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City of Heroes

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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The Soapbox: Novel content trumps novel mechanics

City of Heroes, Game Mechanics, Patches, Endgame, Opinion, The Soapbox, Dungeons, Player-Generated Content

I'm not a malcontent
Action combat. Interactive conversations. Public quests. Voxel worlds. There are many game mechanics that developers of massively multiplayer online games crow about when promoting their games because these are the things that make their games stand out from the pack. Even if they're not the first to do it, they'll proclaim that they're doing it bigger and better than their predecessors. I don't have a problem with any of this.

It's when the developers and their ardent fans gloss over the importance of the actual content these mechanics are applied to that I get annoyed. Mechanics are just a skeleton, and they can't do anything at all without some meat on the bones. Content matters, and good, fresh content will keep players interested long after the novelty of unusual mechanics has worn off.

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A Mild-Mannered Reporter: 2013 in review for superheroes

Super-hero, City of Heroes, MMO Industry, News Items, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Consoles, Champions Online, DC Universe Online, A Mild-Mannered Reporter

Gliding along like it was just another day.
2013 was the first year in which City of Heroes didn't exist. The masses of hero fans cried out in anticipation of a new game but found nothing. All there was to be found was a deafening silence and three other games that scratched similar itches but didn't quite manage to hit the same heights.

But we've talked about that as much as it can be discussed, and quite frankly I'm more interested in the now. We've got three titles that are still duking it out, trying to find their voices, and so forth. And then we have the header of Plan Z, which covers several different projects but at the same time serves as an interesting look at the community as a whole.

So in the wake of a quiet December, let's look back at 2013 for the major titles and for the hopefuls. It was a year in which quite a bit happened, not all of it good, but it was still one that might have a big impact on the future of the superhero MMO field.

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One Shots: Breaking news

Screenshots, Age of Conan, City of Heroes, Guild Wars, Culture, One Shots, Humor, Champions Online, Miscellaneous

This just in! We've received reports that caped crusaders are beating the ever-loving crap out of a villain literally 12 feet in front of us! Seriously, if we could just turn these news cameras a little to the right, you'd see the whole thing, but for now you'll just have to take our word for it. Sponsored by Doritos.

Reader Sean submitted this particular gem: "I used to play quite a bit of Champions Online from closed beta through about four months after launch. Before the dark times. Before the patches. Here I am laying the smackdown on Foxbat during his 15 minutes of fame -- surely not what he had in mind."

Ha ha! Surely not there, Sean! Now for a word from our sponsors, and by that we mean more excellent player-submitted screenshots.

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The Soapbox: Seriously, we have enough fantasy MMOs

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Aion, City of Heroes, EVE Online, Fallen Earth, Lineage, MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, RIFT, World of Tanks, TERA, EverQuest Next, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, MOBA, Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Aion
Let's play a game. I'm thinking of an MMO that features magic, monsters, humans, and a vast fantasy world full of steamy swamps, grassy plains, and deep, dark dungeons -- can you tell me which MMO it is? If you answered RIFT, you're right. You're also right if you answered TERA. Or World of Warcraft. Or Guild Wars 2. Or Neverwinter. Or... you get the idea.

We're people who play MMOs. Our hard drives are practically bulging with games featuring wizards and warriors. We've plunged our swords into millions of orcs and gnolls. We've looted more imaginary copper pieces than anyone could possible imagine. We've even slain so many dragons that you have to wonder why dragons even bother showing up anymore.

It's not the gameplay but the setting that can make the whole exercise so soul-crushingly boring.

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Perfect Ten: Virtual haunted houses

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (In-Game), Opinion, Star Trek Online, The Secret World, Humor, DC Universe Online, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Perfect Ten Virtual haunted houses
Happy Halloween! Or if that's not politically correct enough for you, Happy Scare-Related Holidays feat. the Stylings of Ed Casbar and His Electric Teeth. It'd be the best of holidays if most people didn't have a prejudice against a middle-aged guy going trick-or-treating. Hey, us adults need sugar fixes too, you know! And just because you don't understand my seductive Night Elf cosplay outfit doesn't mean it's less valid than the tots with Iron Man masks.

At least the online world is prejudice-free, which is why I love bouncing around between MMOs looking for a little haunted mansion action. Let's take a quick tour through 10 virtual haunted houses that go from zany to freaky, although not necessarily in that order.

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The Daily Grind: Is crowd control in MMOs dead?

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Dungeons, MMORPG

Neverwinter control wizard
Crowd control used to be a major feature of MMO gameplay, so much that CC, not DPS, was considered the third element of the MMO holy trinity until World of Warcraft swept into the market in 2004 without a dedicated crowd-control class. Before that, crowd-control characters enjoyed an almost godlike status in MMORPGs. An EverQuest Enchanter was one class you never partied without, Dark Age of Camelot's RvR was infamous for its unbalanced zerg mezes, and City of Heroes embraced crowd control so closely that it named an entire archetype for it: the Controller.

Not only did WoW begin the trend of deleting pure crowd controllers from game rosters everywhere, it also downplayed the importance of crowd control in general, so much that many of WoW's modern dungeons have little to no trash that'd require control in the first place. It's dramatically different gameplay from the style of the aforementioned City of Heroes, which literally threw huge crowds of villains at you to control and subdue in order to make you feel heroic.

Are other modern games continuing the trend? Is crowd control, or at least crowd-control characters as we once knew them, dead? And are they a welcome casualty of the slow elimination of group-or-die MMO gameplay?

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 reaches its Kickstarter goal after five days

Betas, Super-hero, City of Heroes, MMO Industry, Crowdfunding

City of Titans reaches its Kickstarter goal
After launching its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign on October 2nd, City of Titans has met and exceeded its $320,000 funding goal. The self-proclaimed spiritual successor to City of Heroes still has 27 days left in its campaign as over 2,200 backers chipped in to see the project become a reality.

Community Manager Lauren was thrilled at the news: "Well, that'll brighten up a Monday! As a special thank you to everyone for your support, your patience, and everything you've done for us, we've decided to unleash the beard! Everyone who backs us in the Kickstarter will be given a very, very special costume piece: The one, the only Nate 'Doctor Tyche's' beard, complete with animated eyes. Wear it with pride in Titan City. Thank you, guys. Watch this space for stretch goals and heartfelt thank yous from our developers. You are all amazing. Never let anyone tell you differently."

Future stretch goals for the title include an Android port of the avatar builder at $350K, an iOS port of the avatar builder at $400K, and a MacOS version of the game for launch at $450K.

[Thanks to Zjeven for the tip!]

One Shots: A lack of depth perception

Screenshots, City of Heroes, Culture, Star Trek Online, One Shots, The Secret World, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous

One Shots A lack of depth perception
I don't know about you, but when I pick my mounts, I like to pick something that can manage depth perception. Reader Paul may be keen on this mount, but all I can think of is that his character's probably being led into a lot of bottomless pits, cacti, and stone walls.

But who needs practicality when you've got awesome looks? Paul has nothing but the best to say about this Final Fantasy XIV creature: "It is simply because its the best mount I have ever come across in my entire career of mmo's. Also going by the census data that was released at the Tokyo Game Show, Roegadyn are somewhat of a rare race in the game, so I thought I would fly the flag for them too."

We've got many more eyes for you in this week's One Shots after the jump. Enough, perhaps, to lend one to unfortunate souls like Paul who are perpetually in danger every time they take their ride out to the 7-11.

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Perfect Ten: MMO industry moves I didn't see coming

Asheron's Call, City of Heroes, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard, Final Fantasy XIV, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, WildStar, Defiance, The Elder Scrolls Online

Perfect Ten MMO industry moves I didn't see coming
Despite -- or more accurately, because of -- my love for video games, I would never want to work in the games industry as a developer or what have you. I think it's an industry that doesn't have a good track record of job security, sane hours, or products that you could feasibly spend years working on that might not make it to ship. But I love writing about the industry. I love the news. That's why I adore being at Massively.

I also love the news because MMOs and studios constantly surprise me. Hey, maybe you're an amazing clairvoyant person who can not only predict but accurately foresee all of the jukes and twists that the industry makes. I am not. When mental superpowers were being handed out, I got "setting people on fire with a mere thought" instead of what appears to be the widespread "know it all" ability. I don't regret it. I mean, you probably already knew that I was going to post a picture of Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi being attacked by bees on the front page of Massively.

But I think that the surprises are part of the fun. No matter what we've seen in the past and no matter how knowledgeable any of us is about MMOs, the strange developments keep on coming. So this week I want to list 10 stories that I really didn't see coming at all.

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One Shots: Swimsuit issue

World of Warcraft, Screenshots, City of Heroes, Culture, Star Trek Online, One Shots, The Secret World, Humor, Miscellaneous

One Shots Swimsuit issue
Oh yeah, I'm going to totally suck you in with the tantalizing promise of itsy bitsy teeny weenie yellow polka-dot bikinis and then pull a bait-and-switch on you today. Shh. Don't tell your consciousness as it is already reading the next paragraph.

We kick off today's swimsuit-laden issue of One Shots with this summer vacation shot of reader Draxos on Star Trek Online's Risa. "This is a shot of my Orion character as she ponders what she'll have to do for more Lohlunat Favors. Dance competitions, Horga'hn Hunts, meeting someone called Pavyl at remote locations on the island at night, all in order to earn a few Favors; it's just such hard work. Well at least there's been no mention of Jamaharon... so far."

It's called "sex," Star Trek writers. You can use the word without giggling these days. Anyway, let's move on where more scantily clad flesh awaits!

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