Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

City of Designers

My plan, such as it was, involved coming home and stuffing my face and hopping into City of Villains (sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t) to run some missions with my new Corruptor, Ragnaroq. I did, indeed, run enough ‘paper missions to open up the Steel Canyon mayhem mission (hello, “summon teammates” temporary power) and somewhere along the way I received a costume piece recipe.

For the uninitiated, let me explain. (I’m resisting the urge to go all Inigo Montoya on y’all right now. Who loves ya?)

City of Heroes and City of Villains could be thought of as “World of Warcraft but with superheroes.” It’s true after a fashion, but fashion is exactly what the City Of franchise has going for it over almost all other competing online worlds. One of its biggest draws is the ability to customize the look of your hero or villain. You can spend an hour just puttering around in the costume shop, and that’s before you start getting any of the “bonus” items!

Earlier this year, the game’s creators introduced the “invention” system, a sort of crude and silly economy designed to give those with too much money something to spend it on. The idea is that as you go around performing your acts of derring-do (or dastardliness) you’re picking up bits of “salvage” and, occasionally, a “recipe” which allows you to combine specific bits of salvage into new power enhancements, new temporary powers and… new costume pieces. You use the salvage and recipes that you want, and sell the ones you don’t at whatever rate the market will bear.

So. To make a long story somewhat shorter, my icy and dark little villain has dark and icy little wings on her back But that’s not where I wasted most of my in-game time tonight. Oh, no. Adding a single costume piece to an existing look doesn’t take very much time at all. No, my big mistake was in deciding to tidy up the base.

The long-term grouping mechanism in this game is the Supergroup/Villain Group system, and one of the biggest benefits to membership is access to the group’s base in which almost anything you can carry can be stored for safe keeping or for trade (depending on the item). Bases also tend to feature such amenities as a healing bay (sometimes faster than teleporting to the hospital after a defeat) and the zone transporter bays which allow you to circumvent the sometimes-tedious normal travel mechanisms in the game (ferries and tram systems and zone gates, oh my).

One of my peeves with my base design involves those transporters. A while back I upgraded the transporter room so I could (in theory) fit more of the devices in. See, each device can only take you to one of two destinations. Need more destinations? Add more devices. The catch is, a given room “type” in a base only supports a limited number of items. A “control” room, for instance, can support one main control device and a few auxiliary control devices (which provide incremental boosts to the main device’s output). You can’t put two main control devices in that room. So it is with the transporter room: Unless you build the really big room, you get two devices per room. You can build bigger, more-capable versions of each of these rooms but they’re bloody damned expensive (and require a larger space than your basic free plot of land, and the larger spaces are themselves hellaciously pricey.).

My mistake was in believing that the 3×3 room would support four devices. It’s physically big enough, but the game developers apparently believe that the extra space should instead be used for decorative frills. Well, phooey on that! So I chose to scrap the 3×3 monstrosity in favor of two 2×2 rooms. Great idea, but there’s yet another catch. The teleporter devices are “crafted” from specific bits of salvage… and if you sell the ‘porter, you get the money back but lose the salvage for good.

This will be relevant (and grimly amusing) in a couple of minutes.

First I tried just moving the devices, one each into a pair of single-device 1×2 rooms (the only size I could fit into the remaining space in the base plot I can afford). One would move, the other wouldn’t. Not only that, but the rooms I was trying to move them to were dependent upon the 3×3 room, so I couldn’t have deleted the offending room even if I could get the ‘porters moved out. Well, hell. I checked the salvage storage and figured that I could probably recreate the devices without too much fuss, so I deleted the devices and deleted the 3×3 room. I then placed a pair of 2×2 rooms for teleport use and a third 2×2 room for additional workshop space. (Ask me about my fine selection of enhancements, five storage bins full!) Once I’d set the floors and walls and ceilings where I wanted them, the next step was to recreate the devices.

After considerable fiddling about with the workbench, and remembering a number of things I’d forgotten in the months since I’d last attempted a remodel, I had my two new devices and went to place them. In they went, plink and plunk, and I set up the zone beacons where they belonged. Something didn’t look quite right, though, and it took a few minutes to figure out what: The devices were facing the wrong way!

See, the Arcane style teleporter is a generally round affair with a three-way arch over the top. I’d managed to orient both devices differently, one sort of “facing left” and the other with one of the arch supports directly facing the pathway (thus forcing the user to step sideways and around to enter). “Okay,” I said to myself, “I can just rotate ’em.” Except, of course, base teleporters are apparently one of the few things you can’t rotate after placing. I could move the devices, but I couldn’t reorient them.

For the second time in an hour, I found myself forced to delete both of my teleporters.

A bunch of salvage later (it’s a good thing we had so many amulets in storage), the new new devices were in place and properly oriented for ease of use (and aesthetics and to appease my CDO). I then reassigned the zone beacons, ran around changing the lighting scheme (red for power & control rooms, green for the med bay, purple for the transport rooms to match the glow the devices already have, and blue for workshops) and shuffled storage bins around into a semblance of sensible order (invention stuff and the enhancement storage in one workshop, base storage and the base workbench in the other, inspiration storage strewn along the Red Corridor).

Then I looked at the time. I’d managed to burn more time fiddling around with the base than I had actually playing the game.

You know what, though? Not all of my fifteen dollars per month necessarily has to go toward beating up bad guys (or good guys for that matter), collecting experience and loot. There’s value in exercising some control over your gaming environment.

Just don’t ask me for interior decorating advice. I’m hopeless.


  1. The Cyberwolfe

    and now we know why villains steal all the time – to collect money to build their Evil Lair(tm)!

  2. Kylanath

    You’re damned straight! That and to store acquired items (though this is true for both sides).

    Oh, and nice base =) I approve!

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