"City Of Heroes Is More Than Just A Game"
The dedicated City Of Heroes players behind the Save Paragon City! campaign have detailed a three-stage plan to save their beloved MMO, which has provided more than eight and a half years of dynamic adventures. Titan Network administrator and campaign figurehead Tony Vasquez told us that their efforts are endorsed by a number of heavy-hitting celebs - including Neil Gaiman and John C. Wright - and that their "optimal outcome" would be Paragon Studios becoming a standalone company. Free from NCsoft and supported by fan contributions, or aligning with another publisher, the servers could therefore stay open.
Vasquez also put out an impassioned plea for support, appealing to the wider gaming audience to appreciate how heartbreaking it would be for nine years of camaraderie and friendship to end with the "flip of a switch."
"To our community, City of Heroes is more than just a game, it is a world in which our imagination has lived for over eight and a half years, a work of art into which we have poured our creative invention," Vasquez told us. "Because of its extensive story canon and character customization options, and its flexible Mission Architect system in which players can even design custom stories, enemies and allies, and objectives, City of Heroes allows us to become part of the story more than any other game I have ever played."
"Although really, I don't want to frame this as a competition with other gamers. Anyone who has invested themselves into any creative outlet, whether it's another MMORPG, or even lovingly obsessing over cooking, or football, or mountain climbing, model railroading, a favorite author or television show, or any of the other myriad pastimes and hobbies, we hope that they can relate to how we feel about City of Heroes, how much the proposition of our passion being shut down with the flip of a switch moves and affects us."
Well-put, but how can a well-organised group of dedicated players hope to change NCSoft's mind? We previously reported that an online petition is continually growing in numbers, but Vasquez suggests that it's the tip of a networking and publicity iceberg. Their threefold plan includes increasing the visibility of the campaign (now supported by the likes of Neil Gaiman, John C. Wright and fantasy writer Mercedes Lackey), while running server side events such as a massive competitions to illustrate the size of the active player base. If NCsoft remain resolute, they'd dearly like Paragon Studios to become an independent developer or shack up with another publisher, potentially using crowd funding drives to help. Here are the details, directly from Vasquez himself.
"Our plan is threefold," he explained.
"We want to reach out and connect to everyone we can who has enthusiasm about their interest, to alert them to what we are going through, to get them to help us reach even further. We are continuing to reach out via social media to fans of the game. Several Facebook pages related to the Save Paragon City! campaign have already sprung up and membership to these and other fan pages is exploding. The Twitter account of the Titan Network, which is helping to drive the campaign, has increased by hundreds. We also continue to contact media outlets to help us spread the word. In less than a week, we have gotten over 50 articles published on gaming, comic culture, and technology blogs and news sites. We are reaching out to notable personalities and gotten some very positive response. We have gotten support from people like Hugo and Nebula award winner Neil Gaiman, science fiction author John C. Wright, fantasy novelist Mercedes Lackey, and others in the gaming and comics industry."
"The second part of our plan is to have projects and events to keep the player base motivated and letting NCsoft how committed we are to City of Heroes remaining alive. So far we have organized a letter-writing campaign. On Saturday, we are holding a "Unity Rally" and encouraging all players to attend an in-game event and costume contest, and we are encouraging all press, as well as NCsoft and former Paragon Studios employees, to attend to see how large and strong a community we are. We have also been encouraging our players express themselves creatively, which has resulted in several comics, videos, poems, songs, and other expressions of creativity. We hope to collect these works and present them as a representative sample of the dedication of our community. We also have a few more events planned that we will be discussing as "Calls to Action" on our fan sites and social media outlets."
"The third part of our plan is to contact NCsoft directly. We want to to discuss options with them directly. An optimal outcome would be the former Paragon Studios staff forming their own company and, with our financial assistance via a crowd funding effort if necessary, allowing City of Heroes to emerge alive and relatively unscathed. Another option is to allow the City of Heroes property to be sold to another publisher or development studio so that it can continue under a different banner. The important message we want NCsoft to understand is that we believe that we can all benefit from the situation. We understand if NCsoft wants to pursue other strategic goals, but we plan on working with them to find a way they can do so without sacrificing our community."
A worthy endeavour indeed, and one that we'll be keeping a close eye on over the coming months. You can head over to the Titan Network if you want to know more.
We reached out to NCsoft for comment, but received only this standard boilerplate response:
“Both NCsoft and Paragon Studios are incredibly proud of the success of City of Heroes, but unfortunately, the continued support of the franchise no longer fits within our long term goals for the company. All employees at Paragon Studios are affected by this decision, including the management team. We will begin the City of Heroes sun setting process immediately with the goal to officially stop our service offerings for the franchise on November 30, 2012. This was a very tough decision to make and wish the best for all Paragon Studio employees in their next ventures.”
We will contact them again.