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 End™.
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...