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.


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.


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


Then finally, the Rikti themselves would beam in.


Not even the villains were safe.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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?

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 #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.


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.


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!”)


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.)


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.


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.


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.)