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Graveyard => Save Paragon Retirees => Save Paragon City! => Topic started by: TonyV on September 02, 2012, 08:17:17 PM

Title: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: TonyV on September 02, 2012, 08:17:17 PM
Okay, so for about two days now, in addition to responding to a zillion PMs (Titan (http://www.cohtitan.com/forum/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=1438), official (http://boards.cityofheroes.com/private.php?do=newpm&u=359915)), Skype invites (tonyv.paragonwiki), Facebook friend requests (https://www.facebook.com/tony.vazquez.3192), e-mails (tonyv@cohtitan.com), and other means of communication, I've also been working on a cohesive plan for what exactly we're going to do.

As I've said all along, my #1 goal is to make sure that City of Heroes stays up and running.  I think our immediate list of options towards that goal is limited to the following possibilities:

Convince NCsoft to change their mind

I'll be totally upfront here: This possibility is highly unlikely.  For a company to lay 80+ people off at one time, there has to be a lot of preparation.  A lot of legal and accounting hurdles have been jumped through, a lot of things like contracts terminated with Playspan (who provided the back-end of the Paragon Store) have happened, etc.  Plus, you can't just tell 80+ people, "Um... never mind..." and not expect a huge negative hit to morale, and even a measure of bitterness and anger.  At this point, I just can't imagine things simply going back to the way they were.

Having said that, however, I do think that there is a possibility that NCsoft might agree to keep the game running in some kind of maintenance mode on a skeleton crew in which there will be no development or updates at least long enough for us to come up with a plan B, most likely involving one of the options below.

Convince NCsoft to transfer the IP rights and code to us

I'm jumping from what I feel is the most unlikely scenario to what I feel is the most tantalizing scenario.  If we can convince NCsoft that leaving City of Heroes shuttered is an incredible waste of something that has both monetary and emotional value, they might be willing to sell it to us.  I've seen a lot of theories around regarding NCsoft being short on cash.  I think the situation is more complicated than that, but if they really are looking for a cash infusion, it is possible that they would be willing to part with the IP, code base, and distribution rights for a high enough dollar figure.

So what happens then?  I don't know... yet.  Options include using crowd funding and/or an interested investment partner to raise the money to start a non-profit cooperative of players to basically take over where Paragon Studios left off.  We might very well reach out to the Paragon Studios developers, artists, testers, etc. to come work with us on the game, with the offer of a financial ownership stake in it.  In short, though, we the players could own the game, ensuring that something like this never happens again, that the only reason it could ever shut down is if interest really declines to the point where we simply can't keep the servers running any longer.  Worst case scenario, even if we screw it up, we can always use the next option below as a fallback plan; once we own the assets, they'd be ours to do with as we felt best to keep the game running.

The goal would be to have the assets out of the hands of people that don't want the game running and into the hands of people that do.  We'd have to tread carefully, though, because I don't want to 1) convince NCsoft that we'd end up taking marketshare away from their other games as a competitor, or 2) do our job so well that we convince NCsoft that the assets are worth a lot more than we can pay.

Convince NCsoft to transfer the IP rights and code to another company

I've seen several suggestions, such as Riot Games (http://www.riotgames.com/), Valve (http://www.valvesoftware.com/), even someone like Blizzard (http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/).  These are good ideas, and if we can't get the assets ourselves, then this would definitely be worth pursuing.  City of Heroes is a profitable game, one that I think a lot of publishers would be interested in acquiring.  I think there are several good options of people to take over the game, good publishers and good studios who would salivate at the prospect of having the world's largest superhero-themed MMORPG as part of their portfolio.

Convince NCsoft to license the IP and code

The sad fact is that in today's litigious society, there's a chance that NCsoft either can't or won't want to part with the IP for certain legal reasons.  If that's the case, then perhaps the would be willing to sell us a license to use the game's IP, source code, and sell us distribution rights to the client so that they retain ownership of the assets, but we basically pay them "rent" to use them.

This isn't an ideal situation because it would still put us in the precarious position of continuing to depend on NCsoft's good will, but it has the appeal to NCsoft that it would be pure profit to them--unlike owning Paragon Studios, there would be no expenditures on their part to eat into their bottom line each month.

Through crowd funding or subscriptions, we could hire developers on a contractual basis to perform maintenance and perhaps even make steady improvements and changes to the server and client.

Reverse engineer the code

I know this might come as a surprise to some of you ;) but at the Titan Network, we have been working for years on reverse engineering the client and the communication protocols to the servers that run the game.  Before you get creeped out about using our tools such as Mids, Sentinel, etc., I assure you that we have never built any malicious code.  We all have agreed from day one that we would never use anything we discover to cheat, compromise your privacy, exploit the game, or anything like that.

Anyway, our resident hackers have made a lot of headway in working out how the servers work, and as you can imagine now, they're still at it as I type this.  I reached out to nemerle a little earlier, and our reverse engineering lead is going to contact him regarding any opportunities to combine efforts.

Having said all of that, this really is a last resort.  I don't want to understate the fact that reverse engineering something like this game is very, very hard.  Even if we're successful and had all of the protocols and information we need, actually implementing replacements is also hard.  Also, there's the little matter of legal issues.  If we don't have rights to the IP and art and design assets, we obviously can't just start running City of Heroes again on our own servers, lest we get sued out of existence.  I've seen some messages and posts essentially saying, "You could run it out of another country where the laws don't cover such-and-such..." but we really desperately want to avoid playing legal games like that.  Long story short, if we go this route, the City of Heroes you're used to will probably not be close to the same City of Heroes we're able to produce.  It would be like looking at a road map of a city you've never been to.  You'd recognize the elements--highways, interstates, railroads, bridges, rivers, etc., but that hometown El Super Mexicano would be gone.

-----

So those, in a nutshell, are the options we're currently working on pursuing.  Some of them I obviously like more than others.  Some of them would entail a lot more work than just the two days I've put into it so far, and believe me, I'm working on it.  I've also gotten a lot of really good ideas, suggestions, and feedback from the community.  I haven't responded to all of it yet because I really am getting slammed with messages while I'm trying to work on stuff (but don't stop!), so if you don't hear from me right away, that doesn't mean that I haven't read what you've written, it just means that I want to get out another post or respond to someone who sent me a message earlier than you did, or there's some other pressing matter I'm dropping everything for.  But do keep sending me stuff, because it is making my radar and influencing the directions we're going in!
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 02, 2012, 10:25:06 PM
Another option, "Plan Z", is probably the last resort - a new player funded and run superhero MMO, built to follow the design goals of the original, and with a new IP that's as close to the current IP as possible without alerting lawyers.
This would be making everything from scratch.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Empyrean on September 02, 2012, 10:58:37 PM
I don't know how realistic this is, but is it possible that a company would be interested in buying or licencing the rights to CoX and then developing a CoX 2 based on the same content but a new graphics engine.  One downside to that--other than it might be TOTAL pie in the sky--is that it might end up looking like spastic moving plastic dolls like Champions and DCUO.  One of the things I LOVE about CoX is that it actually looks like comic book art and the movement feels real.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 02, 2012, 11:18:42 PM
Graphics-wise, all we're really missing are player and NPC avatars with more polygons to make more curves, less straight lines, and fingers, dynamic shadows and ambient occulsion on mission maps,  and dynamic lighting for power effects.
Tech-wise, there's a bit more a new engine would need - asymetrical costume parts, costume parts with more than 2 color options, destructable environments, picking up and throwing objects, super speed up walls and over the surface of water, animated hair and faces,  multi-cape rigs and so on.
Animation--wise, there's no need for major changes - the animatiosn are already fluid and dramatic - the only changes might be more general ones, like allowing running and using powers at the same time, if a gameplay decsion was made to remove the concept of rooting form the game, for example - or power use while swimming/underwater was required.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: TonyV on September 02, 2012, 11:39:44 PM
I think that's a good long-term goal, but practically speaking, a new game engine takes years to develop.  Logistically speaking, even taking an existing game engine and licensing it would be extraordinarily hard to do and would take on the order of magnitude of probably a year or more under ideal circumstances.  I'm not ruling it out, but as Golden Girl says, I'm really keeping that in my back pocket as a plan Z, as it would probably be prohibitively expensive and by the time it's finished, people would be like, "City of Whats?"  Plus, for all of its warts, the existing game engine does have over ten years of enhancements and advances built into it.  It might be obscenely complicated, but it has proven very reliable.

I think that if we get to that point, the path would go something like: NCsoft agrees to let go of the IP and code, we or some other company keeps the game running for a few more years while building up enough funding to create a new engine, a team works for a few more years after that to actually create the engine, and sometime around 2015 or 2018, we'd have a new unencumbered engine powering CoH.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: jacknomind on September 02, 2012, 11:46:18 PM
Even if we can get only the IP but not the engine, we have something worth investing in.

By which I mean, something we can entice investors with.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 03, 2012, 12:08:55 AM
We might not need to build a new engine from scratch - a version of the unreal engine could be used, for example, which would cut down development time on CoH2 a lot.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: aryeonos on September 03, 2012, 02:36:38 AM
The current CoH engine is years old, and it's a spaghetti tangle right now. But carrying that engine on would be more cost effective than making a new one, even if it's a mutant engine of Unreal or Unity, we don't really have the years or money at our disposal. Just about any addition or modification to the game, even slight, will take a month, with a cohesive community team; and getting a good team is going to take time, but it can be done.

I think the best case scenario is a community owned project, which will still cost allot of money to run, but that money will be distributed across thousands of players. However, organizing all that will take allot of effort, we might be better off just founding our own company and try inviting some of the old dev team back so we can get working on CoX reincarnated faster. I really wouldn't trust most other companies to do it justice like a community founded company could, especially Blizzard/Activision.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 03, 2012, 02:53:19 AM
The current CoH engine is years old, and it's a spaghetti tangle right now. But carrying that engine on would be more cost effective than making a new one, even if it's a mutant engine of Unreal or Unity, we don't really have the years or money at our disposal. Just about any addition or modification to the game, even slight, will take a month, with a cohesive community team; and getting a good team is going to take time, but it can be done.

If we can get some of the devs onboard, then we wouldn't need as much time to figure out how the engine works.

Quote
I think the best case scenario is a community owned project, which will still cost allot of money to run, but that money will be distributed across thousands of players. However, organizing all that will take allot of effort, we might be better off just founding our own company and try inviting some of the old dev team back so we can get working on CoX reincarnated faster. I really wouldn't trust most other companies to do it justice like a community founded company could, especially Blizzard/Activision.

Seccuring the IP is still vital for any CoH2, unless we want the extra time and effort of putting togther a new IP.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: QuantumHero on September 03, 2012, 03:57:50 AM
Its hard to know exactly how to plan our "rise from the ashes" until we know what rights and data can be salvaged.

So what is COH?

COH is our community...number one priority is to make sure hold the community together and that we get contact info from as many players as possible.

After tha we have the most essential aspects of our interface and lore.

The NPC groups and general settings could technically be replaced but it would help to maintain the same feel if we still had the right to use all those things.

An AE and/or Ouroboros-like settng could be used to access player created mission and any intact content we are able to salvage if we are unable to maintain a full static world.

My husband also suggested using google earth to map real cities and use them for new content if needed.  I like the idea...but would also love some of the zones we've all dreamed of...historical zones, water, moon, etc.  Honestly what I care most about is having this game live...existing zones,recreated maps, or new content doesn't really matter.

Next we have th engine...it would b great to get everything (and there may still be an issue with cryptic ownership as well?).  If we can get the whole thing that would be fantastic but we would rise omehow without it...I know we would.

I've seen what modding communites can do with other games so I have a lot of faith in us...and marketing/writing experiance :)

As for the player data it would befantastc to get but I actually asked the players on justice earlier today if tey would care about restarted toons...and got a resounding answer...the game continueing to exist and the community continuin to exist are what matters.


This game is special...I am a female gamer and proud.  In my time playing (since beta) my husband and I have met so many other couples who also play...and have made some real life friends

Edit because my cat walked on the keyboard and caused an early post.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: laufeyjarson on September 03, 2012, 04:11:59 AM
I'm not sure I care about a "Reverse Engineer The Code" option.  It'll never be a legal solution, and will be relegated to a few die-hards torrenting around a homemade, hacky server and the final version of the client.  It might help keep a little of the momentum going, but at what cost?

I'm very excited by the "License the IP and code to us" option.  The idea of a community-owned MMO, that isn't held to the corporate demands of people who don't care, and often have impenetrable motives is extremely appealing.  I think it's time to see that happen, however it comes about.

I realize "writing our own" would be an incredible task... but this community has shown itself to be an incredible group of people.  If we had to come up with our own story, our own place, and our own game, we could.  Yes, it might take years, but what if we did it?  Didn't some of this community cheer Cryptic on through years of development, setbacks, and lateness?

I think it's perhaps a less attractive option to many people than "Save COH!" but I don't think a new, community-owned game should be ruled out.  Dynamic cloud-based hosting and operations are possible and only going to get cheaper; by the time a game is ready to be run on the large scale, perhaps that initial investment of a server farm will be moot, and we can ramp it up or down as needed.  I have no doubt that we could write one.  If all else fails, I think it's something to consider and discuss seriously.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Vhailor2003 on September 03, 2012, 04:33:49 AM
I am wondering if perhaps contacting Gabe and Tycho over at Penny Arcade at some point might be a good idea. They're both gamers and advocates for gamers, and a link on their front page has been known to generate enough interest to explode sites with traffic. Any thoughts?
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: TonyV on September 03, 2012, 04:41:55 AM
I'm not sure I care about a "Reverse Engineer The Code" option.  It'll never be a legal solution, and will be relegated to a few die-hards torrenting around a homemade, hacky server and the final version of the client.  It might help keep a little of the momentum going, but at what cost?

This option might be viable if we can acquire the IP rights to City of Heroes but not the software.  We could rebuild the server and use the IP rights to populate it with the characters, missions, stories, etc. that everyone is familiar with.  It would be a mostly transparent process, though it would probably take a while to get everything working on the back end.

I'm very excited by the "License the IP and code to us" option.  The idea of a community-owned MMO, that isn't held to the corporate demands of people who don't care, and often have impenetrable motives is extremely appealing.  I think it's time to see that happen, however it comes about.

I realize "writing our own" would be an incredible task... but this community has shown itself to be an incredible group of people.  If we had to come up with our own story, our own place, and our own game, we could.  Yes, it might take years, but what if we did it?  Didn't some of this community cheer Cryptic on through years of development, setbacks, and lateness?

I agree!  I've been saying for years that I wish they would incorporate more user-generated content into the canon of the game.  The usual response to that is two-fold: 1) user-generated content is usually not that good, and 2) there are legal ownership issues.  My response to those has always been: 1) I agree, but some of it is very good, and these gems should make it into the game, and 2) those are easily enough worked around with just a little bit of paperwork and motivation.

If it comes to the point where we have to create our content, either as new IP or as add-on content to IP we acquire, if we have control of the game, I would most certainly be open to user contributions to the game canon.  There are just too many talented and creative members of our community to bypass the goldmine of resources we'd have at our disposal.

I think it's perhaps a less attractive option to many people than "Save COH!" but I don't think a new, community-owned game should be ruled out.  Dynamic cloud-based hosting and operations are possible and only going to get cheaper; by the time a game is ready to be run on the large scale, perhaps that initial investment of a server farm will be moot, and we can ramp it up or down as needed.  I have no doubt that we could write one.  If all else fails, I think it's something to consider and discuss seriously.

Guy and Codewalker would have to be the ones handling this.  It's certainly not being ruled out, but new games are very expensive and very time-consuming to develop from scratch.  City of Heroes began development in 2001 and wasn't released until the middle of 2004.  If we absolutely, positively cannot work anything out and come to an impasse, I might be up for considering a crowd funded campaign to build a "spiritual successor" to City of Heroes.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: TonyV on September 03, 2012, 04:42:35 AM
I am wondering if perhaps contacting Gabe and Tycho over at Penny Arcade at some point might be a good idea. They're both gamers and advocates for gamers, and a link on their front page has been known to generate enough interest to explode sites with traffic. Any thoughts?

Absolutely, contacting notable personalities and the media is not just on the radar, it is in the pipeline.  Stay tuned.  ;)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Sleepykitty on September 03, 2012, 06:26:46 AM
o.o on increased user content.. while great, I suspect we'd run into the same problem paragon had with it.. to exploitable.. course, the community would have the manpower to actually have ppl go through and review bits before adding them too... but we'd likely need a whole new editing tool that works offline to allow ppl to build those missions and submit them..

Finding a new parent studio.. >_< pls not Blizzard.. pls pls pls not them... Valve would be great... even netdevil would be better than Blizzard/Activision... once activision has you in their hooks....

>.> and google earth.. I seem to recall ppl doing mods with it in minecraft to map worlds.. why haven't we done that yet for paragon and the islands.... not sure dumping actual cities into the game would be good though.. probably massive legal issues with landmarks and certain buildings.. and this is sounding a bit like stuff for the pipedreams page rather than possible options for going forward one..
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: NecrotechMaster on September 03, 2012, 07:36:31 AM
all of this sounds fantastic as a gameplan, i fear we may not really hear anything of this until after the holiday weekend, and IMO the anxiety/tension of what the answers are from the big name places is what i worry about

until we start to hear feedback from the publicity campaign its gonna be difficult to determine what the next step will be
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Sleepykitty on September 03, 2012, 07:49:32 AM
<.< its a holiday weekend, no one's there but the server staff and whats left of the GMs. We just have to be patient and do what we can right now.


o.o course, you can always plot crazy stuff... anyone tried getting the minecrafter's support? how about promising Steven Colbert the presidency in CoH land if he gives the drive air time? brain wash ppl with viral videos? >_> yeah.. I need sleep..
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Weasel X-01 on September 03, 2012, 08:50:23 AM
I don't think I live anywhere near any of the NCSoft buildings, but I was wondering if there was anyone planning some kind of peaceful demonstration? Perhaps have a large group of the CoH community show up at an office? Dressed in costumes? Holding up signs like the ones characters hold up with ;emote? I know if I had anywhere NCSoft related to go to out here in Ohio I'd jump on that in a heartbeat. Even if I was the only guy out there. Though I'd certainly hope I wouldn't be the only guy. That might not put a good amount of weight on the message.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: ROBOKiTTY on September 03, 2012, 12:14:06 PM
Whatever happens, I think it would be best to make the effort as open source as legally permissible, in order to prevent the very same thing from happening again.

<.< Look at what NCsoft did to Auto Assault, Dungeon Runners, Exteel, Tabula Rasa, et al. They not only kill projects but also bury them. We knew this could've happen to us at any time (regardless of whatever deals they had with Cryptic). It would not be out of character for NCsoft to turn hostile on Titan with their legal muscles (they did the same to people who tried to RE Tabula Rasa after its demise). If our only course of action turned out to be RE or licencing the IP/codebase, it would put us back to square one, at best.

With an open project, the community is the project. That would also make even non-CoH players more likely to contribute.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Soundtrack on September 03, 2012, 01:08:24 PM
Hi TonyV, et. al.,

First off, Tony...thanks for doing this and organizing/coordinating. It's a huge undertaking. I'm on board.

Secondly, I do find some appeal to Tony's suggestion here:

"Convince NCsoft to license the IP and code

The sad fact is that in today's litigious society, there's a chance that NCsoft either can't or won't want to part with the IP for certain legal reasons.  If that's the case, then perhaps the would be willing to sell us a license to use the game's IP, source code, and sell us distribution rights to the client so that they retain ownership of the assets, but we basically pay them "rent" to use them.

This isn't an ideal situation because it would still put us in the precarious position of continuing to depend on NCsoft's good will, but it has the appeal to NCsoft that it would be pure profit to them--unlike owning Paragon Studios, there would be no expenditures on their part to eat into their bottom line each month.

Through crowd funding or subscriptions, we could hire developers on a contractual basis to perform maintenance and perhaps even make steady improvements and changes to the server and client.
"

Yes, we'd have to depend on NCsoft's good will, but if there was some type of contract or "lease" if you will... then perhaps that would buy us time.

Also, it does sound like a win-win. NCsoft would be gaining profit and we'd keep our beloved City of Heroes/Villains.

There are thousands of us heroes and villains who roam the streets of Paragon City. As Tony has mentioned in other posts, with those numbers come hundreds (if not thousands) of professions, skills, and areas of expertise. Lawyers, public relations managers, advertisers, journalists. We got 'em all! Although I'm a school teacher, so I may not bring much to this scenario, I'll do what I can. Certainly, with all these expert secret identities, we can pool together and create something out of nothing. A 'Project Phoenix' if you will.

If only the NCSoft powers-that-be would just think about even accepting an invitation to an open dialogue...that would be tremendous!
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: QuantumHero on September 03, 2012, 03:10:11 PM
Okay now that I'm not posting on a phone :) Lets try a post without typos.

First I'd like to ask if we have confirmed that cryptic is not still/again part of this equation?  The way in which all of this went down feels like some sort of breakdown in negotiation....with someone.  Did a lease with cryptic expire?  Conversely is there the slightest chance cryptic would help us or merge the game with champions in some way that we would actually want?  I would honestly orefer either paragon studios going indie or COH to become ours...because its safest in the hands that love it...but our survival is priority one.

Something big happened here, for this to occur so suddenly and with no warning for our dev team.  I could speculate and make guesses, but we don't actualy know whether to actually be mad at NCsoft or not...could the real issue we have to overcome be outside preasure from another company with an existing or upcomming superhero MMO?  They claim to be refocusing so are we collateral damage or the main target?

We don't actually know if the main issue is financial or not...and the answer to those questions determine who we need at the negotiating table and what we are negotiating about.

This game has many aspects to it....if we could aquire and legally use every drop that is the ideal and should be our goal...of course.  But if we can get ANYTHING whatsoever...be it code or IP...honestly we could build something from the ashes.  If there are certain aspects of the IP or code that are sticking points then we change whatever we have to and adapt. 

For instance if we get the artwork, NPC groups, and engine but the signature charactors were held then they were all "lost" in whatever in-game event we concoct to explain the transition...same with any zones, missions, etc.

The engine coding is old and a lot of content has been merged with it over the years but if we could be given the rights even to the original disk data would that be enough to have a functional game running to hold this community together.  If on the other hand its cryptic data that is the problem could we throw the newer content on a new framework?  I'm not a programmer but I know enough to at least understand most of the discussions  ;)  A meeting area for socialization, teaming, and charactor maintenance tasks(unless those are handled in missions ala dfb) that contains portals to mission content would be all we need to keep the game going in the short term...IMO.

The interface and lore is what makes this game "feel" like COH so to me that is the most critical... but I completely understand how getting actual code and preferably some people familiar with it would help a great deal on the tech side.

The other thing we sould fight for as much as possible is for the right to archive, save, and preserve until all negotiations are concluded...even if held in the digital equivalent of an escrow situation.  We don't need people's credit cards...but the account and charactor data aside from credit cards would hopefully be less of an issue to transfer to a secure server.

Then there is all the data that was on test server...my knowledge of intellectual property is more toward books, tv, stage, & movies but I'm assuming that all work by paragon studios even unrealeased would be under work-for-hire and not elligible for us to aquire directly from them?  So would the test server build be easier or more difficult for us to legally aquire as far as content and code?

What about other aspects of the code that have been integrated in over the years.  For example: ragdoll physics?  Would the store be part of the deal or seperate?  Would we need to buy servers, physically take the existing ones to a new home, or remain hosted by NCsoft even if we owned the content?

These are all questions and I'm sure there are many more...until we have an open diolouge questions are going to be what they remain  :-\

I strongly believe this community of talented and dedicated individuals can salvage something, but legally is strongly preferred, there are a lot of "grey" areas we could exist in, if needed, but we cross that bridge if and when we have to. 

Just please believe its not all or nothing...we get whatever we can at whatever price we can manage...most importantly we get a guarentee that they won't try to shut us down or destroy anything prematurely.

Once we know who is willing to talk we ask for the IP and open source and/or the code, and user data if we can get it....we walk away with whatever we can and hopefully a legal leg to stand on...and we rise from the ashes...we survive as a community.

If by some miracle we get NCsoft to change thier minds completely, or give us everything including an option to partner with paragon...then its a relatively simple transition.

Whatever happens, if at all possible, we should try to get some sort of temporary COH of some kind up as close to the sunset point of coh as possible...even if its nothing more then a graphical chat room and encourage the community to test out whatever bits and pieces we can add as soon as we can.  Call it the COH refuge camp or something...at least we can recreate charactors and look out windows to see our lost world....maybe manage a few scaled down instanced events?  Or some way to play offline content?

I'm not a programer but lets just say immersion is something I understand very well...and I even have a few funding ideas.

Anyway I'm going to go back and lay while I can...because I'm hoping for the future...but missing game time right now hurts.

I salute you heroes.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: A Side Leader on September 03, 2012, 04:42:45 PM
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Bludgeon on September 03, 2012, 04:55:51 PM
One Additional Option - Though It May Taste Bad

Like many, COH is my first and only MMOG.  I have been part of the community for almost seven years.  And like many of you I am not chronologically a kid.  I have experience, resources, and don't like a bully.  NCSoft has taken payment for service to be rendered in the future.  Unless they plan on returning those funds, it seems that they may have exposed themselves to litigation.  A class action suit geared towards gaining the IP rather than a monetary settlement.  It is unlikely that we would not win the case, bu it is likely that NCSoft would not want to great dragged through the mud by an angry user community.  Rule one in a corporate crisis is control the story and control the media. Corporate image is a major asset that must be protected.....in this case, they can't. 

1. We are an online community and we are better at this shit than they are. 
2. We have nothing to loose...they have to play defense.
3. We have been wronged, and there isn't a gamer out there who will not see it from our perspective.
4. We can raise doubts in the minds of every NCSoft customer...they can't run from what they have done.

There are a number of other reasons that I could list, but you get the point.  In our community, I am sure that we can locate an attorney or two who would like nothing more than to shove a red hot polker up the arse of NCSoft. As I said, it is distasteful.  But it is a legitimate option for gaining control of the source code and IP.  After that we could consider placing the code in in escrow and establish a non-profit trust.  I don't think it would be hard to get folks to contribute...I know that I am in.

I DIDN'T CHOOSE MY HANDLE BECAUSE I PLAY NICE!  I play to win.  And some times you need to "wind up a big ass club and keep swinging until the screaming stops." *grin


My 2 cents...as always, I reserve the right to be wrong at all times.

-- Blu
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: jordanhb on September 03, 2012, 05:29:13 PM
One Additional Option - Though It May Taste Bad

Like many, COH is my first and only MMOG.  I have been part of the community for almost seven years.  And like many of you I am not chronologically a kid.  I have experience, resources, and don't like a bully.  NCSoft has taken payment for service to be rendered in the future.  Unless they plan on returning those funds, it seems that they may have exposed themselves to litigation.  A class action suit geared towards gaining the IP rather than a monetary settlement.  It is unlikely that we would not win the case, bu it is likely that NCSoft would not want to great dragged through the mud by an angry user community.  Rule one in a corporate crisis is control the story and control the media. Corporate image is a major asset that must be protected.....in this case, they can't. 

1. We are an online community and we are better at this shit than they are. 
2. We have nothing to loose...they have to play defense.
3. We have been wronged, and there isn't a gamer out there who will not see it from our perspective.
4. We can raise doubts in the minds of every NCSoft customer...they can't run from what they have done.

There are a number of other reasons that I could list, but you get the point.  In our community, I am sure that we can locate an attorney or two who would like nothing more than to shove a red hot polker up the arse of NCSoft. As I said, it is distasteful.  But it is a legitimate option for gaining control of the source code and IP.  After that we could consider placing the code in in escrow and establish a non-profit trust.  I don't think it would be hard to get folks to contribute...I know that I am in.

I DIDN'T CHOOSE MY HANDLE BECAUSE I PLAY NICE!  I play to win.  And some times you need to "wind up a big ass club and keep swinging until the screaming stops." *grin


My 2 cents...as always, I reserve the right to be wrong at all times.

-- Blu

While it's good to see ideas, I just don't see this one as realistic.  First off, I'm pretty sure we couldn't sue them to get their intellectual property.  I'm pretty sure that's not allowed, unless we can somehow prove we have some sort of claim to it.  The only way I could see us getting it in a lawsuit is if we won and they didn't have enough to pay us. 

Second, it's wrong to say we as a community have nothing to lose.  Lawyers and lawsuits are expensive.  We could end up wasting a lot of people's time and money.  I work hard for my money, and so does everyone else.  I'm willing to use some of it to try to keep CoH alive, but only if I think it has a real chance of success. 

And finally, I don't think that a lawsuit will really be an option in the first place.  I wrote NCSoft billing support an e-mail yesterday asking about a refund for my Paragon Points, since I had a decent number of them that there's no point in spending.  Their response is quoted below.

Quote
Hello,
 
We would first like to thank you for your support of City of Heroes. It is never easy to make this kind of decision. You can read the official announcement at http://na.cityofheroes.com/en/news/news_archive/thank_you.php. There is a discussion on the forums that you are free to join at http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showthread.php?t=295621.
 
For refunds of unused time or unspent Paragon Points, we will be contacting those players directly with information. Please watch the website for any official updates as soon as they are available.
 
City of Heroes will be available for at least the next three months. We are working on something special for our VIP and Premium players.  As soon as these plans are ready, they will be announced on the website and the forums.
 
Regards,
The City of Heroes Support Team

So it sounds like they're going to be giving out refunds, which pretty much kills the idea of a lawsuit on that basis.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Soundtrack on September 03, 2012, 05:40:10 PM
Unless the "we are working on something special for our VIP and Premium members" equates to "Complimentary credit/time on one of our other fantastic MMOs."

If that's the case, I'd just as soon have my money back, thanks.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Magia on September 03, 2012, 06:02:34 PM
I have a question... something I've been trying to research on the legal front.

If there's a possibility there *might* be a case, there's a chance we could use that. As people have mentioned, legal stuff is expensive... as is bad PR. Someone would be able to put together something using phrases like "I/We feel that...", "I/We understand that it might be the case that..." etc etc, to raise with them that there might be a case before it necessarily gets too far. The idea is to add to the pressure to come up with a better solution, not necessarily to actually have to use this. Even so, we'd need to know that the idea is solid enough first.

So... within the last year, many of us have bought game content under the expectation that we would be able to use it. I'm citing the last year, since that seems like a pretty reasonable period of time to me. I guess statute of limitations type parameters might apply, but I don't know. Part of the reason I'm posting here, is so people who know, or know people who would know, can find out the answers and keep us posted. Now, regardless of all the disclaimers in the user agreement thingy, I expect there is a chance that removing the ability to use the content we have purchased, *could* be considered to make the original basis of the purchase fraudulent. We put the money in, and now, I for one, feel a bit cheated. I live on a really tight budget, and need every penny! Had I known I wouldn't be able to use the content, I doubt I would have paid for it. I expect I would have continued my standard subscription and continued playing existing alts, but certainly would have thought again about buying new powersets, costume items and other game content. Buying these items is an investment in something we believe we will be able to use and enjoy in the future, not just in the immediate month after, but way beyond that.

If anyone can confirm whether there is a *reasonable chance* that they could be considered to have sold content on a fraudulent basis, then it might be helpful to know. This is not necessarily because we want to use it to go on the attack... but if we think there's a chance we *could* I guess it might add to the pressure. The aforementioned solutions of selling the game/transferring ownership could get around the issue for NC Soft, since they could ensure that (and might need to write it in anyway to any sale transfer docs to cover their asses) as far as they are concerned, the content would be usable under the basis and understanding upon which it was purchased within whatever the statute of limitations boundaries are- if that's the appropriate bit of legislation to use...

Of course they could give us our money back too... that might well be cheaper for them actually. Though the bad PR, and the potential impact of that, might be worth a bit more to them.

Like I say, the question is more, is there a case to be made- thus making it something we could use to help *encourage* them to come up with a more positive solution? Answers and echoed responses from any friendly lawyers you know who might be able to offer a more concrete answer on a postcard please! Mmm... yes... there was a mention of postcards somewhere.
Title: Re: One more avenue to try
Post by: QuantumHero on September 03, 2012, 10:36:05 PM
I have one more possible parter for us...it might be a long shot..but bear with me.

I was at universal studios in florida recently...the have a super hero island filled with marvel themed charactors (marvel know being under the auspices of disney...thier direct competitor)...I know they have perpetual theme park rights to those charactors...but to further flesh out thier island and maybe have some film fodder, to be able to work with an independent property...I wouldn't expect them to build us a life size version of COH but if the even gave us a small representation on super hero island/invested in the game...I'm not exactly sure how or what we could pitch to universal but I feel as if there is a chance of something useful occuring.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Talionis on September 03, 2012, 11:10:39 PM
I don't know a lot about RPGS's but are there any free source code that a game engine could be created from?  DOTA comes to mind as they created a game with mostly user content even though you had to by the older Warcraft game and then download the map. 

Is there a possibility of using an open source code mmorpg with engines and then getting enough people to make a shadow version of CoH? 

I am doubting we would get access to the intellectual property, but if all the old players moved the community to something that was Super Hero based, maybe we could create our own CoH2.

Prettiest graphics has never been important to me, just a game that plays well.  In fact the whole world could be like AE.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Olantern on September 04, 2012, 12:38:09 AM
I'd like to help out with the effort to save City of Heroes for several reasons.

First, I just plain like the game.  It's been a big part of my life for seven+ years now.

Second, while I am usually the voice of doom on ideas like this, I find the idea of a game's players rescuing it from dissolution inspiring.  It's something I'd be proud to be part of.

Third, and following on from the last point, I may be able to volunteer something to the effort.  I'm an attorney, and while IP and transactional work are NOT my field, I'll contribute whatever expertise I can.  (As an aside, I don't think the notion of suing NCSoft or threatening suit is a viable option.  The suit is unlikely to succeed, and because the likelihood of success is so low, it approaches being a frivolous suit.  (This IS something I know a lot about; I'm a law professor and have written on the subject of frivolous litigation.))  I'm also employed solely as a part-time academic, which gives me a fair amount of free time to contribute. 

Anyway, the reason I'm posting this is to let TonyV, who's managing the organizational side of this stuff, that I'm willing to help out.  Tony, please PM me here or on the official fora if you think there's somewhere I could be of use.

As a preliminary matter, it might be worth contacting someone at Paragon Studios and talking to Legal once the community has a better idea of how it wants to proceed.  It would be particularly helpful to know exactly what IP rights NCSoft purchased when it bought the development rights from Cryptic and if there are any restrictions they contain.  For example, if the deal contained something about NCSoft agreeing not to sell the rights for twenty years, any attempt to purchase them, by community or other publisher, is more or less dead in the water.

Anyway, feel free to ask for help, once some kind of plan is in place.  I promise nothing, but I'm happy to consider what I can.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: laufeyjarson on September 04, 2012, 04:08:34 AM
This option might be viable if we can acquire the IP rights to City of Heroes but not the software.  We could rebuild the server and use the IP rights to populate it with the characters, missions, stories, etc. that everyone is familiar with.  It would be a mostly transparent process, though it would probably take a while to get everything working on the back end.

Yes, I see that it's a valid idea there.  If we have rights, but no code, making it keep working gives a chance to do something better, and keep people playing.  That's valuable.  I was, honestly, discounting that option.  Perhaps prematurely.

I agree!  I've been saying for years that I wish they would incorporate more user-generated content into the canon of the game.  The usual response to that is two-fold: 1) user-generated content is usually not that good, and 2) there are legal ownership issues.  My response to those has always been: 1) I agree, but some of it is very good, and these gems should make it into the game, and 2) those are easily enough worked around with just a little bit of paperwork and motivation.

If it comes to the point where we have to create our content, either as new IP or as add-on content to IP we acquire, if we have control of the game, I would most certainly be open to user contributions to the game canon.  There are just too many talented and creative members of our community to bypass the goldmine of resources we'd have at our disposal.

Guy and Codewalker would have to be the ones handling this.  It's certainly not being ruled out, but new games are very expensive and very time-consuming to develop from scratch.  City of Heroes began development in 2001 and wasn't released until the middle of 2004.  If we absolutely, positively cannot work anything out and come to an impasse, I might be up for considering a crowd funded campaign to build a "spiritual successor" to City of Heroes.

This community waited for the game's initial release.  They drove Cryptic on through several false starts and pushed to see it come out at all.  It was sort of a miracle.  They absorbed change after change, noisily, but generally they stayed.  "The purple patch", "regen nerfs", "Defense adjustment", E. D, PVP re-vamps... and they asked for more.  They worked out new mechanics, and offered solutions to bugs.  If the answer is to tell the core, "The Phoenix Project Will Rise Again" and start work on a new engine... well, I think there's a bunch of people who'd be all for that.

While Paragon can copyright their IP, rules to games can't be copyrighted.  The community knows (sometimes better than the dev team) how things work, and can implement those same rules, or an improved variant of them.

How many creative players have written whole worlds for their backstories?  We absolutely could come up with a new universe of our own.

The software... well, I searched today and found an open source MMO toolkit.  Haven't downloaded it and looked at it in any detail today, but there's a server and a client both, all under the eminently usable MIT license.  I think we have an advantage over the original team that there's been almost ten more years of tools development.

All this being said, yes, it's still a huge amount of work.  Yes, it's still going to take a long time.  I don't know how to find all the right people we'd need - writers, designers, artists, programmers, testers - it's a really big task.

I don't think that makes it impossible, though.

I don't think it should be the first choice, but I don't want to see the naysayers run it over.  Perhaps even if another publisher does keep today's COH running, it should be considered anyway.  That way we, as the community, could make sure this never happens again.

I suspect I need to talk to Guy and Codewalker.  :)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 04, 2012, 05:35:25 AM
Is there a possibility of using an open source code mmorpg with engines and then getting enough people to make a shadow version of CoH? 

I am doubting we would get access to the intellectual property, but if all the old players moved the community to something that was Super Hero based, maybe we could create our own CoH2.

This is something that I've been working on since the announcement - it's still the absolute last ditch option though - but it needs to be ready, just in case.
The idea would be to create a superhero setting that was as close to CoH as possible, but not breaking copyright - and the fact that so much of the CoH setting is built on classic comicbook themes makes it easier to get close to the CoH setting  without being accused of copyright.

Neither Cryptic or NCSoft invented fictional cities, alien invaders, Nazis, outlandish street gangs, fascists, secretive paramilitary groups, superhero teams, giant monsters, dimension devouring gods, over the top evil organizations, time travel, mirror universes, steampunk, anceint Rome, sinister magical cults, Greek, Celtic, Slavic and Middle Eastern mythology, insanely complicated schemes from villainous masterminds, corrupt corporations, fictional United Nations and Federal organizations, mutants, volcano bases, giant robots, zombies and many, many other things.

NCSoft might think that they can take everything from us, but they can't take the spirit of the digital world we all call home.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: emu265 on September 04, 2012, 06:50:58 AM
This is something that I've been working on since the announcement - it's still the absolute last ditch option though - but it needs to be ready, just in case.
The idea would be to create a superhero setting that was as close to CoH as possible, but not breaking copyright - and the fact that so much of the CoH setting is built on classic comicbook themes makes it easier to get close to the CoH setting  without being accused of copyright.

Neither Cryptic or NCSoft invented fictional cities, alien invaders, Nazis, outlandish street gangs, fascists, secretive paramilitary groups, superhero teams, giant monsters, dimension devouring gods, over the top evil organizations, time travel, mirror universes, steampunk, anceint Rome, sinister magical cults, Greek, Celtic, Slavic and Middle Eastern mythology, insanely complicated schemes from villainous masterminds, corrupt corporations, fictional United Nations and Federal organizations, mutants, volcano bases, giant robots, zombies and many, many other things.

NCSoft might think that they can take everything from us, but they can't take the spirit of the digital world we all call home.

I do not disagree with you, Golden Girl.  This is an attractive last ditch option.  However, moving a portion of the playerbase to a new MMO proves to be something of a problem.  While the developers of said MMO can avoid copyright in a technical sense, we may not be able to avoid a suit if people start calling it "CoH2" or any variant of that.  I'm not saying we would lose a lawsuit, but...  a lawsuit in general would create a headache that may cripple the game. 

This is all just conjecture, obviously.  But if we're serious about this option (i.e. making it ready), we need to consider any and all possible issues in full.

I do not know to what extent this is being done, so I apologize if this is been-there-heard-that to you.  I do like the idea :)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: hd on September 04, 2012, 07:21:37 AM
If NCSoft's problems are much bigger than can be solved by the cashflow injection of up to 3 months' development time on CoH (one of their smaller revenue generators) then they may be hoping for the rest of their own rescue to come from their very next product releases. If that doesn't pan out then an appointed receiver might have a different perspective on what to make from the bits left lying around. Might make our prospects better, or might make them worse. Let's move swiftly but not burn any bridges. I really like the plans so far as presented by TonyV, and keep up the brainstorming. I especially like any ideas to avoid irreversible destruction of data.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: laufeyjarson on September 04, 2012, 08:06:39 AM
This is something that I've been working on since the announcement - it's still the absolute last ditch option though - but it needs to be ready, just in case.
The idea would be to create a superhero setting that was as close to CoH as possible, but not breaking copyright - and the fact that so much of the CoH setting is built on classic comicbook themes makes it easier to get close to the CoH setting  without being accused of copyright.

Like emu265, I don't think this is a bad option.

I think it can be let lie until other options have been exhausted.  The other things people are trying to do are clearly more direct solutions to the problem NCsoft has posed by announcing the closure if the game.

It may even be that the community should do both; get the game a new home to run for a while, and then start work on a replacement.  An open, community-driven replacement that isn't bound to the commercial vagaries of corporate needs and marketing.

It might also be a way to undo some of the potential story problems that CoH has accreted over the years.  Any story that has alternate universes or time travel is really easy to screw up.  CoH has had both for a long time, and has had several writers and teams responsible for them.  I actually can't think of any giant holes off the top of my head, which is darn impressive considering how many people have had their fingers in this storyline.  I'm sure if we go over to Paragon Wiki someone has a list.  :)

My point is that perhaps this isn't an either/or alternative.  Even if we get a stay of execution for CoH, that's all it might be.  A new place, with it's own goals and support might not have that concern.

I'm not going to push too hard on this; it's early days yet.  We're not even through the weekend after the announcement!  The community team working on reaching NCsoft hasn't had a chance to call during business hours.  Our letters haven't had a chance to hit the post.  Nothing to worry about and no reason to focus on this difficult task... yet.

However, if others are interested in talking about it, so would I.  I'm not sure the best place to do that without interrupting the more timely work that's going on right now.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Soundtrack on September 04, 2012, 12:43:03 PM
I'm hoping this is the correct place to brainstorm options and ideas.

This morning, as I was getting ready for my secret identity work (school teacher)... I thought that perhaps if NCSoft could see that we players want to help THEM, they might see things differently. That it's not "us vs. them", but that we're ready to play proverbial ball with them.

If, just if... we could maybe convince them to give us one year, we could double the customers. That would mean that each current paying customer would have one year to find just ONE more family member/co-worker/friend to sign on and become a paying customer. We could call it "A Year to Double" campaign. We wouldn't ask for comp time for either accounts (the giver or the recipient). Heck, I would even pay for my friend to play for the first month to get him hooked. (That's just the type of friend I am! ;) )

Of course, not everybody could find one person to play, but there are those of us who might be able to find MORE than one friend to play...and take up the slack. And yes, this could happen if those people who are able to financially handle it can purchase two accounts on their own. 2 x $15 = $30. A dollar a day to save this game? Yes... count me in. (And yes, I'm aware that people are on fixed incomes, so this suggestion isn't for everybody.)

That might just be appealing to the COH Powers-that-be. Give us a year and we'll double your income from this game. Or at least give us a year to show you we'll try our hardest to do that. :)

I understand it might not happen, and/or they might not go for it...but at the very least they'll see our commitment to a game that they were just going to toss in the recycle bin...(actually, the trash bin). They'll see that we want to play ball (as I mentioned) and the positive P.R. can't hurt them at this point, that's for sure.

And besides, would they rather our doubling efforts go towards them, or to their competitors?

Again, I'm just brainstorming. :)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: TerryXY on September 04, 2012, 01:37:13 PM
Hey all,

i just registered here because it is so overwhelming how everyone is so passioned to help. I can't believe CoH is going to shut down. I saw some of the options and i would love to help too. I'm working as a coder and also working with game engines. So i got plenty of experience i can share at this topic, i even contributed to the "CoH emu/S.E.G.S" long time ago, as a learning project for myself.

About the option to "re make" the game. It is definiately possible to re create such a big game, because we do have a concept, there is no need to re invent the wheel. There are plenty of free engines, which are up to date and can perform as good as the ones where you pay trillions of dollars for licensing. With a decent team of programmers, you could set up such "MMO Environment" withing a few months(if everyone can spare a few hours per day). Of course only basic gameplay. No such things as architect.
Creating the arts, the maps, missions, etc is what makes me worry. It takes a huge amount of time to recreate those things. But i don't see much of a problem if we are allowed to use the assets of CoH.

I would love to help working on such a big project. I'm pretty sure if this is the route to go, there will be a few more coders that would love to contribute and work on this game as an open source project or some kind.

Just my two cents!
(p.s. to the people who think it is not possible or atleast not possible to "re code" those mechanics within a few months, you are wrong! We don't have to create a new engine for this. There are many many open-source engines, that provides us with the tools to create such a MMO without spending millions of hours/money to create the basics)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Talionis on September 04, 2012, 02:57:31 PM
I do not disagree with you, Golden Girl.  This is an attractive last ditch option.  However, moving a portion of the playerbase to a new MMO proves to be something of a problem.  While the developers of said MMO can avoid copyright in a technical sense, we may not be able to avoid a suit if people start calling it "CoH2" or any variant of that.  I'm not saying we would lose a lawsuit, but...  a lawsuit in general would create a headache that may cripple the game. 

This is all just conjecture, obviously.  But if we're serious about this option (i.e. making it ready), we need to consider any and all possible issues in full.

I do not know to what extent this is being done, so I apologize if this is been-there-heard-that to you.  I do like the idea :)

The problem of it being informally called CoH2 isn't a terrible problem to overcome.  Truth is a defense, the player base of CoH built and would have to pay for a world "similar" to CoH because the owners of the original license stopped using the license.  The group (non-profit/outside company/group of people) who create the Mod of whatever free engine lurks out there could not use the title "City of Heroes" or "City of Heroes 2" (evidently NCSoft owns that license too), but so long as you don't use specific names like Freedom Phalanx most of the genres of the enemies and the world can be genericed and the intellectual property would not be invalidated. 

I don't want to say there isn't a fine line of how close can you get to the old COH before you violate a copyright.  Its something to stay aware of.  But I think the CoH community could do an awful lot to create a similar MMO to CoH that could be our CoH2, even if we can never call it that. 

I doubt we could port characters over.  In a lot of ways we would have to start fresh.  We may have to have slightly different leveling mechanics, but most of things super heroes do though are so similar that you can't copyright them.  They are public domain if you will.  This is a viable option.  --

Actually that makes me wonder if there isn't another company out there trying to make a Super Hero MMO that might not want the input from our community to build a game.  That might be the most logical option of all.  Create a council of top members from our community to go to a MMO studio and advise them on what worked best in our community.

Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: ROBOKiTTY on September 04, 2012, 03:05:14 PM
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Mister Bison on September 04, 2012, 03:42:57 PM
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Paula on September 04, 2012, 03:57:55 PM
I just wanted to say that I'm absolutely on board with whatever options this community moves forward with, because Titan Network has had my loyalty and trust for years.  I'm generally pretty keep-to-myself, but it finally occurred to me that giving a Thumbs Up wouldn't be distracting TonyV & crew from their work, since right now is when votes of support help keep that momentum... :D 

The first thing I did when I heard the news was come over here to see what Titan Network was doing about it, because my first thought was "Surely we have options, and surely Titan Network is all over them!"  You've never let me down, folks, and TonyV in particular is a true champion on this.  Professionalism, positivity, and cohesion all round.  Wherever this all goes, y'all have always had my back when I needed CoX info, and I'm stoked at the chance to help out in any way I can.  Yay us!

Much Love to All y'all...

Paula
(of the old Knowledge is Power Tips from the back pages of the original comic, an occasional COH-comic (http://bellsouthpwp.net/N/e/Nevena-TES/) hosted on a dead ISP-account I can't access anymore, the AE Tutorial, and a couple story arcs that were decidedly less-well-received than the tutorial... ;) )
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: emu265 on September 04, 2012, 04:03:19 PM
And a first time we could prevent a game from closing. Think about it: MMOs are one the only kind of game you can't play after it's been closed ! never ever ! well, except community efforts. How worse can it get ? People everywhere complain about languages becoming extinct, what about gameplays and IPs ?

If possible, we should aim at making illegal this kind of closure, an MMO should be preserved instead of closed.

Interesting.

I am not aware of any legal basis for making the closure of an MMO illegal, but hey I'm not in law school quite yet.  However, I'm sure that whatever we are able to accomplish with this effort will set standards.  If we are successful in some way, which I earnestly believe is possible, this sort of thing may stick.  Cities is an incredible exception to the rules in the case of most MMOs, let's do it justice. 
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: downix on September 04, 2012, 04:09:31 PM
This guy on the forums says he has a Hero Engine subscription. Might want to talk to him.

http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showpost.php?p=4379491&postcount=2202
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: epawtows on September 04, 2012, 05:02:04 PM
If there is one thing CoH players know how to do, it's figure out alternate names when the one you want is taken. :)

If we can't call a replacement "City of Heroes", then call it "Heroes of the City".  I think we'll all get it.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: zybron on September 04, 2012, 05:05:17 PM
I love City of Heroes as much as everyone else here, but there is something very appealing in the thought of a player owned, open source, community MMORPG. Personally, I think Plan Z wouldn't be such a bad thing. And, if it does come to that, I'd be happy to help out. I'm a software developer and though I typically work on business software in my day job that does mean I have plenty of database experience and would be happy to help out in any capacity I can.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: SkyStreak on September 04, 2012, 05:27:53 PM
I definitely think that 'playing nice' is our best option, but I think drumming up support from other game communities (particularly those who play NCsoft titles) by going the "Are YOU next!?!" route might not be such a bad idea.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: nemerle on September 04, 2012, 05:35:24 PM
Whenever working on the server got me down, I'd fantasize about writing the engine, and client-server communications from scratch, it'd save sooo much time, but then the problem of writing the whole client from scratch always entered the picture :(
Remember that CoX engine has some pretty unique features, and selecting some available game engine would still require a rather large amount of work.

TerryXY, what were you called back then ?
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Talionis on September 04, 2012, 05:39:34 PM
If there is one thing CoH players know how to do, it's figure out alternate names when the one you want is taken. :)

If we can't call a replacement "City of Heroes", then call it "Heroes of the City".  I think we'll all get it.

I too like the name "Heroes of the City"  it has a good ring...
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: ROBOKiTTY on September 04, 2012, 05:50:04 PM
This guy on the forums says he has a Hero Engine subscription. Might want to talk to him.

http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showpost.php?p=4379491&postcount=2202

I'd be wary of proprietary dependencies in a community project. We should strive for all non-trivial dependencies, IMO, to be at the very least source-available, accessible, and without time limits. HeroEngine looks like it comes with a host of proprietary dependencies as well. While it would streamline development and deployment, I'd be careful about making a commitment.

Two things about HeroEngine immediately jump out as dealbreakers to me: 1) developers are locked into HeroScript, which is proprietary. Native code is restricted to DLLs that go through their plugin API. This is essentially the same thing with Unreal Engine and means very non-portable code. 2) Although their server runs on Linux and CentOS, the client and all development tools are for Windows/DirectX (with Linux/Mac and OpenGL support on their roadmap). This would alienate our Mac users.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: ROBOKiTTY on September 04, 2012, 05:52:05 PM
Whenever working on the server got me down, I'd fantasize about writing the engine, and client-server communications from scratch, it'd save sooo much time, but then the problem of writing the whole client from scratch always entered the picture :(

I've always thought it was incredible that you stuck with the project for so long. With enough strong developers like you, we should be able to do anything. 8)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: The White Rager on September 04, 2012, 06:06:26 PM
I noticed the article we got on addictiveinfo had a bit of info I hadn't heard before: it stated that Nexon is a major shareholder of NCSoft and has been putting pressure on them due to their (overall - wasn't our fault) redline quarter. I don't think anyone's suggested that angle yet. Where we the community couldn't succeed, perhaps they would? We might divert some effort towards convincing Nexon that NCSoft is making a really bad move, and it might be in their best interest to dissuade them. 'Hey Nexon, you know NCSoft's bad year? Well they've decided to axe a steadily 10 mill profit game instead of the ones that lost money." Obviously we'd use very different words  ;D, but it might work. They have what to lose from NCSoft screwing up, and the push to make a point NCSoft wont' be able to just ignore.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: WanderingAries on September 04, 2012, 06:07:42 PM
This would alienate our Mac users.
Which is something you Definitely don't want to do. If anything, we want to encourage Mac compatibility as more people are starting to surface as Mac Gamers.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: TerryXY on September 04, 2012, 06:26:25 PM
I'd be wary of proprietary dependencies in a community project. We should strive for all non-trivial dependencies, IMO, to be at the very least source-available, accessible, and without time limits. HeroEngine looks like it comes with a host of proprietary dependencies as well. While it would streamline development and deployment, I'd be careful about making a commitment.

Two things about HeroEngine immediately jump out as dealbreakers to me: 1) developers are locked into HeroScript, which is proprietary. Native code is restricted to DLLs that go through their plugin API. This is essentially the same thing with Unreal Engine and means very non-portable code. 2) Although their server runs on Linux and CentOS, the client and all development tools are for Windows/DirectX (with Linux/Mac and OpenGL support on their roadmap). This would alienate our Mac users.

I agree, i wouldnt choose such an engine. They may offer alot of nice to have tools, but most of them we dont even need. Im pretty sure the 100$ per year license has some downsides. There are free engines like jmonkey engine, written in java(and for those who think java is horrible/slow, thats bullshit and old information.)  which provides all the tools we need. Im pretty sure there are alot of old java experts within the CoH community that would love to contribute.
@nemerle cant remember my name, must be something like 2face or terry. its quite a bit ago, i remember and a guy called fork. I did some packet sniffing and stuff. couldnt help much back then, since im more into .net and java.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Paula on September 04, 2012, 06:29:00 PM
Which is something you Definitely don't want to do. If anything, we want to encourage Mac compatibility as more people are starting to surface as Mac Gamers.

Just to chime in, if we find ourselves with a player-driven programming situation, if we could have "official" compatibility with Mac & Linux, we'd be in a Gaming Tier of Awesomeness shared by precious, precious few games out there...

(My best friend games on a Mac, and I dual-boot Ubuntu/Win7)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: ROBOKiTTY on September 04, 2012, 07:06:16 PM
I agree, i wouldnt choose such an engine. They may offer alot of nice to have tools, but most of them we dont even need. Im pretty sure the 100$ per year license has some downsides. There are free engines like jmonkey engine, written in java(and for those who think java is horrible/slow, thats bullshit and old information.)  which provides all the tools we need. Im pretty sure there are alot of old java experts within the CoH community that would love to contribute.
@nemerle cant remember my name, must be something like 2face or terry. its quite a bit ago, i remember and a guy called fork. I did some packet sniffing and stuff. couldnt help much back then, since im more into .net and java.

Well, I didn't expect to hear about jMonkeyEngine here. I've been working with jMonkey for a year and had just submitted my first patch to it days before the news about CoX came out... But yeah, the performance is quite decent, and the rendering is delegated to C code anyhow. The Java front-end just provides a safer abstraction, like scripting in any other game engine. In CoX terms, it's one way of reducing the likelihood of minor logic changes introducing new system-melting crash bugs.

Besides, given the spaghetti hackery that is CoX, I've seen more performant/robust 3d MMO clients in Flash.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Codewalker on September 04, 2012, 07:13:18 PM
Besides, given the spaghetti hackery that is CoX, I've seen more performant/robust 3d MMO clients in Flash.

On the bright side, spaghetti code with lots of global variables, if() trees, and gotos is a lot easier to follow in a machine code debugger than object-oriented code with 20 layers of abstraction. :)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 04, 2012, 07:31:11 PM
Any engine decision would have to be based on the simple question of "war walls, yes or no?".
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: TerryXY on September 04, 2012, 07:39:55 PM
Any engine decision would have to be based on the simple question of "war walls, yes or no?".

Well this is more a design decision, not an engine issue. With proper coding you can have a open world just like WoW. You can easily have hundred-thousands of objects in "one world" without "zoning",... just need to let the player know what is "interesting" for him and what not. Because player A is not interested what player B is doing 200 miles away.
You can also have like a map server for every zone. Lots of possibilities here. And yeah i brought jMonkey up because im using it since like 7-8 months now, and got stuck with it because its just amazing. It is definiatly capable handling such a project.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Mister Bison on September 04, 2012, 07:50:26 PM
Basically it's just a back-end way of fractionning the world piece by piece and passing the player from zones to zones, but the thing still looks like the assets just take so much space in memory you have to load them separately on the client.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Bjork on September 04, 2012, 07:59:32 PM
One of the things Champions Online did right was to have One World and then create different instances when one filled up. This in my opinion would allow a much more cohesive world, I hope it is something that is given some consideration.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 04, 2012, 08:50:02 PM
One of the things Champions Online did right was to have One World and then create different instances when one filled up. This in my opinion would allow a much more cohesive world, I hope it is something that is given some consideration.

That kind of "serverless environment" is totally what we should be looking at if we're forced to try and set up our own superhero game.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Sleepykitty on September 04, 2012, 08:53:46 PM
I noticed the article we got on addictiveinfo had a bit of info I hadn't heard before: it stated that Nexon is a major shareholder of NCSoft and has been putting pressure on them due to their (overall - wasn't our fault) redline quarter. I don't think anyone's suggested that angle yet. Where we the community couldn't succeed, perhaps they would? We might divert some effort towards convincing Nexon that NCSoft is making a really bad move, and it might be in their best interest to dissuade them. 'Hey Nexon, you know NCSoft's bad year? Well they've decided to axe a steadily 10 mill profit game instead of the ones that lost money." Obviously we'd use very different words  ;D, but it might work. They have what to lose from NCSoft screwing up, and the push to make a point NCSoft wont' be able to just ignore.

<_< the figures presented in that are a bit off, we don't make them 10mill a year in net profits. Most financial info you'll find for NCsoft is for the parent company, and is presented in KRW, or South Korean won. according to their report last year the net profit from CoH was 2,855krw... the problem with that is, krw trades 1 South Korean won to 0.0009 US dollars, so that number is missing quite a few 0s in it..

For those interested in this, the 2012 Q2 report to investors (http://global.ncsoft.com/global/board/attachmentfile.aspx?BID=ir_pr&BNo=25&No=0)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 04, 2012, 08:59:04 PM
Well this is more a design decision, not an engine issue. With proper coding you can have a open world just like WoW. You can easily have hundred-thousands of objects in "one world" without "zoning",... just need to let the player know what is "interesting" for him and what not. Because player A is not interested what player B is doing 200 miles away.
You can also have like a map server for every zone. Lots of possibilities here. And yeah i brought jMonkey up because im using it since like 7-8 months now, and got stuck with it because its just amazing. It is definiatly capable handling such a project.

I'm just going by the frequent reports of the trouble that SWTOR is having with a badly optimized Hero Engine - so they're either missing good coding, which would be a little weird when they've had that kind of budget and years to develop the game - or they might have made a poor choice of engine at the start.
With about 1% of their budget, we're going to have to be extra careful that we pick an engine that will do what we want, and won't be insanely hard to optimize.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: ROBOKiTTY on September 04, 2012, 09:54:15 PM
On the bright side, spaghetti code with lots of global variables, if() trees, and gotos is a lot easier to follow in a machine code debugger than object-oriented code with 20 layers of abstraction. :)

Ahahaha. ;D That would still require that we have our hands on the server binaries though... or are we talking about the client?

I've messed with stuff in the past and managed to change some visual effects. Purely client-side but still fun to see.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Hellfist on September 04, 2012, 10:15:05 PM
I think the unreal 4 engine would be great base and easy to up date 
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: DeathSentry on September 04, 2012, 10:32:49 PM
I just want to say THANK YOU for this effort! I tried to explain to my friends, etc the impact of this to which of course, they all said "aw grow up, its just a game".  But you all know its much more than that; its a community that I've spent years with, like an old friend, and characters created/hours spent/experiences had with my first and only real MMO experience!  And since the advent of AE, I've been almost obsessed with creating content.

Imagine, the ability to write a story, dialogue, direct the action, develop totally new and customization characters, and well, add music/soundtracks to the story if you record and then share it on networks like Youtube for others to enjoy.  What greater creative outlet can there be?!!

And the community.. I remember when I first joined, it was at the height of the Justice League cartoon and so joined a Green Lantern-like SG (The emerald order) where it was my first introduction to real role play.  I couldn't wait till the end of the work day to join my comrades in taking on the evil villains of Paragon City.

Or with a pickup group, doing the Eden trial starting one night at midnight and finishing around 2am the next morning as we finally beat the Crystal Titan.  Or who can forget the early days of leveling up in the Sewers?  So many memories, such rich content, such a vast, active and REAL community.  And most of all, a development team that responded to our wishes.  Why with this last release (sadly, won't go production), they even added some of the new powers to AE and fixed little things like when an ambush occurs to have it really happen and have the NPCs really take action.

And I was so looking forward to trying out all of the new powersets.. I've got like 21 level 50s and was hesitant to start another and yet, how could I not with so much new content.  So to me, this game was cut off in its prime! Yes, even after 8 years it was getting better and better!!

So whatever can be done to keep it alive or reincarnate it in another form, count me in!! I'd hate to see my friend ride off into the sunset where there is still so much to do!!
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 04, 2012, 11:19:30 PM
I think the unreal 4 engine would be great base and easy to up date

The main things to consider with an engine are can it handle the scale of maps that we'd be using, as it's quite likely that a player vote on war walls would see them removed in any follow-up to CoH - and can it handle the rendering requirements created by the ginormous variety of costume parts and power effects?
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Sleepykitty on September 05, 2012, 12:32:01 AM
The main things to consider with an engine are can it handle the scale of maps that we'd be using, as it's quite likely that a player vote on war walls would see them removed in any follow-up to CoH - and can it handle the rendering requirements created by the ginormous variety of costume parts and power effects?

o_o removing the warwalls always seemed a bad idea. not so much on the tech end as the lvl range of the zones is all over the place.. there's a few places where it would be fine, but others you have ppl under 10 running into lvl 40 mobs.. not to mention there's space between many of the warwalls that we'd have to go in and fill with things... sure, some of its all ready been IDed for things (See showdown in the litterbox thread, now 8 years old o_o;;;;), but we'd still have extra work to do for them.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: SithRose on September 05, 2012, 12:53:18 AM
I've offered to collect Plan Z ideas on several FB pages and on the forums. Anything I collect, I'm going to send to Titan Network. I'm a damned good editor, and I'm a decent writer. I don't know thing one about actually CODING a game. I'm all story-side, but I'm absolutely willing to volunteer to help build Plan Z. (Heck, that's not even a bad name for it...)

Here's my post to the forums and elsewhere.

Don't stop trying to save Paragon City.

But accept that failure IS a possibility. Pray for success, fight for success...but have a backup plan for failure. This is my backup plan.

I offer a challenge: Write a synopsis proposal for an MMO that contains every feature of COH that we've come to love, but does not in any way infringe on the IP of City of Heroes. Here's a partial list to start with: Flying combat, travel powers, ability to make any character from any background fit into the on-going story of the MMO seamlessly, 6 basic starting villain-groups, costume generator and character creation, the 1 to 3 (or more) ratio, Giant Monsters, side-kicking, developer communication...Add things that you've always wanted to see. Write it like you're writing a Kickstarter proposal.   

We have 3 months. It won't be the same...but maybe we can rebuild from the ashes if we fail.

Please post this on the forums in every server forum. Post it everywhere you can. I'll volunteer to collect the proposals at agenttempest at gmail dot com if they're mailed to me, and I'll send them to Titan Network. (I can't post to server forums, my VIP is lapsed.)

@SithRose, AKA Agent Storm, Sonja Butterfly, ShadowFlame, DJ Leshya, The Void Hunter, and many others.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 05, 2012, 12:56:41 AM
I have a rough IP outline that preserves the key parts of the CoH setting, but should avoid copyright issues - although there's also plenty of room for tweaking, just in case.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: jacknomind on September 05, 2012, 01:00:04 AM
This is something that I've been working on since the announcement - it's still the absolute last ditch option though - but it needs to be ready, just in case.

Be... careful.  Something like this can split the community.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: SithRose on September 05, 2012, 01:02:37 AM
I have a rough IP outline that preserves the key parts of the CoH setting, but should avoid copyright issues - although there's also plenty of room for tweaking, just in case.

I'd suggest using the GW2 model for the world - open level-based zoned sandbox with instanced private stories/missions. I think one of the problems with COH is that SO MUCH of it is instanced missions, you get less actual interaction with other heroes unless you're in the hang-out areas. Guild Wars 2 really does have some good ideas in that area. (Ideas that their devs got from playing COH and fleshed out, I might note, so I don't think IP on that general design is going to be an issue. Yes, I know for a fact that some of the GW2 devs played/play COH.)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: ROBOKiTTY on September 05, 2012, 01:05:52 AM
o_o removing the warwalls always seemed a bad idea. not so much on the tech end as the lvl range of the zones is all over the place.. there's a few places where it would be fine, but others you have ppl under 10 running into lvl 40 mobs.. not to mention there's space between many of the warwalls that we'd have to go in and fill with things... sure, some of its all ready been IDed for things (See showdown in the litterbox thread, now 8 years old o_o;;;;), but we'd still have extra work to do for them.

Speaking of filling in things.... I'd love to map out the uncharted islands in the Rogue Isles. =^o^=
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: SithRose on September 05, 2012, 01:06:20 AM
Be... careful.  Something like this can split the community.

That's why I'm offering to send everything I collect to Titan Network. I'm not a game designer. I'm a storyteller and editor. I'll collect people's ideas and collate them into coherence, and note what options are popular and what ones are things that only one or two people suggested. I can do that impartially. I think people like Golden Girl are going to be the deep movers if we have to fall back to Plan Z. I don't want the community split - Titan Network's already got a very solid movement going, and I'm offering to help with that from community contributions.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 05, 2012, 01:08:48 AM
o_o removing the warwalls always seemed a bad idea. not so much on the tech end as the lvl range of the zones is all over the place.. there's a few places where it would be fine, but others you have ppl under 10 running into lvl 40 mobs.. not to mention there's space between many of the warwalls that we'd have to go in and fill with things... sure, some of its all ready been IDed for things (See showdown in the litterbox thread, now 8 years old o_o;;;;), but we'd still have extra work to do for them.

Don't forget that this would be a spiritual successor to CoH, not an exact copy - the city layout would be very simlar, but with some changes.
One interesting effect of the war walls is the way that they hide any sense of direction, especially a splayers mostly use the trains and not the road tunnels to get aroudn the city.
For example, if you asked a group of players what was the location of Skyway City in relation to Atlas Park, or how the Hive is placed in relation to Brickstown and Independence Port, quite a few of them wouldn't be able to say without looking at the city map.

As for the danger of lower level players running into mobs that were too high for them, that already exists in most zones - they can cover anything from 5-20 levels.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 05, 2012, 01:10:54 AM
Be... careful.  Something like this can split the community.

In what way do you mean?
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Cannonfodder on September 05, 2012, 01:13:22 AM
[Standard Code Rant]

One thing I've not seen discussed is the conversion of CoH to a smartphone/tablet/laptop/netbook friendly browser-based game.  I don't know how it would work and I don't have any idea of difficulty and expense (see SCR above).

I only mention it because of the financial report of NCSoft.  According to an article cited in the report, mobile gaming is one of the places they are seeing growth with an estimated income in 2013 of $13 billion USD.  The online gaming market seems to have the fastest growth in dollars, but the trend of mobile gaming is also on the rise.  "Two things that taste great together" later and you've got an online, mobile game.

F2P seemed to be the trend for the past 1-2 years.  It now appears that browser-based games and applications that can be ported to multiple platforms is where we're headed next.  **shrug**  Makes no difference to me personally, as I don't own a laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Sleepykitty on September 05, 2012, 01:33:50 AM
In what way do you mean?

o.o well, first you use one paw to get a good solid grip... then you take you knife.. always make sure to cut AWAY from you to avoid slippage/accidents....


I'd suggest using the GW2 model for the world - open level-based zoned sandbox with instanced private stories/missions. I think one of the problems with COH is that SO MUCH of it is instanced missions, you get less actual interaction with other heroes unless you're in the hang-out areas. Guild Wars 2 really does have some good ideas in that area. (Ideas that their devs got from playing COH and fleshed out, I might note, so I don't think IP on that general design is going to be an issue. Yes, I know for a fact that some of the GW2 devs played/play COH.)

>.> not just played/play... take a gooooooddd look at some of the monsters in new DA, and Mot... then go to the Torment in GW1, then look at the monsters again.... <.< its a two way street it is...
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: SithRose on September 05, 2012, 01:44:42 AM
o.o well, first you use one paw to get a good solid grip... then you take you knife.. always make sure to cut AWAY from you to avoid slippage/accidents....


>.> not just played/play... take a gooooooddd look at some of the monsters in new DA, and Mot... then go to the Torment in GW1, then look at the monsters again.... <.< its a two way street it is...

Absolutely. (I admit to having barely played GW1 between GW2 beta weekends to get a feel for the lore of the old game...) It'd be great if we could get some of the Paragon Studios crew in on this as a Plan Z with all of their ideas and such. As for story...We've got a TON of great storytellers in the community.

On the other hand, crowd-community sourcing a new game from the ashes of a distributor-killed game would also set a complete and total first for the MMO genre...Especially if some of the tangle of the engine can get reverse-engineered by the tech geeks. (Totally not my forte there.)

(I'm not holding out much hope for NCSoft to release the IP, unfortunately. Their record is...not good on that front.)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Sleepykitty on September 05, 2012, 01:52:00 AM
thier record so far is 100% kill it with fire. but thats for selling the IP.

<_< licensing it or one of the other options? we're still waiting word, but at best it'll probably be a week.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: jacknomind on September 05, 2012, 02:18:54 AM
In what way do you mean?

If we get to the Plan Z stage (and to be honest, this is much closer to the middle of the alphabet anyway), we're going to have a hundred visions of what City of Heroes "needed" and what the "real spirit" of the game was.  And both of the purist approaches -- design by democracy and design by dictator -- will destroy the community.

There's also, and this factors into my thinking on the subject on a creative level, the Champions Online problem.  Champions has most of the things you mentioned, fascists, giant monsters, etc... but it doesn't have the feeling of history that City of Heroes got largely by making a bunch of really fortuitous mistakes and trying to make it look like a dozen different stories were really the same story.  We can't just replicate that organic feeling whole, and just "making mistakes" isn't going to cut it, either (because CO made plenty of those too).  What we'll need, far more than an author (I'm an amateur author and so are a thousand others) or even one story, is a really really good gardener.  Somebody who knows the art of cultivated chaos.  (And no, I'm not nominating myself for this job.)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i3.squidoocdn.com%2Fresize%2Fsquidoo_images%2F-1%2Flens4913022_1243635937bonsaitree.jpg)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: SithRose on September 05, 2012, 02:22:55 AM
thier record so far is 100% kill it with fire. but thats for selling the IP.

<_< licensing it or one of the other options? we're still waiting word, but at best it'll probably be a week.

I'm not expecting speed right now. I know I've been pretty quiet in the community for the last couple of years, but...This is important. I want to help. I can edit and collate like a fiend and write plot archs, so can my husband. Between us we've got better than 20 years experience in high-level RPGs. (I'm talking writing and running convention LARP games of 1,000+ players with 10 assistants type XP and taking reports from 40 assistants to create a picture of what's happening in a 10K+ person global-level game. And I totally just typed XP instead of experience.) Yes, it's all pen and paper or LARP, but it's something I CAN do.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: SithRose on September 05, 2012, 02:45:58 AM
If we get to the Plan Z stage (and to be honest, this is much closer to the middle of the alphabet anyway), we're going to have a hundred visions of what City of Heroes "needed" and what the "real spirit" of the game was.  And both of the purist approaches -- design by democracy and design by dictator -- will destroy the community.

There's also, and this factors into my thinking on the subject on a creative level, the Champions Online problem.  Champions has most of the things you mentioned, fascists, giant monsters, etc... but it doesn't have the feeling of history that City of Heroes got largely by making a bunch of really fortuitous mistakes and trying to make it look like a dozen different stories were really the same story.  We can't just replicate that organic feeling whole, and just "making mistakes" isn't going to cut it, either (because CO made plenty of those too).  What we'll need, far more than an author (I'm an amateur author and so are a thousand others) or even one story, is a really really good gardener.  Somebody who knows the art of cultivated chaos.  (And no, I'm not nominating myself for this job.)
(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i3.squidoocdn.com%2Fresize%2Fsquidoo_images%2F-1%2Flens4913022_1243635937bonsaitree.jpg)

It needs a backstory and a hook, and a SOLID universe with storytellers who can run with cultivated chaos, pick it up, and change it on the fly to improve the game. It needs a flexible story that can suit multiple people, with a flexible sandbox that allows people to choose between nothing but outside play, nothing but instanced play, or a combination of the three. It CANNOT have just the "Go, hunt, kill Skuls" type of outside missions, nor can it have just the "I need 10 Skull Masks" types. It needs to have choices of "The city needs you for this, this, this, or that. Please do any combination of them, then call me" outdoor missions and "Go do X in Y location" instanced missions.

I can do cultivated chaos. That's what LARP storytelling IS. I can do stories with 6 possible endings based on player choices plus a "Oh, I didn't think of THAT" response.

So far, my vague idea is "Phoenix City", an area that just suffered some kind of apocalyptic event and is in the middle to late stages of rebuilding, with several groups of contesting bad guys who are trying to take control over various aspects of rebuilding/city life/criminal life. If the world looks like it's suffered a catastrophic event, the art designers and programmers would need to code it for either phasing or easy alterations at various points in the game as the world progresses - keeping it an organic world. I'm not sure how difficult it would be to change contact conversation based on world status from a coding perspective, but that would be something I'd find ideal for creating a more immersive environment. (Trying to avoid the "We redid this zone but we have to redo this zone still" problems that many MMOs have had with later content...and no, I don't know whether that part is even possible.)

I'd defer to the techno folks as to whether an open-server environment like in CO is easier to handle than a closed-server environment in the current COH/WOW/most everything else model. But that would be a major point of how to handle the world-building and on-going storylines.

It needs a starting zone that teaches you about the game unobtrusively, is easily skipped for experienced players, and is fun to play for new players. That's part of the hook. It needs GOOD mid-game content with enough options for players to play through at least 10 times without repeating enough content to bore them. (COH did have a consistent problem with that.) It needs a solid end-game that feels like progression, with goals that make sense for heroes at extremely high levels. It absolutely MUST have a good sidekicking system.  It also needs very solid, fleshed out villain groups, and the ability for players to play villains as well as heroes. I think giving players the ability to select a villain or hero group to align with at the start OR be independent would be ideal, and allowing them options to change their alignment, whether it's within villain groups or over to rogue/vigilante/hero.

This is just off the cuff thoughts, mind you. I've only given this a little bit of thought so far. :)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 05, 2012, 02:50:28 AM
The name "Phoenix City" has been suggested by several people, not only for the suitable symbol of rising from the ashes, but also because it preserves the "PC" shortening.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: dwturducken on September 05, 2012, 04:00:43 AM
If we do end up at Plan Z, I'm assuming there will be a team with a leader, and those individuals will, rightly enough, want to put together the Phoenix City alternative to the Freedom Phalanx using their own character names.  Can those names come from their favorite characters/alts in CoX, like FP grew out of the original developers' characters during testing, or are those names and likenesses now the property of NCSoft?  This gets really fun when you consider how many players have versions of those same characters in other games.  (I can't be the only one!)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: SithRose on September 05, 2012, 04:16:12 AM
If we do end up at Plan Z, I'm assuming there will be a team with a leader, and those individuals will, rightly enough, want to put together the Phoenix City alternative to the Freedom Phalanx using their own character names.  Can those names come from their favorite characters/alts in CoX, like FP grew out of the original developers' characters during testing, or are those names and likenesses now the property of NCSoft?  This gets really fun when you consider how many players have versions of those same characters in other games.  (I can't be the only one!)

Based on a quick non-lawyer read of the EULA, if you can demonstrably prove that your character existed in another game and was not solely able to exist due to your use of COH, you're probably OK.

For example, my characters Agent Storm and DJ Leshya should be just fine, since I can demonstrably prove that both, as a character in entirety, likeness and powers, existed prior to the existence of COH. However, my character Void Hunter is derived entirely from COH IP, and would NOT be OK to use elsewhere with that name and likeness. Since he's, you know...a Void Hunter. Costume and all.

There are some very clear cases where players have successfully made the case that a character is their personal IP, and have been able to continue to play that character within City of Heroes without violating other IP. (Harry Dresden comes to mind as a stellar example.)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: A Side Leader on September 05, 2012, 04:34:09 AM
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: neonphysalis on September 05, 2012, 04:51:23 AM
Has anyone been able to contact any of the Paragon Studios staff?
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: TerryXY on September 05, 2012, 04:54:45 AM
I think we got a good start here, but we should probably wait with all those ideas until final decisions have been made, or if there are any news from NCSoft/Paragon about the future of the CoH Engine/IP... If it really comes to plan Z then it would take quite a bit of time to actually recreate the basic gamemechanics to atleast walk around/create a character/level&skill system/ and all those "small things"... then we can worry about the background story, zones, mapping etc.

Also to get back to the engine topic: Used UDK before and in my opinion it is horrible. Too unorganized and way too much stuff premade there, which limits yourself. I would really go with an engine like jMonkey because it doesnt limit you at all, and you can easily handle such a complex game with it. UDK games feel like all the same imho. Just different assets, a few small tweaks to the gameplay and voila yet another boring shooter/rpg. (Ofc there are some games that did a good job at this)

If you think the "good looking" graphics come from the engine, then this is probably like half true, even less. There are whole lot of engines which can render beautiful graphics just like UDK. It's more about the assets(3D model, textures, animations and so on) and the artist creating those. They do the "good looks".

You can add all those nice effects/filters like motion blur, proper lighting/shadow, etc with most of the up to date engines easily.

But the best thing would be, if we could use those assets even when we don't get the rights to use the engine. Creating those assets is where i think we will fail. You simply can't create such a huge amount of models, within a short period of time. It takes years. I don't even want to know how many "men-hours" they spent to create all those assets, over the past years.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Victoria Victrix on September 05, 2012, 04:56:41 AM
Has anyone been able to contact any of the Paragon Studios staff?

Yes.

See my post in Star Power.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: A Side Leader on September 05, 2012, 04:58:21 AM
Yes.

See my post in Star Power.

LInk to Star Power pleas!
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: neonphysalis on September 05, 2012, 04:59:46 AM
It's the thread below this one! :D
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: eabrace on September 05, 2012, 05:04:49 AM
Well, to be fair, the threads are shuffling around quite furiously.  :)

link (http://www.cohtitan.com/forum/index.php/topic,4900.0.html)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: SithRose on September 05, 2012, 05:28:54 AM
Well, to be fair, the threads are shuffling around quite furiously.  :)

link (http://www.cohtitan.com/forum/index.php/topic,4900.0.html)

Maybe Plan Z should be taken to another thread entirely so it doesn't clutter up the all-options thread?

I'm looking ahead cynically and wanting to have a partial world brainstormed before the end - The more time for that, the better. I hope we don't have to USE it, but...
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: Golden Girl on September 05, 2012, 05:35:46 AM
I that it could be a distraction, right now - we really need everyone focusing on Plan A and B, especially as we heard this evening that the devs are also making an attmept to talk to NCSoft.
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: SithRose on September 05, 2012, 05:44:04 AM
I that it could be a distraction, right now - we really need everyone focusing on Plan A and B, especially as we heard this evening that the devs are also making an attmept to talk to NCSoft.

I'll let you guys make the call on opening a new thread then. You're in charge. :)
Title: Re: Planning: Identifying options
Post by: jacknomind on September 05, 2012, 12:38:23 PM
I'm with GG.  We have a ton of work on our plates already; there's no room for food.