On Friday, August 31st 2012 NCSoft announced the immediate closure of Paragon Studios along with the firing of all staff. They also announced that the game, City of Heroes, will be sunsetted and all servers will be shutdown at midnight on November 30th.
And that will be the last polite unemotional statement I shall make in this post.
As you may have gathered, I am one of the 100,000 (approx.) players of the game. I bought my copy when it was released April 30th 2004. Sadly I was not able to play until my birthday two weeks later when I treated myself to a new video card. Other than an unfortunate hiatus of 3 months to try out a game that is a pale shadow of CoH, I have been playing on an almost daily basis since then. In that time, I have created and developed over 120 separate and unique characters. I think of them as heroes (or villains) that I have designed from the ground up to play the story that is the game itself. To have this happen hurts, it hurts like when you reach the end of a great novel or your favourite TV series ends (Babylon 5 *sniffle*). And yet it is somehow worse than that because I have become part of the creative process, not just a spectator but an active participant.
The reactions among the playerbase could be used as a case study in reactions to doomsday scenarios, after all this virtual world is literally coming to an end. There seems to be 3 general reactions that everyone is feeling to one degree or another; dismissal (i.e. “yeah, whatever. I’m outta here.”), anger (“NCSoft can go blow a goat! I hope they all die in a fire! etc etc etc!”), and/or go out like a Boss (“I am going to play the hell outta this game! They are going to have to drag me kicking and screaming from the server!”). And that fits with how it works in real life, some people would swallow a bullet rather than face the End, others would get pissed off and go rioting, and still others would look at it as a time to check off things from their Bucket List. Me being who I am, I am simply too damn stubborn to just say to hell with it so I am signing petitions / ranting on blogs (in anger) and playing a few hours everyday since the announcement.
As much as this felt like a gut-punch there is one silver lining, I can use this for inspiration. These are MY characters, they don’t have to end when the world ends. I had already starting writing their stories in-game but now its time to let them loose in the wild and continue chronicling their adventures here. As you have seen, I have already dabbled a bit in this with Captain Hit-Guy vs. Professor Unusual. But starting in December I am committing myself to writing one introductory story for a hero and a villain per month. I won’t be doing that for all my characters or else I will never get anything else done (and to be honest, some of my characters work better as background or cameos) but I do ask that anyone that finds a particular hero or villain interesting to let me know so I can focus on him or her. I should warn you that Captain Hit-Guy will be one of the focal points no matter what, being my namesake and all.
In conclusion, I have to say that even though this was a silly little game that I played just to have fun it really does hurt that its going away. Is this an example of how shallow and surface our modern society has become? Or does it show the strength of the connections we make with the things we create? I don’t know the answer but I can safely say that it proved to me how important my creations are to me.
P.S. If anyone reading this hasn’t checked out CoH and would like a tour of our fine City before the lights go out just drop a /tell to Captain Hit-Guy or Prime-Minister on Freedom server and I will show you around and you can take a few pictures :).