Is an MMO Worth Playing?

I can still remember how my first love broke my heart. We were together for a little over 8 years, spending time together almost every single day. I worried occasionally that we would eventually part ways– I knew it wouldn’t last forever– but when the end came, I wasn’t prepared. Saying goodbye was more difficult than I expected. I thought about all that we had done together and all the things that would remain undone. Even now, years later, it still makes me sad to remember the love I felt for City of Heroes and I have to ask myself “is an MMO worth playing?”

An Age of Heroes!

I first heard of City of Heroes sometime in 2003, I believe. I know it was several months– maybe 6– before the game actually launched. At the time, I was playing a lot of another superhero game, Freedom Force, and really enjoying it. When I saw the early ttrailers for City of Heroes (CoH) I fell instantly in love. I wanted the game right then and there. The idea of building my own superhero, with whatever powers I wanted and a costume designed by me was really exciting and was something I’d hoped for for years. I never expected to be able to do that outside of a pen-and-paper RPG. The only thing that didn’t thrill me was that it was an online game.

Back then, I had no real experience with online gaming. I’d played exactly two other games prior to then that allowed me to play with other players online. The first was a Star Trek game that I can’t even remember, and the second was the original Neverwinter Nights. I thought the idea was kind of cool, but I preferred the idea of playing a powerful hero who could handle the archvillains on his own. I also didn’t want to be dependant on other people to complete missions.

When I first started playing, I mostly played solo.I probably would have continued to be a solo player if not for my wife. I was working a ot of nights at the time, and so she found herself looking for things to do when I was not there. What she found was CoH.

My wife made a couple of friends in Paragon City during her time playing. The first, she played with only a few times, but soon she found a couple of other players that she started to team with regularly, Not long after, I found my schedule changing somewhat, which allowed me to start playing with her and her group. To my surprise, it turned out to be an awful lot of fun to team up with a group of other players, but with that fun, came some concern. I started thinking about the long-term playability of the game. It wasn’t that I didn’t think the game would continue to hold my interest– I knew it would– but rather I was concerned about the game being shut down at some point.

I started asking around about what would happen if the servers would be shut off. Not knowing at the time how MMOs operated, I hoped that I would be able to continue playing as normal, but without the ability to team. I was sad to discover that this would not be a possibility.

My time playing CoH was amazing. I made some great friends, one of whom I was able to meet in real life. I wrote tons of background info and stories for my characters, including at least two short novels. One of the other players joined me in the story writing, and all the group’s characters started to tie together in one large, complicated soap-opera. It was awesome.

The came the day I’d been dreading: we were told that CoH would be shut down,

It was quite a blow. A wonderful community had formed around playing CoH. Perhaps it was becaus we were playing heroes, but most of the players were generally good, kind, helpful people as opposed to the players we always heard about in other games. The CoH community worked together to help each other, in the game and out of it as well. They even did fundraising for charities.

I was there for the last moments of the game, before everything went dark. Logged in as the very first character I had made, I stood together with other players, torch held high, counting down the minutes and then the seconds like some dark, twisted New Year in a mirror universe.

And then it was gone.

Several years of playing, hours of creating and developing characters and untold missions with friends had ended with a disconnect message. The sun had set one last time on Paragon City. The heroes and villains that had given me so much pleasure were no more.

The fans didn’t take it well. Efforts were made to rescue the game. Some of them continued literally for years. Ulimately, nothing could be done. Players, suddenly set adrift by the loss of their online home, began searching for other games, but generally ended up disappointed by what they found. The Age of Heroes had ended.

However…

When it became clear that City of Heroes would never really return, a number of successor projects sprang into existence. Though none have released yet, tremendous progress has been made in their development. One game in particular, Ship of Heroes has caught my attention, coming seemingly out of nowhere to suddenly become the game that I am looking forward to the most, although all of the successor project appeal to me for different reasons.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy…

I have to admit, though, as great as these new games look, I don’t know if I will be able to bring myself to play. After the experience with CoH, I find myself wondering if I really want to invest time and money into a game that I am, effectively, renting and never really owning. The idea that I could spend hours creating new characters and becoming invested in their stories only to potentially have them snatched away from me fills me with dread. I don’t know if I want to go through that again, especially if the community is half as good as the one that CoH had (which seems very likely given that the CoH players are all watching and waiting for a game to arrive).

Not too long ago, Marvel Heroes became available for the PS4 and I downloaded it partly for myself, but also for my younger son, who is on a superhero kick at the moment. I thought it could be fun to play together. Now, only a few months after we started playing, it has been shut down. (It was due to be shut down last Friday, but was still playable as of yesterday, Sunday. I am not sure if it is still accessible or not. Even if it is, it won’t be for long.) 

I just don’t know if I trust online games anymore.

I know there are many games out there that have been up and running for many years, and still have large,active communities, but at some point, pretty much every game will turn of the servers and shut players out. When that happens, even if you are still loving the game and playing daily, you are just out of luck.

I know I am kidding myself. I will try these new games and likely get hooked on them. But knowing that I may find myself unable to play at some point through no fault of my own kind of diminishes my enthusiasm, and that’s why I have to ask if an MMO is really worth playing.

What do you think? Do you worry about this sort of thing or is it just me? Is it enough to keep you from trying a game? Share your thoughts below!

Craig

 

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Dead of Winter

Do you want to try you hand at surviving the zombie apocalypse, but video games aren’t your thing? Or maybe you just want to have some companions with you during the struggle? Dead of Winter allows you to face off against the hordes of undead– and potentially other players– in a tense, fun board game experience.

It’s co-operative, but…

Dead of Winter sees you and your friends playing a group of survivors trying to get through the winter during a zombie apocalypse. Struggling against not only the zombies themselves, but also nature and one another, players have assorted goals to accomplish to win the game, including potentially betraying the other survivors.


Choosing a scenario, details the specific conditions of victory for the group. Each of the 10 scenarios has a “Hard” variant for added challenge. Each player then chooses two characters that they will play, representing their own faction within the larger community of the colony.

Each of your survivors has scores in Influence, Attack and Search, as well as a special ability. Will your survivor be efficient at killing zombies, or at finding resources? You’ll have to play to each character’s strengths to survive. Is your character helping to build the colony, or will you stab the others in the back to save your own skin? You will have to make decisions throughout the game, prioritizing the survival of the group or your own goals.

Dead of Winter
Dead of Winter

Each round, the colony faces a crisis of some sort, adding a short-term goal that needs to be achieved to overcome a significant penalty. Failing means a drop in the colony’s morale or something even worse, while success might provide the colony with a boost.

During each round, your character may move around the colony, scrounging for resources, but this is always a risky proposition, for it may result in frostbite, injury or a bite from one of the seemingly-endless numbers of zombies. Will you risk it your life looking for supplies? If you don’t, well, what are you going to eat?

While resource management is important, as is constant vigilence against the undead, much of the real tension in the game comes from not knowing which of the other survivors ou can trust. Or perhaps you are the traitor, attempting to meet your personal goals without being discovered. If you are not aggressive enough in the pursuit of your goals you will fail, but become too obvious and the colony may ostracize you, forcing you to try to survive on your own.

Zombies!
Zombies!

If you are looking for a tense, fun game full of zombie-bashing and potential betrayal, check out Dead of Winter. Just remember to bring snacks for everyone.

Have you played Dead of Winter? Tell us what you think!

 

 

 

 

Pax West Trailer for Ship of Heroes

Just as a follow up to my previous post about Ship of Heroes, here is the new trailer shown at Pax West on September 3rd. The game is coming along nicely, and I just know I will spend hours with the character creator alone!

What do you think of the new footage? What are you most excited for in Ship of Heroes? Let me know in the comments below!

Ship of Heroes Looks Like a Worthy Successor to City of Heroes

City of Heroes remains one of those games that I would very gladly play again, and play almost exclusively, if given the chance. All these years later, we still remember it fondly, and many of us still have some resentment over how it shut down.

I have always loved comics and superheroes, and when City of Heroes arrived on the scene, I jumped on it right at launch, playing daily until it was shut down 8 years later. There was a huge effort on the part of loyal fans to bring the game back, but that has never happened (rumours of private servers notwithstanding….) There are several successor games in the works, however, and the one that stands out for me right now is Ship of Heroes.

When I first heard of Ship of Heroes, I honestly thought it was a joke. I had been following the various other projects to one degree or another, but SoH appeared seemingly out of nowhere. I was the first person I know of to start sharing news of it to all the various CoH groups I was a part of. Most of the people I shared it with at that time took a similar view: it had to be a fake.

Over the past several months, however, we have seen that not only is it a legitimate game in development, but that it seems to capture the spirit of City of Heroes quite well. It is a bit early to know for sure, of course, but what I have seen and heard so far leaves me feeling pretty confident that this will become the type of game that I will play for hours at a time. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing.

I look forward to having a game that I love so much that I could lose myself in it. It has been a long time since I experienced that. It will also likely see me neglecting all my other games though, which I have mixed feelings about. Plus, these days I have much less gaming time. Still, I think it could be fun to play with my kids. My wife and I played CoH together for the longest time, and our elder son was just starting to play when it shut down. He never really got to experience how fun it could be. Maybe now, he and his brother can join me and my wife to fight crime as a family!

We’ll need more computers though!

I will also have to start writing again, as I am the type who loves to flesh out his characters with supporting fiction. I wrote two novellas and countless short stories with my characters and the character of those I played with. Although it could be akward given the setting, I am hoping I will find a way to continue the tales of Maiden Canada, the Faceless One, Doctor Valiant, and all the others.

Ship of Heroes, you can’t come out soon enough.

Are you looking forward to Ship of Heroes, or one of the other successor games? What are your favourite memories from City of Heroes?

No Man’s Sky Reviews Agree: It’s Getting Better

When No Man’s Sky released, I was so excited. From everything I had read, I was sure that it would be the game I had dreamed about fo so long.The sheer size of it and the open world (universe) aspect of it appealed to me immensely and I had all sorts of thoughts about the things I would be able to do and see in the game. Saying I was excited is actually quite the understatement.

Not Quite What We Expected

When the game actually released, it seemed like virtually everyone I knew was disappointed. No Man’s Sky reviews everywhere seemed to be rather negative. I had friends who had bought it, but then like a number of others, sought to be refunded. I didn’t want to refund it, however. I just wanted it to be a great game.

For the most part, when I first started playing, I actually liked it. I had some issues with it, such as not likeing some of the controls and the ridiculously low draw distance that had things popping up only when I was almost on top of them if I was moving too fast, but I actually liked it. I liked the idea that I would be the first person– and given the size of the game, perhaps the only person ever– to set foot on a given planet. I would be seeing things that no one else was seeing. I would be experiencing a totally unique game.

There were some story elements that I didn’t like though. Given the size of the game, I couldn’t understand how the alien races encountered could be spread out over such a massive distance. I didn’t understand how the Sentinels could be on every single one of the 18 quintillion or so planets… That broke immersion for me.Plus, the game was just too open for me. I like to have some back story. While I appreciate (love, actually) the ability to make my character be anyone I want, I also want to have a bit of story to fit them into the setting in a logical manner.

So Much Variety With So Much Repetition

One of the selling points for NMS was that everything would be procedurally generated and we would be seeing, in theory, so much unique content. That kind of fell flat,  however, when after taking a couple of hours to explore my starting planet, I set off into space and eagerly warped to my closest planetary neighbour, excited by all the new discoveries I was sure to make. Sadly, even though this was only my second planet, I found that everything seemed to look the same. Same plants. Same abandoned alien buildings. Remarkably similar creatures.

Still, despite that disappoinment, there was something that I just liked about the game. The exploration was pretty chill. Wandering around collecting the resources I needed was strangely relaxing, and there were moments when I did come across a rather attractive landscape. I thought that this could be a great game to lose myself in.

After a couple of days, however, I’d had enough. I wasn’t getting any sense of a narrative in the game, and collecting resources to power my ship so that I could fly off somewhere in order to… collect resources to power my ship grew very tiring. I still had a strange affection for it, and I still really wanted to love the game, but I found that I just couldn’t maintain the interest to keep playing when I had other games vying for my attention. I stopped playing, then after a couple of months of not touching it, I uninstalled it.

Laying a Foundation for the Future

When the Foundation update was released, I was drawn back to the game. So many cool new things had been added! I was excited all over again! However, much like my experience with games such as The SIms, the idea of building a base was much more appealing than actually doing it. The Foundation update was a great first step in adding content and variety to the game, but I found that it wasn’t quite enough for me personally. I found myself playing for a couple of hours, only to uninstall it yet again.

I started watching videos for games like Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous, and they both caught my attention in a manner very similar to the way NMS had done before it released, but both had the added appeal of more realistic graphics and settings, with a greater concentration on story. While I doubt I will have a PC capable of running Star Citizen any time soon, I started to obsess over Elite: Dangerous, thinking that it could very well be the game that I had hoped No Man’s Sky would be.

When it came out, I grabbed Elite: Dangerous and immediately put in a number of hours exploring and getting to know the universe. I loved it, even though many people complain that there is “nothing to do”. Just the simple act of exploring space was enough for me, especially with the ability to create a character that I could actually see and enough of a backstory (which I am still learning) to allow me to invest myself in the lore.

I kept reading up on No Man’s Sky, however, as part of me missed the game and still had hope for what it could become.

Atlas Rises

Buy it now at Amazon
Buy it now at Amazon

Now, a year after release, we have the latest update, Atlas Rises, which once again brings a host of changes and improvements to the game. What I welcome the most, however, is the addition of the Mission Agent, who hands out various tasks to be completed for rewards, and a new story, which is promised to run approximately 30 hours.

After all this time, No Man’s Sky has given me enough of a story to sink my teeth into and become invested in the game. I have done a number of Mission Agent mission, which are pretty simple, but seem to offer decent rewards, and have started upon the new storyline, which has proven to be more engaging than I had anticipated.

I have even put down Elite: Dangerous to return to No Man’s Sky’s universe and am actually considering creating a base at long last.

If you have tried No Man’s Sky in the past and found that it fell short for you, you may just find it worthwhile to give it another shot. I am personally quite happy witht he improvements and additions, though I was also somewhat predisposed to likeing them, as I have been pulling for the game to succeed despite my on-again, off-again relationship with it.

This universe is worth exploring again.

If you decide to return to No Man’s Sky, or if you are trying it for the first time, let me now what you think. I’d love to hear some other reactions to what it now offers and what is to come in the future.

Craig