Author Topic: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)  (Read 8554 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.

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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.

"It doesn't matter which face She was wearing.  They're all the Doctor to me."

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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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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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>

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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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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:

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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.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2019, 01:26:26 PM »
Please keep Paragon Chat.  All of your hard work is very much appreciated.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2019, 04:56:00 PM »
Here's what I'm wondering - Now that the source code is in the wild, it seems to me that it's less that "now there's no need for Paragon Chat" than "Now there's no need for patching and overwriting the client in-memory code.".

I suspect that enjoyment of reverse-engineering is a large part of what got you interested in making Paragon Chat in the first place, Codewalker, but if you don't HAVE to reverse-engineer it, then what's your interest level in building a new client that has Paragon Chat built-in instead of tacked on?

Paragon Chat 2.0, basically.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2019, 05:00:39 PM »
Codewalker you are working on NPCS and combat?

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2019, 05:13:53 PM »
I suspect that enjoyment of reverse-engineering is a large part of what got you interested in making Paragon Chat in the first place, Codewalker, but if you don't HAVE to reverse-engineer it, then what's your interest level in building a new client that has Paragon Chat built-in instead of tacked on?

I am admittedly not Codewalker, so while I won't claim to be inside his head, I can speak on behalf of Titan Network on this matter.

Since the original source code for the game client is illegal for anyone outside of NCsoft to have or use, Paragon Chat will not begin using it, nor even reference it as a shortcut around reverse-engineering. Paragon Chat has been fully legal up to now, and will remain fully legal going forward.

Codewalker

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2019, 06:08:52 PM »
I've been hearing from a lot of people, here, in Paragon Chat, and in PMs, who would like to see the project continue even in the light of private servers out there. I didn't expect quite that much of a reaction, and I'm touched to hear about some of the personal connections that people have made through it -- that blew my mind.

Since there are going to be plenty of talented people hacking away on the full-blown server, I'm thinking maybe this is an opportunity to go even more in a different direction. There isn't as pressing of a need to try to reproduce combat and leveling (admittedly the hardest part in a distributed environment) since that will be filled by the various private servers. Instead I could focus on the more creative aspects like basebuilding, character creation (integrate Icon's NPC mode?), RP, tabletop, as well as exploration and building on the ability to see the game world without being attacked.

It would be interesting to hear some ideas for development direction, especially from those in the community who think they might still have a use for Paragon Chat even after game servers are widely available.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2019, 06:32:21 PM by Codewalker »

Codewalker

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #25 on: April 23, 2019, 06:15:08 PM »
Here's what I'm wondering - Now that the source code is in the wild, it seems to me that it's less that "now there's no need for Paragon Chat" than "Now there's no need for patching and overwriting the client in-memory code.".

I suspect that enjoyment of reverse-engineering is a large part of what got you interested in making Paragon Chat in the first place, Codewalker, but if you don't HAVE to reverse-engineer it, then what's your interest level in building a new client that has Paragon Chat built-in instead of tacked on?

Paragon Chat 2.0, basically.

I was thinking about that. Right now the client piece relies on a custom exe loader that builds out the process, loads in the Issue 24 client code, and patches it using a runtime assembler -- tied together with symbol names I got from a leaked pdb file and a bunch of automation to make near source level modification possible. But even with those advanced techniques there are some static things that are difficult to change. Simply patching the source and recompiling would allow for a lot more possibilities than are currently feasible. This would also allow for importing the enhanced base editing features from SCORE's I25 client.

In an environment with a bunch of full blown private servers popping up all over the place, that would be a lot easier to get away with...

Giving it some thought.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #26 on: April 23, 2019, 08:29:33 PM »
Count me as another vote for keeping Pargaon Chat going. Because the private servers might still get shut down. Because, if the private servers have to disperse to the four winds in order to survive, PC still provides a place where we can all come together. Because, even without mobs or missions, PC is still a great place to socialize, role-play, or futz around with the base builder.

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« Reply #27 on: April 23, 2019, 09:03:13 PM »
Ideas?   Dev Kits! 
I mean, I get that you have a life outside of Paragon Chat, and I'm asking a lot . . . but if far-flung dreams are permitted, then I'd like to see you work on development tools that "weak-sauce" devs on my level can utilize with ease.  Ideally, tools for implementing additional costume pieces or graphic effects in to the costume creator and emotes.  I think it would be amazing and wonderful for a community content group to form with people importing original creations to further flesh out the options available in Paragon Chat to express ourselves.

Also . . . base building is great, but what about full map building?   Such as utilizing the tileset pieces found in mission maps or the zone maps.  How feasible is that?

I may not be developing my tabletop game of City of Heroes at the moment, and have no immediate plans to resume, but I'd still really appreciate a way to get overhead shots of interior maps without all the doodads and spawn locations showing as well.   https://www.cohtitan.com/forum/index.php?topic=12282

No matter what; thank you for everything that you've done, Codewalker.  I can't rightly express in text just how much what you've done with Paragon Chat means.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #28 on: April 23, 2019, 10:14:53 PM »
I'm wondering if the XMPP integration pieces might not be super-useful to any communities trying to build around SCoRE binaries or recompiled sources as a communication hub/global chat for those groups. Might be worth putting out an offer, at least.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #29 on: April 24, 2019, 02:12:52 AM »
Instead I could focus on the more creative aspects like basebuilding, character creation (integrate Icon's NPC mode?), RP, tabletop, as well as exploration and building on the ability to see the game world without being attacked.

This sounds really exciting, Codewalker.  I'd love to see if there's more that could be done with base-building, and exploring RP options, fantastic!

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #30 on: April 24, 2019, 02:36:56 AM »
I really love Paragon Chat, Codewalker, and hope you continue with it. You should be very proud of your contribution to our community.

Personally, I love the idea of being able to use it to host pen & paper RPG games in Paragon Chat. It would also be great to have a version we could run as a small group server (so, say, the GM could setup a server and have his or her adventures in it.

Codewalker

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #31 on: April 24, 2019, 03:31:32 AM »
So I guess you guys have seen Tony's announcement. He dropped it on me only an hour or so before he posted it.

I don't trust them further than I can throw them, but if somehow that works out I might suddenly have a lot of other stuff taking up my time. :o Whichever way things go we'll figure out a way to keep Paragon Chat alive and well.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #32 on: April 24, 2019, 03:42:18 AM »
Since there are going to be plenty of talented people hacking away on the full-blown server, I'm thinking maybe this is an opportunity to go even more in a different direction. There isn't as pressing of a need to try to reproduce combat and leveling (admittedly the hardest part in a distributed environment) since that will be filled by the various private servers. Instead I could focus on the more creative aspects like basebuilding, character creation (integrate Icon's NPC mode?), RP, tabletop, as well as exploration and building on the ability to see the game world without being attacked.

It would be interesting to hear some ideas for development direction, especially from those in the community who think they might still have a use for Paragon Chat even after game servers are widely available.

Now you're talking. I've noticed for a while that PChat shows signs of becoming a virtual world. I think that one oriented towards RP gaming of a would be perfect. Yes, the servers are nice, but when you're trying to RP a mission AE struggles with, PChat works better. :) :D

Right now, it's a good server for people to use who are using a handful of internet-forum rules with no dice or anything. These people already have most of the basics. What they would benefit, anyone RPing would benefit from.

We're working on playing with dice, too, but the dicebag appears to be loaded. Someone who hasn't forgotten how to run a chi square needs to check the D 20, and if it's as loaded as I think, we need a new, improved, not-loaded dicebag.

Expanding bases and costuming would help with RP, and social members as well. So might adding more NPCs around the place. Walkers are nice for flavor, but static standers are particularly useful. I like to have certain enemies attack some of the NPCS standing around to reduce the number of toons I need to put up. My computer doesn't like more than 5, maybe even less.


Codewalker

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #33 on: April 24, 2019, 03:47:16 AM »
We're working on playing with dice, too, but the dicebag appears to be loaded. Someone who hasn't forgotten how to run a chi square needs to check the D 20, and if it's as loaded as I think, we need a new, improved, not-loaded dicebag.

Wait what? I went out of my way to use a high-quality RNG for that rather than the standard dumb rand(). I'm going to be really disappointed if it's not as random as the paper claimed.

aeb

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #34 on: April 24, 2019, 04:10:44 AM »
Wait what? I went out of my way to use a high-quality RNG for that rather than the standard dumb rand(). I'm going to be really disappointed if it's not as random as the paper claimed.

I know it's hard to get things properly random with a computer, but I played AD&D for around 3 decades, and our dice weren't biased, because Dad did run chi-squares on them to prove it. None of our d20's rolled 3 1's in a row as often as that dicebag has this spring. I've personally done it at least 3 times, and others friends have, too. We aren't rolling them so often that makes any sense on unloaded dice. *spread hands*

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Re: The Room in the Elephant
« Reply #35 on: April 24, 2019, 04:23:36 AM »
Also . . . base building is great, but what about full map building?   Such as utilizing the tileset pieces found in mission maps or the zone maps.  How feasible is that?

You must not have heard about what it was exactly that Leandro added to base building.

He was sharing screenshots with someone on a live stream over the weekend of what people had made with it, and they essentially had access to most of the static models in the game (Trees, signs, some visual effects, you name it), and said that the map size limit was raised so much you literally could make entire zones with it. The examples he showed were things like temples, floating outdoor islands, a giant plane looking thing (Like something the Skyraiders would probably use for a base, as several people pointed out in the stream), and a literal space station that was actually in a space skybox.

If Codewalker could somehow get that working in Paragon Chat, I'm sure people would have kittens to be able to mess around with the new tools.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #36 on: April 24, 2019, 04:59:46 AM »
I would love to see the basebuilder expanded so we have things like Walls. Real walls, not things made from bookcases.

Spiral staircases. Glass without emblems. Floors that you can't see through from below. Real water effects.

I never knew my real grandfather. He was killed in a plane crash two weeks before my mom's 14th birthday. He was an architect. Base building has allowed me to somewhat connect to this man I never got to meet, but who I hear stories of, such as him dancing a jig and playing the harmonica on the lunch tables in high school. I'd like to be able to build extravagant things so my SG can RP, roam around the isles doing stuff without getting attacked, even if we are playing in CoX or CoT or whichever game system we're in.

And we have D&D nights, and it would be kind of cool to build a dungeon and have our characters roaming through it as we played. The possibilities.

So yes, I want Paragon Chat to live on. Please.  ;D

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Re: The Room in the Elephant
« Reply #37 on: April 24, 2019, 05:10:15 AM »
You must not have heard about what it was exactly that Leandro added to base building.

He was sharing screenshots with someone on a live stream over the weekend of what people had made with it, and they essentially had access to most of the static models in the game (Trees, signs, some visual effects, you name it), and said that the map size limit was raised so much you literally could make entire zones with it. The examples he showed were things like temples, floating outdoor islands, a giant plane looking thing (Like something the Skyraiders would probably use for a base, as several people pointed out in the stream), and a literal space station that was actually in a space skybox.

If Codewalker could somehow get that working in Paragon Chat, I'm sure people would have kittens to be able to mess around with the new tools.
That sounds lovely actually.
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Eiko-chan

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #38 on: April 24, 2019, 05:12:18 AM »
I would love to see the basebuilder expanded so we have things like Walls. Real walls, not things made from bookcases.

Spiral staircases. Glass without emblems. Floors that you can't see through from below. Real water effects.
But is it really Base Building if it's not equal parts hack and brilliant?

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #39 on: April 24, 2019, 12:24:46 PM »
I pretty much just want to see everything, regardless of what happens. I want to see PC stay alive and well through all this. So, ya know, do what you think is best and easiest.
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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #40 on: April 24, 2019, 01:32:12 PM »
...Instead I could focus on the more creative aspects like basebuilding, character creation (integrate Icon's NPC mode?), RP, tabletop, as well as exploration and building on the ability to see the game world without being attacked.

It would be interesting to hear some ideas for development direction, especially from those in the community who think they might still have a use for Paragon Chat even after game servers are widely available.

Oh yeah, extending the character editing could go farther than Icon. Technically, it already does in Paragon Chat, with the definition-editing allowing access to just about everything, plus component scaling, though scaling hacks seem to result in characters not actually being visible across the network.

I don't know if the interest sparked by this code release will spur development of more, or more versatile, tools for working with the game files, but anyone working on extended resources (graphics/models/costume components/maps/missions/etc.) for private servers could use a way of implementing and testing those files properly apart from a server connection. Of course, we've had related discussions about this -- years ago now -- so I'm not unaware of the scale and complexity.

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Re: The Room in the Elephant
« Reply #41 on: April 24, 2019, 06:52:45 PM »
Also . . . base building is great, but what about full map building?   Such as utilizing the tileset pieces found in mission maps or the zone maps.  How feasible is that?

The map editor has been on my radar for a while. It's fairly low-hanging fruit and even once private servers are floating around, using PChat as a lightweight map editing tool may still be desirable in order to make maps without requiring a full developer setup (SQL Server and running all the server pieces). There's just a few issues that need to be worked out in order to do things like pick texture files without having to have all of the piggs extracted and in the right place.

That said, the map editor is a royal PITA to use with a steep learning curve. The base editor is much more user-friendly, especially with all of the score additions and tweaks. But it would still be nice to have in order to make real maps that can be loaded into the game proper.

I don't know if the interest sparked by this code release will spur development of more, or more versatile, tools for working with the game files, but anyone working on extended resources (graphics/models/costume components/maps/missions/etc.) for private servers could use a way of implementing and testing those files properly apart from a server connection. Of course, we've had related discussions about this -- years ago now -- so I'm not unaware of the scale and complexity.

Maybe somebody will finally make the geo import/export/file converter tool that I've been trying to get somebody to write for years now. :P

aeb

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #42 on: April 24, 2019, 08:10:13 PM »
But is it really Base Building if it's not equal parts hack and brilliant?

I really don't think you need to worry. If it's truly as great as described, someone will take it into their heads to build Mt. Rushmore out of paving stones, stone blocks and rocks or something. ;)

No, I'm not being facetious. I used to play a home decorating game on Facebook called YoWorld. With a wide variety of chairs and tables, decorating a house or apartment was a snap. So one of the better builders built a scene of a sailing ship on the sea out of patio furniture, and invited all and sundry to ogle it. :D ;)

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #43 on: April 25, 2019, 01:24:56 AM »
Codewalker, you're awesome! Thank you for all your hard work!

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #44 on: April 25, 2019, 11:18:13 AM »
But is it really Base Building if it's not equal parts hack and brilliant?
Why, yes. Yes, it is! Just better.

That's like asking if it's really costuming if it's equal parts hacking database and brilliant. You betcha!
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Re: The Room in the Elephant
« Reply #45 on: April 25, 2019, 04:44:53 PM »
Maybe somebody will finally make the geo import/export/file converter tool that I've been trying to get somebody to write for years now. :P

If anyone ever figures out how to do it, and the steps involved with just getting meshes added into the costume creator and what the skeletal configuration is, I (and others too probably) would almost certainly jump at the chance to add new costume model options for everyone to use. Starting with (At least on my part) proper long hair styles with Ghost Widow's styled physics supporting hair meshes, cause it always bothered me that players never got any options like that, and I'm tired of faking it with capes... Assuming it's practical to even add, if not, more hair options just in general is always good, and something I would be more than willing to work on if the opportunity presents itself.

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Re: The Room in the Elephant
« Reply #46 on: April 27, 2019, 04:43:21 AM »
...proper long hair styles...

I would never want to see hair in City of Heroes that looks like the stuff people made for Sims 3. Unsatisfying as the geometry for hair in City can be, it's not in that realm of fugliness. Besides which, the Cryptic engine has issues with transparency; it can't render soft transparency masks very well, apparently due to DXT compression artifacts, and fails spectacularly with multiple layers of transparency.

Solid geometry hair meshes could be done much better (by someone very skilled at optimizing low-resolution topology and manual UV mapping), but it's something I'd hope we can be honest about setting high quality standards for. Once anything gets added into the game nobody can avoid having to look at it.

« Last Edit: April 27, 2019, 04:49:34 AM by Piledriver »

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #47 on: April 27, 2019, 05:11:10 AM »
The flowing animated hair is not that big a deal to me.  What is a big deal is having the static hair not obeying gravity.
When I've worked on a comic book-like story with a long-haired girl not standing up (e.g., being knocked down during a fight, not what you're thinking you pervert :P ) I've had to graphically edit the hair to flow down instead of sticking straight back in mid-air, especially the pony-tail(high). 

But overall, even that's not worth the effort as I'd rather have effort going into more hair styles.  And, add shorts for guys (with plaid option for golfers and old men :D ).

Mantic

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #48 on: April 27, 2019, 06:20:21 AM »
I have to admit I don't play a lot of high-end modern games due to the system demands, but is hair that obeys gravity a common thing now? I recall the Yukes pro wrestling game engines always playing with mass and spring systems for hair geometry, so at the level they're at now it's probably pretty impressive. Less so when their polygon budgets were comparable to City of Heroes. Not the most trivial effect, either, even if players take it for granted.

Ghost Widow's hair cape is similar but only works with a sheet, with no collision mechanism for interacting with other dynamic sheets. I recall back when a costume addition allowed two sheets/capes to be layered on the live servers it had to be prohibited because the interaction caused significant lag (whether that meant rendering or network I never knew, but reports sounded like it was network).

Given the source for both server and client is out there, I suppose a similar system to the Yukes engines could be attempted for City of Heroes. I think it would ramp up the system requirements a bit, though, and who knows what the dynamic LOD system would make of those components. Plus, if Paragon Chat and Icon are to remain uncontaminated that could lead to a compatibility split.

I agree that the Sims 3 hair with alpha masking was both ugly and extremely inefficient. It didn't animate, either, or even conform with the character's bones. Not good! Some of the solid geometry ("Maxis match") hair for The Sims is nice, though poly-counts are usually way too high for what they accomplish, and would be even more unacceptable in City of Heroes, where the whole base character model might be under a thousand triangles.

Graphics improvements in City of Heroes would probably come better from increased texture resolution (nothing insane, just maybe 200%) and wider use of normal maps. I'm pretty sure even mid-range computers from well over a decade ago had enough memory to handle that much, but Paragon Studios kept it low because it would have taken a lot of time to recreate the old textures or else there'd be resolution dissonance with newer items. In some cases, though, I think they bumped up the resolutions anyway. I'd have jumped in blowing up some textures for override mods, starting with things like logos and faces, but don't understand the texture headers well enough to set the resolution. Also, if a texture isn't already using the various shader maps it's not always there to do anything with. Nevermind how demotivating all the hoop-jumping converting through multiple formats just to check a texture on the mesh is.

Going back to the source code option I suppose the texture effects could also be improved or expanded. Make the reflection/specularity masking 8bit instead of 1bit and separate it into two effects, for instance.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2019, 06:32:01 AM by Mantic »

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #49 on: April 29, 2019, 02:30:02 AM »
Paragon Chat is awesome and I really hope it stays! I also hope you'll update it so it has the current AE and Costume stuff to be the i25 versions, since I almost always open Paragon Chat while in Queue to work on my stuff (mostly AE) while waiting. Any chance of this happening?

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #50 on: April 29, 2019, 08:16:37 AM »
I thought of one thing I and others - RPers and non-RPers - in PChat have wished for: more working doors. We hope it's not impossible. I, at least, am not asking for every door. However, there's a Diane's Diamonds mission map, and at least a few of each bank, and so on. If we could connect a map that fits to the doors in, we'd have a fuller, richer environment that - if the discussions I've had are right - would appeal to RPers and non-Rpers both. :)

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Re: The Room in the Elephant
« Reply #51 on: April 29, 2019, 12:48:47 PM »
The map editor has been on my radar for a while. It's fairly low-hanging fruit and even once private servers are floating around, using PChat as a lightweight map editing tool may still be desirable in order to make maps without requiring a full developer setup (SQL Server and running all the server pieces). There's just a few issues that need to be worked out in order to do things like pick texture files without having to have all of the piggs extracted and in the right place.

That said, the map editor is a royal PITA to use with a steep learning curve. The base editor is much more user-friendly, especially with all of the score additions and tweaks. But it would still be nice to have in order to make real maps that can be loaded into the game proper.

Maybe somebody will finally make the geo import/export/file converter tool that I've been trying to get somebody to write for years now. :P

Eh.  Well, I just caught this thread.  It certainly blew my mind, a little unexpected....some of the revelations that came from your personal viewpoint.

The humility was touching.

Firstly, you're very super-modest.  You're straight talking but a man of your word.  You, sir, under-estimate your importance to here...us...the whole CoH community.

We had...'NOTHING' after the shut down.

Icon.  Paragon Chat.  These were pivotal keystones in the community.  They gave us...?

'Hope.' 

Your 'labour of love' on the SG bases honours the original game.

What I didn't expect...was that you were basically, 'alone' doing all that.  So SCORE is somewhat 'loosely' affiliated.  The reality of that made me pause.  Well.  It wasn't a company working 24/7.  It was human people...doing it in their spare time for the love of the game and the community.

You didn't play the game on the server.  I can't say I'm surprised.  To me, of little consequence, personally.  But I always had you down as someone who had his own 'code.'

Paragon Chat.

1.  Don't. give. up.  Others have said it.  It's its own private server.
2.  I would like to see those experiments with the power and combat system come to fruition.  I know it's hard work.  But you can, at least study the original servers/code with the release into the wild of i24/i25. 
3.  Make Pargon the 'Minecraft' of the private servers.  We have 'no' authoring tools.
4.  (So, for that missing 1.3 on the timeline?)  Map Creator ('low hanging fruit?'  I'll take your word for it.)
5.  We've see Demonhunter/Leandro/Score's efforts on the 'alt' maps.
6.  You've talked about LUA mission creators?  'YES please.'
7.  Annexe PC as the 'distributed private server with creative tools.'
8.  The private servers don't invalidate your work.  It's hard work.  You busted your you know whats doing the base stuff.  (Ergo, burn out.)
9.  Yes.  Include the NPC/villain/mob stuff into regular PC.
10.  Street sweeping. 
11.  Dev' the tools to do AE+.  (ie.  Lua missions creator + map/zone creator.)
12.  The above are (LUA support is...) on the timeline of PC +

All I want is a 5 man super team micro server.  I was always under the impression that reverse engineering effort was the direction you were going on.  (Yes.  I'm presumptuous as much I pontificate...)  So, I earnestly implore you to go with your inner convictions.

Paragon Chat 3.

1. Low hanging fruit Map Creator (no one has that yet.  Beat them to it.)
1a. Zone creator re: above.
2. LUA script for mission support merged into AE+.
3. Micro server.
4.  The GM admin' tools (I wasn't quite sure what you mean by those...but it involves spawning NPCs?)

Unbroken Shard i25.  Is missing one thing.

CONTENT CREATION & MICRO SERVER.

Reason.

We create our own story and can play it.

I always thought that was going to be the direction.  I don't know how hard it is to do those two?  But some of it's already on PC timeline.  So, if you did the SG base stuff to that standard?  I'm sure you can put the smack down on a map creator.

You're not invalid.

You're work is not invalid.

You're part in this community is NOT invalid.

If anything, it just got more clearly defined.

I didn't realise.  I do now.

I always thought Paragon Chat (and the live server protocol hand off?) was part of an unholy war to democratise the 'dead' game so it could rise from the Ashes and never die again so we could all preserve it?  (Feel free to use that as a Paragon Chat byline...)

I don't see that invalidated.  The private servers are vulnerable.  And until somebody 'packages' it up so we can all run it on our pc...(and you've hinted after 6 years...it still hasn't happened...)  And it still won't have creative tools for some time either?

PC can annexe with the Private Servers.  It could be the leading Dev' tool.  I'd move swiftly to include a map creator if that is low hanging fruit.  Then I'm guessing putting in the Icon Npc stuff is doable? 

Not sure how far along you are with LUA stuff on the PC timeline...but integrating that as an AE+ mission creator with the stuff below...is the real challenge?

The hard part?  Bringing the combat and powers stuff to fruition.

Then you have a micro server with mission authoring tools.

Sincere (and fond) regards,

Azrael.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2019, 12:59:08 PM by Azrael »

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #52 on: April 29, 2019, 07:35:00 PM »
You helped us keep the torches lit, Codewalker. Nothing you have done for us is irrelevant or invalid.
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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #53 on: May 01, 2019, 03:07:36 AM »
As others have said, You kept the lights on for us when others refused to. Thank You Codewalker.

Tonight (Apr 30) is the first I'd really heard of the COX SCORE debacle. Like so many others, I made my peace with the fact that the game was gone a while ago. I still rant and rage about it, but I never expected it to come back in any form I knew. I don't really even fire up PChat anymore. I spend my time in Star Trek Online when I do any online gaming at all. (Which is where I finally gathered the rumors that something BIG had happened and went looking)

I am still trying to come to terms with my own feelings about all of this. "Three May Keep a Secret if Two are Dead" springs to mind. (Ben Franklin, 'Poor Richard's Almanac') I have no doubt that most people working on the original SCORE project genuinely believed that they were keeping this secret in good faith and only until the time was right. But I must ask myself... "Would the time ever have been right?" As other community members slaved away in good faith supporting the successors, or PChat, or the efforts to buy the IP, we all bemoaned how all we really wanted was our same old ten-year-old game back. At what point did it become less about protecting the project, and more about coveting the precious private party? Six Years of time?

As fair disclosure, and for those of you who may vaguely remember me from when I was still active on the TN, I was once-upon-a-time a volunteer at a domestic violence shelter. I know all about disclosures, NDAs, privacy and security and the like. I fully appreciate the concept of a multinational corporatrion with hundreds of lawyers just sitting around on their asses waiting to earn their paycheck is a VERY scary thing. But the adage above about keeping secrets holds true. Sooner or later word WILL get out there. It's a contingency that MUST be planned for.

And yet, here we find ourselves, almost eight years post-closure... six years after this private server apparently went live. And the coverage I have read tonight tells me that nobody planned for this revalation. And that, in turn, tells me that at least some were perfectly happy to continue to play in their private world, open only to those in the know, on the 'right' social networks. And that, as Eliot said in his blog post, https://massivelyop.com/2019/04/17/into-the-super-verse-the-death-of-the-city-of-heroes-community/ destroyed our sense of being a united community. I held my torch high for eight long years. Now I feel cheated.

We all knew on some level (at least here at TN) that SCORE existed. But with absolutely no public news that there was anything remotely close to a working port, those of us who weren't 'the cool kids' had given up that a working game server ever could be built, let alone that it had already happened some years past. All we knew for the last 6 years was that you, Codewalker, were slaving away on ParagonChat, and that there was SEGS, which continuyed to founder despite the best attempts... and that the money poured into titans and the other successors was very slow to show any return.  Those of us who hung out at Google Plus, or Slack or TN or Discord only had the word of our community fellows. That is the real betrayal, that we were lied to by those we thought so like us; that only people on reddit, or with the right connections, got an invite to the party. That is a community, and innocence, that we can never get back now. It used to be, that I'd see Paragon's shield or Arachnos spider and think "Hey, there's someone in the know... someone who GETS IT..." Now, I'll forever wonder "were you one of the ones?"

I used to loudly proclaim to all who grumbled on Champions Online and Trek Online about the grinding, about the pay-to-play gotchas, about the ships or power sets priced higher than a monthly subscribe "you know, there was a different way... a better way... a community of forgotten lore where none of these tropes existed and we played for the fun of it!" but now I see... our own community has also turned into the haves vs the havenots. I don't care if it was 30 people or 30,000 people; it was still the elite few who got access while the rest of us languished with only memories of what it used to be to have a game and community to call devoutely home.

I was approached by someone several years ago. I suspect now a part of the original SCORE team, asking me if I wanted 'in' on something big. I thought about it for two days, before finally deciding to politely pass. I didn't like the level of secrecy I was told would be involved. I instead made some general efforts towards some of the successor projects with feedback and offers to write lore or do testing; all of which still largely languish at Alpha phases these years later. And now I see that I was right to politely decline. It's one thing to hold to secrecy when the lives of specific individuals are on the line against a real and present danger... It's entirely another when you're being offered a golden ticket that everyone you know wants, and all deserve, and would benefit by.

I guess I'm just not wired up that way. Nor would I want to be. I'll probably play around on one of the other servers and see if I can spark up some of the old magic. But I can't say that the team members of SCORE don't deserve at least some of the anger directed towards them. not the death threats and over-wrought vitriol... but yeah, you sat on something precious for years and lied to our faces about it. No amount of explaining or apologizing for why it went on so long, or why it would have continued to go on like that had karma not intervened, will erase that betrayal.

but thank you Codewalker for providing the rest of us with something.
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Azrael

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #54 on: May 01, 2019, 01:43:59 PM »
What I didn't realise was that Codewalker was basically on his own with these efforts in Icon, Paragon Chat.

I thought he (presumption of mine) was the leader of the SCORE team and was, with Leandro and the SCORE 'team', leading the efforts in decoding reverse engineered servers efforts as a matter of priority and that Paragon Chat was the bi-product of those efforts.

And that any delays to the effect are it being done part time, and being 'done right' and 'when its ready.'

I guess things, in reality, are always different to what we 'think.'

Couldn't grudge Codewalker just putting on his slippers and just kicking back and playing one of the private servers.

But he's put a mountain of work into PC.  And it has merit.  Even with the private servers out there.   There is a need for a compact micro server for a handful of 'local lan' or 'small server' amount of players 1-5.  Maybe a few more.

Perhaps Codewalker could get some help on Paragon Chat...and co-ordinate those efforts himself.  His own 'discord' team.  There's Demonhunter who could rack up some 'alt-universe' maps.  So, you get a 'different' narrative to the 'main' private servers.

Create the lua scripter to augment the AE (so it becomes AE+) and have somebody create a narrative.

He has the 'four stacks.'  It's just a matter of getting the combat working.  (No small task.)  But it's got a neat and 'lite' compact server thing going on.  Smooth as butter.  Well implemented (see SG bases.)

1. Combat. 
2. AE+ LUA mission creator.  (LUA scripting is already on the PC timeline.)
3. Map creator.

What's not to like about those?  Two of those are creative tools to get content for the community.

The 1st one is the iceing on the cake.

All on a 'bomb proof' distributed micro-server that any one (?) can set up?

I will echo 'part' of the last line of the previous post.

'You kept the lights on for us.'

and?

'Thank You Codewalker.'

For giving 'us' something in the meantime.

I still think you have much more to give (if you wish to...) and that Paragon Chat can be an example to the community of a well coded app' that can contribute to the community.

Get a map maker out there like the SG base thing you did?  Be great.  Sooner or later, the coh community is going to want new content to create new missions and zones.

I write posts like it's easier done than said.  But it is, in reality, a show of support.  I hope Codewalker doesn't feel deflated by recent events.  He needn't.  It sounds like he'll reflect on things for a little while. 

He's highly regarded for his monumental efforts in helping preserve the CoH legacy.

Azrael.

Tahquitz

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #55 on: May 01, 2019, 03:04:00 PM »
Alright, I'm going to start nudging the conversation from here.  Please keep this thread about Paragon Chat specifically going forward.  If you want to discuss the recent news, join this conversation already under way.
"Work is love made visible." -- Khalil Gibran

aeb

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Re: The Elephant in the Room (& the future of Paragon Chat)
« Reply #56 on: May 04, 2019, 10:09:38 AM »
I'm wondering... Is there anything computer users who aren't technicians or programmers or anything help with in developing PChat? Something where we can learn enough to deal with this one little part without becoming full-fledged technicians or programmers or anything? I've been wishing I could do more without having to go back to school. :)