Author Topic: City of Heroes  (Read 372 times)

EmperorSteele

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City of Heroes
« on: 2019-04-19 02:02:21 »
So, just wanted everyone's thoughts here on something going on in another corner of the gaming world.

The MMO "City of Heroes" was shut down by it's publisher, NCSoft (based in South Korea) several years ago, suddenly and with little notice. For ~6 years, the dwindling fanbase has been trying to get the game back in one form or another. Efforts to buy the IP failed miserably, and anyone involved forced to sign NDAs so we have no idea what really went on. Some people managed to use the local game files to set up a "chat room" using the game as an interface. No powers or bad guys or missions, but it's nice. Another team is working on their own server code, using the game assets to essentially play a "new" game. And then there's roughly 3 or 4 "teams" working on making amateur MMOs with a super hero theme (referred to as "successor" projects). So clearly, there's a lot of passion about the game.

Amidst all this difficulty and minor crumbs of content and updates, a bombshell dropped just the other day: One of the "pillars of the community", who also worked on two the aforementioned projects, actually had a fully-working server going this whole time! It was private, invite-only, and had a fight-club style rule that basically said if you discussed the server anywhere outside, you're banned. And so for years, a few hundred (to maybe a couple thousand) people manged to keep quiet that they all got to play a game that the rest of the fanbase was sorely missing. A lot of dirty laundry came to light, especially the fact that this pillar was apparently given everything needed to run the game, including everyone's character data, by... well, an inside source.

After a few days of the fanbase being REALLY angry and upset (and more than one person sending death threats unfortunately), the pillar has been slowly dumping the source code and assets to the (rest of the) community so that the more tech-savvy among us can make our own servers. It's been a roller-coaster couple of days!

I feel there's some parallels to our community here. FF7 modding has gone pretty smoothly, but only after Qhimm took great efforts to keep things clean and quiet as possible, seeing as Square was infamous for shutting down mods of its other games (Like a Chrono Cross remake, iirc). For the City of Heroes drama, that was far from the first (or last) MMO NCSoft shut down, and they were/are infamous for sending C&D notices to people making servers for their (dead) games, particularly a project called "Infinite Rasa", which was to be a server for the long-dead Tabula Rasa, which had been down for 4 years at that point. Where the parallels diverge is that, this community is semi-famous now, and I haven't heard of any attempts by Square to shut things here down, despite the publicity that the mods here receive (The FF7 page on steam? Just articles about the mods available. And heck, their latest FF7 PC releases are essentially using code developed by users here, iirc). Meanwhile, the CoH server would probably still be a secret if it hadn't been for a single whistle-blower, but we're uncertain what the future holds, as it's not a matter of WHAT NCSoft will try to do, but when and how.

There are a lot of details I haven't discussed here, because this alone is a lot to unpack. I feel like I need a semi-outside view on all this, and I figured my favorite community of gamers, programmers, and reverse engineers would be a good place to get some opinions on all that's going on =) I will, of course, fill in any details that I'm aware of if needed (some possibly by PM if a question requires a specific answer. Again, there are some legal issues involved here).

But yeah, thoughts and opinions, let's have it!

LordUrQuan

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Re: City of Heroes
« Reply #1 on: 2019-04-19 12:44:22 »
Obviously I've only been around a couple months, but from what I've picked up via Covarr, EQ2Alya, DLPB, and others, is that Square leaves us alone because VERY LOUD POINTS(tm) are made respecting a couple of things:
1. Distribution of the actual game is expressly forbidden.  To use the mods, you must have a legit copy (and pointers are given on how to purchase one).
2. Use of SE materials (character models, textures, etc.) ripped from other media is also expressly forbidden.

Then there's also the Streisand Effect and community relations... SE seems to have some pretty smart cookies when it comes to this sort of thing, who realize the bad publicity over stomping on a bunch of fans over a 20 year old game (that, let's be honest, probably isn't making them all that much money anymore even with Steam) won't benefit them in the long run.  Contrast that with, say, Electronic Arts, who can't seem to stop shooting off their own feet....

Covarr

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Re: City of Heroes
« Reply #2 on: 2019-04-20 19:34:03 »
You hit the nail on the head, LordUrQuan.

Gotta say, I'm not looking forward to the increased moderation load when the official remake comes out. I have no doubt I'm gonna be handing out warnings left and right for people ripping assets from that and importing it into the current PC version.

Kaldarasha

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Re: City of Heroes
« Reply #3 on: 2019-04-21 04:25:05 »
We will also loose our helpful-stupid-nerds-status which help to sell their old lady. But once the young lady is out the old one isn't desirable anymore and so we as well.