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The Pulse

You vote with what you view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the result is the Ten Ton Pulse (What is Pulse?).

Here's today's top 5 Pulse results:

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. Lord of the Rings Online
  3. Age of Conan
  4. Warhammer Online
  5. Star Trek Online (UP 5!)

Biggest Movers in the Top 20 this week :

  1. DC Universe Online (UP 6 to #18)
  2. Stargate Worlds (UP 6 to #19)
  3. Darkfall (UP 5 to #8)

Loading... Daily

Loading... will never push the awesome button (video link) .

I've returned home from the City of Heroes Architect Academy suitably impressed, since when I left I was wondering why they would want to fly me the width of a continent just to show off a feature of a nearly five year-old game. What I came to realize is that NCSoft wasn't showing off a feature, they're adding a whole other side to what was already the MMO market's most customizable game.

First, as said Monday, I'm skeptical of user-created content because 1) I've never had fun doing it (Ryzom Ring is pure tedium for me, and going back a bit further, mission planning in Rainbox Six games and modding Neverwinter Nights was fun to attempt for about the first five minutes), 2) it's hard to reward players well for creating their own content in an online-only game without having the potential for huge exploits, and 3) it's deceptively hard to create quality content, which is why we hire professionals to create our games, with our box or MT prices and/or subscription fees.

Add to that that I'm about the least creative fiction writer you'll meet - the one short story I remember writing for school was unintentially a sickening amalgam of the last five books I'd read plus the last two games I'd played- and you have someone that's as ready to let other people create my game as can be.

NCSoft anticipated people like me. First in simplicity (in Joe Morrissey's words, it's as "simple as costume creator" to use, working like a step-by-step wizard), and in pure enjoyment. In Lead Designer Matt Miller's words, "Our goal was to make something that is as fun to create with as it is to play," and aside from a few bugs that will no doubt be worked out before the Architect Edition box which contains both Mac and PC versions of the game, comes out in April, Issue 14 (which has all the Architect Edition goodies free for subscription players) will be out before the box.

To show us that, yes, it is possible to create something that doesn't play like a cookie cutter imitation of real content, Joe appealed to our swollen writer egos by including our Facebook-stalked likenesses in a mission called, "When News Breaks, They Fix It." In this mission, the hero has to set the News Breakers supergroup free, since they're held captive in the villainous Developers lair, and together with the News Breakers they must find a way to hurt the Bottom Line. Joe fought his way through through scores of QA Testers and Interns to set us free before dealing with the Code Masters and finally the monstrous boss, Bottom Line. Yours truly was a offensive-lineman sized, kilt wearing character that, when released, bellowed "They call me a hack, so I give 'em the axe!" and proceed to wield a hatchet through the mission. Later I joked that I should have had a massive hammer instead, and Joe apologized, saying he liked that intro line so much that I had to have an axe.

So you can create an enjoyable storyline, but how simple is it to use? I sat down with an idea in mind ("Be all that you can be," where Statesman says I have a mere 15 minutes before Stallin' (get it?) releases a terrifying T-34 attack on Paragon City. I had my first mission built in about 20 minutes, complete with an ambush halfway through the boss fight by the ghostly Lenin. With a little more time maybe I could have changed Lenin to Lennon, the ghostly guitar-wielding hippy whose ally, Yoko Ono, attacks you with what she calls her Beatle-breaker - but now I'm probably getting carried away. The fun thing is that you could do this and more; it's possible to prototype something in fifteen minutes (as I did, using the Spetznaz villain group instead of custom enemies and characters) and spend days tweaking and testing something until you have something incredibly fun to play. After all, you have over 1,000 maps, and just about every villain group, NPC character, and animation the game uses plus any character you yourself could dream up to work with. The only restriction: the fairly saavy copyrighted and explicit content editor City of Heroes / City of Villains currently uses.

Thankfully no scripting, pathing, or even specific map placement is required - you simply set as many or few of the parameters, create some fun dialogue, and AE does the rest. So until you test, the mission you've created will be something of a surprise even to you. Also, everything is done in-game at the Architect Entertainment site (sort of like a Paragon City holodeck) so immersion is never broken.

But why create and play content whose quality may amount to a coin toss? While other user-created content efforts, like Ryzom Ring, have failed due to a hamstrung rewards system meant to stifle exploiting, Architect Edition has a multi-tiered reward system. You'll earn experience and influence (the currency of City of Heroes / City of Villains) at a normal clip unless you join with powerful NPCs during the course of the mission (in which case, you'll "split" XP and influence with them evenly). You'll also accumulate tickets during a mission which, along with a hefty ticket bonus for completing the mission, can be traded in at a ticket vendor for items and even unlockable design assets (maps and other items) to create your own missions.

You'll also get a souvenir clue, a unique item that shows you played through the mission entirely, as well as access to over a hundred new badges specific to Architect Edition (and all the old badges). Niftily, as Joe said, "It's completely possible to level from 1-50 playing only player-created content." The mission browser let's you rate and comment on mission arcs (including up to five missions, with up to 20 objectives per mission) you've played, and a special Hall of Fame and Developer's Choice award helps the best missions to rise to the top. To limit the number of piss-poor missions in the browser, every player can have three mission arcs published at any one time, but Hall of Fame and Dev's Choice missions don't count toward this total.

We have images and a FAQ posted, and we'll have dev Q&As with Matt Miller and Joe Morrissey next week along with my complete hands-on, but I wanted to get my first impressions out to Loading... readers now that the press embargo has dropped. What's your take on City of Heroes Architect Edition? Have I missed any angles or do you have any questions that I can answer, or take to NCSoft to answer? Post them in the Loading... forum or, as always, feel free to email me.

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of
the Day

From our Tavern of the Ten Ton Hammer Forum

Is there an MMO like this?

new community member, tralik, is looking for a MMOG to call home. "What
I'm looking for is a hybrid game with the jump-in attributes of
the casual FP shooter and (for me) the fun of an RPG," tralik says.
"Maybe a game with
classes and specific abilities. Maybe your class has 100 abilities to
choose from, but you only get 10 to use during a particular PVE/PVP
mission. There's some planning required and hopefully some skill in how
you use those abilities."

A few of our forum members have
suggested Guild Wars. (And yeah, I know I know, some of you purists
will scream, "Guild Wars is not technically a MMOG!" Just work with me
here, mkay?) Perhaps you have a different game in mind for tralik.
Show your MMOG expertise here!


Awesome Quote from the
Epic Thread

"Yeah, PVP in Guild Wars is excellent and very competitive, and it might get you ready for Guild Wars 2 if it ever comes out."

- Sigs222


Do you have a favorite Epic Thread? Let
us know

3 new MMOG hand-crafted articles today! 117 in February! 253 in 2009!

New MMOG Articles At Ten Ton Hammer Today [Thanks Phil Comeau for links and Real World News]

Images / Video



Hot Content - Or, what I took a fancy to:

  1. City of Heroes "Captain Dynamic" Video #1 - Awesome Button
  2. A Final Hurrah - 10 Things to Learn from Tabula Rasa
  3. City of Heroes Architect Edition Screenshots and FAQ
  4. Review of Nostale
  5. Jumpgate Evolution: Hands-on Report - In the Eyes of a Veteran
  6. Darkfall: Hands-on Report - The Rise of the Ninja (Looter)
  7. The Comic Book Guy: Are Pirate MMOGs in Davy Jones' Locker?
  8. Geeked: "Mainstream"
  9. Lineage: Re-entering the West
  10. Atlas Online: Unveiling Neo Steam
  11. Loading... Live Episode 5 - NY ComicCon Wrap-up
  12. Premium Content: NY ComicCon Panel Downloads (Video and mp3)

Real World News

Thanks for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer network!

-Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle and the Ten Ton Hammer team

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our City of Heroes Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.