CoH/NBI: Screenshot Nostalgia Trip #5 – Scary Places

This one might also double up as a “The Scariest Place” themed post for Murf’s NBI Screenshot Challenge, except I have trouble deciding which one might be the scariest in terms of looks, nor were they exactly scary to the player most of the time either.

So I will leave it to Murf to decide which, if any, counts as part of his challenge, and continue on to the nostalgia. :)


In a world primarily composed of office and warehouse tilesets, Dr. Vahzilok’s set piece lair in the sewers was rather memorable. Dr. Vahz is also pretty spooky in his own right, teeny featureless face in a massively brutish body cobbled together from various bodies.


The Circle of Thorns are kinda magically demonically spooky… and then there were the endless Oranbega maps which nearly everyone dreaded, with its neverending corridors, connected by portals that would never let you through (your whole team would get through on the first or second try, but you’d just keep bumping and bumping into them and getting teleported back a dozen times), plus more portals that you had to close at the end (all twelve or thirteen of them, behind the narrowest tunnels and corner curves one can never spot) with the constantly respawning demons… which then got nerfed into not giving ANY xp after some patch or another…


Then there’s falling….

seemingly forever…

…down something that looked like the petrified gullet of a ginormous beast.

(This might have been the Eden trial, but I’m not 100% sure anymore.)


A set piece mission map villain-side, but I can’t remember what it was about either. I just remember the very ominous looking cavern at the end, shaped like a big ol’ toothy maw.


Arachnos-controlled areas were ominous, in a shadowy kind of way.


A hero-side map (Croatoa, I think) that happened to have a nice set piece of it being aflame, with the conceit of this screenshot implying that my fire/fire dominator and his imps were the scary badasses to blame.


I believe this was one of the “more recent” set piece maps that entered the game nearer the end of its lifespan. I was pretty impressed by the update in graphical style, this spooky crypt entrance to a cave system looking like something that might belong more in Skyrim (or Legend of Grimrock, at least) than City of Heroes.

I dunno, I find it hard to judge what’s scary or not, because the honest truth is that I don’t really find even games specifically in the horror genre “scary” these days.

FEAR was effective on me because it was one of my first introductions to the concept of horror movie jump-scares being used in a first-person shooter game.

(Also, they twisted the then-common expectations of the time – ie. you’re always safe on ladders cos you were locked in a ladder climber animation and it would be unfair to present a player with a situation if you give them no animations to react with – almost reach the top and AHH, freaky little girl face staring right at you and then ghosting away. These days, stuff is sophisticated enough to let you dangle from ladders and shoot now, I think.)

But then I started watching a couple of horror movies and being mostly squicked out rather than scared per se at the repeated tropes that lent themselves more to gore and gross-out factor, and recognizing jump-scares for being what they were, and then I played Doom 3 and most of the horror kind of drained out of the genre from the endless repetition, and by the time everyone was singing the praises of Amnesia, I got about fifteen minutes into the game before getting bored out of my skull from the darkness and sneaking and “you don’t actually see anything but there’s spooky horror sounds and shit, and if you don’t act like how we want, it’s an instant game over, try again” mechanics…

…and stuff just stopped being scary for me because I ended up viewing them from a more meta design or film-critical lens.

“Ah, note the shaky camera angle meant to imply uncertainty in the protagonist, or induce a sense of motion-sickness in the viewer/player.”

“Here comes the mysterious magical little girl/doll meant to prey on our mental imagery of small female children being vulnerable and helpless and needing to be protected, turning instead into a monstrous crone figure or a giant threatening vulva or yeah, something of that nature.”

Also, there’s that whole ‘game’ aspect: it -is- a game, the real self is one step removed, the character you’re playing is in a scary, threatening situation, but you’re not. (At least, I hope you aren’t. Don’t look out the window at night while you’re mucking about with fictional horror, yeah?)

NBI Writing Prompt: I could cop out and ask you to tell me about (or show me screenshots of) things you find scary (or not) in your games.

Or I could ask you to write about stuff that scares you, and whether or not you have the same response in games.

(eg. Snakes and scorpions freak me out in real life, and I generally have a big healthy fearful respect of any critter that’s venomous or fatally dangerous to a human and am perfectly ok with this response and not interested in dulling this instinct.

A picture of a snake or scorpion in a game or a video is okay, no problems with that.

In real life though, I’ll just be way over there if something that could kill me is over here though.)

CoH: Screenshot Nostalgia Trip #4

Only City of Heroes could get away with plonking down several different colored blobs of light and calling it a raid boss.


But boy, was the Hamidon pretty.


Especially once you threw in all the effects from all the heroes gathered.


Or the villains.

The CoH version of a raid boss was also an open world one, in that a set number of characters could fit on that one map to kill it. (I think it was capped at 50, but I can’t recall now.)

I don’t really recall the entire old Hamidon raid strategy, though I do remember showing up bright-eyed and newbie for a couple.

I think I was probably shunted off to one of the secondary tank teams as those were my earliest max levels. I do recall seeing the primary tank (plus I think they usually had a backup standing by) and their attendant bevy of empathy healers.

The secondary tanks would get a healer or two, and were pointed at a mitochrondria to taunt. And I believe we basically just stood there with taunt on autocast, taunting our lil hearts out, until the mito-killing team got around to our mito.

Then we stood around until all the players with a hold did their thing, and went in to punch him to death when told that we could.


I do remember standing by for the revamped Hamidon, while various server groups tried to figure out how to deal with him.

They eventually figured that using scrapper teams to bash the outer yellow mitochrondria to death was the answer, and I recall seeing flights of scrappers fly in to take all six yellow mitos down in sync.

Then the ranged attackers went in to deal with the blue ones – by this time, I was maining a dark/dark defender so was on this team fairly often – which were susceptible to ranged attacks.

And finally the controllers got their day in the sun by holding down the green mitos, so that they’d stop their insane regeneration, while the other teams came in to help do damage.

Once the mitos were dealt with, the nucleus of Hami was basically a big ol’ punching bag.

I recall being rather happy bringing the dark/ def, because Howling Twilight was such a great group rez. Especially when you had a trick arrow defender around to lay down an oil slick, which you could then target and trigger the power that way, mass-rezzing the whole pile of corpses that emergency teams had teleported out and stacked up.

Villain Hamidon, when it came in, was pretty interesting because though everyone had the hero strategy down pat, folks had to adjust it a little for the slight differences in villain archetypes.

The major issue was the lack of a focused tank taunter and strong emp defender heals. Some people tried to use Brutes in lieu of the hero Tankers, but it was harder since corruptors only had a secondary support powerset, rather than primary, and villains didn’t have the empathy powerset either, I don’t think.

I seem to recall someone setting up Mastermind stream teams, they’d trickle in minions one by one in a continuous stream to take and distract the main attention/aggro of Hami instead.

Then Brutes went in and did their thing against the yellow mitos as slightly nastier scrappers, blue teams were no problem (there were always tons of villainous ranged attackers) and green teams were covered by dominators (which I did a lot of, since I main’ed two doms on the villain side.)

Hamidon was an interesting social event. For whatever reason, I never felt forced into doing Hamidon – they yielded some special Hamidon enhancements, but I always found that my character could get by perfectly well without them. They were a nice lateral bonus, but never required per se.

With that bogey off my back, I could turn up sporadically during the times I could make a weekend NA raid and just turn up for the organisation and the performing in sync.

Again, no sign-ups, no gotta-put-together-a-special-raid-team-amongst-a-guild, miss-it-and-your-reputation-is-trash sort of obligation, just show as a member of the server and be lucky/early enough to be one of the 50 in the map, and voila, follow the instructions spammed in map chat, join your respective team and get yer Hami kill.

I guess the Triple Trouble Wurm in GW2 is sort of a descendant of this style of open “raiding.”

They’re probably not the only games to use this method of open raiding, though I don’t have sufficient experience to pull up many more examples.

Puzzle Pirate’s sea monster hunt might be another example – I seem to recall just jumping onto a big warship that had 30-40+ players on it, and we sailed into some scary looking waters to hunt leviathans and stuff.

(I actually had very little clue what was going on.  Just sat around earnestly doing my part on the sailing puzzle, wondering if we would ever dock again so that I could grab my share of the loot and go. Probably not that different from any other raid attendee, come to think of it.)

NBI Writing Prompt: How about you? Did you have any “different” raid experiences in any other games, or are you a veteran of the WoW-style instanced raid?

CoH: Screenshot Nostalgia Trip #1

This is the dawn of a new age for mankind....

This evening, I hooked up my old external hard disk drive and started browsing the ol’ City of Heroes screenshot folder, intending to find the -perfect- screenshot for use in the next NBI Screenshot Challenge of Murf’s.

Since I was sifting through literally hundreds of screenshots, many of them with UI (I hadn’t quite acquired the art and habit of turning off one’s interface for nice screenshots yet), I ended up chucking the rare decent to accidentally great picture into another folder of their own.

By the time I was done, there were 69 jpegs in there. (Pure coincidence. Really.)

Not only did this make choosing the -one- screenshot impossible, it occurred to me that I really wanted to share these beauties one more time (they wouldn’t exactly come up in a normal post since *cough* CoH can officially be declared “ded gaem”) and that a post with 69 screenshots would be quite insane.

Hence the decision for a series of posts with a few choice screenshots each. (Hey, it gives me something to post about. Blogger’s block is no fun.)

Way way back in Jan 2005 (more than 10 years ago, wow,) I had a stone/stone tanker as one of my first characters.


Here he is, in the notorious “poo man” rock armor. His crowd control immunity skill literally “rooted” him and kept him immobile.

And one can observe his taunt aura, mudpots, in the screenshot as well. I can still recall the burbling “bloop bloop” of that skill, I sure listened to it long enough.

A whole bunch of Skulls are in the picture too. This was taken about six days before the whole “Go. Hunt. Kill Skuls.” meme, but hey, it’s a useful segue in to mention it.


When the devs finally revamped the look of rock armor, ol’ Ragnarl (or Raggy, as I liked to call him) could finally be revealed as a dwarf in combat.

Err… for some definitions of combat.

The /stone powerset was so damn slow in the early stages of leveling a tanker that I’d often just herd up a bunch of mobs around a corner and let mudpots boil them to death while I went and did other things, like read a book, browse in the other screen, get up for a bio break, whatever.


For lack of anything better to do while a whole bunch of mobs were being snared in mud and boiled alive for xp, I started experimenting with the art of screenshotting with unexpected camera angles.

These were a bunch of Family mobsters. The color coding of their suits was kinda amusing. Made for a nice screenshot though.

Naturally, I’m usually too late to the party for anything.

Before I even hit max level on any tanker of mine, I heard the impending news that they were going to limit the number of mobs that could be herded with a cap.

Too many pre-Enhancement Nerf totally immune to everything invul tankers herding up whole open world map-fulls of spawns, jumping into a dumpster and burning all the dumb mobs that followed with a bonfire, apparently.

But but… I hadn’t even tried such a joyous thing yet!


So I went to the Troll Caves underneath the Hollows and gathered up a whole bunch of grey Trolls on my lowbie tanker, JUST TO FEEL LIKE I HERDED STUFF LIKE A REAL TANKER ONCE, BEFORE GETTING WHACKED WITH A NERF BAT.


Speaking of caves, I remember there was this extremely cavernous mission filled with a ton of gangster spawns of some kind, and the gang leader’s cavern had this set piece throne, which was great screenshot fodder after mission completion. Clean forgotten the exact name of it though.

My scrapper couldn’t really give a darn. Just testing out the fit of the seat.

And that’s all the screenshots for this post. Until the next time, where we’re likely to show off herding, herding, and more herding (and maybe some other stuff but probably herding. Such bad habits my first MMO taught me…)

NBI Writing Prompt: Do you have any screenshots of stuff (a skill, a landscape, an accomplishment, etc.) that doesn’t exist anymore because the devs of your game whacked it with a nerf bat or drastically changed in some way?