City of Heroes officially shut down its servers on November 30, 2012, after a run of over 8 years. The game was one of the more unique MMORPGs in that it was not built in the fantasy world but rather the present, and involved highly customizable super heroes, missions, archvillains and a large and relatively loyal community; and while the game takes place in the present, you were free to create any sort of character--fantasy, mech, scientific, futuristic or pretty much anything your heart desired. This blog is about my personal journey into the realm of MMORPGs, and explains why I really don't feel like I will miss the game all that much.
I joined the game in February of 2007. I actually remember getting the game in detail: I was biking home from work and I was really tired. I had always wanted to play Halo, and figured I should stop at the Gamestop at the half way point of my workout and pick it up. I took Halo up to the register and it turned out they were having a promotion for a free copy of City of Heroes with the purchase of any PC game, and I thought that was pretty neat so I grabbed that, too. It turned out to be a very defining moment in my life, and truth be told sometimes I wish I had never stopped at that game store that evening...
My "Who Wants to be a Superhero" Tryouts with Major Victory in 2007.
I had just tried out for "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" a few weeks prior (obviously I did NOT get in nor should I have with the awful tryout I gave), but I already had created my own superhero, Haiiro Ninja, and wanted to try that out in the game. As it turned out, the character creator was so detailed that I could absolutely make my character in the game, and that was really amazing. I remember logging in and entering Atlas Park, running around and figuring out the controls, not having been much of a PC gamer at the time.
Biography of my Main Toon, Haiiro Ninja.
I thoroughly enjoyed the game as it was unlike any other I'd ever played. I enjoyed the missions, the martial arts powers I had bestowed on my character and the community as a whole. It's almost embarassing to admit, but I met my (now ex-) boyfriend of 4 years on this game, he moved out to California and we were together for 4 years, and it did not end well (see my previous blogs). I quit the game about a year ago after only playing a little over the previous year, partly due to his addiction to it and being sick of his unhealthy relationship with several females on the game (see my previous blogs if you care to know more). So after he left, I still could not stand to play the game. And when I tried quite some time later, the developers had changed it so much it was not nearly as fun, and the magic was gone.
Still, there are things I will totally miss about the game, such as the character and base creation.
Haiiro Ninja: My Main Toon.
I really enjoyed the teaming aspect of the game and how you could ideally jump into a game with any toon, any level (of the same hero/villain alignment) and play. It was extremely group friendly, especially later as they revamped the sidekick/mentor and team/group/league systems. I grew very attached to my characters, as I saw them as an extention of different aspects of my own personallity, and enjoyed learning about how other people conduct themselves online, even if it sometimes disgusted or bewildered me; one thing I could usually say about the game was that it was "interesting" at the very least.
My More Current main Toon: Spine O'Might (CLICK FOR SLIDESHOW OF ALL CHARACTERS).
I also enjoyed building bases. I had at least one hero and villain base on my two servers, Infinity and Freedom, and had started one on the VIP server, Exhaulted, before I really quit the game. The editor was a bit clunky, but it was still a fun and creative activity.
Vindicator Super Group Base (CLICK FOR SLIDESHOW).
Darkest Days Villain Group Base (CLICK FOR SLIDESHOW).
Silent Sentries Super Group Base (CLICK FOR SLIDESHOW).
Infinity's Integrity Super Group Base, My First Base (CLICK FOR SLIDESHOW).
Some games have a profound impact on your life, and I would have to say this one was that for me. Besides the terribly personal aspect, I thoroughly enjoyed the game, especially over the first year I played it. It was something to look forward to when the rest of like was ho-hum or difficult. It showed me how some people can portray themselves so vastly different from their true selves online (though that's an interesting question in itself, as to what your true self really is). Over the course of the years, however, the game changes really did have an overall negative impact with the severe changes in PvP in i13, then the F2P model that was just not great for a former subscriber like myself. The game was also reportedly still turning a profit when the doors were closed, which is very interesting.
I have tried Champions Online, DC Universe Online and looked into the upcoming Marvel game, and I have to say none of them so far have had the spirit and grab of City of Heroes. It is sad to not have much in the way of a viable alternative for those of us not entrenched in the world of elves and dragons and dwarves.
Other than that, I really don't know what else to say. End of an era, certainly, but maybe an era best left in the past.
-haiiro ninja, AKA zyxe
Although I don't play any MMORPGs it's great to see ones that step outside of the usual WoW-type of setting. It's a shame that the Matrix one failed but The Secret World looks like a good new idea.
@-INKling- IF i ever get into an MMO, i was sort of thinking about that one. i like the idea, but not sure how they've executed it.
I was initially quite excited by the premise of The Secret World, but was ultimately a bit disappointed with execution of the final product.
EveOnline is an interesting take on MMORPG's, especially when one takes into account the impending "expansion" to the universe encapsulated in Dust 514.
Interesting read. I don't play any MMO these days because they're just too easy. There's no challenge, no sense of danger and no fear. I played UO, Everquest and Anarchy Online for a long time and loved them all but just can't get into any of the newer ones.
I also hate the F2P models which are a rip-off and I notice just about all MMO's these days are played solo from people outside a guild since the casuals whined and moaned about not being able to reach level 500 in an hour.
I don't know what COH is like, never played it, but it's great to see you got a lot of enjoyment from it during your time with it. I'd love to think another MMO will come along I'll really like but I fear the halcyon days of MMO's are well and truly over.
@blueinheaven you have a very good point there. by the time i really quit, the game had become very much lopsided towards having one class on your team to beat the main bosses or only being able to really win with one strategy. then there were fewer players on each server, so i think they felt the need to simplify everything to the point where it really was too easy.
i also really dislike the F2P model and not having to work for your max level. i don't mind knowing tricks to leveling quickly that come with having played for a while, but it really cheapens it when almost nobody has to put forth any effort to get the end game rewards. then there's the F2P that's more like P2W (pay to win) that really annoys me...
but you know what? the player base has LET this happen because it's what the majority seem to want. that's what really saddens me.
I played City of Heroes around when they went F2P, and didn't really see much I liked enough to keep playing. I did, however, really enjoy the character creation process.
@starduke yeah, by the time it went F2P a lot of things, especially the gameplay and reaching level 50, had changed. it was hard to find teams to do real missions and everyone wanted to power level, so it was quite a bit different from when i started.
I know the feeling. I started playing Phantasy Star Universe since launch. But got burnt out and took a break for a year or so. But when I came back they had shut the servers down like a month before.
I got to like level 107 or so before I stopped. I don't know what the final level cap was. They raised it every couple of months. lol
@Shika_Stoner i kinda wanted to get into that one, it looked really neat, but i don't think i could have stomached another MMO and may not play one again unless i have a group of friends already to play with. not to be exclusive or anything, but it's nice to have a base of players you know aren't, well, psychotic :P
MMOs like this seem to have big impacts on people that stick with them for years like you. I've never been able to commit enough time into a game like this but I see why they are so popular. Good read =)
@LightEffect if it's not for you, then seriously don't try to get hooked! it's like iced mochas... i love them but wish i never got into the habit ;)
It was a great game when it was up, I played the game since i7 on and off, and I'm proud to say I'm a veteran of CoH for 3 subbed years.
I can completely agree that the 'newer' super hero MMO's don't capture what City of Heroes was; and I also agree that the game lost it's magic about around the "Going Rogue" expansion. I think the devs were putting the game into the wrong direction.
Glad you enjoyed the game, while it was up! Thanks for your story! :)
@OmegaRecon i completely agree that GR was about when things just sort of got "meh". i want to say i joined about i7 as well. what's so sad about its closure is that it had so much untapped potential left, and a strong community even after the changes to back it up.
Fantastic insight, I really enjoyed reading this. Myself and a buddy played it for a month the first year but we never stuck with it. It always seemed like a crazy world full of interesting personal stories. Thanks for sharing yours! :)
@dannyodwyer i'm just not so sure if it's such a good thing for games to get quite *that* personal. i LOVE video games (been gaming for 25 years), and it's interesting to see how susceptible a lot of us are to letting these things take hold. so then, where is the line between your online persona and "real life" persona drawn?
Aww! I played City of Villains for at least 3 months, fun times! Looks like you had a wonderful experience for a quite a while in that community.
@JodyR villains was very interesting and i wish they had done more with it. i enjoyed having a darker side to hang with every once in a while ;)
No More Heroes.
I was in the beta for DC Universe and from the get go my prognosis was that I would not pay for this game. There was never anything groundbreaking and it was rather pedestrian from the start.
I remember City of Heroes really only ended because their parent company was sold to someone who had no interest in gaming so they did not keep these employees and shut the game down even though it was doing fairly good.
I let my life get taken over by MMOs a couple times and I've quit the sites where I had messages from people I met only in game.
I also quit playing four MMOs including World of Warcraft and am finally letting go of the last one. It was hard I played pirates for 5 years so I had to just stop cold turkey one day and cancel the subscription.
I'm digging the bio on your ninja. When ever I play games like this I typically play my character the way I would personally play as if it were really me in the game.
@Garrison_Ford thanks! i often wonder what our true selves are and how that relates to our conduct online since we are typically less accountable for our actions.
I have only played 2 MMOs so far, WoW and Guild Wars 2. I like the community aspects, and in the case of WoW the art style and such. It's pretty amazing they let you customize even the half-face veil you had!
@GunnyHath i'm really surprised that no other MMO appears to have come as close to the customization aspects of CoH. it was rather intuitive and well-done, which is why i've had trouble (besides my own personal demons) getting into another MMO.
@Allicrombie it's definitely not for everyone, that's what's so great about gaming, so many genres and styles to choose from :) personally, i played WoW trial for an hour and uninstalled... hehe :P