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mygif

COH is still big? I haven’t really played it since Villains came out. I have like 3 level 50s but after fighting for hami-os and having them nerfed I stopped playing.

Champions was just a lesser version of COH to me. I really thought it was going to be ok but I really preferred everything COH did better. I sometimes think of getting back into COH but I might just try DCUO instead.

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mygif

City of Heroes is one of the bigger MMOs that’s not fantasy-based. Warcraft is obviously the biggest out there. I don’t know which of the scifi MMOs (EVE, Star Trek Online, is Star Wars Galaxies still out there) although I know the Matrix ended about a year ago (ironic in that the basis of the Matrix itself is akin to a virtual-reality MMO).

CoH had its moments where it could have failed, but the shift in developers from the idiot obsessed with Balance (Statesman) to developers more involved with content and fun (Positron) brought the players back. That, plus the challengers to the Hero MMO market (Champions Online for example) came out too late and with issues of their own.

The problem with DCUO will be the lack of playing the established heroes: the inability to log in as Batman (even using a downloadable template of Batman’s powersets and specs) is gonna hurt. Nobody wants to be a sidekick.

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JoeHelfrich said on October 17th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

WoW just announced that they have 12 million active accounts, which is a bit more than 10 times CoH. Now, that’s spiked by the China market, where the model is pay for minutes rather than pay by the month, but it’s a good bet that the active subscription accounts number well over 5-6 million.

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mygif

“Imagine buying a game called, “DC Universe Online”. Imagine getting home, spending the half-hour to an hour that it takes to install the game, jumping through all the hoops to get registered, logging in…and finding out that you can’t play as Superman. Or Batman.”

I’m not sure why anybody should be surprised by that, or how else it would work. It’s an MMORPG. Having a couple hundred Supermen and Batmen per server running around at the same time would be kinda weird, wouldn’t it? Were players on other MMOs shocked to find they couldn’t be Luke Skywalker or Aragorn?

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mygif

125,000 subscribers

Sadly, more than the best selling DC titles sell in the current environment.

DC probably has some amount of tempered expectations given the economy still sucks. (Although maybe DC Online will successfully pick up a lot of people who have been unemployed forever and want to do something.)

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mygif

I think DCUO has a shot, if only because there’s precedent. Everquest was the big dog on the scene before WoW showed up. And as far as I was ever able to tell, WoW’s biggest selling point was that it was being sold to people who wanted to play in the established “Warcraft Universe” rather than because it was that much more innovative than Everquest was. The same argument holds – anything truly innovative in WoW could have been added to Everquest, but it wouldn’t have helped because WoW was pulling in players who wanted to play in the Warcraft world, not players who wanted to play a “fantasy MMORPG”. DCUO has a chance of doing something similar in a way that Champions Online couldn’t – the number of folks who were going to turn to a Champions MMORPG just because of the Champions brand is pretty small.

That said, I still don’t expect it to do well primarily because of the “NPC problem”. In tabletop games, any GM who has his players playing second fiddle to his NPCs ends up running a lousy game with angry players. DCUO is going to have to walk that same line – if the established heroes are part of the world, then you run the risk of having your playerbase playing second fiddle to Superman and Batman. If you constantly remove those heroes from the story altogether, then the things that make the DCU game uniquely DC are gone. It’s a tough road to walk.

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mygif

The fact that you cannot be Batman in DCUO means that you’ve already sort of lost the game even before you’ve played it. Thisi s of course not only true for the players, but the NPCs as well. Yes, even Superman has lost the game by not being Batman.

In all seriousness, unless this game gets stellar reviews I’m sticking with CoH. All the recent additions have made the game a lot more interesting for me.

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mygif

Jer: I’m not so sure that’s the case. In the Warcraft universe there are also established character NPCs, and the feeling of “playing a sidekick” isn’t there. I don’t see why it would be different for DCUO.

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Walter Kovacs said on October 17th, 2010 at 4:56 pm

I doubt anyone would be suprised by the fact that they don’t get to “be” the big heroes, but it does create a problem to some extent.

In the case of most MMOs you don’t expect to play “established” characters, instead making your own. However, in most of the games, the big names aren’t out and about with you. In Star Trek Online you won’t keep running into Spock or Data, in Star Wars Online you won’t be fighting alongside Chewie and R2D2, etc, etc, etc. In many of those cases the world is established to the point where being in it is enough.

With the DCU though, the World isn’t vastly different from ours. It’s not futuristic (Star Wars/Star Trek) or like the past (World of Warcraft/D&D/LotR/Pirates, etc). The thing that makes the World a unique IP isn’t just the toys you get to play with (Phasers, the Force, magic, etc) or the ‘races/groups’ (Federation, Klingons, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Ogres, etc) but the individual characters. Because of that, you need them around, and it creates the “sidekick” problem.

Now some people may actually want to be able to coexist with the characters (most of the other ‘IP based’ MMOs avoid that, with the important characters as figureheads or end bosses, mission givers, etc) but if you had Luke Skywalker following your character around, or your missions ending up being “help Aragorn become king”, it may seem a bit hollow.

The key part for DCU is not so much being able to “team up” with heroes or villains, but more being able to fight your opposites. Being Batman’s sidekick may not seem like a great “role” to play, but going up against his rogue’s gallery? May seem more fun to be fighting named villains, even if they are “mooks”, rather than fighting relatively pointless people. Games without IPs generally make their own stories and history, but this comes with it built in. So, at the very least, many of the adversaries you fight will be a bit “deeper” than you’d face in most other games.

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mygif

You’d think it would be hard to botch the MMO model so badly that you couldn’t make money, but you’d be wrong. Just look up the aftermath stories for APB. Along with all its other major problems, the developers spent their entire budget before the game released, without accounting for post-release work and costs.

Heck, you only have to look at MMORPG offerings in general to see that something isn’t quite right somewhere in the process. So many get delayed a year. Managements wanting a WoW clone, in a market where you aren’t going to succeed unless you are different from WoW (and probably aren’t going to succeed even then.) The Final Fantasy XIV China debacle. Heck, Final Fantasy XIV in general. The mess that was the Conan MMO. People comparing DCU Online’s combat unfavorably with CoH, when CoH is six years old and didn’t have great combat in the first place. The general environment that causes EVE Online to focus on adding new content (which gets new press and new subscribers) versus fixing the (sometimes major) currently broken content.

Publishers and developers think that MMOs are easy money because you just have to build the game and then can rake in massive profits every month, and it probably isn’t hard to pitch MMOs to unknowning funders, but then you have to actually create the game and things get a bit wobbly.

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mygif

@JoeHelfrich: Absolutely right. I looked up the numbers and somehow managed to think that 120,000 times ten was 12,000,000. Apologies for the elementary math error. :)

@JLarking: CoH made a lot of improvements since Villains came out. They hit a bit of a stumble when Architect was released, but they’re going stronger than ever right now.

@Baines: The Conan MMO is still going, actually. So’s EVE. That’s kind of my point; despite delays, problems, bugs, and the general difficulties of game balance and content development for an MMO, remarkably few have actually folded. Heck, Star Wars Galaxies is still around, and that’s widely regarded as being worse than cancer. :)

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Tales to Enrage said on October 17th, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Part of the problem with any MMO launch also comes from whether or not the came could be called “done” when it’s launched. Obviously no MMO is completely done until the very last patch, but there’s always the question of what features were promised, versus what features were actually included in the launch frame. Any experienced MMO player knows that there will be initial bugs, since you can rarely (I would say never, but it depends on the size of the game and the QA department) get all of the major bugs out of an MMO before it’s released. And players will find all sorts of problems you never even heard of while testing. Even less experienced players will typically be able to handle bugs as long as they’re not game breaking, or don’t actively erase progress you already made.

But when you’re told that there will be vehicle combat, and then no one can get a vehicle….well, that’s the kind of thing that becomes a deal breaker. Even if it’s going to be patched in later, most players won’t stand for that, because there is no guarantee of when the “vehicle patch” will actually come, and whether it will work or not. So that’s the real question for me when it comes to DCUO. It’s not “Why can’t I play as Batman?” because that’s pretty opinion based-and few people would still enjoy being Batman when Batman SithLord99 swings up beside your Batman and asks if you’re a faggot. It will be “Will the things they say will be in the game actually be in the game? And if they aren’t, how many promises will they break?”

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Tales to Enrage said on October 17th, 2010 at 6:55 pm

The game, not the came. But to expand on the problem of not playing epic DC characters, I have one more response-people generally don’t want to be their favorite characters. They want to be themselves, but as cool (or cooler) than their favorites. There’s a reason fanfiction starring yourself, or a thinly veiled version of yourself, has its own term. And for those people, an MMO where you get to be a superhuman trained by your favorite characters will be more appealing than actually being Barry Allen/Wally West, or Hal Jordan.

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mygif

In fairness, you ALSO can’t play Statesman or Manticore… In fact, in the various places you can fight them, they will utterly kick your ass, plus (normally) the asses of your entire team.

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mygif

Actually the figuring about how hard it is to lose money for an MMO is not quite right. Most MMO’s nowadays do not ever get as many subscribers as they do purchasers. (I think WAR for instance had 1 million sales when it came out, and then something like 50,000 subscribers after the first month. Which is a lot of money true, but it is not pure profit. 1 million copies at $50 isn’t $50 million profit. It’s not even $50 million in income. Half of that goes to stores that sold it. The developer will see a fraction of that money. The income from the users who did subscribe? Around 750k a month. Not nearly as much as it cost to run an MMO studio, and again, that doesn’t mean they made 750k in profit.

MMO’s are basically a 100 million dollar lottery ticket. It’s just that a lot of people don’t understand just how the WOW phenomenon worked, and are willing to take a try at picking a winner.

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mygif

I’ve seen enough internet comments that refer to tertiary Batman supporting characters by the first names of their civilian identities to know that there are people out there who have no trouble strongly identifying with sidekicks.

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Kommenczar said on October 17th, 2010 at 7:57 pm

You can’t play Superman? There goes my idea for the revolutionary new site Supergriefery. Hopefully even as an NPC he’ll still be a dick and give you tedious fetch quests with little reward.

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mygif

“In fairness, you ALSO can’t play Statesman or Manticore”

True, but Statesman and Manticore (and the rest of the Freedom Phalanx) are sort of douchebags. Then again, so is Hal Jordan.

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stuntmanzach said on October 17th, 2010 at 8:29 pm

actually you can play as Superman and Batman. I saw a developer interview where they discussed Legends mode, a kind of arena where you fight as actual DC characters, unlocking more as you progress throughout the game. You can even play as the Joker and hit people with a crowbar

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highlyverbal said on October 17th, 2010 at 9:05 pm

No experienced MMORPG player expects to play as Batman. None. Zero. Nada.

Perhaps the casual fan will be shocked by this revelation, but it seems hard to come up with some numbers on how that will affect sales/success. (How many casual fans are they hoping for? Etc.)

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RJFeedster said on October 18th, 2010 at 2:29 am

Lots of MMOs have called themselves “action MMOs” but they weren’t any different then any other MMO. Adding a block button doesn’t make it an action game when combat consists of hitting a button and watching an animation play out over a few seconds while standing statue-like face to face with your enemy.

Outside of a few Korean offerings, there hasn’t been a real action MMO in the west yet until DCUO. I’ve been playing it. It’s a real, honest-to-God action game like God of War or Darksiders. And it’s fun as hell. PLUS it’s an MMO, on top of being a good action game.

This fact alone puts it in it’s own new category. It’ll probably draw some standard MMO folks but it’s also going to draw in a ton of new console players. It’s not going to need to compete with other MMOs because it’s just that different.

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clodia_risa said on October 18th, 2010 at 2:39 am

Perhaps it’s because I play in a tabletop RPG where I play C-list heroes in the Marvel Universe, but not playing as the major heroes isn’t an issue for me.

I’m more worried that they’re using the DC License to make a crappy game to sell to all the fanboys and girls. Honestly, the pushback of the release date made me feel better, rather than worse, since thre hadn’t been any preview of the gameplay at cons. Contrast Guild Wars 2, which comes out sometime next summer, which has had gameplay demos at several cons already.

I’m looking forward to the stories that they can tell about the DCU. So long as it is well designed, well supported, and not just a way to make easy money, I’ll be happy. I hope I’ll be happy.

As the other people said, anyone who doesn’t pick this up on a whim will not be surprised by playing a sidekick, and any seasoned MMO’er knows that there would be no possible way to go through a coherent storyline while playing one of the big, um, umptybajillion.

I do not think that it will be a WoW-killer. Nor can I think of what could be. As long as they are trying to make a good game with its own strengths and weaknesses, then it’ll have a loyal following. Hopefully enough to keep it afloat.

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mygif

I have never played any MMORPG (though i’ve made a character in Gunbound. I don’t know how much that counts), being mainly a console player (and lately not even that), and i’m definitely going to give DCUO a chance. I’ll buy it as soon as its made available, and give it an honest to god try. I don’t know if there’s any other people like me out there, but at least one non-mmorpged people will buy their game. I hope that’s a good sign.

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mygif

I know people are saying that designing an MMO where you actually play as a DC hero is impossible, but I came up with a way. I outline it in greater detail here:

http://fraggmented.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-id-design-dc-universe-online.html

But the basic idea is that it’s entirely instance-based, and when going into the instanced you pick from a list of DC characters, and playing through different instances unlocks new characters. So if there’s already a Batman in the instance, you just pick Green Arrow. And the XP you earn goes to upgrading the heroes you’ve unlocked, so your Batman might be faster or stronger than someone else’s Batman. And so on.

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mygif

I think you’re underestimating the appeal of the fan-fic element of introducing Mary Sue’s into the DCU.

‘Oh look, it’s Superman’s second cousin twice removed from the planet Klepton! Why he has all the powers of superman and is invulnerable to kyptonite. Brainiac doesn’t stand a chance….what’s that? He’s already courting Lois? That is faster than a speeding bullet.’

And so on..

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mygif

Frankly the idea of a DCU game does nothing for me. It means all the restrictions of a static and established universe and the only upside is I might see Superman flying by or catch a glimpse of the Daily Planet.

I’d much rather play in a wide-open universe what something interesting might actually happen.

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mygif

“Oh look, it’s Superman’s second cousin twice removed from the planet Klepton! Why he has all the powers of superman and is invulnerable to kyptonite. Brainiac doesn’t stand a chance”

Isn’t that Mon-El?

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mygif

I would honestly be surprised if they were even touting DCUO as a WoW-rival, there’s pretty much no chance of that. Microsoft cancelled the Marvel MMO as developed by Cryptic since it likely wouldn’t be able to succeed at a WoW-level, and also likely dissatisfaction with Cryptic’s development.

It was really amazing how many of CoH’s own lessons that Cryptic managed to ignore or forget in ChampO. I still play it, but with a sad headshake.

I don’t expect DCUO to be anything but another MUD-derived clone with click-wait-click grind mechanics; the commenter above gives some hope, but I need to see for myself.

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mygif

I was excited about the chance to play as a member of the Green Lantern Corps. When they announced that power rings weren’t going to be available at launch, they lost me as an early adopter.

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mygif

Doesn’t DCUO have something called Iconic Play that will let you play some missions as core characters? I swear I saw something about that somewhere, I was sure it wasn’t just a dream…

I’ve preordered it and will give the beta a shot, anyway. If I don’t like it, I’ll drop the preorder. CoH remains the champion of the genre in my eyes — I really regretted going through with my Champions Online preorder and didn’t bother buying a subscription. (Same with Star Trek Online, though I’ve been thinking of getting back in, with the recent changes.)

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mygif

@gnosis, well yeah, but he could be *your* Mon El!

I’m sure Lanterns and such will be addressed in expansions, although I have no idea how the animations would work. Should they give you a limited selection of icons to represent ring-projections? You can understand the headache it would cause.

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mygif

I was a big DC reader back in the day. (Never really got into Marvel.) If DCUO had come out first, I would have tried it, just to make my own characters in the DCU, and to look for the “Oh, there’s Soandso! That’s the Suchandsuch Landmark!” fixtures.

But I’ve been playing City since launch. I have a full-time job, a commute, a family, and non-computer interests. I don’t have time to start another game, especially one I have to pay for, but that I waste if I’m not playing. At the same time, after years of City, I have zero reason to leave behind all my characters and progress and friends.

Granted, perhaps if I tried DCUO, I’d really like it. But like I said, I’m not going to leave City, and I have time for only one online game at this point in my life.

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mygif

@Somnopolis: They used this screenshot to hype the upcoming release of the game last month. Having them then say “Nah, you don’t get to be part of that” a couple of weeks later cooled my desire for the game by a not inconsiderable amount.

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Dave Van Domelen said on October 19th, 2010 at 9:48 pm

I think people may be underestimating the implicit draw of “you can play Superman!” Sure, experienced MMOers won’t expect to be able to play the signature characters except maybe in specially instanced missions, if then. But as so many are pointing out here, you can’t beat WoW at being WoW. You have to draw in players from outside the existing MMO pool (like CoH did with me…it’s my first and so far only graphical multiplayer game) to make it, and a LOT of the target demographic wants to be able to play Batman or Superman.

You know, just like they can in non-MMO console games.

If you can play Batman himself in Arkham Asylum, why would you want to play a guy who occasionally gets email from Batman in DCUO?

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mygif

@Prodigal, yeah but all that shows is Lanterns hovering and shooting green force blasts from their rings.

You would have GL fans complaining that they wanted to attack Brainiac with an army of flying monkeys, or an elephant, or Tony Danza. Well the Kyle Rayner fans anyway :)

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mygif

Everquest was the big dog on the scene before WoW showed up. And as far as I was ever able to tell, WoW’s biggest selling point was that it was being sold to people who wanted to play in the established “Warcraft Universe” rather than because it was that much more innovative than Everquest was.

This is flatly wrong. Nobody anywhere (okay, aside from a small number of very crazy people) has ever given too hard of a shit about Blizzard’s cruft whether it be in their MMOs, RTSes or RPGs. Warcraft took off because of Blizzard’s reputation for making games that people like playing, and their subsequent delivery of a game that was simply better at giving people who play MMORPGs the things that people who play MMORPGs want out of a game.

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mygif

I want to know what poor bugger has to enter all the 500 cabillion names of existing characters so there’s not someone with a “real” DC hero’s name running around. Wouldn’t they have to do that?

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mygif

WoW just announced that they have 12 million active accounts, which is a bit more than 10 times CoH. Now, that’s spiked by the China market, where the model is pay for minutes rather than pay by the month, but it’s a good bet that the active subscription accounts number well over 5-6 million.

Well, yes, if you define a bit as 10 times (in other words, 100 times overall)

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mygif

@Somnopolis: It shows Lanterns, yes. The reason offered fro not including Lanterns as playable characters had nothing to do with whether players could create Ring constructs, so it comes back to the question of “Can you play somebody with a power ring from day one” being answered “No” to make me not be an early adopter of the game.

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mygif

Maybe I am missing something, but shouldn’t they auction the right to play Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest?

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Candlejack said on October 22nd, 2010 at 4:54 am

They can’t, Dean, because they want to protect the brand. Say the guy who bought the Superman account got his jollies by running around spewing profanity and bigoted bullshit…you know, like most boys on XBox Live do. They can ban him, sure, but that leaves the world without a Superman. Unless they strip the Superman character from his account and resell it, and how would that look?

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Halloween Jack said on October 23rd, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I haven’t played CO, but I have played Star Trek Online, and it has (or had; I haven’t played for a few months) the same problem that DCUO could have: Jack Emmert (formerly “Statesman” of City of Heroes) seemed to assume that 1) they didn’t have to worry about generating a decent amount of game content because there was all of this pre-existing backstory to draw on, and 2) there would be a certain amount of subscribers simply because it was Star Trek. So I suffered through numberless grindy missions in order to level up, spamming the same attacks over and over again, always wincing a little at the drunk-staggeresque character animations, and got to the point where I had to remind myself to play, and eventually ended up canceling.

If DC thinks that they can skimp on the mission or arc building just because Superman or Wonder Woman will occasionally show up in a cut-scene and intone, “Well-done, young hero!”, it’ll be more of the same.

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Halloween Jack said on October 23rd, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Oh, also I wonder if the thing with not including Green Lanterns is because they can’t figure out how to make the power work within the game mechanics.

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