Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tensions In City Of Heroes Building

City Of Heroes (CoH), the MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) game that I so love, is starting to show signs of the pending demise that NCSoft announced back on August 31st. No, I am NOT saying that the game itself is no longer playable. It is still the best Super Hero game going. The problem is that as the weeks go by and the end date grows nearer I am seeing fewer and fewer people logging in and actually playing. There is also signs of people getting on each other's nerves in the game...

What is really sad is that I have been running into people who are obviously new to the game, even with the impending doom of the servers shutting down (scheduled for November 30th by all accounts.) I was in Atlas Park 33 when someone tried to get a Death From Below (DFB) trial going (a mission designed for low level character that earns them a lot of experience... I have seen characters go from 1st level to 7th in just a couple of runs.) Sadly, I was the only person who asked to join before they became discouraged by all the people who had toons (toon is a slang term for a character) standing on the stairs in front of City Hall, holding torches while the actual players was non-responsive... there are ways of keeping the game from putting you in AFK (away from keyboard) mode, which would eventually sign you out.
Circle Le Faye and some team mates fighting a Hydra Head in a DFB mission

As to people getting on each other's nerves in the game... I know I had a bit of a breakdown after the person who had tried to start the DFB run left (the last thing they said indicated that they would not be back, they were so discouraged.)

I basically announced what had happened to the CoH world at large... and got all kinds of negative feedback from the few people that were actually paying attention. They took it as if I was blaming them for not joining up on the DFB mission. WRONG! The complaint that I did make was that too few of the people that were signed in were there to play the game at all. There were the aforementioned torch holding toons, and a group in Perez Park that were holding a walk... What really is going to make a difference is keeping the chatter up OUTSIDE the game. Start up a blog, hit the forums, write letters... do things that get attention in the real world. The best thing you can do when signed into CoH to prove how much you love the game IS TO PLAY THE GAME!

Circe Le Faye
While the in world rallies have gotten the us some attention, and I do still feel there is some value in doing them, we need to take into consideration that they can also have adverse effects. I would not doubt that, if there are any negotiations still going on, that all parties involved in them may well have people signing into the game to see what is happening. If all they see is a bunch of people holding torches, few of whom are actually paying any attention to what is going on? I do not think that is going to help our cause.

One thing that has discouraged people is that Star Trek Online, developed and owned by Cryptic Studios (original developers of CoH) announced that they have hired in some of the developers that had been laid off by Paragon Studios when NCSoft dropped the bomb on CoH.

To those people I would have to say that all the efforts to save CoH were never going to save Paragon Studios. Anyone that thought we could change the minds of NCSoft were not really thinking things through. As soon as you get laid off/fired, if you are a rational person, you start looking for your next job. What we need to hope for is a buyer, someone willing to take CoH off the hands of NCSoft... and we also need to hope that NCSoft will be willing to sell.

Let us start with Cryptic Studios, the original developers of the game. They still have a page up dedicated to City Of Heroes, though it is in need of updating. As they have just hired a group of developers from Paragon Studios to work on Star Trek, they could easily be slide back over to working on CoH. Still, odds are against Cryptic buying CoH back, as that would give them two Super Hero MMOs (they designed Champions Online before selling CoH off to NCSoft. Could there be an issue with the license between Cryptic and Hero Games, though? Pipe dream that, I suppose... but I have tried playing Champions Online, and will probably switch to it once CoH is dead... but I will never PAY for it.)

That said, I really would not want to see CoH end up in anyone's hands if they would not support it properly (not that NCSoft ever did.. from the start they could have advertised it better.) Plus, I do not really know that much of any other MMO companies, as I am strictly a Super Hero MMO player. If anyone knows enough about the other companies out there that might be interested in the game, please post a comment...

In the end, I wish I had enough money of my own to give NCSoft an offer they could not refuse.

Anyone know where I can get a multi-billion dollar winning lottery ticket?


Michelle Easley-Yoho said...

I was there when the incident you are discussing occured. The hubby and I were doing a mission elsewhere and saw what I assumed was your comment on the help channel. When the marchers starting picking on you he joined in to say that he agreed with you... that people should be able to enjoy the game how they want, whether it be holding a torch, marching or out playing without someone making them feel guilty because they aren't marching. The marchers quickly told him he was a troll because he was choosing to play I suppose and said everyone should put him on ignore. Of course at this point I said something and got a private tell that I was going on ignore lists as well. I have to say that in all the years I have played the game this is the first time I have been truly disappointed in the manner that I was treated. I support the right of everyone to march, hold a torch or PLAY as they see fit. Personally if I can I'm in there playing... if my time is limited I want to spend it doing what I love and playing. If I am AFK, generally I'm holding a torch... and I even participated in a march, the rally and one of the Posi tfs. If these players who are organizing want people to continue to believe in the great community they really need to be a bit more pleasant or people may end up like myself... I've spent the day looking at other games and not really wanting to sign into a place where I am going to be judged simply because I want to play.

David Phillips said...

Thanks for sharing, Michelle. We are all feeling the effects of tension caused by the situation that NCSoft has put us in. I continue to play, and will do so. I'm hoping I do not have another experience like I did that night. I was at the 9/8/12 Rally on Virtue, and do take pride in that. Even then there were a few people that were not happy about it because they had logged in to earn some experience and did not appreciate the massive amount of chat log that the Rally was putting out.

In all honesty, I support those marching their right to do so. I even support the people in AP33 holding torches. I just think we also need to realize that for all the good it may be doing, it can have negative side effects as well. I have seen one incident of this, and based on that there most certainly have been others.

As I've stated, I have seen evidence of new people coming in and playing for the first time. What kind of image of the game are we giving as a community at this point? I'll continue to join DFBs and other missions that help out lower level characters on a quick road to the higher levels.

Homospanic said...

And I have seen many incidents where new players were in awe of the community and their efforts to do whatever they can and save CoH. You take one isolated incident, during a PLANNED event (Zwillion Hero March..that lasted a whopping 30-40 minutes btw) and have managed to blow it WAY out of proportion. Instead of spreading negativity based off of one incident, maybe you should turn your rant into a more helpful blog. Your message could have been full of impact and hope...instead it comes off as whiny and hyper critical of those who are doing whatever they can to #SaveCoH.

David Phillips said...

Homospanic... LMAO... I think you need to read the article over again, and then consider how reactionary you are being to it.

All I have done in this post is report an incident, and request that we be more aware of how our actions can effect others. No where did I say that the people on the March were at fault for what had happened... save for their reaction to my relaying it in game at that time. I even ADMITTED that I had a bit of a break down, thus that I was at fault, at least in part, for the argument that came after...

Chip Herbert said...

I would like to see Sony pick CoH up and give it a shot. I am impressed with SWTOR and Sony is now showing interest in the MMORPG world.

Rae said...

I have been one of the vigilers at AP33 - sadly, I've never made it on a march, as they always seem to happen in the middle of the night GMT.

In their defense, the torch holders have had to put up with a number of griefers (I'm talking about you, Torch Hater), and people who like to swing by and tell us we're DOING IT WRONG. If the marchers had been dealing with that for however many hours, it's not surprising if they snapped if someone got snarky at them in a chat channel, particularly if they had pre-arranged to get together and march to honour Zwill.

While I'm saddened to hear that people fell out over this, or were made to feel they were being judged for wanting to play the game, I would respectfully suggest that AP33 has become a kind of 'sacred ground' for the #SaveCoH crowd, and a lot of vigilers tend to camp out there so they're out of the way of people who are choosing to carry on with the game as normal.

I go there, because after 'black Friday', I was incredibly upset, and it was the vigilers and the SaveCoH crowd who were strong and optimistic when I couldn't be, and helped (and still help) to bring me through a rough time.

It's upsetting to think that people are beginning to view the 'Save' campaign as detrimental to the game, compared to, say, letting NC Soft pull the plug and going quietly.

Regardless, I agree that people shouldn't be judged for how they spend their time in game, whether it's marching, torch holding, playing, or even griefing. We're a community and like any community there are people who have views we don't agree with, spend time differently than we would, and all the rest of it.

But at the end of the day, we are a virtual community - pixels on a screen, joined in the virtual world, and the only real thing we have in the game is our interactions with each other.

Unless, of course, NC Soft has it's way.

David Phillips said...


Thank you for your thoughts. Rereading what I wrote I can see where you can come away thinking of me as a "Torch-Hater." Really, I was upset with what happened. The people participating in the Perez Park march angered me because when I related what happened with the person who had tried to start up left in a huff. I guess I was still a bit miffed when I wrote this post.

My intent was to rock the boat a bit, just as we have been trying to rock NCSoft's boat. Sometimes we do need to take a step back and look at what we are doing... in fact I guess I should have waiting a bit longer before writing about what happened myself.

Thanks to your words, I am now doing that myself. While I do not retract what I have said entirely... I do still feel that people need to be aware of the negative reactions that some have come away with from in world efforts (I had no problem with the marchers until they got upset with my relating what had happened due to the torch bearers on the steps of AP33 steps.)

I participated in the 9/8/12 Unity Rally. Even then, a few people posted in the CoH forums how that event disrupted their gaming experience on that night.

Are we divided as a community now? Yes, for there are those who have supported what I have said, and those who have not. Your words are the first truly thoughtful words supporting the continued Torch Light Vigils.

In the end I think we all want to hear the true story from NCSoft's as to why they made the decision to pull the plug... in the end we all want to see the game saved so we can continue playing.

Every story has two sides. You have provided the most thoughtful defense for your side.

Thank you.

Rae said...

Thanks, David - just to clarify, sorry, there is an avatar called 'Torch Hater' who has been systematically griefing the vigilers, spamming them with ice armour, which makes them 'drop' the torches. I didn't mean to accuse you of hating on the torchers.

I can't really speak on behalf of the entire 'Save' movement, but I know it was never my intention to ruin the game for anyone else, or detract from their fun. But I can see how it has irritated some people, and it was never our (or mine, at least) intention to disrupt anyone else's gaming.

I just wanted to find a way to show how much the game, the people in it and the developers came to mean to me over the last 7-and-a-half-years that I've been playing. And I wanted to try and support the people who got me through Black Friday, and for the Titan Network who have kept me hopeful. I don't really play a huge part in their efforts, I'm not part of their 'inner' circle so I'm not writing articles, or carrying out discussion with NC Soft and Paragon Studios, and I'm not a part of plans 'B-Z', since I don't really have any talents that could help get those off the ground.

So I try to comment on any articles/blogs I see, I tweet /way/ too much, and when I get in game, and I'm not hanging with my SG, then I head to AP33 and I hold a torch to support the people who held me up when I was in pieces over the announcement.

I'm not naive enough to believe that holding a torch is going to save the game. I can't imagine NC Soft are freaking out about /holdtorch, but it makes me feel that I'm showing how I feel about CoH and the people who inhibit it without having to send ragey emails to NC Soft.

I get that there are people who want to cram in as much gaming as they can, and I completely understand that. I get that there are people who feel the need to leave and find other places to be, because being in CoH does feel a lot like going back to the person who broke your heart. I even get that there are people who think that holding a torch is kinda stupid and lame, and that's ok.

I'll hold a torch so that other people don't have to. So the newbies can play and level and do what they want with the time they have before NC Soft pull the plug, so the griefers can grief, before our world is ripped out from under us, and so the Titans and everyone else can spend the time trying to figure out how to keep us all going.

For me, it's a dignified, quiet way of saying 'I love this game, I love the people in it (even if some of them drive me mad) and I think what NC Soft is doing is wrong.'

..I feel I should be running a flag up a pole and saluting :)

Thanks for your kind comment, David, and for the blog entry. I had not considered that the 'save' campaign had been seen to disrupt people, and you are absolutely right that if we are to have any chance of survival, the community must be as united as we possibly can be.