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Vicarious Existence

To blog about what is going on in the MMO genre from a casual MMO player's viewpoint.

Author: UnSub

CoH/V: Positron Gets It Right, Then Wrong. Again.

Posted by UnSub Thursday June 4 2009 at 12:07AM
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Hmm, I seem to be doing a lot of City of Heroes / Villains blogging recently - I'll change that in the near future.

However, as a final look at how Paragon Studios are managing to do the right and the wrong thing at the same time, it is definitely worth seeing how things ended up recently.

In the "doing the right thing" column, Matt Miller (aka Positron, lead developer of CoH/V) popped up again about the changes to the I14 badges and gave the reasons why they were changed. It is an interesting look at how designers work, with the key part being:

So I re-looked at badges, the system as a whole, for really the first time since they were implemented. While implementing them, I've always been focused on the Issue at hand, not at the system as a whole. With Synapse now in charge of the actual implementation I had a chance to look back and see the big picture.

In short, Positron reconsidered exactly what badges should be doing on the whole, rather than just following what had come before. He decided he didn't want badges to encourage farming or poor play, so those new badges that did came out. Positron admits it isn't ideal, but it was the fairest way for him to achieve his design goals.

Agree with him or not, it is always good for a developer to explain things to their player base.

Now, in the "doing the wrong thing" column, Paragon Studios did indeed follow up their threat of banning players who 'exploited' (in their eyes) the Mission Architect system. To do so they executed a ban script that banned accounts that contained offending characters. Unfortunately the ban script didn't have enough testing because it also resulted in players who never set foot in an MA mission being banned and their character deleted if they had a character level pacted with an offending character. There are also rumours of players who teamed with an MA-offending character in the same session but not doing MA missions being banned, but it is hard to verify because the CoH/V forum mods have been very quick to delete threads on the topic. If your account was wrongly banned and your character wrongly deleted appeals can be made to customer service staff, but obviously it is much better not to make such a huge blunder in the first place. 

So: CoH/V Issue 14 was meant to be the issue that provided an exciting new system (Mission Architect and its player created missions) and a big PR boost prior to Champions Online launching in September. The end result was a bit different: multiple post-launch changes to MA, poorly handled announcements and incorrect player bannings has seen this issue be more of a 'two steps forward, three steps back' for CoH/V.