A Star is Born:
Let’s Play Champions Online Pt. 5

By Shamus
on Oct 20, 2009
Filed under:
Shamus Plays

The adventure of Star on Chest continues!

Right. So I’ve saved the city, and must therefore leave before someone asks me to help clean up. I am offered a choice: I can go to “the Southwest Desert” or “Canada”. Both places are in peril, and need someone to un-imperil them. From the hints everyone is dropping, it sounds like they hope it will be me. The young and sexy Witchcraft invites me to the desert, and the freakishly goofy-looking Ravenspeaker invites me to Canada.

Is this a trick question?
Is this a trick question?

Think here. Let me think…

Sigh, I’m sorry Ravenspeaker, but I’m an American superhero through and through. I can’t travel to distant lands while my own shores are in danger. Good luck with whatever you’ve got going there in whatever country you’re from, but my people need me. Off to the hot babe! I mean the South West! Of AMERICA!

How the game works right now is that once you’re done [taking credit for] saving the city, you move on to one of the two available crisis zones, which act as secondary tutorial zones. The alien attack teaches you the basics, and the second area teaches stuff like crafting, teaming, and multi-stage missions. The two crisis zones play very differently, but teach basically the same concepts and cover character levels 6 through 10. At the end of the crisis is a boss fight, after which the gameworld will be open to explore freely.

It’s worth trying one crisis zone with your first character and the other with the second to see which one you prefer.

It looks like there is a patch coming that will let new characters skip the tutorial, and jump right to a crisis zone.

I arrive in Burning Sands, a broken land of scorched desert rocks and serpentine canyons. A land where a military base is under attack from irradiated monsters and vile mutants. A place awash in poisonous radioactive energy. Grotesque mutations pour out of the hills, assaulting the base and terrorizing the science staff.

You guys named your military base “project greenskin”, and then you’re surprised when it gets overrun with mutants?
You guys named your military base “project greenskin”, and then you’re surprised when it gets overrun with mutants?

Woah! Hang on a second here, tiny-jaw. Radiation? Like, nuclear radiation? Like the kind you can’t see but which scrambles your DNA and gives you cancer? I am not crazy about this whole radiation business.

Bullets? I laugh at them. Missiles? Not a problem. Assorted death beams? Naught but a nuisance to a mighty hero like me. But radiation? Ew. You see, someday really I hope to meet my soulmate. Let’s call her Star On Bosom. We’ll marry and have little starlings and starlets of our own. And it is my fond hope as both a superhero and a father they will all have the correct number of heads. So I’m not keen on this whole “fighting to save an irradiated base” idea. Can’t we just write it off and build another someplace else? I would imagine one godforsaken canyon is about as good as another. The desert is pretty big, you know.

And speaking of bosoms, where the heck is Witchcraft? This is supposedly her territory, but she isn’t anywhere to be found. I thought she… you know… wanted me. To help.

(And just between you and me, there is something about this place that’s even more awful than mutated offspring, which is a needlessly aggravating layout. The base here was built by an idiot sadist. Here in Project Greenskin there is a loading screen between the quest givers and the things they need me to punch. It’s just a couple of seconds, but it’s really, really annoying. I click on an elevator, and a little “please wait” progress bar fills up. If some low-level slob of a mutant elbows me, the process stops and I have to fight him. Once I get through the elevator, there’s a needless hike past twenty useless NPCs to get to the one I have to talk to, then a hike back to the elevator, progress bar, loading screen, etc. One of the perks of being a superhero is that you don’t normally have to waste time waiting for and riding in elevators.)

Look Bobby, would it be too much trouble for you to stand at the OTHER end of this hallway? I’m going to have to come talk to you pretty often, and it would save me a fair step. And no offense, but it doesn’t look like you’re particularly busy at this end.
Look Bobby, would it be too much trouble for you to stand at the OTHER end of this hallway? I’m going to have to come talk to you pretty often, and it would save me a fair step. And no offense, but it doesn’t look like you’re particularly busy at this end.

I am sorry Project Greenskin, I’d like to help. I really would. But this? This isn’t working for me.

Now that I’m thinking about it some more, I’ve always wanted to travel to exotic faraway lands and learn about distant peoples and their proud cultures. Why should America get all the attention? You guys are so self-centered! Let’s get out there and see the world!

So, off to Canada? I guess?

As an added bonus, Ravenspeaker is the only hero who didn’t have a 50-foot holographic statue of himself back in the Hall of Ego in Champions Headquarters. Sure, he might be dressed like a musclebound transvestite showgirl, but at least he doesn’t suffer from the need to make a glowing 50-foot projection of himself. I’d rather be working for someone who isn’t a complete rampaging egomaniac anyway.

Ravenspeaker is a Native American-themed hero. Like many such heroes, his powers seem to be mumbo-jumbo about visions, a dash of spirit guides, an embarrassing costume, and a good dose of plot exposition. Anyway, he’s the go-to guy for stuff happening in Canada.

If you hate yourself and want to envy illiterate people, just read Ravenspeaker’s Bio.

He explains that Canada is beset by… bad weather. It’s snowing a lot. Apparently an angry demon is using ancient magic (Is there any other kind? When was the last time anyone was harassed by brand-spanking new cutting-edge magic?) that is making it snow. Like, more than usual, I guess. I dunno. I’ve never been here before. If they told me it was like this year-round I wouldn’t know if they were pulling my leg or not.

Anyway. Snow. What a cunning plan. A demon has decided to unleash his fury and get Canada’s snow all cold. This ranks right up there with attacking Florida by making it really muggy in August, or inflicting dire traffic congestion on L.A. You’d think that step one of bedeviling a land would be in choosing a target that will notice. If this demon had any sense he’d be snowing on people who don’t have parkas, plowing equipment, and hot coco.

As I fly in during the opening cutscene, I’m treated to a 50 foot astral projection of Ravenspeaker.

This just made my list of top ten images I didn’t need to show to my eyeballs.
This just made my list of top ten images I didn’t need to show to my eyeballs.

Facepalm.

Ravenspeaker shouts, “THIS IS NO ORDINARY STORM.”

You know, when I’m treated to a fifty foot projection of a guy in his underpants and a bird mask, my first thought isn’t, “Oh wow, this is unusual weather, isn’t it?” In fact, I really wouldn’t have noticed the weather if you hadn’t brought it up. And is it COMPLETELY necessary to take the up-angle on this projection?

As I step off the Chopper I’m greeted by a man waving his arms who tells me, “THIS IS NO ORDINARY STORM!”

Geeze. I didn’t even bring it up, okay? Everyone is so defensive about the weather around here.

No! Honest! The weather is usually not like this at all! Canada is a wonderful place to visit! It’s usually five or six degrees above zero this early in August!
No! Honest! The weather is usually not like this at all! Canada is a wonderful place to visit! It’s usually five or six degrees above zero this early in August!

So… what am I supposed to do about it? I punch stuff, and blizzards are not punch-able. I mean, I’ll give it a go if there’s XP in it, but I hope you guys have a Plan B.

Oh, also there are zombies attacking. You can barely get anyone to shut up about the weather to tell you about it, but they’ve got a zombie problem.

I have arrived at Force Station Steelhead, the local good-guy headquarters. Judging by the weather in Millennium City, it must be summer, but everything is frozen here. So this is all permafrost, I guess. Which makes me wonder what the base is here for. There aren’t any cities around. Are we guarding the snow?

The place uses pretty standard Canadian architecture:  A walled-off compound of pod buildings with neon trim, built in the middle of a glacial wasteland.  You know, standard stuff.
The place uses pretty standard Canadian architecture: A walled-off compound of pod buildings with neon trim, built in the middle of a glacial wasteland. You know, standard stuff.

Well, first things first. I go to the powerhouse. The powerhouse is a self-contained complex where you can obtain and test out new powers when you level. You get there through a big gear-shaped teleporter / stargate.

On the way to the gate, I pass some civilians. The poor folks are caught outside without protection from the cold.

These poor, poor people. They don’t even have coats. I warn them that they should find someplace to get warm, and let them know that THIS IS NO ORDINARY STORM.
These poor, poor people. They don’t even have coats. I warn them that they should find someplace to get warm, and let them know that THIS IS NO ORDINARY STORM.

They’re injured and suffering, and the small number of medical people around can’t do anything but stare listlessly into space as their charges die of shock, exposure, or hypothermia. Even worse is that they’re sitting ducks out here and easy prey for the invading zombies. Even if they don’t succumb to the cold or their injuries, they’ll most likely end up chewed to death by the shambling undead. It’s a tragic and bleak scene of human suffering and drives home the terrible cost of this storm. If only there was someplace these people could go for shelter.

Anyway, I wish them luck and walk through the nearby gate to enter the toasty warm and perfectly safe power house where all the other superheroes are hanging out.

Man, is it roomy in here, or what? It’s like, I bet I could fit about twenty or thirty dying frostbitten civilians in this room alone!  Just imagine what you could do with all this space. We should set up a disco!
Man, is it roomy in here, or what? It’s like, I bet I could fit about twenty or thirty dying frostbitten civilians in this room alone! Just imagine what you could do with all this space. We should set up a disco!

I jump through the gate and get hooked up with my travel power, which is flight. Because wearing a cape and walking is like hitchhiking while dressed as an airline pilot. Nobody would think to ask you why your aren’t flying if you weren’t wearing that. I also gain access to a new superpower I like to call, “Punching, only more so.”

Now, back outside to the storm. I need to make it stop snowing and zombie-ing all over this place.

Ah, the gift of flight. NOW I’m a superhero. I don’t care what your powers are, if you have to take a bus, you’re not super.
Ah, the gift of flight. NOW I’m a superhero. I don’t care what your powers are, if you have to take a bus, you’re not super.

There’s a public quest to do here, but like so many public quests it’s broken in some stupid way and remains broken despite repeated patches. These are the best part of the game when they work, but nobody will fix the dang things. This public quest is fun (fighting zombies is always fun) but it’s kind of long and it doesn’t deliver any XP reward at the end like it should. So, I skip it. Alas.

The fierce wind and snow of this storm yanked a couple of aircraft out of the sky. Which is odd, since we’re in the middle of this godforsaken wilderness and there isn’t an airport or city anywhere on the map. Anyway, I head on out to the frozen lake and find survivors who are being threatened by ice demons.

The airplane crash.  Considering the plane was ripped to shreds and the people thrown into the snow and then covered by debris, it’s kind of surprising to see people survived.  Almost as surprising as seeing a parked ambulance (like the one to the left of the crash) in a land where there are no populated areas. Or hospitals. Or roads.
The airplane crash. Considering the plane was ripped to shreds and the people thrown into the snow and then covered by debris, it’s kind of surprising to see people survived. Almost as surprising as seeing a parked ambulance (like the one to the left of the crash) in a land where there are no populated areas. Or hospitals. Or roads.

Well, it’s been a long session, and it’s time to wrap things up for this week. But at least I’ve accomplished… Hm.

Say, what did I accomplish this time around?

Oh right:

I can fly! If only there was a city around here so that people could look up and see me doing it. I don’t think polar bears will be awed by this.
I can fly! If only there was a city around here so that people could look up and see me doing it. I don’t think polar bears will be awed by this.

I abandoned my homeland and got the ability to fly. Yeah!

I’m awesome. I love flying.

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20201252 comments. It's getting crowded in here.

From the Archives:

  1. Rhykker says:

    Didn’t you know? We have two seasons in Canada: Winter, and Zombies. It’s very rare to get snow during zombie season — this is no ordinary storm.

    Great stuff.

  2. RichVR says:

    I was under the impression that zombies froze solid in cold weather. I read World War Z by Max Brooks. Something is wro… oh, ancient magic.

    Nevermind.

  3. Rutskarn says:

    Ravenspeaker’s bio sounds like a summary of a 40s comic book, as written by a third grader for his book report. That’s some pretty shameful stuff.

    I do kinda like that he’s a hedonistic epicurean, though. That’s pretty much the one difference between him and the generic racist big-tree-spirt-ancestor Native American superguy.

    I mean, seriously. Imagine if every black superhero wore a grass skirt and used an energy spear.

    • Shamus says:

      Points against Ravenspeaker: He’s a descendant of the first WHITE GUY to meet the tribe. It’s like, “This culture has cool powers, but they don’t really reach their potential until white people use them”.

      See also: American-made martial-arts movies.

  4. Rutskarn says:

    What? Oh. Missed that part.

    Yeah, actually, know what? That invalidates my compliment. I mean, what was I thinking. It’s okay for white people to joke around, booze it up, and be a promiscuous bag of STDs. But not Native Americans, no way, no how.

    Okay, so only PART white guy. But still.

  5. Benjamin Orchard says:

    I am dumber for having read Ravenspeaker’s bio. I would like to hunt down the author of that drek and make them pay me for my lost time.

    Blargh!

  6. Girl Gamer says:

    Wait, they’re making a patch to let people skip the tutorial? How will you get to level 6 before heading to the crisis zone? Maybe I just haven’t spent enough time in MMOs, but that seems like a pretty bad idea to me.

    Also, this series is highly amusing. Well done. :)

    • Shamus says:

      Girl Gamer: On the test server, you get two butons to begin the game. One is to go to the invasion, the other takes you to a powerhouse and dings you level 5. Exiting the PH lets you choose which crisis zone you want.

  7. cavalier says:

    The whole concept of how being even part Caucasians puts you ahead goes back quite a while:

    http://www.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MightyWhitey

  8. Blackbird71 says:

    Hmm. Now I have a sudden urge to design a superhero with amazing powers, but who must take the bus everywhere he goes. Because of this, he’d be the object of ridicule among all the superheroes, regardless of how cool his other powers may be. He’d frequently miss the big fights because the bus ran late, thus never getting the opportunity to use his powers of awesomeness.

    Maybe later he could get a moped.

    Of course, since none of the current superhero games offer vehicle travel, he’d be walking everywhere, which would be incredibly boring to play. Still, I like the character concept.

    I have to say Shamus, all the articles on CO have not done anything to convince me to get this game. The character creation sounds like fun, but the writing just comes across as awful, as well as the world design, the bugs, etc. The descriptions I’ve read of the combat system turn me off as well. In my experience, twitch-based combat options in an online game just lead to frustration as they make death by lag all the more frequent of an outcome. Yes, it’s nice to see something besides the usual cooldown timers, but until there’s a reliable way of solving latency issues both server and client side there’s too much potential for things to go wrong when your keystrokes have to be timed just right.

    What these articles have done is make me want to resub my old CoX account, which I may have to do once Hallow’s End is over in WoW. Time to continue the adventures of my fire and ice hero forged in a gas explosion in an ice cream packing plant: FreezerBurn!

    • WJS says:

      Just thought I’d mention that Champs Online does have vehicles now. It’s actually kind of odd; Superheroes with vehicles are kind of rare, aren’t they? Yeah, Batman, but none of the other big names I can think of off the top of my head. Teams do, but individual heroes? Not so much.

  9. Daimbert says:

    You know what I want? A mission in Canada where one of the people outside that is too cold says “Help me! My closet where I store all my winter clothes is stuck and I can’t get my parka out of there!”.

    Or: “Help! My furnace won’t light!”.

    Sheesh. People in Canada had their furnaces going in September THIS year. We can’t turn them on now. Did all the power go out or something?

    And even THEN, there are a few trees out there. Can’t we still make fire?

  10. Fusilier says:

    The Canadian buildings are actually pretty relevant. I mean, they’re basically futuristic igloos. I’m actually upset about the lack of moose. They could have at least had a zombie moose.

  11. Joshua says:

    Apparently you’ll start with a bump to level 5 and some gear. One of my friends apparently can already do that and was surprised that my client still showed only one button (Take Me To The City) on the final character creation screen; I have no explanation of why his client has the extra option, unless it’s because he plays from Germany.

    @Blackbird71 it’s not all that twitchy. I’m the world’s worst twitch gamer not actually suffering from a medically recognized condition, I couldn’t get past the second or third room in Half-Life (died multiple times just climbing the ladder), and I can handle it. It’s still tab or click to choose target, fire your power and it autohits, it’s just that you generally have to press a button (like in CoX) to have the power activate, but unlike CoX you can move while you’re activating attack powers. I’m finding CoX very hard to play now; after Champs it seems unbearably slow and stodgy.

  12. Drakey says:

    Cars at the crash site? They started up in the morning? Without a place to plug in the block heaters? Donuts what?

    How do I get sucked in to reading The Choronicals of Star On Chest? I don’t know, but its fun. Thanks Shamus:)

  13. Blackbird71 says:

    @Joshua (14)

    What about the block ability? It’s having to time things like this that I worry about.

    • Shamus says:

      Blackbird71: The block button doesn’t require split-second timing. An enemy begins warming up a big attack, and an icon appears over their head letting you know “here it comes”. You get a good 3-5seconds before they unload it.

      It STILL suffers from the “toggle tango” that all MMO’s have:

      Attack!

      Hey! My guy isn’t attacking. Did I turn his attack ability on? I’d better press the button again.

      Oops. My guy finally moved to attack, then stopped because I apparently just turned the power off. I’ll press it again and turn it on.

      WHY ARE YOU STANDING THERE, DUMBASS! HIT HIM!

      It’s off? Why is it off? Oh fine, it’s on now. No? It’s off? Why did it…

      Oh, I’m dead.

      Part of it is that I prefer to look at the action than the stupid toolbar, and animations don’t always begin and end and interrupt each other the way they should to give you the visual feedback you need.

      Eventually I give up and watch the toolbar and monitor the cooldowns because that’s more reliable.Then I realize this is stupid and boring and go do something else.

      Champs is closer to any other MMO I’ve played to fixing this, but once in a while it still fails and I end up chasing my tail with toggling powers. Gr.

  14. Jazmeister says:

    Cavalier: You shouldn’t just link tv tropers like that! It was reckless and inconsiderate! That hour is gone forever!

  15. bbot says:

    >>southwest
    >>military base
    >>science staff
    >>monsters

    Golly, is this base set on a mesa? A mesa of such usually dark coloration that it may legitimately be called black?

  16. Drew says:

    Does Champions support macros? I used to run into attack toggle problems with my rogue in WoW way back in the day until I realized I could macro “/startattack” into almost any other ability I might use to ensure that I’d always have my autoattack on. I find a decent macro language can help you get around lots of annoying UI issues in games.

  17. RudeMorgue says:

    What I didn’t get about the desert was the fact that they built a statue to Grond. And not a little statue, either. Like an “of Liberty” statue.

    I mean, yeah, they want to study him, but why on earth is this statue in the budget?

    Then I went and saw Stronghold prison, which has two statues of prisoners! And these utterly dwarf the Grond statue.

    Looks like the Sculptor’s Lobby has got a lot of senators in its pocket.

  18. MichaelG says:

    I lost interest in Ravenspeaker’s bio at 500 characters (or less.)

  19. Vladius says:

    Ravenspeaker was in Canada until the White Man (TM) came.

    Then he stayed in Canada and protected the White Man (TM).

    To this day, he engages in giving superhumans bizarre tasks – especially Star on Chest, a White Man (TM).

  20. crapgame says:

    Shamus- How’s the PvP in Champs? I haven’t seen much about this anywhere. I’d be interested to hear your opinion if you’re at all involved in that aspect of the game.

  21. Palette says:

    @bbot:

    No, it’s more like Gamma Base of Hulkbusters fame.

  22. J Greely says:

    [Rejoice! As of today, you can now buy extra character and costume slots! And shiny robot dragon parts with glow!]

    RudeMorgue, worse than just having built a giant statue of Grond, they repaired it after the crisis was over. Right away, no delay! That’s going to make a helluva line-item in this month’s budget.

    Shamus, I’ve mostly minimized the toggle issue by moving the energy builder from slot 1 to slot A-1 and setting the “toggle, change never cancels” and “target when attacked” options. That way, I only have to hit it once when I log a character in, and it never shuts off in the heat of battle. Sadly, you can’t put a non-energy-building power into slot 1, and this doesn’t help for builds that use a maintained energy builder.

    -j

  23. RichVR says:

    @RudeMorgue: And one of the missions you have to complete to get a completion perk in the desert tutorial is to bring a piece of the broken statue to Kaufman.

    I mean, really.

  24. RichVR says:

    @crapgame: I don’t PVP but if the screaming and crying in the forums is any indication PVP is about one or two FOTM builds ruling and concept builds next to uselessness.

    As well the “nerf PVE powers to assuage PVPers” is in full swing.

    Nothing personal against those who PVP, I just wish it didn’t affect the rest of the game so much.

  25. Ravens Cry says:

    So this is what Canada looks like in video games. Heh. Thought it would be snowier.

  26. […] 20, 2009 In the style of Shamus Young’s “Let’s Play Champions Online” (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=5486) I figured I’d do a Let’s Play RuneScape online as kind of a written psychological […]

  27. Sam says:

    Is it wrong of me to say that you’ve convinced me not to purchase the game because of its utter failure to setup a plot or settings that make sense? You’ve written it in a way that makes me cringe to think that somebody actually conceived of these settings and superheroes (I read Ravenspeaker’s bio…). Don’t get me wrong, I love your write-ups. They make me laugh at the perceived incompetence of the writers of this game. I know I’m not supposed to think about settings and plot in an MMORPG. But when it’s this blatantly idiotic, I can’t help but stop myself from purchasing the game. It’s just so ridiculous.

  28. BlackBloc says:

    To be fair, I’m pretty sure Ravenspeaker is from the PnP Champions books… of course, the question remains, why use the Champions IP at all if it’s THAT bad?

    BTW, someone linked to TVTrope? Oh gosh, there goes this evening.

  29. DKellis says:

    I can find only one reference to Ravenspeaker (Champions Universe p. 69), but then it’s not like I’ve gotten every single sourcebook. The only information about him there is that he is “the powerful Haida shaman Ravenspeaker of Vancouver”.

    I figure it’s not that the Champions IP is bad as much as it’s like an inexperienced/uncreative GM.

    A problem with Canada in CO is that some of the zombies are untargetable for no real reason. They can still attack you with impunity, but you can’t attack them back at all (even AoEs don’t connect).

    There are a lot of bugs in this game that aren’t exactly game-breaking, but they do give the impression that the game needed to be in beta for a bit longer. Especially since the patches that claim to fix these issues do not actually do so.

  30. Luvian says:

    The setting isn’t always serious but it isn’t bad. Shamus is purposefully focusing on and exaggerating the bad aspects of the game for humour. He’s skipping quests and ignoring certain aspects of the points he mentions. Like the fact that there are two entrances to that hall in the desert so the quest giver isn’t at the end of a dead end. If I remember well he is closer to the safe, guarded door. The door you take to enter if you don’t want to be attacked by mutants mid-use.

    Likewise for the “ambulance where there is no road.” It’s a funny joke but in every screenshots Shamus took of the ground you can clearly see a path through the zone. It is obviously a snow-covered road or dirt path. (And further in the high level section of the zone there is actually a big paved road crossing through the zone and out, giving the impression there is civilization nearby.)

    If Shamus wanted he could just as easily make an article focusing exclusively on the good/fun aspects of the game and you’d think it was the best game ever. Champions Online is actually a pretty fun game with lots of inspired parts. I also like the easter eggs and homages hidden in this game, like the team fortress inspired guys hidden in two bases at the docks. Every mmorpg has them but I thought in CO they were subtle enough not to be immersion breaking.

    re: crapgame at post 24.

    Lately I spend most of my time doing pvp. The pvp is the arena kind where you queue for a match and keep playing until your turn. There are multiple modes ranging from team matches to deathmatches, and coming next patch a zombie survivor mode where you all start out on the same side against zombies and when you fall you become a zombified version of you on the zombie side and have to try to kill the survivors.

    The pvp overall is pretty fun with a couple of caveats. There are currently two bugged powers that make players who take them a little overpowered, although I haven’t taken them and I still win most of the time so it’s not as bad as the forum complainers would have you believe (is it ever?). Also, the teleport travel power is the equivalent of the WoW paladin’s “bubble and stone” combo. I expect it to get a pvp nerf pretty soon.

    Also this being a skills based system with no classes it is possible to make a bad character and be outclassed. You don’t have to make a perfect character, mine has two of his current six skills that are totally useless in pvp. But you have to use some strategy when you make your character. The game won’t hold your hand. Luckily you can sell back skills for a couple of gold.

  31. Rutskarn says:

    It’s true that a humorous LP usually focuses on the bad parts. If you read my Morrowind LP without the introduction, and missed my occasional reality checks, you’d think it was a shoddily put together on-rails mediocre RPG experience bogged down by excessive side quests and pointless random encounters, one that I suffer through solely for your amusement. The reality is that it’s one of my favorite games of all time.

  32. toasty says:

    Finally the LP gets its own place in your blog! Now I can link it to my friends and family easily. :)

    Keep this thing up! You said you’d probably end your subscription to Champions in Dec (I think?); how far will Star On Chest get through the game by then?

  33. Ravenspeaker’s bio sounds like a summary of a 40s comic book, as written by a third grader for his book report. That’s some pretty shameful stuff.

    Man, that nails it. Cringe again.

  34. Doug Sundseth says:

    A snowstorm is a great idea for a supervillain attack. I mean, look at what happens when Houston gets snow.

    Wait, where is this Canadia of which you speak?

    “I mean, yeah, they want to study him, but why on earth is this statue in the budget?”

    I’m sure the Champions world has an art set-aside requirement. Do you have any idea how much 1% of the budget of a super fortress is?

    Plus, at least they didn’t just buy a giant broom and dustpan or a demonic robo-horse.

  35. Pickly says:

    Am I the only one who expects several “star-on-bosoms” to appear in the game quite shortly after this post?

  36. Badger says:

    OK. First off, let me welcome you to Canada. Please present your passport- no, it’s not actually required to get IN to Canada, after all, we don’t really care who you are- but you’re gonna want it to go home after you get tired of the snow and constant apologies in line-ups.

    Ah yes, the snow. I’m surprised you didn’t know about that. Don’t you have Wikipedia in America? Anyhow, yeah, it’s a commonly-known fact (at least among geographically aware people like the Europeans, Australians, Asians, South Pacific Islanders, hell, I guess everyone but Americans?) that Canada is beset by an ancient magic. Always has been, really. I guess it’s why it’s an ANCIENT magic, eh? Our scientists think it has something to do with the trees, so we’ve been logging them off as fast as we can, but they keep growing back. And what with our military guys all being bombed and shit by you guys over in Afghanistan, we just don’t have the manpower to harvest them any faster.

    Oh, yes, the architecture. I’m glad you asked! Here’s a brochure that gives a history on the development of Canadian architecture and industrial design. You can read it on the flight out to the base, but basically what you need to understand is that Canada was an early test-market for the Art Deco movement. Kind of like a proto-Chicago, if you will, but with more liquor. Anyhoo, read the pamphlet, and check out the website on your iPhone if you’d like. Sorry we don’t have 3G yet.

    Ah, the crashed plane you saw on the lake? What about it? Where did the ambulance come from? I’m glad you asked! It’s actually one of our greatest achievements here in Canada, next to universal medicare. Well, I suppose you could say, it’s a big part of universal medicare. You see, after doing numerous air-crash investigations, the Department of Transport determined that if every jetliner were to carry a fully-equipped ambulance onboard, the crash survival rate would increase by 37 percent. So now, along with publicly-installed defibrillators, our aircraft all carry state-of-the-art paramedic facilities. I think you’ll find it very helpful when rescuing survivors to have a good supply of antibiotics and defibrillator batteries.

    Thank you for choosing Canada as your holiday destination, and have a nice day!

    Also, don’t forget that when you die in Canada, you die for real.

  37. Blackbird71 says:

    @Shamus (17)

    Heh, I know exactly what you mean about staring at the action bar. I find in most MMOs nowadays, I rarely ever see what’s going on with the actual characters, just an occasional glance to make sure I’m in the right position to hit something. Other than that, my eyes are pretty much glued to the action bar, because that’s where everythign is going on. Kind of sad, really.

    This is one thing I miss about the original version of Star Wars Galaxies. In that, you could queue up a list of actions and abilities, and you only rarely had to break that queue to respond to something your enemy did. It made for more relaxed gameplay. Now, you might think that that made the game feel more slow and boring, but on the contrary, it allowed you to actually pay attention to more than just cooldown timers and instead enjoy the game aroudn you. You could really watch your characters, and you could carry on full conversations with your group members without the need for a voice chat program (which was a big plus for those of us playing on dial-up). I think that the “slower” combat system (which it really wasn’t, it just required less constant input) made the game much more of a social experience, because you could still interract with people while doing missions and stuff, instead of having to focus all your attention on killing one rat or something.

    Unfortunately, SOE failed to understand this, and dumped the combat system for an FPS-based twitch system because it was “more action-y” (yes, they actually used those words). Since then, I have yet to find an online game that allows the same level of communication and interraction during combat.

  38. krellen says:

    @Rutskarn:
    You’d think [Morrowind] was a shoddily put together on-rails mediocre RPG experience bogged down by excessive side quests and pointless random encounters

    That’s exactly what I think of it, and I’ve actually played it.

  39. Luvian says:

    Sheesh. You guys think monitoring your skill bar takes too much of your attention? Try being main healer in a 40 man raid. You don’t have a 3D display, all you see are health bars. It’s like playing whack a mole but instead of a mole it’s a red line. :p

  40. Rod says:

    You went all the way to Canada and didn’t put a single “eh?” in your report?! I’m quite disappointed.

  41. Rutskarn says:

    And the winner is: Krellen, at 1:19 PM! Congratulations, you beat all the other well-meaning individuals in voicing an honest, valid opinion.

    Your prize is an audio file consisting of ten minutes of incomprehensible shouting and four minutes of fanboyish mewling on my part. Look for thrilling highlights such as the part where I justify the brown aesthetic as being more immersive, claim the poorly stitched-together fast travel helps add to the scope of the game, and concede that cliff racers can just go to hell already.

  42. Thermal Ions says:

    I don’t know, the more of these CO blogs I read and screenshots I see, the more I’m glad I’ve passed on it. Is it “so bad that it’s good”?

  43. krellen says:

    I await my prize with bated breath, Rutskarn. :D

  44. DKellis says:

    @46 Thermal Ions: It has a lot of potential. If it survives long enough to get its bearings and buckle down, it could be a great MMO. The combat system is incredibly fun.

    The implementation of a lot of it just sucks. Objectively so, with the bugs and odd design decisions and text errors. (The subjective parts are, well, subjective.)

    The primary excuse is that This Is A New MMO, and All New MMOs Are Like This, or so I keep getting told. I assume if this is one’s first MMO (or first long-term MMO, rather than trials), then it won’t seem so bad. Possibly if you’ve not encountered anything like it before, then the novelty will also excuse a lot of the problems.

    So unlike most other “so bad that it’s good” games, most people don’t play it to laugh and cringe at the embarrassingly bad stuff, but because someday in the indeterminate future, it could be better. A kind of Jam Tomorrow situation.

  45. Artillery_MKV says:

    I’ve played City of Heroes for years, and CO feels like CoH did around Issue 3. That’s significantly better than other new launches I’ve seen.

    I think they went a little too far towards the funny side of Champions in places, but overall it really reflects the Cahmpions Universe as presented through the PnP game world.

    It is possible for a player to avoid the silly/punny missions (or it will be once they get more content at various levels), but even the funny/punny content does have more serious plots behind them (OK, not Foxbat, but he’s AWESOME!).

    On its face the Robot Cowboy section is silly. Left to itself I’m sure it simply would have been a failed amusement park. Two classic Champions villains have turned the creation of a classic crazy inventor/entertainer into a real threat that needs to be investigated. And yes, the design of the space needs work, but it’s still an interesting plot line.

    That CO has more future promise at Issue 1 than CoX has at Issue 16 is what folks interested in MMOs should be concentrating on.

  46. This is no ordinary storm!

    Also: Recently, it’s actually been hotter in Quebec than in California. I shit you not. Quebec in the summer can be muggy and hot. I can’t speak for the rest of Canada.

  47. WJS says:

    I can’t comment on any of this, because you don’t go to the desert/Canada after the invasion any more. You go straight to Millennium City and take down the Purple Gang.
    OK, I can comment on this, I guess; if you think about it, it makes sense that an ancient ice demon would be found in Canada, rather than, say, Texas.

One Trackback

  1. By Let’s Play RuneScape: Part 1 « Stephen Healy on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    […] 20, 2009 In the style of Shamus Young’s “Let’s Play Champions Online” (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=5486) I figured I’d do a Let’s Play RuneScape online as kind of a written psychological […]

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