A View from Atlas Park: Ok, Everybody – 3, 2, 1… Click!

Much like people with Crazy Frog ringtones exist so that we can learn what happens when natural selection is interrupted, missions with glowies that need to be clicked simultaneously exist so that we can learn to really hate our fellow players. In what is probably CoH/V’s only real stab at including a mini-game into proceedings (up until mayhem missions and PvP zone shenanigans, anyway – and there are a proportion of players will likely not see those bits), a small number of missions and some Task Forces require a number of players to click on a glowie object at about the same time in order to successfully activate them.

Sounds easy in practise, right? And with only a couple of players on a team (ie two), it is. However, as you increase the number of objects you have to simultaneously click (and therefore the size of the team required) you see an exponential increase in complexity and frustration from interaction with your fellow players. As we all know, complexity and frustration are not things that go well together, expecially when you are involved with something that is meant to be “fun”.

The great grand daddy of bad simultaneous glowie clicking experiences is undoubtedly the Cavern of Transcendence trial. With the Hollows already having a bit of a reputation of causing players to wonder if the devs are having a large joke at their expense, making the denouement the Trascendence trial seems to exist just to rub players’ noses in it. Why? Because the final mission requires you to have a team of eight players simultaneously click on eight obelisks (ie one each) at about the same time.

Which would be hard enough, but did I mention that these columns are hidden? And that in order to get to these columns you need to be able to fight your way through waves and waves of respawning enemies who are probably tougher than the solo player? And that the mission was timed and therefore easily failable?

BUT… assuming you fight (or stealth) your way past the hordes of Minions of Igneous to the point where all eight players are standing by a column and no-one has quit the team, that’s when the thumbscrews are turned – it is now that you will require your team to act, well, like a team and do something together. Everyone has to click to obelisks at about the same time. Sounds easy, right? Not by a long shot.

First off, you have to hope everyone listens to a single person who calls the click. This usually doesn’t happen right away, with newer players going, “What do I do now?” and / or maybe clicking on the columns for fun while they are waiting. After you waste a couple of minutes getting over that, you get the inevitable “3, 2, 1 – CLICK!” message.

Followed shortly by the “who didn’t click?” queries as nothing happens. Oh wait, someone lagged, or was in the middle of typing and got destracted and someone else needs a bio break and will be afk a minute. Repeat this seven or eight times and the frustration levels have risen markedly. But the team doesn’t want anyone to quit and leave, because then they can’t meet the mission requirements. Perhaps a few people even try to start their own counts to get people to click, or give conflicting instructions (ie “Click when I get to 3” vs “Click when I count down to 1”). For the truely mindbending, someone may even ask, “What’s a click?” and cause mass aneurysms amoungst other players.

I swear, if the devs ever wanted to get rid of a few of their problem players, all they need to do is get them in the same room, have them team up for the Trascendence trial and equip them with faulty mouses. A few rounds of missed simultaneous clicking under the pressure of a ticking clock will be enough to send these problem players into a murderous rage… and if a few heavy, blunt instruments were carelessly left in their arm’s reach, it’d be a tragedy just waiting to happen.

Assuming you manage to pull off the simultaneous click before the timer runs out, the final fight and meeting the mission objectives for this trial are a huge anti-climax. You’ve already experienced the whole gamut of emotions getting to the point where you rescue the guy you have to rescue; seeing that “Mission Complete” message just leaves you drained and you probably slink off from those who were your team, hopefully to never see them again.

And do you know what? The Shadow Shard TFs – the longest TFs in CoH/V to date – also have simultaneous clicking at their heart. Hopefully by then you’ve played enough to pull it off, but still, I can’t help but wonder if it is all some psychological experiment just to see who will snap first…[/P]


In defence of my last column – I wrote it before the lag, the disconnects, the crash to login all got really bad. Boy, don’t I look stupid now? My experience of gameplay in CoH/V did see a pretty big degredation in the quality – I was rubberbanding constantly and being dropped between zones with a regularity I haven’t seen since beta. Some of the recent patching appears to have improved things though, but there are obviously some kinks that need ironing out.

I still think I7 should have been released live when it was – I just wish it’s launch had been a heck of a lot smoother and less disruptive to the in-game experience.

[p] – UnSub unsub@warcry.com 17 July 2006

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