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An Early Look At DC Universe Online 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the with-x-ray-vision dept.
Joystiq got the opportunity to spend some time playing an early version of Sony's DC Universe Online . Though the MMO won't be released for perhaps a year, the developers seem to have created a solid foundation for an entertaining and innovative game. GameDaily is running an interview with Marv Wolfman, a comic veteran who recently joined the DCUO team. From Joystiq: "DCUO is very much an action MMO, with few game mechanics decided by the roll of the algorithmic dice. The game controls much like most third-person action titles, with standard light and heavy (charge-sensitive) attacks, a jump action and an interact button (notably, used to pick up cars). Super moves are mapped to the same four face buttons (when using the PS3 gamepad; a keyboard and mouse will be compatible with the console version, too) and are activated using L2 and R2 toggles. In total, up to eight super moves are easily accessible at any given time. Our character could fire ice balls and freezing rays at opponents, melee them with blocks of ice, or conveniently freeze them inside larger blocks, for example. A simple targeting mode (accessed by holding R1) locks the game camera onto an opponent for focused attacks. ... DC Universe Online isn't trying to strictly clone today's success models. SOE is making genuine efforts to build what could be the best superhero game ever conceived, and we're excited to watch it grow."
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An Early Look At DC Universe Online

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  • by geniusj (140174) on Monday February 09, 2009 @03:17AM (#26780521) Homepage

    It'd be nice to see them have some sort of success again. Or anyone, really. It's depressing to see only one large player in the market. Bring on the innovation. Anyone. Please.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Drogo007 (923906)

      Define Success.

      There's several MMOs out there that are surviving quite nicely. You don't need to have a multi-million-subscriber base to be successful. As long as the company can pay the bills and keep bringing new content to the players, I'd call it a success. By that definition there's probably a couple dozen successful MMOs out there.

      Bad Analogy Time: Just because the Mom & Pop store on the corner doesn't have the revenues of Wal-Mart doesn't mean it's not a successful venture. As long as they m

  • Underwhelmed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jekler (626699) on Monday February 09, 2009 @03:57AM (#26780647)

    Maybe this is a step in the right direction but I'm severely underwhelmed by what qualifies for "innovative" when it comes to games. I don't find WoW to be significantly more advanced than EQ1. Better graphics, sound, and animation but the gameplay is just as hollow and repetitive as any other MMO (all of them being a GUI on top of a landscape of random number generators). There's a lot of complaints about bots, but any game a bot can play is mind-numbingly simple, bots can't even play age-old board games like Go, Backgammon, or Chess very effectively. If a designer has done an even halfway decent job of designing an interactive 3D world, a bot shouldn't stand a chance at success. Anything in 3 dimensions should be far more complex than Go, because a 3d world itself can contain the complex board games. I think the designers forget about things like spatial awareness or presenting players with non-trivial decisions that require an understanding of morality, metaphor, or abstraction. Instead, every task in these damn MMOs is supremely suited to perfect repetition (e.g. use these skills in a certain order, on a certain number of creatures, repeat) and repetition is about the only thing computers/bots excel at.

    Anyway, I just don't think this DC game is going to be as "innovative" as people believe. I'll be surprised if it's even 1% more advanced than WoW. I understand they're trying to do an action MMO thing, commendable, but I know somewhere down the line they're going to cave in and make the thing like DDO, all the drawbacks of a physics system combined with all the drawbacks of a dice-rolling system, none of the benefits of either.

    • Bots are hardly a metric, because:

      A) _All_ that bots do is kill NPCs in a mindless loop. It's not like anyone made a bot which actually does quests for you or organizes a raiding guild or anything.

      So basically you have _one_ aspect of the game which can be botted, the combat system. That's all. For most of us it's even the least interesting part of the game, we're in for the quests and social interaction actually.

      So basically it seems to me that rejecting the whole game because the least important aspect of

      • by Jekler (626699)
        "So basically you have _one_ aspect of the game which can be botted, the combat system. That's all. For most of us it's even the least interesting part of the game..." That's some circular logic. It's the least interesting part of the game because it's so repetitive that bots can do it for you. If it weren't repetitive, it wouldn't be the least interesting part of the game. I didn't reject WoW because "the least important part can be botted". I reject it, and most other MMOs, because they lack mental a
        • "So basically you have _one_ aspect of the game which can be botted, the combat system. That's all. For most of us it's even the least interesting part of the game..." That's some circular logic. It's the least interesting part of the game because it's so repetitive that bots can do it for you. If it weren't repetitive, it wouldn't be the least interesting part of the game

          No, it's not circular until you apply your own strawman in the loop. You seem to assume that everyone has the same tastes you do, plays f

      • by drsquare (530038)

        A) _All_ that bots do is kill NPCs in a mindless loop.

        You don't think it's a bad thing that NPCs can be killed mindlessly by a simple bot?

        So basically you have _one_ aspect of the game which can be botted, the combat system. That's all. For most of us it's even the least interesting part of the game, we're in for the quests and social interaction actually.

        What is a quest except organised combat? Get the quest, turn on the bot that walks to the npc area, kills all the npcs, picks up the loot needed for the q

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:34AM (#26781545)

      I get a bit tired of these ennui posts with regards to online games. "Oh they aren't as complex and varied as real life, they are so stupid." Please, come off it. They are designed to be fun, that's all.

      As for your use of bots as a metric, that is a very silly one. For one, computer programs are EXTREMELY good at some of the games you mention. I can, for just $15, get a program for my computer that will play chess at the grand master level, should I wish it to (Chessmaster 11). That means that it'll beat the crap out of me, and just about anyone else out there. While there are players in the world who can play at that level and thus beat it reliably, they are few and far between. For most people in the world, the program can continually scale it's AI up to a level that is a challenge for them, and then to a level that they can't handle.

      Now compare that to a WoW bot: The player moves their character to an area, gives the bots some basic parameters, and it then wanders around semi-randomly killing and looting monsters. They are screwed if they run in to another player, they can't fight with any efficiency. I've encountered glider bots before and they act as though I'm not there, unless I do something that the game identifies as aggressive. Then they proceed to treat me like a mob, which is useless and results in them begin dead in a hurry.

      If this were taken in a chess world it's be like a program that shuffles around your pawns randomly. Yes such a thing is easy to make, doesn't mean the game is easy or that the program is any good at it.

      WoW is extremely complex, as are other online games. There's a whole lot to it, including fighting against other humans. Especially when it comes to human interactions, you do get in to all sorts of complex situations. Some are related to game mechanics, like what do you do to counter various tactics. Others are related strategic considerations, like how to best deploy yourself to achieve an objective. Heck there's even social/moral considerations, like should I kill that low level guy or might he in fact have a level 80 druid character that will come and beat me up for an hour if I do? This is just all PvP (as in playing against other people) examples. There's plenty of PvE (as in playing against the computer) examples too. A spatial awareness one, since you mention it, would be a fight where dangerous goop spits out of the floor, and only part of the room is safe. You have to be aware of where you are and move as the safe zone changes, and do so while fighting the boss.

      If you want a game that is as complex and varied as life itself, well then prepare to never be happy because it can't happen. Computers aren't that advanced, and there isn't the money to design and implement that sort of thing even if they were. However that doesn't mean that online games are a lot of fun.

      Also the basic simplicity that leads to greater complexity is one of the things that a well designed game does right. Some of the all time classic games, computer and non-computer, are classic precisely because they are so simple at the base level but complex at the higher levels. Tetris or Go would be good examples. Not much to the basic rules, but a lifetime can be spent mastering them.

      So that MMOs have simple aspects isn't a bad thing, it allows for players to get started easily. If you took someone new to WoW, or especially new to video games, handed them my login, put them up against other players, and said "go" they'd get overwhelmed. They'd have no idea what to do, how to play, and it'd all come too fast. However, strip out all but a couple basic abilities and have them go kill computer monsters that are highly predictable, well then can get started on that and learn.

      There's plenty to good online games, if you are interested. However good ones, in particular WoW which is why it is so popular, also keep things very simple at the low levels. If all you want to do is some hack n' slash type gaming, but with friends in a persistent universe, well then it'll do that for you. If you want things that are more complex, well then go to it. There's lots there. You figure out the aspects of the game you like and the level at which yo wish to play it and do so.

    • for content that matters.

      Yes you can bot killing things, that is not hard to do. Any game can be run by a bot if it just involves monitor player health/power and killing things in the local area.

      WOW's entire progression is to get people into doing 5 man content, instances and raids. This is not the realm of bots. Comparing EQ1 with WOW gives EQ much more credit than it ever deserved.

      Your quote is laughable "Instead, every task in these damn MMOs is supremely suited to perfect repetition (e.g. use these s

    • Maybe this is a step in the right direction but I'm severely underwhelmed by what qualifies for "innovative" when it comes to games. ... Anything in 3 dimensions should be far more complex than Go, because a 3d world itself can contain the complex board games. I think the designers forget about things like spatial awareness or presenting players with non-trivial decisions that require an understanding of morality, metaphor, or abstraction. ...

      I couldn't agree more. But this would mean game studios would have to start hiring people with *gasp* liberal arts degrees! In all seriousness, and to take your point further, three-dimensional MMOs offer greater artistic opportunities and pose greater challenges than your run-of-the-mill videogame. These worlds have the capacity to incorporate much of the ingenuity and creativity of the human experience - from art to music to the written word - but always manage to fall woefully short of the mark. I think

  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Monday February 09, 2009 @04:38AM (#26780781) Journal
    There is a lot of room for super hero action MMORPGS. I used to look at the situation like the game Magic Carpet 2 where you could do a lot with destructible terrains. My favorite thing in Magic Carpet 2 was to summon a volcano, then tunnel a hole in it to fight someone inside. It is the scale of battling someone else at an epic level that really gives you a thrill. The problem will be balancing the thing for like PVP. Super heroes were never balanced which was painfully obvious the day Superman came to chat with Aquaman about how swimming isn't the same as flying.(just made that one up)

    Anyway, I was in the run for making an action MMORPG there for a while, but I lost interest in the whole affair. I think another couple hundred hours of work and I could have released a Tekken style clone except instead of just 2 players, you could have 1500. I have very little interest in the artificial dice rolling of CRPGS anymore. The only reason the dice were in Dungeons and Dragons to begin with was they couldn't simulate an actual battle. Turns out computer games are good for simulating battles.

    Bring on the action MMOGs! I'd even play PlanetSide 2.
    • lol, I'd play Planetside 2 in a heartbeat!

      the issue really is what is the point of making a game MM ie Massively Multiplayer.
      There was a game called UltraCorps that was MMOspace strategy. But because you only interacted with those immediately around you, it meant only 3-4 ppl in reality. Of course, being successful bought it's own issues. If you thought having a war on 2 fronts was bad, try playing against 30 when you've conquered a few players/territories.

      Planetside being a FPS MMO really had something ext

    • by Delwin (599872) *
      Latency is still the killer of action MMO's. Any twitch game will be destroyed by even a minor spike in latency and you've got geometric progression issues with adding more players to it.
  • Disappointing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dreen (1349993)

    Its the RPG element that would be the most awesome thing in superhero MMO. Being able to start as normal human and develop your unique powers in a very individual way!

    Also, I would finally be able to be a SuperDentist! Normal people fear dentists, IMAGINE how they would fear the SUPERDENTIST!

  • I'm not much of a comic book fan, but I do like MMOs, and if it steals market share from wow, then Its okay by me. If no one does anything, wow will continue to dominate the mmo landscape for decades to come.
  • SOE has been foundering for quite some time, and not just because of the Star Wars Galaxies NGE debacle (which cost them 200,000 subscribers). They also have shot themselves in the foot with EQ/EQ2 subscribers by opening up RMT stores (cash for items you can't get ingame) after promising that RMT wouldn't exist on any but the "Station Exchange" servers.

    DCMMO is essentially seen internally at SOE as the "save the company" project. This is THE game that must achieve huge success so as to save the jobs of de

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      Ya I won't touch any MMO from Sony these days. They seem to have a team of people dedicated to fucking up their products. Galaxies is an excellent example. I actually left long before their new game content because even back then, they seemed intent on breaking their game. I really liked the idea overall, and it had some cool stuff. First MMO I'd ever seen where housing was actually useful, and not just a random place to store your shit. You could build whole player cities that would appear on the world map

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Remus Shepherd (32833)

      Interesting. Someone needs to mod you up.

      I won't touch a Sony MMO either after bad experiences with their prior games. They're competent programmers, but incompetent managers, and they seem to have palpable hatred for their users.

      If you want to play a good superhero game, try City of Heroes. It's a fantastic game and it keeps getting better, with 2-4 new content releases a year for free. The CoH team have made it their goal to produce what the players want to see. It's sad that catering to the users is

      • > If you want to play a good superhero game, try City of Heroes.

        Agreed. The free content releases keep it fresh and exciting. I don't see anything these new super-hero MMOs are planning that CoH doesn't already have, and has already polished.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Endo13 (1000782)

          I don't see anything these new super-hero MMOs are planning that CoH doesn't already have, and has already polished.

          Well, according to someone I was playing with in CoH, Champions Online is going with an entirely new powers system. For starters, there are no archetypes or classes. So you can pick and choose exactly what powers you want. However, there are "better" powers, and "lesser" powers, and you have to use the lesser powers... a LOT... to build up to use the better powers. He described it as a mad click-fest of clicking the lesser powers over 30 times, and several times a second to be able to use the better ones. (

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      What really sucks about Sony is that, even when they do have a decent product to begin with, they inevitably screw it up by constantly changing it and tinkering around with it. Galaxies is a great example. It started out mediocre and ended up an absolute disaster (after they nerfed it and reinvented it several times, each time only adding to player frustration without bothering to fix the existing glitches and adding even more new ones).
  • Console-tied MMOs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aapold (753705) on Monday February 09, 2009 @10:22AM (#26782747) Homepage Journal

    What is it with the trend towards designing MMOs with consoles in mind? Age of Conan supposedly was made with the idea of porting it to consoles... Champions Online is being co-developed for Xbox 360 and now this one as well, with the PS3 controller. Hell its even spreading to non MMOs, now Witcher is going to be redone for consoles, and they're having to scrap the combat system and redo it for controllers..

    I think designing around such a model is going to hinder somewhat what you can allow in a game. But the console market is just a holy grail out there, everyone thinks if they can just combine the rampant success of World of Warcraft and apply that to the larger console market, they'll be crapping gold bricks for years to come...

    Basically such interaction is going to mean being limited to certain numbers of active powers that you load onto buttons of the controller (whether or not it is an actual controller or they are mapped to keyboard keys) at a time (or adding a mortal-combat style combos to activate them), and having chat geared sharply to voice chat. Now, look, while I know voice chat has a big role in things like parties, raids, etc, general chat is not it. The idea of something like a barrens voice chat is just an abomination. You take out the focus of a text chat and it really hinders an important element IMO...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      Because the first developer to actually produce a WoW-level success on a console *WILL* be crapping out gold bricks. Right now, unlike with PC MMO's, there isn't much in the way of competition for console MMO's. The first developer to produce a halfway decent one will probably get mad crazy rich almost overnight. I'm just surprised more developers aren't trying. The fact that the KOTOR MMO is going to be PC-only absolutely astounds me (considering that the VAST majority of the KOTOR sales were on the Xbox,
      • I agree with the premise that since there's no competition you are going to get 100% of the people who want to play. However the question is, how many people is that? What I mean is consoles do not seem like they are a particularly large market for MMOs. I think developers may find that there aren't a whole lot of people interested in those kind of games that are console only or console primary gamers. There's also the issue of how many people are actually hooked up to the net with their consoles and able t

    • The only reason I would want to play a console mmo is if it was a console only mmo. My reason for this is the rampant fucking cheating in pc versions of mmo's. I played ffxi for years and was a co-leader of one of the strongest HNM shells on all servers. So I experienced first hand the cheating that went on. Claim bots, spell cast bots, you name it. I would love to play a mmo where no one had an advantage over the guy next to him. Alas that is a pipe dream and I know it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drsquare (530038)

      What is it with the trend towards designing MMOs with consoles in mind?

      A bigger market + lower possibility for bots/exploits = massive profits.

      everyone thinks if they can just combine the rampant success of World of Warcraft and apply that to the larger console market, they'll be crapping gold bricks for years to come...

      I think the Halo developers had a similar idea of combining the rampant success of PC FPSes with the larger console market, and last I looked, Halo shits gold bricks. Whoever makes the first

    • Obviously you didn't even both with the summary, which mentions keyboard and mouse support for PS3. Furthermore, most WoW players use voice-chat through third-party programs.

  • DC Universe online is a nice idea, many are looking forward to a challenger to CoH in the genre but as attractive as the DC license is, its also their biggest problem to overcome. Most casual players are going to be disappointed that they cant even play a minor character in the real DC Unvierse. How many will be happy with the "Dial H for Hero" version of the DC Universe? My guess is that not many will be satisfied, since most gamers picking it up off the shelf will see familiar characters on the cover a

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Endo13 (1000782)

      Honestly, based on what I've heard so far, I don't think either of them will do better than City of Heroes. The downfall for both of them will be making them for consoles. I'm sorry, but MMOs just do NOT lend themselves well to consoles at all. You're much too restricted on what type of combat and powers system you can use.

  • "Sony's" (Score:1, Troll)

    by SupremoMan (912191)
    Stopped reading right there. If these guys are doing it, I want nothing to do with it. I'm sure many others feel the same way.
    • Stopped reading right there. If these guys are doing it, I want nothing to do with it. I'm sure many others feel the same way.

      Yes, the competition is so much more respectable.

  • I want to go to Earth-2 and Qward. That would be truly awesome. Wolfman did a great job with Crisis on Infinite Earths, it kicked the shit out of John's confusing rush job sequel, Infinite Crisis. It's a great injustice that Wolfman is now working around Johns' script, but I'm sure he can wring some goodness out of it.

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