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Friday, January 05, 2007

Love in the Time of Kinetics

I'm not playing City of Villains any more, but I did enjoy playing it for a few months. There are certainly quite a few negative things about the game I will share with you later. But, I thought I would start with a positive impression concerning my time as a healer. Yes, that's right, a healer. I don't know how it happened. After a brief glance at the Corruptor archetype, I figured it was akin to an EQII Wizard, a ranged DPS class. So when people suddenly started expecting me to heal them, I didn't know what to think.

I've always assumed that healing in MMO's is merely a matter of watching health bars and clicking a spell when those bars get low, along with the occasional buff or half-hearted attempt at DPS. But I found the actual experience of the Kinetics power set to be quite different.

A player with Kinetics has a power called Transfusion. It's one of the best heals in the game, with a few restrictions:

1. It triggers off of an enemy.
2. It has a limited range.
3. The heal it triggers has a limited AOE range.
4. The enemy you have targeted can't die until the actual heal goes off.

Now, every Kinetics player I've ever played with has this "nobody understands me" emo attitude.

And they have a point because your team mates have to understand that for heals:

1. They have to be near an enemy.
2. The healer has to be somewhat close to that enemy.
3. They can't kill that enemy before the heal goes off.

The natural response of every player who is low on health is to remove themselves from melee range, not stay in it. And players are certainly not going to hold off on killing mobs just because you need them alive. City of Villains is also a relatively fast moving, mobile game.

Instead of giving boring heal lectures, I just decided to try to pull off heals the best I could by moving frequently, anticipating players' movements and picking "safe" targets to heal off of.

I soon found that healing in CoV was nothing like my original expectations. When I pulled off a tricky heal as a team member was about to die it felt pretty rewarding. It's not complicated. When a task is challenging or difficult, the feeling of personal satisfaction is greater when you accomplish it. Of course, I also felt bad when a heal misfired and a team member died. But that's risk and reward. It keeps things interesting.

But, of course, personal satisfaction is not enough. So playing with me on Vent went something like this:

Aggro: Wow, what a heal.

Aggro: Did you see that heal?

Aggro: Aggro nails the heal!

Aggro: You're playing with one of the top five healers on the server.

Aggro: Did you realize that?

Aggro: Did I say on the server? I meant the whole game.

Yeah, I'm annoying on Vent. Seriously.

I guess I have two points with this post:

1. Kinetics healing in CoV is fast paced, exciting and fun. It's challenging without being frustrating. And that's one of the things I really enjoyed about the game.

2. I get annoyed when people say MMO's require no player skill. I get annoyed when I hear that the only metric of success in MMO's is time.

Now, sometimes this argument is used to make a point I agree with: That player skill should be more of a factor in MMO play. I absolutely feel the same way and I've argued the point myself many times. But it's still imprecise to say MMO's require no skill and that kind of imprecision bothers me.

By using the faulty premise that MMO's require zero skill and only require time, people are able to make specious arguments in support of RMT. I see it over and over.

I'm not saying playing an MMO is akin to doing quantum physics. It's definitely not akin to 5-starring Jordan on Expert in Guitar Hero II (which is harder than quantum physics). But every single person who has ever played an MMO will quickly realize that there are good tanks and bad tanks, good healers and bad healers. And what is that if not a reflection of some level of player skill?

Do I want to see more skill required in MMO play? Sure - it would be more fun. But if you try to tell me that there is no skill at all required you had better topple my imaginary status as a Top 5 CoV healer first.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! That does sound complicated for a healer. I haven't tried that game yet. Marvel I saw has one coming out. I wonder how that will be?

2:16 AM  
Blogger MaXimillion said...

"That does sound complicated for a healer."

One thing about this game is, healing isn't the important role of support characters, buffs and debuffs are. Kinetics is mainly a buff set, and the heal is merely something extra.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Anskiere said...

You forgot about all the skill required to do our l33t hardcore hacking from the base, Aggro.

And when he says he's annoying in vent, he means "absolutely f-ing hilarious" (and he really did say that stuff pretty much everytime he healed us :P )

Of course, very true about the player skill. I notice it in EQ2 all the time now (again), since I am doing pickup groups and all that getting my new character leveled. My biggest gripe is tanks who don't turn the mobs, and laugh at you when you ask them to. That's not really skill, but stupidity, and it really pisses me off as a ranger. Not only do I need to get behind a mob, but I need to get behind and -away- from it to use bow attacks.

And Aggro, speaking of Vent.. *COUGH* :P

gogo Financer!

8:57 AM  
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Hi aggro I really enjoy reading your blog, and I have just created a blog of my own. Would you be interested in reading it? Perhaps we could trade links if you would like! It's brand spanking new though so I understand if you don't want to link to it right away. Anyways, check it out at:


5:24 PM  
Blogger Karnatos said...

Heheheheh - Man, you really made me laugh with your Ventrillo-quotes Aggro. I miss your Healer-Moonlighting stint in CoV...there's no way Zombie Freakshow would have become all that she is today without your amazing hea... pardon me, your Top-5-Healers-Of-All-Time ways.

But I have to say... I agreee with Anskiere with his comment on your 1337 h4xX0r1n9 from our Super Villain Base. Those chat sessions were pure freakin' Gold.

-- On the topic of No-Skills-Required with regards to playing MMOs... I never understood that arguement. It must be made by non-MMO players. I say this, because one of the first lessons you learn when playing any MMO is that there are good and bad groups. I've been in groups that wipe every 4-5 minutes, get lost repeatedly, walk into rooms full of orange triple-up heroics and use an AoE attack. I'm telling you, there's skill involved. Some MMOs may require more skill than others, but the ones I have played so far have all required some level of skill.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Jared said...

Even in EQ2 it does take some gaming skill to be able to heal. As a warden I've got to really watch how I play, recently(well its been months now but..) with KoS its become exceedingly important for me to watch curing.

Other times it's alot harder then just that. With zones like Crypt of Valdoon It's hard to solo heal as a harden even with master heals I find it difficult but doable. Alot of my heals, buffs and cures are situational as are other classes. It's good to see more people learning that it isnt just a "watch the health bar and click some when it goes down".

Thanks aggro =)

12:49 PM  
Blogger Jared said...

"as a warden"

12:50 PM  
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