Skip to main content

Cape Theory

One thing that's proved difficult to surmount for me is that there's a gap between theory and practice. What looks excellent on the drawing board does not always perform well when the final implementation is assembled and given a test run. It baffles the finest of engineers in the field, and baffles this gamer in City of Heroes.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's another riveting episode of me trying to figure out what character I feel like playing in City of Heroes.


In theory, for reasons I've documented extensively in the last entry, my Gravity/Kinetic/Psionic Controller is a lovely choice for the ultimate character. Heroic (not a villain archetype) with the wide variety of options and defensive strength only found in Controllers, yet compensating for the Controller's traditionally weak offense with Kinetics power siphoning, finally completing the missing AOE damage component and status resistance with Psionic. The theory seems sound!

In practice, this character crashes and burns like a pre-Wright Brothers airplane design. The trouble is that the application of his powers is very awkward, moreso than a skilled player can effectively compensate for. The actual game plan to wipe out the average spawn looks like this:
  1. Wormhole foes into close proximity location.
  2. Restrain foes with Crushing Field and/or Gravity Distortion Field.
  3. Siphon Speed to boost movement speed.
  4. Rush into melee range and Fulcrum Shift, boosting damage to (or near) the 400% cap.
  5. Start nuking with Area of Effect attacks. (Psionic Tornado and Crushing Field.)
  6. Pick off survivors. (Lift and Propel.)
Each power activation takes time - this sequence of powers would take about half a minute to cast back to back, and some (mostly the attack powers) will need to be cast multiple times before the spawn is finished off. Before you know it, you're up to two or three minutes to defeat a full spawn. Comparatively, Blaster or Scrapper can get the same accomplished in about a minute with a game plan that looks like:
  1. Build up for temporary double damage (replaces steps 1-4 above).
  2. Start nuking with Area of Effect attacks.
  3. Pick off the survivors.
Having high base damage, and not having to compensate for it with awkward methods such as Fulcrum Shift, saves a lot of time. Given they've about 3-5 times as much base damage per attack, the actual number of power activations are considerably less.

The catch: it's riskier for a Scrapper or Blaster, because the Controller possesses incredible defensive capacity. For the Controller, one's safety is of little consolation when you're slowly slogging your way through a mission having to hit foes with five times as many power activations. The critical problem isn't directly the damage output so much as the result: Controllers feel ponderous and boring to play.

It's the same in every MMORPG where everybody wants to be the DPS-machine. I miss the exciting, visceral-feeling characters. They move quickly, spend less time animating their attacks, and look a lot cooler in action. Playing such a character in City of Heroes is playing it at its best. The only problem is that these "visceral" characters tend to be one-dimensional. I get tired of having so little options... and then I'm back to Controllers again.

I can't settle for either, I want both. For months - no, years - I've been trying to find this elusive character. Unfortunately, for all the flexibility that City of Heroes seems to offer, it seems that there simply isn't a character that does this well enough. There's been some near misses: A Dark Miasma Scrapper would seem to have options and damage... but unfortunately devolves into a toggle-heavy and uninvolved-feeling character.  It seems that in City of Heroes, you've either many options or you've better damage potential. It's probably a deliberate balance decision, so my long quest to find a character that possesses both was doomed to fail from the start.
My City of Heroes subscription expires tomorrow, and I think I'll just let it lapse. Maybe they'll drag me back in Issue 13, especially if they introduce a more meaningful level 50 experience or a heroic character with both options and firepower. However, chances are I'll just be holding out for Champions Online, whose core features include total power customization and a dynamically changing world.

My Age of Conan subscription has 20 days left on it. I've contacted Funcom to see if they're at all interested in performing a server transfer for me. Given that a Herald of Xolti is the only class I seem to enjoy, and that I'm not leveling another one up from scratch for 50 levels, that'll make or break it for me.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Resonant Induction Really Grinds My Gears... In A Good Way

From about 2pm yesterday until 8pm today, I've been dabbling with my latest custom mod mix for Minecraft 1.6.4, which is this time very much Universal Electricity focused.
Aside from the usual GUI enhancers and Somnia, the primary contenders in this mix were:
Calclavia Core - Of course: this is the base of the Universal Electricity system.Resonant Induction - This seems to be largely focused on increasingly more advanced methods of refining ores divided across 4 ages of technological progression.  It also includes some really cool things such as assembly lines.  I'll primarily be talking about just a few blocks out of this mod today.Atomic Science - A mod dedicated to generating more of those lovely universal electricity volts via the power of splitting the atom.  Build your own nuclear reactor!  Deal with nuclear meltdowns!  You maniac!ICBM - A mod dedicated to generating more destruction using those lovely universal electricity volts (and more than a little gunpowder), it cer…

Empyrion Vrs Space Engineers: A Different Kind Of Space Race

In my quest for more compelling virtual worlds, I have been watching Empyrion: Galactic Survival a lot this bizarro weekend, mostly via the Angry Joe Show twitch stream.  What I have concluded from my observations is Empyrion is following in Space Engineers' shadow, but it is nevertheless threatening the elder game due to a greater feature set (the modding scene notwithstanding).

Empyrion is made in Unity, whereas Space Engineers is built on a custom engine.  While this does put Empyrion at a disadvantage when it comes to conceptual flexibility, its developers nevertheless have a substantial advantage when it comes to adding features due to a savings of time spent that would have gone into developing their own engine.  Examples include:
Planets.  Empyrion already has planets and space to explore between them, whereas in Space Engineers planets are in the works but still awhile away (so you just have asteroid fields to scavenge).Enemies.  Space Engineers' survival mode boasts onl…

Greasing The Grind: Adding Lasting Appeal To Virtual World Sandboxes

Game design, being about entertainment, is not as much science as art.  We're coming up with interesting things that the human mind likes to chew on that "taste" good to it.  Different people find different things, "Fun," and a game designer is tasked with coming up with fun, appealing things.  As pertains to virtual world sandboxes, I identified three of them.

Challenge Appeal.

Dwarf Fortress and Fortresscraft Evolved have the same end game appeal preservation mechanic: wealth equals threat.  The more money your Dwarf Fortress is worth, the bigger the baddies who will come for you, including a bunch of snobby useless nobles who do nothing but push dwarves around and eat.  The more energy you make in Fortresscraft Evolved, the more and bigger bugs come to shut down your base.  Rimworld does something a little different based off of which AI Storyteller you choose, but it generally adds time to your wealth accumulation when deciding what kind of threats to throw a…