CoH: Just Can’t Find the Joy

Issue 23 hit today. I was intending to go check it out. Maybe get a Magisterium Trial in since it was the newest big thing. Get exploring First Ward (which I never got around to) and then segue my way into Night Ward.

Well, I did check it out, for all of two hours.

I spent an hour in Dark Astoria, getting more and more upset inside, as I got reminded again and again why I hate raids. About 15 of us sat around spamming the broadcast channel going “LF Magi Trial.” No one wanted to lead. Can you blame them? I didn’t either. No one knows the trial, unless they did it in beta. Everyone expects the trial to be hard and be extremely unpleasant without proper leadership. And proper leadership is hard to come by if no one knows the trial. It’s the old raiding catch-22.

And of course, those who know the trial and are willing to lead are also well aware that it’s hard, and therefore they are going to pick and choose the people who will give them the greatest chance of success. People they know, ATs they’re missing (like support), and they sure won’t pick any Tom, Dick or Harry standing out in the streets announcing forlornly “lf magi” unless they just needed them to make up the numbers. So we have an exercise in playground unhappiness as people get picked and others get left standing on the sidelines.

Eventually, I got pissed off enough to ask myself, am I having fun here? And the answer was a big fat NO.

(Plus some additional cussing at devs who thought this sort of thing would be fun. Aren’t we into the new generation of MMOs who know to design for better player behavior by now?  And cussing at myself because I -knew- this would happen and I still got tempted to attempt it anyway.)

So I got onto my sub-level 20 hero and meandered into First Ward.

(While I’ve been in the area before, and think the zone looks gorgeous in terms of graphics, my first impression of it left a bitter taste in my mouth because it so happened that I wandered in on a Praetorian loyalist villain – the type that the level designers forgot when writing First Ward. It turns out that the mission writers assumed everyone would be pleased to help the Resistance because it’s the right thing to do. I did one and a half arcs and got very disconcerted over my character’s motivations. That character was supposed to be a Power Loyalist villain, out to get power for himself, and following Cole’s regime to do it till the point where he got overly tempted by power and made one moral choice to destroy the Olympian instead of reporting it to Cole.

I was already a bit upset that that choice appeared to flip me entirely to Resistance. I rationalized it off as saying, well, maybe Cole’s regime found out and declared me Public Enemy Number 1 or something along those lines. So the next sensible choice would be to go to Primal Earth and the Rogue Isles and keep seeking power for oneself. But somehow, in First Ward, all the contacts were treating me like a caring, helpful errand-running puppy and that simply wouldn’t do. I decided to do what my character would, get uncomfortable and abandon First Ward to its own devices and go find profit over in the Isles.)

I took some time to explore and take screenshots. Which was fun.

But then some guy decided to recruit a team to defeat the Seed of Hamidon. And I have never fought the Seed of Hamidon before, so it seemed like an opportunity I shouldn’t miss.

So I went. Then I got salt in the wound as my lowbie face was rubbed in the fact that these things are better fought at lvl 50, exemplared, in IOs, as all manner of the devs’ newest favorite type of attack – targeted player or mob or ground-based impending damage aoe, READ THE LETTERS ON THE SCREEN AND RUN AWAY (OR HUG EACH OTHER CLOSE) NOW started exploding, oozing and in general splooging all over the screen per seed we attempted to attack.

And the whole phase thing got fairly tedious as we kept running around killing seed after seed in the hope of keeping the seed numbers low while working on the Seed of Hamidon.

And it was further aggravated by unfigurable-outtable targetting of the Seed hitbox for my melee character. I could target the Seed fine, but was forever out of range. If I hit F to follow and hug the Seed wherever I could attack it – which seemed to be sort of from its flank and underside – about 2 seconds later, I ate a 800 hp Seed of Hamidon attack which also deactivated fly. It was survivable, but it left my lowbie character out of the fight, on the ground, with 1/4 hp left and no self-healing skills in the build yet to recover quickly. Aggravating, in other words.

I don’t supposed it was helped by me being on a Titan Weapons character, which is notable for exceedingly slow ass wind-up animations. So extra long rooting also got in the way of being able to quickly react.

Eventually the Seed died. Through very little effort of my own.

So I saw the content, but didn’t feel very good about it.

As that wound down, I considered my original plan of working through the First Ward story arcs, and didn’t feel too thrilled either. I just felt exhausted and unhappy. So I decided to let it keep for another day and logged off.

30 more minutes of hanging out on my pathetic one and only Incarnate, who was only made to actually see the content, rather than grind for umpteen slots… with no success of getting into a league, and I got fed up enough to log him off too.

I dunno. Maybe it’s just me overreacting. But I can’t believe all the things that I felt were a pain and thus tried to avoid seriously playing any raid-focused game… have ended up in City of Heroes.

Just ignore it, go the advice of some people. You don’t have to do it at all. Just continue to play the game your way.

But I can’t.

I finished the game my way quite a long time ago. Got some lvl 50s, saw all the old content and storylines, and the only thing that’s new is the new stuff.

It’s not a sandbox. There’s a storyline to this themepark, and now all the storylines are going right through the big group raids and the umpteen task forces that I’ve lost track of. The design of a good number of the new mobs and zones are built on the assumption that your toon is well-built, kitted out in IOs, maybe soft-capped defense, and possibly sporting Incarnate levels of power.

Why tell me to keep playing old content, when all the new stuff that is advertised is centred around being able to understand and play through these storylines and mechanics?

And then I try to do them, and somehow I don’t really find them fun, and I don’t know where I fit in this game anymore. Not too much of the community seems to understand either, so it and me seem to have diverged paths some time back.

I dunno. It just makes me sad whenever I think about it.

It just doesn’t feel like the City of Heroes I used to know a long time ago.

RotMG: Lvl 20 in 20 Minutes

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be fast at leveling. Pros probably do it faster. And if you haven’t seen all the other zones, it is a shame to skip them until you’ve explored them.

But when you just want to get back to lvl 20 after a sudden death without a convenient train chugging along kiling everything in sight, this is how I do it.

1) Quick vault stop with new character. Pick up weapon, armor and ring to twink it out.

(This only works well after you’ve gotten a character to 20 long enough to kill enough mobs for good drops. But keep saving. I have a bunch of Staffs of Destruction and Robes of the Invoker that I keep on hand for the next wizard to be born. More advanced players likely have better stuff to twink their characters with. This is what I have at my present stage. *shrugs* I didn’t have many rings, but I found a ring of Defence which couldn’t hurt in keeping me alive.)

2) Head into a server. Make a beeline for the first quest mob that pops up in your radar. Shoot ’em.

(Quest mobs give higher xp than ordinary mobs. Something we will make use of in leveling. Recognize the quest mobs and always mow them down, chasing down the last 1-2 of their satellite mobs is less important if they’re being dodgy.)

Confirm that all your keys are working, and you can kill stuff and are fairly survivable, and probably hit level 2 while doing that.

3) Turn and head towards sand and the desert. Shoot anything in your way.

(Like these bandits. The big one is the quest mob.)

4) Go nuts shooting things.

Try to find these guys. The giant crabs and the sandsman kings. They always like to clump up in big groups in the desert. Each crab and king is a quest mob that gives 44-50 xp or so, they don’t hurt a lot, and tend to rush into you and your bullets.

Keep along the road to maintain the level of the mobs, and wander off to the sides into desert sand when you think there’s a big clump lurking just beyond your radar.

5) Profit. Level.

It’s fine to shoot anything else that is moving when you run out of crabs and kings. Be an equal-opportunity death dealer.

6) Keep shooting. Keep profiting.

I still like them kings and crabs, even at lvl 9 and higher. The cylones are a bit annoying with their confuses, but heck, you don’t need to move to shoot them dead.

7a) Now you can continue along in this vein, and/or start wandering into higher tier territory looking for quest mobs if you’re playing it safe.

7b) Or you can get bored like me at lvl 11 and decide to risk it where it’s really interesting risk-reward. The Godlands.

Now since I am out to go leech xp, I don’t want to find a quiet server where I can solo the Gods as I would when farming. I go find the most crowded server and check for a big yellow pack of lvl 20 players in the approximate centre of the map, where the Godlands should be.

Teleport in.

Hang around the pack, try not to die, watch the 100-200xp numbers roll in. Don’t die.

Hell, don’t shoot if you think you’ll die. Plenty of time to farm and dodge after you’re nearer to lvl 20 and have higher stats.

I wouldn’t do this at lvl 1 though. Some people do. Some people make it, but some people also die. Like that guy in the last screenshot. You just don’t have high enough speed to dodge well, and too low hp to eat too many bullets. And there’s some kind of xp cap that makes it so you’ll only get a fraction of the xp. Not worth it, imo, unless you just want the adrenaline challenge.

8) Continue to not die. Profit. Max level.

Ok, that’s only lvl 18 in the screenshot, but shortly after that, lvl 20 was hit.

Nexus’ed out to take a break. Back to farming potions in the next RotMG spurt I play. And I will give all the dang stat potions to the archer this time. Sheesh.

Commentary: This is how to do permadeath properly, in my opinion. Or at least the only kind I am liable to play. Make it quick enough to recover from, rather than serve as something that will disrupt a player’s MMO experience and encourage quitting. And put the locus of control back onto the player. It wasn’t some other guy’s fault that killed me. It was mine. I’ll take my lumps cos it was my own bad play, my mistake, that caused the death.