No, you’re not seeing yet another ancient screenshot from the late, great City of Heroes. No, this is something far more recent and special. I’ll let reader Ben introduce it!
“Here we are standing around the new Ascendant memorial in Paragon Chat (the City of Heroes chat client) the first night it was released,” Ben reported. “Ascendant is the NPC talking on the phone near the center, in blue white and gold. Everyone was happy to see the game with people in it again.”
I bet! It brings a sniffle to my nose to see CoH continue in some form, even though it’s a mere shadow of what it once was. Keep on going to see the new chat client in its full-color glory!
Paragon Chat is not the City of Heroes revival that everyone wants, obviously, but it is a chance to walk around, chat, and enjoy the environment and the costumes within the game client. A recent tweet from the people at Titan Network responsible for the chat service reveals that the sort-of-game has seen 788 accounts connect to the service, with a peak concurrency around 200 people.
If you want to step back into Paragon City in some capacity, a detailed guide is available on the Paragon Wiki, which also provides a comprehensive overview of what is and is not available within the chat service. You can also jump down below to see the chat client in action in a video from Somewhat Eclectic.
Story is a polarizing word to MMO players: Either you love it or hate it, or maybe you just think it stinks or isn’t worth the money — yet. Today’s Daily Grind, posed to us by Kickstarter donor Spagomat, asks you to put aside your grievances with the idea of story and decide…
What’s the best told storyline (not overall story/lore) you’ve seen in an MMO?
I’m torn on how to answer this because the very best MMORPG storyline I ever saw was a player-written plot and story revolving around Penelope Yin and the Clockwork King as set up in City of Heroes. Seriously, it made me cry.
Every superhero worth her or his salt knows that it’s the costume that makes the hero. Well, that and a heapload of mutant powers, high-tech gadgetry, and billionaire funding. But it’s mostly the outfit.
That’s why City of Heroes spiritual successor City of Titans is putting in a lot of effort to create a spread of costumes for the game. In a new dev diary, the art team walks through the creation of a couple sets of tech armor, starting from sketches and progressing to full 3-D models.
The artist says that the assembly line may look weird, but that it all has purpose: “I know this looks like a pile of weird polygons, but trust me — all the helmet surfaces are here and that will help on baking our detailed mesh over this one. I personally think it has some kind of beauty. The more space used, the better the texture resolution.”
You can watch a pair of videos of the making of these costume pieces after the break!
This week’s Massively Overthinking question comes to us from Kickstarter donor TheChiHawk, and it’s coming from an unusually not-so-massive corner of gamesdom for us:
Are there any MMORPGs that employ a Left 4 Dead 2 type of “director feature”? It occurred to me that I still play L4D2 somewhat regularly because it continues to be fun due to the random element each time you play the same campaign. By contrast, the static layout of every single MMO I’ve played stands in stark contrast; you always know exactly what needs to be done. BORING! L4D2 would seem to be a perfect model for keeping things fun and uncertain with each new dungeon delve in an MMO. Why hasn’t anyone incorporated this into MMO games?
The director feature TheChiHawk is talking about is basically an AI governor for the whole game — with a twist. I’ll let the Left 4 Dead Wikia explain:
The Director, sometimes referred to as the AI Director, or simply as AID, is the artificial intelligence of Left 4 Dead that features a dynamic system for game dramatics, pacing, and difficulty. Instead of set spawn points for enemies, the Director places enemies in varying positions and numbers based upon each player’s current situation, status, skill, and location, creating a new experience for each play-through. The Director also creates mood and tension with emotional cues such as visual effects, dynamic music and character communication. Moreover, the Director is responsible for spawning additional health, ammo, weapons, and Special Infected, like the Witch or the Tank.
So let’s talk about MMO AI! I posed Chi’s question to the MOP team. Which MMOs have similar features? How do they work? Do they solve any major problems with MMO AI?
“The shadow of doubt has passed, and the state of the game is strong,” City of Titans President Nathaniel Downes trumpets in his newest letter to the community.
Downes said that for the first time since City of Titans’ Kickstarter campaign concluded, development for the title is firmly “on track” and moving in the right direction. “We have a live internal test server that fully qualifies as being an MMO,” Downes said, going on to thank the team and volunteers for the progress made so far.
Unfortunately, delays have forced the game’s beta to slip to 2016, although the costume builder should be available for testing by the end of this year. Downes mentioned that the team has focused on organizing better to meet deadlines and push the spiritual successor to City of Heroes forward. A second crowdfunding campaign for City of Titans is being planned for August, followed by a “more standardized model of revenue.”
Star Wars Galaxies would have been 12 years old this week, had it lived a day past Star Wars: The Old Republic. That makes this the perfect time to dig up and try to answer an old email from longtime Massively OP reader Hagu the Pally in this week’s Ask Mo.
Why did SWG have so little influence on games and developers? A recent comment was, “There is not a lot of evidence that SWG had significant impact on anything in MMOs. Is it even hyperbole to say Meridian 59 influenced MMOs more than SWG?”
As a crafter, I read so many people who loved the crafting. It’s famous. Yet “all” the subsequent developers and games have not even tried; not pale imitations, they just didn’t seem to go that way at all. Same for entertainers. etc.
One can say WoW does raiding and SWTOR does story better than other MMOs, but the other games do attempt them. If people listed their top SWG features, how many were copied by other games? I can think of the EQ, EQ2, WoW, GW2, RIFT, EVE (PLEX-like is an adjective for reviewers) features that seemed to have influenced other games.
Am I just ignorant of a lot of ways SWG changed the world? Why did such a seminal game that resonated so passionately with some people not have more downstream impact?
The dream of seeing City of Heroes reborn is still just that — a dream. But through the hard efforts of fans of the superhero title, a portion of the game could soon be back online.
A team at CoH Titan is on the verge of releasing a new product called Soon™, which will allow players to interact, emote, and chat in City of Heroes zones. The software will only be for chatting and socializing, as there will not be any combat or enemy NPCs available. Even so, players should be able to bring in their characters and bios from Icon, an earlier effort from the team, and enjoy a return to their old stomping grounds. The devs said that friends list and chat channels are in the client and that they are working on mimicking travel powers for a future update.
The team will be making an official announcement of Soon™ and posting a FAQ in the near future.
There’s no shame in being lost, especially if your MMO doesn’t include an on-screen map. Anyone remember the olden days of using graph paper to keep track of where you were, especially in dungeons? That single-handedly kept the graph paper industry in business, it did.
Reader Krieglich decided to make the most of his bewilderment by taking a screenshot of the moment. “This isn’t a map but one of the nice little gimmicks of Elder Scrolls Online. Whenever someone is looking at his map, all around him know that he/she has to look where to go. AGAIN.”
But don’t you worry, fair reader, you’re not lost! You’re right where you need to be: At the beginning of a journey through exciting and thought-provoking screenshots in One Shots!
Most everyone who knows me well will acknowledge that I’m not generally a cynical, dark person. I’m not rooting for games to fail, for the industry to crash, for developers to be banished to the wastelands for their sins, or for the cultural return to Parcheesi. So while you might read the title of today’s piece as rather grim, understand that this is more a public service announcement than a cantankerous gamer dancing on the yet-to-be-dug graves of online RPGs.
Every MMO will die, and some of those much sooner than others. Right now there are seven games that are probably not long for this world, although in this industry you never quite know, do you? But if you have any interest in the following titles, I would recommend getting in to play them now — before it’s too late and you end up posting tear-laden nostalgia pieces on Reddit, wishing for one more day in that world. OK, that might be too grim. I’m not saying that all of these are on the verge of being shut down but that they’re operating on borrowed time and have a very uncertain future.
Down in the comments beneath the Marvel Heroes column we first published this week, a Massively OP reader expressed annoyance with online action RPGs and Justin’s advice for quick leveling. “To level for the pure sake of leveling!? Seems to me only exhausting busywork using typical addictive mechanics as in browser games or gambling, but less obviously implemented!” Thus began an interesting conversation on grind.
Our commenter isn’t wrong; the idea of just leveling characters one after another, as fast as you can, without really stopping to enjoy the content? That should be grindy and horrible. It sounds like working in an MMO sweatshop!
I’m going to do something I don’t do a lot in Massively Overthinking — or anywhere, really.
I’m going to ask you to whine.
MOP Kickstarter donor Kayletta sent in this question, which I posed to our writers and our special Patreon guest, Roger, this week:
What’s the most nitpicky detail in an MMO that has caused you to log out/walk away/quit game in annoyance?
Let’s do this!
How is the MMO blogging community reacting to Blizzard’s proclamation that flying mounts are grounded — perhaps permanently — in World of Warcraft? In two words, not well.
In An Age gave 10 reasons flying was a great part of the game, Aspect of the Hare says that it felt like “a punch in the gut,” Murloc Parliament thinks that the game must move forward instead of backward, Tish Tosh Tesh considers the decision a strike against returning to the game, Cogitationes Astalnaris says that this is another example of how the studio has lost its mojo, Alternative Chat blames the studio for poor communication on the issue, and Heals n Heals speculates that it’s part of a larger probem. On the flip side of the issue, The Rykter Scale says that he won’t miss it and Tales of the Aggronaut agrees with the devs that flight is a “double-edged sword.”
With that out of the way, let’s look at some other excellent community posts from the past few weeks, including first steps in EverQuest’s progression server, a screenshot safari to City of Heroes, 10 reasons to play Trove, and a huge testimonial about the awesomeness of Marvel Heroes.