Farewell to City of Heroes – and What’s Next?

Efforts to save it have failed. City Of Heroes will die – and soon.

Some bloggers are thinking about their next move, and how they can best preserve their friendships and the CoH experience. Others are just taking a moment to remember what they’re losing.

We’re featuring one of each today.

Dusty Monk has been playing City of Heroes for many years – and in a surprisingly affecting post today, he takes us through the heroes he’s played and remembers most fondly from his time in CoH

” Like most people that played City of Heroes, I came and went from the game over the years. And though I played many archetypes and characters, Hellbent remains my favorite. She was a straight up fire/fire blaster. I loved her story, I loved her costume, but mostly, I loved the unbridled damage she was capable of dolling out. Hellbent had the distinction of being the most geared character I ever created. She had several full enhancement sets for blaster archetypes, and all of her slots were IO’s of some sort. I never reached the uber-geared heights of the game, but Hellbent was always a welcome member to the group. Because when she was on your team.. things got dead quick.

All her life Stacy Middleton’s life had been in the fast lane. “When Stacy is headed somewhere, that girl is hell bent for leather to get there, and heaven help you if you get in the way!” her father used to say. She did everything fast – quick to love, quick to anger. All that changed the night her and her boyfriend Kyle were attacked. One second they were walking to her car, the next they were bathed in green flames – Kyle screaming on the ground. Some guy in a costume drove off their robed attackers, then disappeared. Kyle needed a doctor, and fast. Police reports estimated Stacy’s cherry red Mustang was traveling over a 110 mph when it collided with the jackknifed fuel tanker in Skyway City. The explosion rattled windows in Steel Canyon. That night Stacy lost her boyfriend, and should have lost her life. For reasons she never understood, she walked, engulfed in flames, from the wreck. That night a woman fused of fire and fury and speed was born. A woman hell bent. Hellbent for Leather.

I love the short origin stories in this post. I’m not sure, but my impression is that many if not most MMO players come to any character they play with at least a bit of an idea of their origin story and who they are in the fiction of the game. As CoH fades into the sunset forever, it’s nice to have this memorial of both the out-of-game and in-game sides of its world.

Meanwhile, Eliot Lefebvre has been looking to the future, and analysing the potential options for CoH players fleeing – in a very comic-like way – the apocalypse crashing down upon their world

“When I first heard about former CoH players going to The Secret World, I was a bit surprised; they’re very different in many ways. But if you like the modern occult influences in CoH, you’re going to like them even more in TSW, which takes that idea and runs with it. There are several sections of CoH that juxtapose a modern setting against occultism, guns, and monsters, and the parallels between being a gun-toting hero in Paragon City and a gun-toting hero in TSW are pretty obvious.

The good: TSW is sort of like New England Online, which means it’s equal parts creepy and beautiful. The Circle of Thorns might be annoying to fight, but they’re certainly flavorful, and in TSW you’re surrounded by those sorts of magical cultists on a regular basis. There are also plenty of choices about how to handle all of the supernatural elements, not all of which simply come down to beating the crap out of the thing with tentacles. Fans of fixtures like Ouroboros and the Midnight Squad will have plenty of fun here.”

Elliot does a good job of laying out the options here, from the obvious (Champions Online) to the less-obvious (The Secret World). Whether you’re a CoH player looking for a retreat or just an interested bystander who might like to check out a superhero MMO, this one’s recommended!

Are you planning to flee CoH for another game? Or are you expecting an influx of superheroes to your MMO?

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Helping indie games avoid the cliches, and helping your guildies through the school of hard knocks

Professor Hugh is still on a break, so Johnnie the substitute teacher is taking the class. Please don’t throw things from the back row.

After yesterday’s discussions of great indie games taking on the big hitters, Rampant Coyote sounds a note of warning today, bemoaning games that rely too heavily on old non-innovative gameplay ideas.

“Guys & gals… indies… I love ya. I am thrilled to see new life injected into an old genre. But I want to see “new life” there, not just a budget “best of” rehash. As a guy who has played a lot of the games that you have drawn inspiration from – and a retro-gamer who still plays some of these games, often for the first time in all their retro glory: as far as I am concerned, you are absolutely competing against the past.”

Screaming Monkey praises the alt-game darling, The Secret World:

“… despite loving puzzles and giving them a lot of thought, I have cheated on at least one step of each investigation mission I have done save one. … But yesterday, I finally managed to complete an entire investigation quest from start to finish without looking at any guide or cheating in any way and it felt incredible. I really need to do this more often because it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in an MMO, on par with server first kills and the like”

Finally, two posts which I felt complemented each other very well. First of all, Vidyala at Manalicious provides a very thoughtful post (itself a reaction to a WoW Insider article) wondering whether it’s right to use PUGs as a ‘baptism of fire’ training ground for new raiders.

“The comments on that article are interesting because some of them say, “We tell our new healers to go practice in pugs.” Other people reply, “How can you DO THAT to your friends? I would hate to be in your guild,” etc. I’m actually 100% behind the first guy. You all know I’m not a stranger to pugging. Pugging is one of the best environments to learn to heal. You have an element of chaos and unpredictability that you’ll seldom find in a “safe” guild or friend run. Yes, it can be taxing and frustrating. Yes, you may leave some groups. But you will leave those groups a better healer than you went in”

This is a nice read alongside Apple Cider‘s contribution to Sheep The Diamond‘s Collectivism Project. Apple gives a very throughful and detailed discussion of to what extent the game motivates us to help our fellow players, and to what extent that motivation comes through friendship and community. It’s a long post, and well worth a read.

” A lot of player achievement can be attained through personal goals and thinking of oneself only; the bastion of group resources has been and will always be a guild. Ever since Blizzard introduced guild perks and rep, this has become much, much more apparent as well. Many of the structures that the game has introduced to make guilds important emphasizes collective thought. However, much like my feelings on hate language and respectful guild culture, I believe that collectivising your guild (and my guild) takes some work.”

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Impressions from the Final Secret World Beta

Yes, it is over. The Secret World’s final beta weekend is over, the NDA is lifted, and bloggers from across the MMOsphere are weighing in on the chances of 2012’s most unusual MMO title…

  • The Nosy Gamer goes over the points that make The Secret World different – and similar – to other MMOs“In The Secret World, the developers didn’t go out of their ways to make women into sex objects. Sure, female characters can wear bikini tops and hot pants, but they also get the option to wear turtle neck sweaters and jeans. “
  • Entombed at Divinity’s Reach goes through TSW in detail, reaching the common conclusion that its ideas are interesting, but the game itself may not be ready“There is fun to be found in this game, but it is hidden behind frustration, agony, and turmoil of poorly implemented features. “
  • Wezmodeus covers a number of points he likes about the game, but overall joins the “not ready for prime time” opinion“I did feel myself tempted to play it, but it still feels a little clunky and unfinished and I don’t know if it can survive as a monthly fee MMO especially given Funcom’s track record with AO and AoC both going free to play.”
  • Why I Game goes through the problems The Secret World currently exhibits in great and interesting detail“I guess we’re back to traditional MMO mechanics where you have to officially form a group first. I better stop “helping” before someone shouts at me for killstealing them. Sad panda.”
  • Chris at Level Capped is trying to decide if he’s willing to put up with the samey MMO mechanics for the unique atmosphere and story“Is there going to be enough redeeming otherness about this moody, classless, modern horror-story that will make me want to put my head down and get through the combat?”
  • Copra, meanwhile, has been hooked by the game’s atmosphere, and explains why he’s definitely sold on TSW“What really got me was the depth of intrigue in the storylines. The way you can find sidequests here and there just by exploring. The way you are ushered onwards by giving winks, nudges and hints which make you WANT to go where the story is taking you.”
  • Tobold gives a short pro and con list before explaining why he won’t be playing TSW“I’m not saying this is a bad game, but I’m sick and tired of games with the same old combat mechanics, running around for the same old quests to kill monsters here and click on hotspots there.”
  • And Julian at Kill Ten Rats gives us a detailed, cautiously optimistic look at the game“Is it engaging? Yes. Is it challenging? Oh, yes, you bet it is. Does it present new ideas or new twists in old concepts? It does. The real question is, is all this executed in a way where it all comes together in harmony and The Experience™ takes shape? “

Have you been playing the TSW beta? If so, what did you think?

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Will The Secret World Break The Mould, Or Flop Hard?

I’ve not seen an MMO attract this much controversy for a long while.

The Secret World, the upcoming MMO of modern-day conspiracy, horror and tentacles, had a beta weekend this weekend, and the reactions from the blogosphere have been absolutely fascinating. Want to know what they thought?

  • Syp at Bio Break calls the entire thing a beautiful mess“It’s got mysteries galore, creepiness in spades, and a scare or two in waiting. It feels very unlike most other MMOs out there right now, and every new locale I visit makes me want to see more. If it was a book, I’d be flipping through it in one marathon sitting, I think.”
  • Pete at Dragonchasers found some aspects of the game really annoying, but others really quite unique and cool“I have to admit at first I found the basement to be annoying as heck. MMOs aren’t supposed to make you figure out things like this! But then I made a conscious decision to treat The Secret World as its own thing, not like “another MMO” and I started to really get into it.”
  • A Ding World offers an enthusiastic and comprehensive overview of the game“Besides the missions and exploring the Kingsmouth area, I also had a look at the crafting part of the game. It is a neat system which seems to be inspired by Minecraft, in that you have an area where one can form shapes in order to make an item. “
  • Gaming for Introverts wrote two posts – the first one was a big, detailed summary of the gameplay, with particular focus on the questing mechanics“I will cut to the chase now and say that “questing” in this game is more investigative than in any other MMO I’ve played.”
  • In their second post, Gaming for Introverts revealed why they weren’t impressed and won’t be playing The Secret World“As it stands now the game has a high frustration factor. It may improve over the next few months but I do not believe it is quite ready for an audience.”
  • Randomessa at Casual Is As Casual Does really didn’t expect to like The Secret World, but was surprised by her interest in it“So while I haven’t pre-ordered, I did get on over to Gamespot and nab a weekend beta key to try this out for myself. And even though I’d seen a ton of footage and read up on many of the game’s systems, I was still pleasantly surprised at how much I liked what I saw when I got to take the reins.”
  • Aggronaut played it, and found it has some real high points, but also a critical lack of polish“What has me most concerned is the fact that this game is supposedly shipping in roughly a months time. Based on the multiple alphas and betas I have participated in over the years, I see multiple months worth of solid work here. If this title launches as it is, I am afraid it will fail to find a stable market. “
  • Vagabond Goes For A Walk found the game overall impressive and enjoyable, but still won’t be playing it“After reading through all these, you should have the impression that it is a good game. If you don’t, then be assured, it is. But the reason I decided not to buy it is the monthly fee.. it is a very slow paced game, and considering the time I have to play, I’d rather choose something with a bit more to achieve in two hours. “
  • And Ark at Ark’s Ark is writing a blow-by-blow recounting of his play in TSW – probably to be avoided if you don’t like spoilers, but if you want a really detailed look, this is the blog series for you.

Did you play TSW at the weekend? If so, what did you think?

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Helpful Hints, Awful Animations and Bad Asses

It’s been a quiet day today, but the Summer of MMOs is still revving up behind the scenes. And so, in today’s linkpost we’ve got focusses on a number of new MMOs – including neither WoW, nor SWTOR, nor EVE.

Truly, it’s a new era.

  • Syp at Bio Break is perplexed by TERA’s truly awful-sounding ad campaign“As a gamer, I guarantee that you will identify with anyone and everyone in these commercials except for Bas. Unless, of course, you’re a Dutch martial artist who looks like the stereotype of every geek-kicking jock come to life.”
  • With the Guild Wars 2 beta events coming up, Ravious at Kill Ten Rats offers ten handy hints for the many players new to the game“Basically for 2 of the 3 racial starting areas we’ve seen, it is chaos. Ghosts popping out of nowhere in the charr area, centaurs running amok throughout a human starting area, and norn standing around their forest picking their ears while players hunt. Don’t fret!”
  • And T.R. Redskies presents a dire warning to Funcom, who appear to be in imminent danger of screwing their new MMO, The Secret World, right up“You’re about to ruin the promise of this game with animations and cripple a very critical feature of your game by requiring Facebook. I don’t know what Facebook has paid you to make you force fans to register over there, but I warn you that the price isn’t going to be worth it when your game is failing like Age of Conan.”

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