Recently I was asking EverQuest players to share some of their memories of the early game and was regaled with several tales of how most of their gameplay involved camping. As EQ vets will be quick to tell you, this wasn’t the mosquito-and-hot dog type of camping, but rather the “plant your butt in one spot while a puller ran out to grab a pack (or a single mob) and bring it back so that you could all collectively beat it up” type of camping.
As I was reading these, I was thinking how much that sounded like the early days of my time in City of Heroes. Rushing through an instance as a group was a sure way to quickly wipe and incur the dreaded XP debt, so instead we’d hang back in a safe room while a trusted tank would zip ahead, round up a bunch of mobs by insulting their mothers, and then lead them back.
So a lot of my time was spent twiddling my thumbs in an otherwise-empty room, breaking out the boombox emote, and anxiously awaiting the time where I could unleash my powers. Sometimes the waiting would be too much, I’d get too impatient, and then I’d commit that cardinal sin of going all alpha strike on the bad guys, getting aggro, and dying. I think everyone couldn’t wait to bust out their powers when the mobs finally arrived.
Maybe that’s not the same kind of camping, but it had that feel to it for me.
It could be cool at times, but often it was visually chaotic. The tank would stack the mobs in a corner, and their and our attacks would all be concentrated in the same place. It would be a bazillion spell effects going off at the time time, creating a visual and audio assault that was pretty much impossible to follow. Most of my attention was focused on the HUD overlay, playing energy management and tabbing between bad guys. I could do it for a while, but after an hour or so I would log out, exhausted from all of the shiny lights and shrieking noises.
There’s stuff I miss about City of Heroes, but also stuff I really do not, and I think that’s to be said about a lot of canceled MMOs.
I do miss the sheer anticipation of even levels, when I’d be treated to a single power point that I could spend on anything I wanted (as long as the power slot was unlocked and I was level-appropriate). Man, was there ever an MMO where a single new skill was such a big treat as it was in City of Heroes? It pained me when I had to “waste” six levels on the two throwaway skills and that one stamina power, because even though it was necessary and pretty much standard, that was a long stretch of no fun new toys.
I think that when I close my eyes at night, sometimes I can still clearly see Generic Confusing Office Layout #1207, Generic Ugly Cave System #811, and Generic Warehouse That Does Not Meet OSHA STandards #45. It’ll never truly be gone as long as we can be partially traumatized by the past.