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Reader Comments (18)

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 9:14PM Haldurson said

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Part pf the problem is that MMOs are, by nature, action-driven and not story-driven. In order to be story-driven, you'd have to either have a whole lot more text/conversations or a whole lot more cut-scenes. What you want is more of a movie expereience. A lot of video games TRY to be that, but I actually hate that trend because I don't want to watch my games, I want to play them.

What you probably would like better is more of a text adventure-type game, or even a movie or television show or actual comic book, than an mmo. It's the nature of MMOs (at least successful ones so far) to be more action-driven.

Posted: Mar 29th 2012 3:54AM pcgneurotic said

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@Haldurson

I think that's most of it right there, yeah. I wonder how it would be if we took the Bioware/SWTOR approach, and put in all the dialogue and conversation scenes, moral choices and so on. I've been playing CoH and Champs for years, and SWTOR fro just a couple of weeks. Although the actual action in SWTOR is bog-standard, the dialogue scenes really make it fun. If we had that, even without the voice acting, it would be a huge improvement over just tuning in a radio or reading a speech bubble.
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Posted: Mar 29th 2012 10:53AM corpusc said

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@Haldurson

nice post.

sounds like the articles complaint is nothing specific to the superhero genre, but just the desire in general from storycentric players to want their interactive entertainment to be more like movies/books.

i am also one who doesn't look for this in games, and am not personally that interested in stories. when i AM in the mood for that, i just watch a movie. even then i generally watch them more for video/audio immersion than for story. but thats just me. i'm just too hard to please when it comes to stories. they are almost always done poorly IMO. even in books and films.
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Posted: Mar 28th 2012 9:50PM JuliusSeizure said

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To be fair, they're doing a slightly better job in newer content of having continuity and making characters recur past their initial appearance.

And on the other hand, isn't the lack of set structure for these things a blessing in some ways? I know, if you want your character to not be pigeonholed into being what the game story says you can just say so, but that never feels good. Besides, CoH is one of the few games where it's plausible to roleplay a character as someone who actually does go out and beat up dozens of mooks on any given day. Point being, the game may not go as far as others to immerse you in its own story, but it does ibetter than just about any to avoid pulling you out of your own stories.

Posted: Mar 29th 2012 5:30PM Daemodand said

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@JuliusSeizure Well said. But when you get to Incarnate stuff all that unfortunately goes out the window. The game that carefully stepped out of the way of your concept and personal story for 50 levels does an about-face and makes you a magic mook. A magic mook that can be knocked out by a rock thrown by a nobody.
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Posted: Mar 28th 2012 9:51PM JuliusSeizure said

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To be fair, they're doing a slightly better job in newer content of having continuity and making characters recur past their initial appearance.

And on the other hand, isn't the lack of set structure for these things a blessing in some ways? I know, if you want your character to not be pigeonholed into being what the game story says you can just say so, but that never feels good. Besides, CoH is one of the few games where it's plausible to roleplay a character as someone who actually does go out and beat up dozens of mooks on any given day. Point being, the game may not go as far as others to immerse you in its own story, but it does better than just about any to avoid pulling you out of your own stories.

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 9:57PM Anatidae said

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There would be a lot better nemesis if they were other players.

I wish the superhero MMOs had way more sandbox elements in them. Give reasons for villains and heroes to harm or defend the world. There are so many possibilities that go beyond just PvP too.

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 10:47PM (Unverified) said

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Man I remember being on Champions-Online forums before the game released and there was so many COOL ideas people had. Give me a *&^% load of money and some devs and I'll give ya the game your looking for!

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 11:42PM Yukon Sam said

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Someday we'll have NPCs that are sophisticated enough to remember you, form opinions about you, and respond to you in a naturalistic fashion, even carry on a decent conversation that has nothing to do with scripted quests.

At that point, the sidekicks, fans, romantic interests, elderly relatives, archenemies and irratable newspaper editors, your personal supporting cast, can arrange themselve spontaneously into unique configurations, driven by their interactions with you.

Sadly, until something happens to knock the industry out of the EQ/WoW rut, progress on this front will probably come exclusively from games and studios that nobody ever hears about. That's all right. If the tools keep getting better and cheaper, we'll soon be cranking out AAA titles in our basements and the major studios can come begging for distribution deals.

Posted: Mar 29th 2012 12:34AM potaco said

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@Yukon Sam
You mean like GW2 has????

Just kidding. Those days will come, but unfortunately not any time soon. Hopefully my kids will be able to experience the "magic" that those experiences will bring (though by then, people probably won't even care about video games because they'll be too busy zwakking on their gaaldrenars).
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Posted: Mar 29th 2012 12:13AM (Unverified) said

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I feel that 'Who Will Die' has made big strides in that regard. Darren Wade feels very much a nemesis, and I feel more connected to the bearded bastard than I do to any other NPC in the setting.

Though, it sounds a bit like you want the game to provide freeform RP-quality interaction without the effort. Might be worth it to find a villain player and work out a story.

Posted: Mar 29th 2012 2:07AM CitizenH said

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@(Unverified)

And who could ask for a better supporting character for making air sounds than Dillo?
*hoorb!*
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Posted: Mar 29th 2012 8:48AM Wic said

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This is a wider problem than with city of heroes, mmorpgs try to give you piece meal jobs to complete once you complete one its on to the next.

I hope they do city of heroes 2 differently and cannot wait for that game! CoX will always have a place in my heart for making me feel super awesome once I unlocked my incarnate powers.

Posted: Mar 29th 2012 8:56AM Ceridith said

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There's a magical solution to all of the issues laid out in the article...

Roleplay with other players.

That's right, other players can easily become your nemesis, supporting cast, and gives you an opportunity to create a more meaningful backstory and purpose for your hero.

Posted: Mar 29th 2012 1:37PM CitizenH said

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@Ceridith

"There's a magical solution to all of the issues laid out in the article...

Roleplay with other players."

Unfortunately it means your rogues gallery and supporting cast will be made up almost entirely of catgirls, vampires and Night Elves displaced from Azeroth.
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Posted: Mar 29th 2012 2:08PM JuliusSeizure said

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@CitizenH

Amended solution: Don't roleplay on Virtue, roleplay on Union. =P
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Posted: Mar 29th 2012 12:16PM (Unverified) said

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Elliot,

I think you nailed it on the head in your conclusion when you said the game is limited by the 8 year-old engine it's built on. For the time, the content structure was quite revolutionary. I remember story archs that truly made me feel like I was saving the city or the world .

The contacts do appear a bit two-dimensional, but there was an effort made to make them seem as legit supporting cast as you see the progress bar mounts. You go from acquaintance to confidant. The recent addition of the Shining Stars, the trainer dialogue, the re-occuring midnighter contacts also contributes to that feel for me.

Asking for more fleshed out characters would require more cut-scenes, something some players hate.

Finally, the Day Job mechanic, and the civvy costume options does help with the immersion into the character. This is, after all, an action game. Would you like your character to also have do spreadsheets at a desk, or go to a landlord contact to pay the rent? Wait, we already kind of do that anyway.

I completely sympathise with you, as I love to flesh out my toons as much as possible. I've been obsessed with making my own superheroes since my dad bought me a Mighty Men and Monster Maker (remember those?). But the game has to be enjoyable to the largest spectrum of people, and with the engine they're working with, Paragon Studios have done a pretty good job, IMO.

Posted: Apr 13th 2012 3:56AM Ken from Chicago said

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If I may be a Johnny Come Lately to this article and comments, but I've returned to COH since it's gone F2P after about a year and I thought the Shining Stars story arc you get at level 5 in Atlas Park really captured the feel of having supporting cast of well-developed characters, Twinshot, Proton, Flambeaux, Dillo and Grymm.

I also thought the Going Rogue expansion with the moral choices was nice in focusing on the motivations of what you're choosing to do. To a lesser extent it also had supporting characters helping out, often off-screen, but by using text dialogue, there was a feeling of teamwork even when soloing.

That all said, I suggested years ago that they might have some kind of secret identity system where you did missions as a regular person for your day job and have to work up ways of excusing yourself to do superheroing. I imaging for supervillains who it could work similar to any criminal who hides their nefarious doings from the placid law-abiding charade they maintain at work or home.

But then the game introduced Day Jobs for logging out that kinda stole some of thunder, but I think having a Secret ID mechanic could still work. They've laid the groundwork in the Mission Architect where there's that room where all your powers are negated. I just did a low-level mission in Atlas Park where I actually did play a reporter spying on the Skulls. And of course the first story arc has you infiltrating a gang base in disguise and depowered. So I think COH has the tools to make it work.

As far as an overarcing Nemesis who works smarter not harder, I think glimmers of that was evident in the Going Rogue story arcs where you often had to choose between Justice and Order. You often had to choose between long-term Justice versus short-term Order. Freeing a society from mind-control might temporarily deprive them of a basic necessity. What to do, what to do?

A Nemesis might often confound a hero by forcing such dilemmas. Yes, capture the villain--but dishearten a nation that she was not the hero they thought she was. Capture a gang, but leave room for the Nemesis to tighten his or her grip on that territory. Stop a mob boss, but deprive the neighborhood of the donations he was making to his hometown charities. That's the kind of dilemmas a superhero might face where having superpowers don't help.

Of course for supervillains, their Nemesis would be an another supervillain striving to attain and / or maintain power. A dilemma a supervillain might face is go for the short-term score but alert cops to your presence. Move up in a criminal organization but you have to step on other criminals to do so. Stay settled at the criminal level you're at but risk being seen as easy pickens by rival criminals.

The thing is, I think just by using the text dialogue (and the occassional cutscene), that Paragon could add those elements to the game without having to radically overhaul the game itself.

-- Ken from Chicago

P.S. Altho I wish the graphics could be tweaked just enough to get rid of mitten hands, and also for females to have thicker arms (they are almost T-Rex tiny). If they could split costumes to left and right for asymmetrical outfits, that would be bonus but I think that would be a major overhaul.

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