CoH: Screenshot Nostalgia Trip #6

*plays the Pink Panther theme*

The Rikti were an interesting mob faction in City of Heroes.

The First Rikti Invasion apparently capped off the City of Heroes beta (wouldn’t know, wasn’t there, just read the previews mostly).

The backstory was that this group of science and tech-using aliens invaded the Earth of City of Heroes (aka Primal Earth,) ensnaring the globe in a massive Rikti War. Eventually, most of the superheroes of the world mobilized to conduct one gloriously bold strike at the invasion’s source, the portal to the Rikti Homeworld.

Alpha Team, led by Statesman, was the frontal distraction, with a corresponding death toll of 4 out of 5 heroes.

Omega Team, led by Hero 1, dived through the portal during the distraction. Soon after, the portal exploded and closed, the fate of Omega Team unknown. Heroes doffed their capes in remembrance (which was, in reality, a sneaky excuse for “we haven’t figured out the tech to let you have capes yet.”)

What heroes saw of the Rikti from then on appeared to be the straggling pink/beige remnants of this alien invasion, though certain storylines let on to a more sinister and intriguing undertone, where one witnessed the human Lost faction gradually mutating into Rikti, and this mutation being induced by other full Rikti.

coh_riktishipcrash

Rikti Crash Site was a max level 50 zone with not much in it besides a lot of apocalyptic urban skyscraper wrecks, the world’s largest collection of tightly packed Rikti spawns for tanks to farm to their heart’s content, and the mysteriously shielded crashed Rikti Ship, looking for all intents and purposes like a giant alien flying saucer.

Some time in 2007, the Second Rikti Invasion struck Primal Earth. This was a threat that united heroes and villains alike, allowing crossovers and teaming up in a special zone for the first time.

The invasion arrived in phases, first with sinister bombs sprouting all over a zone.

coh_riktibomb

Rikti drop ships would glide impassively across the now green skies, striking anyone who got too close with bright green energy blasts.

coh_dropship

Then finally, the Rikti themselves would beam in.

coh_beamusdown

Not even the villains were safe.

coh_villainbeam

Mechanically, this was, I suspect, one of the earlier examples in MMO history where an MMO introduced an automated ‘public event’ that scaled to player densities, and linked it to an ongoing storyline.

(Sure, MMOs before this had events, seasonal or otherwise, but most were either triggered by a GM manually spawning something or set out in the usual quest-giver format for individual players to run through. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, I did miss a lot of the earlier MMO days.)

I think one of the biggest innovations of this ‘invasion tech’ was the idea of adjusting mob spawns and dynamically scaling encounters based on how many players were locally available in the area. We see other games now applying similar concepts.

coh_riktiinvasion

Back in the day, it sure made for great action screenshots.

(Not to mention, encouraged players to actually clump and gather up as a large social group, in order to spawn the elites everyone desired for an achievement – amazing, I know, that this was such a new idea then and not looked down upon and disparagingly called “zerging” in our current day and age.)

Ultimately, the heroes and villains would venture into the newly rechristened Rikti War Zone…

(The problem with a dark/dark powerset)
(My defender main, showing off the problem with a dark/dark powerset. Not only are most of your powers various tinted shades of inky black darkness – kinda like GW2’s shadow dyes, come to think of it – you had to keep making excuses for the inky black blob with eyes that was your pet spilling oil slick all over the landscape. “Don’t mind Fuzzy, he’s toilet trained. The black stuff evaporates shortly, I promise.”)

…to launch an attack on the Rikti Mothership itself.

coh_riktiship

The big bad Rikti at the very center had an unfortunately cheesy name, victim of a designer in-joke. U’kon Gr’ai, or “You con grey.”

coh_ukongrai

The Rikti armor designs of this period were significantly improved, as can be seen in this Paragon Wiki article about the Rikti. No longer were they the naked beige/pink slightly awkward aliens of the past, but a more tech-like robotic enemy, with color-coded armor (warning: TV Tropes link) indicating different powersets.

Ah, dark/dark defender woes.
Ah, those dark/dark defender woes. “No, really, the shadowfall protects you and gives you stealth! How no one can see us in the middle of all this incongruous black splotches, I don’t know, but there’s superhero powers for you…”

The Vanguard were also more fleshed out, along with two Rikti factions, one attempting to sue for peace with humans – hence the conference table setting, and one continuing on their militaristic warlike ways so that our heroes and villains had someone to keep beating on.

coh_riktihonoree

Eventually, we would discover the fate of Hero 1, changed into a Rikti-fied Honoree, who could be fought in the co-op Lady Grey Taskforce, as well as the initial Incarnate introduction mission as seen above.

The story, unfortunately, never really continued from this point, after the game decided to dive headlong into Praetoria instead, getting more and more incoherent as the designers/writers tried to shoehorn in time-traveling and strange in-game lore excuses for however the Incarnate system had to work.

Was a good arc while it lasted.

NBI Writing Prompt: What mob factions in your game are an integral part of its storyline(s) or lore?

Advertisements

TSW: On the Believability of Mobs

One of the things I’ll say for Funcom, they really know how to set up their mobs for immersiveness.

Even in Age of Conan, I was especially taken with the way a pack of wolves would be feeding on a kill (before you ignobly interrupt them by walking by) or how a whole family of lion, lioness and cubs would be patroling around their territory (the same functional threat could be executed with a pack of identically skinned hyenas, or even lionesses, so why bother to model male, female and babies?)

More so than other MMOs, it seems to me, they don’t mind placing these things to make sense, rather than follow an “accessibility” or design rule that says, mobs or clumps of mobs must be spaced out at regular intervals, and all roads must be kept clear, yadda yadda.

While it makes their zones potentially more treacherous, it comes across as very believable.

The Secret World is no exception.

Clumps of zombies feed on corpses. Corpses you think are corpses will get up and vicously raven all over you.

Wendigos lay traps and ambushes for unwary travelers, yes, even along roads or paths.

Everybody knows the Ak’ab shuffle dance (step to the left! turn around! step to the right! turn again!)  and the layout of their burrows by now, no doubt. Broodmarks slow their prey along the outskirts, where hunters will come to check on them. Sentries surround their burrows, while groups of their young scurry about. And right smack in the center, their royal burrow and queen awaits. By showing, and not just outright telling, you easily understand that Ak’ab are bugs, of a very annoying kind.

Recently, I spent a good half an hour watching Draug in Blue Mountain (thanks to a ‘kill lots of them’ quest) and I was amazed at how I failed to take note of what they were up to in Kingsmouth and the Savage Coast (I always gave them a pretty wide berth, especially all the areas with brood pods and tons of incubators.)

Incubators. They’re human-sized, with a brood pod-y growth lanced through their stomachs and out their backs. In other words, they were probably humans once. Hopefully taken from dead ones, but who knows, the horror of it could be that they were still alive when the Draug got hold of them.

If you give them some unmolested time, they reach a stage of their development that makes them do this.

They squat down and… metamorphose into this.

OMG. Through all of Solomon Island, I’ve been shooting dozens and dozens of these brood pods to stop Draug from hatching out of them, but it wasn’t until I watched the entire incubator cycle that it really hit me where the hell these brood pods COME FROM.

Again, if you leave the brood pods unmolested for a time, they will promptly hatch (or is the correct term ’emerge’ from their pupal stage) into full ‘adult’ Draug, indistinguishable from the maulers and broodwitches and so on that hang around the beach.

And of course, which most people have experience with by now, the brood pods will react to your presence (or attack) by attempting speed hatching. Destroy them fast enough and a dead newlyformed Draug something will fall out of the ‘cocoon.’

If not, then a weaker in hp version, prefixed by the words Newly Formed, Draug will pop right out and start attacking you in self-defense.

Now isn’t that a whole lot more interesting a cycle than a mob with a differently-colored skin just appearing out of nowhere and pacing all of six inches from where they spawned in?