Tag Archives: mmo

Glasses Off: 4 Entertaining Online Gaming/Gaming News Sites

If you’re gaming more through your computer these days (and who isn’t? LOL), there are literally thousands of sites which cater to our needs. Games of all flavors, whether single-player Flash games or multi-player server-based games, exist to entertain us–and, as you’ll see below, all sorts of gaming news sites have popped up to tell us about new games we’d like to play, too. Here are four I really like:

Flash games, Flash games everywhere…

Creative games and online timewaster toys abound on this awesome little site.

This site is the online home of the free-to-play Marvel Comics-based MMO, available through Steam as well as downloadable through this website itself. (I still miss City of Heroes, but this game helps fill in the void some.)

Any kind of gaming news you could want is probably already profiled at Massively…they seriously cover just about everything.

Soon, Heroes Shall Fly Again, in the City of Titans

Last fall, City of Heroes players wept and raged as Paragon City darkened on November 30th, in spite of everything we tried to do, in spite of protests and calls. It seemed all had finally been lost when the 30th rolled around and NCSoft’s stance had not changed.

Most of us fans crept away and mourned, trying to find solace in other games or projects. But for one small band of players, their response was to recreate the City they had so cherished in a game of their own making. That game is called City of Titans.

The Facts

This group of players formed The Phoenix Project and MissingWorldsMedia, and are currently developing City of Titans as a self-described “spiritual successor” to City of Heroes. According to the FAQ, the game will be built on the Unreal 3 engine by former CoH players, and the studio is shooting for a release date sometime in 2015. Support for Sentinel+ character files (developed by the Titan Network) is planned (yay!).

Lots more is covered in the WorldsFactory interview with TPP’s project lead, Warcabbit–well worth a read to get a good sense of how CoT is developing!

City of Titans Still Needs Your Help!

And most importantly, keep spreading the word! Soon, we heroes will have a City to protect again! 😀

Marvel Heroes

Since the closure of City of Heroes, I have found myself missing my superhero MMO gaming experience. For CoH refugees and all other curious folk, then, I present an acceptable alternative: Marvel Heroes.

The premise is quite simple: you play as one of an assortment of Marvel heroes and heroines (like Thing, pictured above), leveling up and growing in strength until you’re strong enough to overtake Dr. Doom and get the Cosmic Cube away from him. You fight many other Marvel bad guys along the way, like the Green Goblin, the Hood, Taskmaster, etc., and several heroes in the game help you with your various quests as NPCs.

This game is free-to-play, with an In-Game Store which allows you to buy access to more heroes, costumes, special items, etc. (When you begin the game, you are given a choice between Daredevil, Scarlet Witch, Thing, Storm, and Hawkeye.). Most people who have played the Diablo series refer to this game affectionately as “Diablo with Marvel characters,” because of the way the game is set up and played.

Being Heroic

Playing your character basically involves going on missions (either solo or in teams), defeating bad guys, gathering items, becoming stronger, and the like. One interesting difference, however, is that your character can interact directly with the environment. And by “interact,” I mean smash things. 😀

See these cars and random cardboard boxes?

…Yeah, Thing just happened. POW! (This is Crashing Leap at work, LOL)

Depending on your hero’s powers, you can bust boxes, pick up cars, break open containers, or, as Thing is demonstrating here, smash the ground so that things at a distance explode. 😀 Let your inner child run wild as you explore the various levels–half the fun of this game is smashing stuff and revealing items/money to pick up!

And what about fighting? Well, active battle is hard to capture with screenshots alone, but as you fight, the bad guys drop little amounts of Health (red ball) and Spirit (blue ball) to help you refuel your Health and Spirit on the fly. For instance, the bad guy Thing just smacked into next week in the above image has dropped a Spirit ball.

Also, bad guys drop money and items on occasion. Items and money which appear on your screen from smashing bad guys or boxes are just for you–no other hero can see them. Hover your mouse cursor over anything that looks interesting on the ground; if a title pops up, it’s an item that you can pick up.

(Note: if you drop an item out of your personal inventory onto the ground, it appears on everybody’s screen. If you see another character drop something on the ground, though, PLEASE ask before you pick it up! Dropping things on the ground is the only way at the moment to give items to other players, so you could easily disrupt a gift-giving operation.)

Making Sense of the Marvel Heroes Screen

The above shot is a full screenshot of how a typical game screen appears. (Click on the image to open a new window in which you can see it at full size.)

Your screen contains most all the information you need to know about your character right away. For instance:

The buttons at the bottom left of the screen control, from left to right, Character information, Powers, and the In-Game Store. The big red circle shows you how much Health your character has left–here, we see that Thing has all 4,575 points of Health, because the circle is completely filled in.

At the bottom center of the screen is your power tray (all the little square images are different powers); the leftmost power is activated by clicking the left mouse button, and the rightmost power is activated with the right mouse button. Between these two, each power is activated by a different key on the keyboard–the default setup is A through H on the keyboard.

Above the power tray, you’ll see a little blue bar–in this image, it’s partially filled in. This is your XP bar, showing you visually how far you’ve got to go till your next level. Here, you can see that my level 34 Thing is about 1/3 of the way toward level 35. (Bonus: the more transparent blue off to the right of the filled-in portion is your Rested XP amount. This works like Patrol XP in CoH, building up as you’re logged off the character, and it makes leveling up a little easier.)

At the bottom right of the screen, you can see the big blue circle, representing Spirit (also known as Endurance or Mana for people who’ve played other MMOs). To use most of your heroic powers, you have to use certain amounts of Spirit. To the right of the Spirit meter, you’ll see buttons for your Missions, your Hero Roster, and Game Options.

Halfway up the right side of the screen, you’ll see your Active Mission titles displayed. Also, items that are used over time, like Rarity Boosts, XP Boosts, etc, are shown at a glance just below the Missions.

Halfway up the left side of the screen, your Chat panel (aka the “Chatbox”) can be expanded out (like the picture) or it can fade away into the background as needed. You can open your Social panel using the top button on the Chatbox, scroll up and down in the Chatbox with the arrows, and open/close the Chatbox with the bottom button. The Chat window displays announcements by other characters, notifications of friends getting online, boss speech, and all sorts of other information.

At the top right of the screen, a small map is displayed, with the name of the area you’re in and where you’re positioned on it. You can zoom in or out using the plus and minus sign buttons.

Also, the little “home” button at the very top right of the map panel is your “Bodyslider” button. This allows your character to teleport back to a safe zone (like Avengers Tower, Xavier’s School, etc.), where you can buy/sell items, craft rare items, heal up from damage, play endgame content, and travel to other zones.

Additional Information Panels

Bringing up your Mission Log shows you where in the main Story you are, and what missions you need to work on. (Story Mode contains a Prologue, 8 chapters, and then an Endgame tab where you can play harder, higher-level stuff. You have to play through Story Mode first before you can get access to Endgame content.)

One really annoying thing about the Mission Log: It is a “shared” log, meaning that all characters see the same progress. If you want to play through Story Mode again with a new character, you’ll have to reset your mission progress–you won’t lose any accomplishments on your higher-level heroes, and it’ll enable your lower-level heroes to get mission rewards. (I REALLY don’t like this; I think it should be separate mission logs for every character, but this is how it is for the moment.) The little trophy icons tell you whether your current hero has worked through various chapters of Story Mode already–for instance, I’ve already played through Story Mode with Thing, so he has little trophy icons everywhere. 😀

Your Inventory shows you what items you have, plus your hero’s stats and the gear and items they have equipped. For instance, you can see that Thing is level 34, with 2,582 defense, and he’s carrying some items. He’s also got several purple items he’s wearing–wearable items in the game range from gray (really common, not really powerful) to purple (very rare, usually really powerful). Add to that the various Medals and Medallions for beating bosses, and helpful Artifacts which give your character added stats or powers, and your character can end up with a lot of item bling!

Here, you can see all the powers which make up Thing–all characters come with three power trees to choose from. To get a power, simply put a Power Point (from leveling up) into it, and drag it down to your power tray. As you put more points into powers, they get stronger.

For instance, I’ve chosen to take three powers from the Brawler tree with Thing. One is REALLY leveled up, with 11 power points in it, and the others are moderately powered up. (Note: see the arrows connecting the three powers together? That means that you have to take the top power before you can get the middle power, and the middle power before you can get the bottom power. For all heroes, the bottom-most power in a linked chain of powers is the strongest and should be used as you get into higher levels.)

Your Hero Roster shows you which heroes you have access to (the brightly-colored heroes) and which heroes you would have to purchase to play (the grayed-out heroes). As you can see, I’ve played Thing and Scarlet Witch, and have just started on Hulk. 🙂

Last but not least, your Social panel allows you to see friends, nearby players, and–yes, you guessed it–your Supergroup! (Just like Guilds on other MMOs, and exactly like City of Heroes. :’) )

How to Play

Marvel Heroes is available through Steam and MarvelHeroes.com–the Steam download seems to perform a little better than the MarvelHeroes.com download. As I said, it’s free-to-play, so give it a shot! More information can be found through the Marvel Heroes Wikipedia article.

Pitching City of Heroes to Google: You Can Help!

After the hubbub last fall over the closure of City of Heroes, most people outside the City of Heroes playerbase (and many people in the former playerbase, for that matter) probably think that the #SaveCoH movement is dead.

Not so.

In fact, a relatively new part of the #SaveCoH movement, called “Task Force Hail Mary,” is gathering steam over on the CoHTitan Forums (see details in this forum thread). They are in the process of pitching City of Heroes to Google, following up a tendril of interest from a contact of Mercedes Lackey’s within Google.

Now, before you scoff at your computer screen or utter a cynical “That’ll never work,” please realize that everyone involved knows this is a long shot. But if enough people send letters to Google supporting this idea, perhaps we can make enough waves and draw enough attention to the game to make Google or another company interested in picking it up. After all, what’s the use in rolling over and playing dead when we are most certainly not dead yet?

How You Can Help

What the Task Force Hail Mary needs now is letters–real, paper letters, telling Google how much you enjoyed City of Heroes, how unique a game it is among MMOs, and how it could bring Google positive press and profit (as well as a permanent place of affection in the playerbase’s collective heart). Be heartfelt but also grounded in reality, acknowledging that the company needs to profit from this move just as much as the players need to.

When you have written your letter, send it on to:

Jeson Patel
Engineering Manager
Google Inc
Google Mountain View
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

This is the original contact within Google who was interested in seeing a City of Heroes pitch. You may also want to send your letter to Jamie Rosenberg, Vice President of Digital Content, using the same mailing address.

A Final Note

Since one of the posts I made about City of Heroes garnered some negative opinions about the game, as well as shaming comments about people who wanted to save the game, I will go ahead and say this: if you don’t care about the #SaveCoH movement or are glad that the game was shut down, then please do not post. Every gamer is allowed his or her opinions, and the #SaveCoH movement is no different. If you believe we are silly for trying this, if you think the game was stupid and isn’t worth saving–we simply don’t want to hear it, and any such derogatory responses will be deleted from the comments. As I said before, we know this is a long shot, but if we do not try, we will indeed be “playing dead” when we are not dead at all.

Why Do Modern Gamers Love MMOs?

Even just 7 to 10 years ago, most gaming took place on consoles, on games that took place on discs or cartridges. Once you played all the way through the game, found all the hidden stuff (and plugged in all the cheat codes), you were done. Oh, and if you wanted to play with more than four players, the extra people had to wait their turn.

But gaming has changed. Wow, has it ever changed! Most modern games now include a Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) experience, where you can play with tons of people across all different regions (and countries)!

But why was there this major shift in game development? Well, it seems that modern gamers naturally gravitate toward MMOs, and I believe there are several social and gaming reasons for that.

MMOs Make More Individual, Innovative Game Experiences

Because of the online component of MMO gaming, there are a lot less “scripted” dialogues/events, and more off-the-cuff, genuinely new experiences. Basically, when you start the game, you’re never sure what new challenges await you.

I think of my experiences playing City of Heroes–you’re never sure whether there will be a Rikti Invasion special event while you’re playing, or which of your online buddies are going to be there to play with. It’s always a little unexpected, which is part of the fun. Unlike a cartridge or disc game, which is played thoroughly and then often set aside, MMOs give a player a truer, more responsive and “human” gameplay experiences, which continually rouses mental curiosity.

MMOs Provide Social Interaction

Instead of being cloistered away in a bedroom or basement utterly away from other humans, modern gamers have the option of real social interaction with other players through the MMO system. Now, sure, some of this interaction is made up of insult exchanges, random outbursts of rage, and the like, but some of it is actually worthwhile. You can actually find yourself talking about stuff other than the game, with people who are just as thoughtful as you. You just have to be willing to start a conversation–and MMO gaming gives you the chance to do exactly that.

For instance, I’ve met several good gaming friends through my City of Heroes experiences, and we have since become friends outside the game as well. We don’t just have to talk about “the game” or what characters we’re building next–we can actually talk about what we do when we’re not on the computer, any work-life stuff, all the kinds of things that friends talk about. This makes the “game” almost more than a game–it’s nearly a social network of its own.

MMOs Give Players Endless Replay Value

Because of the individualized, responsive gameplay I spoke of earlier, MMOs can be continuously replayed. Playing the game does not get rid of storylines, to be replayed the same way when you “finish” the game and start over; in fact, MMO gaming constantly builds on old storylines and introduces new plot threads in a fairly seamless experience. In essence, it’s never the same game twice, to paraphrase Disney’s Pocahontas.

This differs greatly from console games, which are generally locked into one major story that is only successfully played through one way. Even though returning to an old favorite game to replay it can give you warm fuzzies of nostalgia, it can also be a little boring to hack through the game the same way all the time. MMO gaming most certainly does not have that problem.

MMOs Always Have More Stuff to Do and Find

Because of developers and content creators working consistently behind the scenes, there are always new expansions, new story threads, new Easter eggs to find, and new graphic creations. Unlike console games, which don’t have much capability for innovation beyond what was programmed into the disc or cartridge, MMO games can always be updated, changed, patched (and repatched), etc.

City of Heroes, for example, has various timely expansions called “issues,” in which new costume pieces, new storylines, and other game developments are introduced. This ensures that the game is always fresh and has more challenges (which we gamers love!).

MMOs Can (Usually) Be Played by Anyone with a Computer

Lastly, unlike most console games, which are inextricably tied to a particular console to play, MMOs can generally be played by any computer. This makes MMOs more accessible to a wider swath of people–most humans these days have a computer for work or home use, but not everyone has a particular gaming console. When the computer becomes your gaming console, it’s a lot easier to game overall!

Having more potential players means that more people can meet and play together, increasing the strength of the game’s social network and boosting the innovation of the game experience. Plus, you no longer have the console wars to get in the way of good communication (i.e., you don’t have a bunch of Xbox players ragging on the Wii players, etc.).


Because of the massive multiplayer online genre, we are seeing more interactive, responsive, and social games than ever. This has changed gaming, and I believe it’s for the better.

Now, do I still like console games? Sure, because they are simpler and better suited for one-player experiences. (They are also a nice change, and a little hit of nostalgia never hurt any gamer.) But if I really want an involving game experience, I’m much more likely now to turn toward an MMO myself. MMOs provide something no other digital game experience provides–a sense of real, human community.

Building a Better Team Support Toon, Part 1

On City of Heroes, many people spend lots of time playing solo–running a few quick missions before work or school, or just taking some time to hunt for badges to unwind. This in itself calls for a very efficient damage-dealing type of character (“toon” in the game’s parlance); you must be able to deal with everything you come up against on your own, so there’s no room for useless powers in your build.

Building a Solo Character =/= Building a Teaming Character

However, this style of building toons does not always suit team play. In a team, there are other players to think of–you can’t just go charging in, aggravate all the bad guys in a room, and expect that everyone will survive. Neither can you be the sole damage-dealer for the whole team, when there are enough bad guys generated for up to 8 players in a team. This is just asking for trouble.

To play best in a team, you’ve got to be willing to support your teammates. This usually requires a mindset shift, as described above, but it also helps if you have the following powers, too:

Helpful Team-Support Powers for Every Toon

  • Recall Friend (from the Teleportation power pool): Enables me to get another player’s toon across a wide hero zone in seconds, or to pull them back to a safe area in a mission if they have been defeated. Efficient for helping lowbie toons without travel powers get around faster, or for moving large teams from mission to mission in quick succession.
  • Aid Other and Resuscitate (from the Medicine power pool): These are both healing powers–Aid Other gives some health back to a fellow player, and Resuscitate brings a character back from being defeated, with full health but no endurance. These two powers don’t always work (they require an Accuracy check), but they are great for when the main healer of the team has been defeated and we need healing NOW.

These powers are the most useful, and since they are available from power pools rather than primary or secondary power trees, any toon can choose them as one of their power picks when they level up or respec.

I generally take both Recall Friend and most of the Medicine pool with my ranged-damage toons, but I even build my close-combat toons with at least the healing powers (Recall Friend is better with toons who play more at range than close-combat, I’ve found). This might take away from my damage-dealers’ available attack powers or defensive powers, but I find that building my character this way helps my teams (which makes me feel useful and helpful, leading to happy Robin).

Don’t forget, though: when you play team support, this means you need to watch out for your team. Have your Team window open so you can monitor the health and endurance of your teammates without having to see them personally on your screen, and don’t run ahead of your team or lag behind. Match this conscientious playstyle with good team-support powers, and you’re on your way to helping whatever team you join!

We’ll cover specific team-friendly powersets in the next installment of “Building a Better Team Support Toon:” Part 2!