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Reader Comments (18)

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 8:49PM (Unverified) said

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I'd hate to see CoH go down the WoW route of forcing strict adherence to the holy trinity, specific 'follow-this-strategy-to-the-letter-or-die' encounters and gear check bosses balanced with mathematical precision to take you out unless you have exactly the right build. Given the vast range of ATs and powersets the game offers I'm not sure that would even be possible anyway.

But if they're going to have an endgame then it should be challenging, and If that means someone who's been running +0/x1/no bosses from 1 to 50 is suddenly losing fights then so be it, because otherwise it offers no real challenge to the rest of us.

As enjoyable as it is, the default game is too easy too often, with even a semi-competent full team capable of steamrollering most content. The tougher, trickier enemies of Going Rogue were far more exhilerating to fight than the xp fodder of so much of the game. More of that please.

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 8:58PM Gryphmon said

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Skill really isn't that important even in Trials. City of Heroes still has a long way to go before its trials reach the complexity (and silliness) of upper level WoW Raids. You can actually be a bad player and do Incarnate trials so long as you are capable of following direction. (Provided someone is actually willing to give direction, which is by no means certain). It really is possible to just muddle through them.

What locks level 50 players out of the higher end content Incarnate trials isn't lack of skill or even time, its the level shifts provided by the Incarnate 3 and 4 tier slots. A league full of level 50 +0 characters simply isn't going to be able to beat the enemies in a most trials, no matter their skill level at playing their particular powerset and archetype..

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 9:47PM DarkWalker said

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What I think is important in your article is when you say that keeping some parts of the game out of reach of less skilled players is "not necessarily fun, but fair".

If it's not fun, why keep playing the game? If I'm getting frustrated because the game prevents me from getting whatever is seen as the "cool stuff", why keep playing?

Different players have very different thresholds for the difficulty they can handle and still have fun. If a game wants to keep most players, it needs to handle the widest possible range of difficulty preferences while not making players feel like they aren't important.

This is why most single player games have multiple difficulties. Players can then tailor the game to their preferences. It's also why I do think MMOs should have multiple difficulties for cutting edge content - getting left out of the cutting edge content, which is often designed to be the most fun content in the whole game, due to pure lack of skill is not a nice proposition, and one that some players might not take kindly.

BTW, the difficulty a player can handle and the difficulty he has more fun playing at might be different. For example, I have the most fun when I dial back a bit from the best performance I can achieve; in other words, I prefer and have more fun with a somewhat more relaxing experience, where I'm not under constant pressure, but the content is still challenging enough that I have to pay attention. Thus, any game modes that forces me to always be performing at my best - say, progression raiding or competitive PvP - are less fun for me, and burn me out far faster, than less demanding content like casual raiding and just for fun PvP.

Posted: Feb 9th 2012 1:51AM (Unverified) said

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@DarkWalker

"...getting left out of the cutting edge content, which is often designed to be the most fun content in the whole game, due to pure lack of skill is not a nice proposition, and one that some players might not take kindly."

Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't much care if some players might not take kindly if they're left out of content. If they want to do the content then perhaps they should get better at the game. I'm tired of having my content watered down simply because some knuckledragging mouth-breather can't figure out not to stand in the giant purple flames on the ground.

I'm not 'elitist' or anything of the sort. What I am is a normal, sensible person who realizes that there are some things in life that are meant to be challenging. There are also some challenges that you simply won't be able to complete because you don't have the required skill. Your options upon encountering said challenge are to either get better or resign yourself to being unable to complete it. This is the way life actually works in the real world. Sadly, for many people, they seem to feel that everything should be allowed to them and nothing denied. If it is, then the people good enough to do it are somehow classified as 'mean' and 'elitist' (they are actually 'elite' if they're among the few able to do something, but people seem to add a negative connotation to that word now, like excelling at something when a majority of others can't is somehow bad).

I'm tired of the constant 'triumph of the mediocre' that has taken hold in western society and the whole 'let everybody do it' is an absurd concept rarely equaled.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2012 7:35AM DarkWalker said

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@(Unverified)

"Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't much care if some players might not take kindly if they're left out of content."

The developers do care, a lot. Players not taking kindly to the difficulty can make them leave the game. More so in the current MMO scenario, with lots of F2P games that don't require any upfront payment to try.

After all, the players that don't get a chance to experience the whole content are free to just leave the game and stop paying, leaving you with a lower budget game. Cater too much to the skilled players, without throwing an olive branch to the common, unskilled players, and you will be left with a low budget, niche game, while the less skilled players migrate to some other game where the difficulty is more in line with what they want or are capable of tackling.

This is why I defend multiple difficulties. Unless you believe easy versions of the content shouldn't exist, and less skilled players and/or players with less available time to play should simply be left out in the cold - in which case our positions can't ever met - multiple difficulties solve the problem of allowing less skilled players to experience the whole content while preserving challenge for the players that want it in a nice way.

BTW: this is a game. It's supposed to be fun and inclusive (at least if the devs want to make good money with it). It doesn't need to mimic real life, and it shouldn't ever attempt to copy over any concept that is simply not fun for a large part of it's player base. And exclusivity is not fun for the excluded players.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2012 4:38PM (Unverified) said

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@DarkWalker

The attitude that casual players won't get better has always been weird to me. But I have indeed seen players just not get better. How is that possible? What are you guys playing, that you aren't paying enough attention to realize maybe you could get better results by using WASD (for instance)?

Anyway, I'm fine with different levels of difficulty, but there should be some reward for doing well, don't you agree? Better gear certainly isn't a carrot, if you don't need it to see the content. What do you suggest?

Or should lower difficulties just be made available at a later date?
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Posted: Feb 9th 2012 5:21PM (Unverified) said

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@(Unverified) WoW has evolved to be much more casual-friendly, and they've changed their raids from exercises in patience and preparation (6 hours a night, every night a week, with some encounters just wars of attrition), to exercises in skill (6-12 hours a week, but full-tilt the whole time). They constantly provide easier, more manageable versions of the best content, though. The elite play the hardest versions of any of the content, and are often rewarded with little things that the other players just don't get, such as fancy titles or mounts. They gear they get even has a little tag on it that says it was harder to get, though players who do easier versions of the content can still get that gear.

They've basically narrowed the field of rewards for end-game content, so that you still know who the best are, but even the "worst" can try and enjoy all of the encounters, and receive some form of reward. It really comes down to whether the players are satisfied with such limited expressions of their skill. Is a title really worth it for the hardcore player, when a bunch of unskilled players are decked out in identical gear? Are the more casual players satisfied with the gear they can get, while being denied that fancy title?

That balance is almost impossible, but the CoH system of adjustable difficulty was always a solid one, I believe. The Incarnate system sort of harkens back to styles of difficulty that the difficulty slider system seems completely opposed to.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2012 9:03PM DarkWalker said

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@(Unverified)

I actually think rewarding better gear for doing well is among the dumbest things a MMO can do. Giving better gear to the best players is basically reducing the game difficulty for the players that most often actually like the challenge.

Besides, ever increasing gear rewards lead to gear inflation, which makes old content boringly easy due to players overgearing it. The game, for players with a high end character, becomes just the last bits of released content, the ones tuned for the most powerful characters - because any previous content is too undertuned for those all-powerful characters.

There are lots of things that could be granted instead: achievements, titles, costume pieces, and plenty of other things that scream "he is a terrific player" without making the game easier for him.
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Posted: Feb 10th 2012 3:02AM (Unverified) said

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@DarkWalker

If everybody is super, then nobody is. I truly believe that simply because you possess the ability to breathe in and out, you should not be granted access to all the content in a game. You need to have some level of skill to see it all.

See, I don't want my game to simply give me everything simply because I loaded it up. Where's the achievement in that? Where's the fun? Because fun is absolutely associated with achievement. Go play a game on god mode for a while. It's fun until you realize that there's no real point to playing any longer, because you can't really achieve anything meaningful.

Developers are shooting themselves in the foot by making games and content where every oxygen thief out there can do everything without having to work at it at all. It's a holdover from how they live I guess. They expect that simply because they exist, it's not 'fair' that other people make more money than them, have better jobs, have better lives, have better skills, etc. They expect that simply for participating they get to have the same as the very top people.

Sorry, that's not the way reality works, and games are a reflection of reality in many ways. There's a reason that so many games fail miserably. It's not because they're 'too hard'. It's because they're 'too easy'. People zoom through with hardly a challenge if they're at all skilled and then leave. Others may take a while but they're not getting anything from the game remotely resembling satisfaction simply because they're not achieving anything, and human beings must achieve to attain satisfaction with something. It's why the old adage of "If you don't work for it then it won't mean anything to you" rings true in so many cases.

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Posted: Feb 10th 2012 7:29AM DarkWalker said

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@(Unverified)

I never said that good players shouldn't be rewarded above mediocre players. I just think rewarding them with power - i.e., reducing the game's difficulty for the already good players - is among the dumbest things a game can do. There are plentiful ways to reward those players that won't make the game boringly easy for them as a result.

It's how a large part of the real world works, by the way; the gear needed for the best performance is not reserved just for the most skilled persons, instead it's available for anyone with enough money to purchase - even if said person don't even know which side of the equipment to hold.

Sports - which, in many ways, are the closest things to video games in the real world - take this equality in an even more extreme direction. Most competitive sports try, through their rules, to prevent players with more resources from having an unfair advantage. It's why sports equipment is so regulated - anything that improves performance too much is often banned, specially if it's also expensive.

Also, rewarding only the best players with access to some piece of content is a very dumb move, from a financial point of view. Spending money developing a piece of content just a small amount of players will ever see, much less beat - like WoW during the BC era, where only about 5% of the player base had ever set foot in a raid, according to Blizzard itself - is a waste of money in any game, and more so in a game with ongoing payments that can be interrupted at any time, like a MMO.

A player that hits a barrier and can't progress because the game becomes too hard is more likely to drop out of the game out of frustration and lack of things to do than to attempt to get better - after all, there are numerous other games out there that cater to less skilled players; he don't have to spend any effort getting better in order to have more things to do when he can just jump to an easier game.

And, in case you have ever wondered, casual and less skilled players make up the overwhelming majority of the player base. If a developer wants his game to be more than a niche game, he needs to cater to them. It's why you won't find many single player games where the easiest difficulty is challenging nowadays - most developers make sure to have a difficulty that even a bad player in a drunken stupor could beat, so they don't lose sales due to their game being too difficulty. If they don't, and their game gets tagged as hard, casual players with a limited budget for games - which is to say, most potential customers - will often ignore the game.

BTW, while I don't consider myself to be a really skilled player, I have no problems with solo game difficulty myself - I often beat most games I set to play at their hardest difficulties. On the other hand, I don't really like challenging group content; I prefer when I'm the only factor in whether or not I succeed.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2012 12:34AM mysecretid said

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The idea that there's only one "best" way to play a game is a lie perpetrated by self-designated elitists who need to feel important through enforcing their particular form of fun on other people.

Don't fall for it. If you're having fun when you play, you're doing it right.

Posted: Feb 9th 2012 4:00AM kimowar said

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its a f2p game now, I am not a filthy cheater so I cant play it

Posted: Feb 9th 2012 12:11PM StClair said

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@kimowar
I don't cheat, I'm a 7+ year subscriber, I play.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2012 5:42AM Wic said

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I have a few things to say:
I was until recently an avid COX player, I fine tuned builds through the hero planner and I learnt how to play the characters I had to the best I could. It was essential to me (in the game) that my character performed at its best for example a tanker or tankish brute without capped resists or defense will fall flat on his face.

I also feel that the underground trial is tuned too difficult for the players of city of heroes. My basic point being this; in games like wow and rift people use out of games comms to fine tune their strategies and raid structures and if like you elliot you struggle at perfecting your character you would have conversations with people who cared.

I would argue with you though that the old school task forces were not easy and took a lot of time for the badge hungry. If you were not a good player on those and everyone pulling their weight then the team was doomed.

My final point: Bring on cox 2 please once paragon have finished experimenting with the last of the hamsters :).

Posted: Feb 9th 2012 12:12PM StClair said

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@Wic
For curiosity's sake, why did you stop?
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Posted: Feb 9th 2012 7:57AM Aziras said

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Interesting view. I completely agree with the link between player skill and time. Games can be designed to be fun for any player with 100 points distributed across those two. I call this the "balanced player". Mostly in arguments that end up in the casual VS hardcore direction.
The problem arise when the game designers try to lure in the ones that have both skill and time.

So far I have yet to see an MMO that succeeded in keeping a game fun for the "balanced players" when they try to keep the gaming elite of 16+ hours/day captivated by challenging content for a long time.
The studios know that whichever game is currently ranked as the "best" in the elitist circles will be the one that can captivate the wannabes. And the game with the wannabes is the one where the wannabes' more casual friends will be as well, due to social ties.

I used to do the ranked raiding game years ago. Got settled with a family and career and lost the freedom to fit in a high end raid calendar.
During the following 3-4 years I went through what I imagine a lot of the more mature MMO gamers have been through:
* Babysitting and coaching the averagely skilled players and dragging their less skilled players through content at a frustrating pace
* Resignation and playing alts for shiz'n'giggles
* Trying out every new MMO with the prospect of pioneering not having the "stuck in endgame"-staleness of more established MMOs - then realizing that the time constraint mean little ability to stay in sync with anyone and ending up playing with random people every session through a game going nowhere
* Realizing that the old flame MMO turned into a hand-me-down content fest, where content was handed down synchronously to those without skill and those without time. Leading to really poor gameplay.

I played COH as one of those exploratory expeditions some time back. And from the looks of it, I may even consider trying again.
The prospect of a hard solo path is interesting.

But to be honest, I think I solved my time challenges by playing single-player games. I got sick of facerolling through mindless grinds in MMOs, only to find out that eventually I would be stuck either having to invest more time or deal with clueless players. And before I offend anyone, there is a big difference between the author's "not very good" and "useless and unable to understand instructions".
I realized that when playing singleplayer games I got some story elements as well, a persistent world, and a pause button (only those of you with kids and wives will know the true value of that).
Depending on my backlog of unplayed titles I can even tweak the game's difficulty setting either by in-game settings or by reading online help or not.
The time I have does not allow me to get through all the games I want during a year, so it does not matter how fast I play them. I even get to wait for them to go on sale and grab them cheaper (often with a boatload of DLCs in a bundle).

So to all of you frustrated about the MMOs not serving up fun gameplay due to time constraints, go play singleplayer games.
That way the developers will not have to deal with a two-headed monster in their 90-percentile playerbase. And can focus on making fun content for those who has plenty of time to invest in the game, and cover all skill levels.

Posted: Feb 9th 2012 10:23AM (Unverified) said

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Many non-MMOGs put in (or, more accurately, "leave in") cheat codes so less-skilled players can experience ALL of the game they paid for. If you are a less-skilled (or just more casual -- there IS a difference) player and paying a monthly subscription -- just like everyone else -- does it really matter that it is "fair" that you are denied a significant amount of content? You are going to think, "well, I guess I am done with that game" and unsubscribe. Exactly what the developers do NOT want to happen.

There should always be an opportunity for a less-skilled (or more casual) player to experience the ENTIRE game -- even if that means less rewards.

I feel this applies to (forced) grouping and raiding too but would prefer to not open THAT can of worms right now.

Posted: Feb 9th 2012 1:30PM (Unverified) said

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@(Unverified)

Aww... I like that can of worms.

All kidding aside, the fact that even a group-heavy game like WoW will allow me to enter the 5-man instances on my own whilst CoH locks the climactic missions of entire zones to an arbitrary team size still irritates me. (The Hollows being the absolute worst example, but there's plenty of others.)
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