Thursday, September 27, 2012

City of Heroes - A Countdown to the End

As the days progress, it gets less and less likely that efforts to save City of Heroes are working. In fact, that was made pretty obvious with the release last week of the lore that was to be. That document, while interesting, also had a few things in it that really pissed me off. Matt "Positron" Miller was very flippant in his responses and seemed like a very reluctant participant in the whole thing. I was quite upset with his answer for "Who is the leader of the Knives of Artemis?" and pretty much livid with why Sister Psyche had to die. Spoiler - they killed her off "just because" they wanted more than one person to die. Sloppy story telling much? It just reinforced what I said before about the game really going downhill as of late. 

In addition to that reveal, NCSoft also announced a schedule of in-game events that are going to be going on in the final days of the game. It's pretty standard stuff, and it's fitting that they're ending the game with the event that started it - a Rikti invasion. I'm going to log in one or two more times for some final screen shots, but I don't think I'll be doing these events. I'm incredibly pissed off that I'm locked out of my own damn super group base and locked out of my Incarnate powers that I spent many hours grinding for. I'm so disgusted by the state of the game right now that I really don't care that it's closing. I'm upset that 80+ people suddenly have no jobs, but I don't care what happens to the game. The City of Heroes that I knew and loved died a long time ago, and that's the part I'll grieve for and miss. 

Still, this video is completely amazing and I would be a fool not to share it. It's by far the most spectacular CoH fan video I have ever seen. It was made by CoH player Voodoo Girl. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering September 11th

This past July, I had the good fortune to visit New York City for the first time in my life. It was very exciting, and I had an amazing time! We traveled into Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry, and our first stop was in Battery Park where we saw the 9/11 memorial made from the sculpture that used to sit between the twin towers. There is an eternal flame on the site, and behind it you can see the Freedom Tower. 
It's a humbling and sobering site to see, and even in the rush of lower Manhattan, there was a peaceful calm to this area. I remember images of this statue from my childhood, and seeing it in this condition, ravaged by the violence of steel girders shooting through it, sent a chill up my spine. 

We next made our way to the 9/11 Memorial, but the line was amazingly long and we had limited time. We sat a few minutes and took in the construction, and then made our way to St. Paul's church. The church was a gathering site for rescue workers and volunteers in the aftermath of the attack. I would like to say that people are as respectful there as they are in Battery Park, but John and I got panhandled in the cemetery of St. Paul's. Inside was a different story, fortunately. The church is filled with not only history (it was George Washington's church) but also filled with the history of 9/11. There are banners from all over the world, mementos, photographs, and this striking sculpture:
The next day was Independence Day, and we spent it on board the United States Coast Guard Cutter Katherine Walker, the Keeper of New York Harbor. My brother Bryan serves on the KW, and she is the command center for the Macy's fireworks display on the Hudson River. This handsome fellow is my brother. He was pulling up the mooring ropes so we could get under way. 
The USCG Katherine Walker was also one of the rescue boats on 9/11. She has a plaque of commendation for her efforts. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of the plaque. Bryan, of course, wasn't serving on the cutter at the time as he was, as Stephen Colbert would say, medically 13 at the time. 

As we sailed into the harbor, the striking image of the Manhattan skyline met our eyes. As we stood there and watched it come into view, Bryan said something I will never forget:

"You see that? The skyline coming into view? This is exactly the view of this ship on September 11th as they were moving in to aid in the rescue. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be serving on this ship, slowly moving toward the area, and knowing there wasn't a damn thing you could do about it? To behold so much destruction, being scared but having to put it aside to do your job? I can't, and I hope I never have to. I admire the hell out of each and every one of them."
Until then, my memories of 9/11 had been all about me and what I was doing that day. But now, I can't think of that day without thinking of that moment and those words spoken by my youngest brother. Having seen it with my own eyes gives it all a very different perspective. 

There is, above all else, a pervading sense of hope throughout lower Manhattan. From the sculpture in Battery Park to St. Paul's, there is a quiet serenity about the place that most people wouldn't associate with New York City. Though it was a tragic event, it brought people together like little else ever has, and I hope that spirit is what people take away from that horrible day. 

Below is a video about the boat rescue on 9/11. It's one of the lesser told stories of the day, but it's one that I feel is very important. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

NCSoft Closes Paragon Studios, Shuts Down City of Heroes

Those of you who follow me on G+, Facebook, or Twitter saw me post last Friday about NCSoft closing Paragon Studios and shutting down City of Heroes. It was a huge shock to everyone, especially those who worked at Paragon Studios and suddenly found themselves without a job. Just an hour and a half before the announcement, the CoH community team had announced some future content and was giving away game codes on Twitter. Everyone seemed blindsided by the event.

I am late to the party in blogging about this, I know, but I had a lot of real life commitments this past weekend. Not the least of which was the wedding of my baby brother Bryan and his wife Ashley. John and I were on our way to the wedding rehearsal when we got the news, and we moved between fast and furious conversation and stunned silence all the way to the venue. When we got there, we exchanged shocked words with another couple brought together by City of Heroes, my other brother Jon and his girlfriend Kat. We couldn't believe what had happened. 

Though I had already said my goodbyes to City of Heroes, I felt comforted knowing that I could go back any time I wanted and my characters would be right where I left them, ready to go. I was never a roleplayer, per se, but I did put a lot of thought and effort into the creation of my characters. They all had a backstory (some of them quite extensive), a carefully chosen name, a finely honed costume (or five), and a personality. The more I played a character, the more that personality came about, and the more I connected with that character on some level. There were occasions that I just couldn't connect to a character, and they promptly got deleted. In that way, CoH always felt alive. Felt like you were living out your own personal comic book. And I loved that. 

I am glad that I had already emotionally detached from the game before this happened. I've seen some very emotional responses to the news, and I've seen a few that are so over the top it's not even funny. But what is important is to know the facts, and one CoH player took the time to create an extensive timeline of events and debunk a lot of the conspiracy theories. There are also numerous attempts to save the game, though I have yet to hear if any of them are making successful headway. It's also disheartening to receive nothing but silence from NCSoft. Why did Paragon Studios have to be shut down so quickly? Why send everyone packing with no notice? What's the emergency? We may never know, but that won't stop people from guessing.

Though I hate that all the Paragon Studios employees were suddenly, and unexpectedly, terminated, I hold no ill will toward NCSoft. Had they shut the game down gradually, with server merges, going full free-to-play, etc., I would not have been surprised at all. CoH is an eight year old game, and it's showing its age. New MMOs like The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 are leaps and bounds ahead of it in terms of story, setting, maps, game play, quality of life issues, and graphics. Not to mention that both games have a lot of voice acting and good cut scenes (though TSW's cut scenes put the rest to shame). CoH does have a strong and loyal fan base, but I'm not sure how competitive it can be against this new generation of cutting edge MMOs. Not to mention that it has a very flawed and confusing hybrid free to play system that turns a lot of people off. 

That being said, I don't want CoH to close its doors forever. I always assumed it was the Everquest of its genre, the unkillable juggernaut of the super hero MMO genre. And maybe that will end up being the case after all. All we can do now is watch and wait and still what happens.

In closing, I'm going to leave you with a fan video I helped make. I'm the beleaguered blue-haired Blaster, the American woman who's trying to organize the team. In the weeks to come, I'll share more of these and some of my screen shots here and on our fan pages.