Death of a Game: City of Heroes

A good retrospective of City of Heroes. Possibly the best MMO you may have never played. Seeing the footage again made me get something in my eye. I really miss this game.

I was and remain baffled by that whole situation. The original company couldn’t afford to keep it running, that I can get. But there were a whole lot of fans who loved the game, enough that one would think that someone, anyone, would buy the rights for some price, any price, and set up their own servers. If the original company couldn’t keep it going themselves any longer, why wouldn’t they sell?

Except that they could afford to keep it running. It was making a profit–a small one, but it was more than paying for itself. Your main point stands, though, Chronos–I could see them wanting to cut it loose to focus on other upcoming games (as the video suggests), but why wouldn’t they let someone pay them to take it over? They could have had a trickle of profit by keeping the game running, or a tidy little lump sum to let it go, but they chose to get no money at all.

I suspected at the time, and continue to suspect, that it reflects a complete misunderstanding of the game and its subscribers. I think they expected CoH fans to roll over and sign up for one of their new games once CoH was gone. They thought they could get rid of the costs of the game, but keep the income, because the players would stay “loyal” to the company and play GW2 or something. “You don’t want that old game, here is a new game with prettier graphics.” I don’t know, maybe that works in the Korean market.

Instead, of course, they made their name toxic to most CoH players.

I never had a chance to play CoH, though a number of my friends did, and they all concurred that it was among their all-time favorite games.

I’ve played a bit of Champions Online over the past year or so, and I know that there are a lot of CoH refugees in that game. I remember seeing a social gathering of several dozen players in CO, specifically for them to reminisce about playing CoH.

I always thought sw galaxies was the wrong way to do an mmo… I was goingbe to one of the first to get it but moved and never got to play it … from what I’m told it was heartbreaking

Watching it now. Did the game actually look like that (short squat people) or has he ballsed up the aspect ratio when making the video?

I think it’s a combination of camera angles and the characters that happened to be in the footage. Character proportions were super customizable (along with nearly everything else); about the only thing you couldn’t do was make a fat character. I had everything from tiny pixie-like characters to squat characters built like brick walls to tall, willowy characters. Stylistically, the game leaned toward comic-book conceptions of “buff” and “sexy” (among other superhero comic graphical influences), but it didn’t constrain players to those standards.

Footage later in the video looks more normal.

My first MMO.

Some highlights being able to play obscure(ish) comic book heroes without being ratted on. Including Dreadstar and Harvey Birdman. (Ironically, I got flagged for putting him in his 60’s costume, but not the lawyer suit).

By “ratted on” and “flagged”, do you mean trademark issues, or just complaints? And was this done by other players, or by an automated system?

It was other players and i say it without prejudice. And yes trademark issues.

My all-time favorite MMO without a doubt. About the only thing I didn’t like about it was their heavy-handed approach to adjusting play. I had two mains there, a tanker and a controller, both of whom were nerfed to oblivion in a single update. I left and played CO for a while but it paled in comparison to CoH.

RIP Watchman Mk. IV and Puppetmistress.

COH/COV was a great game(s), but there was nothing to do. Once you were level capped, your options were fashion shows or just doing the same old thing over and over and over.

I loved the gameplay, thought the graphics were great and enjoyed the setting, but there was fuck-all to do for endgame content.

Mind you, I’d rather have had them figure that out and put in high end raids or something rather than shut it all down, but the game did have a serious problem with lack of content for level capped players.

God, I loved CoH. My two mains were Tiandria, a mutant hero Blaster with the ability to create and shoot electrical bolts, and her twin brother Tiandrio, a human who resented the attention his sister got for her abilities, and agreed to surgical experimentation to get powers of his own. He was given super strength, was extremely resistant to damage, and could fly. He was a villain, yet started transitioning to hero at the same time she was changing, becoming evil.

So some educated guesses why they didn’t sell it off (technical reasons).

  1. The back end tools for doing admin were probably undocumented and cryptic and they didn’t want to spend any effort on them
  2. probably used technology that they’ve re-used in later titles and that they don’t want to get into other peoples hands
  3. key staff that kept it running were needed to work on other projects that were making more money, they didn’t want them involved in helping with the hand over to a new company for an extended time.

It’s often very puzzling when a company shuts something down that is making money, why don’t they just hire more people so they can keep this running AND work on their new games? And that’s the issue, there’s often just not enough people with the specialised knowledge and experience that they need to do both, not for any price.

Or helping out the lowibes with donations and healing.

PVP…setting up a shitton of mines on a resource point. Or teleporting them to you and beating the crap out of them

In an 8-year-old game (at the time they shut it down)? Extremely unlikely.

Yes the Client side probably had nothing interesting. However the server side stuff for an MMO of any age is still valuable. Dealing with lag, handling 10’s of thousands of players simultaneously, handing off players from one server to another seamlessly depending on region or proximity, detecting hacking and cheats. Every company that makes an MMO has to work all this stuff out and it’s extremely valuable knowledge.
It actually makes a lot of sense they wouldn’t want to provide this to someone that might become a competitor.

  1. The main group of people who wanted to buy it were specifically the ones who were using those tools at the time, including some of the original developers.

  2. The engine was old and versions of it were also in use in other games by another company–Cryptic, the company that originally developed CoH and sold it to NCSoft. It was not a closely held secret, and NCSoft did not reuse the engine, AFAIK.

  3. The staff that kept it running was laid off, most of them right after the “sunset” announcement. The remaining few were laid off once the servers went down for the last time. They weren’t moved to other projects.