Monday, August 24, 2009

The Cryptic Model

This morning I was talking to my good friend Seph (That's Sephorus or Hey, Bitch! to you). Given that we met in City of Heroes and have become good friends, we tend to talk about the game a fair bit. Of course no conversation about City of Heroes nowadays will stay away from Champions for long.

So I ask, are you happy with the Cryptic Model?

Seph: It's not a game I'd sign up for right this second. There's too many things that I feel need more polish for them to be acceptable. However, there's enough stuff either done well or with the potential to be polished up real damn nicely that, given a bit of time, I'd play it. It's certainly in the category of "when I'm done with City of Heroes". Not something I'd jump ship for, but not something I'm willing to pass up, either.

The emphasis in the above is mine.

Polish, that dastardly term trotted out every time someone compares something to WoW. Does it have the polish of WoW? Did they spend enough time on polish? It isn't as polished as it could be.
This isn't a dig at WoW, but rather at the term. A polished turd is just a shiny turd. A diamond in the rough is just as good as a flawless one, it simply hasn't gotten there yet but you can see the worth.

Anyway that's a divergence, if polish is synonymous with WoW and Blizzard, what then is the Cryptic Model?
I submit that it is more stuff than you could ever possibly use.

Take a look around at what people are saying about Champions, almost universally is the mention of the character creator and for good reason. Cryptic broke ground with the City of Heroes creator and this one has even more crammed into it. Moving
tails, limb sliders, stances, how you want to run, mood, backpacks and more. I know someone who spent literal hours in the creator, saving characters and doing it all again.
If you preorder, you get more options; if you microtransact, more options. If you get the 6 month or lifetime sub, even more options. So many options that they carry over into Star Trek Online where for reasons best known to themselves they're
offering Mirror Universe skins (do not get me started on that, I'm keeping that nerdrage for later).
Every Issue of City of Heroes had yet more options of things to do. Champions will likely have the same. Options upon options upon options. For some, this is nirvana.

However it seems to be the hat for Cryptic. People are complaining about how the game is set up, or performing or how its console dna is showing. Cryptic on the other hand is touting the colour customization (and boy did they learn that lesson well after telling City of Heroes it couldnt be done, which...soon it can be), modular powersets and the flexibility of the creator.

Is the game polished? I couldn't begin to guess. My graphics card is still in Silicon Heaven so everything I see is rough and ugly.

Are they even trying? I can't say for sure, I got lost in their submenus trying to find out.

Polish be damned, they want you to select your eyebrows.


Sareini said...

As you know, Mr. Sare and I (well, mainly Mr. Sare) spent yesterday testing CO out, and we came to a few conclusions about it.

One is that, for all the details and "Wow!" of the character creator, it still seemed (to us at least) to be missing a fair few things. Options to create a 'teen' hero, for one. Choices of weapons (I mean, come on. If CO is supposed to have a better creator than CoX like so many people are saying, shouldn't it have the option to change your guns/claws/blades?) Maybe things like that only come if you do the microtransactions/lifetime sub, I don't know, but it was noticable for us.

There were other little niggles too. The map was too awkward to read. I personally thought the difficulty curve went to extremes too much. Certain powers are... shall we say, "better" than others (seriously, I tried Telepathy and found it slower than CoX's Mind Controlat the starter levels). And yeah, I think there's actually too much emphasis on the Creator right now, so that people aren't looking at the rest of the game and the fact that it is still pretty flawed, and not something I'd be wanting to play more than "every once in a while, out of curiousity" any time soon.

Graphics are pretty though.

Anonymous said...

Odd, the games overall polish is one of the things I found really impressive so far with the open beta, and this isn't just, out of the box, tutorial polish. My "main" is at level 21 right now. The smoothness and ease of flow that everything has screams of attention to detail. In snake gulch, when I fly down from the sky, I start hearing western music. Robot cowboys can be seen off in the distance having gun-duels. Overall, this is the most polished game I have ever seen at launch (including WoW). It may not match WoW's current level (the mentioned maps, PvP queuer constantly being reset, a few other things), but it's pretty damn high.

Oh and @Sareini: weapon choices come from drops you get in game in addition to increasing your powers ranks. For instance, my TKs mental swords improved in appeance at rank 2, and at rank 3 looked AMAZING.

Ardua said...

Oh I am sure that the game is rather polished. That wasnt so much the point though.

If polish is the term most associated with Blizzard, options has to be the one for Cryptic.

My graphics card being dead, half the time Qualarr don't render properly. Thats a fault on my part, not his.

Anonymous said...

See, the only thing I find extremely baffling about having to earn weapon unlocks is this - non-weapon users can customize their powers from the moment they pick 'em up. So I can go from blue-nowaitred-actuallypurple-howaboutgreen-okbacktoblue lightning on a whim, but heaven forbid I want to swap out my katanas for something else right off the bat.

I can understand the idea of having to work for better appearances, but not being able to customize weapons at all right off the bat is a bit strange t'me.

Terry said...

There are weapon options without them having to be unlocks, but for whatever reason, you can't see them in the starting character generator. You can, however, see them at the tailor sitting in the crisis zone right after you finish the tutorial.

They have their own top bar tab (head, chest, hands, weapons, legs, etc is the order, I believe) and they offer several options for each weapon power you take that uses a different model. So if you have a single blade power and a munitions pistol power, you can select from some stock versions of both, or you can get a mission reward/drop/crafted power replacer with a new costume model on it.

You know what I love about CO?


It's such a simple thing, really. I mean, how hard can it be to make you feel super strong? They did it, and did it REALLY WELL.

In CO, when I turn on even just my Energy builder punch, not only are the animations just straight punches, but it sounds like Indiana Jones punching Nazis. Or, hey, don't feel like just punching a guy? That's ok. Walk over to that Viper Heavy Transport, pick it up, and beat him to death with it. Want to be really cool? Turn on fly, glide over that large vehicle (by the end I was up to heavy transports and box vans. I saw both tanks and semis being hefted), pick it up, and fly around with it. Then throw it at someone.

Everything about the way they've done their superstrength is fantastic, right up to the amount of damage dealt, and it's an alluring thing.

Having said that, CO is a very different game than CoX. It looks different. It has a different feel. It plays differently. The only real similarity is that the two both deal in Superheroes. And you can like both for what they are, without having to compare and contrast. Quite frankly, CO and CoX offer two very different things. It remains to be seen if there is any crossover in community type once it goes live.

I never expected, for instance, to run into RPers, but I did. Right in the middle of beating down giant robots, no less...Then we all flew, jumped, swung, teleported or burrowed our way over and beat the smirk out of a developer who'd logged on a Master Villain for the Ending Event. Roleplaying the whole time. It was quite fun.

Ultimately, I enjoyed it. I don't think CoX has anything to be worried about, because they're really too dissimilar. It's like comparing a Red Delicious with a Granny Smith. They're both apples, but they offer vastly different tastes. Some people will like one or the other, and some people will like both.

I thought it was really quite enjoyable, and as far as I'm concerned, I'm going to be really hard to convince that such a thing as 'too many customization options' exists in an MMO. Particularly when, even these days, so many of them cling to the tired old "You're only as good or bad looking as your purple text shoulderpads...just like everyone else" approach.

Aside to Seph: The power replacers for the various non-weapon powers change way your powers look (such as making your ice blasts have dark tendrils), giving your hands/feet an aura (mainly for the various martial arts), or giving your whole body an aura of some sort.