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One Year On, We Still Miss City of Heroes


I miss this vista. I miss being able to fly over Atlas Park at sunset, or at any other time. I miss this game, which was closed far sooner than it should have been.

Even though the one-year anniversary of City of Heroes’ closing is but two days away, there are still plenty of players like me who love and miss this game for what it meant to us. #SaveCoH is still a popular tag on Twitter for this reason; we former players still share memories and creative ideas for characters we never got to try. And yes, we’re still angry that this game, this virtual world which we gladly paid to access, was so cruelly taken away for such trivial reasons as “realignment of company policies.” (Those new policies apparently included utter refusal to heed customers’ complaints and wants.)

Perhaps I’m beating a long-dead horse. But City of Heroes was far more than just a “superhero MMO”–it was a haven for creative people. You could create original characters, design original costumes in minute detail, choose your own powersets, and play your character in hundreds of beautifully-rendered virtual environments. Not only that, you could meet other creative people and form teams and supergroups (guilds) with them. City of Heroes attracted a different type of MMO gamer, the kind that wasn’t just interested in constant raids and multi-hour quests, but camaraderie and working as a team. It attracted working people, parents, and other folks who didn’t have a ton of time to dedicate to a game–it wasn’t as intensive a game, so it was easier to approach and easier to enjoy casually. It was an MMO for people who don’t like MMOs, in other words; it provided a sanctuary from other time-consuming games (*cough*WoW*cough). It was unique, just like its playerbase…and we grieve for its loss.

And yet City of Titans represents hope amid this grief, because it is at least a partial return to the virtual world I miss. Even though November 30th tolls like a somber bell in our minds, we have something to look forward to, a fan-created virtual world where we may fly over another Atlas Park. We are still sad and angry, one year later, but we have used those feelings to propel us forward. On this Thanksgiving Day, this resilient community of CoH players, with its creative vision and firm resolve, is something for which we can all be thankful.

Soon, Heroes Shall Fly Again, in the City of Titans

Last fall, City of Heroes players wept and raged as Paragon City darkened on November 30th, in spite of everything we tried to do, in spite of protests and calls. It seemed all had finally been lost when the 30th rolled around and NCSoft’s stance had not changed.

Most of us fans crept away and mourned, trying to find solace in other games or projects. But for one small band of players, their response was to recreate the City they had so cherished in a game of their own making. That game is called City of Titans.

The Facts

This group of players formed The Phoenix Project and MissingWorldsMedia, and are currently developing City of Titans as a self-described “spiritual successor” to City of Heroes. According to the FAQ, the game will be built on the Unreal 3 engine by former CoH players, and the studio is shooting for a release date sometime in 2015. Support for Sentinel+ character files (developed by the Titan Network) is planned (yay!).

Lots more is covered in the WorldsFactory interview with TPP’s project lead, Warcabbit–well worth a read to get a good sense of how CoT is developing!

City of Titans Still Needs Your Help!

And most importantly, keep spreading the word! Soon, we heroes will have a City to protect again! 😀

Pitching City of Heroes to Google: You Can Help!

After the hubbub last fall over the closure of City of Heroes, most people outside the City of Heroes playerbase (and many people in the former playerbase, for that matter) probably think that the #SaveCoH movement is dead.

Not so.

In fact, a relatively new part of the #SaveCoH movement, called “Task Force Hail Mary,” is gathering steam over on the CoHTitan Forums (see details in this forum thread). They are in the process of pitching City of Heroes to Google, following up a tendril of interest from a contact of Mercedes Lackey’s within Google.

Now, before you scoff at your computer screen or utter a cynical “That’ll never work,” please realize that everyone involved knows this is a long shot. But if enough people send letters to Google supporting this idea, perhaps we can make enough waves and draw enough attention to the game to make Google or another company interested in picking it up. After all, what’s the use in rolling over and playing dead when we are most certainly not dead yet?

How You Can Help

What the Task Force Hail Mary needs now is letters–real, paper letters, telling Google how much you enjoyed City of Heroes, how unique a game it is among MMOs, and how it could bring Google positive press and profit (as well as a permanent place of affection in the playerbase’s collective heart). Be heartfelt but also grounded in reality, acknowledging that the company needs to profit from this move just as much as the players need to.

When you have written your letter, send it on to:

Jeson Patel
Engineering Manager
Google Inc
Google Mountain View
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

This is the original contact within Google who was interested in seeing a City of Heroes pitch. You may also want to send your letter to Jamie Rosenberg, Vice President of Digital Content, using the same mailing address.

A Final Note

Since one of the posts I made about City of Heroes garnered some negative opinions about the game, as well as shaming comments about people who wanted to save the game, I will go ahead and say this: if you don’t care about the #SaveCoH movement or are glad that the game was shut down, then please do not post. Every gamer is allowed his or her opinions, and the #SaveCoH movement is no different. If you believe we are silly for trying this, if you think the game was stupid and isn’t worth saving–we simply don’t want to hear it, and any such derogatory responses will be deleted from the comments. As I said before, we know this is a long shot, but if we do not try, we will indeed be “playing dead” when we are not dead at all.

Call to Action: Don’t Give Up on City of Heroes Yet!

Recently on the CoHTitan forums, a very interesting post by a user named Mister Bison appeared, quoting a message from a French GM of NCSoft Customer Support.

This message, sent in response to a French player’s support ticket, seemed to indicate that all the account information for City of Heroes players has not been destroyed, and in fact cannot be destroyed. Customer Support also said in this message that “[they] don’t know yet what will become of the City of Heroes servers.”

The Meaning of This Mysterious Message

What does this mean for us long-suffering City of Heroes players? At first blush, this seems to mean that the City of Heroes servers have not been wiped clean, as we all feared would happen after Nov. 30th. And it also seems to mean that our personal CoH account information has not been deleted.

Many of the first repliers to this post believe, as I do, that this means NCSoft may still be amenable to selling off City of Heroes to another game company. Of course, another, more pessimistic, possibility still exists, as a few users have suggested–that the account information in question is the “master” NCSoft account, not the specific CoH account.

The Call to Action: Ask NCSoft for Information

Whatever the case, we need more information; if Paragon City has indeed not been razed to the ground, we need to know. Our next move as a community, then, is for as many players as possible to contact NCSoft Customer Support. We need to ask about the state of our City of Heroes account information.

Here are the mailing addresses and phone numbers for the various customer support centers, retrieved from NCSoft’s global page.

North America/




Address: 6801 N. Capital of Texas Hwy, Bldg 1 Austin, TX 78731

Phone: (512) 225-6359

Address: Ebisu Business Tower 16F,1-19-19 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0013

Phone: +81-3-5793-2500

Address: 6F No,738 Chung-cheng Road, Chung-ho City, Taipei 235, Taiwan

Phone: +886-2-8024-3300

Address: 14Fl, 18 True Tower, Ratchadapiek Road, Huai Khwang, Bangkok 103 Thailand

Phone: +66-2-699-1474

When you contact them, be sure to ask specifically and politely about your City of Heroes account information. However we may still feel about NCSoft and their treatment of us as customers, we do need to ask carefully, if we want our game back. They hold the fragile keys to Paragon City in their hands, after all.

As I stated on my CoH Twitter account after Nov. 30th, “Paragon City is not burned to the ground; the lights have simply been turned off.” If we still want this game back, let us show NCSoft in the most civil and adult way possible–by submitting questions to them concerning our account information. Even if the information we get is not what we want to hear, at least we will know, and not be left to wonder!

Saving City of Heroes: If All Else Fails, Plan Z

If you’ve heard anything about the #SaveCoH movement at all, you’ve likely heard the term “Plan Z” noised about among resolute City of Heroes fans. What is this mysterious plan, and what does it entail?

According to forums on CoHTitan and CoHGuru, “Plan Z” would be a fan-supported MMO, which would cleave as closely to CoH as possible without being sued.

I admit, this isn’t exactly “saving” CoH, but it would save what we love most about the game itself, only porting it to a new game. It’s not ideal, and it’s something we #SaveCoH-ers hope will not be necessary…but it’s our last resort. Already, people are discussing on the CoHTitan forums about what the Plan Z game should and shouldn’t have, and what kinds of changes should be made (or need to be made, to avoid lawsuits). If enough details can be hammered out, this could be a workable solution, but more input and more information is definitely required, not to mention funding.

What Should CoH Players Do in the Meantime?

As we all stare anxiously at our calendars, likely fearing November 30th, there are a few things we each can do:

  • Get on the CoHTitan forums, and/or follow @thetitannetwork on Twitter to keep up with the #SaveCoH campaign and Plan Z
  • Add your ideas to the Plan Z pool, and/or offer any alternatives to Plan Z that you can think of, such as contacting other game companies, etc.
  • Save each of your characters with the Sentinel+ character file exporter. (More info about how to understand the Sentinel+ output in this forum post.) Potentially, Plan Z could import these character files later.
  • Keep making as much noise about #SaveCoH on your social networks–it’s still a viable campaign. No one’s given up yet!

In short: City of Heroes players have plans afoot that don’t involve completely migrating to another game entirely. We may yet be able to bring the spirit of our beloved Paragon City into a fan-supported, fan-designed game, perhaps with all our alts intact.

But this is our last resort; till we know for certain that no other path is open to us, #SaveCoH will continue to sally forth on social networks and blogs galore. If you want to save City of Heroes, you’re welcome to join us. 🙂

5 Logical Reasons to Save City of Heroes

Many who are outside the recent City of Heroes hoopla may not understand why some players are kicking up such a fuss. After all, it’s just a game, right? And nobody really plays it anymore since Champions Online came out, right? And it’s just like WoW except with superheroes, right?

Wrong, times three. Today, I will prove why City of Heroes deserves to stay around, with five logical reasons that I think even Spock would be proud of.

It Has a Growing Loyal (And Paying) Playerbase

Many people are under the impression that City of Heroes transformed into a completely “free-to-play” game within the last year. That is simply not true. While there is a free-to-play option within the game, it does not allow for the complete game experience–you must be VIP, or paying about $15 a month, to experience the full game.

That said, most people who were VIP members before Free-To-Play released have maintained their VIP membership, and many who started as Free-To-Play players ended up buying VIP subscriptions, so City of Heroes was still pulling in money when NCSoft announced the November 30th closure date unexpectedly on August 31st. I don’t know exactly how much money, but I do know City of Heroes was earning more than NCSoft’s other games (Lineage II, Aion, and Guild Wars).

If the current “Save CoH” Change.org petition with over 20,000 signatures represents all currently paying players, that could potentially mean an income of over $3,600,000 per year. That may not be big chunks of change to a large company, but it’s definitely something! And with the Free-to-Play system tempting more and more customers into the game, that could mean potentially even more customers who will want to buy full game access.

It’s Unlike Any MMO Out There Today

And yes, this reasoning does count Champions Online and DC Online. City of Heroes, despite these other two MMOs named, is still the only superhero MMO to have its own specific series of comic books, with rich backstory lore, a highly-detailed and much-lauded costume creator, and yet fairly simple game mechanics (as I’ll refer to in my next reason).

Its main competitor, Champions Online, was created by the people who originally spearheaded City of Heroes in the first place, and is linked to the Champions paper RPG game. DC Online, as the name might imply, is based on the DC Comics universe.

Champions Online Differences

  • Not as good a costume creator
  • Less flexible archetypes/harder to customize
  • Based more on a Dungeons & Dragons-esque stat system (more stats, more calculations, etc.)

DC Online Differences

  • Generally have to play along the lines of an established DC hero/villain
  • DCO has no “in-between” alignments like Vigilante and Rogue–only Hero and Villain
  • Can only make 16 characters per server, as opposed to CoH’s unlimited unlockable character slots

In addition, City of Heroes is the only MMO, to my knowledge, which allows players to create their own playable content within the game engine itself. Not only is CoH a haven of original heroes, but it encourages creativity in its players!

There are many players out there who have tried Champions Online and DC Online in place of City of Heroes, and most if not all have returned to City of Heroes, often citing the very reasons stated above. I believe that speaks for itself, and establishes City of Heroes’ credibility and originality within the sphere of available MMOs.

It’s Easier to Learn

From personal experience observing other MMO playstyles versus City of Heroes’ style, I can definitively say that City of Heroes is much easier to learn, and thus quicker to enjoy. There are simply less bars and graphs and things to monitor on screen; it feels like a game rather than hard work to try to play successfully. Not only that, but the customization and amount of creativity allowed makes it more personal, more of a platform for one’s own imagination rather than just playing within a strict “mold” of “what wins PvP battles.”

Many of my fellow gamers have noted this as well, saying that playing CoH is more relaxing and therefore more fun to continue playing. After all, if a game is not fun, who wants to pay to play it month after month? Even former WoW players have noticed the positive difference, and have enjoyed it.

It’s Already a Well-Established, Well-Loved Game

Many people who do not play City of Heroes currently have said that it’s well past time for City of Heroes to be put out to pasture, since the game began “way back” in 2004.

It’s interesting to note that the people who are saying this have no idea of the updates and new features that have been added. If they have any experience with the game at all, their information is several years old at best–they quit playing and have not kept up with all the amazing changes (especially recent changes). In fact, a new issue (ironically titled “Resurgence”) was going to be released in early September, fixing many bugs and introducing more new content–or, at least, it was going to be released until the unexpected closure announcement.

This game is already well-established with players as a familiar and welcome respite from other MMOs. It’s not World of Warcraft or League of Legends, nor is it trying to be. It’s got its own little niche, and most of the players who are on now have been playing a long time and plan to be playing as long as the game exists. This is not a game you beat one time and sell back; it’s a long-term experience, with hundreds of hours of effort put in, and just as many hours of enjoyment received.

And as for the “it’s an old game, it needs to end” argument, let me give an apt comparison: would any gamer want to see his or her collection of old console video games burned, just because they’re considered “old games?” That is essentially what the City of Heroes community is being threatened with–the total annihilation of painstakingly-created characters, and permanent loss of access to a rich gaming world.

It Has Tons of Features AND Room to Grow, Too

Building on my previous points, I will conclude with this reasoning: the game is already a well-rendered world with hundreds of stories to play through and dozens of ways to diversify characters. Yet it still has much detail that can be explored through future game expansions, not least the post-level 50 content which is still in its infancy.

This “city of heroes” has room to expand, room to build new areas and construct new stories. It even has the ability for players to create their own playable stories, as I referenced earlier. There’s plenty of opportunity and plenty of future in City of Heroes; why must it be razed to the ground?

That is our point, as City of Heroes players: it does not need to be.

Join the “Save CoH” Effort

Even though NCSoft doesn’t want us to write letters anymore (according to yesterday’s press release, anyway), there are still things we can do to make noise about this.

  • Communicate with any game company you can think of who might even remotely be interested in buying CoH, or starting up a game that uses the same character files so we don’t all lose our hard work
  • Sign the Change.org petition
  • Email local news stations, internet news channels, and anyone else who might be able to further publicize the need to save this game

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