Home > Champions Online, Eve Online, Immersion, Monotony, Opinion, Realism > Champions Online Realism – Part II: “Misleading Variety” or “Various Misgivings”

Champions Online Realism – Part II: “Misleading Variety” or “Various Misgivings”

Note: Part I can be found here. The first part of this post was not necessarily a scathing critique of the ‘Help a Citizen’ mission structure, but it was certainly not the most polite. In the interests of being fair, I have to comment on how my view on these types of missions has evolved. You also need to understand that this isn’t a critique of the whole game, or even of the mission structure in general. It is my thoughts on the “Help a Citizen!” sub-category of the missions paradigm.

The great thing about MMOs is that they continue to evolve, (arguably) get better and introduce increasingly complex worlds. Though in all honesty, sometimes this level of complexity is just enough for you wrap your head around. Other times, you have a hernia from all the complications and intricacies involved in the game, and then your hernia has an aneurysm. Not trying to point any fingers. Eve Online.

In Champions Online, The first several missions I received from random citizens in Millennium City were decidedly similar. They had the same time limit, they were instanced, and you had to kill some boss deep inside that instance. It’s the game’s equivalent of repeatedly slamming my junk in a drawer. It’s painful, it’s monotonous, and despite being a novel idea initially, the repetitions have made me detest it.

“The Good” or “Misleading Variety”

But there have been some good improvements overall. For one thing, the latest “Help a Citizen!” missions I got to play have more variety to offer. One had me rescuing a few scientists from the bad guys. Another had me retrieve some critical information in the form of six briefcases. This is certainly a step in the right direction. While the overarching theme remained unchanged, the difference in objectives made it somewhat bearable. Its sort of like adding a padded cushion inside the drawer where I am repeatedly slamming my junk. It doesn’t hurt any more, but its still monotonous and its still boring.

Second, the Crime Computer now lists all of the “Help A Citizen!” quests. This is good for two reasons. First, you can read the mission text in advance, and know what it entails. If it sounds boring, you can decline and move on. Second, the system now guarantees that you will not miss a mission from the citizens, since all of them are listed in the Crime Computer. Being a character that uses a flight power, I can see how someone could have bare minimum contact with citizens on the ground, and as such miss a few of these missions.

The instances, at least the ones I have seen, are markedly different. The textures, the layout and the flow is not necessarily cookie-cutter. That being said, the instances are essentially a finite series of rectangular rooms connected by winding hallways. I have yet to see one instance that does not follow this pattern. Contrast this against, say, the instance structure in World of Warcraft, or even something more open-world like EvE Online.

Finally, as I mentioned in Part I, the quest text now clearly labels the amount of time you have to complete the mission. Previously, you would find out the mission had a time-limit after accepting it, which was annoying. And that leads into my next point…

“The Bad” or “Various Misgivings”

"By 'cross the street' I really meant 'eat shit and die'!" or "I got up this morning thinking about how I could ruin your day!"

…every “Help a Citizen!” mission is still 30 minutes. I don’t understand this. The missions I mentioned earlier, the one in which I had to rescue some scientists, took me 4 minutes to complete. The timer was 30 minutes. On average it takes me seven to eight minutes on a mission. I think the missions can be made a lot more challenging and interesting by imposing stricter and more realistic time limits. If I am going to go retrieve some information in the form of briefcases, how about saying that the briefcases are booby-trapped to destroy the contents in 10 minutes. A simple alteration like that gives the mission a sense of urgency, while simultaneously serving as a tool for driving the mission forward.

Champions Online introduces the public missions format. There are several missions in the game which are out in the open world, and anyone and everyone is free to lend a hand in defeating whatever menace plagues the area. One might argue that such open world events are not a new concept, such as the Ahn’Qiraj gate event in World of Warcraft. But Champions actually tracks all the players completing objectives in the area and assigns them scores based on their level of contribution. You can participate solo, or bring a party of 5 or more, it’s really quite open-ended. The top ten contributors are displayed in public in the area for the length of time it takes for the event to reset. For instance, in the last ‘A Bullet Bound for Biselle’ mission, I had the longest e-peen.

Now for a game that introduces such an open-world idea of missions, it baffles me that the “Help a Citizen!” quests are all instanced. There isn’t a single case where the mission takes place out in the open. It is almost as if all the “Help a Citizen!” missions were designed by an introverted, agoraphobic programmer with a penchant for claustrophobic spaces.

Given the level of programming that must have gone into the public missions, scripting for a solo quest outside the instances should have been elementary. Yet we see an endless stream of instances that, aside from architectural and textural differences, feel the same. You have built an entire city with a plethora of unique locations. Use that to your advantage! I listed some of the ways you can make these missions more realistic and open-world in Part I. Here they are again. A citizen walks up to you and pleads for you to:

  • rid their neighborhood of gangsters
  • help them get home in a tough neighborhood; point A-to-B escort
  • stop a theft at a store nearby; mobs spawn at the front and/or back door and attempt to escape
  • rescue their kidnapped, loved one from an open-world location; the mob spawn is triggered by your location in the ransom exchange area

Can we get some love in this department?

As mentioned in the prior post, the game is still very much in its infantile stage. The changes are arguably for the better, but it remains to be seen if the developers take the time to craft a world that feels authentic and wonderous, or hide behind lame design devices for the sake of bloated content and ease of implementation.

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  1. October 19, 2009 at 2:39 am

    Some very interesting thoughts. While I didn’t mind the lack of variety or the timer so much, what I did mind were the paltry rewards these missions offered. I would have been able to prevent a lot of eye rolling at my monitor if the experience rewards weren’t one quarter of a similarly leveled mission. I’m not even sure what the point of that is. Unless they intend for these missions to be easily skipped if you get tired of them.

  1. October 15, 2009 at 5:50 am
  2. October 20, 2009 at 12:45 am
  3. November 2, 2009 at 1:34 pm
  4. April 3, 2010 at 8:34 pm

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