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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

Cryptic Bucks Vaguely Detailed; CoH/V Puts on the (Coloured) Gloves Against ChampO

Posted by UnSub Saturday July 18 2009 at 11:10AM
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In answer to the question "What is a Cryptic Buck?" Bill Roper has come out with some more official information on the topic: 

Champions Online will support micro-transactions, but contrary to the concerns of some people, the game is not ‘based’ on them. There are the basic tenets for our micro-transactions:

* The vast majority are aesthetic items, such as costume pieces, action figures, emblems, etc.
* A very few are account-level management tools, such as being able to rename a character
* Micro-transactions should never limit your ability to enjoy the game or reach the level cap
* Any micro-transaction that has a game effect can also be earned in the game through play

Also, it’s important to note that the overwhelming majority of micro-transactions are account-wide. This means if you buy a costume piece or an action figure, every character on your account gets it.

Finally, many of the pre-order programs that we’re finalizing now have cryptic points associated with them. This is a way for us to allow our players to choose their own pre-order reward(s) which falls into our whole customization concept for Champions Online.

So, it's likely to be for cosmetic items in-game, Cryptic doesn't want it to be a 'pay-to-win' system and it has a broader value to Cryptic operations, such as Star Trek Online. However, there still seems to be the "we're not quite sure yet" vibe about Cryptic Bucks from Cryptic - they know they want them, but exactly how they fit hasn't been finalised (or at least that's my perception).

On the topic of superhero MMOs, City of Heroes / Villains (CoH/V) announced the pending release of Issue 16: Power Spectrum. This is the issue that finally, finally, finally introduces powerset customisation (well, a greater degree, anyway) with new animations available for lots of powers and the ability to change the colour of powers. More existing powersets are getting opened up for more Archetypes, so more powerset combinations are possible. And, finally, more mission difficulty options will be made available, so if you wanted your hero / villain to be able to solo a mission but fight opponents scaled for a team of 8, you can.

I've looked at I16 and, although it finally (did I say finally?) meets a long time request of the player base, it just doesn't impress me. Obviously it is coming in to compete with one of Champions Online's key offerings, but however complex it may have been on the back-end (i.e. programming and development) to do, on the front-end (i.e. what the players see) it isn't that much. There will be excitement about finally being able to make that hot pink Dark / Dark Scrapper you always wanted (Emo Revenge Barbie, now with extra pink) it's not something that is really going to pull in new players. If you left CoH/V for any reason other than "I can't make a yellow Ice Tanker", it's not the issue to bring you back. And CoH/V needs to be attracting new players, not just pandering to the base. 

Sure, locking in the base against ChampO is a good move. But they can't duplicate one of its key offerings - customisable power frameworks - and it isn't going to grow the base, only cause it to shrink slightly slower that it would otherwise.

Also, I can't believe that after Paragon Studio's mishandling of I14's Mission Architect system and the banning of players for abusing it and excessive powerleveling, they are going to introduce difficulty settings that will allow for potential abuse and excessive powerleveling, topped off by more efficient mission farming. I'd hope that Paragon Studios wouldn't fall into the same trap again, but I've learned it doesn't pay to be optimistic about such things.