We’ve built this City…

Okay, I’ve had about a week to calm the *bleep!* down, wrap my head around the closure of City of Heroes, and get an action plan in place for how to proceed.

This is NOT to say that it wouldn’t be more emotionally gratifying to Leeroy Jenkins my way into NCSoft and bust heads.  But that only makes ME feel better (at least until the cops taser my stupid, fat ass), and doesn’t really help fix this situation at all.

Now, to be perfectly fair, NCSoft has been an EXCELLENT shepherd for the game for the last five years or so.  In a time when some companies wouldn’t even look at a game unless the publishers could guarantee WoW-style numbers of players, NCSoft has basically been tossing continuous cash infusions into CoH.  A niche MMO with, at best, 130,000 players at its height.

Under their watchful eye (and open pocketbook), we’ve gotten twelve Issues (because Issue 11 was effectively already in the can by the time NCSoft purchased CoH/CoV back in November of 2007.

Was going to list them all out here but NOBODY’s going to read a 20-page long review.

If you’re interested head over here and look at what was in every issue from 12 onward.  And, for a point of reference.  I came into the game during Issue 12.  So I’ve quite literally NEVER known the game without some of these systems and settings!

I’ve played games that don’t have half the features that CoH has just ADDED in the last four and a half years!

So, please, try not to be too harsh with NCSoft over what was purely a business decision for them.  They have to make what they feel are the best decisions for themselves and their stockholders.

So, what is being done?

Currently the community is mobilizing in a coordinated, multi-front effort to attempt to save City of Heroes.

There’s been an explosion of Social Media activity on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.

In addition, the community is coming together and coordinating these efforts on the official boards, as well as primary (if unofficial) sites like the all important Titan Network and Unleashed.

There are demonstrations going on in-game, as well as petitions, letter writing campaigns, and even attempts to somehow acquire the game, kickstart a new studio and continue.

And while we may not have Chuck *bleep!*ing Norris “allowing us to live”, there are numerous people in the community with more than a little celebrity of their own.  People such as Jim Butcher, John Kovalic, Mercedes Lackey, and more.  And some of them are willing to put THEMSELVES out there for the preservation of this game.

Not just for a game.  Though the game itself is fairly impressive.  14 archetypes, with over a thousand legitimate powerset combinations, leading up to the possibility of literally hundreds of quadrillions of unique character builds and over ten tredecillion (10^42) possible costume combinations.

And the game was still growing…

But the MAIN reason why people are willing to put themselves out there is the community.  You hear of tightly knit player communities.  You even hear of communities where the devs are somewhat communicative.  But nowhere NEAR the level of CoH.  The relationship between players and developers was so blurry in places it was impossible to differentiate.  Some players actually moved into development, others into the marketing and community support aspects.  Still others actually worked on a contractual basis with Paragon Studios to help improve the game.

The general atmosphere in-game was light, fairly inviting, and VERY casual and social.  You got involved as much as your comfort level allowed and nobody asked more.  You could drop the game for weeks, months, and even years.  Then show back up again, and having people fall all over one another bringing you up to speed on the changes.

Now, many will move on to other games.  And more power to them.

Others will not.  Reasons for this about and I’ll just list a few out.

  • Other offerings in the same genre (superheroes) are clearly inferior.  Including Champions Online, which is built off a newer version of the exact same engine by the exact same company that initially build City of Heroes (NCSoft).  CoH is the benchmark used for excellence in gameplay in the superhero MMO space.  And all the others have fallen far short in just about every review where such comparisons were made.
  • Not into the pseudo-Tolkienesque fantasy genre.
  • Not into the spawn-camping gear-quest/grindfest that many of the Triple A MMOs embrace.  Let’s face it, WoW and it’s mutant ilk are so successful because of Asia.  Where nearly two billion potential players are perfectly willing to sit down in front of a computer for days on-end and grind themselves to death (sometimes quite literally).  Now I’m not saying the CoH community wouldn’t welcome a million-plus player infusion.  But the Asian market, traditionally, hasn’t really been receptive to American comics culture.  The attempt by CoH to push into Korea was a dismal failure.  And I’m not sure we want the game to become synonymous with people so addicted to gaming that they DIE before stopping.
  • Don’t want to start over.
  • Don’t want to try and push into an existing community.
  • Don’t want to play games where certain types of gaming (like PVP), which they may or may not like, are “required”.

 

Also, after the initial push, we started noticing push back from various avenues.  Essentially telling CoH players trying to save the game that they were being stupid, or childish, or what-have you for wanting to rescue the community that’s been going for eight years.

I’m sorry, but these individuals are wrong.  Utterly and completely.  Few of the players are being childish about this situation.  There is still money to be made by City of Heroes.  While it may not be financially viable in NCSoft’s eyes, it all comes down to what any given proprietor is willing to settle for in the way of “profits”.

And venues like an MMO don’t HAVE to die.  Look at Everquest.  It’s over 13 years old and STILL going!  And, like CoH did later, it even survived it’s successor product!

And, if, at the end of it all, the game still dies, we’ll have the satisfaction of knowing we did everything humanly possible to try and save the game.  Rather than the regret that we could have saved it and didn’t even try.

 

So, for those whom have walked in the streets and flown through the skies of Paragon City with me.  It’s been an honor and a privilege.

For those who’re working their butts off trying to rescue this game from oblivion, I say “welcome to the fight, we need you”.

And for the detractors who see this as immature, or selfish, and wish to shout it out from their own web venues, I say “Thank you for your acknowledgement and we’ll see who was “right” on December 1st, 2012.  But, for now, I have better things to do.”