Exploring War Like Worlds.

Champions Online: Skills

Posted on: September 10, 2009

Broken Toys talks about the dangers of making people stick to build choices.

With Champions, I felt as though I wasn’t qualified to do that. It was too complex and opaque to me, despite most things having liberal tooltip explanations and the developers helpfully supplying a “danger room” where you can test new skill purchases for free. Thanks to the ridiculously expensive respec costs, I felt as though every decision I made about my character was final. And I resented it. Perhaps I was spoiled from WoW, where a talent respec cost maybe a day’s worth of daily quests. I didn’t feel like I really knew what I was doing – which for a game like this, with a rich skill system like this is normal. Yet I felt like not knowing what I was doing was critical. I made characters which rapidly were unplayable. Kim, for existence. Turns out mixing robots and sorcery doesn’t work well. Guess he’s shelved. As was my fire blaster. As was my dual blades guy. I would plow through the tutorial, whose corny jokes and earnest Golden-Age-of-Comics demeanor wore more and more on me with each repetition, get to the first real zone, and fall flat on my face if I pulled more than one enemy. Clearly, this was not City of Heroes, where you plow through dozens of henchmen while laughing loudly. The game was letting me fail.

This is a necessary evil of a rich, classless skill system – the game has to let you fail. And it irritated me. Probably because of the punitive respec costs. I’m thinking that a cheap and available respec is a necessity for a game like this. Sure, you can fail, but the cost should be going to an instructor and saying “I’m sowwy” while pawing the dirt with your shoes, not shelving your character as Failure #12 after going through yet another session of Captain Stupendous intoning that you have to deactivate ALL the consoles!

It shows that letting people make broken builds and only having one starting area does not help with replay.

I’m not sure why the game has an penalty for respecing. Why don’t they want that? Do they think it will discourage alts? Does that mean they think the only reason for alts is another build? If they wanted lots of alts why only one starting area? Fallen Earth has only one race but a lot of starting areas. It seems like confused thinking.

For a game, if your doing something one way, you should think why, and if the answer is because everyone does it this way, then you need to go back to investigating the choices. Here its not even that which makes it odder.


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