Author Topic: Status Update (November 13)  (Read 15758 times)

TonyV

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Status Update (November 13)
« on: November 13, 2012, 09:55:17 pm »
Hey all,

First of all, I want to apologize for being so late with this update.  My day job has been a bit time-consuming lately, and I've been reading up and working on some of the Plan Z stuff (more about that in a minute...).  Anyway, with no further ado...

As most of you probably know, NCsoft is still planning on going ahead with the November 30 shutdown.  If I'm not mistaken, the exact time the servers are scheduled to be turned off is at the stroke of midnight Pacific time between November 30 and December 1.  (3:00am Eastern time December 1, 8:00am UTC.)  After talking to some interested parties, NCsoft has not come to any agreement for the intellectual property (IP) of City of Heroes or the code base to be sold or licensed, which means that as it stands now, on December 1, City of Heroes will be effectively dead.

...Or maybe I should say, mostly dead.  There are a few efforts underway to preserve some modicum of the community we've built.

First of all, there is a "spiritual successor" to City of Heroes being planned by several members of the community.  Referred to by various names, the forums discussing the plans are under the City Sunset topic heading.  We're still in the initial planning phase, but I have to admit, we have folks who know more about game development than I initially really thought we'd have.  Still, we could use some people with skills that are harder to come by, such as graphics programming, digital art, and animation.  If you have such talents or otherwise want to contribute, I urge you to pop in and see if there's a role you can fulfill.  To be up-front, I'm not the leader of that project, so PMing me asking how to help won't do much good; you really need to read the forums and find a way to fit in, then post some messages there.

Second of all, work is still being done on reverse engineering the server.  This work is going very well.  I honestly think at this point it's not a matter of if anything can be salvaged, it's a matter of how much and the legalities of the situation.  It's definitely something we'll be following up on and letting people know about as soon as possible.

Third of all, lest anyone forget, the game is still running, and will be for two and a half more weeks.  So log in, enjoy the holiday events they're running through, say hi to your friends, and even make some new ones.  Also, just as a reminder, once the game is shut down, these forums (and the Titan sites in general) will not be shutting down.  I'm pondering creating some general community forums dedicated to things like artwork, "Where are you now?" threads, maybe even some other MMO-specific forums, etc.

Fourth of all, there are still things going on related to the game.  In case anyone missed the auction, the Real World Hero charity drive is still going.  We had a very successful Extra Life charity event that raised a few thousand dollars, and Real World Hero is shaping up to really help out, too.  It's at around $1,700 and counting.  The drive ends on December 15, so please take a few bucks out of your wallet to help out.  Massive kudos to Maressa who coordinated the Extra Life charity drive and to the Wentworths who coordinate Real World Hero.  The willingness of our community to help out even while facing our own form of adversity speaks volumes about our character.

Fifth of all, I am not giving up hope that we'll still be able to acquire City of Heroes at some point.  Right now, NCsoft is suffering a massive PR black eye (gee, really?) for their unwillingness to sell or license the IP for reasonable terms.  I've heard some of the terms they were demanding, and they really are unreasonable.  Needless to say, claiming that they had "exhausted all efforts" was disingenuous at best.  People have been taking to their Facebook, Twitter, and other public pages to let the larger gaming community know what's going on.  While I'm not directly leading those efforts, as a gamer myself, I have been encouraging people to share how they feel to other communities so that even if City of Heroes can't be saved, it gives game publishers a heavy dose of reality to chew on.

And speaking of NCsoft, they're not doing so well right now.  Their stock price is currently down to 169,000 KRW.  The 52-week low?  That's right, 169,000 KRW.  They are a whopping 52.5% off their 52-week high and have been consistently falling almost since the closure of City of Heroes was announced.  While I don't think that investors care so much about City of Heroes specifically, I do think that they are taking note that it represents NCsoft's floundering presence in the North American market.  While Guild Wars 2 launched to much fanfare, I honestly don't think it will be the stable long-term source of income that City of Heroes was, and there is a lot of negative attention being given to Blade and Soul even before it launches.

I mention all of this because if NCsoft goes bankrupt or is sold to some kind of holding company, there's a distinct possibility that the IP and/or code base could be acquired at liquidation or fire sale price.  It's definitely something that we are keeping a very close eye on and hopeful about.

Sixth, I wanted to say a few words about Paragon Studios.  So far, I know of three former Paragon Studios staffers that have publicly mentioned that they have a new job.  Andy "Zwillinger" Belford was hired at Electronic Arts, which is actually where he worked before taking the job at Paragon Studios.  He says that he's working on a project that isn't released yet and can't talk much about it, but knowing Andy, with him involved, it will undoubtedly be successful and I can't wait to hear more.  Hosun "Black Pebble" Lee landed at Epic Games and relocated out to the East Coast.  I sure hope that unlike NCsoft, they'll throw some marketing budget his way.  Sean "Dr. Aeon" McCann got snapped up by Cryptic Studios (yes, that Cryptic Studios) and is working on Star Trek: Online.  I can't wait to see what awesome storylines are propagated to that universe by this talented writer.  At least one other person also is working at Cryptic, but I don't know who.  I've also heard a few rumors about various people, but nothing I don't want to share without them verifying they're true and that they don't mind it being shared first.

At one point, I know there was talk about some of the developers and management reforming a new studio.  Now, I honestly don't know if enough developers have found new jobs that there would be enough left to create a studio without hiring on a lot of new talent.  Even if there were, I'm not sure what the feasibility is of developing a new superhero genre MMORPG.  If I hear anything on that front, I'll let you all know, but for now, I'm assuming that there are no imminent plans in the works.

Seventh, I have gotten some good inside information on things that were in the works at Paragon Studios, including some pitches made for City of Heroes 2 (yes, they wanted to make it, and badly!) and little bit of info about the Secret Project™.  I'll try to write up at least a few bits of information and post it, but obviously, some of it is a little sensitive and I want to make sure that none of it can be traced back to personally identify anyone.  I think that everyone except Hit Streak and maybe Theresa are out from under contract so you might see some of this stuff making its way out to the public on its own, but some folks are still under severance agreement and various NDAs, so I wouldn't expect a flood or anything yet.  I'll try to keep in touch with folks so that as weeks or months pass, if they want to drop a few nuggets of info, they can.

Anyway, that's the latest.  I still REALLY appreciate everyone's continued support, and while NCsoft has abandoned us, I still have hope that our community will survive and sincerely hope that we can rebuild in some form the passion that they have so casually tossed aside.

Oh, and one last thought.  While this time has been a struggle, one of our own members, Moonfyire101, has been facing a MUCH more difficult struggle.  Her dad, who is also an avid City of Heroes player and fan, has been told that he has one to two months to live due to cancer.  Please, keep her and her dad in your thoughts and prayers as they go through this really difficult time.  As I see stories like this that break my heart, as well as stories such as the birth of mini-Turg (and many irresistibly cute pictures that follow) that lift my spirits, it makes me realize how vastly wrong people are who think that this is "just a game" or not worth fighting for.  We're all friends and virtual neighbors sharing joy and pain, and NCsoft will never be able to flip a switch and turn that off.

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2012, 10:07:30 pm »
Tony, thanks, as usual for taking the time to keep us posted. The Titan Network is and will remain our beacon of hope in these difficult times.

And since we are heroes, we will stand tall and remain long after the lights have gone dark over the skies of Paragon, waiting for the moment where we will soar again over Atlas Park (33) !
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WildFire15

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2012, 10:44:27 pm »
Thanks for the update Tony. Good to hear some of Paragon Studios' former employees have found work.

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2012, 10:54:10 pm »
Thanks Tony..

 Its not just a game.. I made a toon called Sunstroke in honor of my first child. Two years old and he would sit on my lap at the PC and press the space bar to watch His level 50 Shield/Fire tank jump up and down..

 Its not just a game to some of us..

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2012, 11:04:11 pm »
Thanks for the update. And all the best of luck to everyone brave and talented enough to soldier on with Plan Z. May the lawyers ignore you, the donations support you, and great talent find you.

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2012, 11:40:14 pm »
Thanks very much for the update, Tony.  You may not be specifically leading some threads of this effort, but you remain our overall "spiritual" leader, so it's good to hear your eloquent voice again.

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2012, 11:47:51 pm »
thanks for the update tony, i expected about as much since i been keeping track with a few of the specific threads such as the stockwatch

to throw out the little bit of villain speak:

*twirls evil mustache* everything is going according to plan... *evil laugh*

Minotaur

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2012, 12:08:07 am »
Several more of the devs have actually found work:

http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showthread.php?t=298279 is the thread that's being updated, current state below.

Sean "Dr. Aeon" McCann confirmed today he is working on Star Trek Online over at Cryptic, at least according to his Twitter account.

Andy "Zwillinger" Belford is now at Electronic Arts.

Fire Man (aka Bass Ackwards) is now at Trion Worlds.

Phil "Synapse" Zeleski is working for Cryptic Studios.

Hosun "Black Pebble" Lee is working for Epic Games.

Nate "Second Measure" Birkholz is working for Z2Live.

Jeff "Arbiter Hawk" Hamilton is also at Cryptic Studios.

Leo "Honey Badger" Braz de Cunha is at Gazillion Entertainment.

Destin Bales is a Senior Producer at Riot Games.

Neal Kettler is a Software Architect at Riot Games.

Jason Lee is a UI Engineer at Storm8.

Andy Maurer is Online Engineer at Sledgehammer Games.

Tim "Black Scorpion" Sweeney is at Capcom.

Keetsie "Tunnel Rat" Braz da Cunha is at Toys for Bob.

Quote
Second of all, work is still being done on reverse engineering the server.  This work is going very well.  I honestly think at this point it's not a matter of if anything can be salvaged, it's a matter of how much and the legalities of the situation.  It's definitely something we'll be following up on and letting people know about as soon as possible.

This really troubles me as the legalities are not in our favour. I'm not sure I can associate myself with an effort that is doing something which is IMO illegal. This needs to be COMPLETELY separate from Titan or Plan Z does, otherwise I will find it very difficult to participate. The way the law is, people have been extradited from the UK to the US for less than this and no I'm not joking.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 12:17:26 am by Minotaur »

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2012, 02:34:19 am »
Thanks a whole bunch for the update, Tony!

And I'm glad so many former devs have found other work-- even though it breaks my heart to see them all broken apart like that.  And it sure doesn't look like there's much of Paragon Studios left to bring another game to fruition through kickstarter or what-have-you....  Oh well, I'm glad they safely landed on their feet, and all those others games will be so much better off for them all being there....

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2012, 03:13:51 am »
Thanks for the update! My own thoughts on what NCSoft is in Bunker mentality. They have closed their mind to doing anything new or different. All they are doing is hunkering down, ignoring the whole thing and hoping December 1 comes soon!  I am reminded of the one Vietnam battle when a firebase was attacked. The commanders in charge of the south Vietnamese troops ran into a bunker sealed the doors shut and ignored the whole battle. They didn't come out till the fight was over.

Me heart and prayers go out to Moonfyire101 and her father.

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2012, 04:44:41 am »
Thanks much for this update. It's just plain mind-boggling that NCSoft can't see how ending CoH has brought us even closer together as a community. In any case, now matter what goes down Nov. 30th, one way or another, City of Heroes will rise again.
"Heroes may die, but heroism never shall." ~Cyrus "Breakneck" Thompson

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2012, 05:03:13 am »
This really troubles me as the legalities are not in our favour.

Oh, how quickly we forget.

I'm assuming that you're typing that message on a PC running Windows, and/or a Mac with an Intel chip inside it?

Let me tell you a story. A story about two tiny unknown little companies, who in 1982, reverse engineered the IBM PC BIOS and built compatible systems. One of those was CDP, the other, Compaq Computer Corporation. The resulting explosion in popularity of the clones, not the original, caused it to overtake the single-manufacturer designs and cemented it as the foundation of what would become the PC revolution.

In 1986, a small chip manufacturer that IBM had been using to second-source the 8086 and 80286 had their contract abruptly terminated by Intel (probably because IBM was no longer the primary consumer of their chips). Instead of giving up, they started from scratch and reverse engineered the 80386, eventually producing a competing version. They did the same for every new feature that Intel added, eventually coming up with improvements of their own that Intel was forced to integrate or fall behind. The resulting processor war caused prices to drop dramatically, while rapidly advancing the technology much faster than it would have with Intel resting on their laurels. If you haven't guessed yet, the company in question was Advanced Micro Devices, better known as simply AMD.

There are many other examples as well. MS-DOS and PC-DOS (and CP/M for that matter). Xerox and Mac/Windows. The list goes on.

Yes, it can be a legal minefield and those companies eventually lawyered up, but it's a sad state of affairs that a few software giants have managed to lobby and brainwash people into thinking that the very thing they built their empires on is outright illegal. Being in constant irrational fear is no way to live.

See also: Samba, OpenOffice, etc.

Quote
This needs to be COMPLETELY separate from Titan or Plan Z does, otherwise I will find it very difficult to participate.

Well, hate to break it to you, but that along with other projects is something that Titan Skunkworks has been working on since long before Plan Z was a glimmer in anyone's eye. Splitting Plan Z off into its own legal entity is a good idea anyway for a variety of reasons.

If NCSoft wants to spend money for the sole purpose of harassing some hobbyists who pose no threat to them and only care to preserve some fragment of the work that Cryptic and Paragon poured their hearts into for historical record and posterity, then they're free to do so, and no amount of precautions can prevent that. That's assuming they can even pass muster with only rumor and people chatting on forums about the possibility to go on. It certainly won't help their stock value or public image, but it's their money to waste, especially since there isn't anything infringing for them to find.

However, I'd still prefer they didn't, because that would be annoying. So I for one am not going to mention it again, as that's something that can be done perfectly well behind the scenes.

Minotaur

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2012, 05:47:23 am »

If NCSoft wants to spend money for the sole purpose of harassing some hobbyists who pose no threat to them and only care to preserve some fragment of the work that Cryptic and Paragon poured their hearts into for historical record and posterity, then they're free to do so, and no amount of precautions can prevent that. That's assuming they can even pass muster with only rumor and people chatting on forums about the possibility to go on. It certainly won't help their stock value or public image, but it's their money to waste, especially since there isn't anything infringing for them to find.

However, I'd still prefer they didn't, because that would be annoying. So I for one am not going to mention it again, as that's something that can be done perfectly well behind the scenes.

They already harrassed the people who did this for TR, a C&D letter hardly costs a load of money.

It also gives NCSoft a reason to bash the Titan network (and plan Z by association) "they're a bunch of criminals anyway" etc.

I don't understand the Xerox reference (I used to work for them). Xerox merely decided they wouldn't fund the development of what would become Windows, so groups of ex Xerox research people went off and did it themselves as Apple/Microsoft with no particular clandestine activity.


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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2012, 05:51:29 am »
Yeah, I think the precedent is more in favor of NCSoft than it would have been in the heady days when a company called Cyrix had market share. Seriously, not meaning that to be as condescending as it sounds.
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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2012, 07:37:34 am »
Thanks for the update, Tony.   Looking forward to further coordinated efforts to Save City of Heroes.
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TonyV

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2012, 07:38:15 am »
They already harrassed the people who did this for TR, a C&D letter hardly costs a load of money.

If I'm not mistaken (fair warning, I haven't researched the TR emulator so I might very well be), it was probably because the Tabula Rasa emulator also emulated the IP within the game.  That is illegal; it's copyright and/or trademark infringement.  They can also nail you if you distribute the game client; it will be up to players to keep their copy of it.  Those have never been the intention of the emulator, though.  It will only emulate the server, and will contain no City of Heroes intellectual property.  (Unless at some point we're able to acquire the IP from NCsoft or whatever company ends up with it if they are sold or go out of business.)

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2012, 07:47:17 am »
If I'm not mistaken (fair warning, I haven't researched the TR emulator so I might very well be), it was probably because the Tabula Rasa emulator also emulated the IP within the game.  That is illegal; it's copyright and/or trademark infringement.  They can also nail you if you distribute the game client; it will be up to players to keep their copy of it.  Those have never been the intention of the emulator, though.  It will only emulate the server, and will contain no City of Heroes intellectual property.  (Unless at some point we're able to acquire the IP from NCsoft or whatever company ends up with it if they are sold or go out of business.)
Of course if someone were to also clone the client and release replacement IP, they'd be up the creek.

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2012, 01:49:15 pm »
Thanks for the update Tony. COH both game, and community is one of a kind. I am not even sure a COH 2 would be close to the same. I have been playing a little in other games recently. STO, CO, and DCUO. They all have things I like, but none are the total package that COH delivers. Tomorrow I go back to work for 4 days, after that I will be playing COH a lot right up to the end. This week was fun. While I did play the before mentioned games some, I also played COH on Justice my home sever. We are continuing are weekly Hami Raids on Monday, and Wednesday nights, and Yesterday on Tuesday sadly we had are last Tanker Tuesday. I ended up doing 2 ITFs last night each with a different Tank. (Man Of Tomorrow, and Whittle Kenny) I wasn't there for the xp rewards, or anything was just having lots of fun. That is all it is about now. I don't bother with selling anymore, I give tons of influence away for events and such. I have billions why hoard it now. I would love for the game to be saved, and me broke. I made it once I can make it again. Like I say XP, Influence, Prestige, Salvage, and Recipes are not something I really care about now. I am just enjoying the fun, and the memories.

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2012, 02:01:26 pm »
They already harrassed the people who did this for TR, a C&D letter hardly costs a load of money.

And what exactly would they tell us to cease and desist doing? Discussing possibilities on a forum?

The intent has never been to run or server or host anything on our site that would give anyone a target for something like that. That would be dumb.

If they want to send a C&D to Plan Z, there's nothing stopping them from sending one regardless of what else is going on. Anybody can write a letter just to be jerks.

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Re: Status Update (November 13)
« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2012, 02:19:58 pm »
Thank you very much for the update, TonyV!

And a very special thank you to everyone doing something to help save City of Heroes! Even if you think it isn't much, every little bit DOES help. Stay vigilant and keep fighting the good fight!

My heart and prayers also go out to Moonfyire101 and her father.




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