Same here. I've been continually searching for a good, non fantasy based MMO to occupy my time a bit from the usual WoW. I loved the character customization, and like I you said, the team that worked on CoH - for lack of inspiration or some other reason - began to nerf and alter core gameplay mechanics which gamers/users loved and really enjoyed. I used to PL/play with my cousins and lots of other people because you could go down that level. Base raids were major fun and I loved how if you were a good, decent tank you could round up/corral an entire level for your group, bringing them back to the start and then just pummel on them without having to run through the level as much.
By the way, that Last Stand game sounds brilliant. I can't believe that concept hasn't been pushed harder in the FPS scene - the merger of a tower defense game and FPS. It just sounds like the perfect combination. Even if that Digipen team didn't execute to the level of a multi-million dollar team, the concept alone sounds fascinating and I can't wait until I test it out now.
You mentioned you donated some funds to some of these indie developers, I hope you don't mind my asking, but which ones did you choose?
I donated to SigmaTeam (Return Of The Hero), TecknoPants (Shoot First) and a few others. Some of the donations came back. Turned out that many of the developers no longer take donation. For example - Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw no longer takes donates for his games. I was trying to donate for his game 1213 which was a extremely well made game. Out of $100 that I got from Megaupload I donated $15 so far. I plan to re-donate the other $85 to some other game makers.
As for COH, I was never into the PL/Farming scene...In fact, I use to go against it and run missions in PI with a bind that read 'LvL 50+ Missions - PST - LvL 47 Min - No Fillers - No Dual Accounts.' I had a bind to auto respond if they were under lvl 47 and if they sent another tell after that 'begging' I auto-added them to my ignore list
I use to run missions in under 2 to 3 mins - With defeat alls. I really like that game because with the EXCEPTION of the Statesman's Taskforce you can run any Task Force, Trial and/or Missions with any team configuration...No healer...No Problem...No Tank...No Problem. There were multiple options for dealing with mobs. I spent most of my lvl 50 life in PI and/or Shadow Shard teaming with ppl and setting up TF for rewards and/or special drops. When I left that game with my main (no alts) I had 36 billion influence (left over bug from issue 6 that allowed some people to break the cap), fully slotted out purples and over 585+ badges. It truly is a treat to play at any level with a little help from a friend but the amount of ABUSE that system was taking and the lack of base raids made it really dull really fast.
At one point, during a Faathim the Kind Task Force, my sg took care of the missions fast. We got the to final mission after 36 minutes. A pug healer player we invited because he was new to the zone and needed the badges finally got to the door. We get in to the final god and we tell him the plan. So we told him to run RA while he attacks and what not on our blasters because he had no tank...in the middle of combat he tells us he does not know what RA is and he just started the game 3 days ago and PL to 50 and did not know how to heal. We kicked him. Took a trip to our base. Stocked up. Came back. Killed the God in 5 minutes. He promised to never farm us ever
I have another story that you or may not find funny but it cracked me up for hours when we did it. During the days before bases when PL was really out of hand (logging on to 150 emails asking for farms or offering them for a price) my sg decided to have a 'Kill a newbie day' so what we did was we all did missions in the Shadow Shard up until we got the ambush. Then 20 of us went to the hospital in PI and called in our mission and 20 mobs of Soldiers of Rularuu came...including bosses that replicated/divided themselves. We then pulled Giant Monsters to PI and that killed a lot of newbies. When they went to the hospital they got killed again...and again. lvl 54 mobs btw doing pure psi and special damage...final the farmers decided to go in and help the newbies...the amount of lvl 50 that died when they made it to the top hospital was ASTOUNDING (I stopped counting at 350)....I logged off for the night...and when I logged back on after WORK the next day it was still being talked about and the mods had to log on and displace the mob.
My sg never got spam mails for PL ever again