Thursday, May 07, 2009

CoH: The Genius, and Insanity, of Positron Task Force

Those who read this blog know that I like to bash on Positron's Task Force on a regular basis. For many players it is their first introduction to City of Heroes Task Force concept, and for the low level first time runner is little better than a meat grinder. Off the top of my head I can come up with dozens of ways to improve the presentation of the Task Force and update it to actually better fit the story it tells. For starters I would implement cut-scenes to detail NPC interactions that players stumble upon. I would redesign the entire last quarter of the Task Force to be an Epic Fight through Faultline and into the Bowels of the Dam. I could do so much with the game... now.

However, an one-off snarky comment got me thinking a bit more about Positron's Task Force. After promoting my Villain Equivalent, yet again, on the official message boards, somebody responded by asking whether or not it was a good idea to copy a less than fun task force for Villains if the point of the game was to have fun. The poster admitted they hadn't actually read my proposal before making their snarky comment as I had directly addressed such questions in my proposal. I had focused on the importance of making sure the first Task Force villains could encounter would be a lasting and memorable experience that showed off the best of what the game could do at that time.

In the same manner, I had to drop my biased opinions against the Positron Task Force and place myself in the shoes of Jack Emmert and Matt Miller early on in the Life of City of Heroes. I had to forget about all of the stuff I could do now, and think of what they had to work with back then.

For an early task force, the Positron TF was a work of genius. One of the strengths of City of Heroes is the strong focus on Team Combat, and how various builds work together to complement each other. Positron TF was an instruction ground teaching players that alone they were nothing, no matter how great their DPS, how great their defense, or how strong their singular buffs were. The Task Force placed importance on support powers such as Teleport Friend, and encouraged buff types like Empaths to pick up their Revive power as early as possible.

At the same time the task force showed off the best of what City of Heroes had to offer. Players were introduced to NPC wars, as well as a story system that could maintain a consecutive series of missions over a wide range of geographical locations. While that might not seem so special now, as far as I'm aware no other MMO has an instanced missions system like CoH's.

With such a viewpoint, the insanity that is Positron's Task Force takes a different view. It was genius. Twisted, maniacal, and sadistic genius... but genius none the less.
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