Goodbye City of Heroes
One of the things it says right in my profile is “City of Heroes player”, and even though I haven’t played much at all since starting this site, I still keep an eye on what’s going on over at the City of Heroes forums, and I still have quite a few CoH players following me on Twitter. One of the reasons why I originally bought the game about five years ago was because I wanted to get a game that my wife and I could enjoy together. At the time, she was addicted to Sims, and spent most of her time in the create-a-sim rather than actually playing the game. I knew that City of Heroes boasted the most elaborate character creator of pretty much any game out there next to Sims, and it was superhero related, which I knew I would enjoy. It didn’t take too long for her to get bored with the character creator, but I ended up getting hooked on the actual game. I had specifically avoided MMOs up until that point because I had a feeling that I would end up spending too much time playing it, becoming one of those WoW addicts spending all their free time playing the game. It did end up happening for a while there, but I’m not here to talk about that.
What I do want to talk about is the sense of community that City of Heroes fostered. When I was starting out playing, I remember finding my way to the global chat channel Pinnbadges, where I found all sorts of fun and friendly people that were very helpful. It was where I found groups to take on the random giant monsters, and where I started running some of my first task forces. A couple years later, CoH introduced the Mission Architect, which was what really drew me in. With the MA, you could create your own missions (aka quests in other games), you could write all the dialog, the set up, the clues, design all the characters, all the enemies, plot out all the fights to a certain extent. And there was a great little community of writers who were all interested in making their content better and helping others with their writing. They held a contest promoting the system, asking for players to submit their best story arcs, and one of mine was a finalist. It was a fun little time loop/Groundhog day story, with all sorts of hidden details and humor mixed in. You basically ran more or less the same mission four times in a row, but each time there were various changes. There was one unnamed boss who had a fairly nondescript bio that you could check, but it would change each mission until you actually fought him in the final one. There was also one mission filled with random collectibles that all had clues that you could read which were actually references to other time loop stories in movies, like Groundhog Day, and TV shows, like Star Trek and Buffy.
Even though my story didn’t win that contest, a couple months later, it became a Dev’s Choice arc. Which was basically the prize for winning the original contest, and it meant that my story arc got on the front page or two of the list of all the story arcs, of which there were tens of thousands. For the next couple years, I would constantly get positive feedback about that arc from other players who played it. I also ran a player run contest for other story arcs, sort of an Oscars for the MA. It got quite a bit of attention, and was something that the other story writers enjoyed. I also created some YouTube videos of other people’s MA arcs along with my own commentary reviewing the story, and later on I even did a few where I interviewed the writer about their arcs, and even made some teaser trailers for arcs. They may not be the best quality videos, but I’m still proud of the work I did on them. You can still view them by clicking on my YouTube button up at the top of the page.
Not only was the MA community welcoming, but I also became involved in the CoH art community. In fact, the logo for this site was drawn by Liz, who I met through the both the CoH LiveJournal community and the CoH art community. If you want to see more of her work, you can visit her Tumblr site. I had a running theme for some of my favorite characters to play, which I called “Burnt Matchstick”. I’m the sort of player who always picks female characters to play. The way I look at it is that it’s not a representation of myself, but a character whose story I’m interested in, and I’ve always been more interested in a female protagonist. Which, as a side note, makes me so disappointed that there are no good lead female superheroes in movies. Anyway, I was trying to come up with a concept for my first male character, and I thought of making his costume be a big orange stripe down the middle of his costume, black on the outside, and a round, black, faceless helmet which resembled a matchstick with a burnt head. His powers? Setting himself on fire a la the human torch, and fire punches. For those reading this who play the game, he was a Fire/Fire Brute (a villain). I ended up liking him so much I remade him as a her, and a Fire/Fire Tanker (a hero). After a few months, I had a character named Burnt Matchstick on almost every server, each one with a slightly different look, a different backstory, and a different version of the Fire/Fire combination, some control, some long range, they even have sets where you can heal with fire.
Anyway, I kind of lost track of where I was going with that, oh yeah. So since I don’t have much artistic talent, I used the art & screenshots forum to showcase all of my Burnt Matchstick character designs. And, if you keep an eye on the art forums long enough, there’s often an upcoming or established artist who offers free art. While spending my time on the art forums, I ended up getting many pieces of free artwork of my various characters, especially my Burnt Matchstick characters who I became more or less known for. In fact, the avatars I still use are artwork of my Burnt Matchstick characters. Teaming with several members of the art community was great fun, and in fact, I’m still a moderator of the City of Heroes art group on deviantArt. Ever since starting this site, I’ve drifted away from City of Heroes, but it’s always been on my mind and in my heart. I’ve made many friends online through playing together, or talking on the forums. And not only that, but the developers and community team that worked for Paragon Studios were what really kept a place in my heart for the game. I’ve tried various other games, but nothing stuck with me the way that City of Heroes did. I’d like to thank Matt Miller, Melissa Bianco, Zwillinger, Lighthouse, Ex Libris, Castle, Dr. Aeon, Avatea, all the players I’ve teamed with, and all the friends I’ve made in the many years I’ve spent playing the game. I will definitely visit before the game shuts down for good in November, and I’ll never forget it.