MMOments: League of Incredibly Awkward Gentlemen


Today’s MMOments comes from Champions Online and may be the creepiest interactive moment I have ever experienced in an MMO since I stumbled on a GM cybering in Age of Conan. I recently started playing Champions Online again, creating a new character since I’m using the Perfect World account that managed to get a beta invite to Neverwinter and there are no characters on it. Since Cryptic has seen fit to set up a new studio with the sole purpose of fixing Champions Online, I figured why not? Now I know why not.

Champions Online has a habit of sneaking missions on you, and occasionally you’ll be walking around and an NPC will come up and invite you to start a quest. So when the game threw a popup on the screen asking if I would like to accept an invitation to the fortress of something or other, I hit accept thinking nothing of it. The map loads and my hero is standing at the door in this low-lit mission control room with a table in the center and the adjoining chairs all filled with darkly lit figures. One of the figures says “please, have a seat.” You have to look at this with the understanding that it was so well choreographed that this is one of those rare moments in gaming where you’re not entirely sure if the person you’re speaking to is a hardcore role player or just a really atmospheric scripted event.

So I walk over to the table and have no idea how to sit down, so I just kind of stand at my seat. I can now see that the table is headed by Superman, Captain Marvel, Albert Wesker from Resident Evil, and two other heroes. The addition of licensed heroes/villains makes my brain tick “alright this is clearly just a roleplaying clan.” The Man of Steel continues his dialog about how we’ve all been gathered to join forces to stop a nearly invincible hero that is threatening to destroy the world, and the presentation of his speech and the stillness of the other “actors” has me once again thinking I might have stumbled into, say, someone’s foundry mission or something of the like. The only comparison I can think of is when you are dreaming and your mind realizes you are probably dreaming so you try to break your surroundings but you can’t so you’re stuck in a self-realized limbo.

This is the first time that I’ve ever exited out of a game because I felt too awkward to keep playing, and I will probably never know if those were real players or just scripted NPCs.

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