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Choose My Adventure: Two approaches to whining about DC Universe Online

Dear readers, today I am going to try something different for all of you. And it’s predicated on the fact that I’m not just fond of video games; I’m also fond of comic books. This means that when I sat down for my most recent play session in DC Universe Online, I found myself of two minds about why I wasn’t super-duper happy with the content I was experiencing… and both of them could easily fill in a good chunk of words by themselves.

So this week, you get to choose the column you want to read. There are two spoiler warnings below: one covering my thoughts of playing the game from a strictly game-based perspective, the other one being my thoughts of playing the game from a comic book fan’s perspective. Read one! Read the other! Read both! Theoretically you could read neither, I suppose, but then you would have clocked out before you were done with this introduction.

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Choose My Adventure: Starting out fresh in DC Universe Online

Last week was supposed to be when I kicked off playing DC Universe Online, but thanks to various real-life time obligations, I just didn’t have the chance to dive into it. My original idea of just doing a slapdash job and not actually playing it because Daybreak fans are accustomed to disappointment didn’t go over well, either. So I had to delay until now, when I actually did play some DCUO. It did, in fact, happen.

And much like the first time when I played, I found myself hit with something right out of the gate: There should literally be no reason for me not to like this. I love superheroes. I like action combat. I enjoy colorful settings. I like the things that this game is doing which are distinctly different from other superhero games. I like the whole idea of movement modes and everything. There’s a lot of stuff in here that should be very distinctly delighting me.

But it’s not.

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Choose My Adventure: Launching new in DC Universe Online

Looking at the the three big triple-A superhero titles, DC Universe Online has always felt like the odd one out. City of Heroes was the first, of course, but it was also the one that wound up delivering and then some, a game people still talk about even when many of them (myself included) have gotten over the loss. Champions Online, meanwhile, is the disappointment, the Icarus, the one that never quite made it before crashing and burning appreciably.

And then there’s DC Universe Online, which is a game I just don’t think about all that much. Which is odd, as it may very well be the most successful MMO Daybreak is managing at the moment.

Some of this, of course, is down to the fact that it’s a game that seemed to launch almost by accident, with little to no fanfare and remarkably little promotion. But it’s also a game very different from many of its predecessors; where many superhero MMOs seem to be derived, on some level, from the archetypes put forth by CoH, DCUO does its own thing. And that alone makes it worthy of a closer look.

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Leaderboard: Do you play Star Wars Galaxies’ emulator?

Welp, here we are: Star Wars Galaxies would be turning 14 years old today, had it been allowed to live.

SWG is much beloved around here, among our staff and many of our commenters, and the good news is that the existing emulators for the game have seemed pretty safe from the wrath of the copyright gods, which means you can put your mouse where your heart is and still play. But do you? And if not, why not?

That’s what today’s Leaderboard poll is meant to find out. (You can choose multiple answers on this one.)

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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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Choose My Adventure: Finishing up in Neverwinter

I’m going to be honest, before playing Neverwinter I had a very different picture of this game in my head in some ways. Not because I didn’t expect the game’s core gameplay loop; I’d gotten that from demo events. And it’s not because I thought the game would feature a different set of mechanics or a different aesthetic. I did think that the animations wouldn’t be quite so dreadfully stiff for poor Ceilarene, but even that’s not enough to really throw me off of my game.

No, what I really pictured differently was the eponymous city of Neverwinter. I pictured, well, a city. What Neverwinter more closely resembles is a superheroic hometown after the most recent event storyline. There’s exactly one district that seems to actually be suitable for human habitation, and everything else is crawling with stuff that wants to kill you for various reasons. Also, every single part of the game is filled with people insisting that the city will soon belong to them.

In other words, it’s Paragon City without the superheroes.

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Choose My Adventure: My frustration with Neverwinter’s lockboxes

If you thought I was enjoying my time with Neverwinter as a whole, you would be right. I am enjoying my time with the game as a whole, and while there are bits and pieces which don’t totally sell me, my initial impressions have been positive. Heck, even my impressions from the last week or so of play have been mostly positive, with a lot of good experiences and a few which are…

Yeah, I could say “less good,” but I’m going to go with just plain “rage-inducing.”

Here’s the weird thing: At least one of the things which inspired a rage-spike from me was something I had been waiting for from the moment I started playing the game, and people who have read my work long enough probably know what that means. So join me as I find the item I dread more than any other in games by Cryptic, an item that appears in both of the other titles run by the studio that makes me start shuddering with rage every time I see it.

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Leaderboard: Is Steam Direct’s developer fee too high?

Back in February, Valve announced that it would be sunsetting Steam Greenlight and replacing it with a new platform called Steam Direct, which would require fees from developers in order to “decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.” At the time, fees from $100-$5000 were floated by the company, causing significant consternation among game developers concerned that indies, students, and developing countries would be shut out of the program.

Last week, Valve posted an update on the program, announcing that it will be sticking with the $100 fee and working on other ways to fix the submission process — namely, with an expanded curator system that continues to offload de facto vetting work onto volunteers.

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Choose My Adventure: Exploring the purpose and plan of this community column

You are no doubt staring at the title image above and thinking to yourself that it really does not look like a Neverwinter screenshot. And you would be right; it doesn’t look like a Neverwinter screenshot because it isn’t a Neverwinter screenshot. My schedule has been hectic enough that rather than trying to cram in a rushed play session without much meat in it, I elected to have a brief delay and push the next Neverwinter installment back a week. Not to worry, though; it’s an extension, not a cancellation, and Neverwinter still will get its full four weeks in the spotlight.

Instead, I wanted to be a bit more meta and discuss a few things I see coming up in the comments from time to time as well as covering some ideas for the series moving forward. And yes, it contains polls for the compulsive voters in the audience, you charming folks.

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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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Choose My Adventure: Finding a hat in Neverwinter

When we last left off in Neverwinter, I was finding out whether or not people wanted me to purchase the game’s subscription-but-not-really. You voted a resounding no, although quite a few of you voted no on the basis of this making me angry faster or something like that. Guys, is this a thing? Do you just want me to be sad? I don’t think we can be friends if that’s the case, and I’m usually sad anyway. It’s not a long walk.

Also, Ceilarene was hot on the trail of the thieves who stole the crown of Neverwinter. Or somewhat warm on the trail, at least. The crown in question isn’t a magical artifact, though, it’s just a crown. I think it’s just a mark of office, anyhow; it might be magical after all. Either way, it does confer a certain degree of status and it looks really neat, so presumably I should actually chase after the jerks who stole it. That means heading to another district of the city, the Blacklake District. If that sounds like a bad part of town… well, yes.

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Choose My Adventure: Getting started in Neverwinter

There are games that simply do not hold up past the demo, and frankly I’ve played a lot of those in Boston. Usually those are non-MMOs that promise big but don’t wind up delivering; I was excited about Rock Band Blitz, but it didn’t really pan out as being as fun as a standalone game compared to a quick demo station. So I was aware that however much I liked Neverwinter from demo kiosks, it was entirely possible that sitting down to play the actual game would be something of a disappointment.

But it wasn’t. Made you look.

Far from being less than it had seemed when I tried out the demos, I quite enjoyed my first week of time spent in Neverwinter. Not that it’s going to tear me away from all other games forever, but it’s a fun experience with plenty of things to hook you into the gameplay quickly without forcing you to dive headfirst into lore in order to find your commitment to the story.

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Leaderboard: Almost half of e-sports viewers don’t even play the games they’re spectating

It may sound crazy, but a huge number of people who pour eyeball time and money into e-sports don’t even play the games they’re watching. That’s according to gaming analytics firm Newzoo, which last week broke down its stats on the major e-sports franchises and who exactly is watching them in the U.S., Canada, Germany, U.K., France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden. Key takeaways?

  • 70% of viewers stick to one game.
  • 69% of gamers play only League of Legends, CS:GO, or DOTA 2 (the overlap of all three is 8%).
  • 42% of e-sports watchers of the big three games do not play any of them
  • 191 million people will tune in to e-sports “frequently” this year; an additional 194 million will do so “occasionally.”

Howsabout you? Do you watch, play, both, or neither?

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