my perfect MMO would probably have everything being available from vendors for tokens earned via questing, though maybe with some modifier parts (like socketable gems/runes, or scopes/accessories for a sci-fi game, lightsaber crystals in Star Wars game, etc) dropping as random loot so you still have that nice feeling of surprise occasionally when something random but awesome drops.

The problem with setting an inf cap is that you'd make inf as absolutely worthless as it was before I9 - players would just move over to a barter trading system, and work out their own points value for what certain IOs were worth (i.e. you'd probably have to trade 5 control set purples to get an attack set purple :p ). Or people would just stop selling stuff and start hoarding in case they ever needed loot on an alt (and that would go rough on people without trustworthy guilds that had storage space).

In part I agree with you that game economies need to work in a way that enhances fun for most players, rather than just enhancing wealth for the minority willing to put in the time and research/homework to "work" the economy - and CoH is the only MMO I've ever done that in cos it was a blind bids system with anonymous sellers, so it was easy to work over and stay low profile. I'd certainly rather have no player economy than a badly thought out economy that just punishes casual players (though in CoH arguably the casual players would stay with SOs and never touch IOs much - and in that respect you'd make far more inf now just selling drops to vendors than we ever made from dropped SOs/DOs/TOs pre-I9) - but I'm torn because I think a fully integrated economy can enhance a game if it was designed with enough cash-sinks to balance the cash-faucets that there wasn't much inflation (i.e. prices didn't get higher, making everyone but hardcore vets unable to compete) and the market was designed in a way that players couldn't dominate a niche (like theyc an in CoH).

CoH's problem is that they never had an economy really before I9 - and then they just bolted a new economy on without really thinking about it. I suspect making IOs so easy to get from alignment merits is just a step back in the direction of making the game easier for casuals - but have no illusions that purples and PvP IOs will likely remain hard to get - they're meant to be endgame for the hardcore - and without a sub-purple market to manipulate for wealth I suspect it has just pushed more people into farming to get them, and put purples further out of the hands of casuals who don't want to indulge in that.

As for the sets you need - Armageddon, Ragnarok, Unbk Constraint and Apoc were always pricy and desirable - I was paying 300-400m for EACH IO in the attack sets pre-GR - and I didn't have any spares of those kicking around understandably - and I usually sold the confuse set because it wasn't worth that much relatively and wasn't worth keeping for the two times I had a use for it (Fortunata, Mind/Psi permadom). Besides I have a feeling you're on the US servers and not on Union/Defiant so it's not like we could do a trade even if I had the IOs and was feeling generous :)
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Posted: Nov 22nd 2010 12:43AM Valdamar said

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Re Hasten & AM - would you not have put Hasten on auto anyway (CTRL + click power in hotbar) and just cast AM when needed? So you'd only have to monitor AM. You wouldn't want both on auto of course, as AM would likely miss more players in your group if you weren't in full control of when you used it.

Before you say it's impossible to have 2 powers on auto anyway - yeah it is but with keybinds and clever bindfiles you can get the autopower to change which power it's assigned to every time another key is pressed (and then remap those keys to switch it back on the next keypress), and if it's a key you press a lot then both powers will have plenty of chances to auto-activate - on my Mind/Psi Permadom and my Archery/En Blaster I have my W/A/S/D/Space keys (i.e. movement keys) mapped to switch the auto-power from Hasten to Domination (Dom) or Boost Range (Blaster), and back again, every time I press those movement keys (and Doms and Blasters need to move around so much in combat I'm basically hitting those keys all the time anyway) - so both characters basically have perma-Hasten and perma-Domination/perma-Boost Range without me having to even think about activating them. Best of all when I get hit with that zoning bug that sometimes de-toggles and often cancels your auto-power selection, it doesn't matter because the first time I hit the move keys they automatically reactivate the auto-power - so it basically kills two birds with one stone.

But I don't really mind long duration click buffs, even the ones I can't stick on auto - I hardly ever forget to recast as long as they affect my character (because I'm always monitoring my own buff/debuff bar and never miss when something changes) - which is why I hate the short duration click buffs that you can cast on allies but not yourself, like the "mini-bubbles" in Force Fields, Cold Dom, Thermal Rad, Sonic Res, etc. but also buffs like Frostwork, Forge, Speed Boost, Painbringer, Increase Density, O2 Boost, Thaw, etc. Because the buff isn't on my character, and because the party display isn't always accurate for showing buff status on teammates, I tend to forget when the buff wears off the first person who receoved it, so I forget to re-apply it to the entire team - and re-buffing takes so long when you're in a team with 7 other people (especially if you have 6 pets of your own you want to keep buffed as well - yep I played a Bot/FF MM in CoV beta and hated it :p ). I'd probably need to keep setting the alarm on my phone just to keep reminding me to re-buff.

It's not so bad at higher levels when you can tear through missions in 4mins cos you just buff everyone at the door when you enter, but on long missions or at low level I just plain forget 3-4mins later that I need to re-apply all those buffs again (with both mini-bubble buffs in those sets you're basically having to do 21 clicks/keypresses every 3-3.5mins to target and re-cast both buffs - assuming people haven't wandered off too far and miss their turn, then they complain they didn't get buffed - plus extra clicks for Forge/Thaw too if you're a Thermal) - and when I do remember I just dread it coming round again as it just feels like I'm spending half my life buffing (and yes I know how godlike a lot of those buffs are - I'm just not support-minded unless it's debuffing/controlling/tanking).

I'd find all those "mini-bubble" powersets a lot more playable if all those 4min single target buffs were changed into a PBAE-cast buff like AM - even if it cost a ton of end to cast it - because it would just remove all that micromanagement and, for me, the hassle of knowing when to recast. Also it would at least make those power picks useful to the character that was taking them when they weren't in a team, so they could actually make use of those powers solo without being a Mastermind (i.e. with pets to cast them on). And that's why I've never got /FF, /Cold, /Therm, /Sonic or even /Kin past L20.

I agree AM is very nice - my fave buff in the game (well, maybe after the toggle aura buffs on VEATs - they're really easy to use!), mainly because it's PBAE and I hate casting individual buffs (because you have to stop fighting to target people), but also because it enhances so many things that it tends to be useful for absolutely everyone in the team. But it's only 20% +rchg iirc, and Hasten is 70% (and you can never have enough recharge imho - not that anyone could ever hit the +400% recharge cap), so Hasten is still pretty useful - even if it was nerfed to 40% I'd probably still take it. But yeah if you stack up enough global recharge you don't need Hasten - most people take it anyway though just so you can make other compromises in slotting in your build - but I probably wouldn't whine too much if Hasten got nerfed as it's almost an automatic pick for lots of people like the Fitness pool was - besides if they nerfed it to, say, 20-40% maybe they'd turn it into a toggle or passive instead - I'd much prefer that.
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Posted: Nov 19th 2010 11:57PM Valdamar said

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"Unfortunately, the problem here is that we are already closer to perma-Hasten than most players would like to admit, at least for certain archetypes and specs. "

Closer? We've had it since I9. Sure, it's easier on some builds than others - every perma-domination build pretty much has perma-hasten by default and there's loads of builds for those on the forums - but over half a dozen of my 18 L50s have perma-hasten, or very close to it (3-4 second gap on a couple of them, like my Bane/Crab builds), without making any serious sacrifices - once you start looking at global boosting through set bonuses as a priority over per-power boosting with enhancement bonuses it's rather easy to stack up enough global recharge for perma-hasten - there's even some builds that don't even need purples to do it, and can reach perma-hasten "on the cheap" (mostly Kinetics - in fact I think Kinetics can get perma-Hasten on just SOs if they keep spamming Siphon Speed).

So the perma-hasten ship has already sailed - it's over there behind perma-AM, perma-dom, perma-FS, perma-Rage, perma-DP, perma-Elude, perma-Unstoppable, perma-patron-pets, etc.

Posted: Nov 21st 2010 11:10PM Valdamar said

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As I understand it you still suffer the end/hp crash (not like Rage used to be before they fixed it - with perma-Rage as long as you stacked it again before the crash period of the previous Rage, you wouldn't actually suffer the crash at all), but because you activated Unstoppable again before the first version crashed there's not much chance of you dying while you pop some blue/green insps and get on with your invulnerable smackdown.

Well until you run into someone that does psychic damage, or Hamidon, then Unstoppable isn't going to be much use :p

I think all the godmodes run perma work like that - well apart from the new ones on stuff like Willpower and Shield that cannot have their recharge timer modified by any means whatsoever - with Regen's godmode getting a makeover as well (but more of a buff than a nerf in that case, even though it became a 15sec defensive build-up rather than a traditional godmode, because of how awful it was before) I keep wondering if the Devs will get around to buffing/nerfing any of the other old godmodes.

I'm rather keen on Power Surge personally (not just great gameplay-wise, it looks awesome too), even though I don't play my EM/Elec brute much (well, he was my redside marketing mule for ages which earned him daily log-ins, but he hasn't fought in combat since about 3 years ago), and would hate to see it nerfed - ditto with Force of Nature on my blaster.
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