Sunday, August 12, 2012

I've lain by this window long enough to get used to an empty room

(from the City of Heroes album; hanging out in Dark Astoria)

Zania Londres, a level 50 mutation brute, Titan weapons/regeneration. (That means she uses the supremely oversized, quasi-anime style weapons set, and heals really fast.) She's wearing a powder blue crop top, powder blue hot pants, panda ears, glasses, and strappy red sandals over powder blue OTK socks. Her bio? Possibly the only thing capable of distracting me from her bizarre dance in Dark Astoria:
Description: First her home is destroyed during a hero and giant monster battle.

(from the City of Heroes album; watching Zania dance)
On her way to work, her car is picked up by a Gravity Controller and tossed at a Troll, while she was still in it. On her walk to work, she is frozen by an Outcast boss. Then thawed out by a flame throwing Tsoo. Feeling microwaved she finally makes it to her photo shoot. Mid shoot, Nemesis conducts his raids and the camera guy bites the dust. Being fed up, she decied to travel to galaxy city to cool off. Upon arriving to Galaxy city, it is in ruins and Shivans are runnin amok.
(from the City of Heroes album; more of watching Zania dance)
She finds that to be the final straw and taps into her inner powers and picks up the biggest weapon she could find, from some random dude standing on the corner selling it. What was he doing with those things, she never bothered to ask. After Galaxy city she returns to other zones to clean up the madness a bit.

(from the City of Heroes album: the dance in motion!)

All right, then. You go have fun, Zania. Take the edge off.

"Let's face it: most of the 'strange' worlds and dimensions you come from have nothing on the weird mess of crap affectionately known as Paragon."

(Faithward--who, in City of Heroes, at least--is a horned demon with a burning black halo in damaged gold and black armor. Makes sense.)

[Help] Imperial Templar: Should I go hero or villain?
[Help] Hexman: Both, be a Vigilante or Rogue
[Help] Lady of Broken Toys: hero has more people and is generally the safest bet.
[Help] Prospero the Purple: Hero only has more people because people tell people to go hero.

How much does this sound like "Firestorm/Phoenix/Emerald has more users because people tell their friends to use them"?

[Help] Prospero the Purple: IMO, Villain side is more fun but has less people since everyone is told to go hero.
[Help] Temple Divine: nnah was dead long before that
[Help] Chi Sota: hero if you cant wait for a group to form, vil if you want good everything else

These are the facts: when City of Villains launched into what had been, to that point, a hero-only game, there was a LOT of interest. There still is interest, but here's how it breaks down:
  • Hero missions are simpler than villain missions.
  • Redside (villain-side) is generally darker and grittier in terms of texturing, and the level of destruction on the buildings themselves, and more emotionally dark overall, than blueside (hero-side).
  • It's easier to power-level on blue side--between the Death from Below and the Drowning in Blood queue challenges, dumping three hours on the game will generally level just about any character to level 20 (maybe higher, depending).
  • Strike forces and task forces are easier to get into on blueside--again, because the missions are easier overall, more people are playing on blueside in a given day.
[Help] Operative Glass: go Gold side
[Help] Operative Glass: Be a praetorian!

Praetoria's another new zone--well, "new-ish", it was launched back in 2010, but "going gold" has its own unique set of challenges along the way. There's a lot of moral choices involved, even more than the villains' Rogue Isles mission set. That, and by design Praetoria is very clean, very structured, and overwhelmingly empty--not because no one plays there, because people do, but because all the cities are built on a very large scale. NPCs are confined to specific areas, and for the most part, most of the NPCs seen on the ground in Praetoria are either cleaner bots, or police.

But there are those who disagree:

[Help] Chi Sota: pratorian if you hate yourself
[Help] Hanku: Pfft, lol
[Help] Hexman: Or your graphics card
[Help] Literal Lass: Hey now. Praetoria is great for soloing, badge collecting, and you CAN find teams to work with, it's not impossible.
[Help] Operative Glass: It isn't really as hard as its reputation; a majority of the mobs that were overperforming were adjusted awhile ago.

What they mean: because Praetoria is one of the most recent zones (only the revised Dark Astoria is newer), it's coded differently than the original hero zones or even the villain zones. In a sense, it can be compared to the jump from viewer 1 to viewer 3: Praetoria is coded to demand higher performance from the client graphically, by default.

Conversation drifted at that point to discussion of the Virtue server itself:

[Help] Ceille: Do people actually still roleplay on this server?
[Help] Operative Glass: yes
[Help] Lady of Broken Toys: yes.
[Help] Hexman: Yes
[Help] Literal Lass: Yeah, but mostly in the D.
[Help] Hexman: Avoid pocket D
[Help] Lady of Broken Toys: why 'actually'? You act like it belongs in a museum.
[Help] Ceille: What's wrong with Pocket D?

I'm always amused by these interchanges. "Go to the D!" "Avoid the D!" And to be fair, both arguments have merit, in a twisted sense. Pocket D, because it's an interdimensional space where villains and heroes can attend, which frequently features actual DJ shows (via WinAmp or live streaming, if the radio station has a website). On top of that, though, it's a large space. RP can happen in local chat, broadcast throughout the zone (which is generally the entire club, anyway), or in Supergroup bases (and there's a handy base portal on the dance floor). This makes it a very attractive space for RP. Four bars on two differently colored "sides" of the club (redside and blueside) but no one's restricted just to those areas.

With virtual alcohol and themed club nights, it provides a free-for-all RP environment--privacy available (or not), banter allowed, personal story arcs mixing and melding--so there's both a lot of eye-rolling (usually on the particular types of RP) and a lot of people who specifically go to the D for engaging RP.

[Help] Prospero the Purple: I really only joined Virtue because it's much more populated than Pinnacle.

Again, because Virtue and Freedom are the highest-populated servers in the game.

[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: Pocket D is where you go when you run out of ideas for your character

Really? Really, that's the best you can do?

[Help] Lady of Broken Toys: I get most of my rp far from the D.
[Help] Andrieth: Same.
[Help] Hexman: Role playing in pocket D is like role playing with your wife on date night
[Help] Andrieth: Or when you're starting out, and you need a group to play with.
[Help] Temple Divine: D is sadly overrun with will see.
[Help] Chi Sota: Pocket D/erp

There's also this weird split for people on Virtue: it seems about 30% "ERP isn't roleplay!" and 50% "ERP is the only roleplay!" with the remaining 20% pretty easy-going and flexible, because it's all RP in the first place.

This leads to a lot of player bios that state up front "Mature RP" or "RP/ERP", before anything else on the description, because some players on City of Heroes freak right the hell out over the concept of one virtual persona flirting/making out/having sex with another virtual persona. Having the years I've had in SL, this seems preciously naive, at best, but some folks just don't want any hint of erotic interpersonal relations to spoil their game--a game, I should add, that features fired electrical bolts from the hands, the abilities to fly, leap over buildings in a single bound, fade into invisibility, freeze miscreants in place, or terrorize them with phantoms from the nether spaces as routine daily occurences. What's a little slap-and-tickle to that?

Also, this impression that Pocket D is where new--or lazy--roleplayers hang out, that keeps cropping up too. It's comparable to the little Gorean slavegirl phenomenon in Second Life--the fact that some women sign on, and less than one hour past character creation they've found a freebie set of silks, at least one nadu pose (if not several, or an entire AO of bondage poses!), where they then happily scamper off to be abducted in the Gor lands.

I don't think that's a sign of laziness, or newness, though, as much as it is expediency. If you're looking for specific types of roleplay, you're going to go where the greatest numbers of potential roleplayers hang out, right? Which is the D in City of Heroes, and largely Gor (or Bloodlines sims) in SL.

[Help] Operative Glass: Since supergroups have been in decline, the D's been when I usually hang out for that.

People keep saying this too. Maybe I'm just in an active group, but how are they in decline? What does "in decline" even mean in a game where anyone (at the right level, at least) can start a supergroup? Honestly, I think we're overrun with supergroups, not suffering a scarcity.

[Help] Felicio: The RP in Pocket D is fine. Plenty of nice folks in there that RP good, like myself, who are welcoming.
[Help] Temple Divine: but outside of D it's pretty snub nose and prudish.
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: you clearly have just been on the surface of Pocket D
[Help] Lady of Broken Toys: The D is a hive of villany, perversion, bad fanfiction, and sparkly vampires.

Only some of the time.

[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: just like youtube its very easy to stumble upon that "wierd part"

Well, to be fair, Grandmaster UO isn't wrong. There's a lot of characters that seem to exist only for the sake of getting to the D as fast as possible, and living out their lives in a swimming haze of kink. There's more than a few "ooze girls" who hang around the D, as well, waiting to engulf the hapless, wriggling heroes who dare to approach.

Catgirls, ratgirls, bondage enthusiasts, stern torturers, flamboyantly gay prettyboys in the tightest of tight spandex, mistresses, masters, and the genuinely lost meet and mingle in the D. But here's the thing: no one FORCES anyone to play out anything. That distinction is important. Someone sends me a tell I don't want, I ask them to stop, or politely demur. They send again, I have the option of blocking their communication. Simple. Easy. Done.

And if you're getting uncomfortable with the daily D content, well...there's three whole play areas to go romp about in, for villains, heroes and Praetorians. Go there. Run solo missions, run group missions, run story arcs. No one makes anyone RP if they don't want to.

I may complain about the level of futa catgirl vampire vixens with bondage-oriented superpowers in schoolgirl uniforms, sure...but hey, if I'm not interested? I don't have to be there.

People keep forgetting that for some reason.

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