Author Topic: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)  (Read 16453 times)

Codewalker

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The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« on: April 22, 2019, 05:15:40 AM »
So I've been away for a while, mostly recovering from some pretty serious burnout, and came in late on all the drama. I've spent a couple days reading and thinking and trying to decide what, if anything, to say about it. After starting and rewriting this post about half a dozen times, I think the best course of action is just to answer some of the more pertinent questions and try to correct some incorrect information I've seen floating around.

First, yes, I did know about Leandro's server. I didn't play on it, but I knew it existed*, and have contacts within its community. I kept my mouth shut for a variety of reasons, but the most important personally is because when I make a promise to somebody, I take it really damn seriously. I've done my level best to be as truthful as possible and avoid misleading the community, mostly by just staying quiet whenever discussions of emulators or private servers came up, or speaking only in vague hypothetical terms. I completely understand if people feel let down by that, but I'm not going to apologize for not betraying a confidence.

* Seriously, like half the CoH community knew about it; I can't decide if it's the best kept or worst kept secret.

For what it's worth, from the beginning what I was hearing from Leandro was that he planned a public release at some point, either after a full rewrite so that it could plausibly pass as new code (which ended up being a lot more complex than expected and stalling out last I heard), or otherwise with precautions to ensure it couldn't be traced back to whoever leaked it to him. Sounds like the passage of time may have done the trick for the latter part.

So, on to the Paragon Chat questions.

What is the relationship between S.C.o.R.E. and Paragon Chat?

That really depends on how you define SCoRE. What I always called SCoRE was the effort to write a ground-up clean code server replacement that could be released as open source. But now people are conflating it with Leo's leaked code server, and it seems to be far too late to put that genie back in the bottle, so I guess I'll just go with it.

By that second definition, very little. Leandro wrote the logon UI and a few other miscellaneous bits for the original release. He also provided the Tequila launcher, which was used initially for the download and updates.

Since then, there hasn't been just a whole ton of coordination. Leandro was busy dealing with personal issues a lot and keeping his server running, and I've been doing all the Paragon Chat code and updates. Paragon Chat abandoned the Tequila launcher fairly early on due to it being lacking in several important ways (apologies to the developer who wrote it) and implemented its own patching system. Some people still use Tequila to get the I24 files, but for a long time we've recommended against using it.

Leandro has also helped out with PR for some of the events, and provided content from his team, some of which was probably developed for his server but he wanted to give to the community where possible. So don't be surprised if you see similarities between the i25 build and stuff that was added to PChat.

Is it true that Paragon Chat was just a "smokescreen" for the secret server?

Absolutely not. I take strong exception to that.

I have no doubt that Leandro found it useful to have out there as a diversion, or that some people who played on his server thought it was just a smokescreen. But that's not why it exists. It was created for the community, to do as much as I possibly could.

I certainly didn't put hundreds of hours of coding into this as a mere smokescreen. F that.

What's this about Paragon Chat donations going to the SCORE server?

One of the more ridiculous rumors that's been floating around.

That would be a neat trick, since Paragon Chat has never asked for donations, and never accepted any. I've turned away everyone who offered, even the intangible offers like creating character portraits. Sorry if you're one of those who offered -- it wasn't personal -- I just thought it best to keep any exchange of money or value as far away from the project as possible.

So what now for Paragon Chat?

I honestly don't know yet.

The goal was always to use the PChat code to build an actual server out of it eventually. PChat is the equivalent of a miniaturized stack (dbserver+database+mapserver+content) all rolled into something small enough to run on a desktop. The XMPP stuff is just bolted on to the backend to synchronize state between mapservers. I've also been doing a lot of early but promising experiments with multimaster synchronization of powers and combat, which I thought might lead to a fully decentralized game implementation. One that in theory could never be shut down.

But I've been pretty much doing it by myself for the last couple years, and my free time is limited... Now that the real deal is out there, there doesn't seem like much of a need for Paragon Chat anymore. And you know, that's actually kind of a relief.

I think I'll wait a while and see what the community comes up with before making a final decision.

Atlantea

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2019, 07:52:38 AM »
Personally I think Paragon Chat should stay at least for now. It may not be a GAME. But it can still be a useful hub for both social functions and communication between groups of people who may be on different servers.

I'm not sure how viable turning PChat into an actual game would be. But - maybe if the server source code could serve as some kind of guide to bolt on things? Maybe? But only as a guide. The idea obviously being that it would be a good idea to have at least one version of Paragon City out there that isn't using code illegally. (Not that I'm particularly against that, but you know - lawyers.)
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saipaman

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2019, 12:53:39 PM »
I'd advise waiting until we know what's going on with NCSoft.

Crystalclear

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2019, 01:45:09 PM »
I'd just like to say "thankyou" to you for all your hard work in bringing us Paragon Chat. It's not easy to do things on your own but you persevered and gave the community "something" when there could have been nothing.
Well done on an amazing effort which I for one appreciate.

Korbian

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2019, 02:54:11 PM »
Codewalker, I just want to hug the crap out of you, man.  (Well, okay, not literally.  :P

Paragon Chat has become more of a home to me than live servers ever were, as far as the family I've become a part of there.  I mean, I met the love of my life there, and have made so many more friends.  I came hoping to find some of the people I used to know on live, but I found so much more.

And Paragon Chat is really cool for other reasons.  I mean, you can't just chill in the Cascades and enjoy the pretty waterfalls on live.  There's mobs everywhere.  And I bet you won't be able to DB edit either, and we've had SO much fun with that toy.  ;D  Not to mention what PChat means to the RP crowd.

All that being said, I guess my question is, even if you stop updating it, will Paragon Chat at least still be here?  I understand if it's not worth the costs of maintaining, since I have no idea what those costs may be, but I think a lot of us will miss it if it has to go away.  Oh wait.  That's what this thread is deciding.  Sorry.  I haven't had coffee yet.

Seriously though.  I know I've said it infinity times but thank you, Codewalker, for everything you've done for all of us.  Shelve PChat for now and focus on you.  But don't chuck it completely. It'll give you something to do when you retire.

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MyriVerse

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2019, 03:48:28 PM »
What Korbi said.

PChat has given us things the real game never did. It would be a shame to lose it. But if it comes to that, it's cool. I'll definitely be keeping it locally forever.

Thanks always for what you and others have given us.
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Tahquitz

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2019, 04:01:26 PM »
Titan Network isn't in the habit of kicking off tools when someone stops developing them.  If the live game is back, you can still get Paragon Chat from here indefinitely.  And if a community wants to have a private RP-only chat server of their own, Paragon Chat still has utility for that purpose.

I'll save a real goodbye for Paragon Chat when Codewalker makes his decision.  Until then, I've got nothing but gratitude.  For the app, for Titan Network for being the lifeboat, for the friends I've made there, and for the Paragon Chat community at large who have been nothing but amazing... even if lately it's been the "lobby" everyone's been waiting in between the Public Game Server resets.

This isn't goodbye, this is just thanks.  Thanks Codewalker.  We're in your debt.
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Codewalker

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2019, 04:46:38 PM »
Yes, just to be clear, I'm not talking about shutting down the XMPP server. That's up to Tony & crew and I have no reason to believe they have any intention of turning it off. Even if they did, somebody could start a new one and create accounts for however many they wanted (or do open registration like Titan), and everybody's characters would move with them. That was the whole point of engineering it that way after all.

I'm only talking about whether any further development on Paragon Chat makes sense. It's served its purpose as a temporary refuge, and while there are some potential uses both for RP/exploration as well as a development tool, those may be better served in the long run by modifying the code that was released since it's more complete. But it will take some time for the situation to stabilize and see how it all shakes out.

slickriptide

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2019, 04:49:53 PM »
Well, until, and unless, a "monolithic" solution to running a server is provided, Paragon Chat continues to provide the same sort of service it always has - the ability to operate in a server-like environment but control many or all of the aspects of how you do that. For the average user of Paragon Chat, going back to a "normal" implementation of the game may be a fun experience but it will also be a more limited experience in many ways.

In any case - the only reason there's a live play server today is that Leandro has a live play server that he is sharing. The "vanilla" codebase has no such working solution at the present time and by all accounts it will be quite a while before such exists. It's not even clear that data files for a working I-24 server exist or can be replicated. And even if that is worked out, there's still the issue that the current "server" is actually a collection of server processes that are resource-intensive enough to require multiple physical servers to run them on. Even the "A-Team" of guys who had an I-24 server running on a single VM within a couple of days have apparently given up on that dream. It didn't work and it won't until many people take a shot at refactoring the vanilla code and making it into something that strictly speaking, is no longer the vanilla code.

In short - the release of the I-24 code has not immediately invalidated anything about Paragon Chat. People who like hanging about looking like NPC's and db-editing their costumes or creating map mods or whatever are not going to find themselves doing those things in any existing private server and quite possibly not in any future private server either.

Codewalker has to make his own decisions, of course, but just as SEGS is going on about its business, I'd see Paragon Chat going on about its business. If Codewalker wants to retire, I might suggest putting up a git repository with the PChat code  and making it available for someone to pick up the torch if they desire. The one good thing that this release of CoH source code means is that Codewalker doesn't have to be the "goto guy" when people want to learn the inner workings of the client code. That code is now out there for anyone who wants to examine it. (Though, don't get the idea that it's easy to read. It's not.)

Codewalker - Do what you want. You've been a foundation of this community and a patient resource for anyone who wanted to learn. We all appreciate it and support any decision you make. We're not going anywhere just because there's an alternative now.

MyriVerse

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2019, 07:33:41 PM »
Well, looks like we're back to PChat being the only option available.

In lieu of today's events, I think PChat should definitely stay around as long as the server owner is willing. Whether or not we get updates is up to you, CW. It's awesometastic as it is already.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2019, 07:56:17 PM by MyriVerse »
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navyrayne

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2019, 07:50:56 PM »
It was good while it lasted, but we need you and PChat to stay in the game Codewalker. So, please, stay with us.
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Jagblade

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2019, 07:57:30 PM »
Is Paragon chat gone as well now? I cannot access or install it.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2019, 08:07:58 PM »
I'm logged into Paragon Chat right now, along with about 70 others>

Nyghtshade

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2019, 08:25:35 PM »
Right now, as news spreads about the Score server and website being shut down earlier today, Paragon Chat is once again a gathering point for the COH communitiy.  It's midday on a weekday, and we have 83 folk logged in, holding torches and talking about this past weekend.

Codewalker, I don't have enough words to express how important your work on Paragon Chat has been to all of us.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I'll be here as long as P.C. is.   <3

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2019, 09:14:40 PM »
Right now, as news spreads about the Score server and website being shut down earlier today, Paragon Chat is once again a gathering point for the COH communitiy.  It's midday on a weekday, and we have 83 folk logged in, holding torches and talking about this past weekend.

I have to a place to hang out and cry for awhile, be seeing you soon (perhaps with the new costume I had just created when live2 shut down.

Quote
Codewalker, I don't have enough words to express how important your work on Paragon Chat has been to all of us.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I'll be here as long as P.C. is.   <3

Ditto.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2019, 10:12:06 PM »
Even if private game servers go up again, I think Paragon Chat is worth keeping around, and I'm glad Codewalker put it out there in the first place - even if it's not the full game experience, I always likened it to a Paragon City where the heroes, having successfully fought off all the evils the city was facing, were able to retire. :)

Finding a way to insulate or provide redundancy to that, should the cohtitan.com server ever go down, doesn't seem like a bad idea, though.
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MaidMercury

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2019, 11:53:59 PM »
Yezz, keep Paragon CHAT around...It's a quaint hangout that gives us the basic game environment.
I love seeing Paragon and all the zones...even if it's a quiet world.

It's my stomping ground. I look forward to mini celebrations, Halloween, Ski Lodge.

Many of us appreciate all your hard work, else we wouldn't be using it. :roll:

DeProgrammer

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2019, 01:19:46 AM »
Codewalker: You're not an elephant!

Even if there were bunches of fully playable production-like servers out there, Paragon Chat could go in a different direction. I don't know what that direction is, but I'm sure we'll think of something good.  ;)

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2019, 01:38:30 AM »
Paragon Chat and Jackbox Games team up!

(Okay, that's probably wishful thinking.)
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Kheprera

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2019, 02:07:15 AM »
I'd like PChat to stay, personally.

Base building was still not stable on the test server. Base building is my go-to for destressing. Having that back has been life saving for me.

However, I can understand Codewalker wanting to step away. His choice. And I will honor that choice.

Thank you for everything you've done.