Friday, May 30, 2008

Best. Mousepad. Ever.

Not that I normally go out of my way to talk about stuff I've picked up, but I couldn't resist passing this one along.

If you want one (and I suspect a few probably do) .... you can pick it up here :

Monday, May 26, 2008

Completed ITF

just leaving a small note. Finally completed the Imperious Task Force on CoH Issue 12. Couple of notes for the Task Force. For the final boss the team really needs to have tanks or brutes with their native taunt. Reason why is that the final boss the team faces 4 arch-villains at once, who cannot be separated. One of the arch-villains emits a near constant AOE heal for 262+ points of damage. Combined with the native high regeneration of an arch-villain, this makes the targets nigh impossible to kill.

A tank or brute with taunt, however, can pull the healing Arch-villain away from the rest of the group far enough for the AOE heal to be out of range.

A second tank or brute is required to taunt and hold the other 3 archvillains in place.


Scrappers aren't really desired for this because of ambushes that will occur during the fight against the four arch-villains. It's possible for the taunter of the healing Arch-villain to find themselves up against 5 or 6 boss level characters that cannot be killed due to the rapid AOE heal.


Other notes on the TF: The second mission features Nictus Crystals. Unlike the Nictus Crystals in the rest of the game, all of the enemies for the Crystal are already spawned. Destroying each Nictus Crystal in the Imperious Task Force causes an ambush headed by an elite boss. The recommended method to deal with the ambushes is to clear off all of the spawned Nictus enemies first, then destroy the Nictus Crystal, then deal with the mob.


Okay, update / edit. Finally completed the TF with only one Tank to taunt. The Healing Nictus can be taunted a short distance away from the rest of the rest of the arch-villains, providing everybody else on the team is attacking the main AV.

The problems with the single tank method is that the main Arch-Villain will run around a lot unless holds or immobilizes are put into place. As mentioned, the 4 Arch-villain group cannot be separated too far. If either the main AV runs around, or the taunting tanks draw their target to far away, the group of arch-villains will reform.

I did find out it is possible for a Blasters Tanks Epic Pyre Fire Ring power to immobilize the main AV, so a good holding / immobilizing controller should have a breeze keeping the main Arch-Villain for the fight locked into one place.
Sorry about the mis-type. Both my fire-manip blaster and fire armor tank have the Fire Ring attack. I forgot which one it was classed as an Epic Power, although I've immobilized the main arch-villain with both Avatars.
On a single tank team two healers with strong AOE heals are really needed to provide cover over each other. We managed to pull off taking the Main AV down with a defender radiation, a controller empath, and a corruptor thermal radiation. However, it should be noted that successfully completing the fight required pullout various bonus pets, such as the HVAS from Rikti War Zone, a couple of Shivans from the PvP zone (That really needs to go away and be made co-op), and a couple of Amy buffs from Croatoa. In comparison, a two tank team with a -rad, -kin defender, and a -dark mastermind, required pulling no pets out... and another two tank team with only a -rad and a -storm required no pulling of pets.

What can be taken from this? Make sure there are two tanks with taunt. The fight will be a lot easier.


One of the strategies I've heard mentioned is using various -confuse powers in order to confuse the arch-villains to fight each other. Right off hand the strategy sounds like a good one... but it's not.

The first problem with the confuse strategy is that the Imperious Task Force is bugged. It has multiple known issues ranging from holes in the map, to the arch-villains not responding to ranged attacks. The part in bold is rather important to the task force. Right now ranged attacks are not functioning properly. What's going to happen when ranged attacks are fixed? Will confuse still work on a lvl 51 arch-villain? I'm not taking bets, but I've never seen any other lvl 51 arch-villain confused before.

The second problem is that most archetypes with confuse powers avoid them like a plague. For illusionist controllers the confuse powers are largely considered a dump stat power. There's a reason why the ultra-rare purple confuse io sets sell for less than 10,000 influence, where most purple recipes start at 10,000,000 influence.

That reason consists of the way confuse powers work. I stopped counting how many task forces I've been on where the team wiped because a confused opponent ran off and started attacking another entire mob. The same goes for just regular teams.

Going beyond Aggro, there is also the loss of experience and influence. Enemies killed by a confused opponent don't count towards the teams kill count or exp. yet another reason confuse powers are largely ignored.

So, either way it goes, finding somebody who actually took the confuse power, and presuming that the upcoming fix to the Arch-Villains behavior doesn't completely ruin the strategy, the strategy just ain't worth it.


Thought a bit about this, then decided the fight might be easier to describe with a picture... a couple moments in Xara Xtreme, and we have the following pictures. The first is a top down view as the player enters the combat zone, with the player entering from the bottom.

1: Main Arch-Villain : the primary target

2: Healing Nictus : This nictus heals on with a couple of weird algorithms. It appears to heal for 200+ on it's on, but when surrounded by enemies, was popping off heals of 400+. It's possible this nictus has properties similar to Ghost Widow and can PBAOE heal itself off enemies.

3: Summon Nictus : This nictus constantly spawns greater and lesser nictus which attack players. Tanks with strong AOE taunts should have no problem keeping the nictus spawns under control.

4: Buff Nictus :
This nictus seems to buff the main-archvillain and the other nictus. Without the healing nictus around though, the buffs are easy to overcome.

A: Left platform
B: Right platform

I'm not sure if I have 3 and 4 labeled right. However, the left Nictus, #2, has always been the healing nictus.

Sections A and B are platforms that extend out in front of the arch-villains with stairs in between.

This is the rough idea of the primary plan of attack.

One tank runs in and taunts #1 while the other tank taunts #2.

#1, the main arch-villain, is taunted right, towards Platform B.

, the healing nictus, is taunted left, towards Platform A.

The length of the main platform is about the length that the arch-villains can be separated. Any further and they will regroup.


On one of the ITF's a couple other major bugs were observed.

When the main arch-villain in the group dies, one of the nictus is supposed to de-spawn and revive the main archvillain. The order of the respawn has been witnessed as buff nictus, followed by spawn nictus, and lastly the healing nictus.

There appears to be an algorithm or coded behavior that requires line-of-sight from the main arch-villain to the nictus in order for the revive to occur. Witnessed on one task force we had a setup similar to below.

Using the already established numbers, #1 being the main arch-villain, and #2 being the healing nictus.

#1 was killed up atop the platform, out of line of sight with the healing nictus being held by one of the tanks. However, after #1 was killed, the avatar despawned and the third revive did not occur. Rather the healing nictus remained. All attacks on the healing nictus failed, it seemed to take no damage at all.

After multiple fruitless attacks on the healing nictus the group feel back and awaited a petition to be answered for the bugged arch-villain. Eventually the healing nictus reset itself on the platform, where it would normally be, and for some odd reason, finally took damage.

What we believe happened is that after the main arch-villain dropped, the remaining nictus are super-buffed during the respawn time to basically insert a pause into the fight as players wait for the respawn animations to complete. Since the respawn failed to complete no signal was generated to drop the buffs on the healing nictus. The buffs only dropped when the natural clock for the buffs ran out as though it was a player character.

So, general rule of thumb, make sure that all kills of the main arch-villain are in line-of-sight of the various nictus.


Okay, yet another update. Finally completed an ITF as the single tank on a single tank team. So that means more bad Xara diagrams. Lets start with an overview of the final fight area.

Not exactly to scale... but a rough idea of the layout.

5th : These are the 5th Column groups.

C: This platform is filled with plenty of Cimeroran traitors

EB: There are 3 elite bosses sitting around the archvillian group

AV: The Archvillains

AD: Ambush Door

The standard procedure for most of the fights is to clear the courtyard of the existing 5th column soldiers. It's also possible, and useful, to go ahead and taunt or snipe the Elite Bosses to the right and left of the Archvillain group and fight them at the same time the 5th Column groups to the left and right of the archvillain are fought.

With the courtyard clear, it's a good idea to herd groups of the Cimeroran traitors to either side of the raised platform.

T of course being the Tank.

There is a possible bug to be found in this method with the enemy AI. The Cimeroran Traitors seem to get hung up on leaving the platform, and instead of following the taunting tank en masse, simply congregate on the stairs and the ledges of the platform of either side. In other words, be prepared for mobs that are not concentrated on a single target. To finish off, simply rinse and repeat.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A dream

Dream : I'm more or less writing this down as from memory, it came across as trippy... but cool. A friend of mine had awakened me with a phone call during the dream, so I think I remembered most of it.
Opening sequence, a pirate ship in a swamp. Something is runng down the ship giving an overview, running past various anthrophormic animals. A hippo dressed like something out of PoTC stands out.

Still FPS view, running up two sets of stairs, down a long hallway to a segement on the back of the ship lookins out, sorta like the bay doors from Baloo's plane in Talespin.

Suddenly the view shifts... new eyes deep in a forest, and over voice is heard.

The first ... character... is speaking about how he's the captains son and he's valuable to the crew because he can see cracks in reality. He's now shifted into this... cracked view... looking through something else. Various white cracks appear on the ground... it looks like the water from Windwaker has overlayed the swamp...

As the "Posssed" character looks around the cracked viewpoint of the ground clears up. Some cracks remain, tracking towards some dark items are seen flying along... I recognize them as Nictus... The pirate character causes the possessed character to step back, and the possessed character was shown to have been standing atop, or next to, a statue of a deer, which is pulsing with a light green energy.

The posssessed character is forced to look around again, and then this time a bright glowing object is seen moving along close to the ground.

The pirate character seems to recognize this, and the term "Kitsune" is audible. Then, something happens, and the pirate character looses possession... the possessed character is no longer at the site of the deer statue... the possessed character is next to the pirate character who is revealed to have bird like features, more along the lines of Falco from star fox...

Then there is a startling feel of "I must tell the Pirate Queen" about what was seen, and another character is realized besides what must be the pirate prince.

The formerly possessed character takes off down the long hallway, then turns to the right to find a small set of stairs set into a doorway opposite the stairs from the main deck. There is a distinct feeling that the possessed character must tell the pirate queen not only about the kitsune that the Pirate prince saw, as well as the deer statue that appearently repulsed the Nictus... there is a feeling that the formerly possessed character must tell the queen that it's purpose at the location had been to hunt and destroy the Nictus... so they must be allies in whatever endeavor the pirates are involved in.

Up the short flight of stairs and a new room is seen. At the back of the room are large windows arrayed in a semi circle... indicating this must be the captains quarters... but the inside is mysteriously high tech. View screens and the back of computers can be seen. The middle console strongly resembles that of the middle console in an Enterprise class starship...

Down the room a new figure runs, a small child-like anthropomorphic bird... and an image of the pirate queen is imagined, slightly overweight, with dark brown feathers, a green skull cap, and dark blue blooming pants... though the Pirate queen is never seen.

The figure running towards the possessed character stops at the door... and then a distinct feeling of "I am too big to fit through this door" Then an audible voice... my voice.. says "No problem, I can shrink down" ... the "camera" cuts to 3rd person... The possessed person is myself.. then the camera goes back to FPS view as I pull in my breath... and then... I'm... smaller. As I step through the door the "camera" pitches back as I move through the door no bigger than the child-like bird moments before. A figure materializes, and begins to communicate a welcoming to the ship... it must be the pirate queen...

then I'm woken up. I'm sort of glad that I was woken up while in the middle of the dream so that I could remember parts of it. Maybe I can build a story around it...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Jack Thompson Found guilty

In what will possibly go down as a day for history in the Video Game Industry, Jack Thompson was found guilty on 27 charges of misconduct. I've written about Jack Thompson back in 2007 when taking Dailytech out to the woodshed.
So, where do people like Jack Thompson fit into this? Well, if I had my guess, I'd say he was a liberal socialist out to cause trouble. The problem is, that isn't how Jack Thompson sells himself. He sells himself a Republican (or at least that is what the reports I have read indicate). However, his rhetoric isn't in line with what most Republicans believe, full stop, end of story.

Now, if you want my opinion, it is the desire of the RIAA and MPAA, and their partners within the mass media to sell Jack Thompson as a Republican, and promote him as such. The result is.. well... destructive. One on hand, Republicans are put on the spot that they don't want to outright reject the concerns over video games, since the concerns mimic the concerns they have about Movies and Music. So there are feelings that something does need to be said. On the other hand, if Republicans don't quickly reject the arguments of Jack Thompson and call foul, you get the impression that the Republican parties are fully behind Jack Thompson... which isn't true.

Obviously, I'm not a fan of the guy, and view him as a pawn in a move by liberal backers to discredit opposition to ever growing pushes on the boundaries of decency. There is a very good possibility that the conviction will result in the disbarment of Jack Thompson from the Florida bar, an event that is several years overdue. Hopefully with Jack out of the way, organizations and publications such as Plugged In will have an easier time getting their points out without being lumped in with trolls like Jack Thompson.

Monday, May 19, 2008

On FireFox -Data-

I put this in Mepislovers thread about the possibility that Mozilla Foundation could be entering the data mining market with FireFox.
Iceweasel has been known to include it's own security patches outside of the mainline FireFox source code... so there is precedent for Debian to ship a version of FireFox that is different at the code level. If Mozilla Foundation were to follow through on the idea of data collection, IceWeasel would be in an established position to remove the data mining code from the original source, or to maintain the source code from a point before data collection was included.

However, I do not think FireFox itself will come to that point. I have a feeling that there are probably going to be several nasty flames emerging forth from those who work on the FireFox code base against the idea perpetrators at I think it is possible that the Foundation Executives forget the features that separate the FireFox builds from the main competitor, Microsoft Internet Explorer. FireFox developers have shown a huge tendency towards user privacy and security.

That being said, the report listed here is from The Register... who... lets face it... intentionally writes stories in the worst way possible. In other words, grab the salt.

Techcrunch has a different take on the story report.

Techcrunch basically punts the idea as a tool similar to the Alexa toolbar, only native to Firefox.

I see a couple of different ways to handle the data collection then that might prove more palatable to the mass market of FireFox users. The method I would prefer is to include an Alexa Add-On with the download of FireFox. During installation ask if users would like to go ahead and install the Alexa Add-On for tracking. Also include text on the Google / Firefox homepage stating that the "Alexa Add-On" is available for "Project Surf"

Thus the headache is removed that the tracking data is included in the mainline source code. In addition, users who feel that they do not want to participate, have an easy way to determine whether or not the software has been downloaded and installed simply by the Add-On section of FireFox.

Voice Tests

For those who don't know, there is a fan based radio show for DMFA. Well, I decided to throw my hat into ring for a voice part, that of Albanion. Suffice to say, playing a Fae who might have destroyed an entire race based over an argument on who created the yo-yo should be fun.

Due to some system problems, my first samples for the audition were created on an Intel HDA chip under Vista :

After I got one of my Linux systems back up and working with Audacity, I did some more samples, finally posting one that I hoped didn't sound too campy :

Hope you enjoy listening to me voice a possibly insane Fae.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Georgia's New Tax Incentives for Entertainment

Short statement from me after all the emails I've gotten.

No. I didn't have anything to do with the new law giving major tax breaks to entertainment companies in Georgia. Please quit asking.

Okay, with that out of the way, if you hadn't heard, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue passed into a law giving up to a 30% tax break to entertainment business's. You might also have heard that I live in Georgia, so the new law is of major significance to me... if only for hoping that a business moves in that likes my writing enough to hire me outright... and allows me to keep living where I am.

Anyways, the basis of the law is that qualified entertainment productions get a 20% tax credit outright. A quick reading through the requirements to maintain qualification seems to exclude X rated products, so don't expect Double Z Studios to move in. Entertainment products that include an animated Georgia promotional logo can get another 10% tax credit.

What's interesting to me, as a video game reviewer, is that the video game industry was specifically singled out, not just once, but three different times in the Press release itself. In the email I received from, the coverage of Video Game productions was also specified in the headers announcing the press release. One of the quotes was especially interesting, this one:
Georgia will be the most competitive state in the country for video game productions.
Okay, big question... why? Well, outside of video game productions being one of the fastest growing, if not the fastest growing entertainment market, it's also important to remember something about which Entertainment Mega Conglomerate makes it's home in Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting. A quick overview of Turner Networks shows properties like GameTap, Cartoon Network / Boomerang, and Adult Swim. Little surprise then that TBS's Phillip Kent was on hand at the public announcement. Also little surprise why I wasn't.

So the next question is whether or not this was a good move for Georgia's Economy. Yes. The tax credits could make small time developers working on small down-loadable content for Xbox Live, Playstation 3, and Wii Ware profitable in a shorter time. The tax credits also open up job opportunities and may pave the way for larger publishers and developers to create full time development studios and offices near the worlds busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Something else to consider as a vantage point, and why Atlanta hosted E3 once, is that for multi-continental developers and publishers? Getting in and out of Hartsfield-Jackson is easy for those in Japan, California, and Europe.

So... what about the rest of Georgia? Sure, Atlanta is a clear benefit on it's own, but what about Augusta, Athens, Macon, and other cities. Long story short? Business's will go where there is land and cheap taxes. Columbia County should look really attractive then.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Say no to Vista... wait for Windows 7?

If you haven't heard the news by now... well, go read DailyTech and Arstechnica. The jist of the news reports is that major big name clients of Microsoft have decided to pass on buying Vista licenses. The justification given by types like General Motors is that they have no intent to upgrade their current hardware infrastructure for another 3 or 4 years. General Motors figures that by the time they are ready to upgrade their hardware infrastructure the next version of Windows will be available... or will it?

See, the thing is, I'm not convinced that Microsoft will actually SHIP Windows 7. I make that statement with several considerations in mind. For example, Microsoft recently announced they had passed the 140 million mark of Vista sales, a number that I went on the HardOCP forums and contested. I wrote about in this blog before that when Microsoft was claiming over 30 million sales / installs of Vista, I couldn't reconcile that number with reports from major OEM's and ODM's moving Vista software. Rather, on my own independent analysis, I could barely account for maybe 10million... if that. When Microsoft was claiming 50million, again, the sale evidence wasn't there. When Microsoft filed for taxes and gave shareholder reports? There was no evidence of Vista having managed anywhere near the numbers Microsoft had publicized. I also came to the conclusion last year back in November that Microsoft was already known for fudging numbers on almost all it's high profile products, specifically listing Microsoft having to go back and restate Xbox numbers several years in a row that placed the console behind the Nintendo Gamecube in sales. Given Microsoft's accounting history, the likelihood of Microsoft surpassing 140 million units of Vista... isn't just doubtable, I think they are outright lying.

Another consideration is backwards compatibility, a point I brought up on MepisLovers. The claim here focused on rehashing the compatibility problems in trying to manage NT5 and NT6 applications. Last year I went over a technically viable method by which Microsoft could offer native Operating System compatibility for legacy applications, and provide a brand new Operating System experience and configuration.

Much of the industry if fairly certain that Microsoft intends to sell Windows 7 in modules, basically expanding the artificial segmentation featured in Vista to ludicrous levels of functionality separation. While the separation of Windows 7 into various modules might not mean much to the average computer buyer, corporate accounts and large systems maintainers could find themselves nickel and dime'd to death on hidden costs. There's a very good possibility that Microsoft could attempt to ship Windows 7 without NT5 or NT6 compatibility, making compatibility an upgradeable option.

Such a maneuver won't go over well with any consumers. Large corporations that have not yet figured out that Open-Licensed software is a much more profitable, generally cheaper, more intrusion and exploit secure, more secure in a legal sense, and will can be self maintained by existing coders... Will probably find themselves examining why they haven't stopped paying Microsoft Tax.

Microsoft finds itself in a rather, well, for me, interesting position. I'm sure that Microsoft themselves do not find the position interesting at all. That is the position of being a victim of their own success. Too many clients and users are too satisfied with Microsoft's year 2000 offering. NT5 does everything computer users want it to do, quite competently. Aside from security concerns of intrusion and exploits, there isn't much in Microsoft's arsenal to convince clients they must absolutely upgrade.

If Vista is doing as badly as the independent market research shows, Microsoft could very well be in a position where it could be neutralized as a market player. It is entirely possible that the collapse of the Microsoft Tax could mean the collapse of Microsoft itself, as the Microsoft Tax is almost the only profitable business model Microsoft maintains.

Microsoft is also in the position that even if Windows 7 lives up to the promises of being leaner than Vista, easier to use, and better as an operating system, they could still fall to consumers and clients who have realized they don't have to pay the Microsoft Tax. Granted, given that Microsoft's entire coding history makes the concept of Windows 7 being leaner and easier to use a ludicrous concept in and of itself, the possibility is there for such an event to occur.

Now, I'm not stupid enough to claim that Microsoft is already finished... or dead. They have far too much socked away for an outright death of the company. Granted, had Microsoft pursued the deal with Yahoo, financial death would be a possibility, but that event did not occur.

Rather, I see Microsoft possibly having to continue NT5 development, as well as finding a new business model based in services, in order to maintain themselves as a company.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

CoH: wthcomics repost flood

A couple of times I've used this blog to archive forum comments so that I don't have to go looking for a particular thread, and I can point to an easy URL to fill out a point later on. Well, WTHcomics just ran a couple of short strips about the MMO I've made it clear I do not like, World of Warcraft, and the MMO that I basically haven't shut up about, City of Heroes. Joshua Jericho is one of the, and I'll use the term loosely, victims of Jack Emmert's antics in the development of City of Heroes. Some of the claims I made in the forum are unsubstantiated. E.G. I repeat a claim that Jack once promised that tanks would be able to pick up cars on the streets and throw them at enemies, as super strength heroes are known to do in comics. However, I personally have never heard of such a claim made for City of Heroes, and originally called B.S. on the claim. Problem is, it sounds like one of the many extravagant promises Jack Emmert was known for making, and I dimly recalled the introduction of Mayhem Missions in City Of Villains featured cars that could be blown up. I also recall various players of CoH/CoV at that time saying that blowing cars up wasn't what the developers had promised, so there perhaps is indirect evidence of such a claim being made.

In the same manner I also lay claims that Jack was responsible for several boneheaded design decisions in City of Heroes. Some of the design choices such as Enhancement Diversification, as well as the addition of a mob-run to Fire Aura's Burn attack were most certainly were Jack's direct handiwork. Other elements of the game, such as Positron's Task Force and the I9 Hamidon Raid, were probably the result of several developers working in conjunction. However, upon talking with people who have been playing the game since Issue 1, as well as those who actively campaigned to force Jack Emmert to step down from the position of lead developer, I have been pointed to many various CoH forum posts which purport to detail Jack's direct involvement with undesirable portions of City Of Heroes, some of which laid the claims I made out in detail. Basically then, take what you read about Jack with a grain of salt. He may be getting blamed for stuff that he did not have direct involvement in.

At the same time, on a personal level, I would encourage potential CoH players, and readers of this blog to consider the actions that occured before and after Jack was in a position of authority for the game.

Lets get started with the posts now:
First : LAUGHING MY BUTT OFF AT THE COMICS. It is SO true. It's even worse when you get to level 50 and are into the Shadow Shard Task Forces. Faathim the Kind NEVER gets a Cell Phone so a 2~3 hour Task Force becomes a 4~5 hour task force just on travel time alone.

Second : Champions Online won't fix anything. It is going to be junk.

Here's the thing with CO : it's being made by the same guy responsible for all the boneheaded design choices in City of Heroes, Jack Emmert. Examples? The current Hollows Build. If you are following the story missions you will get sent into the Hollows at level 5, at which point you will find that the mobs just around the door door zone are already 5+ enemies large... and also start at Level 6... a full level above your avatar. If you continue in Hollows, you get sent to places like EastGate Heights around levels 8~10, which just happens to be a zone filled with levels 11~13. Some of the missions would have you on one side of Hollowing Crater, and then promptly send you to the other side of the Crater. If you followed the story line exactly, when you got to Julius the Troll, he could send you down to kill Trolls in the River 2 levels below the actual level of the trolls IN the river. That was all Jack's Idea of fun. Thankfully WarWitch is fixing the Hollows a'la Faultline in the upcoming Issue 12.

Further examples? Positron's Task Force was another one of Jack's ideas of fun. The Positron Task Force pits you against Clockwork (End-drain + hold + sleep + stun), Circle of Thorns (End-drain + accuracy debuff + hold + sleep + stun + massive knockback / knockdown) , and the Vahzilok (Undead Revive + Toxic Damage + Holds + Immobilize ). The Task Force was structured in such a way that no matter what group you faced, your team would be weak to at least SOMETHING in the arsenal of the opposing forces. If you did manage to build a group that could protect itself against the massive status effects, you would wind up short on damage. Other Task forces most people will repeat. Positron's Task Force? Everybody hates it, but it was Jack's idea of a Challenge. Well, I like a Challenge too. I don't think that Challenge should involve debt capping level 10-15 players.

Jack was also responsible for the reworked Hamidon Raid in Issue 9. Almost nobody in the game does the Hamidon Raid anymore. Yes, previous Hamidon raids needed 80+ people to succeed, and the new Hamidon Raid caps at 50 per zone, but you need 50 people... 2 to 3 hours if everything goes right... and if anybody screws up it's all over. The result for completing a new Hamidon Raid is exactly the same reward that you would get for completing the Lord Recluse and Statesman Task Forces... which require less people, and gives far more influence / infamy in return, as well as possibly taking less time.

Other examples of Jack in the game involved the Enhancement Diversification, which makes sense now with the Invention Origin Enhancements and Set bonus's... but back when City of Villains launched, it was a complete disaster to players from the start of the game. ED was so bad that even Positron commented on it being a bad move after Jack had been expelled from the game.
That’s not to say we haven’t been without our missteps. We’ve implemented a couple things imperfectly (Epic Archetypes and Enhancement Diversification come to mind), which caused a lot of headaches for us down the road. I can’t promise that we will never make mistakes, but I will say we will do our best to ensure that we don’t repeat them.
Jack was despised so greatly that a petition arose to remove him from the game :
Too bad it was run on Petition Online, which NCSoft has a public policy of ignoring, along with many other current and former IDSA/ESA members.

It's also not like he's learned any lessons from his time at the helm of City of Heroes. Remember Marvel Universe Online? Don't? Well, it was a City of Heroes Type MMO that Cryptic Studios (Jack's studio) were going to make for Marvel as part of the fall-out from the Marvel lawsuit against Cryptic / NCSoft. MUO was being made in conjunction with Marvel and Microsoft for the Xbox 360 and Vista platforms. However, MUO was canned at the last minute... Want to know why it was canned? According to Microsoft execs (talking off the record)... they reported the game was canned it because it did not meet quality expectations. Let me repeat that. Microsoft, the company known for shipping products before they are complete ( ), has a long history of ignoring any kind of quality guidelines ( Zune ), stated that a game designed by Jack Emmert... did not meet quality guidelines. How BAD was MUO for Microsoft to can it?

Fact is, when Jack Emmert was ejected from City Of Heroes, and NCSoft took over full control and ownership, as well as most of the development team... In fact even adding some old developers back in. Sean Fish, better known as Manticore, was one of the developers responsible for bringing CoH to life. However, as he worked for NCSoft, not Cryptic, he had not been involved with the game for years. He's back. Matt Miller (Positron), Melinda (WarWitch), and everybody who had worked on I10, I11, and I12 were moving to NCNorCal, the new studio for City of Heroes. The news that Jack was being ejected from the game, permanently, resulted in Pocket D being filled to capacity with Dance parties... it's not often I see Pocket D1 / Pocket D2 on non-special events... but the nights immediately after it became known that Jack was gone? It happened... Not to mention the song parody's... some of which were distinctly NOT work safe... not even sailor safe for that matter.

Basically, don't get stoked about Champions Online. Maybe, just maybe, it could be good. But the guy who is helming development is the same guy that the vast majority of City of Heroes actively despises... and can readily rattle off various reasons as to why they hate Jack, and as to why they have no hope for Champions Online.

Frankly, Champions Online won't fix Jack's (Kitty Litter), and he'll probably still be heaping it upon anybody stupid enough to check the game out.


Further edit : on a more personal note. Jack was also the guy responsible for changing the Fire Aura power Burn to include a -mob run effect. Fire Aura is supposed to be the offensive Tanker set, with more Damage than other sets. Fire Tanks used to be able to gather up a mob, and then drop Burn for a very heavy Damage over time effect. Combined with Fire Sword Circle and Combustion, Fire Tanks could drop a mob faster than a scrapper or a blaster. With the -mob run attachment though, Fire Tanks were severely nerfed. Burn is still a heavy DoT power, but unless you have a controller around who can keep enemies in place, it's next to useless as it sends enemies running away. Sort of pointless when the job of a tank is KEEP enemies in one place. Not send enemies running away.

Okay, next post.

Joshua Jericho, the artist behind WTHcomics stepped in to talk about how annoying CoH was at low levels. I almost went off on a long tangent about Tabula Rasa... very good reason why I haven't talked about it. The new lead developer made a big mistake in his entrance letter, and instead of downplaying or omitting PvP play altogether, Tabula Rasa is now trying to force a PvE engine into a PvP game. That, however, is a topic that can be addressed later.

In this post I also go over Faultline, which is one of the first maps to be zone missioned. To get an idea what I mean, a Map of Faultline is available here : Each of the rectangles is a zone, and each of the 4 contacts only sends you to missions located in their rectangles. So if you get a mission at level 15, you won't be sent all the way to the area that's colored red.

There also is another unsubstantiated claim in this post, that of WarWitch claiming that all the sub level 30 zones were scheduled to be redone according to the Faultline pattern. I remembered something being said about reworking all of the low level spawn areas, but was unable to obtain a link where such a claim was made by the development team themselves.

On with the posts:
JoshuaJericho:: Awesome! Glad to hear it. I'll never get to 50 though. >.> That whole Hollows trap you talked about pretty much did me in. The running back and forth thing really hurt too, I got mentally exhausted. In the end I'll say this: WoW is the most user-friendly game but the end game is annoying as hell. CoH is conceptually really cool but mean to the players, and FFXI was my favorite but the community killed that game for me as I got tired of elitists and people ruining parties by being jerks to often.

So, MMO is the crap and I'm done with them. =P

Not really, I still play them all on occassion.
I agree about FFXI. Same thing happened with Tabula Rasa for me. I loved the game itself, but I'd be hard pressed to say it had a community. FFXI annoyed the living daylights out of me as the only way to really progress in the game was to get in a group... but because of the WorldPass featureBUG, you probably were not going to wind up on the same server as your friends to play. Tabula Rasa's community basically has forced a PvE game to go PvP...

The good news about CoH is that back in Issue 9 the devs started working on making the game less... hostile... at the earlier levels. One of the points I mentioned was the a'la Faultline. Faultline used to be a true hazard zone like the hollows. You went into it an inappropriate level (level 12). Inappropriate being that Faultline contained several huge cliffs and drop offs... that without a travel power... you were hosed to get out of. If you had missions that took you into Faultline, you'd easily find yourself running through level 20's at level 12... not exactly fun. The entire Faultline map was redone to flatten the level out. Less drop offs and crevices. Missions were also changed so they started at level 15, after you had your travel power. Some missions still haven't been rebalanced, you can still be sent to hunt Vahzilok at level 12... and Numina's Task Force sends you to hunt Vahzilok as well... who have a very limited respawn time. Other changes to Faultline also included Zone Appropriate missions. Basically each contact would send you to a specific zone with enemies leveled for that contact. So if you went in at 15 to start, you wouldn't be completely out of your league, with the highest average enemy level you'd run across being 18. When you hit 20 and can complete the second half of the missions in Faultine, the highest enemy you can run into will be 25. Enough to send you running... but you won't be one shotted either.

Melinda (WarWitch) has pretty much stated that all of the sub-30 levels will eventually be reworked to follow the Faultline pattern. I hate the current Hollows, but having played on the Test Server Version Melinda has cooked up, it's much easier to live with.

Other changes for "new" players is the addition of radio missions in Kings Row. Completing the Kings Row safeguard mission grants you a jetpack... which you can get on average around levels 5-6.. .well before you get a real Travel Power at 14.

So the current CoH isn't as Hostile as it was before. Going back to Champions Online, it's important to remember that Jack Emmert likes to be hostile to new players. He likes impossible challenges. Sure, I like challenges to. I love trying to complete Statesman's Task Force for the Master Of Statesman's Task Force badge. Sure, it requires nobody dying, and using no Temporary powers... which isn't easy when the first mission has one arch-villain at 51, the second mission has 4 arch villains at 52, the third mission has the Arch-Villain that forms the basis of the Villain-Side respec, the forth mission has 5 archvillains at level 52... then the fifth mission with 5 archvillians, all at level 54. It's bloody hard. Same with Faathim. I love the Faathim Task Force, although the average completion time is 3hours Plus, mostly due to travel time and being unable to call the contact.

On the other hand... these events are end-game... where you WANT a challenge. I would not wish the difficulty of STF or Faathim on anybody whose just starting up the game... but that's the kind of difficulty Jack wanted across the entire game. My biggest concern about Champions Online is that the guy responsible for turning players, such as Joshua... away... is the guy helming the project.

Other points I skipped out on is that Jack E. has a reputation for running his mouth when he shouldn't. He's not as bad as Peter Molyneux, exampling the massive fallout from Fable... but some of the stuff Jack has promised before specifically for City of Heroes is unique color options for players attacks. Exampling a Fire Tank, where most attacks are colored Flame Orange. Jack promised to be able to change the colors to Blue, or white. He's also promised Tanks the ability to walk down a street, pick up a car, and throw it at enemies. Jack also ran his mouth about Incarnate Classes and Level 60 by issue 10.

Problem is, I look at what he's claiming for Champions Online... and it reads like his exclamation sheet of everything that City of Heroes was to get. So I'm having a hard time taking anything the guy says with anything less than 5 barrels of salt.


Now, before I start ranting here... Issue 12 will be released for CoH in a few weeks, and probably will be accompanied with a free trial. That might be a good time to take a look at it again. Just... avoid Freedom server. (Personally, I'd say come to Triumph... but I just don't see other people reading this forum wanting to join a Cat-based supergroup... or a schoolgirl based supergroup... (don't. ask.)).

Ryeata popped up next. Ryeata is one my compadres from Clan VT, so veteran Unreal players, as well as players of F.E.A.R. Combat, might recognize VT-Ryeata. He's been a sounding board for my game reviews on multiplayer content for years. He brought up the subject of WarHammer Online, which I haven't talked about. I've been invited by the developers to look at Dark Age of Camelot before during an E3. I walked away... impressed. Anyways, Ryeata's dream is also to be cannon fodder in a Webcomic.

Okay, that's not his dream, but you wouldn't know it by another post he made in the WTHforums.

I'm also NOT going to bother spell checking his post and fixing the grammar. Trust me on this, he's much more intelligent than his typing skills would leave you to believe. I personally lay the fault on too much Counter-Strike.

After Ryeata came an occasional CoH player, Symbolis, whom the bulk of my response was aimed at. As I don't know Symbolis, his post is not copied here. The basis of Symbolis's post is that he views CoH as a solo type game. Well, for some classes of players, it can be, but we'll get into that later.
Ryeata :: Hey Ryeata here been a long time fan of your comics. But ya i noticed you and me buddy talkin bout some MMO stuff. Im the same as you man it was so hard to get to that 20 mark in COH specially having to go through the hollows. But hey if you do want to play WoW to the end game stoof come over to Sisters of Elune and ill show ya the ropes on pretty much everything. But ya one game to check out that you may like cause its pretty much different then any other MMO ive played (( Its got of elements from diff MMO's IE: the Seige type deal from from that one game "Saist back me up here my memmory is shot >_< href=""> im tellin ya man it has everything it needs to be a great game the dev's are really into it and... well just check it out my inate rambling will just confuse you even more :D.

pssst, it was called Dark Age of Camelot. I've semi-joked to Rye before that WarHammer Online is basically Dark Age of Camelot 3, a reference to almost complete generational leap from the first DAoC to what the developers are attempting now. I liked DAoC, but it came out when I was extremely heavy into Planetside... and I'd rather play an FPS over a more traditional RPG setting.


Symbolis : The teaming, or lack of teaming, largely depends on what server you are on. City of Heroes is very much about Team Play, and always has been, and always will be. Example, Defender classes are very much in need of a team. At high levels they only have 1/3-1/2 of the attack power a blaster has. The main problem is finding people to play with. Also, given some of your build choices, I'm not surprised you would have difficulty finding a team. Kin controllers never make good team players. Basic problem being that Kinetics is a buff / debuff class all on it's own. In order to be a good kinetics, you can't do anything but kinetics. As a secondary set, you get Transference and Fulcrum shift way to late in the game to be useful on Katie Hannon Task Force, Citadel Task Force, or Manticore Task Force. Then there's the problem that the kin buff / debuffs are only 70-80% the strength of their Defender counterparts. Where-as a Kin Defender can easily shut down the regen rate on a Giant Monster or AV by spamming Transfusion, a Kin controller can't. Same thing applies to the -Storm build. A Storm defender can completely shut down a Malta Sapper's or Carny End-Drain with O2 Boost. A Storm Controller can't.

Anyways. One of the things to keep in mind is that some of the servers are heavy on the Themed SuperGroups. My primary server, Triumph, is one of those. If you aren't in Triumph to join a particular SuperGroup, such as Feline Fellowship, Feline Foundation Z, Girls of Nukem High, and so on, you probably won't have an easy time finding a team. Other servers like Guardian and Infinity tend to be heavily geared towards clique SG play.

Some servers just have bad reputations to begin with for team play, with Justice, Pinnacle, and Protector easily topping the list of servers I hear people complain about.

Freedom tends to be the Farming Server. It stays popular because it stays in a yellow loaded condition. Since Freedom attracts new players though, it also attracts people who DO NOT know what they are doing. I've ranted several times on about some of the idiotic builds I've seen on Freedom. Fire Tanks not taking the Leaping set for Acrobatics, but take fly instead... and wonder why they can't hold aggro. Kinetics of both controllers and defenders skipping Increase Density. Illusionists not taking either of their native stealths or Recall Friend. I've seen stone tanks that in full granite that can't hold a level 50 Arch Villain. I've seen controllers that only took their first and second primary powers, then filled up the rest of their attacks with pool powers... Granted, I have seen an invuln tank on Triumph that only took his first primary defense that he couldn't skip, and then filled out everything else with pool powers and attacks because he wanted to be well-rounded. I had no problem taking a real-kin to 50 in under 2 weeks on Freedom server because I had a bloody clue about what I was doing. Quite literally when I hit 50 I still had a Faultline mish, a Brickstown mish, and a Founders Fall mission in my to-do log. Had to go into /hide to do my own missions.

Virtue tends to be popular as it's a heavy RP server. I detest referring to any server as the RP server because, lets face it, the game is a ROLE PLAYING GAME to begin with... Virtue's just a little more strict about people staying in character. If you don't stay in character, it's hard to get teams around Virtue.


The best advice I can give for finding a team is to check out your servers Global Channels. More often than not hanging around the Servers Badge channel will get you a lot of teams. There are some cases where a server has a private badge channel. E.G. Triumph created it's own Global channel called Triumph Watch. It's a private channel, but it also allows the mods to enforce keeping jackasses out of the channel.

Alright, that's it for the post round up. Some of the subjects addressed I will follow up on later.