Tuesday, November 15, 2011

WAY too old to be "kiddo"

My favorite MMO, City of Heroes, has undergone numerous changes over the years. Quite a few changes during the first few years had players losing their minds at the "stupid logic" applied by the CEO, who is now gone a couple of years. Since his leaving the company, they game's improvements have been amazing, if not also rather complex. There was once a time when I could sit with a new player and explain the major points of the game within a half an hour, allowing for their questions and such. Now...? Oh, I don't dare offer my aid. The most I'll do is refer them back to the forums for tips on how to get the most out of their characters.

In their first expansion, the makers of the game introduced City of Villains. It wasn't the best in terms of writing, as it seemed the villainous characters players created would often end up fighting other villains. But what they did do was introduce a number of different archetypes that players could create. One such archetype, as far as I'm concerned, corrected something that was missing.

When you make a game based on comic books, you want to be able to mimic certain aspects of the comic book characters. One aspect was that of the Hulk. The more he fought, the stronger he got. With the original game, the best you could manage was a "tank." For tanks, your primary power was defensive, as your job is essentially to keep getting hit while others around you finish off the baddies. Your secondary power set was offense, and the damage dealt was subdued compared to the other melee class, "scrappers."

But City of Villains gave us "the brute." It was the tank, but reverse. You took an offensive power as your primary set, and a defensive power as your secondary set. And the fun part was that the more you fought, the greater your damage output. The game makers won't allow characters that are copyright infringements, but you could certainly crate "The Incredible Schmaltz" if you really wanted to. (Ummm..."schmaltz," for those who don't know, is chicken fat.)

Here's the thing...If you wanted a brute, it had to be a villain. If you wanted an heroic brute, that was your tough luck.

Then came the most recent expansion, Going Rogue. It introduced a starting point in the game where you could choose whatever archetype you wanted. Come level 20, you had to choose between being a hero or a villain. It was at that point that, if you wanted to, you could send the brute you created over to the heroic side.

Now, City of heroes/Villains, also known as CoX by the playing masses, gives free updates to the game. Like a comic book, then call them "issues." The most recent issue, "Freedom," made all sorts of monumental changes to the game, including free play (for two characters), a points system (that let's you "buy" various things for the game...so long as you still pay into it), creating ANY archetype and starting them in any starting point of the game, and numerous story arcs that are completely new.

For that last, one of the new story arcs includes a would-be super group called "The Shining Stars." Your contact, and the groups leader, is Twinshot. She's a trained veteran of some kind of military group, and as the story moves forward, all sorts of things get revealed about her. The story line is also, it seems, an extension of the tutorial. She sends you on a number of tasks that reveal more and more of the game's complex systems. Enhancements, notoriety...how to use the transit system. (Wait...you click on the gate to the tram and you can travel to other zones?!? Amazing!)

Okay...Backing away from the mechanics of the game, allow me to tell you about Thadeus Grimm. He WAS a tank. I didn't like him as a tank. I'd always wanted him as a brute, but when I made him, Going Rogue hadn't come out. I held onto the character I could make, and got him all the way to level 39 - a mere 11 levels before the maximum. And because of his back-story, he was to be a hero.

Y'see, Thadeus wasn't an evil man. He wasn't a good man. So when he died in the mid-1600's, he ended up in a rather boring version of the afterlife that was between Heaven and Hell. He spent centuries petitioning the Powers That Be to let him have a "do-over." Heaven was all for it. Hell was for it, too, but decided to make it tough to accomplish. They put his soul into a freshly rotting corpse, viciously marked it up with scarring and chains, and gave him the terrifying powers of the netherworld with which to do good. Seeing the disadvantages heaped upon him by Hell, Heaven placed the reborn Thadeus Grimm in Paragon City, where a hero is judged by his deeds, not his looks.

Suddenly, I could remake him as I wanted. I deleted the tank version and remade him as a brute. I then started playing through the new stories, happy that there was finally new material in the game. And when I was given Twinshot as a new contact, she, according to her script, stuck me with a nickname: Kiddo.

This is my gripe. "Kiddo." The character is over 350 years old, and she's calling him "kiddo." There has yet to be any evidence that she's a time traveler, and there are quite a few of those in the game. Heck, one of the Shining Stars states he's from the future, and so he MIGHT be able to get away with such a moniker for my character. But Twinshot is, on a guess, an estimated 325 years younger than Thadeus Grimm, and he finds it insulting. (Okay, *I* find it insulting.)

Yes...this whole post was me griping about a nickname given to a fictional character I created inside an MMO. Doesn't your life feel fuller for this information? =P

Be well, and DFTBA!

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