A View from Atlas Park: Back in the Saddle

I’m back! And I’m sure none of you care!

In short, I moved house and found the combination of 1) having a slow ISP and 2) a damaged landline connection enough to sideline me for about a month. To pass the time I played and finished Freedom Force Versus the Third Reich (fun, if a bit repetitive up to the last stages) and Giants: Citizen Kabuto (a weird mix of genres that works because you don’t really stay in any one genre for long).

But I’m back now, just in time for the second anniversary and the whole heap of stuff attached to it.


After a long time of nothing happening (and the forums griping about nothing happening) Cryptic have shot out of the blocks with a whole list of things. Rather than cover things in-depth (which, you know, might mean I’d have to do some searching around rather than just write off the top of my head… and would also make this column about 25 pages long) I’m going to cover them bullet-point style:

  • The Second Anniversary Party: I logged in and hung around an instance of the Pocket D in Virtue for a while and quickly saw the flaw in this particular idea – CoH isn’t designed to let large numbers of players gather. By large, I mean 100’s, which is what something like this event needed to work. When I gave up on the idea of seeing a dev in the virtual flesh, there were at least five instances of Pocket D on Virtue. Eleven servers (Test wasn’t included) multiplied by that number of instances (for rough working out) gives you more parties than anyone should have to go to in one night. I’m sure that if the devs had stringiently regulated their time and stayed 15 minutes per instance, they may have gotten everywhere, but no-one would have been happy. As such, some people got to spend some time with the devs, got to get a limited duration special title – much like the titles handed out at the end of the beta event, if I cast my mind back that far – and got to spam them with tells. Most people didn’t.

    Unless the devs can design the Pocket D so that it doesn’t instance and instead allows huge numbers of players into this location, any similar parties involving the appearance of the devs is doomed to disappoint. Some people probably enjoyed dancing and chatting to friends while waiting; I ran a mission and got some xp, which felt more productive.

  • The 5th Column Gladiator Badge: Players who were around for the first CoH anniversary and had the Celebrant badge on their character unlocked the 5th Column Gladiator badge when they got they received the Reveler badge for the second anniversary. Some players felt it unfair that they couldn’t ever get the Celebrant badge if they missed it, so would never be able to unlock this new gladiator badge. Other players who got the badge felt it worthless since they don’t use gladiators.

    To that latter group: it’s a worthless trinket. Accept the badge and move on. Complaining that your free extra isn’t good enough makes you look really petty. To the former group: while I believe that almost all badges should be available to everyone (hence feel that Isolator should be easily obtainable somewhere in Paragon City) I think that Event badges are something that should be unique to those who attended the event. This isn’t fair – especially if Cryptic tie the unlocking of new content to having particular Event badges – but it does reward players who stick around, which is generally a good idea in a business with subscription fees. Of course, now Cryptic have set precendent, and the Third Anniversary is going to require a new badge that unlocks content for those with the Reveler badge. Expect similar complaints in 12 months time from all the players attracted by The Paid Expansion (see below if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

  • CoH/V Player Awards: Congrats to those who won. Commiserations to those who didn’t.

  • Issue 7, Waiting For…: So many forum threads about how the delay of I7 was destroying CoH/V and driving people away from the game. How quickly they were all forgotten when I7 hit Test and so many new goodies appeared. New things to distract us and to complain about, I guess.

  • Positron becomes the Main Man: So, Statesman has taken a bit of a step back and Positron is now Lead Designer of CoH/V? Interesting. I’m guessing that Statesman wants to take more of a big picture view of CoH/V and leave Positron as Lead Designer to deal with more day-to-day issues. Not that Positron won’t have a say in what gets into the game – hi Positron, remember how you said Dual Pistols are on your whiteboard… – but Statesman will have a bit more time to think about what systems CoH/V could have and how they will function. Hopefully this will see more things implemented and some interesting new items popping into the game in the future.

  • The Paid Expansion: Also in the joint Statesman / Positron announcement was a comment about a paid expansion coming out in 2007. Although a lot of comment was made over how we players would now have to pay for content that might be interesting for us to have, I find it hard to give this item too much attention. Honestly, it is likely 12 months away and we’ve got I8 and I9 to be introduced before then. Who knows – by the time The Paid Expansion is released, we may not recognise a lot of CoH/V anyway, so commenting on it now seems premature.

  • I7 Out On Test: I7 finally got to Test, which has sucked in huge numbers of players looking to “test” the new content. Lots of problems being reported, especially with stability issues. With all the players currently on Test, the official forums and regular servers are looking pretty quiet.

  • Thugs Getting Dual Pistols: Was a small step in the right direction; I want my Blaster Dual Pistols powerset now thanks.

That seems to be the main things at this point; the main focus is on seeing I7 hit the live servers and how the new additions, mostly to CoV, work. I’m really hoping that I7 is the great balancing issue – the issue that brings CoH and CoV close together in terms of a development platform – which will then let I8 having equal offerings for hero and villain alike.

– UnSub [email protected] 4 May 2006

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