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City of Heroes

Perfect Ten: The MMOs that influenced me greatly

World of Warcraft, Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Fallen Earth, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

DDO
Every one of us has an "MMO resume": a list of titles that we've played, whether briefly or extensively. Some of those are just games, casual flings that meant nothing. But others can take a more meaningful role in our lives, influencing how we experience and view MMOs.

I would scarcely say that my resume is one of the most robust you'll ever see; I'm sure plenty of you have played more than I. However, I like to think that I've had a journey over the course of a decade or so that's shaped who I am as a gamer. Since it's my birthday today, I'm going to share 10 of those influential MMOs with you and what they've done for me. You're going to get me cake.

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Perfect Ten: Great MMO time travel adventures

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, EverQuest II, Final Fantasy XI, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Star Trek Online, RuneScape, The Secret World, RIFT, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

BTTF
Writers and geeks alike can't seem to get enough of time travel, although the ratio of horribly crafted time travel tales to fun and smart ones is pretty lopsided. I've come to realize that MMOs are positively littered with ways that players are invited to jump around the internal timeline of the game, and I wanted to share a few of them in this week's countdown.

When you think about it, the proliferation of time travel quests makes a lot of sense from a developer viewpoint. There is a ton of lore that goes into each one of these virtual worlds, but for the most part the players are affixed to a very specific (and unmoving) point in time. Hopping about in time is a great way to experience other eras and actually see history instead of just reading it in a quest box. Plus, if done right, these quests can be quite memorable.

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One Shots: Fried calamari

Screenshots, City of Heroes, Culture, One Shots, Miscellaneous

CoH
Good games require memorable villains, I've always said. And while suave, well-dressed British masterminds are good in a pinch, nothing can top 150 tons of ticked-off gigantopus. So rest in peace, City of Heroes, and be content that you will be remembered for haunting the darkest dreams of superheroes for all time.

"Here is my squid (a Kheldian Peacebringer in Nova form) as part of a team vs. a larger squid. This is the giant octopus Lusca, frequently seen in Independence Port," reader Ben sent in.

Seriously, that thing is like an elder god taking a steam bath. It's going to react to your puny eye beams and frost blasts by warping all of reality with a sneeze. Speaking of warped reality, get a load of our other player-submitted screenshots after the break!

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The Daily Grind: Is there an MMO you're too wary to play?

Super-hero, City of Heroes, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind, Champions Online, Miscellaneous

Champs Online
Ever since City of Heroes was abruptly and unjustly sunsetted, I've toyed with the idea of giving Champions Online another spin. It can never be everything City of Heroes was to me, but it has a lot of the same ideas behind it, and it's closer in spirit and gameplay to my beloved CoH than the admittedly few other superhero options on the table.

But Champions Online has been so spottily supported by its developers over the last few years that I have a nagging suspicion I'd just be wasting my time, that the game is locked into a cycle of decay that will only frustrate me in the long run if I invest too much time, money, or emotion into it. And that's enough to keep me away.

How about you -- is there an MMO you'd like to play but that just makes you too wary to actually jump back in? What specifically is holding you back?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

City of Titans updates trailer for City of Heroes' 10th birthday

Betas, Super-hero, Trailers, Video, City of Heroes, Anniversaries

City of Titans
Today would have been City of Heroes' 10th anniversary, believe it or not. And while fond memories and colorful screenshots are all that remain of the former superhero MMO, the spiritual successor City of Titans is being built to fill in the void that was left behind.

Missing Worlds Media, the team behind City of Titans, released a new version of the teaser trailer for the Kickstarter project on this solemn occasion. It mostly consists of concept art and unpainted models being plunked down to make a city, but if you're looking to the future for your superhero fix, it might be an early glimpse at your future home. Give it a watch after the break.

[Update: Not to be outdone, Heroes and Villains also released new work-in-progress screenshots of its own spiritual successor to CoH in honor of the original's anniversary.]

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Working As Intended: Change for change's sake in World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, Business Models, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Miscellaneous, MMORPG, Working As Intended

Photo taken by Man vyi
MMORPGs struggle to meet two contradictory goals: They want to provide stability, permanence, a world you feel you can always come home to, and they want to provide dynamism, change, a world that always has something fresh and new. Lean too hard to one side -- change too much or too little -- and the backlash from fans and former fans and future fans can be overwhelming.

That's something Blizzard has never learned. With World of Warcraft, Blizzard is constantly chasing different demographics to maximize its playerbase, and those different demographics typically want different things out of the game, be they veterans or returnees or hardcores or casuals. Most of the game's expansions have retooled combat and classes and specs in some way, but in Cataclysm, and now again in Warlords of Draenor, the class revamps have been so far-reaching that they actually manage to turn off both veterans and returnees. Gamers, it seems, are willing to tolerate only so much dramatic change to their precious characters before rebelling.

This is a lesson City of Heroes could have taught World of Warcraft had Blizzard been listening.

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The Game Archaeologist: The danger of expecting lightning to strike twice

City of Heroes, Opinion, Champions Online, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous, Camelot Unchained, Star Citizen, Shroud of the Avatar, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen

It's no secret that many of the more successful Kickstarter projects over the past few years have heavily capitalized on player nostalgia, brand names, and former dev gods who are back for another round. The formula for drawing in the big bucks seems to be the following: Take something players hugely loved back in the day, dangle the concept of a sequel (spiritual or otherwise), and promise some measure of iterative improvement.

I once wrote about how we really can't go back again to recreate a particular game experience because it was usually a confluence of several factors that were related to where the industry was then and where you were then. I'm not saying that there isn't value to retro gaming, playing classic MMOs, or involving the past in future development! But there is a danger in how we as gamers become so beholden to our nostalgia that we dare lightning to strike twice -- and we're paying big bucks to see that happen.

But can we? Will it?

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SOE's Georgeson on City of Heroes and the future of EQ

Fantasy, City of Heroes, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Interviews, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play

EverQuest II dungeon group
IGN has released another snippet of its recent interview with EverQuest franchise lead Dave Georgeson. Earlier today Georgeson talked up his enthusiasm for virtual reality, while this latest cut focuses on EverQuest, EverQuest II, and City of Heroes.

Yeah, you read that right, as apparently the late great superhero title was one of Georgeson's personal faves. "Everybody who plays any MMO never wants it to die," he says. "You invest a little bit of your soul in an MMO, you spend a lot of time in it and so on and so forth, so of course you never want one of them to die."

As for EQ and EQII, Georgeson says that SOE has "no intention of ever shutting those games down."

Jukebox Heroes: Top 40 MMO themes, #10-1

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, EverQuest II, Lineage 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Ultima Online, LEGO Universe, Runes of Magic, Miscellaneous, Firefall, Jukebox Heroes, Music

We're finally here: my top 10 MMO theme tracks. I anticipate that out of all of the weeks, this will be the most controversial, since not only am I proclaiming the 10 best, but you'll realize which of your favorite games I've left out of the top 40 entirely.

A final reminder as to my self-imposed rules for this list: I limited myself to just one theme from a particular title, even if there were multiple themes in a game. Entries had to be a main theme or the closest equivalent of that; they had to be from MMOs, not from MOBAs; and I had to divorce my weighting of the track itself from the popularity of and my experience with that game. So there were no points added or subtracted based on my love of the game. I'm counting down the best music, period.

If you missed earlier parts of this series, check out themes #40-31, #30-21, and #20-11. Otherwise, hit that continue button and get listening already!

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The Daily Grind: Do you keep MMO accounts on for veteran rewards?

Fantasy, Super-hero, City of Heroes, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Anniversaries, Subscription

UO
I've got a guildie who's a bit insane. He is notorious for staying subscribed to MMOs he's not playing, sinking tons and tons of money into these games but not logging in. Is he doing it to support developers? Nope. He does it for the veteran rewards. Seriously. He once told me he stayed subbed to City of Heroes because he really, really wanted a veteran minipet. When I consider what that minipet must have cost him in subscription fees, all I can do is think how many brand-new games he could have picked up on Steam for all that dough!

And yet here I am looking at my Ultima Online account the same way. The account is 16.5 years old with nine years of vet rewards on it. I left it on a few extra months last year to get to the ridable ethereal polar bear mount reward because hello, ridable ethereal polar bear mount, right?

What about you -- do you leave your subscription MMO accounts on to collect vet rewards?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

One Shots: Off the Grid

Screenshots, Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Vindictus, Miscellaneous

AO
As a former Anarchy Online player, I was always curious what the Grid looked like for the Fixer class, but I never was so curious that I rolled one up. Fortunately, reader Azzura was able to satisfy my curiosity this week with this awesome-looking structure.

"This is one of my favorite screenies I have, inside the Grid," he submitted. "You would click a machine and get digitized in to this area filled with exits to all over the game. Funcom seems to like this method of travel as you can tell by popping into Agartha in The Secret World.

We have sights and wonders the likes of which will make your ocular cavities gush forward in unabashed emotion after the break. Frankly, I wouldn't risk it; your eyes might not be able to take the strain.

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Field Journal: A strong CoHmmunity

Super-hero, City of Heroes, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Sunsets, MMORPG, Field Journal

It can never be the same, but it can be good.
Last week a package arrived for me, sent by the incomparable Beau Hindman. He had been clearing out some of his old gaming paraphernalia, and when he happened on his old City of Heroes disks, something spurred him to offer them freely to anyone in the team who wanted them. I gratefully accepted. Ever since they arrived, they've dominated my thoughts, despite some highly dramatic events in the time since, weighty and uplifting alike. It's a game that just keeps inspiring acts of generosity and kindness.

I started playing CoH on the very day it went free-to-play, but it struck a chord with me nearly instantly. I soon found it had an amazing community on top of everything the developers were responsible for, and that's when I fell in love. It went from "that old game probably no one plays anymore" to "the best MMO I have ever played" to "the cancellation that broke my heart" in all too short a time. Fortunately, the example set by the incredible community and its determination to carry the torch helped to mend my coronary fractures. As much as there is to learn from all aspects of MMOs, the single most important element will always be community. I can think of no finer example to look to than CoH.

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MMO Mechanics: Procedural generation is the future

City of Heroes, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, RuneScape, Love, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Trove, MMO Mechanics

MMO Mechanics title image
MMOs are infamous for the exorbitant amount of both time and money that is required to make a fantastic end product. Much of this effort and expenditure goes into producing very specific content such as leveling zones, quest chains, and dungeons. The classic themepark MMO in which all the rides are carefully engineered and maintained is compelling for a time, but the content therein tends to take longer to create than it does to exhaust. This invariably leads to redundant content that ends up on the scrapheap once it has been enjoyed for a time.

Procedural generation corrects much of this redundancy by providing essentially limitless variations of content, adding replayability and variety to the usual MMO repertoire. It also opens up some unique mechanics, like Elite: Dangerous' planned procedurally generated galaxy that is a full-scale replica of the Milky Way.

In this week's MMO Mechanics, I will look at how the genre is evolving because of how accessible procedural generation techniques have become to developers. I'll also explore how this might affect the future of MMOs by examining the mechanics that upcoming titles will incorporate.

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Perfect Ten: MMO features that were hyped but never delivered

World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, City of Heroes, EVE Online, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Ultima Online, Vanguard, Humor, Champions Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Octonauts
Developers like to talk a big game. It's expected, it's encouraged by all parties, and it's part of the fun. When a game or big expansion is coming up, the spokespeople for studios like to hop on stage, grab that mic, and start proselytizing for all they're worth. And while some promises come to fruition, others are various shades of white lies, and still others never come to be at all.

These are the features that studios would much rather you forget were mentioned in the first place, although this is the internet and the internet never forgets. Well, players who latch on to everything devs say as absolute truth never forget.

Sometimes things happen along the way in development. Studios run out of time to get in all of the features and have to prioritize which make the cut and which do not. Features end up not testing as well as hoped and the studio quietly drops them because the PR hit for the features not going in is much less than the disaster that they might cause. And some developers like to flap their gums and spout brainstorm ideas that send the actual programmers and designers back at the company into spasms of agony when they try to figure out how to make them work.

Today let's go through 10 features that were talked up but never delivered in MMOs!

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One Shots: A nuclear explosion of friendship

Screenshots, City of Heroes, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, The Secret World, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous

FFXIV
I'm always so very proud of you readers when you take me up on one of my weekly screenshot challenges, like a proud papa who sees his child take those first few steps to the computer, sit down, and engage in a 40-man raid. So big props today to reader Rhime, who captured an impressive-looking spell effect from Final Fantasy XIV.

"My in-game character on the left center is Kavu," Rhime wrote. "Our free company had a photo night, and I managed to capture a lot of shots of our mucking about on the beach near Costa del Sol. This shot depicts a friend and me posing in combat stance with a couple spells running (fire on the ground and the shiny blue star between us). I hope you like it!"

I do indeed! We've got a great collection of player-submitted game photos for you to see today, so let's not waste any more time hanging out in this paragraph.

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