DC Universe Online

Batman

Batman in DCUO

I’ve been playing DC Universe Online (hereafter to be called “DCUO”) a lot lately.  It is a Massive Multiplayer online game based on the DC Comics franchise.  It allows you to play a superhero (or supervillain) and interact with all of the DC characters we’ve all come to know and love: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, the Joker, Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Gorilla Grodd, Circe, and so on.  It goes by three different models: Free-to-play (free, but you don’t get all of the character options), Premium (where you get some but not all of the character options on a pay basis), and Legendary (where you pay monthly, and get access to all character options and DLC).

It’s a fun game, and it’s nice to play in the settings that I read about in comics (Metropolis, Gotham City).

However, I can’t help but feel that the game has missed an opportunity to make the game even more fun.  For example:

First of all, all players should be encouraged (if not outright forced) to play both a hero and a villain character, at the very least.

Secondly, all players are PvP (there is an option to turn off PvP, but that’s no fun).

Third, and this is most important: The villains need to be cut loose after a certain level.  There just aren’t enough opportunities for the villains to cause mayhem.  Where are the banks that villains can rob to finance their schemes?  Where are the museums holding artifacts of arcane power for a villain to try to steal?  The armored cars for a simpler villain to knock off?  What about hirelings/henchmen?

Let’s describe what I’m thinking about:

The Villainous Victoria (a mystic blaster) decides that she needs some cash to make improvements to her Sanctum Sanctorum.  She

the villainous Victoria

The Villainous Victoria

and a handful of thugs break into the Gotham Bank on River and Third in Gotham City.  As soon as she does, a timer starts.  She has a base time of 2:00 to finish whatever she is doing (this time can be increased due to her powers and skills, and decreased based on how well the bank is protected).  After the timer is up, all of the heroes within a few blocks of the bank (within a reasonable character level range) are made aware of the robbery, and get an opportunity to stop it.

If Villainous Victoria gets captured, she should have to log off (or sit in prison), until she either busts herself out, or is busted out by her henchmen, or 8 hours, whichever happens first.

If Villainous Victoria gets away during the robbery, she can use the money she gets to buy the demonic portal she needs for her plans to succeed, make improvements on her base (the demon summoning room is needing a fresh coat of paint–that virgin blood gets everywhere), hire more henchmen, and so on.

Any other ideas?

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A Man Playing Female Characters

One of my Christmas presents this year was a gift card, which I promptly used to reinstate my Eve Online account.  I decided to start from scratch and create three new characters, hoping to find one that sticks.

The first new character I created was Erinn Ferguson, a Gallente field tech

.Erinn Ferguson

I didn’t realize that you could modify the wireframe subtly when I created her, and so she looks kinda young to me (maybe 18 or 19).

Next, I created Tom O’Malley (a Gallente shipping magnate):

Image

This one, I made as close to me as I could, given the limits of the client and apparently my video card (or lack thereof).

Then there is my newest character which I just made this week.  This is Mila Shardani, a True Amarr. I haven’t decided what I’m doing with her yet.

Image

This one I gave all of the sexy.  Since she is Amarr, I gave her a little modesty, or else I would also have made her wearing as little clothing as I felt I could get away with.

There are some who would criticize me for this, as if I’m misleading people into thinking that I’m a woman.

First of all, I half-jokingly tell people that since the perspective as you play these characters is in the third person, I would rather stare at a woman’s ass all day than a man’s ass.

Secondly, I am reminded of a joke I read somewhere, “The internet: Where the men are boys, the women are men, and the children are FBI agents.”  In other words: caveat emptor.

Thirdly, I don’t play the female characters any differently than I do the male characters.  Essentially, they are males with boobs.

What do you think?

Coming Up With A Story For Minecraft

I’ve been on vacation for the past week, dealing with family issues.  But I did get a lot of Minecraft time in between.

I’ve been playing 1.9 pre-release 5.  It doesn’t add anything massive or major to PR 4, but it does sort of suggest a possible story-line to Minecraft.

First, when you start (and this has been since Beta was released way back when), you’re alone, with only the clothes on your back.  You have to find a way to survive the first day.  You have no memory of what occurred, but there are clues:

  • There are abandoned villages and mines peppered throughout the world;
  • Zombies are the only other humanoid (other than pigmen, but as they’re only found in the nether realms, they don’t count) beings you encounter, and they’re not exactly… friendly;
  • One of the mobs you encounter are the Endermen (introduced in 1.8), and they’re a huge hint of what’s going on.

 

These hints make it clear that some sort of disaster has occurred, linked to the Endermen somehow.  I happen to know that part of the endgame will be going to the world the Endermen originate from (cleverly called “The End”), and fight a dragon.  The End is reached by a specific portal that itself can only be reached in a specific place and must be activated.

Now, this suggests to me that part of this disaster is linked to The End.  Imagine this scenario:

  1. A medieval society develops ability to travel between worlds (the Nether and The End).
  2. Opening up a portal to The End allows the Endermen to come through.
  3. The End and the world do not get along with each other very well.
  4. Something Bad ™ happened, and all of the humans except the player were killed.
    1. This Something Bad is obviously linked to the dungeons and mob generators sprinkled throughout the world.  Endermen can move blocks: maybe they’re responsible for the dungeons?  Maybe the dungeons are responsible for the missing people?
  5. The humans leak into the World nightly as mindless Zombies.
  6. The player wakes up on the beach with no memory.

Hmmm…. thought-provoking.

Minecraft Cavescapes

Image of a cavescape

I’m a bit of a pain of the ass when it comes to space: I’m obsessed with it.  I’m not talking space as in outer space, but the spaces that we surround ourselves with everyday.  I’m a bit of an agoraphobe, so I have a tendency to prefer closed in spaces, including caves.

I’m also the kind of person who will play a game for maybe twenty minutes, become bored of it, and quickly put it aside, never to be played again.  It has happened to more games than I can count, and one reason I’m reluctant to pick up a new game unless it is heavily discounted.  This phenomena is especially pronounced if I get frustrated with a game, and especially if I feel that the whole purpose of the game is to piss me the fuck off.

Minecraft is a game in which the player explores a randomly generated world, collecting resources, building shelters, making tools, and so on.  What is so remarkable about this game is that if I recall correctly, the game cost me around $20, yet continues to give me pleasure in ways no other game has ever done.  It is also a game that I’m still playing (though not with the fervor I once might have) ten months after I bought it.

If one were to ask me why, I would point to the one thing that frustrates me about many video games: their lack of freedom.

You know what I’m talking about: that stupid plumber in Mario Bros. is simply incapable of walking to the left.  And if you try, he runs into an invisible wall (or, at least in every version of the game I’ve ever played).  In Quake II, at least in the single player story mode, you are forced to go along a certain path to get to the final boss at the end.  Even Portal has this limitation, no matter how cleverly disguised.

Minecraft has none of this: you go where you want to go, when you want to go there.  Since the world is randomly generated, its size is only limited by the hardware it is running on.  The beauty of Minecraft is that it is different things to different people:  For some, it is a game of survival; for others, it is a game of construction and creativity; for yet others, it is a game of exploration.

I’m in the exploration camp:  I love finding new, cool, and/or beautiful places when I explore these randomly-generated worlds.  Every once in a while, I will come across a piece of scenery that takes my breath away.  Some of my favorites actually come from caves, and I call these scenery “cavescapes.”

Here’s one such example of a cavescape (keep in mind that these are all at least quasi-randomly generated):

Image of a cavescape

This is a naturally occurring cave in seed #1381145796.  Look at all those nooks and crannies just begging to be explored.

Here is another from the same seed:

And yet another, still from the same seed:

A Massive cave in minecraft

Note that torches were added to this cave to provide light.

I would further note two things:

  1. All of these caves are interconnected by winding underground passages, forming one massive cave system that goes on for miles.
  2. If you use the seed #1381145796, be careful where you step: This world is pockmarked with tiny little holes in the ground that open up into massive chambers like the one in the third picture above.  Not visible in that picture due to the poor angle, is that there is an opening to the surface at the top of this chamber that is only one meter by two meters.  If you’re not paying attention to where you’re stepping, you will fall through that hole (and the dozens like it) to your death.