Friday, December 7, 2012

City of Heroes: In Memoriam

Last weekend, I lost an old friend. City of Heroes, the longest running, most popular, and best superhero MMORPG, was killed by its publisher, NCSoft. The reasons don't make sense to anyone outside NCSoft's corporate offices and are so bizarre that one wonders if they even make sense there.

There's been plenty written on the seeming stupidity of shutting down a franchise that's still making you money, and I won't go into that here (although I reserve the right to so do at a later date). Right now, I just want to reflect on what City of Heroes meant to me and to so many others.

I started playing the game in June 2004, about two months after launch, after reading a very favorable review in a PC gaming magazine. I was hooked from the start. I only made one or two characters before creating the Fire Blast/Fire Manipulation Blaster who would become my main character. Hellguard was his name, and I already miss him terribly. I have recreated him in Champions Online, DC Universe Online, and even World of Warcraft, but it's just not the same.

City of Heroes didn't have the biggest MMORPG community, of course, but I think it can be argued that it was the best. While helpful players and developer interaction can be found in most online games, there was an abundance of each in CoH. Although I was a loner, as I am in most of my online adventures, I still have many pleasant memories of my interactions with fellow heroes and villains.
  There are still ongoing efforts underway to resurrect the game, either by lobbying other companies to buy the property from NCSoft (although reported attempts to do just this were turned down by NCSoft while the game was still running) or by creating a "spiritual successor" to City of Heroes.  While I remain hopeful that my heroes (and villains) will one day again take to the skies of Paragon City or the Rogue Isles, I'm doubtful that any of these efforts will actually come to fruition.  As much as I hate to admit it, I don't think Hellguard -- the REAL Hellguard -- will ever again see the light of day.