Dastardly plan, anyone?September 7, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
Tags: choice, dc universe online, game design
I love the idea of Superman. Stick with me on this, Batfans, it will make sense.
Of a sort.
I love the *idea* of Superman. I’m not a huge fan of the films or the stories, because there’s only so much that can affect the man of steel, and it’s usually green and glowy, and sort of kills him dead. When your biggest worry is having to come up with a second ace disguise because the Clark Kent one is busted, your story options are sort of limited.
But that idea, that concept. I love it. Not just one superpower, but several. And with more power than some superhero teams.
And he’s a good guy.
That’s why I love the idea of that character. For me, the real story isn’t his power, but what he chooses to do with it. The fact that he chooses to help, rather than hinder.
Lesser mortals are much more interesting to write about, and therefore read about. That’s why I love the idea of Superman, but it’s the Batchap that gets me buying comics, or heading off to the cinema. Batchap gets better stories. Fact of life.
My favourite tale of the Bat is The Killing Joke. Dark Knight Returns might well have rescued the Bat from kid’s comic obscurity, but it’s The Killing Joke that throws a harsh light on the relationship between Batman and The Joker, and shows that there’s actually very little difference between the two.
Again, it’s that choice. Good, or evil. Costumed do-gooder, or super-villain.
And here we have DC Universe Online, offering me that choice. According to the strap line, the next legend is me. (Yay me!)
Of course, legend can be heroic or villainous, which I think is the whole point of avoiding the “hero” word.
Now, theres not much on the internet about this MMO that a five minute search engine of your choice can provide. There’s the official website, which has some really rather good marketing hyperbole on it, but seems to be lacking in a “here’s the skinny” link.
Remember, you don’t come here for in-depth research; other people handle that far better than slacker me. So if I can’t find it in that first five minutes, I probably won’t. But I do look forward to finding out that the choice between good and evil is more (much more) than simply clicking one button or another during character creation. City of Heroes/Villains didn’t allow much more choice, and while it was fun ordering my evil minions into combat whilst playing a villain, it was ultimately a rather soulless exercise for me:
City of Villains characters seemed more like glorified freelance henchmen than actual, this-is-my-plan-for-conquering/destroying-the-world-dyed-in-the-wool-super-villains.
Too many hyphens there. Sorry.
But I hope the point is clear. Superheroes fight crime. At whatever power level, it’s more than possible to be your own boss when fighting crime. You’re *always* a policeman in a funny spandex suit, regardless of whether it has that big stylised “S” on the front, or not. Because you’re a self-employed policeman.
But super villains? They’re the ones with the plans. The ones with the secret volcano bases. The ones who order minions about, rather than taking orders themselves.
Now I know that it’s easy to sit on a blog and bleat about wanting free will within an MMO. I’m more than aware that technology really is not capable of letting players have that level of sandbox play.
But it would be rather splendid if we were able to decide if we wanted to be heroes or villains as we played within the world, wouldn’t it? And if we were feeling villainous, to be able to concoct and then enact our own dastardly plans?