CoH First Free Content Update Screens & Info

Hey synic, I’m an idiot.

I’m ready to download the features update, so I’m trying to get into the test server, and following the instructions.
I created a new shortcut to CoHupdater.exe, went into the shortcut’s properties, and added “[space]-test” to the end of the target. When I hit ‘apply’, it gives me an error message saying that it’s not a valid target, check name and path. I gotta be misinterpreting the instructions or something. Do you see what I’m doing wrong?
It seems like I remember you mentioning that you’d been into the test server, so that’s why I’m asking you. Well, that, and also because it seems like you’re the only person left on this board (besides me and nKoan) that hasn’t walked away from CoH.

you want your shortcut to look like:
“C:\Program Files\City of Heroes\CohUpdater.exe” -test

just paste that into the target


Do you actually want to play on test, or do you just want to pre-download the patch?

If the latter, and you’ve played normally at all, it should have already been pre-downloaded for you, as they automatically sent it out starting a week ago. Look for a reasonably obviously named file in your main directory of about 108 MB or so.

If you actually want to play, though, I can’t help you with the test server thing, sorry.

BTW - the content update was reverted on 6/17, and hasn’t been back on the test server since… I think they are trying to fix a server bug on their company QA server. There are a few new fixes though, besides the content update that have landed on the server for testing (what piqued my interest was the change in behavior for the CoT kamikaze mages).

Ah, man, I AM an idiot. I tried putting the -test inside the quotes and then when that didn’t work, I removed the quotes altogether. Never put the thing on the outside.

when the heck are they going to release it?!

Some cynics have suggested they’ll release it after the next large round of subscription fees. :)

The assumption that you must make the player start to “grind” to keep them from finishing to fast since they will then leave the game is just plain false. Every MMO game falls into this pit. I would have loved to have been able to try out diffrent characters in say a game like EQ besides my magician but the time needed is just absurd. There may be people who will grind it no matter what but many just quit. Havn’t MMO devs figured it out thats why all these people do? Sony Online has said they have had 1.5 million try EQ and leave. I’ll bet %99 quit because of the level grind.

MMO’s still only appeal to one very narrow stretch of people. Untill they start to figure it out they arn’t going to expand the market and a bunch of them will fail as there arn’t near enough people to support them all.

Will some MMO dev out there please try something diffrent…anybody?

I totally agree. I lhave left many mmorpgs because of the level grind.

If only a Diablo 2 style mmorpg was out there… quick leveling where you can create and max level many characters but also have the rich questing and crafting abilities that a lot of mature mmorpgs have.

I am hoping WoW will have this. Right now COH is the closest thing.

Ah, this well worn discussion. I’ll bite anyways.

Although you could certainly attribute “The Grind” to thick-headed developers who can’t understand the principle of fun, I think there is a deeper reason. Once you’ve built your MMO gameworld and the general system of play, you have to ask yourself as a developer, “How am I going to give my game legs? How am I going to keep people over the long term?” The easiest solution is to up the experience curve and draw out the leveling process. It’s the path of least resistance. The solution with the least amount of work involved.

What really frustrates me is so many developers take this way out. I think it’s because so many MMO’s are character-centric in design. What I mean by that is that the driving force of the game is to improve/level/equip your character. What we need here is a paradigm shift. A move away from character-centric design to action-centric design. So, what exactly do I mean by action-centric design?

When you focus your game on activities, the reward is not your destination, but the journey. So many MMOs have been these stagnant, boring worlds created just to give you the means to upgrade your character. The character development may be robust (since a lot of design time was no doubt spent creating it), but the world your character lives in is an uneventful, static place. Your character should be a means to adventure and experience the gameworld, not the end all focus of the game! World of Warcraft sorta has the right idea in becoming a action-centric world with its questing system. However, the gameworld still looks to be a pretty static environment, and the truly inspired, creative quests are far, far outnumbered by generic “collect X heads” quests. We’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.

The MMO gameworld has this wonderful potential to become an online stage. With so much effort being put on character development and leveling, developers have lost sight of the fantastic possibilities MMOs offer. I want an MMO that has a team of GMs who don’t police the game, but who are dedicated to creating dynamic, interactive content for the players. I want an MMO where the thrill doesn’t come from the “ding” of a level, but defending Kelethin from a siege of Crushbone orcs. I want catapults and exploding trees and clashing armies and burning houses! I want to be proud of the battles I’ve fought, not the equipment I’ve collected! I want enjoyment from the experience, not the experience gain!

It’s too much of a risk I guess. Why get ambitious with your MMO when people will pay you to kill rats with a club?

well said Sunny.

Maybe it’s your fault. There’s such a fine line between pleasing the player and not pleasing the player, and the players themselves seem so intent on doing the latter. Don’t like the grind? Don’t grind! Seems like gamers are fighting a losing battle against their own human brain. After fixating yourself over what you think is the only reward in the game (character development), you find the ugliest ways to achieve it.

Free yourself from yourself and try out some new things. These games are very wide-open. There are infinite possibilities that can only come from the interaction between people. Attempt a hostile political takeover of a guild. Try to find new and interesting ways to grief. Become the hero who does acts of random kindness. One way to realize how powerful you’ve become is to help out some level 2 blaster through his missions. Before I quit Galaxies, I had so much fun making an incredible scene by giving away my two AT-STs. These games are about the grind because you choose to make them about the grind. Maybe it’s your fault.

I’m not saying that current MMOs are devoid of rewards and interaction outside the realm of character development. I used to do those things in Everquest.

For fun once, when Kunark and the Iksar were all the rage, I decided to take a level 1 Halfling Rogue and adventure off to Cabilis, the Iksar home city. For those of you who never played Everquest (good for you), the Iksar hate all the other races, and their home city is fairly remote from everyone else. So, I took little Tulbo the Rogue on a great adventure outside Rivervale to meet the lizard men. After some lengthy boat rides, and a heck of a lot of running and sneaking through dangerous territory, I made it to the outskirts of Cabilis. I found someone to bind me on the zone line inside Cabilis, and began learning the ins and outs of the city: how to avoid the guard patrols, using sneak to improve my faction with the merchants, buying food and water, and turning in quest loot for gear and weapons.

The thrill was that everything I interacted with was one failed hide away from killing my little halfing ass. I savored the challenge of sneaking past guards; I relished the sight of gawking Iksar as I ran around outside the city. No matter what else I did in Everquest, Tulbo, the death-defying halfling, was my greatest source of fun and excitment.

So what I’m saying is, yeah sure, you can enjoy an MMO in unconventional ways. You can choose not to “grind”, but how else am I to really see the world? In City of Heroes, for example, you can’t even enter certain zones without being a certain level! You can goof off and do silly things, but you’re never really going to experience the full game unless you take time to develop your character. A lot of time. Too much time, I think. And this process of developing your character to experience the gameworld is old-fashioned, painfully time consuming, and needs to go.

Don’t like the grind? Don’t grind! Seems like gamers are fighting a losing battle against their own human brain. After fixating yourself over what you think is the only reward in the game (character development), you find the ugliest ways to achieve it.

And I’m not looking for the “ugliest” ways to achieve progress. In games like Everquest, City of Heroes, etc…, “grinding” is pretty much all you can do. It’s the core, the essence, of the game. You kill things, you gain experience, you level. Rinse and Repeat. What other options do I have? I don’t gain experience from helping new players learn the game. I don’t gain experience exploring the game world. I don’t gain experience from doing random acts of kindness. I don’t gain experience from creating new items. Those are all cool things everyone should do from time to time, but it can’t be all that you do. Otherwise, you’d never progress, and you wouldn’t see or experience any new content. The worlds that these characters exist in are stagnant and static. You have to level your character, or else you’ll never see anything new.

Even if you do spice up your MMO play time with alternative ways of enjoyment, you can’t escape the fact that the crux of the game is to bash things and gain experience. Over and over. I’m saying that MMOs could be so much more, if developers were willing to take the road less traveled.

Could you elaborate on this with specific examples, using City of Heroes as a reference point? I ask because lots of people complain about the mechanics of MMOGs but often don’t offer any concrete suggestions. The ideas should preferably not be pie in the sky stuff, but things that could reasonably be implemented with existing technology and a budget that would not bankrupt a developer. :)

PlanetSide was and is, in my opinion, the perfect grind-less game. Yeah, I know–it’s a shooter. But I think RPGs could learn a lot of lessons from PlanetSide, and should. The biggest one being that MMO games do better (at least IMHO) if the primary focus of the game isn’t character advancement. PlanetSide is just fun to play, irrespective of how fast you are earning new levels and new skills. Gameplay becomes a grind when you spend the majority of your time doing something that isn’t particularly entertaining in order to get to the parts that are. I think a good question that MMO game developers need to ask themselves would be “would this game still be fun to play if we took out character advancement?” Once you can say “yes” to that, then put in all the cool character advancement stuff you want.

City of Heroes has a bit of the PlanetSide effect, too. The game is mostly about combat, but the combat is fun, and you get enough skills and powers early on (when new levels come fast and furious) to make the combat entertaining, which in turn makes the later, slower levels less of a grind.

Planetside is also player vs. player, though, which I think is a significant difference. Take the mechanics of PS and put them in a player vs. AI game and would it hold your interest in the same way?

Of course not. I’m not advocating that all MMO’s should adopt PlanetSide’s specific mechanics. But I do think that a combat-heavy MMORPG needs to make the combat entertaining above and beyond any rewards the players get out of it. That’s why I mentioned CoH–fights are a lot of fun in that game, and you get a pretty large assortment of powers to use early in the game, so it’s not such a big deal when level advancement starts to slow down. Or to put it another way, if you are playing a game and you reach a point where thinking about the number of things you have to kill to reach the next level makes you groan, then that game is deeply flawed. If you enjoy the milestones but don’t like the process of reaching them, that’s when the game becomes a grind.

Have you checked out Second Life? I’ve been meaning to try it out when I leave City of Heroes. From what I’ve read, your progress in the world is much more strongly tied to your relationships with other players.

Could you elaborate on this with specific examples, using City of Heroes as a reference point? I ask because lots of people complain about the mechanics of MMOGs but often don’t offer any concrete suggestions. The ideas should preferably not be pie in the sky stuff, but things that could reasonably be implemented with existing technology and a budget that would not bankrupt a developer. :)[/quote]
Some specific suggestions:

General Suggestion: Ben Sones has the right idea when he says that the things you do to advance need to be fun in and of themselves. The following things, which are often different, need to be as similar as possible:

What the player does to advance efficiently.
What the player thinks of as “fun” and enjoys doing.
The things that the developer intends as the main focus.
The things that are intended as content in the game.

CoH doesn’t match this at all. The best way to advance is to hunt on the streets. Challenging missions are probably the best way to get to the fun, except that the mission system stops challenging you around level 15-20. The developer intended combat as the main focus which, in isolation, gets boring. And the mission system, which doesn’t really satisfy any of these, is the main content of the game.

If the answer to all of these things was “Go get missions from your contacts” then the game would work a lot better.

Specific stuff on how to implement this:

  1. Adjust mission difficulty dynamically according to how the players are doing. Give the players the ability to turn this off.

  2. Make mission reward XP the primary source of experience, to the point where ten to thirty mission completion awards will gain a level even if you kill nothing at all.

  3. Triple the number of mission types, at LEAST. There need to be missions where you just need to find and catch a mob - say, a boss - missions where you question people on the street, trying to investigate a crime spree, missions where you need to keep out of combat, and so on.

  4. Make spawns dynamic. If one mob type is hunted by most people, cut down on how often it’s being spawned, and fill in those spawns with other mob types. This would have two effects - one, slight imbalances between mob types would be self-repairing as the faction is hunted to extinction, and two, it would provide more dynamicism if players knew that their efforts were having an effect. This can also be tied in to random hunting missions. If the Clockwork is the only faction with real power on the street, then that’s the faction people should be hunting.

pokes head in door

You were right, mouselock - coh.update.pigg (or something like that) was in the directory, all 108 MB of it, downloaded on 6/17. Thanks for the heads up.

Now we return you to your regularly scheduled hijack. Tongue sticking out smiley.