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. :)

coh_drvahz

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.

coh_cot

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…

coh_hole

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.)

coh_maw

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.

coh_arachnos

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

coh_worldburn

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.

coh_notskyrim

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.

coh_hami1

But boy, was the Hamidon pretty.

coh_hami3

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

coh_hami4

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.

coh_hami2

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 #3

The City of Heroes character creator was always the most flexible of its day, having completely untied the concept of gear & looks with each other.

I was never one for making characters that reflected the Golden or Silver Age of Comics, y’know, your typical superhero dressed in spandex with big abstract striped color designs all over them and their capes.

Instead, I found myself trying to extend the character creator to its limits, using blends of costume parts and strategic colors to reflect other archetypal characters.

Besides the dwarf, which was an amusing exercise in “does this character creator let me do that?” I also decided to attempt bringing a little WoW or Warhammer into CoH.

coh_gruthak

Gruthak was one of those joke characters I never took too far up in levels, but he was memorable to me for one thing: I always roleplayed him in character. He never broke out of it. It was always one grammatically incorrect “Gruthak crush puny human” or “WAAAAARGH!” after another.

I played him with a friend who also roleplayed and he was a big help in keeping me honest, with cynical eye-rolling and out-witting of the dull orc into charging headlong into the next mob spawn. (Yes, I made him a tanker, I’m not suicidal.)

So I like to think that the pair of us greatly entertained whichever random PUG would join us in our missions – though there’d usually be this /pause/ as the player took in our dastardly duo – and we’d just keep up emoting in character and fighting stuff while “rofl’ing” and basically cracking up in out-of-character whispers to each other.

coh_invic

Why, yes, I was pretty big on skirting copyright infringement.

This was my attempt at bringing a little Warhammer 40k into CoH with a Dark Angels Space Marine, prompted after hearing about other guilds who had tried to create whole teams of space marines.

I was also trying to find a ‘main’ that resonated with me enough to take to max level, and it turned out that giving my character a Latin name and pretending to be a space marine in my head did the trick. (To anyone else outside: “No, I’m a robot, in tech armor! Really! No copyright infringement! Honest!”)

coh_invicperez

He actually looked remarkably good with the Invincibility powerset effects on, and swinging around a fire sword.

(Also, this is one of my only background pics of Perez Park, which I recall fondly for being a crazy maze that was really hard to navigate, at least until you got to the center and the tree cover relented enough for flight.)

coh_spacewolf

If one space marine worked, why not another one?

Alas, I didn’t play this one long. I decided it would be too distinctive and probably wouldn’t make it to max level without getting called out for infringement.

coh_malentis

On the villainous front, this was a character design I was pretty happy with, enough to take him up to max level and become one of my mains.

I wanted something monster-y, and to use the Alien helmet but make it seem like it was an actual head. So I shuffled around a whole bunch of armor until I found some insectoid-like armor that seemed to blend well, and I tinted much of it white with darker grey or black shadows, even using a zebra striping pattern.

Why white? Well, Aliens were dark and black and it seemed a bit of a cop-out to just turn the character into a dark abyssal blob. So I tried the opposite (maybe albino?) and it worked out rather well.

coh_bj

This was my other villain main. I wanted to use the pirate-themed costume bits, but meh, ordinary pirates are so boring. Demon zombie ghost pirates are where it’s at!

The forums were all ablaze with the concept of macro’ing costume changes at the time, and some fellow came up with a sweet idea to trigger a costume change whenever their dominator toggled their Domination mode, which increased the power of the class tremendously.

Of course, I just -had- to make myself a glowy green ectoplasmic ghost form to signal my Domination mode switch too.

NBI Writing Prompt: Did you ever try an anachronistic costume or cosmetic look that didn’t quite fit the genre of your game? Or if -you- didn’t, did you ever meet someone in game who did? Show ’em off!

(eg. I distinctly recall seeing Marvin the Martian,  Ronald McDonald, asura Power Rangers, Super Saiyan charr, Assassin’s Creed assassins and Halo-like or various power-armored characters in GW2, just to name a few.)