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Shamus Plays: Champions Online, Part 2

Shamus Young | 21 Jul 2010 13:00
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Meandering around, I get a notice that fellow superhero Kinetic needs my help! I'm sure he just wants me to do what I'm already doing (punching things for people with no ambulatory abilities) but I decide to track him down and see what he needs. XP is XP, after all.

I pass some people trapped in the rubble, and others being menaced by bugmen, but I filled my quota already and there's just no percentage in going overboard with a job like this.

Aside: The game has a really, really unique take on earning XP. You know how in your average MMO it's pretty easy to earn XP by killing baddies? In WoW, I think you can ding level 2 in about 15 kills. Well Champs Online is balanced so that an overwhelming majority of your XP comes from turning in quests, not the fighting. Even at level 1, you'd have to grind mooks for an hour or more if you wanted to level. You can just barely see the bar move. This means that unless you've got a quest to beat up some bad guys, there is almost no incentive for doing so.

On the upside, this means the game is built so that you should never ever have to simply grind bad guys for XP. The downside is that there's basically no in-game reward for sweeping the streets for fun.

I manage to track down Kinetik. He's in a spooky back alley filled with green fog. He's being held prisoner. By an alien.

That can't be right. I mean, one alien? I count them again, and sure enough: one.

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I shout past the alien, who doesn't care what I do as long as I don't get too close, "Hey! Kinetik! I don't want to be rude, and please don't take this the wrong way, but are you absolutely sure you're a superhero? Don't answer right away. Think about it for a second."

He doesn't answer.

"Who was it that told you that you were a superhero? Did this person mention you having any specific powers?" I continue. "Was this person, in fact, your mother?"

Kinetic shuffles his feet and looks away.

"Kinetic, what is going on with you, man? You're trapped in a flimsy alien cage and held prisoner by one dude. I killed a dude just like this a few minutes ago for a passport for the dumbest man in the city. I've ripped up and thrown heavier objects than your cage by accident while trying to talk to people."

After a moment of reflection I realize I just can't, in good conscience, rescue Kinetic. Doing so would lower us both in so many ways. "I'm sorry, Kinetic. You'll have to escape on your own or suffer the terrible fate of... being in a flimsy cage. Good luck."

I leave Kinetik behind and go on to finish the job Silver Avenger gave me. She said that after I was done... uh, "using" the gun, I should take it to Dr. Silverback.

Problem #1: Dr. Silverback is a holographic projection. How do I "give" something to a holographic projection?

Problem #2: Dr. Silverback is an ape-man, and "silverback" sounds a lot like an awful racist slur against ape-people. I that really his name? Was she hazing me by trying to get me to call him silverback? Is this like sending the new recruits to get elbow grease? His name is probably "Dr. Parker," and I'm going to walk up and call him "silverback" and then it will be all awkward.

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"Hi there... guy. I'm supposed to give you this gun?" I congratulate myself on the clever name-dodge.

"Correct," replies the ape-man hologram.

"Just for the record. This isn't my gun or anything. I'm just delivering it for some guy."

"I'm sure."

"Because I don't shoot people."

"The data, please?" he says impatiently.

"But, you're a hologram. Do I just leave the gun here or... ?"

"Just plug the gun into the base of the holo-emitter."

"Right. Of course. I knew that."

Dr. Hologram seems happy enough to have the data. He looks at the "readings" and gets all excited. But then he gives me a new job: He wants me to go help superhero Ironclad.

Right, right. I can see where this is going. Fine. Let's go talk to Ironclad.

Shamus Young is the guy behind Reset Button, Twenty Sided, DM of the Rings, and Stolen Pixels.

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