city of heroes

Official Site: City of Heroes
Studio: Paragon Studios/NCsoft
Launch Date: April 27, 2004
Sunset Date: November 30, 2012
Genre: Superhero Hybrid Themepark
Business Model: Hybrid F2P (Optional Sub, Cash Shop)
Platform: PC, Mac

Perfect Ten: MMO zones I love to hate

Let’s be frank: Not every MMO zone can be a masterpiece of art, design, quest flow, and navigability. I mean, they totally should be, but that’s not how it shakes out in actual games. Sometimes regions get rushed, or the developers get a little too crazy with level design, or someone with a doomsday device in the office threatens to set it off unless an area made up of nothing but jumping puzzles is included.

The end result? “Those” zones we love to hate. We all have them. They’re the ones we seem to relish whining and complaining about to anyone who will listen, often instigating an echo chamber of like-minded grudges. We’ve been there, done that, and felt that our psyche took a hit as a result.

Today I want to look back at 10 MMOs I’ve played over the years to pick out a zone from each that, honestly, I really, really disliked. Perhaps the fact that I still remember them so vividly means that they were more important memories than the well-done zones that escape me at the moment, but I’m not going to think on that too much. Let the gripe session begin!

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City of Titans demos animations in new video

City of Titans has this week posted a new video dubbed “Animation while Holding Objects,” which kinda sounds boring, but it’s a superhero MMO — you’re not gonna get far without some sweet spinning melee moves, right?

“What to Look For: It’s a big sword attack animation, but he’s holding a bow in his other hand,” says Missing Worlds Media. “Proving we can do this opens new possibilities for chaining attacks using different weapons/props. Also, the changing FX – as we explained in our powers update, YOU’RE going to be able to pick which one you get.”

On the other hand, MWM says to ignore “almost everything else. Animations, FX, and props are ours but all else is placeholder/test environment.”

Take a peek — it’s progress!

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Choose My Adventure: Cryptic’s Neverwinter in review

My time with Neverwinter is done, and it’s a game I find myself in an odd relationship with. It’d be fair to say that despite what some members of the audience expected, I never went into disliking the game; even when I was getting a little bit bored, I didn’t find myself desperately wanting to play something else just to be free of the scourge of the game itself. But at the same time… it never really got its hooks in me, either.

And some of that, I think, is that I’ve played it before.

I’m reluctant to say that every game Cryptic Studios makes is the same because every single one has very clear pieces that stand apart. Star Trek Online’s space combat, Neverwinter’s action combat, and Champions Online’s status as the last relic of a forgotten time. (Probably other things, too.) They’re not the same game. But they do all share the same gameplay loop, which is different… and despite my best efforts, there’s a certain point when all of that just winds up getting a wee bit tedious.

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NCsoft MOBA Master X Master launches today

Master X Master is officially launching in the West today, bringing NCsoft’s take on a multi-IP MOBA-with-a-twist to our shores. The twist is the PvE element, which was relatively novel for the genre back when MxM was announced but is now present in a few others. Still, there’s no other MOBA out there where you can play characters from Guild Wars 2, WildStar, and City of Heroes all together!

The floodgates officially open at 1 p.m. EDT this afternoon, but until then, we’ve rounded up all our coverage and streams of the game to now, plus a few of the game’s latest prep vids. Happy launch day!

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The Daily Grind: What’s the ideal group size for an MMORPG?

During this week’s Massively OP podcast (live this afternoon!), Justin and I tackled a detailed question about MMO group makeup, the trinity, and combat, and we took the opportunity to tangent a bit into praising City of Heroes, which not only managed to smash the trinity but did so in a way that increased the number of combat roles in a group over the standard, provided flexible difficulty modes at a time when that was unheard of, and scaled content to group size, meaning that you didn’t really need to take a full group of eight into most of the instanced content. You took what you had and that was enough. It was brilliant.

And while I’m not much of a fan of huge, methodical raids anymore, that’s more because I dislike them as the Only Thing To Do At Endgame. I do love massive group sizes, however, which is why I lamented the loss of the 20-man group in Star Wars Galaxies and adore the casual swarms of Guild Wars 2. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to matter whether the formal group size is four or five or six; my guildies always seem to be one body short of what we need, and I constantly find myself wishing for City of Heroes’ ruleset.

What do you think is the ideal group size in an MMORPG? And do you base that on social balance or typical class configurations or something else entirely?

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City of Titans on endgame, alting, PvP, business models, lockboxes, and whales

The first and most-backed City of Heroes successor City of Titans has a couple of dev pieces out this month answering questions posed to Missing Worlds Media this past spring. The Q&A itself is relatively brief, letting players know that powerset interactive effects (like team combos) are not on the table, minions will be customizable, the team is working on ways to thwart gold spammers and bots, PvP has a Rock Paper Scissors design goal, and the game is alt-centric but “won’t be ignoring endgame content.”

“Not only will there be content released for the entire level range throughout its lifetime, but we’ve designed several systems, both content centric and others, to enhance the experience of alting,” says the studio.

Last week, MWM told fans that City of Titans model will be a hybrid of a sub and free-to-play system, with an up-front cost that comes with complete access to the game and VIP status for a three months. It’ll also come with an optional subscription and a stipend of currency, dubbed Stars, for spending in the cash shop.

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Valiance Online hints that alpha test could be near

“As a superhero MMORPG developer, what would you require before officially launching your alpha build?”

This intriguing question was presented to the Valiance Online community a couple of days ago, leaving it open for all manner of interpretation. Are the devs hinting that the alpha test for this superhero title is on its way or are they simply trying to get feedback for what should take priority before such a test is launched?

Speaking of the alpha, the team posted the latest development roadmap, showing that coding and quality assurance are the two areas left until the build is complete. Players were also given a sneak peek at a few character creation screens starring some of the key figures in the game.

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Cryptic’s Magic the Gathering RPG: Speculating on the lore and game systems

An RPG based on Magic: the Gathering is one of those things I have both long wanted and long assumed was just never going to happen. Now it’s happening, and it’s happening at the hands of Cryptic and PWE. That doesn’t necessarily make me enthusiastic about the business models, but it does mean (based on the studios’ other games) that it’ll be good solid fun to play just the same.

It makes me especially happy because it’s possible to play a lot of MtG without ever knowing anything about the setting, too. Now you sort of have to.

My time with MtG as an active player is definitely in my rear-view mirror, but it’s possible to have a passing familiarity with the game but not really get what in the world is there to base a non-card game upon. Since I tend to absorb this stuff, though, my mind was immediately set aflame with visions of teleporting between planes, summoning creatures, and collecting artifacts. So let’s take a look at the lore behind the cards and speculate a bit on systems, shall we?

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Battle Bards Episode 100: Centennial spectacular!

After four years and over 700 MMORPG music tracks, the Battle Bards have arrived at their 100th show! For this centennial spectacular, Syl, Steff, and Syp reminisce about the most notable shows, their best soundtrack discoveries, and their favorite tracks. This super-sized show gets wrapped up with a bout of listener emails and a promise of another amazing hundred episodes!

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 100: Centennial spectacular (or download it) now:

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City of Titans blasts enemies with funky dance moves

Anyone remember that old console game Moonwalker? You played as the late Michael Jackson who would use his suave moves to defeat enemies. But perhaps the most remembered element was when Jackson could start a dance-off with every bad guy on the screen, making them get down and funky too. It was a real thing and a reason why many of us are not quite right in the head today.

Well, if you miss the lethal combination of dance and combat, then go no further than City of Titans. The team has been experimenting in making hip hop a status effect for hero powers, and boy does it kind of work.

“For the past few weeks, we have been experimenting with soft and hard controls. And then Word Up came on the radio…. then it was obvious what needed to happen,” the devs said.

Don’t believe us? We have actual proof of this craziness after the jump!

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Perfect Ten: My favorite MMO dungeons

It’s hard to look at an MMORPG and imagine them without dungeons. For some people, these instances are the core of their game experience, offering challenging (well, hopefully) and rewarding group experiences that can be repeated for fun, profit, and optimal performance.

Dungeons and I have a strange history in MMOs. For me, it all depends on the game in question. There are MMOs that don’t really feature compelling or rewarding dungeons (Guild Wars 2), or make grouping up and getting into them difficult, or what have you. Yet in other games, I’ve run dungeons so many times that I could probably pathfind through each one blind. If done right, they can be really fun and offer me a chance to show off my stuff and feel like I’m part of a team.

For today’s list, I want to share with you my favorite MMO dungeons. I’m going to limit myself to one per MMO for diversity’s sake, which might make it a little challenging, but there you go!

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Leaderboard: What’s the most important part of MMORPG character customization?

Valiance Online has a dev thread up this week asking backers and devs to propose hairstyles for the game’s characters, something that immediately yoinked my attention since I am notoriously picky about hair. As I’ve written before, I’m not against mohawks. Mohawks are cool. But when we open up a character creator and see 50 different types of mohawks and little else? Drives me bonkers. I’m exaggerating a little, but the variety in most MMOs isn’t so hot, and that’s partly down to clipping issues, I realize. Still, hair specifically is super important to me when I’m rolling a character. It’s definitely in my top three, probably right after gender.

How about you? What’s the most important part of MMORPG character customization to you? You can pick three!

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City of Titans drops some Scorpion lore

Only part of becoming a successful superhero is mastering your abilities and pulling off a spandex outfit in public. Another key part is knowing your enemy inside and out, and using their weaknesses against them.

To wit, the team behind City of Titans posted a lore piece that shines a light on one of the villain groups, Scorpion. As the name implies, this gang is all cuddles and free love.

“Scorpion seeks world conquest at all costs,” the team wrote. “Its agents often pursue smaller, simpler-seeming goals, but ultimately, Scorpion seeks only power and destruction of all rivals. While Scorpion occasionally makes a show of espousing some particular philosophy or ‘bringing order to the world,’ its true goal seems to be to ensure its eventual dominion over the entire world and the elimination of all moral codes aside from ‘obey Scorpion,’ which essentially translates into personal power for its members.”

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