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Why weren't Villains villainous?

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Warsmith
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Why weren't Villains villainous?

Or: My time as a Pseudo-Super Villain.

Fist, I have to say, I loved the City. It was a beautiful place to rome and seek out adventure. From Rogue isles to Paragon City, and even Praetoria, I roamed everywhere that I could to find excitement.
But one thing always bugged me...
Why does my "Super Villain" feel like a petty thug? All my missions, every thing I do, seems to revolve around beating people up to protect my rep, or knocking over banks for non-existant cash. Once in a while I saw a mission that focused on gaining personal power.
Where were the grand schemes for world domination? The grudge matches against heroes who have foiled me time and again?
Even with my most powerful Rogue, who had begun unlocking the secrets of the Well of Furies, I still felt like a second stringer. No plans of my own, always reacting to what other people were doing.
I want to be able to create my own path, not have to wait for some outside impetus to give me something interesting to do. If I'm a villain, let me be a VILLAIN dammit. Let me plot and scheme. Let me hold the city for hostage, or at least a building. Let me make things happen! The reactive life is for heroes, I want to make thigs HAPPEN!

If Brute Force doesn't work, you aren't using enough of it!

Kaxiya
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First off let me say that I

First off let me say that I have no programming or other RL experience in villainy (at least none I am admitting). Having said that, it seems to me that in order to be able to properly do dastardly deeds, one must have done the following: 1) survive long enough either on your own or more likely working for others in order to be secure enough and have enough funds to 2) acquire and improve a base of some type so that you can 3) Hire, control, build your henchmen, followers, slaves and thereby 4) Gather or develop the skills, funds, or resources in order to 5) Devise a plan to take over a building, create the doomsday device, kidnap the local nosey reporter or what have you.

please note that I consider number 5 to be the starting point at which you would actually begin as a true villain. So plans or creations at this point would start out meager and over time with many success or failures allow you to actually go from say plotting to rob a jewelry store to creating said doomsday device in order to level downtown

I do not know how any of this could be done or even if it is possible, but I feel it should be a LONG term goal and alot of work to be a Super Villain as apposed to the local thug.

A new beginning, forged from hope never ending!!

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TheMadGent
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They got somewhat better

They got somewhat better toward the end, especially with the Clone Arc. But yeah, villains were never quite satisfying, which was partly responsible for them never seeing as much play as heroes. Thankfully, some of what I've seen bandied about the old forums gives me hope. (Full Disclosure: I am not a Mod or Dev or anything, and have no insider access. I cannot guarantee that anything makes it into the game. Anything real devs say overrides me.) There was a plan thrown about for a clue/plot system, wherein characters could grab little bits of clues from mob drops, which could be crafted together into either a lead for hero to follow, or a plot for a villain. Creating semi-custom missions would allow for villains (or detective oriented heroes) to be more proactive in their missions. Of course, just plain fixing the writing for villain missions can help a good deal. A little bit of cowering and awe from my contacts would go a long way.

The world is a mess and I just ... need to rule it.

Vote
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I think a lot of it was

I think a lot of it was because the so-called City of Villains in which we played was . . . just that, really. A city full of villains. Well, it wasn't a city, but let me explain.

It's a wretched hive of scum and villainy in which the world's most nefarious organisations and some truly formidable native bad guys take effective refuge against international justice, in return for being trapped in a Hobbesian melting pot of similar such sociopaths, all competing for dominance. Presiding over it all is a supreme fascistic government who actively pits them against one another to weed out the weak and cultivate the strong . . .

It's in the concept. You're not really a villain. Courtesy of your residence of the Rogue Isles, you're just another scumbag trying to fight your way to the top, and courtesy of Project: Destiny, you're a guinea pig. Who in the Rogue Isles are you going to plot and scheme against? Other villains, probably. There's nobody else worth picking a bone with. It becomes a power struggle, and there's nothing innately villainous about self-interest in a envrionment as dangerous as that. And because villains are supposed to be even more self-reliant and driven -- they're active, traditionally, whereas the heroes are reactive -- it's even more glaring that CoH and CoV used the same old Contacts system for missions. No wonder you felt like a henchman all the time (fortunately, my redside main was actually supposed to be a henchman, or mercenary, but that felt like a bit of a cop-out). Often, your only interaction with the heroes you're supposed to be thwarting and defeating would be doing certain TFs and Sfs jointly, or if you were a roleplayer, sharing drinks in Pocket D. Not much fun.

Developer posts I've seen on the main MWM forums seem to suggest that the game is moving away from the idea of Contacts, however, and equally the heroes and villains aren't going to be segregated by zones. Like TheMadGent says, it seems the design ethic at the moment is that we'll be able to piece our missions together via clues and leads, so chances are they'll be more sophisticated than your buddy going 'hey, go punch out these mooks'.

Moreover, the collapse of the segregation element between heroes and villains -- we're all going to be cruising around Titan City, after all, right? -- is another thing that bodes well. Maybe not in actual World PvP, but player heroes and player villains may come into direct conflict with each other in the streets. Villains will actually be walking among their enemies, victims and quarries, so there's a chance that our missions will be more aggressive, proactive and dynamic accordingly.

"You might call them soft, because they’re very reluctant to kill, and they might agree with you, but they’re soft the way the ocean is soft, and, well; ask any sea captain how harmless and puny the ocean can be."

kitsune9tails
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Hello all. Obviously we are

Hello all. Obviously we are years from going live and it would be irresponsible to make any promises at this point. But let me just say that I was an active redside player myself (my favorite toon was Dame Fatale, a mind/psi Dominator) and I am there with you.

Our villain environment is currently planned to be VERY different from the Rogue Isles, and we intend to have lots of proactive play available. We HOPE to allow players to concoct their own schemes and Make Things Happen. One of the tools we hope to employ for that includes a very different alignment system from City.

That's all I can say for now, before Bigger Devs catch me and punish me for saying too much. Just know that we intend to leave the days of "everyone is a thug for Arachnos" far, far behind in the dust.

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Warsmith
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Well, that sounds rather

Well, that sounds rather hopeful. I understand that it's a difficult task, the more power you give to the players the harder it is to write missions. I genuinely believe it will be worth it though. In the end a hero or villain is all about the choices they make. Makeing those choices actually mean something is hard ground to break.

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1 eye archer
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Thanks for the glimmer of

Thanks for the glimmer of HOPE on villains. It would be nice to have a villain that's alter-ego is a more heroic type or a hero with a criminal secret id. That could really make things fun.

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Kaxiya
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What I am hoping for is a

What I am hoping for is a system where we are not locked into hero or villain. Since villainy or heroism in my opinion are not set constructs but rather an observation imposed upon you from outside. If say you had a swamp elemental character who defends and protects his home from anything that might threaten it. That elemental attacks a group of civilians who are polluting and ruining the area and they are a villain. That same creature destroys a noxious chemical plant which is doing the same thing and they are a hero. The PC doesn't see the two attacks any differently perhaps but society outside does. Now I do not mean to say there wont be consequences for any action they took. For instance, the destroyed chemical plant owners, MegaCorp, send out a team to investigate the issue which may lead to a confrontation with the PC. On the other hand, the attack on the civilians goes unnoticed as the bodies and equipment are swallowed up by the swamp never to be found. what I am getting at is, heroic deeds can be bad and villainous ones good, its just in how the circumstances are perceived. I hope I am making my point, either that or its late and I am tired.

A new beginning, forged from hope never ending!!

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TheMadGent
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I don't think it will be

I don't think it will be quite as nebulous as that, Kax, but the devs have definitely indicated that alignments will be more complicated than just hero/villain. And some fluidity is planned, but not necessarily from launch.

The world is a mess and I just ... need to rule it.

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I just hope we are not

I just hope we are not "locked in" or kept out of some zones due to alignment. That would definitely put a damper on the whole being "undercover or in disguise" collecting clues or infiltrating bases, banks, hideouts, etc.

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Zombie Man
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CoH's zone lock-out was

CoH's zone lock-out was kludgey and necessary because the alignment system was added on later. Legacy zones couldn't handle the opposing faction being present screwing up contacts and missions and PvP flags. The CoH had to create co-op zones and 'grey' factions for the alignment system to handle things. We, OTOH, will be building the game from scratch keeping a muti-alignment system in mind from the start.

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Warsmith
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i could see zone that are so

i could see zone that are so far opposed to your reputation as a Super that you are auto flagged for PvP when you enter...and that would be an excellent use for a secret identity... the opportunities for inventive and emergent gameplay are rather impressive.

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Ellis
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One of the problems with the

One of the problems with the Player Villain is that nobody wants their character locked up in jail. However, if the character is caught, that's what should happen. In basic RP, what inevitably happens is that the hero either inexplicably can never capture the villain, or the villain is put in jail and then leaves or escapes after 1 day. This gives the player of the heroes less impetus to bother with player villains, and instead of feeling fun and epic, just turns into Spy Vs Spy. Most players on CoX didn't actually want to be villains, and the ones that did wanted to do villainous things without consequence. The other thing, too, is a difference in level. I prefer the Silver Age type of feel, where villains did the 'I'm dangling you over a pit of snakes, and monologuing, and now I leave you to your doom!" whereas someone else might like the grim and gritty violent stuff. So it's hard to make those two mesh.

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Actions both heroic and

Actions both heroic and villainous, should have consequences, both positive and negative.

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So, the million dollar

So, the million dollar questions is: how can we make realistic consequences of villainy fun for everyone? A challenge, but doable I'm sure. And a subject well suited for us forumites to flay for the devs. /.../ Obviously the first question is, when and why do villains suffer consequences in the first place? As the wiscrack goes, 'I didn't get punished for doing x, I got punished for being caught'. A successful mission for a villain obviously has only benefits. But why should their defeat be any more or less of a problem than for heroes? They get magically (or technically, whatever) rescued and wake up in the hospital. Villains usually don't have such an option, but then, they also like the independent thing don't they? And we plan for everyone to be able to have at least a small private base. So for starters, villains would escape to their base. Perhaps, until they gathered the resources to return to their base, their 'debt' went to some shady underground doc that takes care of them. /../ I kept going because it was interesting, but it occurs to me you guys may have meant PvP, specifically. Right off the bat, I'd say a big part of the key is equality. A hero losing to villain shouldn't be any better off than a villain losing to a hero. Didn't the original Rogue release tutorial involve a jailbreak? Allow for enough dynamic formation, and a jailbreak mission following a failed PvP bout might work. Of course, that means the hero wakes up having been captured himself, and also has to escape. Done right, both sides might find this both a fun and logical consequence of failure. And villains could have fun designing their hero dungeons personally :D. It could function just like an AE - when you beat someone, the one you beat is placed into your custom made 'get out of this pal' mission. Of course, that could potentially be badly abused, so some heavy restrictions would be required to ensure people don't make them viciously impossible. Perhaps they could only choose what kind of mobs spawn and where, but not what level or how many, that would be determined by the game only. That would help for a lot. But we might also need a length restriction, another way to give the guy you beat undue grief.

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I agree with your point on

I agree with your point on equality. I like the idea that villain hospitals are run by shady back-alley doctors. However, I think breakout/deathtrap missions would be a pain. It would be really easy to grief massively, especially if any sort of world PvP is introduced. Also, it's worth considering that PvPers want to PvP, not be forced to run through breakout/deathtrap missions every time they die.

The world is a mess and I just ... need to rule it.

Kaxiya
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Perhaps the escape missions

Perhaps the escape missions could be tied to the opposing hero/villain's level. After all, it should be easier to escape from a lower level area than one designed at a much higher one. Now, that is directed towards the PvP style escape, but I believe a PvE one could work as well. I would imagine escaping from the local pokey should be much simpler than say trying to escape from a governmental high security installation (especially if it is designed to hold supers)...

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For those who 'want to do PvP

For those who 'want to do PvP', they can use the Maul for ring matches. These conditions are for in game PvP, the PvP that is meant to represent the struggle between the heroic and villain factions. Means for competitive PvPing is already well planned (Is the Maul supposed to be known about? I acquired an early version of the Lore bible when I was struggling to decide if I could make the time commitment, I read about it there).

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I did say if they could

I did say if they could design their breakout mission, there would have to be strong restrictions in place, much stronger than for regular AE design. If they can't put more than x amount of space into it, and the game decides how many mobs are appropriate and calculates the level, griefing might be under control. But I know I don't think like a griefer very well. Normally a point in my favor :D /.../ The breakout thing doesn't have to apply to every kind of PvP match out there. On the other hand, making PvP into something that, when done, is generally taken seriously kind of fits our game style, IMO. Still, like I said, the Maul should have us covered on that front. Maul matches obviously have no such consequences.

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And then villains can hear

And then villains can hear civilians say things like 'did you hear that Super Sadist escaped? That was a high security prison for super villains! How could he get out?'

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TheMadGent
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The Maul showed up a few

The Maul showed up a few times in the public places of the old forums, but the barrier between devs and ordinary forumites was always porous over there. ..//.. Re: PvP, World PvP and Arena PvP are totally different experiences and each have their own communites. Arena PvP tends to be more build-intensive, while World PvP tends to rely more heavily upon group coordination and tactics. There are people who will want to do World PvP, but not Arena PvP, and I feel that they shouldn't be forced to slog through player-built PvE content to play the game the way they want just to satisfy RP constraints (which I say as an RPer).

The world is a mess and I just ... need to rule it.

Warsmith
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I had pondered a possible

I had pondered a possible "defeat condition". City had the emergency teleporters, it seems that a similar system would work well here, though such protection and convienience would come at a cost. such cost could depend on your alignment, though it would likely be a combination of monetary and reputation. no one looks good getting thier butt kicked, after all. it could be a corporation that sells the service, at greater cost to the villainous types because of legal ramifications, though the reputation cost to heroes would be steeper, "why Amazing Man, this is your third service call this week, are you sure you're in the right line of work?"

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What amuses me is how the

What amuses me is how the most obvious defeat (and debt accruing) option was never mentioned:

You are defeated, you appear in Jail, with your lawyer standing at the door. "Ok, got you out."

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Well, I will confess to

Well, I will confess to having little insight into the PvP mindset (plenty into RP though). I've never been very competitive, never interested in pitting myself against other players at all. So here my suggestions may be farther off than usual.

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LOL. You would think of that.

LOL. You would think of that. Some of us are just innocents you know :).

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Warsmith
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yeah, i officially feel

yeah, i officially feel stupid now. how did we not see that, lol.

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Problems of what to do on

Problems of what to do on defeat are one thing, but the actions that lead to it are the main part of making someone feel villainous. There was another thread, I think on the MWM forums, where I had an idea: essentially customizable mayhem missions (or a similar thing for this game). As a villain, you would plan out a heist, picking and choosing what you're going after and where it's going to be. So you basically choose some options, and the game has a cool interface that makes it seem like you're planning a heist, while the game basically builds you an instance where you can go in and run around and cause havoc, without having to deal with consequences in the "real" game world like PvP or persistent effects or what have you.

Of course, on a PvP server that might not be an issue. I think allowing villains to romp around the actual world would be great there.

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Self-designed missions, both

Self-designed missions, both 'planning capers' and 'unraveling mysteries' for various alignments are things which I want to see in the game. Here's hoping :)

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Felderburg wrote:
Felderburg wrote:

Problems of what to do on defeat are one thing, but the actions that lead to it are the main part of making someone feel villainous. There was another thread, I think on the MWM forums, where I had an idea: essentially customizable mayhem missions (or a similar thing for this game). As a villain, you would plan out a heist, picking and choosing what you're going after and where it's going to be. So you basically choose some options, and the game has a cool interface that makes it seem like you're planning a heist, while the game basically builds you an instance where you can go in and run around and cause havoc, without having to deal with consequences in the "real" game world like PvP or persistent effects or what have you.

Ok, I now formally want to ask this idea to marry me! I LOVE it! Using this as a basis we could build a whole mini-game within such a system!

Soloists wanna solo without all the 'lol team with someone' hate. So let them use this system to build missions just for soloing!

Villains wanna be villains and plan and manipulate stuff. As mentioned above, this is built for that!

We could tie it into the Rep/Cred system mentioned elsewhere. With a Cred of 0 you can't plan more than a basic heist. Shorter mission, fewer options. As the Cred goes up, options open up. Characters can Invent other things to open more options like scanners and things to defeat locks. People with Skills could use them without the team bitching about slowing down.

Another idea: Use a variant of this for the 'Danger Room!' Characters or teams can program a scenario (kidnap, bank robbery etc) and the enemies and then PRACTICE working together! How cool is that!

I remember when Star Wars was cool...a long, long time ago...