Are you ready? Hey, are you ready for this?

champions online, melmoth, mmo 5 Comments »

Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?
And another one gone.
And another one gone.
Another sub. bites the dust
Hey, will we get WoW too?
Another sub. bites the dust.

Posted by Melmoth at 2:34 pm

Time Cures Moderate Wounds

champions online, ddo, games, mmo, zoso 2 Comments »

I’ve really been enjoying Dungeons and Dragons Online since going back to the free-to-play Unlimited version, it’s a far better game than when I played for a month or so at launch. The fundamentals are the same (run around and hit stuff with swords), I always liked the way it captures the old pen and paper feeling of going on a dungeon crawl, but many little tweaks have improved the overall experience. Starting at the beginning, with character creation, templates make life much easier for anyone who hasn’t memorised the comparative benefits of all the D&D feats. Emerging from character creation into the game the tutorial is a distinct improvement on the original, which forced you to solo a few dungeons culminating in a bunch of kobolds and a cultist under a pub as I recall. Trivial for a fighter or barbarian, who’d merrily splatter their way through, tougher for a rogue, especially if specced more for dealing with traps than fighting, and potentially impossible for a wizard if they got their spell selection wrong (though who wouldn’t take magic missile?)

A major problem for me at launch was the way solo/duo content dried up almost immediately after finishing the tutorial. Not an entirely illogical design, in keeping with trying to preserve the ethos of group adventures, but led to much frustration in attempts to get groups together, find quests that everybody had etc., and there wasn’t much to do while pottering around waiting for some action to start. I believe one of the very early updates was the addition of some solo adventures, or “solo mode” for some existing adventures, so it was obviously an issue they were working on, and now there are plenty of options without having to form up a big old group. As well as the wider range of available quests that you’d expect, gradually added over time, the hireling system allows you to pad your group out with an NPC rather than spamming “LF healer” on all available chat channels for hours at a time.

The other main problem I had was grind. DDO is unique (or at least very unusual) in that it doesn’t give out XP for individual mob kills, I haven’t yet been sent to collect a random assortment of animal body parts that only a small fraction of beasts seem to possess, and it’s completely free of “kill ONE MEEEEELEON monster” type quests. Actually, that’s not strictly true: there is one quest where the only objective is to kill 200 kobolds, but that’s not so much a grind as comic relief; you decide to have a crack at it solo, just for a laugh, and you’re butchering kobolds with a single blow, laughing maniacally as you do, thinking you might have a good chance, but they just keep attacking, wave after wave, and you can’t kill them quick enough, and even though they’re only doing a couple of points of damage here and there it’s chipping away, and you’re trying to back off and use a healing potion but there’s so many of them, and… that’s when you realise you’re a rare giant monster spawn in an open world MMO. If you could somehow add the kobold “General” channel to your chat tab, I swear you’d see something like:
“GIANT MOB SPAWN AT THE RUINED CASTLE!”
“Where’s the ruined castle?”
“Centre of the map, noob”
“Let’s take it down!”
“ZOMGZ it just one-shotted me WTF?”
“Need more shaman, come on!”
“LFM Giant Mob team”
“It’s self healing, no way”
“Need to wear down its spell points”
“COME ON MORE DPS”
“It’s going down!”
“WOOOOO!”
“YEAH, WE RULE!”
“What did it drop, what did it drop?”
“Who got the lewt?”
“There’s nothing on the body!! NOTHING!”
“OMFG, I’m so writing a blog post about this…”

Anyway. Everything’s quests off in their own instances (dungeons and outdoor areas), which avoids the “kill ONE MEEEEEELEON monsters” grind, but potentially replaces it with doing the same instances over and over again. First of all there was the Waterworks; originally to go from the Harbour to the Marketplace you had to complete the Waterworks quest(s), a fairly tough and long series. Not so bad if you were a static group and all blasted through it at the same time, but if you were in a casual guild it was a right pain with everyone at different stages, and some people got thoroughly sick of going through the Waterworks several times to help out others as they reached it (and then again with an alt or re-rolled character). Having made it through to the Marketplace, there was another series that finally did for me. I can’t remember the precise details, but I think it was off from one of the Houses; a guild group formed up and we toddled off for a quest, through an outdoor area, which was a bit pointless as I recall, but did offer some opportunities for people to wander off on their own and get lost if they weren’t paying attention then run into big groups of mobs, or plummet down a cliff to certain doom, just to make sure it took about half an hour just to get everybody assembled at the start of the actual quest. In we went to this dungeon, I forget what the exact objective was, rescue some prisoners or find a key or something, and it was pretty neat; I was sneaking around searching for traps, we dispensed steely justice to whatever kobolds, gnolls or other beasties were hanging around, secured our objective, hurrah! That led to chapter two of the quest, which involved… going back into the exact same dungeon, with the exact same traps, and the same spawns, but winding up in a slightly different bit, or going slightly further than the first time. OK, fine, completed that objective, and chapter three of the quest was… to go back into the same dungeon! Again! And that still wasn’t the end of the quest series, but I had to head off after finishing that chapter.

Next time I logged in I shouted around to see if anybody fancied finishing off that quest series, and we ended up with a group with me on chapter four, somebody who’d finished the whole thing the previous night, someone else who’d had to bail out after chapter five, and a couple who hadn’t done it at all. So it was back to chapter one; into the dungeon, out of the dungeon, back into the dungeon, out of the dungeon, back into the dungeon (sixth time in pretty much the same instance now…) Things improved very slightly, as later in the quest chain either the early part of the dungeon was free from traps and mobs, or we went straight in to a later point in the dungeon, but I think it was a seven chapter quest that basically involved going back in to the same dungeon seven times, finally completing the thing hours later.

Next time I logged in I joined a guild group of similar level and we chatted about what quests to do. “Anything but (House Wherever)!” said I, cheerily. And of course once we worked out what level characters we had, what prerequisite quests were needed, what everyone else was thoroughly bored of etc, there remained only one possible choice for us: House Wherever. So I went back into that dungeon another seven times (would’ve been bad form to leave them rogue-less after all), and didn’t log in to the game for another three and a half years.

I’m hoping they’ve sorted that out now, certainly there seems to be a wider array of quest choices (albeit some of them requiring a purchase, but they have to make their money somehow); I don’t mind doing a dungeon a couple of times, or leaving it a couple of weeks between attempts, but 15+ runs of more-or-less the same dungeon within three sessions is taking the piss.

Trouble is, of course, MMOGs need content, and to satisfy voracious players they need lots of it. It takes far longer to create the content than to play it (reasons not to work on MMOGs part MMCIXV: spending days or weeks as a team perfecting a dungeon, adding quests and flavour text, placing the traps and spawns, testing it carefully and adjusting accordingly, then watching a bunch of munchkins steam through it in seven minutes flat shouting “LAWL!” and “PEWPEW!” as they go), so obviously it’s a temptation: if a dungeon’s good for one chapter, it’s good for seven! It’s something Champions Online seem to be suffering at the moment, with their Blood Moon event. Part of the event, the PvE side, is pure, unvarnished grind (though in fairness, apparently each crypt isn’t exactly the same, there are some minor changes in layout, but one run through of one crypt was quite enough for me.) One the plus side, the PvP side of the event is much better, I really enjoyed the zombie-survival mode (a team of five or six have to fight off waves of NPC zombie attackers plus one zombie-fied player, as each hero dies they get zombie-nated and join the undead; sort of British Zombie Bulldog), and I haven’t had a chance to try the hunters vs werewolves yet, but it sounds fun too. Let’s hope Champions can keep going for three years or so and keep improving like DDO.

Posted by Zoso at 7:09 am

Thought for the day.

champions online, melmoth, mmo, tftd 2 Comments »

I’m not sure that giving your players the equivalent choice of playing for a month or fixing their broken character is entirely sound business acumen.

There may be a very good reason (if tax avoidance is ever a good reason) why game companies in general seem to use point systems to price their virtual goods and services, but from at least one perspective it looks like nothing more than a weasel wrapper attempting to obfuscate the real world price.

Posted by Melmoth at 10:27 am

And we’ll fly and we’ll fall and we’ll burn

champions online, games, zoso 2 Comments »

Clicking around the newly-imported archives I ran across an old post of mine from MMOG Musings about character builds and the straightforwardness of Lord of the Rings Online compared to City of Heroes, World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons Online. Coincidentally it’s something I’ve been contemplating again in light of the classless society that is Champions Online.

The initial options in Champions don’t seem too daunting. You’re offered fourteen Frameworks of powers (Fire, Ice, Single Blade, Power Armour, Supernatural, Darkness etc.), you pick the one that seems most appropriate to your character (or go crazy and pick a combination for a custom framework), and get two attacks. The first is an “energy builder”, a low damage auto attack that, as the name suggests, builds up your energy, and the second is a more damaging attack that requires a certain amount of energy. This avoids falling down into The Zero-Button Phase (the City of Heroes tutorial as a Controller was quite painful back in the old days, when you could end up with one Hold and one “Heal Other” power and spend half an hour slowly punching frozen thugs into submission), though The Two-Button Phase does last through the tutorial.

There are variations between the Frameworks: some attacks are melee, some ranged, some have additional status effects such as a chance to root or fear the target, so it’s not like the choices are utterly irrelevant. By the traditional taxonomy, though, whatever you choose you end up as “DPS”, whether blade-wielding assassin dealing death by micro cuts or mystic from the city of delusion firing mental blasts; it’s not the game-defining choice you usually have to make in character creation in a class-based game, where your selection generally maps to your role(s) for the rest of the game.

Having chosen your powers you get onto the properly difficult bit of character creation, the costume editor, and spend a good couple of hours tinkering with the sliders so your new born character doesn’t look like some exhibit from a muscle museum with sunburn, then another couple of hours weighing up the eye accessory options (are sunglasses a bit too showbiz for a member of the resistance trying to stage an uprising? Maybe a blast visor is more practical…) Then it’s off through the tutorial, and before long you’re feeling good at level five or six, and levelling up properly for the first time.

This is where things open out more. You need to pick stats to focus on (there’s a useful link in Syp’s handy tips on stat selection). You pick a travel power, and another of those starter tips is entirely correct: swinging *is* awesome. And in the game, ah. You also pick your next “proper” power; a couple of wiki pages go into the full technicalities but broadly, depending on pre-requisites, you could choose another attack (ranged or melee, single target or cone or AoE), or self-buff (active or passive, for boosting energy or damage), or a crowd control power (various roots and holds), or a healing power, or defensive power (passive, or active working in conjunction with the block system), or a pet summoning power (though they might be later on)… It must be a bit of a nightmare to balance, with so many combinations potentially leading to unintended results; I don’t imagine the early tweak to passive defences will be the last change to cause forum hysteria and mass wailing that characters fell less “super”, but being invincible isn’t a very practical base starting point for challenging gameplay.

The classless system is a real fillip for both roleplayers, who can escape the traditional class constraints and select the powers they believe most appropriate for their character, and powergamers, who can really go crazy with the min-maxing after checking out all the small print of every power. If you’re a roleplaying powergamer you can have some fun if an “uber” power seems like an unnatural selection for your character: perhaps the beams you’re shooting out of your hand aren’t flames but lasers from a glove-cannon, or starlight, or strawberry jam heated to unbearable temperatures (take a bow Cream Tea Man, a baker who, when not entirely sober, suffered a blackout and fell into his scone mixer which was then struck with cosmic rays…)

Actually, talking of roleplaying, another general problem with the superhero RPG genre like the “everyone’s a hero” issue is the whole business of gaining levels, and thus powers. It can make sense for some origins (perhaps you retreat to your hero-Cave between levels and come up with a new gadget or two), but if your story is that you gained your powers after being catapulted through a supermassive black hole it’s a bit harder to explain why new abilities keep manifesting themselves (maybe its space dementia and you just forgot the rest to start with…)

Anyway, the upshot of this all is a massive choice of powers for your hero, offering unparalleled freedom, and no “tank” or “healer” pigeonhole to get stuck in (I’ve seen comments that, in the later game, a team benefits from having a more conventional “holy trinity”-type setup, but I don’t have first hand experience of anything like that yet.) Bliss, right? Even if you’re a perfectionist and realise you made a mistake somewhere along the line the tailor and the respec (or “retcon”) system allow you to change everything about your character apart from the name, so long as you have enough in-game money (it seems pretty expensive, so not really practical to be endlessly changing your powers or appearance unless bankrolled by an extremely lucky auction house sale).

Oddly, then, I’m having a problem settling on a character. Deciding between so many powers is difficult, I’m not even trying to work out optimal builds or come up with a map of the problematique, but it’s not a great issue as I’m sure I could scrape up enough cash for a retcon if needed. It’s more that where in another game I’d try a few classes, and one of them would generally click in the way it played so become numero uno, in Champions I can build any character however I like to to suit my style. Characters are therefore more about concept than role or play style, and I’m coming up with a bunch of them, and having trouble choosing. I’ve never suffered altoholism like it before, perhaps it’s long overdue! This wouldn’t be a problem, but the tutorial is getting a little over-familiar (especially after a couple of re-rolls to either fix power selections without paying for a retcon or change names), so I’m going to have to make a decision before too long or go mad at the prospect of re-running the same content…

(Special bonus contest: see if you can guess which band I saw last week and the 30 song titles of theirs embedded in this post…  at least a couple stick out like sore thumbs)

Posted by Zoso at 12:30 am

You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on to you.

champions online, ddo, games, lotro, melmoth, mmo, wow 8 Comments »

After the long and drawn-out interactive electronic entertainment drought of the summer, where the bounteous river Gaming is deprived of content and dwindles to a mere trickle maintained only by the delta of hype tributaries that continue to feed it, we now begin to see the autumnal deluge of new releases, which rained down on the Beta mountain ranges not so long ago, slowly gather speed as they wend their way down the steep slopes and out onto the flood plain of launch titles. And as the river Gaming begins to regain its strength, returning life to the dishevelled and starved media that line its banks and drink deeply of its waters, the native inhabitants of the river begin to return; here and there gamers frolic once more in the seemingly illimitable expanse of the rejuvenated river, their joyous cries to one another filling the Autumn air with the sound of rapture.

PC and TV screens flow again with the neon light of the river as it streams out and lights-up the faces of gratified gamers across the wide expanse of the world.

Or in short: new games, woo yeah!

Champions Online has now set ‘engines to power, turbines to speed’ and is battling with the evil forces of General Release, where it seems to be winning on the whole. Certainly it’s been a smooth launch for a vast majority of players as far as I can tell, and my experiences with the game so far have been almost entirely positive, with Lord of the Rings Online being the only other MMO springing to mind that has done so well on its opening few days. Still, the game is not without its issues – as is the remit of any true MMO at launch – and Syp reports on at least one rather game-stopping issue for some people, this one regarding frame rate frinkiness.

As for me, well I’ve made it out of the character creator for long enough to get my main character to level fifteen and have thus made my way through the first two introductory zones and into Millennium City and the game proper. I do intend to post a lengthier disquisition on the game, but for now the important thing to say is that this isn’t City of Heroes 2.0. No really, it isn’t. Yes, there are a lot of ideas that have been inherited from City of Heroes, clearly there are. In fact there are some audio assets that seem to be exact copies, for example the ‘vomit’ attack sound of the Qulaar aliens you meet at the very start of the tutorial area are, to my ear, identical to the Vahzilok vomit sound effect from CoH. The character creator is also evidently a spiritual successor to its CoH counterpart, but if saying that a few ideas taken from CoH and improved upon make Champions Online nothing more than CoH 2.0, then we must also say that WoW is nothing more than EQ 3.0. Champions is a very different game to CoH in many fundamental ways. Take combat for one: in CoH you press an attack, wait for that power to fire, then press another attack. If an attack is on cool-down you can queue it up and wait for the power to recharge, at which point it will fire and go back on cool-down. It’s a very traditional PC MMO system, whereas Champions is, as has been pointed out elsewhere already, a Console MMO system: it is fast, it is furious and it is a lot of fun, assuming you aren’t set in your PC MMO ways. As one example of the difference between the two, many attack powers don’t have a cool-down and therefore you can mash the attack as fast as your keyboard and latency will allow, which is, to Cryptic’s credit, really pretty fast and very responsive. In fact, people should really be quite impressed with just how responsive the attack system is in Champions. It’s one of the things that I secretly (not so secretly now, of course) think made WoW great: you press a button, you get a response to that button press. Straight away. Not when some special internal cool-down occurs. Not when the game feels like fitting you in to its diary. If the power is on cool-down, you can’t use it, if it isn’t on cool-down then you can use it Right Now. It’s probably my biggest issue with combat in LotRO at the moment – at least with my Champion, the Warden seems less effected – in that I can press an ability and then seemingly have to wait an age for it to activate. Maybe it’s based on the swing timer, maybe it’s an internal timer, I don’t know, but it makes having an interrupt ability that is used in response to an enemy’s attack nigh-on pointless. Champions also requires you to actively block enemy attacks, you can get away with not bothering to do so with their standard attacks, but if you see the enemy winding up a big power (as indicated by a comic-style BLAM icon above their head) then you’d better get those shields up, Captain. It makes the game more like an arcade beat’em-up, and as far as super heroism goes, it feels a lot more true to the genre than standing on the spot and pressing ‘1’ in CoH. And maybe a bit of ‘2’, just to spice things up. With the occasional excitement of pressing ‘6’,’7′,’8′,’ALT-1′,’ALT-2′,’ALT-3′ and ‘ALT-4′ if a mob knocks all of your toggle powers off. Of course CoH isn’t really as staid as all that, because they managed to make the fights hectic enough that it feels as though you’re doing a lot. As a final thought, another MMO which tried to mix the combat up a bit and went for a more frenetic option was Age of Conan, also slated to be a console MMO at one point, and again the combat in that game was a lot of fun if you were open and receptive to that sort of thing. More on Champions once I’ve had a chance to play my character to a higher level.

Other new games that are now causing a quite audible ping on my game radar are Aion, which I ordered some time ago on a whim and am not sure I will get a chance to play for a while; Batman: Arkham Asylum, about which I have heard what can only be described as the unrestrained screams of orgasmic release; Section 8, which has been pimped quite heavily by Rock, Paper, Shotgun, and seems to be gaining momentum in the blogger hive mind; and last but not least Dungeons & Dragons Online: Unlimited, which I have yet to look into properly but would like to return to at some point, having played the original on release. I think it would need a decent static group to make the most of it though, so I’ll probably dabble in the free section of the game and then determine where to go from there.

The only problem is that until recently I’ve been happily subsisting in the isolated ponds of LotRO and WoW, those enduring habitats that remain a watering hole of gaming life when all other options have dried out. I’m not entirely sure I’m prepared for the rapid influx of fresh gaming waters, and I’m probably at risk of being swamped by the oncoming wave of new ideas and thoughts, sights and sounds. I need to anchor myself, and I shall do so with the next post, where I’ll talk about my ongoing adventures in LotRO, and my recent return with Tiger Ears to the lands of Azeroth, for one final fond tour of its lands before they are sundered by what one imagines is the wrath of a development team who, after being labelled the ‘Blizzard B Team’ for so long, have finally reached their enrage timer.

Posted by Melmoth at 11:03 am

We are the Champions my friend

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I keep meaning to blog about Champions Online, but then end up playing it instead. I’m really enjoying it at the moment, but then I can’t think of an MMOG that hasn’t been good for at least a couple of weeks, so we’ll have to see how it lasts. One thing that I think could really work in its favour long term is the server-less-ness; though Guild Wars has had a similar model for years, almost all other games have suffered from the problem of getting stuck on a different server, or indeed continent, from people you might want to group up with. Reinforcing the social side, Cryptic have already got some impressive out-of-game elements in place; OK, so the “constantly spam Twitter until all my followers bugger off” aspect of the /socialmedia option might be a little misplaced, but logging in to the Champions homepage you’re presented with your friends list together with their status, and the ability to add friends to that list, very handy for seeing if people are around without having to load up the game. (Unfortunately once in game the friends list has a slightly annoying habit of vanishing, but I’m sure they’re working on that.)

Tip of the hat to Sente as well, who noticed a “My Characters” option on the page, which sure enough takes you to a list of your characters with lots of profile options, so I don’t even have to go back into the game to get a couple of character pictures:

On the left: Eric the Half a Bot, inspired entirely by a Python song title and the fact that you can have different options on the left and right hand side of your character. He wields two pistols and two swords and has lightning reflexes, which I think you’ll agree entirely naturally follows on from having half his limbs replaced. On the right: Tombstone Blue, inspired entirely by a Dylan song title. At least, it would be Tombstone Blue if that was allowed as a name, but I guess there’s a de-Marvel-ifier working behind the scenes objecting to “Tombstone”, so I need to come up with something else.

Another social aspect is the Guild, or Supergroup; without traditional servers, it would’ve been really nice to see a new approach to guilds, perhaps with your global identity able to be associated with multiple groups of interest, but it seems that Champions uses the normal one character, one supergroup approach, at least for now. Me n’ Melmoth have hooked up with Rock, Paper, Spandex, which should be fun.

Speaking of things Rock and Paper-y, Jim Rossignol is putting up a beautiful series of Eve articles, a retrospective of his corp (parts one and two available so far), and according to the latest RPS Electric Wireless Show (no. 27) his book “This Gaming Life” will soon be available in paperback, so that’s one for the Christmas list.

Posted by Zoso at 10:38 pm

Dear diary.

champions online, melmoth, mmo 3 Comments »

Day forty two. Still stuck in the character creator. Johannson has abandoned us and struck out on his own. I fear that Smedley-Brown will leave next, and then I don’t know what I shall do; I was going to kill and eat him so that I didn’t have to leave our base camp to fetch food. On a brighter note I have completed my Automata clone:

He will sit nicely alongside my Stupendous Man, along with all the others.

As I write this, Smedley-Brown is leaving. I’m alone now. All alone. Like that man in Silent Running with all his robot pets.

Oh, now that would make a great character.

Posted by Melmoth at 1:01 am

No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.

champions online, melmoth, mmo 3 Comments »

Character creation, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Bizarreship Melmoth. His five year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new character models and new costume pieces. To boldly try to create a female character in Champions Online that doesn’t look like the hideous love child of David Gest and a cheap inflatable sex doll.

Good grief I’ve seen some freaky looking female characters in this game so far.

So just a bit further down this post is Normal Girl, my attempt to create a female face that doesn’t make me do that “Wooahaahhh sweet mercy AHHHH!” thing. It’s pretty difficult too: Champions is, like Everquest 2, one of those MMOs that allows you Total Customisation[TM] of your character. You can change every aspect of their face, oh yes, anything at all, as long as it makes the thing look more hideous, you can do it. I imagine the problem is that having a head model that allows you to tweak facial details to any great extent means having a framework that is somewhat flexible, and therefore the modelling artist is, conversely, very restricted in just how they can shape that framework into something even vaguely human. I’m not saying that every face should be Aria Giovanni-esque, but if we could have a few more standard female avatars that didn’t have mouths that looked as though they were perfectly adapted to connect to a vacuum cleaner attachment, that would be nice. Unless you’re creating the Stupendous Suctioneer, in which case fair play to you.

As I said, it isn’t terribly easy, and I’m not claiming that Normal Girl there is a work of da Vincian greatness – attractiveness is terribly subjective – and she’s a bit more Mary Poppins than Poison Ivy, but if you see potential in what is presented there, you should be able to save the comic cover image (keep the file name, I think it may contain information that the game needs), pop it into your Champions Online screenshots folder, and then load it into the character creator. If nothing else it might give an initial point of reference from which to work.

Another quick tip for the more classically attractive comic book heroine is to turn the ‘muscle’ slider in the body options all the way down; by default it’s set about half way, which isn’t enough to encourage the tool to create strong muscle definition, and as such you instead get a sort of strange bulging shadow that looks incredibly like cellulite. Hey, maybe it was deliberate and Champions Online is the first game with truly realistic body options, although if that is so then they do seem to be missing the ‘beer belly’ and ‘ear hair’ options for the male characters.

As for me, well I’ve recreated my favourite City of Heroes character Thief of Socks, and I’m currently enjoying running around Egoing things to death.

So far Champions Online has proven to be a lot of fun, more on that soon.

Edit:

Here’s Normal Girl MkII. The trick to this one was to select Determined from the Moods section of the character creator, then going back and editing the face based upon that setting. For some reason this isn’t saved in the character data or on the character selection screen, but it is maintained between logins. So if you load this file, you need to go to the Mood section and pick Determined before it will look like it does in the screenshot.

Posted by Melmoth at 9:13 am

Bloomin’ Bloom.

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Or: Two quick things to potentially improve your Champions Online graphical experience.

I’ve had a very short time to play around with Champions, what with other games and that Real Life thing proving somewhat stalwart distractions, not to mention Champions crashing on me for the first four attempts to get through the character creator when I did have a chance to play; I shalln’t be saying much until I’ve had a chance to make a nice scalpel incision, insert a pair of Melmoth’s patented stainless steel game spreaders, and have a good old rummage around in its innards.

However, I’ve read a fair bit about how the current crop of ‘testers’ have not enjoyed the graphical style of the game, and I have to say that it is something that immediately grated with me. Perhaps I’m used to CoH’s smooth and elegant style, albeit a little dated now, or perhaps my eyes just don’t like being made to witness the computer generated equivalent of the BBC’s Willo the Wisp as viewed through a hazy drunken stupor whilst wearing your friend’s hideously strong-prescription glasses.

In short: I hate Bloom.

I don’t know what Bloom does, or why developers insist on putting it in their games and making everything turn a slightly trippy shade of woah, but I wish they’d stop. Or turn it off by default, so the three people out there who like that sort of thing can be the ones to go and find it buried in the video options and then play around with its settings.

Case in point: my character, a remake of my Thief of Socks from City of Heroes, had a bloom effect applied to his head that was so strong you couldn’t actually make out any of the detail beneath his hood. Not without looking really closely, and then having those strange spots in front of your eyes for the rest of the day that get stronger when you blink. I think perhaps ‘bloom’ is the name of that effect, you know, when you look into the sun and then blink and see the sun spot behind your eyelids, and the quicker and harder you blink the more powerful the effect, and each time it strobes it goes ‘bloom’. Bloom. BLOOM. Like some sort of Spielberg alien trying to communicate directly through your eyes and into your brain.

Where was I? Oh yes, BLOOM. So I turned the bloom effect off and had an instant improvement: I could see my character! So there you are little fellow, tucked away beneath that big blob of bloom! However, having done this, the rest of the world, having been ensconced in, and possibly entirely formed of, bloom, was now so dark that I thought I’d entered an instanced mission, possibly called Attack of Emperor Emo. The solution to this, after a little bit of fiddling, was to turn off Post Processing. I won’t be entirely convinced about turning off Post Processing until I’ve tried a few areas with various lighting effects, it may just be that the starter area is incredibly gloomy due to the prevailing invasion.

It’s all entirely subjective of course, and I feel that everything is still VERY SHINY OW MY EYES, but I thought I’d share my findings in case others also found that these settings also dramatically reduce their occurrences of expeditious eyeball evacuation.

To find the options mentioned, press Escape and then select Options.
Go to the Video tab and tick the “Show advanced options” box.
Go to the Effects section and use the Bloom drop-down to turn Bloom off.
Post Processing is a radio on/off button just above the Bloom setting.

Never let it be said that KiaSA consists of nothing but puerile persiflage.

Mostly puerile persiflage, admittedly.

Posted by Melmoth at 5:17 pm

Fool me once.

champions online, melmoth, mmo Comments Off

“All powers and power sets are considered unfinished and are subject to change at any time.”

But please, take it on faith, whichever ones we choose to put in will be great! So buy a lifetime subscription now. What’s the worst that could happen?

“In other news, gamers across the globe continue to lay siege to the headquarters of game developer Cryptic Studios tonight, in protest at the ‘Shelf stacking’ and ‘Paper folding’ power sets, the only two power sets currently available in the company’s recently released MMO, Champions Online. A spokesperson for the gamer movement described the power sets as a ‘steaming pile of Kryptonian Vrarg dung’. Ouch. And now it’s over to Diana for a summary of the weather.”

Posted by Melmoth at 3:42 pm
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