Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The End of an Era: COH Closes its Doors

It was after Everquest had more or less run its course and before the launch of Everquest II or World of Warcraft.  It was a summer, which for me translates to more time playing games, and it was after several months of the game having been released so that it had time to get the initial hitches out.

I picked up City of Heroes, and it was my go-to MMO for a long, long time.

I was not playing it when the plug was pulled last week.  I had long moved on to other games, and hung up my cape.  Stormherald, my main hero, and one that had been born again and again in other games, was no longer level capped, and my legions of small characters remained where I had last played them.  Had a friend not posted anything on Facebook I would never have known it had finally shuttered its doors.

I could really go on about all the great things the game had, and all the things it did not, but instead I want to talk about something else.

What's left now that the game is gone, and running the client will leave you unable to ever again connect to a server?

That's always the hard part of a game closing its doors.  All that "Stuff" is gone.

You start to wonder what you ~did~ with all that time, where it all went, and what you have to show for it now.  Maybe you've got a few screen shots you saved from the years.  Maybe some contacts you made that you can keep up with outside of the world of COH are still on your Facebook friends list.  Maybe you even have migrated together to a new game, be it Champions, or Warcraft, or something else.

For those not familiar let me give a small and short review.

First the game believed heavily in diversity of heroes.  You had close combat characters, ranged damage, tanks, and support.  The goal of the designers was that any group of characters from a single player to a full eight man group could engage in the content and be successful   They wanted the game to have the maximum fun and the minimum penalties.

For the most part, it worked.  Sure there were nerfs, times the developers had to roll back a power or two.  The dreaded "Enhancement Diversification" was an effort to thwart the massive work players had done to fine the "Ideal" combination of powers and enhancements and basically "break" the game.  At the end of it all the developers wanted anyone with a sense of cleverness to be able to get in, have fun, and play the game.

My wife and I played it for about a year and a half.  We actually missed the news of the tsunami the day after Christmas because neither of us had to work, and neither of us left the computer room.  We got up, got some food, logged in, and only came out long enough to sign for a pizza.  It was totally indulgent but it was fun.  We eventually petered out on it, picked up WoW and that was that.

I tried to go back, to find good RP groups to hang out with, but that was always the challenge:  The time.  As much as I loved developing my character's back stories, there just wasn't time to sit and type up dialogue with others.  Not once we had our first kid.  Not once games moved to voice chat and more focus on the mission and less on the RP.

We left CoH before the Going Rogue expansion hit.  I tried to get in and get a feel for it.  I always thought it would be fun to use "going rogue" to bring some of my Masterminds over to the Hero side.  I still believe that  my "Little Girl with an Imaginary Army She can Make Real Through Force of Will" would make a pretty cool hero once she got the right mentor.

I still remember back when City of Villains launched and people started asking for a neutral ground to meet and to to RP between the two factions.  Sometime later, it happened, and a pocket dimension where powers were forbidden, entered into the game lore, and there was a common meeting place for heroes and villains alike.

I did some of my best writing playing City of Heroes, many of them survive in my mind as characters I'd like to explore again someday.  I'm going to close this out with a short list of those that will remain in my mind as people who have stories to tell, and make them a promise here, to tell them.


A devout Catholic, Stormherald was raised in a rectory by a priest and his staff.  Little did they know that the baby found on their door step was a fallen angel, a creature of God's vengence who had doubted her place in the heavens and was now finding herself again in a new body with no memory of who she was.

The Kilkelly Kid

Sent to Paragon on a Hero Exchange, The Kid teamed up with other heroes for weekly adventures, dressed smartly in her Irish Dancing costume and mask.

Kid Phoenix

Some heroes are born into greatness.  Others do their hero work as community service for vandalism and destruction of property.  Phoebe Sinclair was the second of them.  Green haired, wearing a leather jacket with torn sleeves, she eventually comes to like helping people.  Eventually.

Professor Twilight

An homage to Dr. Midnight, he joined with other members of the League of Justice to do good around Paragon City.  Despite being her elder by several years, he also developed a deep affection for the Blue Nautilus, an homage to Black Canary.

So long, heroes.  I'll miss you.

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