Diecast #72: Tomb Raider Exclusive, Superhero MMOs

By Shamus Posted Monday Aug 18, 2014

Filed under: Diecast 104 comments

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Hosts: Chris, Josh, Shamus, and Rutskarn.

1:00 The Next Tomb Raider game will be an Xbox One exclusive.

I’ll have a column about this tomorrow.

19:00 The sad state of the superhero MMO genre.

We’re talking about City of Heroes, Champions Online, DC Universe Online, and Marvel Heroes. Here is what I had to say about DC Universe Online way back in 2011. And here is what I had to say about Champions Online.

Here is the City of Titans Kickstarter that we discussed, and here is their website, which we were sort of mocking.


From The Archives:

104 thoughts on “Diecast #72: Tomb Raider Exclusive, Superhero MMOs

  1. Thomas says:

    I’m actually really glad you guys didn’t like DCUO because it didn’t do anything for me and I was worried all superhero MMOs would have been like that.

    Of course some of my problem is still that I like MMOs much less than I think I do. I always have these amazing expectations of a living world and it always always disappoints

    EDIT: I played DCUO on the PS3 and it was completely playable and pretty busy. Only Terra was as controller friendly. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t make a good UI for the PC version anyway

    1. HeroOfHyla says:

      Final Fantasy XIV works extremely well with a controller too.

      1. Phantos says:

        That’s the first time I’ve heard “Final Fantasy XIV” and “works extremely well” in the same sentence.

        1. HeroOfHyla says:

          It’s actually been very successful since the re-launch. It’s much more of a WoW-clone than it used to be, but it’s got a good-sized community and it generally works.

          1. Thomas says:

            I’ve got quite a few friends who really dug the game too. A lot of the reviews were saying it was quite refreshing to play an MMO that actually just embraced it’s WoWness and tried to make a really good game based around that, instead of adding fairy lights that you click on every three hours and going OH LOOK HOW INNOVATIVE WE ARE

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    But borderlands is an mmo as well.A coop mmo,but still an mmo.

    As for single player superhero games,um arkham games are cool?But you cant really customize your hero there.

    EDIT:Freedom force might be a game you were looking for.Sadly,that one is oooooooooooooooooooooooold.The sequel is almost 10 years old.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Damn,I really should listen to everything until the end before commenting.

    2. Ivan says:

      Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see what is massive about Borderlands at all. I mean it’s definitely Multiplayer and Online, but not Massively Multiplayer. You can only ever interact with 3 other players at once. I’ve never just been playing Borderlands and came across some dude I’ve never met before and started playing with him. And because of small cap at 4 players there’s no way you could foster any sort of sense of community in the game world which I think is the single most important aspect to being called an mmo.

      1. Alex says:

        If Guild Wars counts as an MMO despite how heavily it used instancing, Borderlands isn’t far off. And it certainly plays like an MMO.

        1. Ivan says:

          I know what you’re saying, having played the original Guild Wars myself, but there were a number of differences between that and Borderlands. For one, Guild wars had it’s own economy, it’s been so long since i’ve played it but I have a friend who might still go out to farm Tengu for their feathers to sell them to other players. I’ve never seen anything like this in Borderlands. Players might trade legendary guns and items but cash is virtually without value in that game, it’s for buying ammo and maybe guns if you’re still fairly low level.

          Past this, Guild Wars was heavily instanced but it had nearly a hundred hubs scattered around the map which would hold dozens of players. People could meet and join up for quests or story missions, or buy and sell items, or participate in seasonal events. Borderlands has nothing at all like this.

          Sure you could argue that none of the things I mentioned are essential for a game to be an MMO, but it seems clear to me that there is a very big difference between Guild Wars and Borderlands. In-fact, I think that difference is entirely to do with the fact that borderlands completely lacks any sort of common area where more than a single party can mingle freely. As small as that sounds I think it makes a very big difference in the game, or at least marks a big difference in design philosophies between an mmo and your co-op game.

          1. Jeff says:

            I agree that there is a very big difference between GW1 and BL1/2.

            From the moment you log into GW1 it feels like an MMO, with strangers running around even in the tutorial area. From the moment you start BL1/2 it feels like a single player FPS with the world revolving around you.

        2. Blackbird71 says:

          In the first years of its existence, the creators of Guild Wars always made it clear that it was not in fact an MMORPG. It was an online RPG and it was multiplayer, but the way the game played out it fell far short of the “massive” qualification. It was massive only in the sense that an online shooter with lobbies and chat rooms is massive.

          At the time of course, the distinction made sense. Nowadays the genre has been so diluted, who can really say what qualifies.

      2. Zerotime says:

        I think it’s less about Borderlands (the series) being “massive” and more that it’s really good at making the player feel like a stupendous badass, which is something that superhero games have kind of been… not… good at.

    3. Hal says:

      Oh, Freedom Force . . . that was a great game. I still have my disk sitting around somewhere. I wonder if I can get it to play?

      1. LibertarianSDR says:

        Freedom Force and its sequal is on steam. And it is on sale at this moment in a bundle. http://store.steampowered.com/sub/1662/

  3. The Rocketeer says:

    Hey Rutskarn! You should know that Oxford commas generally aren’t used in news writing; it’s part of the Associated Press Stylebook, and a lot of companies and entities abide by that tradition in press releases.

    This is, of course, a throwback to ink-saving practices developed in newspaper editing, and is becoming less common as print media dies, and as the digital news outlets adhere less consistently to antiquated manuals of style.

    1. ET says:

      I…who…why…how could a single comma out of every sentence (if that sentence even had a list) have saved more than like, 1% of the ink used? Even like, a hundred years ago, they still used paper to print on, so this means the savings would have been even less! The money spent on somebody’s job, to remember to not put the comma into the printing plates would have eaten up any savings, wouldn’t it? :O

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        A penny saved won’t make a man wealthy, but he who would save a penny would save much and often.

        The peculiarities of print style are finnicky, but broad. It isn’t hard to look at a newspaper and note the abridged syntax and lightened punctuation.

        In most instances, the reductions in characters aren’t only to save ink, but to save space as well; a single word or symbol is insignificant, but spread over the entire newspaper or magazine, the number lines these reductions free up isn’t insignificant, and even a few line breaks one way or another can be significant to the overall layout.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh sounds like Plinkett when he talks about pizza.I subconsciously added “rolls” every time he said pizza.

    1. Corpital says:

      Now that you mention it…yeah, he does.

      And I agree with Josh. Pizza makes me feel pretty.

  5. Kylroy says:

    Gah, the end of City of Heroes has forever poisoned me on any NCSoft MMO. I can accept that they weren’t getting the return they wanted on the money they sunk into the game, and that stopping development may have been the right business move – I cannot believe that refusing to keep the lights on was anything but a shot at the development team.

    1. Trix2000 says:

      That really depends on how much it was costing them to maintain the servers and infrastructure to handle players/payment… though frankly, I can’t imagine it was so much as to actually be a problem. Servers cost money, but not THAT much.

      There could have been other reasons more logistical in nature or something, but who knows?

      1. krellen says:

        To the best of public knowledge, City of Heroes was still making a profit when it closed, and according to the studio heads that have talked, that profit was larger than it had been a couple years earlier, before they started their F2P model.

        1. Ilseroth says:

          Apparently it was actually making more profit then most of NCSofts korean MMOs; which kind of stood as a bit of a slap in the face for the Korean publisher… Though the concept they closed it purely out of spite, when making money of it, is a bit silly.

          1. Eathanu says:

            I don’t know; The industry is pretty evenly split between stuffing its head in the sand and politics. It’s surprising that they manage to turn a profit out of it in the first place.

    2. RandomInternetCommenter says:

      Sort of relevant: there is a mysterious team working to acquire the rights and relaunch the game, currently in negotiations with NCSoft.


      Apparently even some NCSoft higher ups were pretty fond of the game. It sounds more like a big corporate restructuring decision than a petty act. As profitable as CoH may have been in the last years compared to its own previous results, it was a tiny blip on the radar compared to their bigger IPs.

      1. Gabriel Mobius says:

        From what I remember, at the time the widely accepted reason for them closing it was something to do with their new launcher system. Everything else they had could plug into the framework easily, but CoH could not. So, in a woeful case of shooting a profitable MMO in the foot, they canned it because it wouldn’t be profitable to make any code revisions to bring it in line with their launcher.

        If this sounds stupid, that’s because it is. That said, it reeks of the corporate shenanigans you mentioned, so it wouldn’t be surprising if this was the actual reason.

  6. I think the most fun i got out of DC Universe Online was running around on walls with the speedster powers of my Gas-mask Magic Mummy. That was kind of fun. You could run around on the ceiling or on the street lamps and it looked silly.

    1. Gravebound says:

      Yeah, the running-all-over was the most fun I got out of the game. I played it on PS3, too, so it controlled pretty well.

      My character:

      Also fun was flying around under the world when I inevitably fell through:
      (It let me get to the Daily Planet even though it was blocked off.)

      That happened at least eight times in the month I was playing. I gave up playing because you can’t really advance unless you pay money; all the upgrades cost more money than you’re allowed to carry unless you pay real money, you can’t trade items, and other annoying stuff I can’t remember anymore.

  7. Dreadjaws says:

    Oh, man, DCUO. They’ve taken most of the worst possible decisions with that game. I never got to play City of Heroes, but after playing Champions Online, the customization options of DCUO are insulting, both in looks and powers/abilities.

    I never understood why there’s still isn’t a single player game with this make-your-own-superhero model, as you said. The closest thing to it is Saints Row IV, as you mention.

    There was a kickstarter for such a game, launched twice actually, and it failed both times, but those guys were pretty bad at marketing, so even though the game’s previews looked promising, they didn’t manage to get an audience.

    Edit: Also, I should mention, Champions Online has improved a lot since Shamus played it. They’ve added new scenarios that are very well written (instead of the lame “comedic” BS they used to have), and lots of new customization options in costumes and powers.

    That being said, I haven’t played it in months due to my PC breaking, which I haven’t fixed yet (I could play on my Notebook, but it gets a bit slow unless I downgrade the graphics to PS1 style), so, for all I know, they could have changed things for the worst in that time.

    1. krellen says:

      So, to understand City of Heroes, you need only know this: I played a Japanese schoolgirl who built robots on a team with an evil Professor X, a stealthy dragon, a sonic-powered choirboy, and the lost scion of an alien throne. Try to do that in any of the other superhero games that have followed.

      (We were villains, for the record.)

      As much better that the CO creator is than the DCUO creator, that’s how much better City of Heroes’ creator was than CO’s

      1. Zukhramm says:

        Maybe visually, but for the actual powers, CO allows you to pick pretty much anything in any combination.

        1. krellen says:

          CO has less powers than CoH had. And I still can’t build robots as my primary mode of fighting in it.

          1. Zukhramm says:

            More powers isn’t very interesting if you can’t put them together the way you want to.

            1. krellen says:

              CO’s freedom is mostly illusory. It strongly encourages you to pick two or three trees and stick with them. There was plenty of flexibility in City of Heroes’ power choices, even beyond just the primary and secondaries of each archetype.

              CO’s implementation of teleportation was very good, though.

              1. Zukhramm says:

                It was free enough and still preferable to being stuck to specific sets.

              2. It wasn’t like that, originally. I played early on and had this huge guy with chains, fire, and close-combat claw/bite powers. He was pretty unstoppable as a solo character, as he had some insane regen abilities, range, and was able to pull specific enemies closer if desired.

                Fast-forward a few months, I log in, and all of my powers are gone. I’m told I have to respec my superhero. I jump in to the training stargate-thing, and yeah, all of the powers are now sets with a special nuke-like ability at the end if you’ve taken all the prerequisite powers in those related categories. So there’s two fire-ish powers that give you a nova-bomb thing or whatever.

                TL;DR, it used to actually be customizable to an incredible degree. Now you’re punished for it. :(

                1. Kylroy says:

                  I think they made it so subscribing players can still do freeform character building, but everybody else has to pick sets.

                  Letting people pick whatever they want from whatever sets is a recipe for nobody grouping in your MMO ever. Folks will just cherrypick the best powers from everywhere to make themselves a soloing monster, and will operate on a power level that trivializes the game (unless you make the game so hard that people who *don’t* cherrypick all the best powers can’t accomplish anything).

                  1. I was a subscribing player.

                  2. krellen says:

                    City of Heroes response to no one grouping ever was to say “Oh, okay”, and let the players play the game how they wanted.

                    1. Oh yeah: The ability to have your character spec a “group” version and a “solo” version was MUCH welcome, especially for controllers.

                  3. An additional note: If there was ever an MMO where the ability to solo was pretty much required, it’d be a superhero MMO.

                    How many comic books are there with single character names as their title? Yes, there’s the Justice League, but Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, etc. all have their own “me-time” comics.

  8. Attercap says:

    The other thing to note about City of Titans is that it’s an all-volunteer process. That means that most of their developers, writers, artists, producers, etc. are either working on this supposed MMO on their off time or that they’re doing this work unpaid in the thought that it will take off and can eventually start earning money (and, in some cases, quit their current job) via subscriptions and/or micro-transactions. I wish those guys the best of luck, but I’ve worked on projects a tenth of the size of an MMO and just cannot see how a team can do that during off-hours, even if they are somehow coordinating that off-hours work.

      1. Corpital says:

        “Everyone who has signed on with us in any department is aware that these are all non paying positions. A lot of us have sacrificed paying work and jobs to put in time on this project.”

        While that dedication is commendable, that somehow makes me feel worse than people just making the game as a hobby.

      2. Rutskarn says:

        Okay, as a guy who’s basically done this before: for any project on the scale of a superhero MMO, that is what we call a red fucking flag.

        If this game comes out, it will be in ten years, with the masking tape still on it, and it will not succeed. But honestly? It won’t come out.

        Let’s hope they prove me wrong.

        1. On the up side, if you’ve got 4 gigs to spare, you can download the old CoH client and use it as a costume generator. You get access to all costume parts, even ones for NPCs.

          I believe there’s another bit of code that lets you run around the zones, but that’s about it. Still, costumes!

          1. Paul Spooner says:

            Can you export the geometry and skeletons in some useful format? I looked around, and while I found that you can save and load costumes (the “*.costume” format is plaintext… which suggests interesting possibilities for parametric costume generation) there’s no way of getting this data out of COH for use in other software… that I can tell anyway.

            1. Durnit. I found a “CoH Model Exporter,” but then I found out that CoH now means “Company of Heroes.”

              Stupid punk kids, ruining video games that I liked that got canceled by stealing their shortened names…

              Edit: Hang on, I did find this thread and links to files that seem able to extract stuff from the game, though it does look like a bit of work. Still, the person who posted it said something I wish I’d written:

              “Head, hands, and boobs. According to Rob Liefeld, I’ve listed those in ascending order by mass.”

              That person is assured a place in paradise.

              1. Jeff says:

                As someone who played neither game for more than a week or two, I’m under the impression that CoH has always been Company of Heroes and City of Heroes/City of Villains is referred to as CoX.

                1. There wasn’t always a City of Villains to make that thar “X.” All this here used to be farmland, too…

                  1. MichaelGC says:

                    Farmland? Pfft. I remember when aaaall this were basalt.

                    1. Paul Spooner says:

                      Proto-planetary disk slowly congealing in the wreck of Stage 1 supernova blast waves.

    1. Strange guy says:

      When I was looking at the kickstarter page one thing that stood out is the budget section only mentioned fees, software costs and the like and I was wondering where peoples salaries (which I thought were one of the largest costs in game development) was.

      I suppose that explains it, by it being just as stupid as I’d feared. I will be very surprised if this actually works out.

    2. Adeon says:

      Well they’ve managed to keep development going for more than a year (they started some work prior to the Kickstarter) which to be honest is better than I thought they’d do.

      Now personally I’m not getting my hopes up for City of Titans. I hope they are successful but as you say that odds are not in their favor.

  9. Benjamin Hilton says:

    Galaxies for life.

    I’m right there with you Josh. I know I’ve ranted on this before but seriously.

    It was the only MMO where you could own your own shop. There was a girl on my server who held fashion shows for her clothing shop…she actually paid players to wear the clothing and walk down the runway while other players watched and then went to buy the clothes.

    One guy just ran an in universe news paper and paid other players by word to write for it, and sent it out through in ame email to those who subscribed.

    God I miss that game…..well I mean the game it was before SOE WOW-ified it….gah… must…. stop… before ….1000 word…. rant….

    1. MichaelGC says:

      That’s a shame! I like hearing about SW:Galaxies! Both the good and the bad. It seemed for a moment as though Josh was about to go off on one again, but he also reined himself in.

      Ah well. Probably for the best! Anger indirectly leads to suffering, ‘n’ all that.

    2. RTBones says:

      Agree. I miss SW:G (at least before it tried be a WOW clone in space). I would have happily listened to Josh rant.

  10. Dave B. says:

    Re: Boring MMO combat.

    Back when I was playing a lot of Star Trek Online, I was entertained but not really thrilled by its combat. Then I realized that when I was doing space combat I wished I was playing Klingon Academy,and when I was doing ground combat I wished I was playing something like Halo. Even in a game I like, the combat ends up feeling like a crappier version of a game I actually enjoy.

    1. Kana says:

      The only MMO where I feel like the gameplay was good enough to hold up leveling content was TERA. It was like a discount Monster Hunter MMO. Had plenty of crap in it, but playing an Elin Lancer was probably the most fun I’ve had for an MMO in a long time.

      1. Thomas says:

        +1ing the goodness of Terra’s combat. The first 10 hours of play are boringly linear and you never really do interesting things with the quests but the combat system is good enough for a single-player game and the thing which kept me around the longest.

  11. Vermander says:

    Never really played MMORPGs because I have an ancient laptop, no free time and I’m anti-social, but I just don’t get see how these games can appeal to anyone except the people who enjoy compulsive grinding to level-up.

    I can’t imagine how anyone can “role play” in one of these settings where “heroes” are so numerous that they outnumber the civilians. Heck, I’m bothered by how many characters in the Elder Scrolls games carry weapons or have magic powers. It seems like a setting where there are dozens of super heroes racing around the same city block at any given time would drive me crazy.

    I also think I must be one of the few people who prefers my characters to be “boring” looking. I almost always design characters with reasonable body proportions, simple hair styles, and practicle, comfortable looking clothing in dark or muted colors. For some reason I think it’s cooler to see a “regular dude” wielding awesome power than an outlandish wierdo. No mohawks, winged boots or pink armor on my avatars. I’ll actually refuse to equip better gear if I think it looks too outlandish (like giant spikey shoulder pads or swords that look too heavy to lift). Even my Saint’s Row charaters wear fashionable suits.

    1. krellen says:

      Well, City of Heroes had a LOT of wandering non-powered NPCs in the city, so it never felt like the PCs outnumbered them. That helped. Also, I suppose it was a small enough game (population-wise) spread out thin enough that there was never too much trouble of running into many other PCs – especially since every mission was instanced, so only when street-sweeping (which became super rare as the game matured) could you even chance to run in to another.

      1. The NPCs were a source of humor, too. Apart from them panicking when fights broke out, you could travel to zones where mobs could one-hit kill you, but they’d struggle trying to take a purse from a “mere mortal” NPC. If that purse-snatching victim would travel a few zones closer to the staring ones, they’d probably be able to wipe out all crime in a matter of hours.

        1. Mike S. says:

          I only played City of Heroes briefly. But before the MMOness wore me down, I really did find that it gave the feeling of being a superhero. I would go and save people from muggers when I didn’t have a quest to do it, just because that’s what a hero is supposed to do.

          Flight (or hover or whatever the lowest-level flying power was called) really helped with that– I spent a lot of time just flying around the skyscrapers and landing on rooftops.

          (The fact that this let me skip the stupid trash mob gauntlet between any points A and B in other MMOs was a bonus, since after a the Sisyphean nature of trying to fight constantly-replaced muggers started to get to me. :-) )

          It also seemed to be a really friendly community during the little interaction I had with it. It was an RP server, and I got compliments on my background and invitations to RP guilds. (Alas, they were going for a gray, gritty tone and I wanted to be more four-color, but it was nice to be asked.)

          I do wish things had been more instanced, just because nothing kills my suspension of disbelief faster than a crowd around someone I’m supposed to be uniquely interacting with. But overall, I was really impressed with it. (And wish the other MMO I had significant experience with, SWTOR, had borrowed more than a few elements from it.)

    2. Thomas says:

      I think it#s an even bigger problem that MMOs never embrace this. They never try to create a setting mission structure and environment that acknowledges the large number of people.

      I mean TOR could have been a massive war between Jedi and Sith with many places almost deserted of civilians because of the war zone. You could have had group quests the actually change (and not just instanced-change) the nature of a place until the rival quest converts it back. Instead their story is tons of Chosen One rubbish and the number of people seems completely incongruous.

      I actually want to try and see an MMO do the EVE thing where they acknowledge the character of the players. The legitimate story of EVE is about a bunch of immortal arseholes who do whatever the heck they want. If you do that and combine it with a complete lack of the traditional quest structure…

      1. Kylroy says:

        I want to address the two points you make:

        1.”They never try to create a setting mission structure and environment that acknowledges the large number of people.”

        WoW does a bit of this, acknowledging that you are one person in a war effort and a member of a larger group. It frequently makes you a hero *of* that conflict in ways that may stretch some people’s disbelief, but it doesn’t say that you and you alone saved the world.

        2. “I actually want to try and see an MMO do the EVE thing where they acknowledge the character of the players. The legitimate story of EVE is about a bunch of immortal arseholes who do whatever the heck they want. If you do that and combine it with a complete lack of the traditional quest structure…”

        …you get EVE. We already have EVE. There is a reason we haven’t seen anybody else try it: because this type of formless, player-directed plotting means a few dozen potent players have a sandbox to play in and everyone else gets to be their pieces.

        Honest question, Thomas – do you play much in the way of MMOs? Whenever I hear people talk about how MMOs should be more open and give players more control, it seems to almost always come from someone who doesn’t actually play MMOs and hasn’t seen how often every inch of freedom the players are given is usually ruined by the GIFT.

        (Reference: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19)

  12. kdansky says:

    I tried the Marvel one, and I can sum it up easily: License crap with bad F2P. It’s very hard to make a game with good F2P, and this game really dropped the ball. It’s just grind galore with incentives to make you spend cash.

  13. Disc says:

    MMO Raiding (and dungeoneering in general) really ought to be less co-ordinated dance routines and more something like the dynamic class synergy in Guild Wars 2. It’s not that old school raiding can’t be fun, but it’s just way too time consuming for most people plus it forces people to specialize into very tightly knit roles, often to the point where anything out of norm is considered plain blasphemy or it’s just impossible to do otherwise. And this results in certain classes becoming more important than others depending on the demand. Don’t have a properly leveled Class X, because you thought Y was more fun instead? Then you’re shit outta luck, son, because we really need X and we already have an arbitrary number of Y.

    It just isn’t that much fun in the long term, unless you absolutely love doing the same thing every time and have the free time to keep grinding the same bosses for weeks and months in a row.

  14. Wulfgar says:

    That Crystal Dynamics post about Tomb Raider sound like something Dr. Breen from Half life would write. Man, i wish that someone would ask Robert Culp to read that.

      1. I believe GLaDOS was working on that.

        Still, there’s always digging up his larynx and hooking it up to an air compressor, right?

        1. ET says:

          Or 3D print it from a subterranean echolocation, like in Jurassic Park. Or clone him from his fossilized DNA, like in Jurassic Park.

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            This would be the single greatest movie ever filmed.

            Barney: “Now, eventually you do plan to have Robert Culps on your Robert Culp tour, right? Hello? Yes?”
            Dr. Vance: “I really hate that man!”
            -Giant Egg begins cracking as sounds of narration emerge from within-
            Dr. Vance: “Yes, little one! Push! Push! There you are!”
            -A Robert Culp pushes through the shell, immaculately dressed-
            Culp: “I regret having to temper my congratulations with a strong measure of disappointment.”
            -Father Grigori slowly unfolds a SPAS-12, taking aim on an aloof Robert Culp several yards away; from his left, the Culp Matriarch lunges through the bushes and snorts menacingly-
            Culp: “Let me remind all citizens of the dangers of magical thinking.”
            Grigori: “Clever girl.”
            *discretion shot of carnage ensues*

            1. Benjamin Hilton says:

              One thing you forgot: During the discretionary carnage shot Father Grigori is laughing madly.

            2. Canthros says:

              I believe you have won this discussion. Thank you, sir. Thank you.

  15. evileeyore says:

    This is my breakdown:

    City of: Only City of Rogue really scratched my itch, it felt more “real” than the other two and was the only one that felt “right”. I never really liked the costume designer in Co*, except in Rogue, strangely.

    Champions: Yeah, it was a bucket of piss, but midly fun. Out of them all I liked it’s costume generator the most, granted it required you to work to add goodies to it from purchases (in game or Real Money) or from loot.

    DCU: The best movement powers hands down. I spent many, many hours just flying or running around in that game not doing anything productive (shiny hunting). I also kinda liked the “different” combat setup, more like a fight game than an MMO. But the gameplay, costumes, plot, and well everything else were just terrible.

    Marvel: Never played it, I have no desire to play a Diablo-clone.

    1. I liked how they allowed Rogue Islands characters to become heroes, or switch back to villains, etc.

      It allowed me to create a Brute (villain class) that eventually became a hero. He used this huge Captain Caveman-like bludgeon. His uniform was a tuxedo & tails (made from various costume bits), a top hat, a monocle, and I believe a handlebar mustache.

      I called him “Gentleman’s Club.”

      1. Mike S. says:

        That’s one of those things that I was sure early on that SWTOR would swipe. As with superheroes, switching sides via fall and redemption is a running theme throughout Star Wars. It’s Anakin’s story, and it’s what Bioware ran the original KOTOR on. And the game even has the whole light side/dark side morality tracker.

        Surely, I thought, one of the reasons for that would be that if you were a Light-5 Sith or a Dark-5 Jedi, the opportunity to atone for your dark deeds/release your anger and passion would be offered via questing through some bonus content.

        (Tougher for others, given the mirror class setup. But there’s really no reason that Smugglers and Bounty Hunters shouldn’t be able to operate on the other side of the line anyway. And adding content to let Agents really join the SIS, or Troopers decide that the old Havoc Squad had the right idea after all would have expanded the game nicely.)

        In the event, I suspect that the mechanics they tied themselves to made that harder than it should have been. (And in any case, the fact that it became a medium-sized FTP game rather than the WOW-plus they were evidently planning for meant that any development goals were scaled down anyway.) But I still think it was an obvious thing to copy from CoH back when they were in the planning process.

  16. tzeneth says:

    I enjoyed this episode and the greater details on the superhero MMO’s I never gained a real desire to try.

    Also, Rutskarn the English major: I don’t think we saw the rest of the cast discuss the Sims. I may have heard it but I sure didn’t see them discuss it. :P Then again, I doubt you guys use cameras, so you guys probably didn’t see the discussion either. HAIL GRAMMAR! *SALUTE*

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Rutskarn often gets a little synaesthesic whilst hosting. (I hear that the resulting palpably strange scent may not be to the taste of every Diecast viewer…)

      1. Nataline says:

        That might be the Tersuran translation, which really should not be on by default.

  17. Rick says:

    I just want to say how glad I am that news is back on the Diecast. I really prefer it to only the Happity Happs.

  18. drlemaster says:

    I am enjoying Marvel Heroes quite a bit. It is definitely not a superhero rpg, just a Marvel-themed Diablo clone. But I really dig Marvel and Diablo, so it is right up my alley. I tried DCUO once. Had heard character creation was very proscribed, so wasn’t disappointed there, managed to make someone my daughter thought looked cool. Suffered through the tutorial on a non-inverted mouse. Looked online, and saw folks say you can’t invert the mouse. Uninstalled.

  19. Can I give a shout-out to City of Heroes’ music? It had some of the best MMO tunes I’ve heard, especially the kind-of theme song they composed for it. My favorite version was this little sting you heard in Freedom Court when you went to the Galaxy City zone.

    I think every track is available for download. It’s pretty good stuff.

  20. Dragmire says:

    That Tomb Raider stuff is amazing! I always wondered what an investor exclusive announcement would sound as targeted toward the gaming public.

    All that news sounds good from the perspective of an investor who doesn’t understand the gaming market and just wants a safe return + profit. Timed, to them, means that there isn’t a loss in potential demographics(and multiple releases get more media coverage) and the extra capital investment from the deal will make a popular product(because more money = better and quicker to make…) or at least cover extensive advertising (so it can’t be ignored).

    And hey, if they felt that strange sensation in the back of their mind that feels like an intangible loss of money morals for the people being not being able to play upon the initial release, not to worry, they get a Tomb Raider game too.

    Just not the one they wanted.

    Not yet.

  21. RTBones says:

    The only way the timed exclusive of Tomb Raider makes sense is to look at it from Microsoft’s view. They want an established franchise to go head-to-head with Uncharted and the Playstation crowd. I cant imagine the amount of money (OK, maybe I can) Microsoft must have paid. Of course, this is also a financial boost to Square Enix – but one that only makes sense if they know they can offer TR to their PC and PS crowd later.

    If Microsoft thinks this will convince a lot of folks to go buy an Xbox One, they really ARE drinking their own Kool-Aide.

    1. Given the amount of bugs and eventual patches needed for most AAA games these days, having to wait for a game to come to your platform of choice isn’t necessarily a bad thing (assuming the game is actually good).

      1. RTBones says:

        In general, I agree with you. The only potential problem is that the “other versions” will likely be ports – which have their own problems that don’t get discovered until game gets out to market.

        1. As a member of the Glorious PC Master Race, I’m rather used to ports. If they can be modded into something better (i.e. Bethsoft games), I’m fine with it.

          And while I do enjoy some GTA-style sandbox games (like Saints Row), I really, really hate how, thanks to console memory limitations, the world resets and my vehicles vanish when I leave a side mission or other “you get out of your car to do something” quest.

        2. Psy says:

          Not as much of a problem since consoles have become watered down PCs (except for the Wii-U) while game engines tend to be made with easy cross platform support in mind which is why Linux gaming has all of a sudden started to pick up.

    2. Ciennas says:

      And that move could do it. Honestly, Microsoft and Sony and Nintendo are all playing a game against each other.

      They’re liable to be upended by an outside player, say Valve and their Steambox, but in the meantime, ey want to both make there system look like the place to be, and convince enough people that they become the only game in town.

      No Kool-Aide, just a decision for two companies to deliberately control the market for their own personal benefit; not unlike the DeBeers people a while ago with diamonds.

      If you’re really interested in upending this, ask your local government what they think about a publically acknowledged artificial construct designed to increase scarcity and demand for a product with literally infinite available copies.

      Or wait for Valve to release the ultimate shut up to the no backwards compatibility problem that the Big Three created for themselves.

  22. krellen says:

    Okay, who’s idea was it to talk about the Superhero MMOs? I’d almost gotten over the fact that City of Heroes was gone, but now that scab’s been torn clean off. I miss my game. :(

  23. Scott Schulz says:

    I enjoy Marvel Heroes Online 2015. It’s more like a Diablo II/MMO/Pokeman mix. The idea is to collect heroes each of which plays reasonably differently. Yes, you are stuck with your initial choice, but you do get one free random hero when you first complete the story line. (At launch there were six starter heroes and you would get a random starter at the end of the tutorial and another random starter upon first completion of the story line.) A random hero box costs 175 Eternity Splinters (ES) but all particular heroes have a specific ES price (mostly 400, but starters are 200, and a few heroes are 600). Be aware, however, that the random box can give you duplicate heroes which are used to upgrade the hero’s “ultimate power”.

    I bought Ms Marvel to support the game at launch for $18 and that package gave me enough to buy one more 400 ES hero. And so within 6 hours of play I had 5 heroes. Now I think I have 22 of which I paid for 5 all the rest coming from 175 ES random hero boxes with maybe 5 dupes dropped to this point. Like DII the story line can be repeatedly played through at two successively higher difficultly levels as you progress, and typically I was I bit into the second play-through by the time I had enough ES for the next hero box. Now, however, I’ve reached the point where the expected cost of a new random hero is greater than 400 ES, and so I’m saving towards that which makes progress to a new hero slower. Still, there is lots to do with various additional systems like random “legendary missions” to provide motivation for further game-play.

    It’s not for everyone, but if you were looking for a D2 clone with 30+ different character classes, then this might be the game for you. I’ve played it more than D3 now that I’ve gotten all 6 D3 characters to level cap.

    1. A friend of mine is a huge comics fan, especially of Thor. He also likes how the game doesn’t require a whole lot of personal investment (guilds, grinding, etc.) and can be a fun pick-up game. I haven’t seen it myself, but he said he thought Thor’s animations as well as those of the mobs attacking New York were quite satisfying.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I will admit it is something of a guilty pleasure of mine. A friend, whom I’ve noticed playing it through Steam, convinced me try it and for now at least I find it an entertaining diversion. I have this soft spot for that kind of diablo-style gameplay, there’s plenty of characters to level and most useful stuff can be obtained with some grind without paying. As Scott mentioned it does scratch that Diablo itch for me.

  24. Fishminer says:

    So did no one else actually enjoy WoW then? I get that the big raids are what draws the most attention, but I had a genuine blast just leveling characters and back packing around Azeroth with friends. Seeing places, finding things, basically always having another adventure to take your character and their tons of crazy spells on felt fun to me.

    It certainly had annoying parts, but saying that the entire game experience just exists to do raids feels a little superfluous.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      I didn’t see* it as a criticism of WoW so much as a criticism of other games which try to reverse-engineer WoW, and do so by focusing on the aspects that (as you say) garner the most attention. And then fail to implement those aspects anywhere near as well, whilst ignoring other aspects which feed into the “headline” ones and make it all work as a whole.

      Lots of folk enjoy WoW. (That must be one of the least-controversial statements ever made on the internet? :D )

      *Or rather hear. Tricky, this whole five-senses stuff!

    2. Humanoid says:

      I enjoyed WoW, but I can’t really say it’s from either perspective described, whether as the type of ‘FILTHY casual’ play you talk about, or as the type of rank-and-file raider Chris talks about: I hadn’t really done either since the vanilla days (2005-2006 for me).

      I played WoW for another 5 years or so after that, but as a guild/raid co-leader and administrator, which was wholly unlike either of those prior experiences. And while it was difficult, and borne out of a combination of accident and necessity, I’d say I had fun doing it for the most part.

  25. Steve C says:

    Rutskarn brought up a great point about accessory choice. Quantity matters even if you don’t use it. This is a mistake I see developers making. Recently it’s been getting especially bad. They assume that because something isn’t seen/used by players that it holds no value to players. The logic goes something like “Nobody uses those ugly shoes in the character creator so there was a waste of resources to include it.” It’s flawed logic. The fact that it exists makes it seem like more choice even if it is effectively a false choice.

    This concept is really detrimental when game developers start talking about the percentage of players who finish games. Like if only 25% of people finish the last 30mins of the game, then it’s only half as important as the 30mins in the middle of the game that 50% of players see. Anthony Burch mentioned it in this talk of his. (Wish I knew the timestamp he says it.) I think he and this entire train of thought is dead wrong.

    A good example is Unrest. There’s tons of dialogue choices and through those choices you’ll miss more of the game you end up seeing. That is not a bad thing. It is a good thing. I’ll probably talk more about this in the forums.

    1. “Unrest?”

      Is that a new choose-your-own-adventure book or something? If only there were a charismatic and roguish punster who could tell me more about this intriguing work that I feel is in need of embellishment…

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      The forums are not for swiping blog comment discussion. Talk about it here.

      I would say that this points even more firmly to the importance of incorporating procedural techniques into game design, especially where the player has high traction expectations like with character creation. There are already often slider bars for height, muscle, etc. which are parametric qualities, but you could do the same for “accessories” as well. CoX character creator is pretty good, but they still have pre-set “sticker” style addons to the basic body. At least make hair length and sleeve length parametric! Shoe heel height, ankle collar height, and tip length are all low hanging fruit.

  26. Gabriel Mobius says:

    It’s worth mentioning (despite being so far down in the comments) that some of the nice people on the CoH Titan forums have been working on a program called Icon which lets you boot right into the City of Heroes character creator, and also gives you the ability to take said created character and load them into the game… sort of. You can’t fight anything, but you can spawn NPCs and you can load any map in the game, so it’s useful for screenshots. (And making character portraits for Superhero tabletop RPGs)

    You can grab a windows version of a patcher that’ll keep the issue 24 files and Icon up to date here.

  27. Peter H. Coffin says:

    On the point of MS treating Valve kind of like Sony….

    Two years ago, MS released their first flight simulator in like eight years. And they released it on Steam, albeit using GfWL connections for DLC and multiplayer services.

    Which was really weird.

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