kilroy: (Default)
This is going to make sense to like two of you, but I had to share.

Tonight I ran a team that got one of the hardest badges in City of Heroes. Full team against continual tough mobs in big bunches, and versus an end boss with over 10 times the hit points of a normal end-boss, a huge cheap-ass auto-stunning mega-damage attack that recharges every 30 seconds... and a power that makes him essentially invulnerable for two minutes out of every three.

Did it all in a shade over two hours with no special powers, no healer, and ZERO deaths on the team.

Hell. Yes.
kilroy: (Default)
From his own paper:
"However, as an experiment investigating the degree to which social orders are capable of revealing and unraveling broader system rules, online games such as CoH/V indicate that socially oriented group play, as a whole, is much more repressive and much less capable of exploring system potentials than individual and idiosyncratic play."

There's a lot of serious language about the treatment he received, and I don't wish to belittle his experiences. But what I'm getting from his conclusion is "Groups tend to have rules and enforce behaviors that don't necessarily follow an external logic. Playing in a community means having less freedom than playing alone, since you have to follow these social rules to participate."

To which my only response is... well, yeah. Any six-year-old could tell you that. If you don't play nice the other kids won't want to play with you and might get mean.

He's right that unexamined and static norms undermine creativity, flexibility, and variety. He's also right that communities tend to react defensively to norm-violators as opposed to evaluating them objectively. I still entirely fail to see how either of these things is news.
kilroy: (Default)
So this guy played City of Heroes and wrote a paper about it. The link to the paper itself is further down the article; I haven't read it thoroughly yet.

Still, if the article is correct, I think our researcher is probably emphasizing the wrong point. Social spaces are constructed by consent and built on tradition, and the appropriate response when entering a new community is to stop and observe what the norms are. If you choose to repeatedly violate those norms, of course the community is going to respond badly. If they can't actually get rid of you, then the responses will escalate as the frustration level does. This is hardly a new idea and is by no means restricted to online spaces.

Saying "but it's not against the rules" is a valid legal defense, but it displays a certain disregard for the people currently inhabiting the community. In this particular case, I don't think the community merited fighting-- no one was getting hurt, and the purpose that he was looking for was actually served elsewhere in the game. So he was basically just being a jerk to a bunch of strangers-- is it publication-worthy that they were jerks back?


May. 12th, 2009 09:22 am
kilroy: (Default)
New City of Heroes / Villains expansion coming soon! Now with side-switching (i.e. your hero can become a villain and vice versa); likely a few new zones, mission arcs, and taskforces; dual pistol and demon-summoning powersets; a slew of new costumes; and potentially a long-desired graphical update.

kilroy: (Default)
So, played a bunch of player-created stuff on City of Heroes over the week and weekend, figured I'd drop a few words.

There's a lot you can do with the system. I've seen a bunch of stuff I never thought I'd see (Norse mythology, the Vatican artifact vaults, fashion victims as a villain group). There are a lot of restrictions to the technology, but even with those restrictions the amount you can do is simply vast. People are really pushing boundaries and trying to innovate and be clever, and it shows. It's astonishing the variety of things you can make.

That said, Sturgeon's Law applies here as much as anywhere else. A lot of missions aren't very well written. A lot of missions aren't very well designed. A lot of mission writers are just playing around... and yet they publish, and their stuff can be found and played. Finding those rare authors who care, can spell, know how to write, and test enough to realize when their arcs are broken is hard-- I fully expect to cling onto those people like life preservers.

It reminds me of teaching, really. Experiencing missions is like experiencing people now.
kilroy: (Default)
I play City of Heroes/City of Villains. I have mentioned this. For the past several months they've been talking about the "Mission Architect," a feature where you can create your own missions for the game. It's coming in about two months.

And I am about to explode with glee.

All missions are playable by everyone on all servers and factions once you publish them. Given the population, that means we're looking at several THOUSAND new missions by launch and a continuing growth from there. Even if 90% of them are crap, that means there will be several hundred new missions worth playing by the time the thing goes onto the servers and potentially dozens of new, good missions every month.

And that doesn't even touch the writing aspect.

You can use any map, enemy type, mission type, and objectives that exist in the game. That story you always wanted to tell where the robots from one faction defect to the other corporate faction? Or the one where you have the high tech guys in the ancient temple? Yeah. You can do that.

Conversely, those guys you really hate to play against? Don't. Ever again.

You can script everything, from the witty dialogue to the chain of events that the mission encompasses. This is complex enough to have you kill a guy to get a key to open a door to get a blinkie before a timer runs out which rescues a guy which spawns a bunch of ambushes as you get him back to the door, at which point he turns on you and tries to kill you. The possibilities are surprisingly flexible-- this is not just kill a bunch of mute enemies and click a box.

You can create your own individual npc villains and heroes, name them, give them unique costumes, decide their powersets, and script their dialogue. You can theoretically port your actual characters into missions other people can play to tell your own stories-- including using your villains as the enemies in hero arcs and vice versa. This also means that you can create your own sidekicks, team members, and nemeses.

You can also create your own npc factions. Need a shadowy organization of farmers with mutant powers gone bad? Done. And they have full flexibility as per the NPCs-- you dress 'em, power 'em, and script 'em. Tell stories with whole new groups, and throw 'em against the old ones!

Most mind-blowingly, because you do get XP and rewards from playing the player-created stuff, you could theoretically create content tailored to a specific group of players... and then keep doing it week after week. You could, with a lot of work, run a superhero roleplaying campaign inside the game.

I just.... it's an open-source MMO. You can write your own damn game. My mind, she is utterly blown.

You will not be seeing much of me this summer.


kilroy: (Default)

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