« Economics of FFXI | Main | Lunar, vacant & suburban »

May 12, 2004



They have done an awesome job of designing a game that is compelling, fun, and great for grouping. It even has a nice story line. Not to mention that both the beta and the launch were world class.

lvl 16 defender
justice server






Wasn't Marvel working on a MMPORPG where players could choose to be one of the charactors?



From the press release: "'We're obviously pleased with the early results of these launches,' said Robert Garriott, president of NCsoft North America."

Isn't that supposed to be RICHARD Garriott, more famous as has alt, Lord British? Or does he have a brother?

I agree with the others: City isn't necessarily innovative, but it's learned the lessons of the other games and was well-managed. I'm looking forward to seeing if it has legs.

Hellstrom, level 15 controller with the Avatars of Justice (http://www.avatarsofjustice.com) on the Justice server


Richard Garriott is Richard Garriott. He moved to NCsoft long ago.

He's also going to launch his project by the end of the year. The official site went online today at:



Robert Garriott is Richard's older brother.



Robert Garriott gets mentioned frequently in Borland & King's Dungeons & Dreamers too, fwiw.


.1m down, .9m to go! :)


It's not that I don't wish them all the luck in the world... I hope they make a million users... but I'll kiss your butt if it happens :)

knock on wood and all... I really don't wanna jinx em.


Well 60k Users for Lineage 2 is a brilliant result if we think that the game was designed for an Asian market and the US market in this case is just a side market. It would be interesting to know the provenience of the 160k subscribers, if they are moving from other MMOGs to the new ones, if they are adding new accounts to their existing account pool or if they are just new customers. But I suppose we will never know (even if it is reasonable to assume at this stage that EQ, SWG, UO and DAOC did not increase their subscriber pool in the last months and most probably they lost subscribers).
In any case a source of hope for the several dozens of MMOGs in development.


It would be good know how much people with multiple accounts boost that number artificially. I know personally that I never have more than one account in a game (I'm a tightwad about that stuff). I imagine most people are the same, but I guess I could be wrong about that. I also don't know how many accounts the crazies buy.

That said, Lineage always seems to have numbers that look good at least on the surface. I personally don't like that franchise, but they clearly have it figured out.

And to you TN authors... I don't know how they missed your list. And I don't think it's a surpise to anyone they got 100k subscribers. The buzz on that was considerable. Superheroes is a great idea and I don't see how it can fail. I haven't actually played, but word on the net has been kind. I'm not in-the-know or anything, but I think it'll be a gold mine if they treat it right.


Are there any particular criteria to get on that "More Worlds" list? Could Furcadia get a link on there? :X)

Most of the professional game developers I hang out with around here are all playing City of Heroes now, and have been since the beta. They all love it. My business partner had me make a character and try out the intro scenario, I have to say the avatar customization is the best I've ever seen. Generally speaking, it seems like the game benefits from "knowing what mistakes other games have made, and actually avoiding making most of them" more than most other games have, that's why I think it's doing well.


What an untapped genre! I wonder what will be the subscription impact when movies like Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles or Spiderman 2 comes to the theaters.

I was going to wait for World of Warcraft, but with such good "word of mouth", I'm gonna have to try it myself.

How do I powerlevel up to you guys? Maybe I need to schedule a game-a-thon.



WOW is definitely a game to watch to see if the EQ'ers will move their guilds. Read a few of the guild websites, and it seems that more and more of them are disbanding inside of EQ and waiting to sign up for WOW.

Another new game that should be watched is Guild Wars. It's by the original developers from Brilliant now working for Arena.net Their "free-Alpha" testing the weekend of e3 had over 100K of players test the servers. With the new streaming technology, the alpha version was basically lag free. There will be no waiting for bug patches, Arena will be able to do that seamlessly without the user knowing or downloading/installing.

But the big news on Guild Wars is that it can be played for free. No monthly fees. The only charge is for the expansion packs. News on that anyone? Is this the next "click and add-on" pricing?


City of Heroes: fun.

It is more game-like and less world-like. More linear than most massively multiplayer games - you are given one person to get missions from, then when they run out of things for you to do, they send you on to someone else. No choices, no wondering what to do. Go here / do this / etc. There is no crafting except combining augments to your powers (chance of failure - click and see if you succeed/fail). Most options for your character are chosen at character creation time, but a certain amount (which new power to get from two or three choices, which power to add augments to) is done at each level.

As for multiple accounts - the one I bought is for my husband, so if I want to play the game with him I will need to buy another account. He also wants our son to play with him; I could share my account with my son, or buy him a 3rd one. You probably see how it can add up.

Unlike Everquest-with-DX9 or Star Wars Galaxies, there is little perceivable lag in City of Heroes. It is much better in terms of playability and it does not appear to sacrifice graphics quality for this.

I noticed a few bugs. I made a "Controller" character and she grouped with a "Scrapper" character who I'd noticed was playing through the tutorial in parallel with me. When she ended up next to Ms Liberty just as I did, I started up a conversation. We teamed up and fought a bunch of thugs together, died together once. You can find your teammate on the map (you are highlighted in green, teammate in yellow). But when she went LD or went to another zone (I couldn't tell), she stayed in group with me. It wasn't till I was trying to switch to my own mission that the game told me she was LD. The group interface still showed her as "mission."

The game tells you that the Scrapper archetype is by far the easiest to solo with. This may be true at higher levels. At the lower levels, I found the Blaster much easier to solo with because of its high damage output combined with the ability to immobilize opponents (otherwise they run, and it's hard for the Scrapper to catch and finish them off, because Scrappers have no ranged attack and no hold ability. I think later they will get one - maybe a knockdown or immobilize attack - but Blasters start with one, or at least mine did.) The Controller was also able to solo well enough, though not as easily as the blaster, because she could stop opponents from attacking, hold them in place, and heal herself. But her damage output was much less so it took her a lot longer to kill the enemies.

My husband tried out Tanker and could solo with it but he died more often than I did. He enjoyed it very much, though, especially the fire resist power/fire sword combination.

The linearity of the mission structure makes the game seem both easier to play and shallower. I have also been playing Toontown lately with my son. In many ways, City of Heroes and Toontown seem related. The main difference in gameplay is that the combat is completely different (of course); City of Heroes has much more of your character's abilities selected up front, rather than as you go; and Toontown has more of the traditional MMORPG activities other than combat. In Toontown you can buy furniture for your home and arrange it, have guests over to visit your home, and buy new clothing outfits and change your clothes. You can get your missions from any contact in Toontown, but only your own specific contact in City of Heroes, but that isn't a difference; the missions in Toontown are approximately the same no matter who you get them from.

Though your costume is much, much more elaborate in City of Heroes, according to the game, once created it can never change.

Creating the costumes is a lot of fun in City of Heroes. There are a few glaring omissions, and I am guessing the ease of view is due to the simplicity of character rendering -- no capes, no flowing skirts, nothing like that. But, you can create from a broad palette of bright and dark colors (though very few neutrals - almost all the light colors are pastels or metallics. I would've liked more shades of beige and off-grays myself, for subtlety - but superheroes aren't really about that). My Controller had a flowing red ponytail streaked with aqua, a translucent covering for one eye, a translucent veil over the lower half of her face, and I dressed her in a pretty celtic-patterned armored bodysuit, colored dark grey with turquoise highlights. My Blaster had a shock of yellow hair and dark red ram's horns. I dressed him in red-gold tights with ornate patterns covering them. I saw some really hideous combinations and some beautiful ones. You can also make many superheroes who look like they are on their way to one or another type of singles bar -- I saw the flaming cowboy, the black leather corset with bikini bottom and thigh high boots, and the latex nurse suit. You can give your hero any suitable human skin tone or you can go with a green or purple skin if you prefer.


Y'know, I was torn between Lineage II and City of Heroes and hadn't purchased either yet (though I was leaning to the City). After reading this, yeah I'm in. City of Heroes, here I come!

(And there I'll stay until WoW...)


City of Heroes (CoH) has basically no player economy, little loot, no crafting, no way to change your appearance after creation (although that is supposed to be coming Real Soon Now), no game-enforced social interactions (such as cantinas in SWG), no PvP whatsoever, and no ability to change the world in any way through your actions.

CoH is also a class-based levelling treadmill that really offers absolutely nothing to do in the game except combat. It's a pure levelling treadmill where the only thing to do is to kill stuff with the sole result being that you get more powerful so you can kill bigger stuff.

As a jaded veteran of most MMOGs (and a well-informed observer of most of the rest) this is a recipe for exactly what I was NOT interested in buying next!

And yet, CoH is fun. It's the beer and pretzels game of MMOGs. I liken the gameplay to a cross between Diablo and Tribes with SWG's graphics engine. At release it was already well balanced and polished with no horrible bugs or gaping holes in mechanics or content where something was either started but not completed or obviously tacked on at the last minute.

Other than a little bit of "shopping" to upgrade your powers and "questing" consisting of running to your "contacts" to get your next missions, there is nothing to do but combat. Wander the streets and fight or go into an instanced "mission" and fight are really the only game-provided activities available to you. And while you do need to do that shopping bit, once out of the tutorial you never have to do any missions if you don't want to, at least not for many many weeks into the game. The missions mainly provide some story elements and instanced "dungeon" adventures which you can solo or share with friends or strangers in a focused progression free of interference from other players.

Fortunately, the combat is just plain fun. The action is generally intense, player interaction is required almost continuously, the visual effects are vivid and often humorous. The context is ripe for roleplay if you're into that, easy to pick up if you're a novice at it, yet easily ignored if you don't want to bother with it. Downtime is minimal, naturally depending on your character class or group composition, but generally ranging between a couple seconds to a couple tens of seconds between fights - more than a minute of downtime is almost unheard of. Yet you have almost complete control of the pace, with most combats starting when you move into range of a mob - I've yet to see or hear of a wandering mob, mobs never respawn while you are in a mission, and you have to be pretty unlucky or idle for a long time for mobs to spawn on top of you outdoors.

Most characters can group or solo well, and grouping is rewarded not by arbitrary artificial experience rewards but by true force multipliers of combined arms. Most all combats are against multiple opponents, or at least have that potential. The action in combat is continuous but the pace is such that you generally have a enough time to react to new events and choose to do something without dying instantly (unless you do something stupid like wander too far in over your head of course).

And this game has support for casual playstyles in spades. Don't have hours to spend? Go romping through the streets for whatever time you have. In a mission when a friend logs in? Invite him to the group, and he sees where the mission is (zone and then indicator on zone map) and once in the mission he can see the same mission map everyone else sees showing what has been explored and who is where in the mission.

"Zoning" itself is the fastest I've seen in any zoned game yet. The mass-transit system between zones is quick, free, and with basically no wait times. All characters have access to all sorts of travel enhancing powers as they level, some of which are also useful for helping others travel such as group fly and teleport. Chat capabilities are well-fleshed out with the standard local, zone, group, guild, tell, and a unique friends options.

Want to play with someone who is way ahead or behind you? If the level spread is such that you can't productively play together, the high level can sidekick the lower level, temporarily bringing the lower level up to his level minus one as long as they stay reasonably close (within a couple city blocks it seems). Some of the higher-level zones will still be off-limits and there are issues if too many of a group's members are sidekicked when attempting the highest level missions available to the group, but the capability is there to at least PLAY together.

This could well be the sleeper hit of the MMOG world. I had no interest in the super-hero environment, was completely jaded by the past treadmills and empty (and horribly buggy and incomplete!) sandbox offerings, and no real faith that any of the games under development would find a way to break the ennui. In spite of being very well-read on what is going on in the MMOG development world (including the public discussion of CoH since pre-beta) I was completely blindsided by the actuality of the experience of playing CoH. CoH's developers have put the game back into MMOG's, and, who'ld've thunk it, made it fun. What a concept!

Does it have legs? Beats the heck out of me! I wouldn't have predicted Diablo to have legs but a great many people played it for a year or more. All I know is it's well worth the $50 + $15/mo to play it for now, and pretty much every single person I know who has ever played any MMOG and bothered to try CoH is enjoying it so far.


It was certainly on my 'More Worlds' list, if you recall. Of course it has almost no economy to speak of, so I can see why you'd pass it by without a second glance.

The game hits the mark where PlanetSide failed. It's an action-oriented persistent world that drops you straight in as a capable character, doesn't punish casual and/or solo players, and avoids weighing down advancement by forcing increased character management overhead onto players.

Simply put, it starts out fun and only gets better.

The character generation system is to fun to avoid making characters on several servers, but I mainly play as:

Name: Downsized (lvl 13 el/el tech blaster)
Server: Victory


Here's another one that's up and coming. From the press release, they say that over 200K accounts were made to play the game in alpha:

Players Create More than 200,000 Accounts to Play the Five-Day E3 Demo





Looks like the CoH economy is off to a jump start.

The comments to this entry are closed.