Massively OP Podcast Episode 148: Vampires, kobolds, and pirates


On this week’s show, Justin and Bree sort out the pile of expansions and updates that developers are scrambling to get out of the door before the holiday break. From vampires to kobolds, there’s something for everyone this month, and it only looks to get nuttier with the new year!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

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Ken from Chicago

Ye olde question, why did CHAMPIONS ONLINE, made by the same studio that made CITY OF HEROES, years afterward, with more experience, better graphics, far more costume choices, greater flexibility in powers, despite all of that, fail miserably to attract all of the former fanbase? That’s simple COH was better than CO. Okay, let’s make it more complex:

1) Graphics. Yes, CO had higher resolution and could make fabric, leather and metal materials look distinctly cloth, leathery and metallic. However the styles of the various costumes often didn’t mix well. Costume pieces might fit a set but not combine well with others. Also CO character bodily gestures, gait and idle motions had a far more comically cartoony look while COH’s characters, unless explicitly humorous, defaulted to a more serious or even bearing. And despite having higher resolution graphics, CO defaulted to an odd thick outlining of characters that was supposed to remind one of a comic book page but was jarring on an otherwise 3d-rendered screen.

2) Character Creator. This was COH’s initial claim to fame, a detailed character creator that players spent hours just creating their own personal hero–and later villain. So CO, with the benefit of hindsight, years of experience and higher tech would make a better character creator, with lots more costume pieces, asymmetrical costumes and even individually rendered fingers (unlike COH’s infamous “mitten hands”), right? Hold the phone. More choices in CO character creator was undone due to a simple failing: It didn’t track your intermediate selections. Say you didn’t like how shirt #42 combined with pants #38, and decided to try shirt #43. In COH, the character creator would remember you had previously selected #42 and let you go right to #43. In CO, you’d have to scroll through all of the previous 42 shirts to get to 43, or 44, or 45 or 79, etc. That little failing dramatically increased the time of character creation and turn CO’s strength into a weakness. Also, while you could select the color of character power’s aura in COH, CO blocked the colors “black” and “white”, making you pay for it or do a bizarre quest where you MIGHT (most likely wouldn’t) get the ability, otherwise you had to repeat the quest.

3) City. CO had three major zones: Millennium City, Canadian Wilderness and a Southwestern desert. It felt “small” next to COH’s over two dozen zones in Paragon City alone, not to mention Rogues Isles’ dozen zones and Praetoria’s half a dozen zones. And that’s just the PVE areas.

4) Content. COH was releasing content up until the month it was shut down. CO has been virtually in maintenance mode for years. They make Blizzard look like The Flash when it comes to releasing new missions. Ironically, COH, Neverwinter Online and Star Trek Online, all have a mission creator tool that lets players create their own missions for their game–but CO does not. If it had that, then the players could have made up for the content drought in the game–but noooooo. About the only news you hear from it is some new item in the cash shop–or some old item back on sale.

I feel bad for the remaining CO staff for being virtually abandoned by TPTB. They could have one of the hottest games online in light of the superhero age we’re living in at the movies and on tv, yet it is being squandered by a lack of investment by Cryptic Studios and/or Perfect World. It’s all the more surprising considering they swooped in and saved STO from a similar fate from a flailing Atari publisher.

It’s why I have far more hope in COH’s famous “spiritual successors”, CITY OF TITANS, VALIANCE ONLINE and SHIP OF HEROES.

Castagere Shaikura

Funny how i went back to Rift and got an email in game about the Storm Legend zones and who to talk to in my faction city. This guy in the email didn’t even really try. I was also lvl 50 when i went back too. And the forum has stickies for returning players too. That guys email was pathetic. And Champions Online is not a bad game but gets alot of crap from pissy COH fanboys because their game got closed down. And bree when was the last time you even played the game?

Justin Bania

Anyone else have some sound issues on Justin’s mic. It seemed like he went silent a few times there.

On champions online: for me it was a feeling of the writing. To me City of Heroes felt like a game that celebrated my love of comics and superheroes. CO felt like it was making fun of comics and superheroes with, frankly, dumb storylines and poor voice acting. Also it was really easy to make a terrible character between obtuse mechanics and unbalanced powers.

Kickstarter Donor

I’ve dipped my toe into Champions a couple of times in the past year, and each time lost interest quickly even though I’m dying for a COH hit. I suppose the big off-putting difference to me is that Champions feels like it’s constantly at my back pushing for combat, with no breathing room in any zone to simply relax and play tourist…basically, the same issue I had with WoW Cataclysm. COH rewarded exploration, with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, decent spacing between packs of mobs, and quest development you could tailor to yourself; Champions’ zones are more like being thrown into a burlap sack with a bunch of agitated rodents.

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Great podcast!

I still play BnS occassionally, so I appreciate seeing the updates here. When you were discussing the PR, I was thinking they were handling it just like Aion… and then you said it! Unfortunately, NCSoft pays attention to South Korea and they largely ignore their western audience. They don’t allow NCSoft West to do much of anything besides upkeep. As a western player, that’s quite frustrating, especially when games like GW2 actively listen and respond to their playerbase.

Sadly, I never played CoH, but I tried Champions and it literally made me ill because of the horrible camera movement. It’s a funny thing, asking why players of -any- game didn’t go running to the other similar game… because there are SO many variables! It’s the false consensus: in my opinion, game B is fantastic, so of course there are lots of other people who love it– or would if they tried it! It’s the *opinion* bit that’s relevant– for every individual. I think if people haven’t made the jump, then it’s not happening. They may continue to pine for CoH, but they may be placing their hopes on a future game and biding their time.

I think there’s also something to what Justin said about the ‘what ifs’ of a brand new game with its shiny new promises that could make your game wishes come true! Personally, I’m looking forward to some of the upcoming superhero games and hoping they do far better than Champions.


Hey! I’m just glad BnS is still being covered here. :) And I’m humbled that you guys mentioned my name and read my posts.

And, yes! Blade and Soul marketing and PR is a mystery here in the west. It seems to me that the game is just an afterthought overall in Korea. I nice to have, additional, profit center. Worth the effort to maintain, but otherwise left alone.

But apparently NCWest didn’t get that message. They have worked hard on Blade and Soul and made it a much better game now than at it was launch. The feature set is rich and absolutely geared toward attracting new players and keeping old veterans.

And Esports are a big component of that too. It is a huge deal in Korea and NA/EU made it to the quarterfinals in their very first year participating surprising the rest of the World Championship BnS competitors. And again, NCwest did that in large part on their own having torneys, regionals and finals. But sadly, nobody knows about it here. Everyone knows about it in Korea, even players that don’t play the BnS.

So, a game released originally in 2012 in Korea could have a strong presence here with just a little turn of the PR wheel. And if big daddy NCsoft wont recognize this I guess it will remain where it is.

Either way, I appreciate your coverage and at least your willingness to look beyond what NCsoft provides. BnS is a good game right now. That may change but I’m glad at least someone else acknowledges Blade and Soul aside from me and those like me. :)

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Legend Of Vinny T

A couple of CO points:

Cryptic not welcoming CoH refugees to CO was a little bit of bad timing and a lot of bad staff management. Neverwinter and STO’s Legacy of Romulus expansion were both “all hands on deck” when NCSoft pulled the plug. At that time, CO was absolutely in an un-publicized maintenance mode and its community had been hemorrhaging players for months before that. (Frankly, I don’t know how CO was supposed to get out of that maintenance mode when none of those developers returned from NW or STO. They got lucky that Sony cut Flying Lab loose so they could be hired as Cryptic North.)

And the Foundry was never supported because Cryptic weren’t planning for it when they built CO, so they never indexed its map assets as the Foundry component requires. We were told that doing so would be too labor-intensive.