Author Topic: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You  (Read 19037 times)

Grolleter

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2012, 06:48:10 am »
I'm going to try to go about this a little differently, by (hopefully) discussing not so much WHAT I love about CoH as WHY I love those things. With respect to those who feel differently, I don't personally care about preserving the exact mechanics from CoH, as long as we can create something that people can enjoy in essentially the same way.

In no particular order, here are some things that CoH means to me:

* Freedom of expression. You can be whoever and whatever you want to be. I used to play a character who could shapeshift at will between human and fire-lizard forms. How many games allow you to do something like that? If anything, I would like to see this expanded on. CoH has the best character creator of any game I've played, but maybe we can do better. Maybe, just maybe, we can make a character creator that allows centaurs, snakes, birds with wings but no arms ... hmm ... I wonder if we could enlist the help of some of the people that worked on the Spore character creator ... anyway, I'm sort of getting into a tangent here, so I'll leave it at that and move on to the next point.

* On a related note, diversity/variation. In some games, every character of a given class ends up fairly close to identical in the long run. In CoH, not only are there a bunch of different ways to create a blaster, but there are even a bunch of different ways to create e.g. a fire/fire blaster. Add this to the fact that different characters often end up getting different missions from different contacts, and you get something that's a lot harder to grow tired of than many MMOs.

* Communication. The CoH chat systems are some of the best I've encountered. The big thing here is the global chat system, which too many MMOs still don't have; if I'm good friends with a particular player, I want to be able to have that PLAYER on a friends list, not just a bunch of their individual characters. But just about everything in the chat/tab/channel systems makes communicating with other players, and organizing those communications, at least as easy as what I've seen in any other game.

* Socialization. Expanding on that last point, CoH is in general a lot better at letting you play with your friends than I think most MMOs are. For example, you can realistically put together any kind of group and run anyone's missions without anybody being too massively overpowered or underpowered.

* Heroism (and/or villainy, depending on your inclinations). Save the world or conquer it. Superheroes and supervillains get involved in adventures on a grander scale than even a lot of fictional characters. I personally prefer being one of the Good Guys, but it could be fun to engage in fiendishly diabolical villanous schemes too. A lot of the missions in CoH are good at playing into this kind of appeal, and some of them have really awesome writing too.

There are other things I like about this game, but the points above cover at least the majority of what's essential to my love of CoH.

There's probably nothing new here that hasn't already been talked about by someone else, but the more people we have talking about this sort of thing, the better a picture we can get of what the community as a whole cares about the most.

DamianoV

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2012, 11:45:35 am »
Add:  everyone on the team should be able to (and prompted to, not "they can drill down to find it") read the mission description and clues.  It's always been a weakness of the COH storylines that only the team leader really sees what's going on, and the rest just follow him/her to the next red star.

In addition to previous suggestions: how about a kind of "picture-in-picture" functionality that would allow a player to see and hear the mission briefings/cutscenes/whatever while continuing to be able to act and play.

Samuel Tow

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2012, 11:54:05 am »
I want to take something of a... "Controversial" position. I've already seen numerous calls to preserve "as much as we can," in terms of having the same enemy groups only changed as much as they legally have to be, preserving the same zones, preserving the same storyline, preserving... Everything. And to me, this just doesn't work. To me, that's kind of missing the point of the game and sticking, instead, to the specifics.

I'm with Grolleter on this one - I don't necessarily want the same game with a few names swapped like you'd see with a lot of the old Xcom clones that came out. Last year, I played one that was almost an exact recreation of UFO: Enemy Unknown, and all that did was remind me of all the ways in which UFO was bad even for its time, rather than reminding me of all the ways in which it was awesome. I know the current remake is controversial, but I still like it significantly better. That's kind of sort of what I want for Phoenix City. I want to preserve the IDEAS which worked well, but I also want to swap things around as much as possible with how these ideas are implemented. Here's what I want to preserve, drawn up in intentionally general terms:

-Creativity and inspiration
This recreation needs to allow players to express themselves to the limits of the technology, both visually and in terms of story. It cannot and should not pigeon-hole people into having a specific story, it shouldn't assume people have specific aspects to their characters. It should either give choice wherever possible, or just focus on telling players WHAT to do, but never dwelling on WHY they do it. And if dialogues exist, they need to have generic responses explaining the concept of what the player said, rather than the words with which the player said it.

-An engaging, interconnected world
This recreation needs to have a fictional universe that's self-contained, non-contradicting and which has its own history and backstory to draw from. We want to toss the player into a living, breathing world and let that player explore and look for those aspects he likes. More than anything, this world needs to take itself seriously. Humour and even comedy can exist, but they can never interfere with the gravity of a situation. Things that count should be no laughing matter.

-An easy-to-use, versatile combat and character building system
This recreation needs to be as easy to pick up as City of Heroes used to be. I want players to be able to make decent characters without ever having to worry about numbers if they don't want to, basically by being able to pick what they want to do and how they want to do it, with the easier difficulties handling the rest. I also don't want currency bloat. The game should only have one currency and everything should be buyable with it, just for different prices. If you don't want to run a specific task, you shouldn't have to.

That said, there are a lot of things I'd change just the same. Here are a few:

-The story and setting
I love Paragon City and the fictional world it occupied, but I'd feel like a hack if I ripped it off. I want something new in more than name only. I want a brand new fictional world brand new people, setting, story and underlying plotlines. I want it in a different time period with a different look. To me, Phoenix City is an opportunity, and to become slaves of nostalgia and to surrender our decisions to whatever Jack Emmert or Rick Dakan or Matt Miller did is, to me, a waste. All of those guys did good work, but I feel we can do good work of our own. We can shift the city around without compromising the "feel" of it all.

-Inventions
I realise that they give people something to strive for, but I want the whole system of packaged deals and "rare" loot drops gone. I want a game with a lot less randomness in it, so instead of having those be "loot," I'd rather integrate them in character progression, instead, somewhat like the Incarnate system. Let players unlock slots for what would have been set bonuses and then earn currency to unlock specific set bonuses to slot in them. Swap out the need to rely on random chance drops as much as possible and stay as far away from Skinner boxes as is reasonable.

-The "conterparts"
This is less something I want to see changed and more something I want to see gone. I do not want to spot anything in Phoenix City being a counterpart of anything in Paragon City. An exact copy would be a mistake for the exact same reason Praetorian doubles are disruptive - the people who know the story are always wondering whose Praetorian double that is, while people who don't know the story are lost in the references, and all you end up doing is taking away from the actual story underneath.

---

Basically, I want to preserve City of Heroes' broad strengths of customizability and identity, and to do this requires that we depart from simply copying Paragon Studios' work and moving names around. I want this to be an original work that EVERYONE involved can be proud of, and I never want to see anyone be told "OK, now make a copy of this."
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Grolleter

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2012, 06:34:44 am »
I want to take something of a... "Controversial" position. I've already seen numerous calls to preserve "as much as we can," in terms of having the same enemy groups only changed as much as they legally have to be, preserving the same zones, preserving the same storyline, preserving... Everything. And to me, this just doesn't work. To me, that's kind of missing the point of the game and sticking, instead, to the specifics.

I'm with Grolleter on this one - I don't necessarily want the same game with a few names swapped ... ((snip))

Basically, I want to preserve City of Heroes' broad strengths of customizability and identity, and to do this requires that we depart from simply copying Paragon Studios' work and moving names around. I want this to be an original work that EVERYONE involved can be proud of, and I never want to see anyone be told "OK, now make a copy of this."

I've been thinking about this kind of topic, and I want to discuss this a little further. In brief, while I am in favor of changing (or at least considering changing) many or even all of the surface elements of the game, I think that it is much more important that, when it comes to the deeper reasons why people play CoH -- the emotions that it triggers -- in that area we should preserve "as much as we can". The enemy groups, zones, storyline, and so forth - those can all change, and many of them should. But the nature of the game as a generic superhero MMORPG that's friendly to social and casual players and those who enjoy superpowered roleplay, and/or whatever else caused a lot of people to choose CoH ... we absolutely cannot afford to risk losing that in this particular project.

Let me use an analogy. There's a collectible card game called Magic: the Gathering that a few of you may have heard of. (Okay, probably more than a few. ;) ) New sets of Magic cards come out every three months or so, usually with new mechanics, and they move to a completely new overall theme once a year. This means that the game is constantly changing and reinventing itself, which is a big part of the appeal for many Magic players.
And yet, the lead designer of Magic has said that the most important thing Magic design does is not to innovate, but rather to meet expectations. Each of the five colors of magic in Magic has a well-defined identity that is consistent from set to set. Even as Magic moves from a metallic world one year to Gothic horror the next, you can count on finding black-aligned spells that kill things and raise the dead, massive green-aligned beasts and green-aligned spells to make them even bigger, and so on. Magic would lose a lot of customers if it tried to publish a set without anything new, but it would lose even more customers if it tried to publish a set that threw away all the things that make it what it is.

In a way, Plan Z is like a new Magic set. We'd be losing a great opportunity if we didn't consider new mechanics for our new game, and we want new lore even more (even, in my opinion, if we didn't have a legal need for it) ... but the single most important thing we have to remember is that we are creating this game for the CoH community, and as such, we need to make sure we create something that will be enjoyed by a large fraction of the players who currently enjoy CoH. You won't find Dr. Aeon anywhere, but you will certainly find mad scientists. You probably won't have all of the same chest emblems available, but you'll certainly have a lot of freedom to customize your character's appearance.

It's great that we're looking into new ideas, even some that may not have been attempted before, but I don't think this is the right project to try to revolutionize the MMO industry. It's important for us to try to fix things that people may not have appreciated about CoH, but it's far more important for us to live up to the core emotional appeal of the game that the majority of our initial customers will be coming from.

Dylan Clearbrook

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2012, 10:56:20 am »
Okay, I am going to jump in here...don't know if this is the proper place...think so but if not, some one will let me know LOL.

I've been doing a lot of looking around and I have discovered that a majority of game players do NOT have the same notion that most MMORPGer's have.  Most gamers demand that an online game ALSO has some offline content.

In the case of Plan Z, this could possibly be simply the ability create a low level toon and adventure in a semi-closed environment up to a certain level (you want to go higher?  sorry, you'll have to go online for that).  This limited single player portion could be updated or patched as necessary.

Pros to this would be the appeal to a greater player base

Cons would be that it might be a little more work for designers.

So.....to sum it up....Add: A limited offline/single player aspect. 
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Minotaur

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #25 on: October 05, 2012, 02:28:01 pm »
Why do I like CoH, and what are its unique selling points:

Being able to fight lots of badguys at once.
The costume creator.
No holy trinity of tank/healer/DPS, pretty much any team can work.
Viable solo game for most toons.
Flight and other forms of movement.
Instanced missions.
Sidekicking/exemping. (I actually suggested on the forums something very similar to super SKing about a year before it happened)
Mission architect.
The chat system.
Bases for storage.

What could be improved.

Movement suppression, ramp the speed back up gradually, really helps toons that play with SS on permanently.
NPC follow code.
Collision code - the number of times the game has realised I'm in the same space as something else, and shunted me through a barrier off a balcony ...
Last login date/time on friends list.

What could be added:

Elite mode TFs - no need for more writing (although some monsters would need to exist at higher levels), it's the same TF but full of 52s so you can play with all your powers.
MM pet customisation.
Personal lairs (or enhanced controls for single player SGs to make the admin easier).


 
« Last Edit: October 05, 2012, 03:49:36 pm by Minotaur »

Segev

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #26 on: October 05, 2012, 02:42:38 pm »
Okay, I am going to jump in here...don't know if this is the proper place...think so but if not, some one will let me know LOL.

I've been doing a lot of looking around and I have discovered that a majority of game players do NOT have the same notion that most MMORPGer's have.  Most gamers demand that an online game ALSO has some offline content.

In the case of Plan Z, this could possibly be simply the ability create a low level toon and adventure in a semi-closed environment up to a certain level (you want to go higher?  sorry, you'll have to go online for that).  This limited single player portion could be updated or patched as necessary.

Pros to this would be the appeal to a greater player base

Cons would be that it might be a little more work for designers.

So.....to sum it up....Add: A limited offline/single player aspect.
This might not be a bad idea. Perhaps have mission arcs purchasable as "offline mode" content through the store. Each expansion comes with one mission arc from it "free" for such content. If it's popular enough, the mission arcs sold thusly could also be sold as stand-alone boxed games in stores, for those who simply do not have the wherewithall to use the internet, even to buy content. (Hey, it does still happen!)

Arcana

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #27 on: October 05, 2012, 07:06:42 pm »
-Inventions
I realise that they give people something to strive for, but I want the whole system of packaged deals and "rare" loot drops gone. I want a game with a lot less randomness in it, so instead of having those be "loot," I'd rather integrate them in character progression, instead, somewhat like the Incarnate system. Let players unlock slots for what would have been set bonuses and then earn currency to unlock specific set bonuses to slot in them. Swap out the need to rely on random chance drops as much as possible and stay as far away from Skinner boxes as is reasonable.

Something the Project Z design leads will have to come to grips with is that MMOs are integrated systems.  Even Paragon Studios realized their old system of breaking development into silos of Art, Powers, Missions, Maps, etc was not optimal, and they moved to the Strike Team model where members of each team worked together to make holistic content.

I say that to say that the question of rare drops sits at the intersection of the reward systems, powers balance, and crafting.  The concept of rare drops injects scarcity into the balance and reward systems: certain activities generate scarcer rewards and those rewards are generally more valuable and more powerful.  This can then be leveraged in ways that offer some meaningful benefit to the player over a longer period of time (sometimes but not always indefinitely).

This single decision will have repercussions throughout the game design, and conversely some game design frameworks work better than others with or without rare drops and all they imply.

What's the purpose of having rare drops?  They serve several purposes.  They break up the monotony of earning the same rewards over and over again while running content: having a range of rewards with different scarcity offers a generally more interesting reward experience, and rare and ultra rare rewards are simply the ones at the far end of the probability scale.  They also generally gate certain content or ability statistically, so everyone isn't seeing exactly the same performance or content.

Before you eliminate them, its important to ask what they do and find ways to address what they do in other ways, so as to make them moot.  Then its just a matter of not making them.

Personally, I think the trump card in all of this is a question I haven't seen really addressed in depth yet.  Should Project Z reward players for killing things, and if so to what degree?

That seems to be assumed, but I've always thought that the biggest problem with trying to balance the wide range of performance City of Heroes allows is that performance generally directly translates into killing speed, and killing speed is almost proportional to reward earning rate.

If that wasn't true, if rewards from combat kills was only a small percentage of the total rewards earned in the game, then the margin for balancing offensive and defensive powers becomes far wider.  The need to constrain developmental crafting becomes far lower.  The need to reward repetitive content execution goes down, and with that farming incentive goes down, and with that the need to have a statistical reward system goes down.

If I was making a list of the top ten design decisions I would tackle foundationally when designing an MMO, this one would be near the top.

okami

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #28 on: October 05, 2012, 07:28:53 pm »
A very vital part of CoH for my usual group was the super sidekicking system, so you could meaningfully play with any of your friends on just about any (TFs as the big exception) content (at sane difficulty settings) no matter the level gap. 

CoH was one of the few games where you didn't really need to care about being of too high a level to do something with someone else (example, WoW, if you've got just an 85 on a server and you want to do something with your new level 25 friend, time to start a new character and catch up, CoH just examplars you down or sidekicks them up).

Hendrake

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #29 on: October 05, 2012, 08:20:40 pm »
I think what has been touched on a few times in this thread is, indeed, the core of the CoH experience: The Creativity.

I think the very existence of Plan Z really exemplifies that those who choose to stick with CoH really .are. at their core creative people. CoH in its design and implementation allowed us to really make the game, our experience in it, our own. We could take ownership in what we did and in doing so, develop an emotional attachment to what we had done and accomplished in the game.

This ability and ease of being creative and telling your own story within the larger universe of CoH was the core of the experience and the essence of that is what we should really seek to capture.

Scott Jackson

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #30 on: October 05, 2012, 08:47:10 pm »
...integrated systems.

The rewards for [X] question is a very appropriate one...which I have been avoiding like the plague, since there are enough debates at the moment.  Was trying to get several other elements (including powers and crafting) held down in a visible manner in the twister game of integration.  I was quietly aiming for some neutralization of the reward slopes:

~ Low versus High Level earning power - tone down via reduced "inf" earning discrepancy, and create balance with the inherent value of levelless "recipe" loot drops across levels.
~ Content A versus B - reduced variation in how rewarding certain content is versus other content (esp. for "merits" and endgame rewards).
~ Defeats versus Objective Completion - better handling of currencies and drops for completing content and optional objectives, such as arc reward "merits", purchasing power of those "merits", more focus on optional objectives and midpoint rewards, but also better value from endgame currency "threads" that drop from defeats.

If Plan Z goes live, and I somehow remain involved with systems design, I imagine that everyone will have at least one small reason to hate me in the end.

The Fifth Horseman

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #31 on: October 05, 2012, 09:07:36 pm »
What I think would need to be changed is how the character's origin affected them in the game (in CoH it was limited to their initial story arc and then just to what DOs and SOs they could use).
Not neccessarily drop the concept as much as expand on it.

Perhaps instead of letting new powers be gained by levelling alone, turn gaining access to them into missions or even brief story arcs as the character levels up. These could in turn be keyed to the character's Origin: a Natural character would have to train, a Magic character would have to track down an ancient spellbook, a Technology character would have to amass funds to purchase a new piece of gear, a Mutant would need to find a way to properly control the power and so on. There are many possible variations to play around with - even different ways to get at each, some of which could be locked (or unlocked) based on the character's prior history. Even the accessibility of the power while the character's efforts are in progress could be varied: a Natural would gain access to the skill as the training progresses, but need time to reach its' full strength, a Magician would gain it upon acquiring an instruction but find it acting unpredictably, and a Mutant would have little to no control over when it triggers and need to hold it in check somehow etc.

Additionally, what was it with single-origin source for all powers? Excluding powers which come from equipment, a character could conceivably have a different "origin" for each power sets they wield. Gun-wielding mutants, power-armored mages and so on.
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A Side Leader

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #32 on: October 05, 2012, 10:43:02 pm »
The top things I would add:

Missions keyed to specific roles: defenders should get a suite of rescue and support missions, as opposed to the same missions scrappers get and excel at.  Controllers and Doms could get missions about preventing access to a specific area for a specific time.  Stalkers: targeted assassinations without being seen.  In short, a far wider variety of mission goals, really training people for the roles their archetype is meant to handle.

It's more a change than an add, I suppose, but... _real_ LFG functionality.  One which allows players to "gauge the level of interest, provide meaningful progress updates on formation to both league members and the wider community, and prompt for additional participation on a regular basis with some assurance that _someone_ is actually seeing it."

The 1st one I would add / change. I would Bring Back the old, Side kicking / Exploring system, whit a Team leader Super Side kicking / Exploring Option, and A League Leader Side kicking / Exploring Option.
The 2nd one I would add / Change. I would add enhancement slots to the inherent pools only at every 10 levels for a total of plus 5 enhancement slots at level 50 to the inherent pools. Ever wanted Brawl whit 6 slots or 3 and 3 in Rest?
The 3rd one I would add / change Sg / Vg Searching and application put in for those people how, arenít the invite kind and get Big Sgs /Vgs from people leaving the game.
The 4th one I would add /change. I would add Sg / Vg raids that can be co-opted with other Sgs /Vgs.       If you, or someone In your Sg / Vg, Or coalition activates A, Sg / Vg raid. You and any one else in the coalition will get an invite to the raid. Also all the villains / enemies you fight in the raid will have the, they fight at your level regardless of level difference like in a Rikiti invasion. So you can collect Sg /Vg items That will help boost the Sg / Vg members. with a static boost to whatever you pick up Damage, End, regeneration, And so on. As well as a Coalition boost if all the Members in The Coalition have the same item.
The 5th thing I would add / Change. We can break the level cap of 50 and go up if we want.
Now I still like incarnate trials still being a level 50 unlock to collect and unlock the special powers to help whit level 50 and up content. Also if we do brake the level cap lets only go 5 levels at a time.
Donít forget incarnate content, and non-incarnate content for those who donít have them yet.

Sometimes you become the villain. Some time you figure out how to make your opponent look like the villain so you can be the Hero!

Samuel Tow

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #33 on: October 06, 2012, 12:21:42 pm »
I've been thinking about this kind of topic, and I want to discuss this a little further. In brief, while I am in favor of changing (or at least considering changing) many or even all of the surface elements of the game, I think that it is much more important that, when it comes to the deeper reasons why people play CoH -- the emotions that it triggers -- in that area we should preserve "as much as we can". The enemy groups, zones, storyline, and so forth - those can all change, and many of them should. But the nature of the game as a generic superhero MMORPG that's friendly to social and casual players and those who enjoy superpowered roleplay, and/or whatever else caused a lot of people to choose CoH ... we absolutely cannot afford to risk losing that in this particular project.

Mostly, I aimed this as an argument against copying entire chunks without much justification for doing so other than "City of Heroes had that." OK, so it did, but did it work? I think the most prominent issue from a conceptual standpoint is just how much like a comic book do we want the game to be? Having pretty much zero interest in American comic books of any fashion (never even watched most of the cartoons) didn't stop me from being a fan of City of Heroes for eight and a half years. And yet I'm seeing repeated insistence that we stick to comic book tropes and avoid using themes that don't show in comic books and DC this and Silver Age that and... Do we really want to be so adamant about making this a comic book before it is a game? I've said it many times that City of Heroes may have been a game inspired by comic books, but it was never a comic book simulator.

For instance, should we stick to the late 20th Century contemporary stable world setting? My first post here was a concept suggestion of a world in the 21st century, going out of my way to construct it so it would match modern urban living, just with larger structures, but with wilderness and monsters outside the city limits and that was bumped down to a possible alternate universe because we want a late 20th Century Silver Age world. Fair enough, I can work with what we all want to create, but should we really be afraid to change conceptual basics of the settings even if they let us retain nearly in full the thematic basics of the underlying world?

I'm advocating change not for the sake of being different or pretentious, but for the sake examining exactly what it is that we're trying to replicate. And yes, that does eventually lead to the big question - are we trying to replicate comic books, or are we trying to create an urban-setting super-powered MMO? Because those are not the same thing.

The question of rare drops sits at the intersection of the reward systems, powers balance, and crafting.  The concept of rare drops injects scarcity into the balance and reward systems: certain activities generate scarcer rewards and those rewards are generally more valuable and more powerful.  This can then be leveraged in ways that offer some meaningful benefit to the player over a longer period of time (sometimes but not always indefinitely).

What's the purpose of having rare drops?  They serve several purposes.  They break up the monotony of earning the same rewards over and over again while running content: having a range of rewards with different scarcity offers a generally more interesting reward experience, and rare and ultra rare rewards are simply the ones at the far end of the probability scale.  They also generally gate certain content or ability statistically, so everyone isn't seeing exactly the same performance or content.

I'm not so much against "rare" drops as I am against RANDOM drops, to be honest. I have no problem with certain thresholds being difficult to achieve, but I do have a problem of repeating an activity like a Pavlov's dog, in the hope that maybe THIS time the random drop will give me what I want. I remember City of Heroes and random Shard drops. I remember running an entire four-hour play session and getting not a single Shard. I remember thinking I would have been better off not even firing up the game that day, because I would have gotten precisely the same amount of progress.

Make rare things rare by making them difficult to achieve, not by making them a crapshot to achieve. Say I want an Ionic Judgement, but I'm only level 40. I can't have that, obviously I can't. But at any point in time, I can look at my XP bar and go "Oh, wow, I have four more bars towards 41, around 10 more levels to 50. I'm making progress!" I can't say the same about random drops because running the content which generates the random drop and getting the wrong one puts me no closer to having it. It's a very fundamental rule of probability - previous rolls do not affect future rolls. Thus, a failed roll is my time, effort and enthusiasm flushed down the drain. It gives me no progress.

Gambling systems are corporate retention tools, anyway. With a straight up "bar-filling" system, player activity is highest towards the end of the bar, but drops off sharply once one bar is filled and the other starts as the player knows a reward won't be forthcoming too soon. This is scary for businesses because ZOMG! The player might stop playing and stop giving us money! Must trick him somehow! A "gambling" system produces a generally lower activity than peak bar-filling activity, but it does so at a constant rate. The player is always motivated to keep trying, even right after earning a big reward because... Well, every new try gives you the same chance. It's entirely possible you might get the next one right away.

Make things rare, just don't make them a crapshot to get.

Additionally, on the concept of packages: I dislike Inventions primarily because they force me to get a whole bunch of things I don't want to get the one thing I do want, and it usually comes in the "wrong" set. Defences from attack sets, damage from defence sets, better endurance from control powers, etc. It turns everything into a giant optimisation problem and resource-management, which stops being a game. Once you boil everything down decimal percentage points, you're basically pushing the player into number-crunching or dooming him to pretty random guesses as to what might work well. That's me in nearly every RPG I've played - I don't know what half the stats my gear gives me even do, and I can't tell a difference between having it and not having it.

Basically what I'm saying is you can have things to achieve without necessarily going the route of traditional loot. City of Heroes grew up without it, and I quite frankly liked the game more before I9. Back then, I spent a lot more time fighting stuff and a lot less time staring at MS Excel or the Market interface. I also recall a fair few people admitting to being "here" because there was no loot, no raids, etc.

Perhaps instead of letting new powers be gained by levelling alone, turn gaining access to them into missions or even brief story arcs as the character levels up. These could in turn be keyed to the character's Origin: a Natural character would have to train, a Magic character would have to track down an ancient spellbook, a Technology character would have to amass funds to purchase a new piece of gear, a Mutant would need to find a way to properly control the power and so on. There are many possible variations to play around with - even different ways to get at each, some of which could be locked (or unlocked) based on the character's prior history. Even the accessibility of the power while the character's efforts are in progress could be varied: a Natural would gain access to the skill as the training progresses, but need time to reach its' full strength, a Magician would gain it upon acquiring an instruction but find it acting unpredictably, and a Mutant would have little to no control over when it triggers and need to hold it in check somehow etc.

I'm not sure that's a good idea, because it runs into the same problem brought up every time someone suggests making origins "mean something:" What exactly do they mean? Right off the bat, you peg Magic characters as spellcasters, and that simply isn't the case. A fair few are demons, angels and other mystical creatures to whom magic is innate and thus they would be looking for power, not spells. Similarly, "train" is generic enough to apply to every character origin - it's why City of Heroes used it broad-spectrum. The worst thing you can do with origins is tie yourself down to a specific interpretation and thus limit player freedom and creativity. The beauty of City of Heroes was that Origins were kind of a suggestion, guiding you to the kind of concepts you may have wanted to use, but without locking you into one.

In the spirit of preserving the good about City of Heroes, this kind of freedom of interpretation is what bred the players' sense of ownership. You're not telling the players who their characters are, what they do and how they do it. You give them a world and let them decide this. I've hard this argument before, but to me, Plan Z needs to be a game which does not try to tie our characters to itself in any way, shape or form. Leave in the hooks there for us if we want to tie ourselves to it, but don't assume to know our characters. Treat them like guests in an alien world, to make themselves at home if they want to, or to claim they're just visiting if that's their thing.

Basically: Don't try to define who and what player characters are from the game's side. Let players handle that.
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darkgob

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #34 on: October 06, 2012, 02:29:30 pm »
Do we really want to be so adamant about making this a comic book before it is a game? I've said it many times that City of Heroes may have been a game inspired by comic books, but it was never a comic book simulator.
I agree, this is something that Champions tries to do and IMHO suffers for it (among other deficits).

Quote
Basically what I'm saying is you can have things to achieve without necessarily going the route of traditional loot. City of Heroes grew up without it, and I quite frankly liked the game more before I9. Back then, I spent a lot more time fighting stuff and a lot less time staring at MS Excel or the Market interface.
See but for a lot of other people, the opposite can be said.  I know when I9 first went live I was already a little burnt out and then the Invention system overwhelmed me so I decided to take a break, but once I came back I dug into it and started to really enjoy it almost as a mini-game.

The thing CoH did right with crafting is that it never forced you to do it; gameplay was balanced around SOs.

Quote
I'm not so much against "rare" drops as I am against RANDOM drops, to be honest. I have no problem with certain thresholds being difficult to achieve, but I do have a problem of repeating an activity like a Pavlov's dog, in the hope that maybe THIS time the random drop will give me what I want. I remember City of Heroes and random Shard drops. I remember running an entire four-hour play session and getting not a single Shard. I remember thinking I would have been better off not even firing up the game that day, because I would have gotten precisely the same amount of progress.
The reason loot drops mostly need to be random (with exceptions) is that with deterministic drops you can game it incredibly easily.  The only way to really combat that is to time-gate the drops (a la Merit Rewards) and that's not really any better in my opinion.

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #35 on: October 06, 2012, 03:38:55 pm »
You have a lot of good insights, guys. ;)

I've asked for one more forum in our cluster for character creation, progression, and powers. I'll move discussions of loot and such to there as well. Personally, I hated the Invention system. :) I don't want to play City of Spreadsheets. I think we can create something inspired by that which is cleaner, smoother, and much easier to use. I am in complete and total agreement that you should be able to work towards your rare stuff, and not depend on grinding a dungeon or TF for that drop - BUT I also think that you should have a chance of getting that drop from something too, even if you can make it through progression at some point. That is one thing that I think COH did right about the Incarnate stuff - even if you got nothing but common Incarnate components, you could still eventually build rare items from those components. They improved that immensely when they introduced Dark Astoria and gave people a chance to get those drops from group or solo missions rather than Incarnate Trials only, IMO.

Let's table the discussion of loot for the moment, until we get that forum set up for us. Then we can go wild in there without it getting lost in an already-huge thread.

We've got a bunch of threads on character progression, and I believe that Scott's already gotten most of the suggestions incorporated into the brainstorming document. I'll move those as much as possible to the new forum once it's up.

I think we DO need to make sure that our city is current to modern real-world technology. Why am I checking a newspaper when I can check the police scanner straight from my smartphone? (Yes, I can do this in the real world. So can anyone else with a smartphone who knows which websites to look at.) That in and of itself gives us an infinitely larger possible pool of dynamic content - and I've already said that I think we need to have more outdoor dynamic content in the sandbox. (I believe most of that discussion happened in the City of Deju Vu thread, which is still in this forum.)

We definitely need a better balance between end-game content and alt creation. COH was great for alt creation...Not so much for end-game until the ITrials came out, and even then the trials were somewhat limited to people who had the TIME to spend on them.
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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #36 on: October 06, 2012, 04:42:44 pm »
Fair enough. Loot discussion shall be tabled, but I'll be childish and get the last word in: I like how Incarnates were set up as an independent system, but not so much how they were hooked up to their own content.

I think we DO need to make sure that our city is current to modern real-world technology. Why am I checking a newspaper when I can check the police scanner straight from my smartphone? (Yes, I can do this in the real world. So can anyone else with a smartphone who knows which websites to look at.) That in and of itself gives us an infinitely larger possible pool of dynamic content - and I've already said that I think we need to have more outdoor dynamic content in the sandbox. (I believe most of that discussion happened in the City of Deju Vu thread, which is still in this forum.)

This I agree with, but it digs into a deeper question of exactly what kind of world we want to build. And I want to stress that this is NOT a question that any one person can just drop in and answer with authority, so it's not as simple as going "We want it to be silver age." I believe we need to get into the specifics of what makes our world what it is and what kind of theme those specifics help build towards. In an effort to be a bit more systemic about it, let me try and break this down into smaller component arguments:

1. What kind of technological age do we want for our world? "Modern day" is too broad an answer, and even City of Heroes was futuristic with teleportation and insta-medicine. Do we want mile-tall skyscrapers? Do we want flying cars? Do we want commonly available energy weapons?

2. What kind of society are we shooting for? "The US of A" is a bit too easy of an answer, especially since I, as a foreigner, don't know what that means. Moreover, how diverse do we want that society to be? Will we have aliens integrated into society ala Star Trek? Will we have magical creatures accepted as citizens? Will we still have separate nations or one world government? This matters, because we WILL end up with a lot of aliens and magical creatures and sentient robots in the game by player creation, so do we want a society that accounts for this?

3. What is our level of seriousness? Are we shooting for campy "Joker's latest boner!" self-parody or are we shooting for the Dark Knight? Obviously those are two extremes and there's room for all kinds of stories, but we still need to decide how seriously we want the actual fictional world to take itself. If we want to create a legitimate serious story, we can't have heroes ride aboard Amphybious Secretly Constructed Rapid Ascent Craft. Do we want to lean more towards self-referential parody or more towards dramatic works?

4. How much do we want to rely on comic books? Are we willing to give something a pass just because it's common in comic books even if it's not a good idea? Do we want to reject something that may be positive because it's not common in comic books? Or do we want to create a game where anything from Western comic books to anime to sci-fi to pulp fiction to horror to action movies to pretty much anything goes? Obviously we can't stick to JUST comics and there will always be other stuff, I just mean how much room do we want to leave for that other stuff?

I think this should cover it for now.
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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #37 on: October 06, 2012, 05:33:48 pm »
You may now return to your regularly scheduled loot discussion - in the Character creation and progression forum. ;)
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epawtows

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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #38 on: October 06, 2012, 06:02:43 pm »


4. How much do we want to rely on comic books? Are we willing to give something a pass just because it's common in comic books even if it's not a good idea? Do we want to reject something that may be positive because it's not common in comic books? Or do we want to create a game where anything from Western comic books to anime to sci-fi to pulp fiction to horror to action movies to pretty much anything goes? Obviously we can't stick to JUST comics and there will always be other stuff, I just mean how much room do we want to leave for that other stuff?


Let me point out- CoH *was* pretty much based on silver age comics, but it ended up being able to simulate many sorts of genres- serious comics, light-hearted comics, westerns, sci-fi, classic horror, modern horror, many sorts of anime, etc.  A lot of that was due to the character creator (as well as the near-total disconnection between character appearance/abilities and the later-introduced customizations).  And pretty much anyone even remotely involved with Plan Z pretty much takes "We want all of that" as such a given that few bother to say so.

For something else..I've GM'd a very long-running PnP superhero game (twelve years, I think).   The game sessions have run through all sorts of genres.  The game's "base" is more-or-less modern-day Seattle (i.e., where the players live)  I don't think it would have worked out nearly as well if it was based around anything else.  It's much easier for me and the players, who have moderate, but probably not great, levels of imagination and storytelling abilities, to jump from what we know (the real world) into other genres, and back again, than it is to do it from something different.  Someone with more creativity (a real author like VV, or perhaps even you;  you seem pretty creative) may work better starting with a different world.     

I'm probably not explaining this very well, but I hope it gets the point across.


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Re: What makes CoH what it is? Plan Z, CoH, and You
« Reply #39 on: October 06, 2012, 06:36:58 pm »
It's a basic part of superhero comics to have the main setting as being "now" - which is also used when comic books are turned into movies or TV shows - for example, the 60s Batman TV show, the Burton Batman movies and the Nolan Batman movies have all been set at the time they were made.
It's also important for marketing the Plan Z game to players who might only be casual comic book readers or comic book movies goers - there'd be a general expectation that a comic book game would be set in a traditional comic book environment - a large present day American city where all kinds of colorful heroes and villains do battle.
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