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Five Steps NCsoft Can Take to Revitalize City of Heroes

adam_noxadam_nox hays, KSPosts: 2,035Member Uncommon

City of Heroes will always be close to my heart when it comes to MMOs that didn't follow the typical MMO formula.  It had great ambitions with it's release of City of Villains, but those ambitions waned.  Then they brought people back with Mission Architect, and then later removed most people's motivations for using it.  They then released going Rogue, but there was very little rogue about it and it's only been further downhill from there.

 

In the 0% chance that this topic will have any impact in the direction of this great franchise, I have summed up what NCsoft can do to breathe new life into their game.

 

1.  Bring back Base Raiding.  This was a great feature, even in it's buggiest state.  However there are a few things that need modifying in order for it to see widespread adoption and bring people to it's bountiful table.  The first is to tweak how pylons can be used.  A huge base is not necessarily a well-equipped one.  If this was always the case, pylons would be the great equalizer.  Instead, the more expensive the plot, the fewer pylons should be required for capture.  I imagine this should start at something like 20 pylons for the lowest plots, and it would be absurd to even attempt that as a win condition when the other conditions are easier to achieve against weaker plots.  This can be adjusted as time goes on for balance.

The other tweak needed is to limit the invading force based on how many of the other SG is online at the time.  A full 8 should be the minimum allowed, and only if the defenders have 4 or more people online.  Other invaders should be allowed to queue and would be admitted to the defending base as room allows. 

In-hand with the above, defenders with 4 players online would not be able to decline a challenge, but would have 30 minutes from the time the challenge is issued to when the invasion can begin.  Further, even if you have an IOP, damage to the base would not require repair.  No one wants to be drained of resources constantly.  After being invaded, defenders would not have to accept (though can if they wish) new challenges for 24 hours.  Similarly SGs cannot invade another base for two hours.  This is only to keep the pool of invadable bases available for other SGs.

Winning an invasion should give some sort of new currency that allows members of the SG to have minor PvP benefits they can buy, depending on how many defenders there were, time to completion, and other factors.  Combine all this with an easy to use interface for invading, and you have an exciting system that adds a dimension to CoH gameplay that CoV hinted at but could never deliver.

 

2.  Remove the current blanket PvP power changes introduced in (I think) i14.  It wasn't that these were all bad changes, it's just they ruined a lot of builds, caused other imbalances, and made it very hard to theorycraft your PvP effectiveness.  I'm not saying to give up on the idea of separate PvP balance, but the changes were only required in the first place because of factional imbalances, not individual class imbalances.  When one faction can get certain powers and enhancements the other side cannot, then it's just a hurdle set too high.  Most of that is fixed with Going Rogue, and it's perfectly OK for pvp balance changes to affect PvE.  PvE is easy and non-competitive.  I think NCsoft horribly overestimated how offended a few people would be at PvE nerfs due to PvP issues.

 

3.  Remove the boundaries of the two cities.  It's time for CoH to convert itself to something more similar to other two-faction games.  I think there's a LOT of great potential in spicing things up by opening up Paragon to villains and The Isles to heroes.  Further, villains and heroes should be allowed to group and start out neutral to each other outside of the established PvP zones.  Players should be allowed to roll any class on either side starting out, even if not in Praetoria.  They should also be allowed to switch allegience with no fuss.  A cooldown timer of 48 hours could be put on that character, to prevent any possible abuse.  The blackmarkets need to merge as well, as both sides simply are not equal when it comes to pricing and availability of important recipes.

 

4.  Merge all servers and allow variant instancing.  They've talked about a serverless architecture for a while, and even since it's initial release, CoH has been capable of supporting any number of players due to it's unique instancing system.  Each zone can open multiple instances when a certain player threshold is reached.  I don't believe the current population on some servers really supports a good play experience.  To keep names, they could turn the server names into a kind of patron loyalty system that distinguishes one character with the same name from another.  I wouldn't be against just tagging a server name onto the end of everyone's names, but I know some would understand such an unsophisticated approach, and something more elegant can probably be done with little stress on the development team.

Variant Instancing - This is my name for special server types in a game that only has one server.  Since CoH already does instancing flawlessly, there are a few great options that can go along with this.  The first is to allow invisible instancing.  That means when zoning to a zone with multiple instances, it picks one for you, based on where your friends or SG members are, or what would be optimal population-wise.  This helps those who appreciate immersion.  Another option would be special instance types similar to server types.  For example, players would opt into joining only instances flagged as RP, PvP, PvP+RP, or normal.  There could be other variants added as well, the sky is truly the limit, and it can give flexibility to appease all player types.  Even FFA PvP for total chaos!  It doesn't force anyone to a playstyle they don't like, and if they tire of the ganking and leetspeak, they can retire to a different instance type with ease.

 

5.  Tweak the PvP zones.  These dedicated PvP zones need real rewards, such as a second path to rare recipes, but they also need factional balancing.  It's no fun to get overwhelmed by 20 adversaries.  They do have player limits before a new instance is opened, but these restrictions need to be tighter and faction based (which it may be).  With the ability to easily faction change, the availability of other PvP instances without special rewards, I would hope this does not cause one side to always be locked out.  Add in a queue to enter, and I think we could see some competitive rewarding faction vs faction pvp in these zones again.  And take it from someone who was in CoV since the beginning, there's a lot of potential here.

 

You may note that almost all changes are PvP based.  This is the segment of the community that CoV temporarily brought in, and then lost.  It's got a wealth of endgame and features for everyone but them, and yet it's got a great foundation laid, and a lot of potential waiting to be realized.  I think the time is now, and I think that these steps can bring this game to greatness and great subscription dollars without alienating too many people, nor do I believe these steps to be beyond the abilities of the developers (even though it's quite amazing how they could not manage to get IOP raids right).

Comments

  • Zap-RoboZap-Robo Youngstown, OHPosts: 233Member Uncommon

    Too much work, too little reward on Paragon Studios' part I feel. City of will never (and never will be) a PvP centric game as it just doesn't interest the bulk of the playerbase.

    Reverting the I13 PvP changes would be good for the short-term, but I know Paragon does have an eye on the PvP community and what can be done for it (without radical game-altering steps - these may be good for you, but bad for the bulk of their playerbase). As a primarily PvE-er I'd like to see more of a focus on Arena/Instanced PvP as the Good vs. Evil aspect of the game is extremely watered down due to all the higher end co-op content.

    Also, some of what you are suggesting is already in place. Side-swapping can be done in 48hrs (by completing the relevant alignment missions). The markets are already merged.

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  • OSF8759OSF8759 Riverside, CAPosts: 284Member

    1. Base raiding? There are like 12 people who PvP in this game still, even fewer who would actually base raid if it were available. Game would gain zero players from such a feature.

    2. Roll back PvP 2.0? This is a good one, and could be done at, one assumes, minimal cost. I'm all in favor of it.

    3. Bringing the factions together is very interesting, and with side switching it exists now to an extent, but a full merging of faction zones is just not technically feasible. This is something you've gotta launch with or forget about.

    4. Single server environment. Yes, this would be a positive change for the game. In fact, the game's development is slowly but surely headed in this direction.

    5. PvP zone tweak. Yeah, they need love but again this is a harcore carebear game. PvP improvements are something I'd like to see be we're kidding ourselves if we think the vast majority fo the player base would care anything about it at all.

    Now, my idea on revitalizing the game is pretty straight forward and proven to work with other games:

    Go F2P.

    And this game will. Only a matter of time.

  • jpnolejpnole Tampa, FLPosts: 1,656Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by OSF8759

    1. Base raiding? There are like 12 people who PvP in this game still, even fewer who would actually base raid if it were available. Game would gain zero players from such a feature.
    2. Roll back PvP 2.0? This is a good one, and could be done at, one assumes, minimal cost. I'm all in favor of it.
    3. Bringing the factions together is very interesting, and with side switching it exists now to an extent, but a full merging of faction zones is just not technically feasible. This is something you've gotta launch with or forget about.
    4. Single server environment. Yes, this would be a positive change for the game. In fact, the game's development is slowly but surely headed in this direction.
    5. PvP zone tweak. Yeah, they need love but again this is a harcore carebear game. PvP improvements are something I'd like to see be we're kidding ourselves if we think the vast majority fo the player base would care anything about it at all.
    Now, my idea on revitalizing the game is pretty straight forward and proven to work with other games:
    Go F2P.
    And this game will. Only a matter of time.

     

    Agreed - F2P is the only option left for CoH.
  • CastillleCastillle KhobarPosts: 2,703Member Uncommon

    My 5!! :o

    1. Update the graphics engine to be able to use better models.

    2. Update the instance engine to provide better maps for things like paper missions ,etc. and to give a better variety in missions.

    3. Update the enemy AI to make some enemies more dangerous (maybe taunt immune or something) so that combat will have a little more variety

    4. After the above, start a marketing campaign.

    5. Add a f2p option for the game maybe?

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  • Konner920Konner920 Noble, OKPosts: 293Member

    Originally posted by OSF8759

    1. Base raiding? There are like 12 people who PvP in this game still, even fewer who would actually base raid if it were available. Game would gain zero players from such a feature.

    2. Roll back PvP 2.0? This is a good one, and could be done at, one assumes, minimal cost. I'm all in favor of it.

    3. Bringing the factions together is very interesting, and with side switching it exists now to an extent, but a full merging of faction zones is just not technically feasible. This is something you've gotta launch with or forget about.

    4. Single server environment. Yes, this would be a positive change for the game. In fact, the game's development is slowly but surely headed in this direction.

    5. PvP zone tweak. Yeah, they need love but again this is a harcore carebear game. PvP improvements are something I'd like to see be we're kidding ourselves if we think the vast majority fo the player base would care anything about it at all.

    Now, my idea on revitalizing the game is pretty straight forward and proven to work with other games:

    Go F2P.

    And this game will. Only a matter of time.

    If NCsoft allowed it to go F2P it'd just die off, just like the rest of their F2P games. ;/

  • Xero_ChanceXero_Chance Salina, KSPosts: 519Member

    The only things I can really think of includes a painful upgrade to "Freemium" F2P that may go wrong or ruin the game. This may be one of the few games that I want to stay P2P, but this is for very specific community-based reasons that I will not get into here (different rant, different time).

    It needs a simple animation upgrade, just to make things seem more exciting. They made Dual Pistols dynamic and fun looking, why can't they upgrade all the rest of the animations too? It shouldn't be too hard, it'll just take a lot of time, effort, and money to do.

    Other than continuing the endless minor tweaks to class balance and PvP that's really all I can think of. In my opinion, CoH/V is a very stable and robust game, if only a little old and clunky feeling.

    I agree, it is in need of a good upgrade, the graphics update (although nice) was not enough.

  • CastillleCastillle KhobarPosts: 2,703Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Xero_Chance

    The only things I can really think of includes a painful upgrade to "Freemium" F2P that may go wrong or ruin the game. This may be one of the few games that I want to stay P2P, but this is for very specific community-based reasons that I will not get into here (different rant, different time).

    It needs a simple animation upgrade, just to make things seem more exciting. They made Dual Pistols dynamic and fun looking, why can't they upgrade all the rest of the animations too? It shouldn't be too hard, it'll just take a lot of time, effort, and money to do.

    Other than continuing the endless minor tweaks to class balance and PvP that's really all I can think of. In my opinion, CoH/V is a very stable and robust game, if only a little old and clunky feeling.

    I agree, it is in need of a good upgrade, the graphics update (although nice) was not enough.

    Its not that "Its not hard" but its the fact that the CoX studios are NOT large by any means.  Theyre working on a pretty small crew which will make those quite hard.  And IIRC wasnt the lead animator laid off or something?

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  • Loke666Loke666 MalmöPosts: 17,975Member Uncommon

    I don't think some PvP updates are enough to turn the tide here.

    NC soft would seriously have to revamp the game for that, the engine would need some polishing and both the character customization and the npcs AI would need some work (note: the AI needs to be slightly improved, not made impossible).

    I am not sure that NC soft want to spend that much money, after all are they funding several large games right now including GW 2.

    Making the game F2P might get them a few more players but frankly am I not sure if they actually would earn more. And I actually know several people who choose CoX because it is not F2P like CO is. Far from everyone prefer that payment method.

    CoX is not a bad game but it is aging. Fixing up old games cost a lot of money and you can't be sure you get them back.

  • JoarnajJoarnaj Elizabethton, TNPosts: 258Member

    Gotta be honest: I think this game is too far gone to revive. Looking back it seems to me that NCSoft did a "hit and run" style of development. They'd come up with what may or may not have been a good idea, implement it whether refined or not, and then move on to the next idea without ever really developing or fixing what they had. So you get:

    Large high level zones that have a lot of promise but are never enhanced or reworked if there are issues.

    PvP zones that start pretty well but are never developed much after they are introduced.

    Bases that feature terribly buggy base combat that is eventually removed and a mission computer that I think everyone was looking forward to actually doing something, but it never did.

    An auction that has exploits that break the economy and yet they were never removed. Crafting that... well, to be fair, I was never interested enough in it to know if it was worth while or not.

    Player generated content that, I'm sorry to everyone who is a fan, but it's lame. Most of the player population stands around in a room. You join quests that are all about large, fast xp gains with no story. If a story is well written nobody except the team leader can actually read it.

    Because they hit and ran with every concept they introduced, they are now left with way more problems than they can possibly fix. Which is a shame because CoH before CoV was the most fun I've ever had playing an mmo.

    I was pleasantly surprised when I went from Apprentice to full 5 star Elite in under 2 months. I was pleasantly surprised again when I went from Elite to just barely Hardcore in 2 weeks. Apprentice, here I come!

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