Monday, August 20, 2012

failing that, she wanted lies and vivisection (pt. I)

The perpetual complaint in the global channels surfaces again--namely:

[Looking For Group] Wrath Talon: way too much players on blueside
[Looking For Group] Mr Nullify: cos zones more cheerful better on coh side
[Looking For Group] Trix Lupescu: If they locked it to each side they'd just have even MORE people grinding DFB to get to the side they want to play on and ticking them off that they have to do it
[Looking For Group] Mr Nullify: cov so dark/dull graphics

I don't think that's entirely it, though I'm sure it plays a part. I think I've mentioned this before, but there are--currently--three major zones in City of Heroes: blueside (heroes), redside (villains) and Praetoria (which is occasionally called goldside, but only very occasionally).

In order of cleanliness and, well, order, it goes:
  • Praetoria, where Emperor Cole rules with a tightly gloved fist. His vision of utopia features precisely groomed landscaping, a veritable army of service 'bots, and a combination of Seers (who scan all thoughts for subversive intent) and police (who arrest anyone who is not vaguely smiling and moving in a directed fashion from structure to structure). Powers Division is the place where the super-powered register, but there's also an active faction of Resistance who stand against Emperor Cole's rule.
  • Paragon City, the coordination of several zones that the Freedom Phalanx patrols and protects. Think of Paragon City as New York, and each zone as one of the boroughs. Of course, in this fictional universe, it's actually located in Rhode Island.
  • Rogue Isles, another multiple-zone area that is fictionally located northwest of Bermuda. It's actually based on a chain of small islands that generally meander from above Bermuda to the US East Coast.
This is Praetoria:

(from the City of Heroes album; Nova Praetoria from the air.)

Note the palpable sense of organization, design, utilitarianism. Just about everything is compulsively ordered, precisely laid out, and the streets are clean enough to eat from--not that anyone would.

This is one of Nova Praetoria's hospital wings:

(from the City of Heroes album; Nova Praetoria's slightly green-tinged hospital bays.)

This is Nova Praetoria's hospital. It's also Spartan and clean, organized, lightly but permanently staffed.

This is Paragon City:

(from the City of Heroes album; Wentworth's Consignments, just off to the side of the train station.)

This is Wentworth's in Atlas Park. I really wanted to take all these images during the day, but still, you get a good idea of what Atlas Park is: striving, populated, lots of office buildings (and office drones). There's some clutter, and the greenspaces aren't as obsessively groomed. There's some upset around City Hall, both from gang activity and protesters who feel overwhelmed with the number of refugees from Galaxy City that Atlas Park suddenly has to deal with.

This is the hospital in Atlas Park:

(from the City of Heroes album; upstairs in the treatment pods of the hospital.)

It's slightly blue-tinged (just like Praetoria's hospital wing is slightly green-tinged), and is generally much more bustling than Praetoria's facilities. There are more doctors, there are generally patients getting treatment for something, and while everything's kept up and sterilized, there's still more evidence of daily use.

This is Sharkhead:

(from the City of Heroes album; Black Heart Hospital in Sharkhead Isle.)

Sharkhead's an interesting place. While there may be better zones to show off what villain-side really looks like, Sharkhead's a good intermediate. And immediately the differences show up: Sharkhead's grimmer, darker, dirtier. The hospital seems vaguely menacing, over a place of healing and support. The buildings--the ones still standing in the midst of various wars--look as if they've all seen better days. There's trash in all the back alleys, which are patrolled by corrupt cops and even more corrupt Arachnos operatives.

This is what the inside of Black Heart Hospital looks like:

(from the City of Heroes album; Black Heart Hospital in Sharkhead Isle, "healing" bays.)

This is not a subtle retinting. Dim lights only enhance the grim unease in the surroundings. On villain side, we occasionally find surgical tools stained with blood on filthy metal trays. We find body bags in some bays. We find doctors who are uncaring, nurses looking for a way out, and disturbing substances on the walls. It's not easy to make the leap of intuition and think not every patient who walks through the doors (or is carried) comes out again.

[Looking For Group] Ambi Moonglow: at least on villian you don't have annoying blue swirling walls all around
[Looking For Group] Goddess Loth:  not better, just cleaner to reflect hero ideology
[Looking For Group] Wrath Talon: i be honest i really hate the zone walls in blue side

[Looking For Group] Ambi Moonglow: oh I notice the swirling blue mess of a zone wall

The zone walls--on blue side--actually serve an in-game purpose: they're remnants of the Rikti Wars--in that (for the most part) they keep Rikti out of the main zones.. I will admit, they are somewhat distracting, but they've become such a part of the entire game for me, I note them, accept them, and move on with my life.

[Looking For Group] Grandmaster UO Thief: i just wish they would stop adding shit to this game based on what the RPers bitch at them for
[Looking For Group] Grandmaster UO Thief: its because of that that the red side is now dead

How does that work, exactly? Roleplayers may want certain things, but if you're drawn to be a hero, or a villain, and you want to RP those opposing states--well, you're going to. Flat out. You may suggest things to the devs, but ultimately, I don't see NCSoft caving to a lot of roleplayer requests over actual developed game content requests.

[Looking For Group] Victory Viper: You say on the RP server
[Looking For Group] Tyrannicus: There's still plenty of people on the redside
[Looking For Group] Lady Lernia: What did I miss about adding stuff that caused redside to empty out to blue then?
[Looking For Group] Tyrannicus: we're just a minority
[Looking For Group] Grandmaster UO Thief: have you looked at the villain side recentrly?

Yes, actually, I was on earlier today. Here's the thing--while it's harder to do certain things (power-leveling, mainly, some task forces, depending on the week), what limits the population on any side is far more linked to what time it is (especially in north America and Europe) than it is to people fleeing from redside.

[Looking For Group] Harper Fletcher: Did it ever occur to you that there's more on Blueside because... people just generally gravitate to heroes MORE than villains?

Well, fair enough, there's that too...because heroes don't require as much thought as villains. To be a really vile villain requires much more creativity than to be even a mediocre hero. Them's the breaks, but it still doesn't mean redside is empty because people like blueside more.

[Looking For Group] Wrath Talon: r u saying RP are responsible for lower population of redside?
[Looking For Group] Tyrannicus: Yeah, it's still healthy, we're just 25% of the server population.
[Looking For Group] Grandmaster UO Thief: but now why would they do that when they could just pay a corruptor on the hero side or somethign liekthat

First, learn to spell. Second, why would we play villains, if we can just play the same kinds of characters on hero side?

The problem with that theory is that it assumes that everyone wants to draw up an evil zombie Mastermind, say, and terrorize the that on blueside, you really can't. You can wander around all day and beat up gang members, but you can do that on redside, too. The only way to get the experience that comes from beating up good on redside. That's just a fact.

Originally published as one entry, but I hit tl;dr pretty fast, so splitting it. Look for the second part here.

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