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Merits: How to drum up redside activity


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1 hour ago, TemporalVileTerror said:

we've got to admit that in BOTH cases, players are largely just taking on the roles of violence-disseminating lackeys.

 

This is a comic book superhero/villain game.  Comic book superheroes/villains beat each other up in comic books.  They don't do research to treat kidney diseases.  They don't participate in the first manned moon exploration.  They don't open and run rescue shelters for abused/abandoned animals.  They don't stage interventions and organize discussion circles with their foes so they can explore their feelings and develop better coping strategies.

 

And the heroes in this game aren't portrayed as lackeys.  They aren't Statesman's sidekicks, they're the next level above Statesman, and the game does a really good job of displaying that.  It falls flat on its face in attempting to do so with the villain journey, but it succeeds remarkably well for the hero journey.

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I keep saying if you want Redside to work better naratively - and they DO have some great story arcs there already - then Arachnos needs to be more government-like and pull back.  That would (a) give more agency to players and (b) make Arachnos more monolithic and shadowy, so that when they DO show up it's like "oh hell, we pissed off THE MAN and ordered troops in against us."

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I think both CoH and CoV offer as much player agency as could reasonably be expected for a 2004 era MMO game engine using a Quest-Driven format.

Which is to say, not much. 

 

Tips are better. Instead of one mission you get typically get two related missions, and you choose which one of them to complete.  The Preatorian 1-20 missions with the undercover options giving you some choices to subvert the mission givers intent, plus the Moral choices at the end of a Zone-Faction-Arc to hope factions, is a significant step up. 

 

But as with most games, you really only have just so much freedom to go around. 

  • Want to beat up a civilian? Or toss a warning shot at that truck that drove straight at you?  Too bad. For the most part... you can't. You can go ground effects that are pretty much ignored. On a Mayhem mission you can kill civilians, but not out in regular rogue isles. 
  • Want to try to eliminate street crime for good?  Too bad. You can't. With very focused effort from a large group of players you MIGHT clear several streets around Atlas Park well.... and because so many players killed so many mobs fast, enough, you'll accelerate their repop rate something fierce.
  • Want to have the Heros go Gun-Blazing against the heart of Arachnos?  You basically can't on your own.  You can say "mother may I" to Miss Liberty and do a MLTF to fight them in a certain approved manner within an instance.  You can't just go in and clean up Grandville or St. Martial on your own.  Same is true on the flip side. 

I'm not saying this in a disparaging manner. 

I'm not saying "this is a massive failure of the game that must be corrected."

I'm saying "This is the price of existing within this game engine, with game models developed in the early 2000's.

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1 hour ago, Darmian said:

I keep saying if you want Redside to work better naratively - and they DO have some great story arcs there already - then Arachnos needs to be more government-like and pull back.  That would (a) give more agency to players and (b) make Arachnos more monolithic and shadowy, so that when they DO show up it's like "oh hell, we pissed off THE MAN and ordered troops in against us."

 

If I could press the History Eraser Button and redo some of the early CoV design....

Arachnos would be nothing special. 

  • I've had had one of the Isles ruled by the Family, one ruled by the Tsoo, one ruled by the Sky Raiders, one ruled by the Carnies, one that's just an anarchists wasteland of Freakshow, and other unorganized gangs, and off to the side, on a minor island, there would be Arachnos. They wouldn;t be anything special at the start.
  • As you progressed through the game, a redside player would have the OPTION to pick one group (Arachnos if you wish, or the Tsoo if you preferred, etc) and favor them as they went, gradually shifting balances of power and having them control more and more territory.  Or they'd have the OPTION to play every side against each other, and keep them all weakened from infighting.  
  • Epic level you'd have the OPTION of a personal power grab, or the option of just grabbing a ton of money and living large in St. Martial, because why rule the world when you can just enjoy the good life?
  • Probably would require some serious phasing, because if player A has favored the Carnies and brought them to power, but I favored the Family and brought them to power, then when we're teamed up, the team would have to experience the world of the lead player. 

But at this point, it's much too late, that ship has sailed, and there's no guarantee it would have been more popular than what we have now.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, UltraAlt said:

 

You find it laughable because you can't accept the truth.

 

Son, we live in a world that has walls, and what's inside those walls has to be guarded by people in tights. Who's gonna do it? You? Me? Us? Eight random people steaming through Pos1? 

  

You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at Pocket D, you want those tights. You need those tights!

 

Edited by cranebump
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On 5/26/2021 at 7:42 AM, ZemX said:

 

That might be your reason, but we're talking the whole playerbase here and it's ridiculous to ignore the elephant that has always been in the room: CoH has more content.  Always has had more content.  Always will have more content.  And yes, that is absolutely because it came first. 

 

Where was their entire customer base when CoV released?  Blueside.  How much content did CoV release with?  Less than blueside.  Were they going to spend each subsequent issue release adding MORE content to redside than blueside to bring them to parity on content all the while pissing off their existing customer base that was blueside?  Of course not.   This got talked to death on the original forums.  This is just how it was.  Redside wasn't doomed by people wanting to play heroes.  They still play heroes.  They were playing villains and anti-heroes blueside before CoV was even a thing.

 

Not going to down-vote you because I disagree, but c'mon.  You're going to ignore how much more content is Blueside and chalk up the population disparity to... heroism?  For most who play, and this goes for pretty much any MMO... content is king.

 

Meh a lot of the lower level content on COH is pretty old and tedious. I wouldn't call all of that a plus. At least not until they revamp a lot of it.

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4 minutes ago, golstat2003 said:

 

Meh a lot of the lower level content on COH is pretty old and tedious. I wouldn't call all of that a plus. At least not until they revamp a lot of it.

 

And yet people run ten times more Positrons and CItadels as any redside SF I've seen and that's on Everlasting where you'll also find the highest (or maybe better to say least lowest?) ratio of villains to heroes among the HC servers.

 

Speaking of which, maybe someone here who still believes the population imbalance is due predominantly to people not liking to play bad guys can explain WHY the ratio of villains to heroes is double on Everlasting, the unofficial RP server (where people should theoretically care about in-character issues like this more than anybody), what it is on Excelsior.

 

I just want to see if "Excelsior players are twice as emotionally sensitive to being the bad guys as Everlasting players" is the hill anyone wants to die on. 🤪

 

And just to be totally clear, this can be YOUR reason for not playing redside and that's perfectly valid for you.  The only thing I dispute is the notion that anything approaching a majority of players overall cares one whit about the pretend morality of their pretend characters in this MMO.

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On 5/26/2021 at 9:33 AM, ZemX said:

 

You have offered no evidence for the claim that "many" people don't like playing the bad guy.  Meanwhile, I can look over at SWTOR and see nobody having any problem whatsoever playing Imperials.  WoW players have no problem rolling up undead, orcs, and dark elves.  Now, I'm sure having said this people will come running to inform me that their Imperials or Horde are actually not evil, but c'mon.  These are both classically "bad guy" factions and no, the vast majority have no problems playing them.  Lightside Sith in SWTOR are not "good guys".  Still no trouble playing them.  Why?  Because those games have balanced content.

I'd say the number of likes counts as evidence...perhaps it's anecdotal, but still evidence.  He obviously speaks for a lot of folks reading this thread.  I also think your interpretation of Lightside Sith as not 'good guys' is your personal slant.  Not mine.  That was the only reason I played any Sith character.  It was the same for KotOR or Mass Effect.  Same for every tabletop RPG I've ever played.  I don't want to play evil/selfish/villianous characters.  I never have.  I've tried a time or two but I found the experience....distasteful and unsatisfying.  Increased rewards won't change my mind.

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1 hour ago, MTeague said:

I think both CoH and CoV offer as much player agency as could reasonably be expected for a 2004 era MMO game engine using a Quest-Driven format.

Which is to say, not much.

 

 

1 hour ago, MTeague said:

If I could press the History Eraser Button and redo some of the early CoV design....

 

 

I like everything you said there. And if such a game existed, it would be awesome.  But I'll go further than saying "it would require insane amounts of phasing". You're talking about a single player RPG.  A MMO will never give that much freedom to the player because of the repercusions involved.

 

I remember in the early EverQuest days, high level players used to cross to enemy newbie zones and killed quest givers for fun, not that there were many quests in that game to begin with, which is silly considering the name, but I digress.  Most likely to prevent this, the merchants were made super hard to kill to avoid high level players (or high level roaming mobs) from messing with the growth environment of newbies from other factions, which was perhaps an even worse decision because you could auto-attack a merchant if you pressed the wrong key.

So eventually, MMOs were made into a frame of "this is what you're allowed to do" and "the rest cannot be affected in any way whatsoever".  So you can't Total Focus the car that just rammed (and did not even affect) you.  You can't Power Blast a civilian just because you don't like their pants. (Though you still can do Power Boost + Power Thrust to a low level Family goon from the top of a bridge in Independance Port and that will NEVER get old.  NOT. EVER.)  Allowing the player to deeply affect the environment would be, at least this is what MMOs teach us, detrimental to other players.

 

What were we talking about again?

 

Oh yeah. Redside.

 

Redside is bloody awesome.

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4 minutes ago, Ignatz the Insane said:

I'd say the number of likes counts as evidence...perhaps it's anecdotal, but still evidence.

 

The word anecdotal literally means "not necessarily true or reliable".  But if you don't like having a dictionary thrown at you, just take a step back and consider we're talking about (at the time I am writing this) some 18 likes of the first post.   That isn't even a representative sample of the 1,366 people who are logged on and playing RIGHT now, let alone the whole active base of players on Homecoming.  It's also what statisticians refer to as a "self-selected" poll.  If you're not sure why that isn't considered reliable, I suggest looking it up.  It has far more serious real implications for politics than to does for gaming, to be sure, but it's the same principle.

 

There's also my last post which you might not have seen yet which asks how this "people don't like bad guys" explains the differences in villain populations even among the various servers of Homecoming.  So if you don't like the SWTOR example, try that one instead because that's comparing this game to itself on different servers. Still though...

 

15 minutes ago, Ignatz the Insane said:

I also think your interpretation of Lightside Sith as not 'good guys' is your personal slant. 

 

Back at ya.  Your villain thinking of themselves as a good person is a great way to roleplay.  It's one of my favorite quotes from an actor, in fact.  During an interview, Willem Dafoe was asked if he liked playing bad guys or good guys and he answered something like "Good guys, bad guys, makes no difference.  Everyone thinks they're righteous."

 

But... it's a bit of self-delusion too.  He wasn't saying the villains really were good guys.  Just that they thought of themselves that way and that made it just as enjoyable to get into them as an actor as with the real good guys.  In SWTOR, your lightside Sith, for most of your career at least (as I recall) isn't really good or charitable or interested in making the Sith Empire NOT evil.  More like just being less cruel or more interested in the good of the empire than of personal glory and power.  That's certainly less evil than a power mad Sith who likes choking people that disagree with him but.... you're still part of an evil empire... c'mon.  The only really good choice is to join the other side.   And if that's a thing, it's new since I left.

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2 minutes ago, Wavicle said:

Except that Power Boost was made to not affect KB years ago. 

 

Waiting until now to tell him is what makes you a real villain.  You monster.

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4 minutes ago, ZemX said:

The only really good choice is to join the other side.   And if that's a thing, it's new since I left.

 

Around the time The Force Awakens came out, they rejiggered things so you're leading your own faction, fighting the other new faction that came along and whomped both Republic and Empire. That proved about as popular as you'd expect, so new enemy faction is basically no more, the Republic and Empire are fighting each other again, and you get to choose which side to support (if you choose the one opposite to your original faction, you play as a double agent within your original faction because actual side-switching would be a ***** and a half).

 

As for this game... I remember this thread from a couple years ago. (The poll seems to be broken, or maybe it just doesn't like Firefox.) Most of what I said in that thread still holds, although I've decided I'm not doing redside badges (there was one I absolutely refuse to do, and then if I'm not doing one, I can drop that other one, and those, and... heck, if I'm not getting them all, why not just stay blue and get everything I can there?). I still have that one lowbie villain I haven't decided what to do with.

Playing on Excelsior. Champion forever.

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12 minutes ago, Luminara said:

 

Waiting until now to tell him is what makes you a real villain.  You monster.

 

See?  I did my part for Redside.  One new villain.

 

Wait what? PB+PT doesn't work anymore?  No sweat.  I'll find some other immature trick to amuse me. 

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1 hour ago, ZemX said:

 

The word anecdotal literally means "not necessarily true or reliable".  

Yes....which is why I included it in my post.  Seriously, I wasn't gonna respond to this but your condescension sucks.  There are several reasons why the Redside population has been consistently lower then Blueside.   Some of them have been covered in this and several other threads on this topic.  That doesn't mean one of the reasons is many people prefer not playing a villain.  

 

With SWtoR there were morality decisions which made running Sith characters palatable for me.  The Inquisitor starts as a slave...hard to say he/she starts as a villain.  But the only one with a satisfying ending was the Imperial Agent.  If I ever play SWTOR I won't be playing a Sith character again.  

 

I did the same with City of Villains.  I roleplayed two characters that were redeemed and went Blue side eventually.  They were fine, but after that, I had no desire to play a Villain again.  The story arcs and morality decisions available Redside simply don't offer me palatable choices.  

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6 minutes ago, Ignatz the Insane said:

Yes....which is why I included it in my post.  Seriously, I wasn't gonna respond to this but your condescension sucks. 

 

Seriously, what did I write that you think is condescending?  I'm disagreeing with you that anecdotes are evidence.  That's pretty straight-forward.  And I have absolutely no idea what you know about statistics, so I am being completely sincere when I say if you don't know what "self-selection bias" is then do read up on it.  It's good to know whenever you're looking at the results of an online poll, particularly if it's for something more important than a video game.  But it also applies here.

 

A really great example, btw, is a poll I heard about a few years back for "World's most evil company".  It was asked online and the answer that came back was not an oil company or hedge fund.  It was Electronic Arts.   Outside of the crowd of gamers who obviously bombed that poll, does anyone in the world really think a game company is the most evil corporation out there?

 

But okay, aside from that, you accused me of having a "slant" about SWTOR, which applies equally to you then, and I said as much.  If that's condescending then we both did it.

 

I am attacking arguments here, not people.  

 

35 minutes ago, Ignatz the Insane said:

With SWtoR there were morality decisions which made running Sith characters palatable for me. 

 

Okay?  But this is another anecdote.  Why you can't play villains or why I can has no bearing on whether or not that is the reason MOST people do or don't play villains.   All that tells us is what our reasons are.  So instead of telling you what my reasons are for being able to play redside, I am looking around and trying to see what evidence does seem to exist supporting the idea that content matters to people more than an avatar's morality.   I mean, how often do you even run into people who are in-character?  Assuming you team at all in CoH?  I am on Everlasting and I would still put it at less than 50/50 for pick-up teams.  The idea that any great number of people is getting into their characters to the extent they CAN be disgusted by the text of a mission brief is really questionable to me.

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Posted (edited)

Well this was an...interesting read.

 

Taking the less tread upon point (because that's how I roll), and narrowing back to the OP's suggestion:  No, I don't think that would overall increase the population of Redside and if it does, it probably wouldn't be by as much as you'd hope.  But I think that's okay.

 

So my reply to adding merits as a reward to most redside instances: sure.  What's the worse that could happen?  People would complain they're forced to play redside (does that sound familiar to any redside enthusiasts?)?  Or that it's not fair (no idea why anyone would make that point)?  At best, I could see them making the point that "it's not going to accomplish getting more people to redside" which I agree with.

 

Now maybe this particular point people don't agree with (would be nice if people actually say if they support the notion) but read the below quote:

 

On 5/26/2021 at 4:24 PM, Wavicle said:

I like the idea, but it has to be recognized that despite what the original devs may have intended, Red and Gold sides are in fact effectively side content/increased challenge and alternative starting areas, NOT separate but equal factions.

 

 

So if that is true and Red/Gold is bonus/increased challenge content, wouldn't that merit a better reward?  Even moreso since it's more likely you're soloing it or spent more time forming a group to face the content.  Beyond the notion of "villains working for self-interest" working in character, you *might* see heroes that show their true colors turning red for a while to work up that wealth by gaming the system which is just as good as being a villain (because villains don't care if you're *truly* evil, that's mostly integrity which is a heroic trait).  True heroes resist the temptations of greed so you should be in support of the suggestion if you want villains to be more villainous.  For every use of the word "bribe" in this thread, that would be an agreement for adding this in.

 

What do heroes have to lose?  No one's going to swap sides for some merits bribe, right?

Edited by Naraka
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2 minutes ago, Naraka said:

So if that is true and Red/Gold is bonus/increased challenge content, wouldn't that merit a better reward?

In a way they do have better rewards, because there are more efficient arcs, so the Merit/minute ratio is probably better (that's a guess). The villain side also offers the Patron pools which is often, though not always, a better reward than the equivalent Epic pools.

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28 minutes ago, Wavicle said:

In a way they do have better rewards, because there are more efficient arcs, so the Merit/minute ratio is probably better (that's a guess). The villain side also offers the Patron pools which is often, though not always, a better reward than the equivalent Epic pools.

You could be right but I'd wager it starts evening out when you factor in teams (you can probably join a couple TFs to make up any differences and then some).  Arc efficiency?  I'm assuming you mean not having to hop between zones constantly?  Or maybe repeat/superfluous fluff missions are cut back on?  The implemented changes to travel and teleports probably fills in some of that disparity.  I will agree, blueside will throw more non-story/story-adjacent filler missions in between interesting story steps.  It probably happens redside too but I just didn't notice?

 

The Patron pools, while not always the best, I really do enjoy.  The unique stack of powers opens up more concepts in a lot of cases, but that's really only one piece of content (well, 2 arcs) that you easily opt into when it comes available.  Probably not enough, if you ask me.

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4 minutes ago, Naraka said:

You could be right but I'd wager it starts evening out when you factor in teams (you can probably join a couple TFs to make up any differences and then some).  Arc efficiency?  I'm assuming you mean not having to hop between zones constantly?

 

Must be something like that.  I have started quite a few of my new alts on goldside and it always seems like I hit 20 faster than running contacts blueside or even redside.  It's not by much though.  I am going by the fact I buy 8 hours of 2xp in the tutorial and it lasts me until I get to Primal Earth with some to spare usually.

 

But yeah, it's got nothing on the DFB and Posi 1 and 2, I am sure.  And I even see people running low level mish/radio teams blueside sometimes (which means starting one would probably get at least a few joiners and be faster leveling than solo by a mile).

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59 minutes ago, Naraka said:

Arc efficiency?

 

Villainside arcs are mostly shorter than the Heroside arcs that were out at the time when Villains was released.

 

  

59 minutes ago, Naraka said:

Probably not enough, if you ask me.


IF evening out the sides is a desired goal, then yes, I agree. I'm not certain that it is, though. To some extent, Null the Gull (or simply the existence of Rogues and Vigilantes), makes it unnecessary. I can understand why that might be frustrating, though.

 

 

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9 hours ago, ZemX said:

 

I don't even know what that means but it sounds bad, so I'll just assume you disagreed with me.    It's not...er...  numberwang. 

Oh!  It is Numberwang!  Now let's rotate the board.

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On 5/26/2021 at 1:26 PM, Fade said:

A few people here have had opinions along the lines of "I don't want to be incentivized to do content I don't like". I can understand the desire to have the most optimal play also be the most enjoyable one.

 

No, you misunderstand.

 

You could give me a bunch of shinies and I still probably won't play Redside because I don't enjoy Redside on its own merits.  It's not that "I don't want them giving Redsiders more stuff!  Otherwise I'll be forced to play Redside because I value the shinies so much!" it's "You could remove all the merits from hero arcs and give them to villains and I still probably wouldn't be a Redsider".  

 

I play the content I enjoy, and Redside is not enjoyable.  One thing that would make me enjoy Redside is more nuance and choice in missions to let me lean more Rogue than sociopath.  Same would go for Blueside, might as well put more Vigilante leaning options and choices in there as well to flesh out these alignments.  I take the time to read all the mission dialogue and I like to get in the head of my character.  A big draw of "being bad" is being free, and Redside does not really feel all that free if you read who you work for and what you're being told to do.  But that's apparently too tall an order.  So I remain Blueside with the occasional Redside street sweeper because making Villains in character creation is loads of fun and I just HAVE to see it in action, even if it's just knocking around RIP for a while.

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1 hour ago, dangeraaron10 said:

A big draw of "being bad" is being free, and Redside does not really feel all that free if you read who you work for and what you're being told to do.  But that's apparently too tall an order. 

 

As I have written elsewhere: you play redside to the end to be able to hand Lord Recluse his own helmet, AFTER you have already chewed your way through the named "Heroes" of Paragon City AND his best seconds (and their lackeys).

 

Blueside? You get to see Darren Wade punk the same heroes while you utterly fail to make a difference.

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