An Alternative Form of Mentorship

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GhostHack
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An Alternative Form of Mentorship

In Past Superhero games, the general progress of lore dissemination and quest giving involved NPC superheroes/villains/authority figures doling out missions and tidbits of information they'd uncovered (from your efforts, or while you were off running errands)...
This process lead many to feel "unheroic" (or "unvillainous") and as secondary to the events of the quest archs.

It's my belief that there is a way to provide players/characters with the lore and mission information they need without relying on the traditional PC/NPC system of interaction.

Objective:
To separate City of Titans from COX/CO’s system of “learning the ropes” through in-game Hero/Villain NPCs. Further, to incorporate “perspective” into the lore of the settings many locations, organizations, and individuals, in an attempt to mitigate and ultimately minimize the level of “OOC” lore content.

Medium:
“Sage” NPCs.
A “Sage” NPC is a character who for reasons of their own, no longer engages in metahuman activities. They were, however, active for a significant amount of time and, as such, are well versed in nearly every aspect of “lore”. A Sage NPC embodies a philosophical and moral perspective in the game world, and their perspective colors the information they provide.

Method:
While traditional contacts may still exist (depending on the game’s final structure) the intention of the Sage NPCs is to remove exponential lore (backstory) from contacts, locations, and organizations.
Instead, players would be encouraged to question these Sages about the various people, places, and groups they encounter.
This would allow for much stronger “show don’t tell” interactions between players and contacts/NPCs, as sages would act as Story Tellers and Lore Keepers, providing unobtrusive immersion in the game world’s lore, that would otherwise be expositionally provided in an OOC biography tab or in a faux-IC context to players who chose to “ask a contact about herself” (or outright imposed on players through mission dialogue.)

Advantages:
Removes some of the blandness of NPC biographical exposition
Allows for more “show don’t tell” interaction
Provides players with In Character, perspective-based lore that can differ based on who is speaking
Adds and element of content achievement as each new location, person, or group is “unlocked” in the Sage’s dialogue options
Potential for clue-based exploration (comparing descriptions of individuals, groups, or locations from various sages to glean otherwise unspoken truths/unknown discoveries)
Gives players a sense of IC/OOC mentorship, without requiring “A-List Heroes/Villains” or government authorities to shepherd them (zero feelings of being a sidekick/errand boy(girl)/or otherwise marginalized)

Suggestions:
There are many ways in which something like this could play out, from an In Lore perspective. I’ve listed two, here:

The Society of Immortals:
Essentially, over the course of centuries, individuals have come along who, through magic or mutation or gift from extra-dimensional beings… have been made functionally immortal.
They are not gods themselves, just men and woman who do not die. Over their long lives, they’ve become aware of each other, even meet socially, but have drastically different views on morality, philosophy, and the human condition in general.
Because they don’t have the power of most super heroes/villains, their work or schemes may take many lifetimes to come to fruition… and right now isn’t the time for that.

I picture the society as sort of a social club of people like Xavier and Magneto, mixed with Vandal Savage and Wolverine (if they were all retired)
Their ideologies are just as strong as ever, and completely colors their perspective on the world, but they prefer to enlighten the current generations, then try to fight outright.

The Broken:
There’s no retirement home for heroes and villains… but sometimes, a super gets left behind by fate.
The Villain whose rage is spent, the hero who’s buried all her friends… the people who still believe in the cause, such as it is… but no longer believe in the fight.
Where the Society is (essentially) a group of philosophers debating an argument they have no real stock in…..
The Broken are heroes and villains who fought their fight and have, on some level, been beaten by it.

While I definitely like the idea of individual meta humans hanging out and shootin’ the breeze, I also think, as a SYSTEM something more like the society works better in the lore (sort of like a non-time-traveling Oroborus)

______________________________

I think there would need to be (at least) two of these Sages, one for each side of the coin….
a smaller number definitely works better with “The Broken” idea…
…But the Society of Immortals idea, IMO, has TONS of potential. Not only do you have one for “hero” and “villain,” there’s also the option to have one for each of the 6 basic alignment permutations (“philosophies”), and indeed could have as MANY immortals as you wanted to deal with (re-framing lore content for the new NPC perspective)
Beyond the core concept… having a “non-combat” group of supers who don’t function as a tradition team helps to shake up the core lore…. And also provides a launching off point for further development in the game’s content.
________________________________

No matter the story concept the team ran with, though, I feel that the core of this suggestion would go a long way to redefining the PC/NPC dynamic of MMOs and, combined with other proposed evolutions of questing design/structure, would lead to a fresh twist on the familiar function of NPCs and provide something new to the Superhero MMO….

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GhostHack
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As an Aside:

As an Aside:

"The Broken" is kind of a bad heading. It fits, but it sort of comes across as depressing.
In moving forward, this could just as easily be other forms of retirement....an Xavier School-style professor.... an Ant-man style avowed pacifist..... a Legacy hero who's passed on the mantle to his/her child or protege....
basically, I was intending it to be heroes/villains who are no longer "in the game"... but aren't a group of semi-isolationist philosophers, either.

...if that makes sense.

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Redlynne
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GhostHack wrote:
GhostHack wrote:

"The Broken" is kind of a bad heading. It fits, but it sort of comes across as depressing.

Sounds appropriate for me, particularly if you have someone like Transmuter ...

Transmuter wrote:

Former Mage

Transmuter was once a powerful mage who could turn material around him into anything he needed with a simple flick of his wrist. He even fought alongside Emperor Cole and Praetor White during the Hamidon Wars. Transmuter's magic was powered by his third eye and a magical medallion. Transmuter's medallion was shattered by Reese, who smashed it into pieces during his induction into Powers Division. Reese was proclaimed the new 'Top Dog', while Transmuter was re-assigned to Imperial City.


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GhostHack
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Hah! Yeah..... as long as he

Hah! Yeah..... as long as he's not just a mission giver, in Titans.

I guess i just meant that the title implied some level of bitterness, which would be a bad tack for the developers.... one snarky bitter informant is ok.... but I'm suggesting a comprehensive 'living encencyclopedia' of the lore.... and a pissed off/bitter character would get old really fast

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Automatisch
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I'm sorry,I have to make this

I'm sorry,I have to make this joke: is Titan City based in Florida? The way I am imagining all these over-the-hill hero and villain NPCs standing around to tell you about what they know. Reminds me of the Sunshine State.

I don't get mad, I restructure the laws of quantum physics and resolve the situation with temporal engineering.

GhostHack
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hah... no.... but at the same

hah... no.... but at the same time... this City is a mecca for superpowered types.... many are born and spend their whole life there... it's only reasonable they'd stay once they were done...
...if for no other reason, then that the only people who really "get" them... are the younger heroes and villains that come in fresh on the bus each day...

And it's not like they need to be old, or sitting around waiting to tell you stories... They could be anything, do anything.... the only defining feature, really, is that you can quickly build enough of a rapport with them, that they'll allow you to contact them with "any more questions that pop up...."

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The society has a lot of

The society has a lot of potential.

The Broken needs a little work, but it could be interesting too. Especially if there were some sort of climactic uber-battle twice per year, and your (player) efforts to build a relationship had to be good enough to bring some of these old codger out of retirement for one more fight as NPC allies...I could see that becoming interesting. Perhaps we could activate them if enough of us did their missions? Hmmm, this could be a task for particular SG's. then the NPC would join the SG for one more fight...

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I ceratinly like a concept

I ceratinly like a concept like this over "go look it up in the Wiki". Although, the wiki will happen regardless.

As with anything, it comes down to resources and how they are spent. My sense is that it's the rare player who will do anything in a game if it doesn't yield some kind of reward. (Albeit, CoH probably had a larger percentage of that rare type than most)

If it's well done and players are driven to it, I'd say it's worth it. If there are actual missions associated with it, or just badges for talking to all the old-timers I think it could have tons of potential. OTH, the more of that you do, the more it's just like forced expo when being handed a mission. ::shrug:: I still like the concept. Even if it's just another potential group from which to get missions.

GhostHack
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WarBird, I think my vision,

WarBird, I think my vision, is that this idea streamlines gameplay for players who don't care, and provides more "bang for your buck" to players who do...

Essentially, by removing NPC biographies from their originator, and trimming quest dialogues back to "what the character actually would/needs to impart", those who don't care for walls of text or secondary information get immediate gratification....

...while those who enjoy digging/discovering/exploring have a stronger sense of achievement.

The way I see it playing out (particularly for the broken):

Early in the game, you do something (first "moral choice" mission) and your actions put you on known heroes or authority figures (mayor, head of meta human relations, whatever) radar. You are contacted and either praised or slightly chastized for how you handled the previous mission, and are given a follow up mission to speak to "Lady Titan" (or whomever). you can, of course, skip it, or pick it up later, depending on your play preference, but the mission handler will make it clear that it's worthwhile for your long term success in the city.
You go and talk to Lady Titan, who's not old (the nebulous mid-twenties to mid-thirties that most seasoned heroes sit in) but has still retired from actual hero work. She explains how Morality choices function (from her personal IC perspective... not an OOC tutorial, i assume that will be part of the actual "moral choice" mission) and offers to help you with any questions you have, cause she's been around for a while, and seen quite a bit.
She gives you her cell number, and says to call any time, and then the dialogue window reverts to a list of questions you can ask her (or end the conversation)
these questions are dynamic, and updated as you progress through the game, so the more that you encounter, the more questions you will have, and the more answers she can give.
In this way, she functions as an in character encylopedia, but from her specific perspective (given the name, she's probably a champion of clean cut ideals :P) and so her information is colored towards those views (criminal groups are a blight, vigilantes are dangerous and harmful, etc)

Now, i don't see the sage NPCs as functional informants (i.e. they don't pass along OOC knowledge, don't hand out quests, or anything like that) and function purely as a means of narrative exposition...
Want to know why that Iconic hero showed up to help out in your Master Villain mission? Call up Lady Titan!
"Oh, Dyna-kid? He's been trying to bring King Kahuna down for years. Don't know the particulars, but there was a really nasty business a few years ago where King Kahuna and his Kahuna Kultists made Dyna-kid choose between the police chief's daughter and a bus full of school children... and the chief's daughter ended up dying. That can't have been easy, Dy's a pretty young hero."

HOW MUCH COOLER IS THAT?! then the usual:
"I really hate King Kahuna, it's because of him that My Gir-...the Police chief's daughter died two years ago. Will you help me foil his evil plot?"

how much more dynamic, more REALISTIC, if NPCs just "act".... they just be themselves in the world, with their own ambitions, objectives, ideals.... their explanations are "just what you need to know".....and it's up to you to try and dig up the whole story. Not by completing a story arch (no one story arch ever gave you the full picture of "who is spiderman?"... but they always show you what sort of kid or man he is. you have to do a bit of digging yourself, to learn why.)

And, YES... this system means that you don't ever really get the whole picture... or if you do, it had to be pieced together BY YOU... because YOU wanted to know.... it didn't come from a single source, and it certainly didn't come from some generic OOC "Biography" that you can magically access and learn all about a character's past and secret identity.

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Automatisch
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In other words: you would

In other words: you would give us a cell phone, we would gain the number of a chose NPCs that... basically does nothing but tell you what you would have found out as time went along anyway? I am actually a little surprised you would suggest exposition vessels, and such obvious ones at that. Exposition is usually done in passing, otherwise it bogs down the story. Basically: you are not suppose to feel like you are being hand-fed details by the writer. An all-knowing Lady Titan giving info on any given character (even limited) feels a bit like contacting Old Spock from Star Trek: Into Darkness for details (however vague) on Khan. It is the writing equivalent of Jumping the Shark. But, this is just my view: this topic is very interesting.

I don't get mad, I restructure the laws of quantum physics and resolve the situation with temporal engineering.

srmalloy
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They could also be useful in

They could also be useful in giving out pointers that would guide a character toward finding a clue that they could then try to build toward a mission. For example, after talking to one about (using CoH background), say, the Freakshow, they might comment that they'd seen a report about a clandestine surgery that had just been shut down which had been doing Freakshow conversions. If the character follows up on it, they can talk to one of the crew doing investigation and cleanup, and get some more lore about how/why people turn themselves into Freakshow, and in the process reveal a clue -- that they'd found refrigerated containers in the place, some with organs in them (the surgery was taking the removed parts and selling them on the black market for transplants), or that one of the 'clients' they'd taken into custody had blurted something about 'missing the big rumble', or the like. Not handing out missions like a regular contact would, but handing out hooks that could lead a character to a mission if they choose to follow up on it, but only if they actively seek out information from the 'old guard'.

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So GH, clarify some things

So GH, clarify some things for me. Would Lady Titan then become my future mentor? Could I go to any of the "Sages" and ask them questions? At any point in my career? How do I meet the others? If I can go to ANY of the Sages and ask them questions about ANYTHING that's going on in my career...well, that's what I meant about resource spending. Having to write portions of all the lore, from the perspective of every Sage seems a bit daunting. But maybe I'm misunderstanding.

I still like the concept, DGMW. I'm definitely the guy who will sit and read all the stuff trying to "piece together" the back story, Just for my own RP fun. I'm not sure, however, that the majority of the gaming community will spend enough time and effort to do the same and not just go "Gawd! Just tell me! Pssh. I'll just get it from the Wiki." Let alone actually having to put forth an effort to dig it out. Just saying, that if you want people to experience something in these games, you have to incentivize them. If you're doing it because it would be cool for a minority of hard core types it's a waste of resources.

Let me suggest, rather than the method by which you are introduced to the basic understanding of how the game's general politics are sorted, if in adition to all that this were a way to get down into the dirty secrets and motivaitons of some NPC's and NPC Groups. You know, like: "Believe me kid, I used to be one of them. I can tell you the truth from the inside." (along with my bias and and the tint of my glasses) So that each individual Sage has the line on a particular person or group. Or maybe that was your intent all along and I just missed it. :P

But on the whole, sign me up. Richer worlds make for better RP and more satisfying experience.

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Actually, let me throw

Actually, let me throw something of a boomerang here on GhostHack's idea.

Perhaps these "sage" NPCs could be used/exploited by the Content Team as Branching Paths through story arcs, so that you don't necessarily have a straight line "choo-choo" railroad track with no alternate paths along the way in it.

So let's say, just for the sake of argument and illustration purposes, that you're doing a Story Arc and you receive a Defeat All Mission. The Defeat All objective is the baseline default victory condition for the Mission in the absence of any kind of modifying or mitigating factors. Right, we all clear so far?

But then you call up one of these "sage" NPCs and discuss this particular Mission with them and if that "sage" knows the opposition parties involved they *MAY* suggest an alternative means to accomplish the goals of the Mission. So the Mission would essentially be the same, but what you would need to "DO" in the Mission could be changed.

So after talking to a "sage" NPC to talk about this Defeat All Mission, and learning more about what's going on, the Mission Objective could be changed from a Defeat All to something like a Click Glowie in order to complete it ... allowing the Mission to be "ninja stealthed" rather than bruiser fought. Alternatively, the "sage" NPC might be able to recommend a way to use a particular skill that aligns with your Secret ID (such as being a Reporter or a Photographer) to gain access to the Mission location and get the information/dirt that you need to get the opposition there to close up shop in order to avoid public exposure ... or whatever.

The basic idea is that ... there's more than one way to skin a cat as far as Mission Objectives go so as to be able to swap things around and create multiple routes to the same destination(s), rather than just having a one lane, one way road with no turn offs that runs from Point A to Point B and that's ALL you get.

Now, what would make that sort of Branching Paths kind of structure "interesting" is if the "sage" NPCs who hand out those kinds of Mission Objectives Modifiers were somehow tied into the Alignment System. So you'd have low/mid/high Law aligned "sage" NPCs ... and low/mid/high Integrity aligned "sage" NPCs ... and low/mid/high Violence aligned "sage" NPCs ... meaning there would be a plethora of potential options for the Content Team to play with (don't need to do EVERYONE for EVERYTHING after all), and would even allow a sort of built in modularity since Branching Paths could even be added later after the Story Arc is first developed, possibly adding replay value to it (particularly for Explorer type Players).

So let's say you receive a Mission to go in and Click 20 Glowies as the victory condition. BORING! But you're a character type that on the Violence alignment is someone who just resorts to violence easily, often and rather indescriminately. Why bother telling someone to stop snoring when you can just shoot them dead, right? So you contact your Violence "sage" NPC and they recommend not bothering with any namby pamby Click The Glowies crap, just beat the snot out of everyone in the Mission and it'll all be cool. So the Mission Objective changes from Click 20 Glowies to being Defeat All Mission because your character is just that kind of smashmouth bruiser (and because for this Mission you can be that).

Now, all of this would (of course) require SOME additional development for these sorts of Branching Paths for various Missions, but the important thing to note here is that I'm not talking about doing something that "replaces" or outright "skips" particular Missions in a given Mission Chain. Instead I'm talking about alternative means to achieving the same ends ... and fully admitting right up front that which alternatives are available for which Missions need not be a complete listing. So a particular Mission might offer an alternative objective for a high Law or a medium Ingegrity, but absolutely nothing on the Violence alignment track, for example. Then a different Mission in the same Story Arc could offer low, medium and high Violence alternatives, but nothing at all on the Law or Integrity axes. Even better yet, if the Mission Creation System the Content Team uses is deliberately built with modularity and scalability in mind from the get go these kinds of Branching Alternatives could even be released years after the original Story Arc shipped and went Live on the game, creating replay value. Of course, making life easy for yourself in that way requires writing up the code for handling those creative functions in such a way as to make a virtue of the Easy To Modify Perk so as to allow such expansions of content to be added later on.

The most important thing for doing this kind of Branching Paths system is that Missions not be structured in such a way that the only thing they ever can be (short of a total rewrite) is a One And Done kind of affair. Any programmer will tell you that robust reusable code may be harder/more expensive to do the first time, but if you're going to use it more than once it'll really pay off in the end (usually).


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Automatisch wrote:
Automatisch wrote:

In other words: you would give us a cell phone, we would gain the number of a chose NPCs that... basically does nothing but tell you what you would have found out as time went along anyway? I am actually a little surprised you would suggest exposition vessels, and such obvious ones at that. Exposition is usually done in passing, otherwise it bogs down the story. Basically: you are not suppose to feel like you are being hand-fed details by the writer. An all-knowing Lady Titan giving info on any given character (even limited) feels a bit like contacting Old Spock from Star Trek: Into Darkness for details (however vague) on Khan. It is the writing equivalent of Jumping the Shark. But, this is just my view: this topic is very interesting.

I admit, it can run that risk... but I'm not suggesting an "all knowing" NPC... so much as a "very well informed" NPC. These "sage" NPCs wouldn't necessarily know everything about everything... particularly if there are several of them. Rather they provide the information that would otherwise need to be jury-rigged into the story narrative, or provided through OOC means...
it's actually MORE "in scene" than COX/Champs' approaches to exposition, as it converts non-essential information (lore) into a more thematic form:
distinct from the story narrative (re: info tabs) and yet still "In Character", in the sense that it is another person in the world, telling you about the world in an organic manner (question and answer about specific topics) rather than unlikely/unreasonable dialogue exposition in mission briefs or OOC ancillary tabs or windows with information a character could not know, otherwise.

My suggestion offers a means of providing that information you WOULDN'T or SHOULDN'T just "find out" by osmosis, standing around a place, group, or person.

Some real world examples:
You are standing in Hells Kitchen, Manhattan. Without some means of education, you should/would have no knowledge of why it's called Hell's Kitchen, The threats or dangers it contains, who calls the place home, and what the motivations of those denizens are.
and you wouldn't be told by the people you meet, either. to them, it is not essential or noteworthy information (because they already know it)
You would have to ASK.

In traditional MMO's, they solve this problem with blurbs on the main website, OOC "god pages" in game (information given out-of-universe to the player by the writers) such as biographical tabs, or through overbourne, talky, expositional, "info-dump" mission descriptions.

What I'm suggesting is a streamlining of the encounterable information, scaling it back --essentially to what you can acquire from your direct experience (Clarkstown is rundown/Alexandria is affluent/Black Roses look like mobsters) and what would reasonably be provided in an actual request for help or stool pigeon squeal-- and then creating an in character source that provides the information you would/should otherwise need to research to find out (why(or even THAT) Red Light is so dedicated to protecting street kids, or Clarkstown residents resent Alexandrites slumming it in their town on the weekends)

When you walk into Galverston, you wouldn't be given a mission to ferrit out the history of the neighborhood. Instead, you'd walk into a part of town you don't know, encounter new things, and then ASK what these new things are "Oh, you're in Galverston, there's a great hang out on third street for hero-types"
no contact waxes historical or breaks it all down because you're new. Instead, Contacts have their own concerns and you're either their to help, or you can take a hike.
The only thing you know about enemies, is what you can directly perceive... that they are doing bad things (or preventing you from doing your bad things)... And if that's all you need to know... COOL. but if you want to know more, there's someone you can call, to find out.
You don't just open up a tab where the writers hand you a completely out-of-universe chunk of information... and extra information isn't just cheaply doled out to you to keep you in the loop...

Instead... the information (or, one NPC's take on that information) is available, when you ask for it, if you ask for it.

You said that Exposition is usually done in passing. I can only assume that you mean "in novels"
In MMOs, exposition is crudely dumped into the plot to justify the next breadcrumb mission you have to go on. Characters constantly decide to give you a treatise on the history of various individuals or organizations so that you feel informed. OR, which is even more common... Exposition is removed from the narrative and placed in a null space of god-like information.
THAT is how it's done in MMOs. It's not some casual passive thing you barely notice as you go on missions.
It's a dump truck.
Meanwhile, My suggestion is to COMPLETELY divest exposition from "the narrative"... if it's "just" background information, it doesn't show up in the main narrative arc at all. People don't waste time talking about their history with a person or group, (or the history of their neighborhood in general) when there's work to be done.
and.... Since it's likely we wont be having traditional contacts, you won't HAVE people telling you what to do, or convincing you why you should....

...that's on you, so to speak.
So, rather than hamfisting exposition into what narrative there is in the game (assuming the "mission crafting" concept comes to fruition as completely as the kickstarter updates imply), and RUINING any narrative flow.... we take out the exposition, and provide it in an "as asked for" form that still remains In Scene, in character... governed by the inclinations and 'voice' of the teller of the information, not OOC god-mechanics.

You could extend this idea to all manner of NPCs, from Master Spies to hyper advanced AI's, if those seem more credible sources of information... it doesnt have to just be retired heroes...

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GhostHack
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WarBird wrote:
WarBird wrote:

So GH, clarify some things for me. Would Lady Titan then become my future mentor? Could I go to any of the "Sages" and ask them questions? At any point in my career? How do I meet the others? If I can go to ANY of the Sages and ask them questions about ANYTHING that's going on in my career...well, that's what I meant about resource spending. Having to write portions of all the lore, from the perspective of every Sage seems a bit daunting. But maybe I'm misunderstanding.

depends on the justification used (my "broken" vs. "society".... or whatever else the dev team came up with)...
BUT.. given the notion that you define your experience, your mentor would evolve out of your choices...if there are several.
If there's only two sage npcs (for ease and resource management concerns) then as you start you encounter one of them (I cant imagine you dont have some benchmark decision to define you as a hero or villain at level zero) and, if you move to the other side of the fence, the other one would contact you...

If we're considering a broader spectrum of "sages" I'd imagine you would begin to collect them.... it could even be a version of an exploration system (like badge hunting) wherein different alignment dynamics, or paths or rolls put you "on the radar" of various sages who contact you (or who you are directed towards by other NPCs)

I actually mentioned the resource issue briefly on the OP, but honestly, as a writer myself.. if you have the basic fact, it doesnt take THAT much effort to twist them into one perspective or another.... so I'd imagine each person/place/group would have an unfiltered "core" dossier, and then the content team would just pick what elements of that core a sage would know, and how they would phrase it... but, of course, the more of these NPCs there are, the more time must be invested in the process.

Quote:

I still like the concept, DGMW. I'm definitely the guy who will sit and read all the stuff trying to "piece together" the back story, Just for my own RP fun. I'm not sure, however, that the majority of the gaming community will spend enough time and effort to do the same and not just go "Gawd! Just tell me! Pssh. I'll just get it from the Wiki." Let alone actually having to put forth an effort to dig it out. Just saying, that if you want people to experience something in these games, you have to incentivize them. If you're doing it because it would be cool for a minority of hard core types it's a waste of resources.

Again, I fully believe that this system would either benifit or go completely unnoticed by your "gawd, get on with it!" types....
as all of this information comes in an "as asked for" form.
The basic game, the plot narrative would become universally "in scene"... no exposition, no NEED to "get on with it"... because all those elements that would/could bog down events would be kept with the sages, rather than the direct contacts.

There would be no lame "wander around the city and learn about its history" type missions... As you traveled around the city, if you WANTED to know about it, you'd call up your sage... if you didn't care, you'd never have to deal with it.
same with lengthy, info-dump exposition in the mission dialogues.... characters wouldn't need to discuss backstory details (which would be inorganic for them to do anyway) and instead, all mission dialogue would focus on the CURRENT events... the developing relationship between PC and contact, and the various missions they shared.

Lore/Backstory/Exposition would never be forced on the player (so no "gawd, get on with it!") and yet some level of information about ANY person/place/group you've experienced would be available any time you needed it.

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Let me suggest, rather than the method by which you are introduced to the basic understanding of how the game's general politics are sorted, if in adition to all that this were a way to get down into the dirty secrets and motivaitons of some NPC's and NPC Groups. You know, like: "Believe me kid, I used to be one of them. I can tell you the truth from the inside." (along with my bias and and the tint of my glasses) So that each individual Sage has the line on a particular person or group. Or maybe that was your intent all along and I just missed it. :P

I'd actually prefer that the sages NOT be quite so single faceted.
The guy who used to be on the inside knows more than just what it's like on the inside.... he also knows about everyone inside, everyone he faced on the outside, while inside, and every associate of the group he was in, while he was in...
he knows the stomping grounds of his ex-brothers, and their allies, and their enemies, and he knows (from what he's been told, and what he's experienced) WHY these territories are drawn where they are.

He, in point of fact... knows a whole hell of a lot.

Go into the cannons of Marvel or DC.... how much could Mockingbird tell you about, with a solid level of authority?
or Taskmaster?
Or Huntress?
even a minor lieutenant of AIM or HYDRA would be a treasure trove of information.....

in terms of the game.... these NPC's aren't "sages" because they make it their mission in life to uncover knowledge....
..... they're "sages" because they're willing to talk.

And that's sort of the point.... their OOC function is to act as an In Character/In Scene replacement for choppy and overblown exposition in mission dialogues and meta-game information sources like NPC biography tabs or history missions.....
.... but IN that context... they're just characters... they can have limitations (it just means having more of them, to pick up the slack), and they SHOULD have a perspective, even an agenda.... as long as they aren't allowed to be outright deceitful (which is why I gave my Society suggestion.... as such characters would care little for short term machinations of the various NPC heroes and villains, and really only promote their own ideology over their fellow immortals)

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But on the whole, sign me up. Richer worlds make for better RP and more satisfying experience.

Agreed.

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I really like this idea of a

I really like this idea of a semi-permanent mentor-figure for rising heroes. In CoH you had your 'Origin Contact' but after the first half-dozen missions, you never went back to them. In addition to the roles already mentioned, they could act as a sort of meta-contact who could say, "Ah, young hero, you should go talk to my friend Bob Bobstone, he has a situation in Alexandria that I think you'd benefit from addressing. Oh, um, forget that name I said, just go see Sphinx, okay?"

However, I don't think it's good to Completely remove exposition from the mission narrative. Some of that information can be a critical clue to your success. Still, the mission contact could just stick to the important stuff and offer a (wiki) search-tag or a lore-contact for more in-depth information.

And then, eventually, the hero becomes aware of the 'Society' and has met a few of the 'Broken' ones and develops a handful of high-end contacts that can really proliferate the available story-lines. Actually, how about we just have 'The Society of Immortals' be Founded by a few genuine immortals, but the Membership would be any formerly 'super' person. And the 'Society' knows all about the 'Broken' ones, those who might require a bit more leg-work to find and access. Perhaps one of your most important contacts might be the... Concierge or Butler at the club, who might act as the 'card catalog' for the 'library' of the Society?

"You want to know about the Omicron Order, sir? Hmm, this may seem irregular, but may I suggest that you take a sandwich and a bottle of whiskey to the vagrant fellow that hangs out in Prospect Park. Why? Because, once upon a time, that was Agent Umbra and he knows more about the Omicrons than anyone alive... well, if you can get him to talk at all, I mean."

You return, unsuccessful, and the fellow says, "Food and drink didn't work? I'm sorry sir, I expected that to be effective... Well, there's no help for it, but to pull out the big guns. I know his weaknesses, sir. Take him a pair of socks and offer to trade them for the information. Clean socks, sir, size 10."

I'm one of those very curious persons who Would put the mission on hold, while I go roam the databanks for a bit, unless I was on a team. Even then, I might put my character on auto-follow and do a bit of research on the way to the mission. Because I like to know about my enemies. I like to know about my Allies, too.

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Fireheart

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As I said, I like the whole

As I said, I like the whole Sage idea, but if it remains just a "Go look into it if you feel like it" scenario, I don't think a large enough percentage of players would utilize it to justify the resources spent creating all the dialog. If you got some real benefit from meeting them, however, that's another story. Intel that could make a difference in a boss fight, Some clue to a secret lair entrance. I particular like Redlynne's idea that you can learn of an entirely alternate way of completing a given mission. I mean, if I'm Batman, I would take a completely different tack than Superman. Some characters can crash through the ceiling, others want to sneak in a vent shaft.

and . . . Clean Socks? I wonder what those would go for at the Auction House.

Wait...there's an idea there, too. What if developing a rapport with a Sage meant finding something they want, or just responding correctly to a question they put to you? (based on knowledge gained from a previous mission) or having done a "side-quest" rescue of someone who's important to them in your last mission.

All kinds of ideas here. But again, lots of resources to create it all. It needs a compelling reason for most players to bother with it.

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One thing to keep in mind:

One thing to keep in mind: anything where the reward for seeking out an NPC is just exposition - that is, just information to be read by the player - will wind up on the web, possibly on an official or unofficial wiki about the game. It will be easier, generally, for players to go look up the blurb on the wiki than to seek out the NPC to read the dialog box expositing on the world.

Having something change in the dialog each time, perhaps "seek out Ultra Dude to learn about the weaknesses of his old nemesis, G-Man," could involve going to talk to Ultra Dude (who is retired and in no shape to fight G-Man in his new, rejuvenated form), and the weakness(es) change each time you take the mission. It's one of a few options for how to do things to make the fight easier, but discovering which one and how to exploit it depends on reading the dialog about G-Man's weaknesses and tactics. Checking it on the forums, or skipping Ultra Dude because you've done the mission before, could result in a much harder fight as what you thought worked is not valid this time.

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while I concur it will likely

while I concur it will likely end up online, it won't be any easier to get the information.... it's functionally identical to 'looking it up'... just without having to "go" somewhere else.

That said, I love the idea of having randomized mission variables (in terms of means of success, rather than objectives) that you uncover through inquiry.

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I support Segev's notion of

I support Segev's notion of having randomized weaknesses, which "require" interacting with a Sage in order to learn that information (at all), and that without it the fight is harder. Bear in mind that such modifiers ought to be reserved for Elite Bosses and above, I'm thinking.


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Oh, I don't think this aspect

Oh, I don't think this aspect needs to be reserved to "the boss is weak against X"...

Rather,I saw it more as a collection of possibilities... from "the boss is weak against X" to "you want to take the left fork" to "if you click the glowies in this order, the alarm won't sound"
Even something like "if you go in at night, there are less people around" could be possible...
Basically any aspect of a mission's parameters that could have a random component.....

And no, I'm not suggesting that every mission in the game have this level of randomness built in.... but the "two part season finale" of the story arch could... and TFs could....

as long as the information provided is unique to your play through, the system would work.

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And perhaps the 'Sage' or

And perhaps the 'Sage' or 'semi-permanent Mentor' could also handle other 'services', like training or vendoring?

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I've always preferred

I've always preferred diversity in that respect....
One-stop-shops always kinda hurt my groove.....

My actual preference would be something similar to the Cell system in COX, where after you've done enough "business" with an NPC you can just call them from anywhere.
I'd like this to work with Mission NPCs, Training NPCs and even Vendor NPCs...

basically "You know, you don't need to come by in person, I can drop this stuff off at your place." (Email or personal base, depending on QoL mining from the team)

So... newbies, who level faster anyway, still 'get' to visit contacts in person.... but as you progress in the game, "management" of the extra elements of the game becomes easier. (less "down time" spent at trainers and vendors)

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That makes sense.

That makes sense.

I do consider the location and environment of Sage/Mentors to be... important, worth development time, but I can see how visiting the place might become less impressive over time. Then convenience would assume a higher value.

At the same time, multiple locations and settings for 'training' would make sense and a Mentor/Sage would be an appropriate source of training.

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Fireheart

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What about taking this idea

What about taking this idea in yet another direction.

Those of us who played City of Heroes are well familiar with the phenomenon that for some characters it was "impossible" to solo a Final Boss in a Story Arc. I know that I personally dreaded going up against Elite Bosses (let alone Arch Villains) with my Controller in the early days of City of Heroes, simply because the Purple Triangles of Doom prevented my Archetype from functioning as designed, leaving me totally vulnerable to being gratuitously smacked around like a squishy by a Foe NPC who could simply sneeze in order to make me faceplant. This wasn't exactly something "reserved" for the higher levels or the end game either, it started in the Hollows with Frostfire, was repeated with Atta and it continued to happen in Striga Island in the 20s, and by the time you go to the 30s it was pretty much EVERY Story Arc ended this way.

For those who can appreciate the sheer stubbornness required to solo these Elite Bosses with a Controller, especially "back in the day" when Controllers didn't even have Containment yet, I wound up needing to use Confuse on a nearby Foe NPC (preferably a Lieutenant, although a lot of times I had to settle for a Minion) and then let the Confused NPC beat down the Elite Boss FOR ME to the point where the Elite Boss was down in the 1-2% Hit Points remaining category and I could swoop in for a quick "plink" of extra damage to finish them off (and earn the Defeat) so as to achieve a Mission Complete. Yeah, watching a Troll Minion "punch" Atta for over an hour while keeping Confuse on Autofire and avoiding aggro myself, just so I could clear the Mission and advance the Story Arc ... that was ... (not) fun. And for the record, that Troll Minion's DPS output, when focused ONLY on Atta was just *BARELY* higher than Atta's natural regeneration rate, so ... it took awhile. Needless to say, if I hadn't been playing a Mind Controller (or an Illusion Controller for that matter), that option simply wouldn't have been available to me in which I was able to "whittle the Elite Boss down to size" where I could survive coming into contact with them during a single Purple Triangles Of Doom Are DOWN cycle in order to be able to Control them (Hold, basically) long enough to Defeat them. It was an exhausting, nerve wracking business, to say the least since it required precision timing at the end of a VERY LONG an very frustrating setup and WAIT.

Incidentally, just as an aside, I actually wound up using the exact same means and methods many years later to solo Honoree in the Mender Ramiel Arc to earn my Alpha Slot on my Mind/Kinetics Controller. Weakened Honoree was a melee archetype (with Purple Triangles of Doom) that I couldn't Control (consistently, for long enough) and survive the encounter. But Captain Holtz was a Blaster archetype and could be Controlled (in this case, Confused) ... so I was able to successfully stack enough Confusion onto Captain Holtz to get HIM to take out all the Rikti and the Rikti Portals for me so that he could then concentrate (undistracted) on beating down Weakened Honoree for me so that I didn't have to defeat Honoree myself directly. Once again, LONG SLOG of trying to get one Arch Villain to defeat *another* Arch Villain, and it was totally a Blaster vs Brick so the Blaster Is Pathetic sort of thing to watch ... but with enough patience and perseverence, Weakened Honoree was defeated, leaving only Captain Holtz for me to deal with, and since he was a "squishy" archetype that I *could* Control, that was pretty much curtains for HIM. So yeah, my Mind Controller was able to "solo" Honoree (legitimately) in that Story Arc ... even though it took forever to do. My Defender though? NOT A CHANCE without an aggro magnet to assist.

So ... the basic problem is that SOMETIMES there will be challenges or a combination mix of opposition that for whatever reason the Player (singular) simply can't get through. In City of Heroes the reason for this was often that the Player Character simply couldn't withstand a grueling slugfest (and honestly, weren't supposed to be able to) and Elite Bosses and Arch Villains offered ... a grueling slugfest that would "promptly" defeat the Player Character in very short order if the Player drew any aggro (ie. Foe NPC "sneezes" and you faceplant). My Mind Controller who was able to legitimately solo her way through all of the Mender Ramiel Arc to earn her Alpha Slot and who was able to solo her way through Who Will Die stories 1-4 (including soloing Manticore!) ... was just STOPPED COLD trying to defeat Darrin Wade in story 5, simply because of how the final battle was structured. I was a squishy Controller, who was facing a Foe who couldn't be controlled for more than 1/3 the time, and who could defeat me in just a few hits. A couple of times I managed to work Darrin Wade down to 75% Hit Points, and then Phase Two of the battle would start with Ruladak the Ravager and I'd just be completely overwhelmed in seconds because I couldn't maintain Lockdown.

Mind you, Redlynne, my Martial Arts/Super Reflexes Scrapper had *NO* Trouble whatsoever dealing with this Mission, and actually considered it relatively easy, as did Shirayukihime, my Ice/Ice Tanker. Funny that, how this particular structure of Mission was a death trap for "squishies" while it was something of a cakewalk for melee archetypes. Hmmm.

Anyway ... what all that Trip Down Memory Lane is all about is to suggest that perhaps it would be a good idea to allow Sage type NPCs to offer an "escape route" for Players who "can't" complete a particular Final Mission in a chain solo to actually be able to solo it ... in exchange for a reduction in Rewards (I'm thinking like INF, XP and Reward Merits, specifically). This would be in lieu of the Auto Complete Mission feature that City of Heroes eventually implemented to allow Players to "Pass" on particular Missions simply in order to advance the Story Arc (or complete it). The problem with the Auto Complete solution though is that in most cases the Story Arc would award a Badge for defeating the Final Boss, and if you used the Auto Complete you wouldn't earn that Badge ... and in some cases you NEEDED that specific Defeat Badge as part of an Accolade. So I'm wondering if it might not be wise to set up a Sage NPC Option to allow seriously disadvantaged matchups between Player powersets and a Foe NPC's powerset to have a route they can take which will "allow" that character to defeat the Foe NPC by actually fighting, rather than simply avoiding, them. If it helps the Content Team any ... think of it as the Player working out a PLAN for being able to catch/trap/weaken the Foe NPC sufficiently that the Player can succeed.

Of course, the whole notion is one of those "if all else fails, try this" sort of escape clauses ... but that's better I'm thinking than simply having the "game" in effect tell Players "you're playing the wrong character to do this AT ALL" and creating a divide that results in FORCED TEAMING to overcome obstacles. That way, Players can "complete the content" legitimately on their own ... although they'll "pay" for that in terms of receiving fewer rewards for completing the Arc, so it doesn't become an insurmountable blockade to their progress.


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SO, red.... basically the

SO, red.... basically the previous line of thought.... but with an additional caveat that makes "talking to a sage" a means of modifying boss difficulty, so normally unsolo-able enemies can be tackled?

I mean, technically, that IS what the previous suggestion was: talking with a sage would provide a "leg up" in the fight to come (if their advice was listened to).

personally, i think there is a flaw in the logic that super-awesome enemies should be soloable, and I think it's far more awesome that someone might think to confuse an NPC to help them... than incorporate a mechanic in the game that hamstrings enemies so that "weaker" archtypes can solo them.
I'd much rather see enemies of type X be "unsoloable" reguardless of archtype..... and, contrastingly... if it's soloable for any archtype, it should be soloable for all archtypes. anything else, imo, is bad class balance.
Further, I wholeheartedly believe that difficulty should inversely scale as you progress in levels (i.e. a level 5 PC should get wiped by a purple con EV, or whatever, while a similar match up between a level 30 PC and a purple EV should just be "a really hard fight" ) so that early game fights rely on teamwork more, when you're character is weak, but allow for more soloability as you gain prowess through levels (which would also justify the increased timeframe between levels, and justify any sloggy-ness)

NOW, this is archetype to archetype....and in that context alone, i feel all things should balance out.
I have zero problem with an enemy have weaknesses to different damage types (fire, ice, etc) and thus be pushed into or out of "solo range" by the combination of damage type and damage resistance....
so, enemy X might be soloable by YOUR controller... but not MY controller..... but if it's soloable to any archetype, it should be soloable to all of them.

Returning to the topic. I see no reason why this sort of informant NPC couldnt/shouldnt have the ability to modify mission content, but I would not want to see them be a "dumb this down for me" button.... The game should have convenient and freely accessable difficulty scaling to provide or remove challenge to improve player QoL.
if archetypes are properly balanced, a "last ditch" caveat would, imo, be entirely unnecessary.

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I'm still for the idea of

I'm still for the idea of keeping Archvillain level threats, Archvillain level threats. If the character is an Elite Boss, they're an Elite Boss. Don't downgrade a named boss to an easier difficulty just because someone can't solo it. There are other options...

Inspirations. Getting others to help you. Maybe even a side kick option like in CO. Temp powers.

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pretty much in the same boat,

pretty much in the same boat, there, X.

I do like the idea of making missions "modifiable," but not necessarily specific enemies.... no "I hear Dr. Doom has a cold today!" type things :P

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GhostHack wrote:
GhostHack wrote:

SO, red.... basically the previous line of thought.... but with an additional caveat that makes "talking to a sage" a means of modifying boss difficulty, so normally unsolo-able enemies can be tackled?

No. That's both overinterpreting and misinterpreting what I actually said and what Segev said.

GhostHack wrote:

I mean, technically, that IS what the previous suggestion was: talking with a sage would provide a "leg up" in the fight to come (if their advice was listened to).

How about I give you a concrete precedent example for the kind of thing I'm talking about.

Synapse Task Force Mission: Get Immobilizer from Positron
Clockwork Immobilizer Mk IV ... and here's what it did.

Dr. Khan Task Force Mission: Get Energy Sources from Axis Earth
Dimensional Grounding Ray

Now, granted those are just two examples of NPCs handing out Temp Powers as part of the main Story Arc of Task Forces to assist Players with taking down the Final Boss at the end of everything. In both cases, what you have is a situation of a Player going to an NPC and the NPC granting the Player a Temp Power that will exploit a "weakness" in the Final Boss (or make the Final Boss HAVE a weakness that actually can be exploited). The Dimensional Grounding Ray was meant to be used on the Reichsman ... the Clockwork Immobilizer Mk IV could optionally be used on the Clockwork King (preferably by a Controller or Defender Archetype).

Put that *concept* in context with Segev's point about random weaknesses, switch the NPC handing out the Temp Power from being the Arc Contact to being a 3rd party "sage" styled NPC and ... not that difficult or unprecedented?

It's also funny that you should assert (accuse?) that I'm advocating what amounts to downranking of Foe NPCs. If you read what I said, you'll note that conspicuous by its absence is any mention of *changing* the ranking of Foe NPCs representing Final Bosses in what I said. At worst (best?), all I was merely suggesting was that if you're locked into fighting against (proverbial) Superman, and you can't go toe to toe with him because to him you're made of cardboard ... it would be great if there was a "sage" NPC around who could hook you up with some (proverbial) Kryptonite which could force (proverbial) Superman to fight you on YOUR level, rather than on HIS.

So ... glass half full, glass half empty ... or am I holding a redundant glass?

GhostHack wrote:

I'd much rather see enemies of type X be "unsoloable" reguardless of archtype..... and, contrastingly... if it's soloable for any archtype, it should be soloable for all archtypes. anything else, imo, is bad class balance.

Funny then that literally ALL of the examples I cited in my complaint could be soloed by melee "brick" archetypes who would in turn mop the floor with my "squishy" archetypes. So glad to see then that you agree with me (although I'm pretty sure that wasn't your intention).

GhostHack wrote:

Further, I wholeheartedly believe that difficulty should inversely scale as you progress in levels (i.e. a level 5 PC should get wiped by a purple con EV, or whatever, while a similar match up between a level 30 PC and a purple EV should just be "a really hard fight" ) so that early game fights rely on teamwork more, when you're character is weak, but allow for more soloability as you gain prowess through levels (which would also justify the increased timeframe between levels, and justify any sloggy-ness)

Um ... you do realize that being +3 makes a whole lot more of a difference on small numbers than on big ones ... right?
8 / 5 = 1.6
33 / 30 = 1.1
Not trying to get real "deep" here with this point, just that it's practically a "given" that +3 means less to a Level 30 than it does to a Level 5, when using crayons on napkins to do math.

GhostHack wrote:

NOW, this is archetype to archetype....and in that context alone, i feel all things should balance out.
I have zero problem with an enemy have weaknesses to different damage types (fire, ice, etc) and thus be pushed into or out of "solo range" by the combination of damage type and damage resistance....
so, enemy X might be soloable by YOUR controller... but not MY controller..... but if it's soloable to any archetype, it should be soloable to all of them.

Which is basically what I said.

GhostHack wrote:

I see no reason why this sort of informant NPC couldnt/shouldnt have the ability to modify mission content, but I would not want to see them be a "dumb this down for me" button.

Good thing that isn't what I was suggesting then, isn't it?


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not sure why you're going

not sure why you're going full bore defensive.... and I'm sorry If I misconstrued your suggestion. In my defense it was buried in long side story that implied you wanted a means for allowing your squishy character a means of soloing a boss she was otherwise unable to.

my response was in no way an attack, or inflamatory, and didn't require such a vehement response.

Now, for your response:

Quote:

No. That's both overinterpreting and misinterpreting what I actually said and what Segev said.

incorrect. I understand what Segev said. your suggestion seemed to branch off that concept, and certainly (given the lengthy backstory) implied that the GOAL of your suggestion would be to make something that was otherwise untacklable, tacklable.

If it was a misrepresentation (I'm not wholly sure it was, despite your defensive tone) I do apologize... but your current "re-explanation" with examples merely shows PRECEDENT... it doesnt in any way imply that that I claimed something about your suggestion that was inaccurate.
More to the point, your suggestion and Sev's suggestion are not the same... HOWEVER, yours BUILDS off his, which is what I said.
Secondly, there is a dramatic difference between a core plot point (a temp power to allow you to accomplish your goal) and a secondary, semi-secret "trick" (talking to your mentor/sage and seeing if there's an "escape clause" to this mission)

Quote:

It's also funny that you should assert (accuse?) that I'm advocating what amounts to downranking of Foe NPCs. If you read what I said, you'll note that conspicuous by its absence is any mention of *changing* the ranking of Foe NPCs representing Final Bosses in what I said.

I never mentioned anything about ranks. I don't know why you are.

Quote:

GhostHack wrote:
I'd much rather see enemies of type X be "unsoloable" reguardless of archtype..... and, contrastingly... if it's soloable for any archtype, it should be soloable for all archtypes. anything else, imo, is bad class balance.
Funny then that literally ALL of the examples I cited in my complaint could be soloed by melee "brick" archetypes who would in turn mop the floor with my "squishy" archetypes. So glad to see then that you agree with me (although I'm pretty sure that wasn't your intention).

why would you think it wasn't my intention? It's what I explicitly said.
I think it's total bull that a brick can steamroll bosses because he's "not squishy."
Basically, I think your whole 4-paragraph backstory thing was awesome, but should only have existed against enemies that NO ONE could have effectively soloed.
If it's soloable by any AT, it should be technically possible to be soloed by ANY. And, also, the reverse. I'm fine with a game with enemies that cannot be soloed... as long as, again, that INABILITY is equally universal.
that, to me, is Balance.
the mitigation that a "tough" AT has should be balanced in an "untough" AT through some other means.

Quote:

GhostHack wrote:
Further, I wholeheartedly believe that difficulty should inversely scale as you progress in levels (i.e. a level 5 PC should get wiped by a purple con EV, or whatever, while a similar match up between a level 30 PC and a purple EV should just be "a really hard fight" ) so that early game fights rely on teamwork more, when you're character is weak, but allow for more soloability as you gain prowess through levels (which would also justify the increased timeframe between levels, and justify any sloggy-ness)
Um ... you do realize that being +3 makes a whole lot more of a difference on small numbers than on big ones ... right?
8 / 5 = 1.6
33 / 30 = 1.1
Not trying to get real "deep" here with this point, just that it's practically a "given" that +3 means less to a Level 30 than it does to a Level 5, when using crayons on napkins to do math.

Let me clarify the point. I think that the mathematics should be geared towards a balance wherein the disparity between con level and PC level is LESS severe the higher level the PC is... rather than either a linear scale or "diminished returns" (i.e. you have to work harder to accomplish the same relative survivability/dps) as you level.
That isn't to say I want things to be easy at max level... but I feel that the difference in potency between you and a purple con enemy should be less extreme at max level than it was at level zero.

Math supports the goal you wish to achieve, not the other way around.
+3 is just a variable, if the underlying math is structured so that +3 does MORE the higher level you are, then it will be (just have a level based multiplier tacked onto the rest of the equation, so the +3 gets a boost in effectiveness the higher level you are)....
....and that's still just crayons on a napkin.

(and, full disclosure, I have no idea what you're describing as having "+3".... if your talking about damage scaling, then you just have a multiplier that affects the +3 at the beginning of any additional equation elements. If you're talking about Con level, or something else entirely, Then I'm not sure what you're getting at, and would need further information. also, no idea what you're trying to show with your fractions.)

Quote:

GhostHack wrote: NOW, this is archetype to archetype....and in that context alone, i feel all things should balance out.
I have zero problem with an enemy have weaknesses to different damage types (fire, ice, etc) and thus be pushed into or out of "solo range" by the combination of damage type and damage resistance....
so, enemy X might be soloable by YOUR controller... but not MY controller..... but if it's soloable to any archetype, it should be soloable to all of them.

Which is basically what I said.

which is also what I said.
So that we're real clear here: just because I explain a point, so as to clarify MY position.... does not necessitate that i'm contesting YOURS.
We are allowed to agree. and my saying something that AGREES with your position, is not an attempt, by me, to imply that you don't.

What *I* said, I said ONLY to clarify what *I* was saying, so it could not be said I was expecting EVERYTHING in the game to follow the same line of reason I expressed in my post, and was ONLY referring to the specific things I stated.

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GhostHack wrote:
I see no reason why this sort of informant NPC couldnt/shouldnt have the ability to modify mission content, but I would not want to see them be a "dumb this down for me" button.
Good thing that isn't what I was suggesting then, isn't it?

perhaps, in the future... instead of writing a lengthy anecdote about how you felt it was unfair that your character was unable to solo certain content, as justification for why you'd like a system in place that could allow you to circumvent that complication.....
you just suggest what you're trying to suggest.... so people don't get the wrong idea about what you're suggesting.

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Okay, just curious. Why is

Okay, just curious. Why is the idea of what is essentially a support character unable to solo some difficult boss, a bad thing?

Could some do it? Yes. But when one makes what is basically a team character build, why lower a named NPCs level of difficulty to accommodate? Want to be the OMG SOLO EVERY AV LEVEL THREAT, why not pick a combo of powers that is more in line to do it?

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A thought that occurs to me

A thought that occurs to me in regards to this part of the discussion is, what if the 'Temporary Power' was a Companion/Sidekick? Then you wouldn't need to play 'nerf the boss'.

Be Well!
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Fireheart wrote:
Fireheart wrote:

A thought that occurs to me in regards to this part of the discussion is, what if the 'Temporary Power' was a Companion/Sidekick? Then you wouldn't need to play 'nerf the boss'.
Be Well!
Fireheart

Well, it does give the cash shop something to sell. Gives some temp powers to purchase with in game currency. For those who really don't want to team with other players.

Cash shop versions can be permanent!

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GhostHack wrote:
GhostHack wrote:

not sure why you're going full bore defensive....

And I'm not sure why you think I'm being full bore defensive. If anything, I'm simply trying to clarify and crystalize a group of ideas and concepts that don't have a firm framework of reference on which to hang things as of yet. Your response indicated you were not understanding my intent and were going off track, so some corrections and additional information for context seemed to be in order to eliminate false positives of perception and interpretation which could only muddle the discussion at hand.

GhostHack wrote:

my response was in no way an attack, or inflamatory, and didn't require such a vehement response.

Nor did I see it as such. If anything, it appeared that what I sent was not what go received, hence the follow up to verify and give additional context.

GhostHack wrote:

I understand what Segev said. your suggestion seemed to branch off that concept, and certainly (given the lengthy backstory) implied that the GOAL of your suggestion would be to make something that was otherwise untacklable, tacklable.

I was branching off Segev's concept, but not in the direction you seemed to be going with it, hence the need for corrections.

GhostHack wrote:

but your current "re-explanation" with examples merely shows PRECEDENT... it doesnt in any way imply that that I claimed something about your suggestion that was inaccurate.

I was showing precedent so as to indicate a direction for the idea to go in. I was pointing north and you were pointing east. Again, a case of false positives in interpretation of what I was saying since there wasn't enough information the first time to exclude the possibilities you jumped to, hence the need for more information and a refutation of "no, that's not what I was thinking of" as presented.

GhostHack wrote:

More to the point, your suggestion and Sev's suggestion are not the same... HOWEVER, yours BUILDS off his, which is what I said.

Secondly, there is a dramatic difference between a core plot point (a temp power to allow you to accomplish your goal) and a secondary, semi-secret "trick" (talking to your mentor/sage and seeing if there's an "escape clause" to this mission)

In that respect, the two goals are not mutually exclusive, even if they don't necessarily have to be put together. Venn diagram and all that. The idea is to have more than one tool in the toolbox, so that you don't wind up with everything becomes a nail when all you have is a hammer.

GhostHack wrote:

I never mentioned anything about ranks. I don't know why you are.

That was a joint response to you and Brand X on the "dumb me down" point you made that Brand X took and ran with to mean downranking. I should have aimed that more at Brand X than you.

GhostHack wrote:

I think it's total bull that a brick can steamroll bosses because he's "not squishy."

Unfortunately, that sort of thing is what happens when you make a Foe NPC an incredibly huge bucket of Hit Points who can't be Controlled and who is ridiculously resistant to Debuffs like City of Heroes did. It's just the way things work out.

Then again, Redlynne, my MA/SR/Soul Scrapper (who was really more of a Scranktroller, really) could hold the aggro of FIVE Rikti Magus ... solo ... and survive (barely) ... until the cavalry arrived on Rikti Mothership Raids to beat them down for me. After the SECOND time I was caught pulling this stunt on a single Raid run, I got something of a reputation among Mothership Raiders on Virtue for a while. I'm hard pressed to think of ANY non-melee classes that could have pulled off the same stunt (more than once) without faceplanting (Illusion/Storm Controller? maybe?). But then again, Redlynne was built to be a "pocket tank" from the very beginning.

GhostHack wrote:

If it's soloable by any AT, it should be technically possible to be soloed by ANY. And, also, the reverse. I'm fine with a game with enemies that cannot be soloed... as long as, again, that INABILITY is equally universal.
that, to me, is Balance.

Well, that's certainly one way to do it. I guess my complaint then is more one of making sure that solo Story Arcs can actually be completed by soloists, rather than "requiring" a Team to complete them (if you were a "squishy"). So in that respect we're still angling for the same results, just approaching the problem at different angles from different places.


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Oh, I definitely agree.... l

Oh, I definitely agree.... l actually suggested a system of separate team and solo arches as a means of trying to fix that concern (not the best plan, maybe... but Meh)

I still think the best plan is balancing the archetypes, then creating the equivalent of soloist asprin....

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GhostHack wrote:
GhostHack wrote:

Oh, I definitely agree.... l actually suggested a system of separate team and solo arches as a means of trying to fix that concern (not the best plan, maybe... but Meh)
I still think the best plan is balancing the archetypes, then creating the equivalent of soloist asprin....

CoX had team orientated arches:

They were the Task forces.

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gangrel..... my suggestion

gangrel..... my suggestion was for mission archs that were not as intense as taskforces... just regular old missions that happen to be focused around teams, rather than solo

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So, something like dungeons

So, something like dungeons/instances model used by most MMOs?

When team is mentioned, does that presume the full 8-person team or should MWM consider tuning such content for smaller teams? Perhaps even have a group oriented difficulty setting? It's a bit of a devil's advocate question that I ask because 8 people, to use WoW as the default example, is practically a raid. It might alarm some new players to have to gather so many people together for 'mere' group content.

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Darth Fez wrote:
Darth Fez wrote:

So, something like dungeons/instances model used by most MMOs?
When team is mentioned, does that presume the full 8-person team or should MWM consider tuning such content for smaller teams? Perhaps even have a group oriented difficulty setting? It's a bit of a devil's advocate question that I ask because 8 people, to use WoW as the default example, is practically a raid. It might alarm some new players to have to gather so many people together for 'mere' group content.

Something to remember, is we have no idea how big teams will be able to get in CoT. They could decide on a 5 man team and not an 8 man team, or it could be in between.

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GhostHack wrote:
GhostHack wrote:

I'd much rather see enemies of type X be "unsoloable" reguardless of archtype..... and, contrastingly... if it's soloable for any archtype, it should be soloable for all archtypes. anything else, imo, is bad class balance.

I sort of agree with this comment in that I don't want to feel excluded from playing certain ATs if, for example, it's difficult for me to get a team all the time. However, it depends what you mean by "soloable." I would have no problem with the assumption that the baseline capability of certain ATs is higher than others when taken in isolation, especially if said others act as force multipliers in a team setting. However, it might be that something else in the game allows me to maintain the legitimacy of my choice in a solo setting, such as providing optional (competent) NPCs so that I actually have something to support with my support toon. I'd like to see it go hand in hand with an increase in challenge though so that my rewards remain somewhat consistent in either case.

GhostHack wrote:

Further, I wholeheartedly believe that difficulty should inversely scale as you progress in levels (i.e. a level 5 PC should get wiped by a purple con EV, or whatever, while a similar match up between a level 30 PC and a purple EV should just be "a really hard fight" ) so that early game fights rely on teamwork more, when you're character is weak, but allow for more soloability as you gain prowess through levels (which would also justify the increased timeframe between levels, and justify any sloggy-ness)

This, however, I totally disagree with. I might get behind the first part to an extent (more on that below) but I certainly don't want certain levels to be more team-friendly than others. When I'm weaker (low level) my opposition should also be weaker (low level). The choice to team--large or small--or solo should be equally valid across all levels, even if not necessarily across all content.

While I'm on the subject though...

Redlynne wrote:

Um ... you do realize that being +3 makes a whole lot more of a difference on small numbers than on big ones ... right?
8 / 5 = 1.6
33 / 30 = 1.1
Not trying to get real "deep" here with this point, just that it's practically a "given" that +3 means less to a Level 30 than it does to a Level 5, when using crayons on napkins to do math.

Why use irrelevant math to make the point then? There's no reason to believe that comparing the ratio of levels gives you a remotely useful barometer of difficulty. The easiest way to see this is true is to take everything in CoX, add 1000 to its level without changing any other statistics, and look at the results (in which case the ratios are completely different while absolute differences and actual gameplay remain identical). Unless there's some basis for the assumption that ratios will factor directly into the math (in the case of CoX, I believe it was actually absolute differences that frequently took this role) or that certain properties scale in a linear fashion with level then saying a 3-level difference means less to a level 30 than to a level 5--even if it's true--would have other reasons entirely.

It's more accurate to say this happened in CoX because characters and enemies didn't effectively scale by level at quite the same rate, so that an even-level enemy was a lot less dangerous to a competent level 30 than a competent level 5, despite the fact that both the absolute differences and the ratios are the same in each case, 0 and 1:1 respectively. This means that at level 30 enemies actually needed to be somewhat higher to bring their challenge up to par. Whether or not this is desirable is a bit trickier. It might be from the psychological standpoint that players want to feel the reward in those terms ("I'm battling +2s instead of +0s now" rather than "I'm battling level 30s instead of level 5s now"). It might also be that the game is balanced around a bare level of competence rather than an average level of competence, and that skill becomes increasingly useful as you level up, so that most players will find it easier to take advantage of the mechanics enough to face higher relative challenges. However, these considerations aren't because of any fundamental mathematical behaviour, and there's nothing given about it.

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ok, wow.... so... before this

ok, wow.... so... before this all goes TOO far off the rails:

1.)My comment about team archs was elucidated in other threads.... feel free to look me up for links, i merely mentioned them here as proof of accord between Red and myself on the issue.

2.) when I say soloability, i mean that literally. That does NOT mean i desire/expect matchups to be "as easy" for every AT... nor that all obstacles necessarily be tacklable solo with all builds(you should have the right to "gimp" your own soloability, essentially)... but in that same vein it should NOT always be "easier" for one class over another (i.e. different bosses should have different "good" and "bad" matchups... so it's not always a situation where "tanks" are always the best tool for the job... or any other AT for that matter)

3.) I think you may misunderstand me, Pyro. As a young hero, "Great" challenges are much more threatening than a similarly "great" challenge after you've saved the world a few dozen times.... that's the logic I'm running under.
Con is, at it's core, a functional, mechanic distinction (that grey through purple stuff, not necessarily minion through EV)
my inclination, is that purple should mean more to a new hero, than a veteran. A low level character should have a greater (perhaps even insurrmountable) challenge dealing with purple-conned enemies.... while it may only be "very challenging" for a max level character.
It in no way "imposes" teaming, on anyone, at any level.... however if one WANTS to go pick fights out of their league.... as a low-level hero, they're more likely to need help.

_________________________________________________

That said, I think we can see an evolution of the core idea of these "sage" NPCs as a combination between Lore Keepers and "Informants".
I like this combination. If nothing else, it gives players who might otherwise scoff at deeper storytelling a reason to interact with the means of acquiring it. Further, it gives Content creators a medium to tell a story with character...
In talking about it in this thread... more and more I'm reminded of Deckard Cain, in the Diablo series. Sometimes he acted as a quest giver, sometimes as a sort of merchant (identifying gear)... but mostly he was there to explain the missing pieces in the epistolary narrative of your quest.

While I didn't consider him while thinking up this idea..... that is, I think, what I'm looking for.
The "story" in an MMO is very much an epistolary form (like the recordings in System/Bioshock game, or any classic horror story) In that we never recieve the "whole story"... and are left to piece together what information we have to craft the "true" narrative ourselves...
Someone like these Sages provides a more complete narrative, by providing depth and context to events.... without browbeating the player DURING the story arch. And, when combined with multiple sages with differing personalities/goals/ideologies/experiences writers can maintain the epistolary style, but in a long form narrative.

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GhostHack wrote:
GhostHack wrote:

2.) when I say soloability, i mean that literally. That does NOT mean i desire/expect matchups to be "as easy" for every AT... nor that all obstacles necessarily be tacklable solo with all builds(you should have the right to "gimp" your own soloability, essentially)... but in that same vein it should NOT always be "easier" for one class over another (i.e. different bosses should have different "good" and "bad" matchups... so it's not always a situation where "tanks" are always the best tool for the job... or any other AT for that matter)

Fair enough, which is why I said it depends what you mean by soloability. I would see us more or less on the same page here.

GhostHack wrote:

3.) I think you may misunderstand me, Pyro. As a young hero, "Great" challenges are much more threatening than a similarly "great" challenge after you've saved the world a few dozen times.... that's the logic I'm running under.

My issue I think comes from when you said "early game fights rely on teamwork more." Perhaps there is some difference in the way we understand that, but to me it implicitly demands a change in the acceptability of solo vs. team play across the span of levels. I would make the distinction between what constitutes a great challenge from a gameplay standpoint and a great challenge (or perhaps momentous event) from a storyline perspective. The option to handle a variety of challenge levels as both a soloist or team player I think should feel legitimate across the vast span of levels. Rightly or wrongly, I feel like your implication is that the con system or relative level differences should do the job of the second (noting momentous events by letting me know I can now solo purples), when I believe its actual purpose is the first (letting me know how challenging this opponent is for me to defeat)--and if its doing this job properly then I think it would do it better if it did it in a consistent fashion. Perhaps, however, the psychological aspects really take precedence and we should default to those.

_________________________________________________

Something the OP got me thinking about: I'm not an expert in the matter but I understand studies show the importance of who approaches whom in all manner of interactions, such as business or dating. I wonder if CoX and other games often lead us to feel that the contacts have the power (whether they do from a story perspective or not) because it is almost always the player going to the contact looking for something--typically something to do to go get XP and other juicy things. What if we reversed this process more?

Sometimes this can be subtle; in CoX when you got a new contact it was often some notice that you can go see this person if you want, though it could be the contact petitioning you directly. Instanced copies of contacts may come to you directly in missions or your base.

One idea I quite like is sort of a combination of Radio missions from CoX and the nemesis system in CO: personalized contacts. Citizens that need your help could be procedurally generated along with the mission for what they need help with and literally walk up to you on the street (or contact you some other way) when your "looking for mission" flag is up. I think I would find it more interesting to be approached by Betty the Grocer because her husband's been kidnapped than to go to Officer Cliché and have him tell me Betty's husband needs rescuing and he's willing to subcontract the work to me.

The reason to have contacts be mostly static objects in the world is obvious: it's easier. But I think inverting this paradigm and having potential missions approach us instead of the other way around could go a long way to making us feel less like employees of greater goods/evils and more like the protagonists of the world.

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Some great stuff here. Keep

Some great stuff here. Keep thinking, guys!

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I too like the idea of being

I too like the idea of being contacted, and totally agree with your assessment.

i would lean more heavily on the nemesis mission side of the paradigm, though, personally. basically, street sweeping in an area (or completing open-world missions.... or even instance missions particular to that part of town) builds your 'rep' (or, mechanically, increases the chance of event occurence), prompting citizens to come to you with their problems (npc spawns, runs up to you, asks for your help)
sometimes that mission would lead to more than just a single mission (so, equivelent to an investigation 'clue')

this could also be augmented by 'sage npcs', as they might provide more information about groups or individuals involved in these otherwise straight-forward events.

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Something else that occurred

Something else that occurred to me and I don't know if it's been mentioned: There's been a distinction made between going to a "Sage" contact for (pragmatic) help and help that is considered an inherent part of the story, such as the temp power for Synapse TF. Perhaps the ideas could be fused together.

That is, if you are faced with an EB-level enemy in a mission and you either gather a team or manage it solo, then more power to you. If however, you need help from the game and go to a Sage NPC for assistance, that assistance could be generated by the game as additional content. That is, if you elect to take an NPC ally to help you, the game could generate a mission that you have to complete in order to obtain it. ("Bobby the Mincer's too tough huh? You remember Electric Fondue? He was trying to take out Bobby as well and I'm sure he'd help you. The problem is that Fondue's power supply ran out and you'll have to obtain some power cells from the Show of Freaks to help him out.") If, on the other hand, you prefer a temp power to help you then the Sage can also direct you appropriately. ("Bobby the Mincer's too tough huh? That's gotta be the Thorny Circle providing him with magic charms. I can prepare you a counterspell but only if I know what they did. Maybe if you convince them they'll provide the details and I can whip you something up.")

I would expect, again, that keeping such a system procedurally generated would make it manageable from a design standpoint. At the same time players have some control over the path of the story and the difficulty they face by determining how much help they need, while maintaining the integrity of the world and giving a clear tool to manage the rewards (since it takes longer to complete a particular arc).

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I definitely like this spin

I definitely like this spin best on the idea that you, red, and Seg are circling around....

i like the idea of trading the xp of an EB for the time to do a side quest.... It gives a tangible sense of "extra" effort, for the "benifit" of getting a leg up on an enemy.... without ever feeling either like a "cheat", or a "requirement."

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That's the thought. It's an

That's the thought. It's an option that functions in essence like a difficulty slider, but from a gameworld point of view. There's no need to alter rewards in any way since you are still accomplishing the same task, and are indeed earning that accomplishment through your own effort, but are in effect breaking the challenge down into more manageable chunks for yourself over a longer period of time.

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You've got enough parts here

You've got enough parts here to basically make a mission chain into a Choose Your Own Adventure system.

  1. Get mission from Don Popeil: Someone has stolen all the Turnip Twaddlers™! You can:
    1. Shake down some Skulls; they look guilty. (Kill Skuls. For each defeated Skull, roll vs. 5% times number of Skulls defeated so far to see if information is obtained.)
    2. Talk to the Police Chief for info on recent movements or hideouts (get three hideouts to search; they're in a random one of them)
    3. Do your own surveillance or detective work (game mechanic TBD) to find the right hideout.
  2. Once hideout is located, you can:
    1. Kick the door in and start busting heads.
    2. Call the cops over to surround them and demand their surrender (hey, it might work). Chance they'll try to sneak out an escape hatch...
    3. Street hunt some Skulls to figure out how to sneak in to the hideout.
    4. Hack their communications and send them fake orders to deliver the goods right into a sting operation.
    5. Call your SG in on it to take the things for themselves.
etc. etc.

Has anyone seen my mind? It was right here...

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From the sound of this idea,

From the sound of this idea, the Taxi Driver should totally be a "Sage" Contact. You could catch him on break at several locations or try flagging him down at others.

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could definitely work... but

could definitely work... but they need to tone down his stereotypical accent and rambling style..... a little is nice, but too much get's to be annoying (hard to follow/decypher)

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GhostHack wrote:
GhostHack wrote:

they need to tone down his stereotypical accent and rambling style..... a little is nice, but too much get's to be annoying (hard to follow/decypher)

I'm already at the point where I look at the taxi driver emails and immediately ask myself if I want to take the time to do the mental contortions necessary to parse what he's saying into useful information. The last few times I figured it wasn't worth the bother. Too much RP (noise), not enough signal (information).


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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:

GhostHack wrote:
they need to tone down his stereotypical accent and rambling style..... a little is nice, but too much get's to be annoying (hard to follow/decypher)
I'm already at the point where I look at the taxi driver emails and immediately ask myself if I want to take the time to do the mental contortions necessary to parse what he's saying into useful information. The last few times I figured it wasn't worth the bother. Too much RP (noise), not enough signal (information).

100% agreed.

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2) Not to be used when upset... will void warranty
3) Stoke me a clipper i will be back for dinner
4) I have seen more intelligence from an NPC AI in TR beta, than from most MMO players.

GhostHack
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likewise.

likewise.
I like the "character".... but I'd like some straight up information to break up the monotony...

I really liked the 'carpet ride" updates, flying around the city... they didn't necessarily tell a lot, but they gave a much better "sense" of the Titans that MWM hopes to create, then the Cabbie has.

___________________________________
....Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars...

Brand X
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Joined: 11/01/2013 - 00:26
HelBlaiz wrote:
HelBlaiz wrote:

From the sound of this idea, the Taxi Driver should totally be a "Sage" Contact. You could catch him on break at several locations or try flagging him down at others.

What would be much better, imo, is he is constantly driving around the city and you have to actually look for him! And preferably in random locations, routes, and not the same circle at the same points at the same time.

In fact, someone talking to him could even slow him down! If someone else is talking to him, you can't even talk to him, he instead says "Cantcha see I'm talkin wit someone ere?"