The grass is always greener

Before I played WoW, I played around with other MMOs.

It’s true!

You know, before I made my big commitment to WoW, before I settled down as a happily playing Bear, I did… experiment a little.

I can understand that you might be shocked to hear that. After all, I’ve been happily playing WoW for years now, and you’ve gotten so used to me being a settled Bear that it must be jarring to picture me with any other MMO.

But back in my youth, my eye used to wander, and I’d find myself taking one or another MMO out a few times, trying to make a connection, to find that perfect one to spend the rest of my gaming time with.

I have to say that my preferences swing to the straightforward third person PvE MMO. None of that kinky PvP/Psuedo-shooter stuff like Planetside for me.

But back in the day, I did have a brief fling with Dark Age of Camelot and City of Heroes.

Now, Dark Age of Camelot was nothing but a tease. She promised me an engaging fantasy MMO, plenty of character, an enticing personality with lots of Celtic mythology if I wanted to go around that world, and some hot action.

Sadly, DAoC just didn’t fulfill on the promises. The more I got to know the MMO, the more I discovered it was shallow, boring, and a little too full of itself. There were a few nice ideas in there, being able to dye your armor different colors to ensure you had a collor coordinated set of whatever you were wearing seemed like a thoughtful touch.

But… there just wasn’t enough there to hold my attention for long. Very superficial.

City of Heroes, on the other hand, offered me the possibility to create my own super hero, with a graphic character design process that allowed for millions of possibilities.

Ah, she engaged my imagination right away. To be a super hero, flying… FLYING! through the air at will, or teleporting, or super jumping, or super speed running, and fighting and beating down super villains in a vast array of styles.

Ah, that temptress! I had to see if she really was as wild and deep as promised.

I found myself blown away by the truth. The character design process was just as rich as I’d been led to believe. Maybe more!

Even better, City of Heroes understood that sometimes, a person has needs. A need to bring in friends for an occasional night of extra excitement for some group play.

But you don’t always play with your friends every night, so City of Heroes understood that you might be more… experienced. That once you got down to the action, your friends might be vastly intimidated by what they were expected to be able to handle. They just wouldn’t have the moves.

So City of Heroes had the Sidekick system, where if you invited your friends into a group, and they were lower level than you, the Sidekick system would bump up their effective level to be very close to yours.

They’d still have the same abilities, they would just have their health, attack power, their relative effectiveness raised to be equivalent to what they would have at your level. They wouldn’t be able to act with the same depth of moves and options as your more experienced character, but at least they wouldn’t have to stand back and watch you do all the heavy work, afraid to jump in and get their hands dirty.

And of course that meant that your friends could join in occasionally and do something new with you… but they’d get experience appropriate to their level. No boring going through the motions, no watching you have all the fun, they’d get to join in!

Although there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the watching part of it. I’ve just always been more inclined to want to get in on the action myself.

It seemed that City of Heroes was as thoughtful and beautiful as promised, enticing me into playing the game.

And indeed, for awhile City of Heroes seemed like the real thing. I happily spent many hours with City of Heroes, exploring all it had to offer.

Unfortunately, the better I came to know City of Heroes, the more I started to feel that there was something wrong. Very wrong.

I found that I was most excited by the idea of  creating a new character, of designing a costume and name and identity and story… but once I began playing for any length of time, the more I got to know the game, the more boring it was. The gameplay, that funny little thing that makes all the difference between playing an action game and just dressing up dollies, was lacking.

There was just no depth to the experience. It was all… foreplay. Biff. Pow. Crash.

Aside from the boring, repetitive, uninspired combat, there was another problem.

There was no crafting.

There was nothing to just do when you’d like to be in the game, but not mindlessly getting down to action. Sometimes, you’d like to be with your guild, and relaxing… crafting, or exploring, or running around. But there was no crafting, because the characters had no gear. You upgraded your powers by customizing slots with little badges that would let you increase your range, or do a little more damage, etc. But you had no actual gear to change your abilities or your appearance, nothing to ever make that was cute, no pets to collect.

Just make a character, and run around punching bad guys, and get quests to go into randomly generated instances, punching more bad guys.

And no equipped gear. Your powers are your powers… and without gear, fighting became an experience to do something with friends, which is awesome, but there were no souvenirs unique to the experience to carry away with you.

I realized that, no matter how much creativity I could put into my character’s appearance, the actual gameplay just made the entire relationship feel shallow and unfulfilling.

Which was sad, since I liked a lot about the way you made power choices, I just didn’t like the incredibly limiting feel of the power sets themselves.

So, I drifted apart. I stopped visiting City of Heroes. I’d get calls from City of Heroes, emails asking me to come back for a while and see what they were up to with new Issues, but I just didn’t want to get back into that kind of thing. Better to make a clean break, than to let things linger on.

Around that time, World of Warcraft came around.

Oh, the wonder of that first login. It was like playing an MMO for the very first time.

The depth! The wonder of the experience! The world was vast, and full of adventure.

The character choices, the options, seemed very limited… but after I played for a while, I came to realize that, while the basic options to choose from were limited, each one had the potential to fill my time with endless hours of fun, as they each took ages to master.

And to play a class with a pet… a pet that was my friend, my companion. A pet that I wasn’t assigned by the game and stuck with, but one I had to go forth into the world to seek out, and personally choose. No, not you. Not you. No, I’m sorry, I don’t think so. Ah! Yes, you, I choose you to be my pet!

Ah, the fun.

And the Druid! A Class where my abilities and powers are tied up into shifting into various animal forms! Where what I do is intrinsically tied into the very being of my character!

Now this was the innovation, the charm I felt CoH was lacking.

The crafting, the pets, the exploration, the endless questing and adventuring…

Truly, World of Warcraft was the one I’d been waiting for.

I never really made the decision to make that commitment to WoW, to solemnly proclaim that above WoW there would be no others. It just happened that way.

As the weeks and months and years went by, I happily played WoW, and never did my head turn when new MMOs like Warhammer Online or Guild Wars or Age of Conan came around.

They seemed pretty, and I’m sure they were each very nice MMOs, but World of Warcraft was the only MMO for me. Let someone else occupy their time with Conan. I was sure I had found the most fulfilling MMO that I could ever know.

But years have now passed, and expansions have come and gone.

And expansion, while it may seem like a good thing in some ways, can often make you realize that the MMO you once knew has changed a lot.

And in my case, while I still have a lot of fun, I have lately begun to think back in fond reminiscence of the days when I played City of Heroes, and the fun I remembered having.

I remembered those as being good times, simpler times. When a night’s entertainment would consist of calling up City of Heroes and having some light hearted fun, without the commitment of spending hours doing something with a large group. The character creation was wonderful, wasn’t it? Millions of choices, a custom looking character unique in all the land? 

Over the years that I’ve been involved with WoW, I have to say I’ve followed the continued development of City of Heroes with some interest.

I guess that, once you’ve known an MMO that intimately, you’re always going to have a warm spot for it in your heart.

So I’ve known that City of Heroes added the City of Villains addon, combining the ability to have a hero or a villain on the same server, and to do battle between factions.

And I’d also been fascinated to learn that they’d taken the idea of player and guild housing to a new level, allowing a guild or ‘super group’ to design and build their own headquarters… and fill it with minions and booby traps. A guild headquarters that other players  could actually assault. 

That seemed amazing. I’ve always wanted to be able to have a place, a private place, where friends could hang out without being subjected to Trade Chat abuse. A place for an in-game dance dance revolution party!

That it would be a place where great battles could also be fought intrigued me.

But the most recent changes to City of Heroes truly stunned me.

City of Heroes now has an Architect mode, where players can create their own instances, with quests, personally designed bad guys, boss fights, the whole thing. Player-created quest chains and storylines, within instanced areas.

Woah! I had no idea that City of Heroes would grow up to have such depth, such amazing skills and such an openness to doing and being whatever fantasy the players could wish.

It’s as if City of Heroes was desperate for attention, and was willing to be anything, do anything to satisfy the players desires for fun.

So I did it. I can’t believe it, but I did.

I feel so ashamed.

I… I reactivated my City of Heroes account.

I did it. I called City of Heroes up, just, you know, to see if it still remembered me.

To my surprise, not only did it remember me, but it reminded me I had actually played around a bit when City of Heroes was still underage. They had records.

My old account was still in the system, and they also still had my old Beta account. I’d totally forgotten I’d played from day one of the Beta. Five years later, and it still remembers me fondly.

So, what the heck. I was tempted to activate it, for just one month. I could pay with Paypal, just once, no long term commitment. Maybe I could try it again, just to see for one month if it was really all that I remembered fondly.

Just a brief summer fling, right?

The character creation. The flying and super speed and teleporting and fun.

I still recall with fondness my awesome player names and costume designs. Pulse Hammer. Celtic Rose. Lord Nabu.

So, yeah, I did it. I installed the game again from an online download from the website, activated it for one month off Paypal, and immersed myself once more in CoH.

I went online, and saw I still had all of my characters, stored in an offline database… and was interested to know that the login screen told me that I had not played any of them for… over five years.

Has it really been that long? Why, it seems like only yesterday!

Ah, I missed you.

I logged in, and found that, of all my characters, only Cool Dragon needed to be renamed.

Somebody used Cool Dragon, but didn’t use Pulse Hammer or Celtic Rose in over five years? Really?



Fifteen minutes later, I remembered every reason why I left City of Heroes without a backward glance.

The game may want to please very, very badly. It’s desperate to please you. It’ll do anything.

But damn, it’s just not fun.

There is only so much character creation you can do before you have to actually go out there and play it.

I logged into each of my old characters, and it was amazing. The memories came flooding back, the fun, the dreams we had…

But I did feel surprise. Did I really only get to level 7 or 8 on most of them? Did I really stop playing when my highest level character was level 33? My second highest was 13?


Okay, I guess I spent more time than I thought just making characters.

Oooh, what’s that shiny? Oh, right. I had pre-ordered the full game and had a Prestige super power of Sprint. Same old default sprint, but you have sparklies when you run.

Lol, brand new toons with a Prestige Power you only get from pre-ordering five years ago. I wonder if this is how people with the pre-order Pets in WoW feel?

I tried to find something enoyable about playing. I really did.

I remember loving my time with this MMO, and while I knew you can never quite recapture the same magic, I guess I hoped that it had changed enough over the years that I could develop a new relationship, one based on maturity and mutual fun.

Instead… aside from wearing some nicer clothes, and having more accessories, it just seemed like the same tired old shallow tart, a closet full of pretty dresses and some basic moves, but no depth at all. And even if it had depth… it just didn’t feel fun.

Perhaps I’ve grown myself, in the years since I started playing WoW. Maybe my expectations for what makes a good MMO have changed since those days.

Maybe I’ve had so many good years, gotten so used to how wonderful an MMO community can be, how rich and deep and fulfilling the gameplay can be on so many levels, that I’ve lost sight of just how many ridiculously long hours of fun can be found here, and how all of it started with an already insanely amazing game, and just kept being built up from there.

Maybe I’m so close to the game that I’ve forgotten just how good I’ve got it…


I know how great WoW is, and I do appreciate it.

I guess distance and memory had just given a warm, rosy glow to the things I had liked in City of Heroes, and had helped me to forget the things I didn’t like that made me leave the first time.

Playing it now, cold, while still being immersed in WoW just pointed up all those differences.

I’ve still got City of Heroes’ number on my speed-dial, and I can call it up anytime. They’ll take my call for another month.

I’d still like to see what this base design thing is like, and play with the Architect stuff. Making my own adventures for others to play was what I loved about D&D, after all. 

But I don’t know how much I can stand… just visiting CoH, and seeing how awesome it looks, thinking of how incredible it could have been, and then being reminded of how… well, unsatisfying it is just annoys the bloody heck out of me. 

I think I’d much rather stay home and watch a movie.


EDIT: I just realized that when I put this post live, it somehow was missing the wrapup paragraph. Nice.

My end point to all this, was simply that, while being close to WoW the entire time makes it hard to look at the game with detachment, coming back to City of Heroes after five years makes it a lot easier to notice some things.

And the biggest thing I’ve noticed is, when an MMO gets released, that first release program sets the foundation everything else is bolted to.

No matter how many expansions you make, how many tweaks or changes or additions you make, the game remains tied inextricably to the foundations you put in place.

You can add player housing, flying mounts, pets, chainsaws, concussion cannon and orbiting deth ray lasers if you want, but the core gameplay is set by the core game. The style, the rules, everything is based on that original game, and all else is just fiddling with it.

If the original game is awesome, then tweaking it is just fine tuning the awesome. You have to be careful not to screw it up, but you’re building on awesome.

If your original release just isn’t that good, if the FUN that keeps it sustained isn’t there, then instead of building on the game with each expansion, you instead end up trying to find that magic bullet to fix it’s problems. To suddenly make it fun.

From what I’ve heard from people who played it, Star Wars: Galaxies suffered from a lack of fun… and in the end, they tried to address it by addressing the failures of the original game release, and drastically rebooted the core rules… and broke the game for many players.

It’s a hard lesson, but it looks to me like, if you intend to release an MMO into this market, make sure that the one thing your game has is fun gameplay that keeps you coming back for more… and then just concern yourself with adding more features and making small tweaks in upcoming releases. Don’t count on the luxury of fixing core gameplay issues. It might not work all that well.


17 thoughts on “The grass is always greener

  1. LotRO actually got a bit better. You don’t have to group as much to get through the storyline quests now, compared to what I remember from when it first came out. The two new classes are also really interesting, and are pretty challenging to play. I tried it when it first came out & then gave up. I came back for their 2-year anniversary specials (I’m swapping back & forth between playing LOTRO & WoW). I’ll probably play it all summer and then give up on it when Fall semester starts up to just focus on WoW again.


  2. I played LOTRO right after release. Loved the lore and the cut scenes and look of the game was awesome. They had a lot of work to do on the guts of the game. I loved the character creation, very easy to lose an hour or more just getting your character just right. But without friends it wasn’t very fun. I left it to return to my friends in WoW.

    I too miss D&D pen and paper games and just developing a character the way you want it to be. I played Dragonrealms, a text based RPG from back in the old pre-unlimited AOL days, up until I started with WOW 2 years ago. I paid too much money for that game basically for the friendships I made in that game.

    Our own guild is struggling with wanting something fresh and new and not wanting to leave our friends. Sometimes getting away makes you realize that WOW really is a great game made even greater by the friends we have.


  3. The implimentation of the sidekick system would be a godsend to MMOs like WoW, due to their horizontal level design. For me, it would be tough to play COH due to the lack of loot. I played paper and pencil mutants and masterminds, its very similiar in concept, but fundamentally the rules are that nothign changes. The bad guy always gets away, you never actually kill something, you never get rewards…it got old pretty fast. I loved wow because you could push the envelope and if you die, so what? Now we have 70 levels of content everyone (well almost) is dying to race through to do their arenas or whatever, and 3/4 of the dungeons most people have never been inside, despite thousands of man-hours (guessing) spent creating them. For example, maru is just all bad, few quests, very very long, in desolace, a zone which they apparently just gave up on. ZF is insanely popular, its only 4 bosses, tons of quests, real close to gadget, everyone runs it. Nexus, same thing. Everyone loves it. Oculus? I’ve never even been inside, despite having 2 80s. Nobody does it.


  4. Aye, I had the same experience with CoH. It was a great idea, but around level 15 I started to realize…

    The quests were all the same. No imagination. No storyline. I love WoW’s plot. I (/boast) might know more WoW lore than anyone. Starcraft too; I guess I just love Blizzard.

    The cities were not dynamic. There were too many buildings you couldn’t enter. The cities were surrounded by freaking BUBBLES so you couldn’t leave. And each city looked really, the same as the one before it.

    You couldn’t move really fast until you had played for a long time and gotten to a high level. The same goes for WoW here, unfortunately; running around is just really slow and dull.

    And finally, no gear. Armor has its problems, drama and all, but I don’t think an RPG will ever beat WoW that doesn’t have armor.


  5. @Dorgol i’m with you buddy, give me a starfury or maybe a white star ship and i’d be having a blast.

    As a fairly longtime player of wow, and a dabbler in other games before finding wow. I totally understand you BBB..
    Pre wow, I frequented a text based game (mud) called Gemstone III (later renamed Gemstone IV) I know that I put as much time and effort into that game, as I have into WOW over the past few years. They did a lot of things right with that game, and a lot of things wrong..

    Being text based, with a command line interface. you had to mentally visualize every bit of the game, from the descriptions of the rooms, to the mobs you fought. The base game was very well thought out, you didn’t have factions like we do with wow. There were no instance dungeons, there were areas where mobs tended to spawn in the wilds and would get tougher and meaner the further you got from town. Sometimes you would have a scripted event, invasion or a massive merchant. (not unlike our undead invasion with 3.0) One of the cool things that I did miss from those days, is that any class could do things not specifically designed for their class to do. Squares (melee only classes like warrior/theives) could spend a lot of training points and learn a few spells, semi’s (bards, rangers) were designed for a mix of spell and sword, but could train exclusively in either should they choose. and pures (mages, warlocks, empaths, and clerics) were designed for magic, but could train to a high degree of weaponry should they choose to do so. Any character could pick pockets, tho rogues were naturally more gifted at that. Any class could unlock/magically pop/physically bash open locked boxes. (only reason i’ve rolled a rogue on wow…) tho i have more fun with elemental blasting charges.

    You had the option for player housing that you could outfit to your liking, the option for player run shops, crafting skills were still a little on the weakside. (weapons, enchants, and arrows were about the extent of it) Because of it being text based, player created content was feasable, all the player had to do was use his/her imagination and describe each “room” or “object” as they saw it in their mind.

    The reason i left that game, was financial.. in order to have access to player shops/homes you had to be a premium member and end up paying an incredibly stupid amount of money per month.

    I would love to see guild halls, player housing and player run shops put into the game. I could definitely see my hunter engineer have a little shop of guns/ammo and my other hunter which skins and makes leather goods providing armor. what this would do to the in game economy, I couldn’t say. it’s much easier afterall to go to the AH and do a buy it now.

    But a player created guild hall, that would be something interesting. It would naturally require large quantities of raw materials to build (like a guild scale version of the collection for the AQ event), plus gold to hire the goblin laborers. perhaps even guild members could quest to cut down logs, gather precious metals, base metals, cut jewels, collect herbs to plant a private garden. build a private forge, stock the kitchen, ect.. build (gnomes/engineers) or hire guards. ect.

    I could forsee a common room that anyone could enter, and then areas protected by lvl ??? guards that would only allow certain ranks through. I think there are tons of great places to have guild halls, and player homes. an instanced area inside the major cities would be one option (mostly so that the area itself is not taking up the same resources as the city) Perhaps a instance portal in the entrance door for one of the houses in the outter villages (like goldshire or moonbrook)

    I think it would be quite fun to leave a mark on the landscape and be able to say “I made this, and it is good.” not only that, but it would help siphon off some more of the excess gold supply from those that have too much money.


  6. I tried CoH, but never got out of the creation screen, Must have had 30 or 40 toons, but never played them past level 3 😛 Long live Roboclown and the Panty Avenger!


  7. I made that same call when I was rebuilding a PC about 6 months ago. Moving bits around and looking at the drives for stuff to delete and all that I stumbled upon the fact that I still had CoH installed. Had a “what the heck” moment and patched the game once I had everything put back together.

    Wowsers. I felt like the SW:G folks. I had issues with the lead-up to CoV PvP balancing altering core PvE play…but I was unprepared for how far that process had gone. Playing my MA/SR main was totally disconcerting. Nothing worked right, abilities that used to do one thing now did something totally different, the ED change (ooops, badly thought out name for a patch there) required that I completely redo my hard earned enhancements…and I was getting creamed by stuff I used to destroy in job lots.

    Really hard to get into being a superhero when you can no longer do anything Heroic.

    -but the character creation tool is still the coolest non-gameplay thing ever.


  8. @BBB – I still like my old idea, of making the power levels of old world instances scalable.

    The problem is… it’s hard enough to get a group for the current heroic instances we have. If you add a level 80 version of everything from Wailing Caverns to Halls of Lightning then you dilute the small-group content to such an extent that groups will either never form, or only form for a specific set of instances that get run over-and-over (think Mechanaar before the Daily Heroic quest) was added.

    Personallly, I’m all for adding heroic modes to older dungeons, but on a rotational availability. So you visit your CoH quest giver ever Tuesday and s/he tells you that this week the Bronze dragons are fighting a “time corruption” in Maraudon. But next week it will be Shattered Halls. And the week after that you are traveling to the Stockades! And for the “lollore” people – once the final boss dies, an Infinite Corruptor spawns. Loot-wise… the bosses don’t drop loot, they just drop a Badge / Emblem. This way Blizzard doesn’t have to itemize 100s of new level 80 blue / epic items, but players get to revisit their old haunts.

    Oh – and as a purchaser of the original, TBC, and WotLK Collector’s Edition – I did kind of surprise myself when I took my new level 2 rogue to a mailbox and received all my new pets. 🙂


  9. Scalable dungeons would indeed go a long way to help sustainability, especially if tricked out with unique rewards. Just look at the strange things people do for unique pets. It would be great to have a Sidekick system too, to allow players of disparate power levels to play together, anywhere in the world. Splice those together, and you may well have a lot of level capped characters mingling with other players all over the place, at least for a while.


  10. I played CoH from just after release for about 3 years. When I got tired of it (finally) I tried WoW, and played for maybe 3 months before getting sick of the grind. The walking so slowly across country to get to the same places I’d already been. The cutesy graphics. After a few months I stopped playing, and unsubscribed when I realized I hadn’t logged in in over a week.
    In December I resubscribed to CoH again, and I haven’t looked back. It’s all in what you are looking for. WoW is just. So. Slow. To. Do. Anything. Travelling. Fighting. Crafting (yes, CoH has a crafting system now, of sorts). I just find that I prefer CoH overall.
    WoW has a much wider variety of things to do, and that’ll be a draw for many people, but for sheer fun factor, for getting you into the action and not letting up until you want, nothing beats CoH for me.
    As a note, I read your blog because it’s interesting, not specifically because it’s about WoW. 🙂


  11. Dabien, I actually do know about Champions coming soon, I played Champions and Dark Champions a lot in the Marines. GURPS of course is what we changed to when I met Manny, but the principles were similar in design.

    I liked the Champions ruleset (and GURPS) when playing pen and paper… but what’s going to make or break it for me is going to be the gameplay. I’m certainly going to be interested in seeing it for myself, but these days it takes more than a new setting to make me think it’s ging to be a good game.

    For a pen and paper game, a new setting coul be awesome because you’re bringing your own friends and creativity into making the actual adventures in the setting.

    Some of the most insanely fun games I ever ran people through used a mishmash of Heroes Unlimited/Ninjas and Super Spies/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/RIFTS rules to create characters beyond your wildest dreams, and play them in a modern world setting that veered into cross dimensional time traveling uber wierd craziness ala Bureau 13.

    It wasn’t the rules or setting that let us do that and have fun, it was the fact we were crazy idiots with too much time on our hands.

    With an MMO, the rules are important, but the gameplay, how you will be playing and what adventures you will be having are scripted by other people. If they don’t have a fun imagination and fun adventures in mind for you… well, there you go.

    I understand there is also a Buffy the Vampire Slayer MMO coming, a DC Universe super hero game, a Babylon 5 game… and they’re only going to be as good as their gameplay and the creative writers that pen the adventures and quests.


  12. I completely agree with you, Tesh.

    As WoW ages, more and more it becomes clearer that the focus of the game is tied into drawing you to max level as quickly as possible, blowing through the original content to get you to end game.

    That the process along the way is still so much fun does speak to the excellence of the original game.

    But you nail it on the head when you say that tacking on 10 more levels at the top, with new content for those levels, and leaving the earlier world untouched doesn’t do much for sustained replayability.

    I personally know people that have no interest in end game as it stands. That being, taking part in 5 man instance runs and 10 man and 20 man raids. They want to play the game the way they did while leveling from 1 to max, having fun along the way, and having that playstyle dramatically shift from a solo focus to a group focus seems too abrupt to them.

    So what they’ve told me they’re doing is playing Alliance side for the very first time. Abandoned Horde side and all their money and friend support to be able to play the game from the other faction and enjoy the other quests. Seem to be having fun doing it, of course.

    But what would be want instead of the current system? When asked previously, Blizzard spokespeople have said that they have limited resources to create new content. When faced with the decision of what tasks to put those resources on, they have compared the advantages of new top end content with adding low to mid level content, and have chosen to put those resources into top level. One specific statement I recall was justifying the inclusion of the Death Knight class in Wrath over more playable instances or raids. The statement was, with the resources they had, the decision was made that adding a new class was more critical than more content for the expansion. The content can continue to be added later, as they did with Ulduar, and as I believe they are getting ready to do with more instances.

    But none of that addresses whether or not the early part of the game, once ‘in the can’, should be revisited or not. There WERE new areas added, Mudsprocket was just one example, but when you come down to it such things don’t extend gameplay that much because fast leveling pushes you past it so fast. But without fast leveling you’d be stuck in mostly slow or old content.

    I still like my old idea, of making the power levels of old world instances scalable. Of letting you have a new Caverns of Time, with access to all old instances and raids, where the difficulty level of all of them will rise to match level 80 characters… and where new loot will be available. Loot that perhaps will be similar to the Dungeon Set 1 and 1.5 sets from level 60, where you would go to all these instances of equivalent difficulty, having level appropriate fun while trying to complete a hot looking class set that might not be that powerful compared to your raid set, but would simply look NEAT.

    Another way I’ve thought of to reboot content is to add an Ulduar level of difficulty to existing Wrath instances. We’ve got normal and heroic. These days, heroic means normal.

    So how about ‘legendary’ rank instances that drop the Valor emblems and a better range of loot, midway between Naxx 10 and Ulduar 10? Loot that you can get if you’ve got Naxx on clear (or mostly clear) but aren’t up for endless Ulduar runs of countless hours?

    Sure, a third rank of instances is tired, but having new loot and challenges to attempt, that would force you to use CC even at Naxx farm levels, would be cool. And it would give us a good place for more mount and pet drops. 🙂


  13. Ahh the days of CoH. Fond memorys there. Blasting bad guys, super jumping over rooftops and the feel of smacking someone clear over a fence.

    I’m not sure if you’ve seen much of it, but Champions Online is due out pretty soon, the spiritual sequel to CoH/V. Its being done by NCSoft again, and is based off one of the old pen and paper games. I’m planning on looking into it on release, and it could possibly pull my attention away from WoW if it’s looking as good as I think it does. One of the things that I’m pretty excited about, you get to create your own nemesis. When you’ve made your character, you create the anti-hero, the person who you’re trying to stop from blowing up/taking over/ransoming the world. Personally my nemesis will be a 4ft tall bald man, ideally in clown make-up. Hell yeah.

    Anyway, google for it, check out the videos, its looking promising.


  14. Aye, MMO release really should be about nailing down the fun, and then bolting on the bling as you go. That’s the nature of sustainable design, rather than opening day binging. That’s how game design in general should be addressed, as far as that goes; nail down the fun first, even if it’s with placeholder art and no sound, and then build from that. It’s a bit like drawing or painting; you don’t make a character’s eye photorealistic before nailing down the basic proportions. If you do, you risk wasting that time when you have to make a change because the pose isn’t just right, or the color tone needs to shift (or the character designer changes the character and adds a scar over that eye).

    MMOs are more organic than a typical “release” game, since they keep mutating and baking as they go, but if an MMO can be seen as a game constantly under development, it really should have the core of FUN in place before it’s released into the wild.

    That’s why I see King’s Isle and Wizard101 as being a success; they made a fun core experience, and then have continued to build on it. It’s certainly not for everyone (for one reason or another), but the basic time spent *playing* the game is fun.

    (Tangentially, that’s why I don’t like the WoW focus on the “endgame”; there really should be fun in all aspects of the game, just *playing* the game, rather than as a vehicle to the endgame. WoW has done fairly well overall, but it’s largely cashing in on the decent design from five years ago. While raiding has changed somewhat, a lot of the rest of the core experience hasn’t kept pace. It’s nice in that it’s fairly fun to start with, which more companies should do… but abandoning the old world and tacking on ten more levels and a few more raids come expansion time just doesn’t sit all that well with me overall. The *whole game* should be getting better.)


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