Meta's Verse: CoH Anniversary Interviews Pt 2
By Meticulous Meta, OnRPG's Paragon Reporter
Answers by: TwoFlower, CoH OldTimer and Beta Player
Welcome back to the second week of interviews with old timers. We’re leading up to the 8th anniversary of City of Heroes by interviewing players. This week I had the opportunity to interview @Twoflower, a player who has been with City of Heroes since beta. This was a fantastic interview that made me laugh. It was great to hear the thoughts of someone who has been in the game so much longer than I have.
What is your name, age and location in the world?
Stefan Gagne, mid thirties, in Midatlantic Suburban Hell.
What MMO experience do you have?
Honestly, not a ton. The only game I've played for a reasonable length of time was City of Heroes. I'd poked and prodded at a few games before that, but none of them took my fancy.
I've played a few games since then -- DCUO, Old Republic, some other stuff -- but too much emphasis on constantly replacing your gear and having a dozen icon trays full of frequently used skills is not my style. I am looking forward to Guild Wars 2, though, which takes some good pages from CoH (recolor your armor anytime, sidekicking so you can play with your friends, scaling missions suitable solo or on teams, etc.)
When did you start playing CoH?
Beta. Well, prepurchase beta, I wasn't in before that. And I've been locked in as a subscriber ever since.
What was it that made you want to try CoH?
CoH's modernized setting and personal costuming grabbed me more than putting a generic sword through a generic orc's head while wearing generic platemail ever did.
It was the first MMO set in a modern day city, something I can more easily connect with than the rolling countrysides of "Not Europe." I like games that offer something different, something beyond the expectations of genre -- and at the time, MMORPGs were stuck in a rut, trying to recreate Lord of the Rings.
Being able to personalize yourself and never having to wear some horrible spiky yellow shoulderpads just to get the best stat bonus for your class was also a huge upside -- it helps you connect to your character, see them as YOUR creation, rather than just a combination of race and class and build. As time went on, this only got deeper and deeper, to the point where you can recolor powers to make them something other than what the developers say they are. (Dark colored thermal shields look like living shadows, not fire, for instance.)
What server(s) do you play on?
Virtue. And... well, just Virtue. Thank goodness the game offers VIPs a lot of character slots. It started out as the unofficial RP server, and I like to RP, so there you go. Although I don't RP outside of a group of my friends; I don't hang out in Pocket D, for instance.
Which AT is your favorite? What is your playstyle?
I prefer ranged classes. I have trouble scrambling around in melee, trying to figure out what's the best guy to be punching in the head at any given moment -- being downwind of the fight lets me pick and choose targets easier.
CoH has a bit of a loose rule though that "Ranged = Fragile," so if you aren't right in the enemy's face all the time, you will likely die horribly the second something looks at you funny. Defenders, Blasters, Dominators, etc. have little personal mitigation. Over the years that's improved, thanks to IO set bonuses, Arachnos ATs, and other tricks you can pull to make yourself a bit more survivable -- but it's no surprise there's so many Brutes running around when they can solo like a god AND contribute well to teams, compared to a fragile ranger.
What/Who is your main?
I don't really have a main. I've had alt after alt after alt over the years, retiring once I feel I've played them enough, moving on to the next concept. I like to keep my play experience fresh, not repeating use of powersets, trying out new ATs and combos, etc. So at any given moment my "main" can change drastically.
I guess the closest I get is Overlord Magnus, my "What if Reed Richards successfully goaded Dr. Doom into trying to take over the world through legitimate means?" character. He's a hero who's trying very hard to conquer the world by popular vote rather than terror, genuine social change rather than facism -- all to find a stable future for all of mankind.
He started out Traps / Dual Pistols, until I got to 50 and Incarnated him the heck out and... well, then what do you do? Run more trials? Eh. So, I've rerolled him, and now he's a Beam Rifle / Radiation. Like I said... I like to mix things up a lot and stay fresh, even if I keep the same "character."
What feature in the game is your favorite?
It's had its ups and downs, it's got too many fire farms in the Hall of Fame, it's been used and misused... but the core idea is sound. Let the players write their own stories, and play them for normal game rewards. For all those who enjoy MA for what it's supposed to be, a storytelling tool, much love to you. I've written a LOT of story arcs for you and I hope you enjoy them.
I think with more development and features, MA really can be something completely amazing, a core part of the CoH experience. Right now it's languishing a little due to inattention, but even now there's a lot of terrific content out there to play and the tools to make it with are quite powerful. I recommend anybody check it out -- scope out the MA forums to see what stories are new, play a few, and have fun with it.
What is your favorite TF/Trial?
Tricky. I'm not a huge fan of raid content -- I like the rewards, but doing it with random people is an exercise in madness, and I only get one solid chunk of time a week to do them with my own friends. Plus, typically they're incredibly gimmicky and chaotic, which takes me out of the relaxing fighty time game mood I enjoy about CoH.
I'd say of all of them, the one I can run without being too bored or annoyed is probably the Imperious Task Force. And that's because my friends and I are very, VERY good at it. It's like tossing field mice into a wood chipper, I swear -- a constant rampage of murder and XP that doesn't end until WE decide it ends.
Are you in a SG? What kind of group are they?
My group's DFB Crew, named such because our first SG was "Death From Below Crew," a street-level themed hero team (like Luke Cage). But we've long, LONG since outgrown having a single SG or a single theme, so instead we focus on a global channel containing the 10 or so of us, while our many alts are spread out across many SGs.
Because we're also spread out over many time zones, we get together every Saturday for a few rampages, and sometimes meet up a few times during the week. It's very casual and fun and I like being able to play with them more than playing with random dudes.
What is your favorite thing that has come out on the market?
Auras, capes, and costume slots.
"But wait," you say, after tapping me on the shoulder. "Can't you just run a quick mission and unlock those things after you hit level 20?"
"Yeah, but I can't be arsed," I say. "I want to be able to make my characters look the way they should look from level 1 onward, and maybe even have alternate forms in the other slots.
It's a lot easier to pay a reasonably small fee ONCE and get account-wide costume access. Also, who are you and how did you get into my house?"
"Um, OH MY GOD WHAT'S THAT" you say before running for it. And then I call the police.
What would you like to see CoH come out with?
Powersets -- Self-Duplication. It's always been one of my favorite rare comic book powers; the Multiple Man / DupliKate style character who comes at you with an army of selves. Guild Wars 2 is doing something similar with their Mesmer class. I don't know if CoH tech can handle it, though, given how difficult they're finding it to be to give us customizable minions for Mastermind.
Otherwise -- Mission Architect upgrades. Community vetting of content, to ensure true stories and not just fire farms rise to the top. NPC Dialogue chats, even if they aren't branching. Better and more specific placement of mission goals. Things like that.
Do you have a favorite dev? Why are they your favorite?
Dr. Aeon is the man. He's taken on MA and keeps it going through weekly plays and nominees for Dev Choice awards. It's a bit of a red headed stepchild of the game and I applaud him for stepping up and embracing it.
Do you use any of the community run resources?
Paragon Wiki and the Mids hero planner. One unfortunate reality of this game is that it's got so much arcane mechanics that it's rough on starting players -- getting past "SO" level builds and into something that can work past the limits of the archetypes involves a LOT of fiddly little technical know-how. The planner and the wiki together really help, even when you're a veteran.
What is your favorite location in CoH? Why?
My SG base. I established an SG for Overlord Magnus to fit his "villain gone legit" backstory, the Futurist Society. It's a very small, very focused base which specializes in stocking tier 2 crafting salvage in spades. Any time I need to make an IO, I just have to log in an alt in that SG, hit the base, drop the finished work in the bin or mail it to myself, etc. It's SO handy having one stop shopping for all my build needs. Sadly, I can't use the auction house from within the base, but you can't have everything.
What has kept you interested in CoH for all this time?
My friends, first and foremost. Without them, the game can be a very rough road solo unless you enjoy punching things in melee or going REALLY nuts with your build.
Beyond that... well, everything above. Truly personal character customization. Story authoring. A modern setting. Doing things differently from other MMO's on the market. CoH is a very unusual animal in that regard and it's one I approve of completely.
Where do you see CoH going in the future?
At this point, they seem to have nailed down the game mechanics – now it's all about content. More powersets to sell, more Incarnate zones and trials, things like that.
If anything I'm a bit worried that they'll be content to crank out more-of-the-same, since it's working fine as-is. Why do anything really new or radical with an eight year old codebase that could explode if you push it too hard? Fortunately the level they're at now compared to the level they were at at launch, in terms of depth and sophistication of that content, means that even keeping on par would be a good experience.
I would like to say a huge thank you to @Twoflower for taking the time to answer my questions. Another big thank you to Melissa “War Witch” Bianco for being with City of Heroes for an amazing ten years! And finally give you all a bit of news that came out just recently about the anniversary event which has been kept under tight wraps. A free respect will be handed out to all characters! It may seem like a pretty minor announcement but remember that freespecs do not stack. So if you have one already use it before you lose it. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us.