Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Goodbye Grind, Hello Ban (There's a rant in here)

To my friends recently, I've been a bit vocal about City of Heroes, its lifespan and what I considered idiotic decisions. Hey, it's the internet. Bitching ahoy, granted it would have made sense to blog it all.

Yes I came back for a bit, Shannon wanted to and that was my deal maker/breaker.

Issue 14 is a failure. Issue 15 is an insult and the big announcement the other week was a let down.

In reverse order, here we go.
Posi gave an interview on Massively and hyped up a really big annoucement coming on the 5th anniversary of City of Heroes. All trial and inactive accounts in good standing (read: not banned) were given a free week in which to come back to Paragon and have fun. There was to be chaos on the live servers, Giant Monsters, invasions and Av's everywhere but no Rularuu invasion or 5th Column vs Council war much to my disappointment. In fact given the meat of the i15 annoucement, a 5th/Council war like we had way back at the end of i2/start of i3 would have been amazing. Seph sent me a link from the official site the morning of the anniversary, it was the i15 annoucement. Ooo the 5th Column are coming back, that's cool. Meh, one non co-op taskforce at level 45-50, that's ok. Some stuff from the Magic pack is being copied into the live game (costume change emotes, how long have people waited for those?) and there's some eye candy in more faces and costume pieces.

Slight aside that may get me flamed. Spinks put up a post a while back about a community blog Feministing complaining about the casual sexism in World of Warcraft with the bunny ears and the achievement gotten from tagging a female toon over level 18 with them. Personally I just thought it was an incredibly obvious popculture reference. I had no opinion on the sexual connotations and when you factor in Tauren and Scourge, I had a hard time thinking it'd be sexual. Then again, I'm not a feminist. Even so, why havent they complained about this

Back on track. The i15 annoucement page was up some 16 hours before Posis (late) 8est annoucement. I had come back from Star Trek, I had some free City of Heroes and I was expecting something huge. After all they went down in text as saying that the annoucement would only be published to the website after it was made. It sounded massive.

Global Anniversary Address From Positron™

Also on our anniversary day, be watching around 8pm EST in-game (and shortly thereafter on the website), for a special Anniversary Address from everyone's favorite Lead Designer, Positron.
He will certainly have some fun information to share!

Actually it was just the i15 annoucement page. The only added bit was that the closed beta testing of i15 would be open to all. So not closed then. Thanks for that.

To go back to the start, as mentioned Posi gave an interview on Massively before his big message we'd all seen. In this he talks about programmers they have on board working on a graphical update to City of Heroes. He teases about CoH 2 and plans for the future. He's working the marketing machine as Champions is just around the corner and it's built by the people who built CoH.
None of that made it into the address. No new zone, no mention of updating the game (look at EVE for an example of how to constantly keep your game gorgeous), no mention of plans for the future. Just "lawl new tf, closed beta isnt closed".

As a result I now find i15 insulting. Why? i14.

Issue 14 brought in the much vaunted Mission Architect system. Create your own content! Customise enemies and earn badges based on kills, tickets and people voting on your submission!

Now you have this.

I'm sorry, you're the ones who have gradually made the game easier and easier to the point that some people can fart and hit the midpoint of your levelling system. But because some people are now able to use a meow to burn right to the end of the game, the banstick comes out. As people on the forum have pointed out, the traditional farming maps aren't being removed, nor is the nature of the discipline clear. I got Shannon from 29 to 32 the other night so she could have a new costume and her controller pet. It was late and I was tired, so we farmed it. Are those levels at risk? Who knows.

This is turning into a long winded rant (it's always been a rant) so I'll bring it to a close and cleverly save myself some stuff to blog about later.

The level grind, Posis risk/reward ratio has been steadily pushed over to reward for a long time. Bringing out a system to let people create their own content was always going to be loaded. Sure there are some wonderful stories now that people have crafted themselves, at the same time farming has always been in games. I farmed in Warhammer to get myself to 35.

What really is happening is this. For whatever reason (smaller team, less funds, who knows) there is less new compelling content being created for City of Heroes. Instead they've focused on the end game and farmed (heh) the job of entertaining the masses out to the masses. People are always going to try rush to the end if that's where they think the goods are, look at Warcraft and what it's done to its early game. Death Knights start at 55 for more than just thematic reasons in my opinion. Now because of the farming that the studio themselves enabled, the lack of "official" content is clear. Oroboros was meant as a patch on the content by rewarding badges for rerunning old content, MA was meant as another to distract people while they got more things done. They tied badges to it and as someone on the forums so wonderfully put it "prayed on angel farts" that people wouldn't do what people always do. Min/Max.
It didn't work. Now out comes the banhammer to try balance the equation. They want farming to be dirty again instead of dev enabled.

In the end, under the wording of the announcement, technically anything that changes that magic risk/reward ratio is at risk. Are the PI farms a thing of the past? Are Superteams doomed to die as they max their potential? Will Soldiers of Arachnos get nerfed?

We'll see.


Sareini said...

I commented to Nick about the non-closed i15 beta when we heard it as being... well, kind of anti-climactic (and since me and the Test server don't get on, it means nothing to me anyway).

But yeah - whoa, whoa, whoa! I've been playing MA missions on a couple of my new characters for the originality, and have been levelling pretty damn quick on some misions (which were not farming ones) with others. Does this mean that we're in danger now of losing the levels we gained that way? As an example, I went from 8 to 16 in one evening the other week on MA missions. Then again, I went from 16 to 21 on a Synapse TF on Sunday, perhaps that should be nerfed too...

Grimnir said...

People, as a general populace, will abuse games to the point of blatant exploitation provided they can shrug it off as a "game mechanic".

It seems like a mistake to make this move, and instead they should adjust the mechanic to prevent farming, or have an approval system for new missions.

Plenty of ways they could have gone about this. Admittedly knowing that this was going to be a problem just reeks of blatant stupidity. What were they thinking?

Dev 1 "So yeah, the MA kinda seems like everyone is going to abuse the hell out of it."

Dev 2 "Yeah, probably. Might be fun for a little while."

Dev 1 "Shouldn't we do something about it?"

Dev 2 "Nah, let's see if management will approve it anyways."


Dev 1 "That was... too easy. I feel dirty"

Dev 2 "/shame Yeah. Me too"

Dev 1 "How long do you think it'll be until they make us work on it again?"

Dev 2 "Dunno, probably next chapter..."