Author Topic: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...  (Read 45824 times)

TonyV

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Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« on: September 01, 2012, 12:19:57 am »
Hey all,

So I'm still in the initial stages of trying to process all of this.  Obviously, this comes as a tremendous personal blow considering all of the time, effort, money, and energy we at the Titan Network have poured into making the best fan sites as we can, not just for City of Heroes, but for any gaming community.

And then I can't help but feel selfish about indulging in a little bit of wallowing, because while I feel like a hobby is being yanked away from me, I also feel incredibly sympathetic for the people at Paragon Studios who are being laid off, the people who are going to be out of work and seeking jobs in a tough economy.  If City of Heroes dies, I save a bunch of money on hosting costs and get bored at night instead of saving the virtual world.  But if you're an employee at Paragon Studios, you now have to worry about making sure your spouse and kid have food on their table in the coming months and years.  And while I'm not under any pretense that the folks at Paragon Studios and I are BFFs, I really do respect and admire the crazy sick skills they have, and every time I've interacted with them, they have been mind-blowingly kind and supportive.  To all of you at Paragon Studios, past and present, from the uncredited paeans to the senior designers and developers, please know that I'm not just a fan of the game, but a fan of you professionally and yes, even a fan of you personally.

Now, all of that having been said, here's what I'm going to do.

First thing, I'm going to convene with the crew at the Titan Network.  We still have a lot of projects in the works, and it's kind of funny, but only for a few minutes did we ponder, "Well, I guess we won't need to finish that..."  I haven't talked to all of them, and some of them may actually be reading what I'm about to say for the first time.  If so, then please hit me up on Skype (tonyv.paragonwiki) or log into our Big Shindig development channel, 'cause I want to talk to you!

Anyway, what I'm pondering is contacting the powers-that-be at Paragon Studios and NCsoft and find out if there's any way possible that something can be worked out for us to keep the servers on.  Whether that be through acquiring the IP and codebase, licensing technologies, releasing their tech specs to us so that we can reverse engineer the server and client, whatever.  I just find it really hard to think that NCsoft is going to sit on IP and code and completely shutter a project if there are people willing to pony up cash for it.

Unfortunately, I'm not made of money.  I wish I had enough to just buy everything outright, move to Mountain View, hire the entire development and community team, and keep things running just as they are now.  I don't, not even close.  So what I'm considering is that if I can get a dollar figure from NCsoft for whatever option they're willing to go with, to set up a crowd funding effort to raise the cash.  Obviously I'd be willing to throw in whatever I can.  If both of those things come through--NCsoft willing to work with us on keeping the game going in some form and funding coming through somehow--I can't promise the kind of breakneck development that the current devs engage in, but I'm hoping that this doesn't have to be The Endô.

My goals would start simple, with task #1 being to keep a game server running and having the rights to distribute the client. After that, depending on how things work out, maybe keeping the existing servers intact. Maybe seeing if some of the existing developers want to continue working on the game in some capacity either as a volunteer while they look for another job or, if the funding comes through, even on a contract basis.  Perhaps even trying to continue the game on a commercial basis if enough people are interested.

I don't want to get hopes up.  Like I said, I'm still processing this, I still have to talk to our crew at the Titan Network, and there are a lot of ifs involved in keeping the game going.  Four months from now I might be looking back on this and thinking, "Well, it was a nice try and we made a good run of it."  But I just want everyone to know that I for one don't intend to just mope around and let the game die.  Although we take donations, I've never begged for money to run the Titan Network.  If a deal can be worked out with NCsoft, that might change and I might start actively soliciting pledges for enough money to acquire any purchases and/or licenses required to keep the servers on.  (And, oh yeah, some servers to keep on...)  If that time comes, I hope that today doesn't mark the end of City of Heroes, but the beginning of a new era of the game we all know and love.

No matter what happens, though, I want you all to know that this game has been the most incredibly fun experience I've had, and this community always has, and always will, rock.  Running the Paragon Wiki and then the Titan Network, I have learned so much about web hosting, development, database administration, server administration, and other such skills, it boggles my mind that I knew anything before 2004.  And I refuse to say good-bye.  No matter what happens, I will figure out some way to stay in touch with the City of Heroes community and the numerous friends, allies, and colleagues I've made over the years.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get to work, talk to some people, and start some planning...

TonyV

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2012, 01:37:15 am »
A few quick updates:

I've edited my post on the official forums with a link at the top to a cross-post to the Titan Network forums.

I'm looking at the Kickstarter web site.  It's really important to me to have some kind of plan before jumping in.  I absolutely, positively do not want to start taking donations until I can honestly look you in the eye and say, "This is what the money will be used for."  In short, I need something more solid than, "It will have something to do with City of Heroes."  It's really important to me to have a working plan.

Over this weekend, I'm going to talk to the Titan Network crew and discuss our options.  Buy the IP and code outright?  License it to run on our own server and obtain the rights to distribute the client?  Maybe look into some options around releasing source code, if possible?  What to offer people as rewards and incentives to invest in the crowd fund?  If we're successful, do we want to carry the game forward as free-to-play, use a similar hybrid model that Paragon Studios has set up now, or charge some nominal subscription fee to cover hosting costs?

Next week, I'm going to start rattling cages at Paragon Studios.  I have exactly zero contacts with NCsoft (unless you count Katie, the PR person we met at the Player Summits).  I plan on contacting the folks I know and trying to get some kind of meeting set up where I can talk to the powers-that-be who can actually make a deal with us to run the game.  I'd also like to start putting feelers out to the devs to gauge interest in continuing to work on the game in some capacity, either on a contract or volunteer basis, whatever we can afford and they're willing to contribute.

Anyway, my head is still swirling, and now I'm going to be up all night.  I really appreciate all of your support in this, and I will do my damnedest to make sure I don't let you down.

As I told someone earlier, we've been saving Paragon City for eight and a half years.  It's time to do it one more time.  (In fact, I'm thinking that might be our catch phrase.)  8)

kwsapphire

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2012, 01:57:49 am »
I sent an email to kickstarter this evening, asking if a "buy the development studio and IP" project is allowed by their terms. There are also other funding sites. http://www.indiegogo.com/

I am also hoping to get the name of a good IP lawyer. I am very happy to assist in any way possible.

kwsapphire

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2012, 01:59:52 am »
Also: I have been told The Chive can drive a lot of attention to causes, though I do not frequent the site. Is anyone here a Chiver?

Kemphler

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2012, 02:18:49 am »
I am indeed a Chiver....I will look into seeing what I can do, but I'm not sure. If anyone else here are chivers, please, please please please....assist me in this endevour....KCCO
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WanderingAries

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2012, 02:24:59 am »
This would in all likelyhood result in alot of people coming out of the woodworks to assist in things like coding, etc. I'm not sure how viable the F2P would be (or any sub in general) as many might view it as the game being run by the B-team. I'd hate to simply have it be an archive, but I would recomend possibly finding a way to consolidate things to a single-server format (Phoenix, Ressurection, etc for names). Any new content could be focused on something like "CoX got nuked, many groups are obliterated, and you are a survivor".
Silly as it is, the only thing I can think about right now is saving my toons before they pull the plug.   :-/
[Guide] Installing City of Heroes, Beta, & Test From Scratch, the Short(ish) Version
http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showthread.php?t=282641

[Guide] Backing Up / Migrating City of Heroes
http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showthread.php?t=282643

Kemphler

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2012, 02:28:53 am »
I do have a question. Before I go talk to theChive at all, is there anything in particular I should say? I personally am not very good at making these sorts of requests, and I would very much appreciate anyone's input on what should be said/asked.

Edit: Also, I really think we should hold off on trying to mobilize the Chivers until we find out if we will be able to get NCSoft to sell off CoX to us or not, and even before see what everyone at Titan Network agrees on options wise.

However....When the time comes, and we are ready to go forth with whatever plan we have, I will gladly be the one to bring our plight to theChive and see if they will mobilize the Chivers in our aid.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2012, 02:51:57 am by Kemphler »
"I intend to live forever, or die trying." - Groucho Marx

seanmc492

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2012, 02:55:37 am »
I am willing to help financially as far as I am able.  You have provided a great service to all of us through the years, and we are thankful.  Just the fact that you are even thinking of doing this and giving us a ray of hope, makes you a true hero to all of us "would be heroes"!  Please let us know if you ever need anything, for I see that you have quite the following now -  :D.

Greyhawke

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2012, 03:33:06 am »
I admire what you guys are trying to do here. I'm replying to show my support and to mark this thread to keep an eye on it. Not sure how much I would be able to contribute, I would certainly be in for contributing to a kickstarter project if an opportunity to purchase exists.

TWillard

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2012, 03:45:49 am »
I don't know how much this will mean, but I am a professional writer and RPG designer.

If you need someone to do some cheap freelance work (For CoX, we're talking FREE cheap) for storylines and to continue things, I'll toss my hat into the ring.

I'm used to working inside the limitations of an engine, used to working with ruleset and within the constraints of an existing world/vision.

Just hit me up if you think you might need my services.

Thirty-Seven

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2012, 04:08:32 am »
Keep us posted, Tony!  I don't have much in terms of monetary resources, but I will do what I can to help with this effort!

Sleepykitty

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2012, 04:32:46 am »
o.o let us know how we can help!

also, if you need connections to NCsoft, try asking some of the Community Reps and Devs to forward a letter for you or get you in contact. Most of the higher lvl devs have dealt with random NCsoft managers for years, so can probably get it to who needs to know.


>_> to bad our hands are more or less tied till we hear back on if they're even willing to let it go or make a deal.
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Hyperstrike

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2012, 06:35:44 am »
Tony,

As I talked with you on Skype about.  I shot an e-mail off to my partners at Catalyst Game Labs.
It's possible (though HOW possible I don't know yet) that, for access to the literary and tabletop-game-related IP, they might be able to help.  At least some.
It's probably NOT going to be in tens of millions of dollars.  We're still a small company doing somewhere around 2-3 mil this year.

Short aside: How do you make a small fortune in the gaming industry?
Answer: Start with a larger one!  *BA-DUM-BUM!*

Like your communications with Paragon and NCSoft, nothing much will probably move until after the holiday.  But I'll keep in touch with you on this.


Hyperstrike

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2012, 06:36:55 am »
I sent an email to kickstarter this evening, asking if a "buy the development studio and IP" project is allowed by their terms. There are also other funding sites. http://www.indiegogo.com/

I am also hoping to get the name of a good IP lawyer. I am very happy to assist in any way possible.

Actually it is, believe it or not...

One of the Shadowrun games was being Kickstarted this way.

Sleepykitty

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2012, 06:43:47 am »
o.o that one just ended right? and in that case they already had the IP, not trying to aquire it.. still, if NCsoft has a price, the kickstarter can probably be worded to get by...
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grouchybeast

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2012, 07:34:41 am »
Like a couple of other people, I just want to chime in here to support what you're trying to do, and to say that I'd definitely donate to any attempt to keep CoH going.  Good luck.

Darth Killer

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2012, 08:12:21 am »
Wishng you all the best of luck and full support. Though i have the feeling you'll need it.

Either way, let CoH always burn in our heart.

epawtows

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2012, 08:14:55 am »
Well, while I am a coder, only language I'm any good at is LISP, and only experience is with engineering apps.

But I'd be willing to chip in a grand or two for this.

cainecollin

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2012, 08:30:50 am »
I too would like to toss my hat in to help anyway possible. Writing stories, coming up with ideas, and designing stuff are all right down my alley, as well as deciphering most code.

Riff

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Re: Meanwhile, in the Halls of Titan...
« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2012, 08:34:23 am »
Hi chaps

We've been discussing similar notions on Defiant last night and I mentioned you chaps as having the best fan network to the game. I'm sure many of us on the EU will be heading this way  - I'll be doing my best to point them here anyhow.

One of the bigger rumours seems to be that it's Atari that's been the primary cause for canning the game by forcing the licence price for the IP through the roof. If that's true, there's probably no chance they'd let a fan base take over the IP even on a licence arrangement. I'm not totally sure I believe it but it's certainly one of the more credible explanations. The game has been steadily profitable by all accounts.

Here's a couple of suggestions that I'm just throwing out there as discussion points to be take up/thrown away as necessary - brainstorm if you like, but here are some potential options to maybe consider if we can't somehow save the day.

  • Virtual Worlds: It would be relatively simple to recreate bits of Paragon and the Isles in a virtual world. Second Life is the best known of those but there are many others and land in others is (generally) a bit cheaper. The mechanics of the game aren't as good, but it does give an opportunity to hang out and RP and as a community project could run alongside anything else in the interim
  • Take our characters to a pen & paper system such as the http://roll20.net/ system - again, not ideal but we can at least keep the spirit alive for very low cost and hopefully have some fun RP adventures
  • Invest in a game engine and make our own superhero game. Fraught with difficulties - but what's life but a series of challenges followed by death, right? It's not as crazy as it first seems - there's some good Open Source engines out there that can be had for very little and some proprietary ones that are cost effective too. We know there's a lot of talent out in the community that can then create a game - it's simply a case of getting the talent in the same room
That's what I have after about 15 hours after hearing the news.