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May 27th, 2004

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01:38 am - City of Heroes: ORANGE CONS SHOULDN'T RUN
I have really enjoyed my time playing City of Heroes these past few weeks. Chances are right now if I'm not doing something productive, such as eating, sleeping, or lining up work, I'm playing City of Heroes. However, there are certain aspects of the game I feel could be, well, improved upon. And as it'd do me as much good to post them here as it would in the official game's boards, getting lost in the morass of players who whine just because. Because their beloved choice of character class is obviously being shafted because someone else can do something better than them. Or perhaps they're whining because they feel they need to be heard simply because it's clear they love the game more than you or have more posts on the board than you (both valid criteria for priority listening, if you believe them.) These are also the same people who believe the only way you can have fun with the game is to be the most powerful class that does the most damage and grabs the most amount of experience in the least amount of time, and look down upon anybody who has different ideas. I mean, my current favorite character, Mr. Influence, defeats villians and gains experience very slowly and has thus been labelled "gimped" by those who think everybody should be able to kill anything in one shot and leap about and off to Happyland we go or something. Never mind the fact that I am having fun by successfully playing solo with a Controller, an archetype which the power gamers sneer "can never solo." Guess what, Jimmy, I'm doing just that, albeit slowly. Sucks to your ass-mar.

I suppose these observations should've been made during beta, but I wasn't around for the beta. Well, then.

At any rate:
  1. Orange cons shouldn't run.
    Much like our beloved TERRAH LEVEL!!!1 chart, the game uses a color-coded system to gauge the threat level of any monster you're facing. It's really an evolution of the old MUD 'consider' system, with colors added: a white con is a monster with a level equal to yours; an even match. Blue means the monster is slightly weaker than you, green con is significantly lower than you, and a gray con is so weak compared to you that you probably won't get any experience for defeating it, because it would just be too easy. On the other side of things, yellow means it's a little higher than you, orange significantly higher, red means STRANGER DANGER and purple means it's beyond the spectrum so bring a friend or two if you want to accomplish such trivial things as surviving. Got it?

    Now one of the things about City of Heroes is the fact that, when you encounter bad guys on the street and do battle, they may decide to flee. Depending on the encounter, this can be really fun -- the bad guy, on his last legs, takes off down an alley and so you run after him and the chase is on, as you leap over fences and dodge trees and maybe even run into another pack of bad guys before you take aim and with one lucky shot knock the miscreant down in the middle of the street. (If your character favors melee over ranged attacks, well, sometimes you don't have it so easy because the way the combat system deals with attack ranges is kinda weird -- you have to run in front of the bad guy so you can then turn around and throw a punch or whatever.)

    Like I said, this chasing can be a lot of fun. But it can also be a pain and a half if you charge a group of three and the one you start to attack takes off. Do you face the remaining two and hope to catch up with the runner later, or do you take chase immediately to avoid further annoyance? The issue is further compounded by the fact that if the bad guys have been harassing a local citizen, you will receive a reward from the grateful civilian if and only if all villians involved have been vanquished. This makes hunting the third down slightly more critical if you want a little extra sump'n sump'n, which can range from a kind word ("I've never met a hero before!") to an enhancement for your powers or even Influence (the game's unit of currency.)

    Now then, back to the con system. A white con isn't the highest you can take on solo, no sir -- some archetypes, based on how they deal out damage and can avoid taking it in return, can easily take on higher cons. Currently my level 6 scrapper can take on three orange cons and is reasonably successful at defeating them all, as long as most hits land. (This will not be the case as the character progresses through levels, of course, but at the early part of the game it's kind of nice to be able to churn through experience points rather quickly. Gives a sense of accomplishment.)

    The problem occurs when of that group of orange cons, two decide to go running off at the first sign of attack. What a bunch of wussy bad guys! I mean, honestly -- sometimes they even say something like "The numbers are on our side!" as they charge me, and then two veer right off and light out for parts unknown? WUSSES. The game should realize that one foolhardy player is attempting to single-handedly take on three monsters several levels higher than him. Maybe the monsters should realize that there's an insignificant-looking person heading their way, so laugh some and try to stomp 'em flat. At any rate, no higher-level monster should be fleeing right from the start. Maybe once their hit points go down some, maybe. But these mobs should be as foolhardy as the players. As it stands now, they're nothing but an embarrassment to their peers -- and it's a pain to run and hunt them down, as they take significantly more thwacks to the head to defeat. Anyway.
  2. What you've targeted should show up on your radar.
    Maybe they thought too much stuff on the little compass radar would be cluttering things up, but the radar can currently show you where your next mission destination is, where your chosen contact is, where a point on the map is, or where your team leader is. It shouldn't be too hard to add a little target point on the radar. This would help greatly when, as mentioned above, one of your mobs takes off running and you have no idea where he got to.
  3. The game map should reveal geography by line-of-sight, not by character presence.
    There's a nifty map in-game which not only shows the map of the neighborhood you're running around in, but also automatically maps any "instanced missions" you happen to take on. An instanced mission is one that's generated for you and your group when you start it -- maybe there's a bunch of drugs hidden in a warehouse that you need to confiscate. Or maybe a group of thugs have taken over an office building and it's up to you to save the hostages. When you reach the building or the warehouse and click on the door to go in, the internal geography is built on the spot just for you (the computer architect is especially adept at creating soulless office buildings with atriums and recesses where lurk the soda machines and recycling bins.) As you go up in level, of course, the missions become harder and the geography more labyrinthine, sometimes even with multiple floors and sublevels and stuff. The worst are the cavern stretches since they adhere to no geometrical guidelines and instead meander and twist all around with low ceilings and hard-to-spot tunnels branching off to where you need to go.

    Thankfully the map will help you see where you've been by revealing the parts your character has walked through before. However, the radius of revealing is very small and if you want to make sure a room completely shows up on your map (doorways and all) you have to walk around the perimeter. It's annoying to run through a room and choose one of two routes out, only to have to backtrack later and find that second route so you can defeat all the enemies inside. Sometimes the map won't show that second route branching off because you didn't walk close enough to it.

    Changing the way the map reveals itself would alleviate these problems entirely. If the revealing was dependent on the character's line of sight, yeah. It'd make things much easier. You could easily look around a room and notice ok, there are the corners, there's two hallways leading out, there's some obstruction like a fallen bookcase so you couldn't see around that, but at least you know where the exits are. See? Simple. And you don't have to play monkey-around-the-room anymore. Unless you like that.
  4. We should be able to annotate the outdoor map.
    There's a lot of stuff in each neighborhood. There's trainers, places to sell Enhancements you don't want and special places to buy high-level enhancements, and specific gangs who like to hang out in certain parts of the neighborhood. The outdoor map is pretty good at showing you most points of interest, like your NPC contacts (who give you missions) and the monorail station to get to other neighborhoods, but it'd be really nice to be able to place your own Points of Interest on the map and annotate them -- "The Hellions hang out here" or "Store for magic enhancements." You get one "Thumbtack" on each map, but there's no way to label it and I think it goes away if you change neighborhoods. Not particularly useful, really.
  5. Poochie should be louder, angrier, and have access to a time machine.
    Also, when Poochie is not in the scene, the other characters should ask, "Where's Poochie?"
I think that covers everything for now, though I'm sure I'll think of more stuff later -- like the fact that the official City of Heroes bulletin board should really not display the text of posts all centered. That's just not cool.

Oh, and if you're still playing and enjoying the game and are doing so on the Victory server, you're invited to join my supergroup, The League of Above-Average Gentlemen. Our motto is "66th Percentile or Die!" and right now it's just me and a friend and all our alts, but you're more than welcome to join too, and all your alts. And then we can team up and beat up bad guys and stuff. If you're on Victory, shoot Dr. Plutonium or the Barista a /tell one of these days.

(11 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:May 27th, 2004 12:26 am (UTC)
You could make a killing designing a game called City of Munchkins for all those whiny bitches, to keep them off of games where people actually want to play.
[User Picture]
Date:May 27th, 2004 06:40 am (UTC)

fleeing bad guys

I completely agree on the bad guys running away. Sometimes they run away before you really even do anything to them. I also want to know what those clockworks have for programming, because even they run away. Bad design.

(Who is Poochie?)

Otherwise, its a game I can't see myself playing for the insane amounts that I did DAOC, but for now, its good, silly fun.

Unfortunately we're on Virtue, because I love the name of your superteam.
[User Picture]
Date:May 27th, 2004 11:10 am (UTC)

Re: fleeing bad guys

I completely agree on the bad guys running away. Sometimes they run away before you really even do anything to them. I also want to know what those clockworks have for programming, because even they run away. Bad design.

What's also funny is that I still have oldschool EverQuest flashbacks when I attract unexpected aggro -- I fully expect mobs to chase me down until they die, I die, or I zone. This "I'll give up and go back to my hidey hole" kind of thing gets me every time. I'd expect clockworks to be programmed aggressively and tenaciously, too!

(Who is Poochie?)

He's a dog with attitude! He's edgy, he's in-your-face. You've heard the expression "Let's get busy?" Well, this is a dog who gets biz-zay! Consistently and thoroughly.

We're talking a totally outrageous paradigm.
Date:May 27th, 2004 07:16 am (UTC)
C'mon, you have to admit that sometimes it's a lot of fun when the thugs run at the first sight of a hero. You just have to work it into your player.

For example, imagine a handful of pursesnatchers trying to mug a lady, with a hero (former heavyweight boxer, fyi) unnoticed, watching from above. In a flash, he triggers a power and jumps down, landing in the middle of the pack just as his explosive greenish-gas erupts in an area effect.

What better time for the miscreants to flee Gassius Clay?
[User Picture]
Date:May 27th, 2004 10:55 am (UTC)
Bwahahahahahahahahahaha. Now that is excellent. (I would expect civilians to run, too, lest the rules of NPC interaction fail and they, too, are caught in the cloud.)

I do admit it's rather amusing and ego-stroking to watch thugs flee and say "Dr. Plutonium?! I'm outta here!" as I jump into the fray, though. It's even more fun once you've worked up a reputation in a neighborhood and talk to nearby civilians. "I heard Dr. Plutonium stood up to the Vahzilok!" Oh yes, he did, baby, yes he did.
[User Picture]
Date:May 27th, 2004 09:04 am (UTC)
I want to see The Barista! Any chance of getting a screen shot?
[User Picture]
Date:May 27th, 2004 09:50 am (UTC)
Let's see. Your character can take on three orange cons with a good chance of success. It sounds like they should run, if they know what's what. Perhaps the problem is more their orangeness than their flightiness?
[User Picture]
Date:May 27th, 2004 11:05 am (UTC)
I'd expect the behavior from a group of lesser cons. Scatter, greenies, here comes trouble, and all that. The ability to successfully solo a group of oranges is dependent on the archetype and powersets used -- my level 6 scrapper with claws and regeneration[0], for instance, was the one leaping into the battle here, and the one who would most likely win the fight (though not before using a few Inspirations, which are instant 1/4 heals or quick armor buffs or quick damage modifiers.) My controller at the same level would probably have not fared so well, he being of low hitpoints and lower damage-per-second outputs, and only two "stop the enemy in his tracks" powers at that point to control everybody -- though I remember instances where orange mobs were fleeing at the sight of him too. At least he had some ranged crowd control to pin them down and keep them from running.

I guess I kinda figured higher-level mobs to put up a bit more of a fight, really. I'd expect them to flee when their hitpoints were low, but not right from the start. Maybe they are just wussy ol' criminals at heart -- but I know this'll change the higher up I progress in the game. Soon the days of taking on three orange cons at once and winning will be but a pleasant memory, to be remembered and savored in my "happy place" as I get walloped by a pack of rampaging greens and grays (Perez Park, here I come!)

[0] Not Wolverine or Wolvereen or Wolvyrine or anything like that. No, I'm talking EL GUAPO!
[User Picture]
Date:May 27th, 2004 11:32 am (UTC)
Maybe they were just in a hurry and didn't want to slow down to pound you?
[User Picture]
Date:May 27th, 2004 03:18 pm (UTC)
"My power is so mighty that pounding El Guapo into platelets may cause me to hyperextend my elbow! Exit, stage left!"
Date:May 28th, 2004 01:13 pm (UTC)
I got sucked into this one too. On Victory, too.

So far most of my characters are a little less creative than the Barista, but I do have my own rad/rad defender called Doctor Radium. I don't play him much, though.

Jack Orion (mutant en/en blaster) is my top guy, currently an exciting level 17. The Redcross Knight is second best, natural invul/mace tanker and admittedly one of your generic-looking armored knight characters - but at least I'm ripping off Tennyson rather than an old D&D character or something.

My geekiest concept is Maxwell, ice/kinetics controller - named for Maxwell's Demon. He creates ice by slowing down molecules! And violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics while he's at it!

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