Monday, August 13, 2012

things are getting weirder at the speed of light

Just so you know, WE'RE ALL DOOMED. I do not say this lightly, but considering the many, many denizens of the Steam network that I've run across, this is kind of like Second Life giving the Woodbury sims back to Woodbury and telling them to invite all their friends.

However, this likely ties in to the Forbes announcement back on August 8th--that Valve is preparing to expand beyond games into actual software. Which is--oddly--where Second Life might come in. It's not precisely a game in the traditional sense--it's always been more of a straight environment, or group of environments. But--and potentially known by Valve--there's also a lot of programmers in SL. Get Second Life available through Steam, launch their own creativity and productivity apps, and they get both the people new to SL to look it over, and the developers/coders/builders in SL to peruse Steam offerings.

Maybe. For me, still saying WE'RE ALL DOOMED. DOOMED DOOMED DOOMED.

[Help] Axis-Mundi: Let's back up here. What exactly is the problem?

Now, this isn't anything relating to SL, and it's also not a wholly blind intro--I just thought it went well after the Steam news. To break down what happened, since this particular strand of commentary happened a few days back, I had been in the middle of a firefight prior to this in City of Heroes, blipped off the net briefly (which erased my buffer of the preceding conversation), then came back. The basic gist is, someone started complaining about PvP, player-vs.-player combat. In some games it's been a huge deal; in City of Heroes it's always been an afterthought. Most people just don't play City of Heroes to beat on each other as their main goal.

[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: it would go hand in hand that PvP would be implemented
[Help] Starpunk: They did implement PVP.
[Help] Starpunk: It was the PVP zones.
[Help] Ms. Falsetto: The problem is Grandmaster UO Thief and Starpunk are going around in circles.


This also seemed to be the case from reading back.

[Help] Starpunk: Which - coincidentally! - were released when i6 or 7 came out.
[Help] Wrektor: Technically, it was the Arena first.


Translation for those who play the game: there are PvP zones where anyone can attack anyone at any time. The Arena is not that place. The Arena is staged combat between players, one on one.

[Help] Starpunk: i.e., pretty much literally at the same time as they allowed you to play villains.
[Help] Starpunk: Nobody counts the arena


Why not?

[Help] Starpunk: The arena wasn't a focused effort on PVP
[Help] Ms. Falsetto: Arena was i5, but i5 also had the silliest nerfs in coh history


Another little explanation--when folks refer to "i5, i6, i10", they mean the issue numbers. Whereas other games have updates, or have expansion sets, NCSoft releases their game updates as "issues"--which, considering the comic-book environment, is a cool little conceit.

[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: and in retrospect the villains were no different than heroes accept the classes were different

And now, the classes are the same on both sides, because they launched free-to-play. But I digress.

[Help] Ms. Falsetto: It was never a focus.
[Help] Ms. Falsetto: Thank goodness.
[Help] Starpunk: It was a focused effort, however


I maintain the whole "afterthought" theory, because PvP combat doesn't work the same way, it doesn't drop the same rewards--literally, the rewards system in City of Heroes? It rewards us as players for NOT attacking each other. It's literally not worth our time unless we have some desperate need to prove ourselves the best at taking down other people.

[Help] Tyrannicus: I'll never understand why MMOs can't just use PvE mechanics for PvP
[Help] Starpunk: It was a focused attempt to create a PVP system for players to use
[Help] Axis-Mundi: Because they don't work.
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: UO did


Yes, they did. In fact, Ultima Online instituted the first no-permissions PvP system in an MMO. This meant anyone could attack anyone else without provocation, or, conversely, could provoke someone into attacking first, and then wipe the floor with them, because "they started it". It was supremely childish, and sent a chilling wave of awareness through the MMO community--namely, PvP without some permissions system in place is a very bad idea.

[Help] Tyrannicus: Like literally every other game ever.
[Help] Starpunk: I don't know why you think that's different from WoW
[Help] Axis-Mundi: Players don't behave like mobs so you can't account for it that way.
[Help] Starpunk: WoW just has PVP set on the world.


But they still require an agreement to consent to PvP in the first place. No permission, no attacks.

[Help] Axis-Mundi: Also players care if they get blown up by a broken twink build, mobs don't.
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: but NC failed to do that and now pvp is a disaster
[Help] Ms. Falsetto: I would quit on the spot of PvP was the reason for PvE nerfs.
[Help] Axis-Mundi: So your problem is... PvP doesn't work?


It does seem a bizarre argument to make.

[Help] Starpunk: NC didn't "fail" - do you even know anything at all? NCSoft had nothing to do with the original development of City of Heroes.

This is actually true--Cryptic Studios developed City of Heroes, then went off to develop Champions Online. NCSoft picked up the existing game, and made it what it is today.

[Help] Starpunk: Cryptic Studios was the original creator of City of Heroes. None of the things you are talking about were ever in the core design.
[Help] Starpunk: At all.
[Help] Starpunk: PVP came about, in a serious fashion, two years after the original game was fully designed.
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: well maybe the company that we pay right now to play the game should be doing that stuff
[Help] Axis-Mundi: Why?
[Help] Starpunk: Because you demand it?
[Help] Wrektor: Find... Another product?
[Help] Wrektor: I mean.
[Help] Aqua Net: when you get a sentence like "pvp is the reason they nerfed pvp" there really isn't much of a hope for rational dialogue, I fear


I tend to agree. Once you've hit that point, it's like saying murder's responsible for the high rate of homicide, and the reason we have overpopulation is because of giving birth. They're null statements.

[Help] Wrektor: If you can find someone who can make a better thing out there, go for it.
[Help] MUCHO MAS: Thats a bit like saying marriage is the cause of divorce
[Help] Aqua Net: yeah, am all for PvPers having a place to go where it works well. That place just isn't here
[Help] Starpunk: You're complaining that "they didn't account for changes they didn't know were happening two years in advance"
[Help] Starpunk: Out of curiousity, do you understand that Sister Psyche and Numina are fictional characters?


And this bit made me giggle aloud, because we've now hit sarcasm on parade.

[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: see but they have been around for a long time that time they could have improved upon those fundamentals to create a decent villaiin side [Help] Starpunk: Villainside is decent.
[Help] Starpunk: It's just...it's only decent.
[Help] Axis-Mundi: What exactly is wrong with villain side?


Yeah, really. First Grandmaster takes on PvP and now Starpunk's taking on one-third of the current game? The hell?

[Help] Starpunk: It gets no interesting improvement.
[Help] Starpunk: It doesn't move forward.
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: that was my original point
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: they never do anything with it

  • Okay, slow down there, Sparky, you're treading on dangerous ground. Now, I admit, I was not in favor of changing the everybody-gets-in-through-Galaxy-City bit, but as a game tutorial, it does several things right: you can easily figure out what your powers do and what your power icons look like
  • you learn how to target, how to shift your target, and which powers are better at ranged, and which are better at melee attacks
  • you get the chance to help in cooperative monster-killing, which creates that sense of chosen community
  • you get to choose whether you're a villain or a hero by either a noble or an ignoble act
  • AND if you're bored with the whole thing you can skip the tutorial and still--shock and horror!--not miss out on that much by doing so!
[Help] Starpunk: It's stuck, in stasis, while the rest of the game receives massive content unlocks.

How so? They changed the entire feel of the game, from Arachnos owns Mercy Island, to Longbow does. In fact, the first five levels new villains get in the game allow us to feel that minor sense of triumph because we--as villains--push back the invading spandex horde and gain some peace from constant Longbow harrying! How is that in any way "stuck in stasis"??

[Help] Starpunk: Yes, shared is generally "and the villains team up to save the world"
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: again you are finaly seeing my point
[Help] MUCHO MAS: Most of the content unlocks have been shared zones and content though
[Help] Tyrannicus: Go to posi and whine about it to him.


I'm still not sure what exactly the point is here...beyond them saying City of Villains sucks, PvP is bad because it's PvP, and...the content on both sides is essentially mirrored, is that the third complaint?

Save, look at any big MMO right about now. While they'll have different enemies, different bases of operations, different groups to fight, for the most part playing out missions on either side is a standard process:
  1. make a character talk to people
  2. get missions
  3. beat up on enemy groups for fun and profit
  4. go get the next mission
That's pretty much how it works in any MMO. What's the problem?

[Help] Wrektor: Except... Villains teaming up to save the world is a thing that happens?
[Help] Wrektor: In comics?
[Help] Taran Tatsui: Often? ;)
[Help] Wrektor: I mean. That's kind of a major trope.
[Help] Starpunk: Not every other issue
[Help] MUCHO MAS: Though, I will agree I would like to see stuff thats more exclusive to one side or the other


Okay, I'd like to see that, too. Except...that's been done, as well. There are places where you fight one of the named villains as a hero, and places where you fight at that villain's side as a villain. There are storylines that involve preventing bank robberies (hero side) and on the villain side, we get to cause as much mayhem and chaos as we can whilst robbing those banks.

Further: Atlas Park has Twinshot, and her team of maladapted hero wannabes; part of that entire arc is realizing that in groups, we are stronger than alone, that having bases of operations are cool, and that sometimes, there are those we think of as fellow heroes that...aren't, quite. (Well, really, any story arc that involves Bat-Manticore is bound to be doomed on the "noble hero" stand. Because dear gods, he's utterly underwhelming as a good guy.)

Conversely, a lot of the early missions for City of Villains feature Arbiter Sands, a gleeful, cackling, calculating mass of intelligent viciousness that stands in your way at nearly every turn. He wants nothing more than to return you to the faceless puppet horde that Lord Recluse encourages so well, and your job as a developing villain is to take him out and advance anyway.

Those are two vastly different goal sets.

[Help] Ms. Falsetto: But the first contact - WORD ONE - says that the rogue isles isn't worth saving
[Help] Ms. Falsetto: In the rikti warzone
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: last time i checked a Villain was a mass murdering stealing name taking son of a bitch who yet again has no remorse for his crimes
[Help] Starpunk: Incidentally, I've...been agreeing with you, until you started that ludicrous argument about PVP?
[Help] Wrektor: Well, I mean. I'd spoiler the ending of DA, but a lot of that is more than just SAAVE THE WOOOOORLD.


Having gone through the Dark Astoria arc now, as my hero, and as accompanying a friend's villain, not much changes on either side. But that's pretty much the point--that both heroes and villains will bind together to fight true evil, which is what Mot represents. It's very end-game, very meta in spots, but essentially, Mot is undiluted chaos. Mot is blood and pain and death forever and ever, melding living flesh with unliving flesh, and even though Mot did not exist until the revamp of Dark Astoria into Mot's main feeding ground, the ripples of that decision can now be seen in other missions, and a lot more stray threads in the weave than I thought are woven back in.

It's not the only place in the game where villains and heroes meet and mingle, but it's the one that makes the player most proud of their character choices--because facing Mot in the final showdown, the ultimate realization is that we are there, we are infant Incarnates stretching our power, and we are trusted by those who came before us. Villain or hero, that's monumental.

[Help] Starpunk: Uhh, no
[Help] Starpunk: If you think that, go pick up, I don't know, any Doctor Doom comic


Which seems like a spurious point, until you realize that as a super-villain, Doctor Doom--on his own--thinks he's doing the right things for the right reasons. In his eyes, he's the hero. And the Fantastic Four--and everyone who's ever been pitted against Doom in the comics--well, they're just meddlesome, misguided fools, trying to stop him from realizing his dreams.

[Help] Axis-Mundi: Oh
[Help] Axis-Mundi: You want hardcore baby-eating villain, right
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: yet this game makes the heros that they were killing welcome them with open arms and hot chocolate when they transfer over


How so? If he's talking about going rogue or going vigilante, while we can pick up missions that way, we're always looked upon with some suspicion, because we came from the "other side".

[Help] Colonial Federalist: Doctor Doom is a kind and loving man.
[Help] Tyrannicus: GTFO of my house!
[Help] Accalon: God damn kids these days
[Help] Ecatarina the Talon: not to mention control of a thirdworld country with super science, and more robots than actual citizens
[Help] Oriental Invincible: that is why he is so cool, he has very good reasons to do what ever he is doing
[Help] Colonial Federalist: He is friend to all children.
[Help] Bug Burn: he's that guy in that movie right?


Cue involuntary facepalming.

[Help] daedrius warbrand: he's some guy with a metal facemask
[Help] Direwing: I blame the education system
[Help] Taran Tatsui: I hardly keep up with comic supers, and I know who Doc Doom is... :/
[Help] Ecatarina the Talon: er... did you at least watch the Fantastic 4 Movie *shudder*


One would hope.

[Help] Roland Blackbriar: the movie dr doom was a poor version to base your opinion of him on
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: but the fact of the matter is the villains in this game are not true villains


Again, what's he basing this on? Part of the reason hero side is easier to play is that there aren't a lot of grey areas. Conversely, there's a TON of grey areas and moral choices on villain side. One of the first missions handed out involves our fledgling villains to talk to a captured Longbow officer. While talking, we're given the choice to break his arm, break his leg, or just convince him that we mean what we say by describing horrible tortures to him. And that happens within the first five levels of the game!

[Help] Oriental Invincible: i like magneto, he is a believable villain
[Help] Starpunk: What do you define as a "true villain"
[Help] Colonial Federalist: Doctor Doom is a warm fuzzy bear who will love you and bring you the wonders of Denpa Radiation.
[Help] Wrektor: What's a 'true villain?'
[Help] Wrektor: That's just a horrible thing to try and define.
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: they basicly go around doing exactly what the heroes do with a red HUD instead


Again, I disagree. While on both sides there's a lot of killing "bad guys" (on villains' side, it's Wyvern agents, Longbow agents, and then the standard evildoers on both sides (the cyber-enhanced punk Freakshow gangs, the dark Carnival of Shadows, and the mostly-undead and/or rotting Vahzilok), and for heroes it's the three villain groups mentioned above, plus the Sky Raiders, the Warriors, the Family, the Tsoo...okay, there are far more groups of bad guys on the hero side of things, yes. But still! There's more to both sides than that!

[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: they focus on making the heros so heroic and mighty and the red side which they implemented and have massive maps for is just left in the side lines

Yeah, I still don't agree.

[Help] Starpunk: You can't go "everyone should be a baby-eating psychopath" - it's relatively easy to...implement heroism.
[Help] Starpunk: Heroism is generally well-defined.
[Help] Starpunk: Villains are varied, and have many personal motives, lines drawn in the sand, honor codes, and other things
[Help] Literal Lass: I love anything with Arbiter Sands. Even stupid missions have good moments if he's involved.
[Help] Aqua Net: yeah, arbi sands is wonderful
[Help] Ms. Falsetto: Oh god Sands~
[Help] Ms. Falsetto: Villainy is hard when you can't kill everyone or rule the general area.
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: no but we all have an idea of what a villain should be there is atleast one general idea
[Help] Starpunk: Do you...do you know who Superman is
[Help] Tyrannicus: ...Yes?
[Help] Ms. Falsetto: And no real game developers can handle being a villain properly.
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: such as.... not doing the exact same thig the heros are doing


So basically, Grandmaster is complaining that villain side just isn't villainous enough? Redside has kidnappings, evil occult groups, human sacrifices, undead zombies rigged to explode, and the entire shebang is run by a man who thinks he's a spider. How much more villainous does he WANT?

[Help] Starpunk: You...don't.
[Help] Starpunk: I tell you what
[Help] Starpunk: Go play Westin Phipps
[Help] Starpunk: Just, go do that
[Help] Starpunk: It'll satisfy all your baby-eating needs
[Help] Starpunk: I promise


And cue massive, full-body shoulder, because Westin Phipps is, quite possibly, the most disturbing thing in the game. End stop.

Direct baby-eating? No. But child-killing, yes. And you can also toss in destruction of education materials, including books; poisoning of children via donated food for the poor; all the way down to mutation of the poor and very undeserving into creatures that even Arachnos fear.

You want villainy? Westin Phipps is, and moreover, during all of his story arc missions, he's blaming us for following his demands. He is creepy and disturbing beyond all reason, moreso because he's just this guy, you know? Glasses, balding with a combover, average cubicle-drone attire...he doesn't look outrageous in any way.

And that's part of what makes him so villainous.

[Help] Axis-Mundi: If they implemented CoV how you seem to want it, it'd basically be like EvE 0.0 play
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: i just wish they would add more content to the villain side
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: like they are for this
[Help] Ecatarina the Talon: to me the best villian is the one who truly believes he is the hero... even though the book drones on and on about it... Sword of Truth.
[Help] Starpunk: ...
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: maybe revamp their story


What, you mean, like when Longbow took over Mercy Isle from Arachnos? Oh, wait, that's content they already revised.

[Help] Starpunk: Trollin', got it

Pretty much.

[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: the odd thing is its a saturday night and im drunk off my ass so give or take 8 hours from now i wont even remember having this conversation anyways
[Help] Starpunk: Trust me
[Help] Starpunk: In eight hours, neither will I
[Help] Ms. Falsetto: That'd explain a lot
[Help] Starpunk: In fact, in eight minutes, I won't even remember that you exist
[Help] Starpunk: And all your wonderful, sagacious points.
[Help] Starpunk: All those moments, like tears in the rain.


Okay, he gets props for being a Blade Runner fan.

[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: welcome to the internet. im drunk off my ass right now to deal with the pain of an inch deep abcess in my theigh right now
[Help] Grandmaster UO Thief: whats your excuse
[Help] Starpunk: I'm a rational human being who just spent the last half hour arguing with a drunken lout while I faceplant my lowbie getting powerlevelled by my friend?


Annnnd he may have just lost those props.

Essentially, all this boils down to some very specific points:

  • PvP is nerfed because of PvP (what?)
  • Villain side isn't villainous (only it is)
  • Villain side needs new content (which it has)
  • and Grandmaster UO started this entire argument while intoxicated (and why, dear gods, why?)

I guess we'll never know.

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