Author Topic: State of the Titan  (Read 87945 times)

Terrafan

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #40 on: September 22, 2012, 11:08:26 PM »
Cryptic
It's licensed in perpetuity, but we don't have any information (that I'm aware of) regarding whether or not that license is transferable along with the IP.

It would be absolutely shocking to me if the license WERE transferable.   

I remember a number of years ago when West End Games had the Star Wars RPG license.  They were in financial difficulty, and wanted to see it to WotC.  Lucasfilms swooped in and informed them that no, the license was non transferable.  WotC then tendered a bit to buy West End Games, and again Lucasfilms pointed out in the contract that any change of ownership would revoke the license.  Hence the license went into the either.  WotC tried to negotiate to get it, but was flat out told by lucasfilms "it takes us more money to pay the lawyers to deal with this license than we make from it.  Bye."

Now, not all licenses are equal, but as someone who works in the pen and paper gaming industry, and has talked to many license holders, I'm informed that a non transferability clause is pretty much part of the legal boilerplate that's standard in not just the P&P Gaming industry, but in the Video Gaming industry, and many many others.

Pseudo42

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #41 on: September 22, 2012, 11:16:58 PM »
Should private servers be initiated, I propose we rename everything...

City of Titans?

Just a thought...

Pinnacle City...
Lady Justice...

I know, I know, I know...it's not the same... but still.

chaparralshrub

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #42 on: September 22, 2012, 11:19:36 PM »
Quote from: Gothica
I want to second what you pointed out about wishing the devs well. It would be just plain unreasonable and petty of us to expect them to sit around for a few months or weeks, with families to feed and bills to pay, to see what happens with NCSoft.

Yes, I third that. In fact, tomorrow, my best friend and I, the person whose friendship CoH has helped me maintain, will be playing STO.

We may love the characters, both player-made and developer-made, of CoH, but ultimately they're all fictional creations. The devs themselves, our real heroes, are real people.

Personally, I'm rather happy that some of them have found their way back to Cryptic, since Cryptic is what parented Paragon Studios in the first place, and the most likely company I can think of to either make CoH2 or a spiritual successor thereto. I hope they all get good jobs.

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By the way, VV, I only just recently read the post where I learned just who you really are. You are a heroine to all of us! :)

Victoria Victrix

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #43 on: September 22, 2012, 11:44:45 PM »
It would be absolutely shocking to me if the license WERE transferable.   


Someone whose ability to make business contacts seems sound actually contacted Cryptic about this.  It seems they are willing to transfer the license.

That shouldn't be so shocking really.  This is a game engine, as opposed to IP--software as opposed to content.  People might be unlikely to let go of IP, but this is a bit like DirecTV licensing their TVtop box.  "I'm moving, I wanted a new box anyway, and the new renter wants my current box.  Can I transfer it to his account?"  "Of course you can!"
I will go down with this ship.  I won't put my hands up in surrender.  There will be no white flag above my door.  I'm in love, and always will be.  Dido

DrakeGrimm

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #44 on: September 22, 2012, 11:58:24 PM »
Someone whose ability to make business contacts seems sound actually contacted Cryptic about this.  It seems they are willing to transfer the license.

That shouldn't be so shocking really.  This is a game engine, as opposed to IP--software as opposed to content.  People might be unlikely to let go of IP, but this is a bit like DirecTV licensing their TVtop box.  "I'm moving, I wanted a new box anyway, and the new renter wants my current box.  Can I transfer it to his account?"  "Of course you can!"

Why would they say no to continued licensing revenue? :P
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Badaxe

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #45 on: September 23, 2012, 12:19:53 AM »
Thanks for the update Tony, the news is somewhat expected but at least we all now have a clearer picture of what's happening and can appreciated your efforts.

mikenovember

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #46 on: September 23, 2012, 01:02:49 AM »
I'm a decade plus software program manager and developer - with some of that in the game/entertainment area of software. 

I think the 3 options you're presenting - if we can't have "Plan A", the next best option is to recreate COH in 'our image' if you will.

Some of the arguments presented of CoH being 'long in the tooth' are precisely why a reboot with a completely new COH crafted by a fan driven development effort would actually work, and work well - even getting investors via something akin to Kickstarter. 

There are a very LARGE number of PMs, Devs, Designers and others who play CoH who if we could locate them, organize them - would have the skills to help with this.  I know because I've run into a few while playing and talked shop with several over the years.  They do exist - many btw, work for other game manufacturers and software companies. 

I keep hearing talk of the game engine license needing to be transferred - but why not just buy a completely new license to go with the work. 

I know it sounds daunting but the fact is  - it's not.  It is expensive.  It does require work.  But it's not really all that impossible.  Maybe it's because I've worked in software dev for as along as I have but I really don't see the problem others seem to see with this.  Yeah,  the project needs to be carefully planned, investors lined up, a solid set of project plans with devs, designers, testers all those things that go into a game - and realistic projections for the first three years on cost.  If you show that the games been making money without any real PR (which NC hasn't put in an effort there in years), that its still holding it's own after 7+ years and the current level of fan support and I seriously see there being a good shot at get investors and building a new CoH. 

It obviously - for legal reasons can't be 'CoH' but I think everyone is seriously over estimating how much of CoH's IP is actually non-replicable, and how much of it needed updating or isn't really an owned IP but a concept - which can be reworked and needed to be anyway.

Olantern

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #47 on: September 23, 2012, 01:20:17 AM »
Tony, thank you for the one-stop update.

I'll offer whatever help I can.  (Check your PM's.)  While I'm not a legal specialist in the areas we need, I am experienced in explaining law to people who know nothing about it.  I also have some contacts who can be of help in things like entity formation and possibly IP issues.  As I've said elsewhere, this sort of thing needs to be set up before we can think about fun things like game development.

I also have a background in writing.  I've published several articles and electronically published a novel.  I have training in creative writing.  I can deal with setting, plotting, characterization, and most importantly, giving and taking criticism.  I've received very positive comments on my AE work (see @Djinniman for examples) and had just begun sketching out a mega-arc when the announcement hit.  If I can help out with development once a business plan has been set up, please let me know.

Terrafan

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #48 on: September 23, 2012, 01:21:08 AM »
Someone whose ability to make business contacts seems sound actually contacted Cryptic about this.  It seems they are willing to transfer the license.

That shouldn't be so shocking really.  This is a game engine, as opposed to IP--software as opposed to content.  People might be unlikely to let go of IP, but this is a bit like DirecTV licensing their TVtop box.  "I'm moving, I wanted a new box anyway, and the new renter wants my current box.  Can I transfer it to his account?"  "Of course you can!"

It's wonderful then that cryptic would be open to that!  That was something I was worried about, and I think that's awesome that they'd consider that.  Thumbs up to them.

And the reason they wouldn't want it transferable (without their say so) ?  It's technical IP (software is just as much intellectual property as story and a world design).  It's Cryptic's in house game engine (albiet the first generation of it) , and as such, it's basically a 'trade secret'.  They woudln't want details of it's workings being made public or given to someone who they dont' want to see it. 

SkyStreak

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #49 on: September 23, 2012, 01:55:54 AM »
I seem to remember a podcast years ago (Jester's Court maybe?) where they were talking about how Cryptic's big strategy for the future was to use 'the Cryptic Engine' to make quick and easy content creation for any/all of their future games, but alos make it available as a toolset to other developers to create their own games. 

I believe this was prior to (or right around) CO's launch, and I most definitely remember there being a website for the Cryptic Engine.

Obviously, this was way before Pefect World entered the equation, so who knows where that idea went, but it was definitely soemthing Cryptic had plans for back in the day.

Victoria Victrix

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #50 on: September 23, 2012, 01:59:56 AM »
I'm a decade plus software program manager and developer - with some of that in the game/entertainment area of software. 

I think the 3 options you're presenting - if we can't have "Plan A", the next best option is to recreate COH in 'our image' if you will.

Some of the arguments presented of CoH being 'long in the tooth' are precisely why a reboot with a completely new COH crafted by a fan driven development effort would actually work, and work well - even getting investors via something akin to Kickstarter. 

There are a very LARGE number of PMs, Devs, Designers and others who play CoH who if we could locate them, organize them - would have the skills to help with this.  I know because I've run into a few while playing and talked shop with several over the years.  They do exist - many btw, work for other game manufacturers and software companies. 

I keep hearing talk of the game engine license needing to be transferred - but why not just buy a completely new license to go with the work. 

I know it sounds daunting but the fact is  - it's not.  It is expensive.  It does require work.  But it's not really all that impossible.  Maybe it's because I've worked in software dev for as along as I have but I really don't see the problem others seem to see with this.  Yeah,  the project needs to be carefully planned, investors lined up, a solid set of project plans with devs, designers, testers all those things that go into a game - and realistic projections for the first three years on cost.  If you show that the games been making money without any real PR (which NC hasn't put in an effort there in years), that its still holding it's own after 7+ years and the current level of fan support and I seriously see there being a good shot at get investors and building a new CoH. 

It obviously - for legal reasons can't be 'CoH' but I think everyone is seriously over estimating how much of CoH's IP is actually non-replicable, and how much of it needed updating or isn't really an owned IP but a concept - which can be reworked and needed to be anyway.

I've discussed this with other people, and the main problem--the one we simply cannot get around--is the amount of time it will take before a new CoH is ready for play in the most limited (think Atlas Park, Perez, Hollows and King's Row ONLY) version.  Look how long it took before The Secret World (no relation to my "Secret World Chronicle" and we had the name first) was ready.  It began production under a different name around 2004, changed the name to the current one in 2007ish, and only this year went live.  That's almost 8 years (and 2 or 3 different studios) of production time.  How many players are going to wait for ONE year, much less four to eight?  Not many, is my bet.  If we could get our hands on....oh....20 or 30 million dollars, we could speed that up.  But the reality is this will be, like The Secret World, a slow, mostly part-time-only, undertaking.  People gotta eat, and failing Tony V coming up with a lot of folks to pony up in the six figure range, there is no getting around it, the "studio" we create will be a fraction of the size of Paragon Studios and we would be doing absolutely everything from scratch.
I will go down with this ship.  I won't put my hands up in surrender.  There will be no white flag above my door.  I'm in love, and always will be.  Dido

SkyStreak

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #51 on: September 23, 2012, 02:08:20 AM »
I seem to remember a podcast years ago (Jester's Court maybe?) where they were talking about how Cryptic's big strategy for the future was to use 'the Cryptic Engine' to make quick and easy content creation for any/all of their future games, but alos make it available as a toolset to other developers to create their own games. 

I believe this was prior to (or right around) CO's launch, and I most definitely remember there being a website for the Cryptic Engine.

Obviously, this was way before Pefect World entered the equation, so who knows where that idea went, but it was definitely soemthing Cryptic had plans for back in the day.

I just did a quick search using the Wayback Machine and found reference to the Cryptic Animation Rig from 2007:

Quote

Cryptic Studios Releases Cryptic Animation Rig   
Free Cryptic Animation Rig Now Available Under the GNU General Public License
LOS GATOS, CA - May 11, 2007 - Cryptic Studios, Inc., an independent developer of massively multiplayer online games, announced today its proprietary Cryptic Animation Rig (Cryptic AR) is now available free for download under the GNU General Public License.

"Our goal is to foster a community of animators by providing them the power to generate animations without having to worry about supporting a toolset. Since we were already developing the rig for our core technology team, we decided to release it to the public under the GNU GPL," said Shayne Herrera, Art Development Director for Cryptic Studios. "We feel that the development and gaming communities will benefit greatly from a professional tool like the Cryptic AR."

Cryptic AR allows animators of all experience levels to familiarize themselves with the same tools used in a professional development environment. Unlike other free animation rigs, Cryptic AR is not an approximation of production tools, but the very tools currently being used to produce next-gen game visuals at Cryptic Studios.

"We decided to add the ability to switch and create character skins called 'IDs' (identities), " said Sean Burgoon, animator and creator of the Cryptic AR. "Cryptic AR version 1.0 ships with three IDs and we plan to release more on a regular basis. We are encouraging user-submitted IDs through the animation community we are creating on our web site."

The Cryptic AR web site will also have forums to serve as the community home for aspiring AR animators. The forums will act as a place to inspire continued creativity in users and support animation needs.

Cryptic AR version 1.0 is now available for download at www.crypticar.com.

DrakeGrimm

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #52 on: September 23, 2012, 02:09:07 AM »
And I would still write for it, were I allowed the honor.

Make no mistake, there would be huge, nearly insurmountable challenges posed against us...but we could prevail, if we're all willing to step up. Here's hoping negotiations go well, however, and none of this becomes necessary.
We are the crazy ones, the mavericks, the dreamers, the forgotten sons. We color outside the lines for fun. We are the crazy ones! - "The Crazy Ones," Stellar Revival

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uninventive

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #53 on: September 23, 2012, 02:33:49 AM »
If my opinion matters (and it doesn't), the closer I would get to November 30th when it's no longer legal to keep the City of Heroes client as an end user, the more I would consider merging the Reverse Engineer/Spiritual Successor groups if it doesn't look like a private server (with zero content, but regardless) is possible.  Understandably, the content and systems discovered by the Reverse Engineer group would mean that we wouldn't have clean-room development in the Spiritual Successor effort (clean-room meaning an assurance that 100% of the Spiritual Successor code has NOT originated from City of Heroes program, but as one of my friends in software development has said more eloquently than I can, "there's only so many finite possible ways to hammer a nail into wood.") but the exercise in doing so could prove invaluable in the Spiritual Successor camp to understand how Paragon Studios solved the problem.

My dream (probably means as much as my opinion) would be to see the Spiritual Successor camp make the world's first Open-Source based MMORPG.  Granted, this means a few things: 1) Open Source is not a business model (I didn't say Free/Libre, FLOSS, or endorse Richard Stallman here, digital socialism aside there's hundreds of licenses possible to use out there, or with lawyer friends, just spin your own up... The Titan License 1.0 :P), just a developmental one.  2) Open Sourcing the development is one thing, the IP is still yours (Titan Network).  It's still possible to run the game on Titan Network's developed IP and license (charge players) for the use of your game content (rather than the client/server, which is free of charge and open source) so a profit is still realized to keep improving the system.  3) If this were to happen, then the clean-room approach is mandatory on the Titan Network MMO to prevent NCSoft from shutting the effort down before it begins.

But it would also mean something else: it's possible to keep your core 40+-person paid staff to develop the Titan Network MMO, it's features and services, while having the world community at large to make engine improvements to use in not only Titan Network's game, but other games created by other groups.  We can have our superhero MMO, another group can make an apocalypse MMO title, another can do swords and sorcery, another can make their own spiritual remake of Earthbound.  (Granted, each group would have to handle their own IP, and not infringe on existing properties.)  Games starting to get off the ground can seek out Titan Network for co-location, hosting, or admin support, or strike up a business agreement and officially become a Titan Network title.

I'm sure better thinkers have rehashed this in other ideas/sunset threads, just riffing off of the State announcement.  I do agree that it's been made abundantly clear that NCSoft is through with us, in one way or another.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2012, 02:43:52 AM by uninventive »

uninventive

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #54 on: September 23, 2012, 02:41:05 AM »
I have in fact used an axe to demolish a computer before. ;)

It was a non-functional computer and the purpose was to get the obnoxious upstairs neighbors to turn their rap down because I had a migraine....but it worked. For several months.

Best post I've read yet.

ukaserex

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #55 on: September 23, 2012, 02:46:47 AM »
I've discussed this with other people, and the main problem--the one we simply cannot get around--is the amount of time it will take before a new CoH is ready for play in the most limited (think Atlas Park, Perez, Hollows and King's Row ONLY) version.  Look how long it took before The Secret World (no relation to my "Secret World Chronicle" and we had the name first) was ready.  It began production under a different name around 2004, changed the name to the current one in 2007ish, and only this year went live.  That's almost 8 years (and 2 or 3 different studios) of production time.  How many players are going to wait for ONE year, much less four to eight?  Not many, is my bet.  If we could get our hands on....oh....20 or 30 million dollars, we could speed that up.  But the reality is this will be, like The Secret World, a slow, mostly part-time-only, undertaking.  People gotta eat, and failing Tony V coming up with a lot of folks to pony up in the six figure range, there is no getting around it, the "studio" we create will be a fraction of the size of Paragon Studios and we would be doing absolutely everything from scratch.

I'd like to share an anecdotal experience that may, or may not encourage you. Way back in 2003, when I was a grad student, I made extra money (and saved some cash, too) by writing a restaurant review column for the college paper. Trying to stay away from the chain restaurants, I stumbled upon a place that was by far one of the worst restaurants I could have ever visited. However, the hostess (who turned out to be the owner) was charming - very charming. The chicken wings I ordered apparently were  86'd (they ran out earlier) and the cook left the restaurant to go to Sam's Club to get some more...well, I'm digressing, sorry. To make a wonderfully lengthy story much shorter, I ordered a beer from the bar - and with the dynamite bartender behind it, I found myself coming back with friends later in the week. That return visit went so well, I became a regular, as did another 100-200 people. The husband of the aforementioned hostess/owner was behind the bar and had incredible personality. He couldn't remember anyone's name, but when someone was out of work, or had just graduated, he would defer the costs of their tab for whenever it was easier for the guest to pay it. Whether that was 1 week, 1 month, it really didn't matter to them. Well, the place burned down - the owner of the building was apparently about to be foreclosed on, and he burned it down, along with their inventory. It took these good people 4 years to save up enough cash to reopen, but they have, and I can still spot most of those old regulars when I visit for some of the worst food imaginable. (I stopped drinking - and it's the pub that most everyone goes there for. They really know how to make people feel like part of the family.)

When a community loses it's meeting place - true- folks will scatter a bit and things won't be the same. However, if the next thing to replace CoH is several years out, I've little doubt that most of the folks that were subbed will find their way to it.

That being said, I realize that not everyone is part of the Christian faith and this is probably not a welcomed comment by everyone, but please be aware that Christians believe we are made in God's image - and we share other characteristics of God, too. Although we cannot speak things into existence, in a peculiar way, we do have an impact on things with our words. (Self-fulfilling prophecy ring a bell for anyone?) If we can just believe that a solution to saving CoH is possible and imminent, it is not without the bounds of possibility for this to happen. I see and read about a lot of things that happen that were not at all likely or probable, yet they happen just the same.
Those who have no idea what they are doing genuinely have no idea that they don't know what they're doing. - John Cleese

Soundtrack

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #56 on: September 23, 2012, 03:35:45 AM »
That being said, I realize that not everyone is part of the Christian faith and this is probably not a welcomed comment by everyone, but please be aware that Christians believe we are made in God's image - and we share other characteristics of God, too. Although we cannot speak things into existence, in a peculiar way, we do have an impact on things with our words. (Self-fulfilling prophecy ring a bell for anyone?) If we can just believe that a solution to saving CoH is possible and imminent, it is not without the bounds of possibility for this to happen. I see and read about a lot of things that happen that were not at all likely or probable, yet they happen just the same.

After reading the Testimonials thread started by Ms. Lackey, and being so deeply moved by the stories presented there, I feel quite comfortable praying for some type of resolution to present itself. For many (a LARGE percentage) this game is/was/will be a lifeline.

Vulpy

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #57 on: September 23, 2012, 03:43:28 AM »
Although we cannot speak things into existence, in a peculiar way, we do have an impact on things with our words. (Self-fulfilling prophecy ring a bell for anyone?) If we can just believe that a solution to saving CoH is possible and imminent, it is not without the bounds of possibility for this to happen. I see and read about a lot of things that happen that were not at all likely or probable, yet they happen just the same.

I like to look for commonalities in human experience. A belief in the power of positive ideation is almost universal, and increasingly supported by scientific research. Positive thoughts and sentiments lead to positive action, which is the most likely way to attain positive results. That is something that should be true regardless of culture, creed, nation, or religion.
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TonyV

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #58 on: September 23, 2012, 03:47:51 AM »
After reading the Testimonials thread started by Ms. Lackey, and being so deeply moved by the stories presented there, I feel quite comfortable praying for some type of resolution to present itself. For many (a LARGE percentage) this game is/was/will be a lifeline.

For those who aren't of the Christian faith or who otherwise don't believe in various deities, we'll settle for expressions of desire for favorable statistical variance.  Or as some put it, wish us luck.  ;)

Manga

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Re: State of the Titan
« Reply #59 on: September 23, 2012, 03:48:27 AM »
I've discussed this with other people, and the main problem--the one we simply cannot get around--is the amount of time it will take before a new CoH is ready for play in the most limited (think Atlas Park, Perez, Hollows and King's Row ONLY) version.  Look how long it took before The Secret World (no relation to my "Secret World Chronicle" and we had the name first) was ready.  It began production under a different name around 2004, changed the name to the current one in 2007ish, and only this year went live.  That's almost 8 years (and 2 or 3 different studios) of production time.  How many players are going to wait for ONE year, much less four to eight?  Not many, is my bet.  If we could get our hands on....oh....20 or 30 million dollars, we could speed that up.  But the reality is this will be, like The Secret World, a slow, mostly part-time-only, undertaking.  People gotta eat, and failing Tony V coming up with a lot of folks to pony up in the six figure range, there is no getting around it, the "studio" we create will be a fraction of the size of Paragon Studios and we would be doing absolutely everything from scratch.

I agree completely with Victoria's assertion, if only because I investigated this myself.  The Secret World is an extreme example, because it was plagued with turnover, funding and studio problems, and I believe a change in game engine after it had already been started.  But nowadays, that seems to be the rule rather than the exception when you're not George Lucas with a few hundred million sitting around.  It's highly likely a CoH-like game would take 2 to 3 years to just get off the ground, even with shortcuts.  If things go wrong, like, oh, say, the economy, it could definitely take 2 or 3 times as long.

Meanwhile though, let me try to address several other posts on the subject at once:

Open source/community designed is a BAD idea when putting together a project of this size.  The only project I know of that's this large, and has no corporate backing, is the WINE project.  Those of you who have watched it and/or been involved know that the WINE project is horribly unresponsive, and plagued with disagreements which have led to it being splintered into several branches.  Imagine the destruction that would cause to an MMO!  Several competing forks of the same game project, all with different client and servers, and just the act of downloading it and logging in is a hellish experience (anyone try to install WINE and succeed?).

Another problem with community owned is if everyone owns it, nobody does.  Controlling mods and cheating will become impossible, and then the game would lose players fast.  Maybe Apple's model (community created, corporate reviewed content) might work, but I'm not sure.

As for "legal" steps, I happen to have a game/publishing studio!  It's registered as an LLC, and was being formed in order to produce an unrelated 3D game sometime in the near future (which is why I was testing game engines as well) for portable devices.  That may come in handy.

On the topic of developing a new game:  I have reviewed several commercially available game engines, and I've chosen one I like - and it has a similar zone design system to CoH!  But I won't say too much what I've been planning or how far my really small team has gotten, because...
a) I'm still afraid I'll develop an ugly case of foot-in-mouth disease if nothing comes of it, or something happens preventing it;
b) If I talk too much about the plan, there's always a chance a lot of effort and time will be put in and someone with more money and staff will steal the entire thing and get to market first; and
c) I do NOT want to overshadow the CoH buyout/licensing efforts - the new game effort is a long-term plan because even if CoH is saved, its near death means its days are numbered, and I'd like to possibly have a replacement ready when that time comes.  In fact, I'd prefer if CoH were saved first because it would buy the time needed to put some real design into a new game.

Ask me questions about it if you'd like, but I'll only be able to give limited answers until it gets closer to a functional demo.