Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Mind That First Step. It's a Doozy!

Here's one of the great reasons to have a blog. You post about something that's giving you trouble or that you can't quite get to grips with and someone will pop up with a comment and tell you what you're doing wrong. Better yet, they'll tell you something that will start you on a journey of discovery all your own.

Tipa, who knows about a million per cent more about DCUO than I ever will, left a comment on my last post about the game, explaining how I didn't have to have blue and white hair if I didn't want to. My character, that is, not me. I wouldn't mind having blue and white hair. I mean, I'm already there as far as the "white" part goes, although I think I might be a little too old for blue.

No-one knows, let alone cares, what the player looks like, of course, but. DCUO is a superhero game so what the character looks like, that's of paramount importance. It's branding, really. Superheroes do change their signature look from time to time but they don't randomly turn up to roll call wearing any old bits of gear that happened to drop off the last supervillain they beat to a pulp. 

That kind of behavior only seems to pass without comment in fantasy mmorpgs, for some inexplicable reason. Oh. Yeah. You're right. Stats. Sorry. That does explain it, I guess. Doesn't excuse it...

Even with Tipa's tip it still took me more than a quarter of an hour of clicking on every arrow, button and tab before I finally worked out the peculiarly obtuse combination required to stop my Chroma messing up my hair. Here's the sequence. See how intuitive this sounds to you:

  • Hit Escape to access the mouse pointer.
  • Left-click the second icon on the hotbar to access the Style tab.
  • Scroll down to find Hair.
  • Left-click the pale blue arrowhead next to the main Hair icon.
  • Left-click the tiny, weird-looking icon above the two padlocks. It looks like an old-fashioned movie camera. (It isn't. It just looks like it.)
  • Left-click one of the small arrowheads next to the name of whatever Chroma you have applied.
  • If nothing seems to happen, click it again.
  • And again.
  • When the name of the Chroma turns to "None", stop clicking. 
  • Left-click Accept.
  • You're done!

Part of the problem, although only a small part, is that all the Chromas come in sets of three and the short bar on that tab only displays the first part of the name, which is generally identical for all three segments. When you click the arrow, nothing seems to happen because even though it's now displaying the next Chroma, the name stays the same. Nothing flickers or changes at all. You might as well be poking your finger at the screen for all the difference it makes.

The bigger part of the problem is that DCUO has one of the most unintuitive interfaces I've ever struggled to wrest into submission. And it's much better now than it used to be! 

Of course, as you might have guessed, by the time I'd worked out how to use the blue and white chroma while keeping my character's naturally copper quiff, I'd decided I preferred the red and gold version anyway. That one only makes her hair a bit redder than it already was, which is arguably an improvement and certainly doesn't need fine-tuning.

In her comment, Tipa also mentioned she thought she might have a character in the same League as mine. (Leagues being what DCUO calls Guilds, obviously.) At first I thought that was highly unlikely but then I began to think maybe I remembered something about it having happened so I logged in to check.

Tipa's character and mine are not in the same League for the extremely good reason that my character isn't in any League at all. I think she was, once. I believe she used to be in an all-female-character League. I think I posted about it once. I also seem to remember her getting kicked for inactivity. Or maybe the League broke up.

I had thought I'd made my own League for her to join. I tend to do that in every game that allows for one-player organizations, which for the last decade or so has been most of them. New World does. I've done it there.

And now I've done it in DCUO too. I did it just then, between the last paragraph and this one. It took about ten seconds. Remember when you had to get half a dozen other real people and they had to fill in forms in game or pay money and go speak to some NPC? I don't miss those days at all.

While I was trying to find out if I did have a League that Tipa's Yellow Lantern might be in, I logged in all my characters on two accounts. That's only five altogether so it didn't take long. Or rather it wouldn't have, had it not been for the law of unintended consequences. Or maybe it was just serendipity.

Remember all those very generous freebies I was going on about the other day? I had completely forgotten, if indeed I ever knew, that virtually all of them are per character not per account. I hadn't realised because I've been doing everything on the same character for the last couple of years and also because playing so much Guild Wars 2 has led me to treat the Account as the primary, not the character, something that used to be an anathaema to me but they wear you down, don't they?

I spent a while claiming everything on everyone and as I was doing it something occurred to me. The solution to that problem I'd been whining about. I wouldn't have to give up my nice art deco lair just to be able to take a look at my new Space Base. All my characters have a Space Base! I could just get it with one of them!

It was an epiphany. Even though I'd never seen them use it, for some reason I'd been imagining all my characters had access to the same Lair. In fact, every character gets a quest at Level 12 to claim a base of their own. 

I found out it was Level 12 when I logged in my Level 9 to do it.

Fortunately I also have a couple of boosted Level 30s so I got one of them to do it instead. The one I never play because when I made her I decided to create her as some kind of 1950s movie star vamp in the style of Marilyn Monroe or Jane Russell and now I find her too awkward to play. Didn't help that I named her Kittentastic, either.

She does look great, though. Maybe I'll give her a whirl. She's in full body armor now, which might make it easier. Full body armor with wings!

That's the thing about DCUO. Making outrageously camp and camply outrageous characters is just too easy. The main reason I play the one I do is because she's the least crazy-looking, or she was until her face melted. I don't know what's going on but just now she looks like a store-window mannequin come to life. She never used to look like that.

It took me another ten or fifteen minutes, two (terrible and completely unhelpful) YouTube videos and a Reddit thread before I could work out how to get my Space Base up and running. And bear in mind I've done it before. Intuitive it is not.

I won't do a bullet point list of how to do it although if I did it would be just as long and confusing as the last one. I will single out the weirdest part, though, which is when you have to pick a street address for your base and pay a fee for it, which varies a lot depending on where in the city you choose.

Maybe that made some kind of sense once but now that access to your base is via a teleport on the Warp Menu, which is on your Map, which you can open anywhere, having an actual door facing onto the street doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

I like it all the same. It's one of those chunky immersion things or it can be if you want that. It's been a very long time since I entered or left my base by the front door but I'm sure as eggs going to start doing it from now on.

Of course, how a doorway in a skyscraper in Metropolis opens an airlock to a base that's probably on the Moon, judging by the amazing view of the Earth through the huge viewport, is anyone's guess. Comic book logic at it's finest. Never apologize and definitely never explain.

Then again, I did pick a building on Houston Street!

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