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City of Heroes: Paragon Weekly News – Issue 2

Greetings my fellow Heroes and Villains! The beloved City of Heroes is back with a vengeance! For the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of playing City of Heroes Homecoming, a set of servers currently being hosted privately but open to the public. The game is working great and even has unreleased content that was never seen before, due to the NCSoft shutdown of the game prior to the release of the content. So let’s carry on with coverage –

 

 

Lots of news to cover this week folks! On the homecoming front we have a server donation and a server migration to a new host, an EU shard and shard rename, a new web based ticket system and server status page, and more! We also have a new challenger in the ring of City of Heroes servers!

 

First things first, Homecoming is now accepting donations during limited donation windows. They are opening up donations each month until they reach that month’s goal for operation costs. The first month of donations was closed after reaching their goal in 20 minutes. Donations came in so fast that Paypal flagged their account for review! This first round of donations covered some one off costs as well as the first month of hosting at OVH, where the servers are migrated to now. More on that later.

 

 

Now I know in the last issue of Paragon Weekly News I stated they were not accepting donations and I warned people against donating to another group. At the time they were not willing to take donations because they did not want to put any unnecessary risk on the server, and donating to any entity without something to show first is a risky endeavor. It just so happens though that the Homecoming team were also in the process of setting up as a non profit organisation and on may 7th they set up as a LLC (the first step towards becoming a non-profit) and are in a position to be able to take donations in order to keep the servers online. The money is being handled by a new legal entity, Homecoming Servers LLC (registered in Delaware, file number 7407345). The ongoing costs will be roughly as follows:

 

Auth Server
1x A1 @ $102.99
Shard Database Servers
5x A1 @ $102.99 each, $514.95 total
Central Database
1x A3 @ 137.99
Mapservers
6x A5 @ $354.99 each, $2,129.94 total
Services Box
1x A1 @ $102.99

 

That is a total of $2,988.86 per month before factoring in software licenses, the one-off costs for the month, and including around $1,200 to pay off the remaining bill to Digital Ocean. Up until this point they have paid around $1,370 themselves, $500 to cover the remaining time spent on Digital Ocean, a $375 filing costs for setting up Homecoming Servers LLC, and a $1,250 contingency fund to cover any other unexpected costs or to spin up additional hardware if needed which equals an additional $3,225, for a grand total of $6,313.86. And they raised it in 20 minutes. Let that sink in.

 

 

A quote from their forums states –

“There is absolutely no in-game benefit to donating, and there never will be – the one exception may be that donors get queue priority and/or some kind of forum title, but that is undetermined at this point (and definitely will not be happening for a while – we just want to be fully transparent about our intentions)”
“Homecoming Servers LLC is not currently a non-profit as it’s a multi-month process to set one up, but the eventual goal is to convert it into one”
“The primary reason for setting up an LLC is to give us tax protection – if the donations were funneled through an individual, they would be classed as income and as such would be taxable”
“We will post full receipts of all expenditure at the end of each month”

 

This all happened prior to this weeks move of the server shards to OVH, which appears to have gone off without a hitch. I have happily been playing without any issues since the migration completed. The Homecoming team has also set up a ticket system to get help from GMs, and a shiny server status page. This means we can check if the servers are online, how busy they are and what the balance of heroes to villains on each shard at a given time is. You can see the tickets page here and the server status page here.

 

With the server migration we now have an EU Shard. 20 server transfer tokens were handed out so people could transfer to the new EU shard, Reunion! (formerly known as halcyon) They have also added custom xp rates as temporary powers on the special P2W vendor where you get your veteran rewards from. These Xp rates increase your xp earned, while decreasing your money looted and vary in rates from 25, 50 to double exp and can be obtained for free in 1 hour increments at 8 hours max. Wealso just got a special announcement on discord at 11:08 pm CST 5-18-2019 from Cipher regarding the server migration,

“The weekend has gone pretty smoothly so far!

We reached our highest ever concurrent player count of 7,950 tonight and found a way to increase CPU power by a considerable amount, which combined with the new server we setup earlier today, should provide a smoother playing experience going forward. As always, we’ll still continue to keep an eye on everything.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that multiboxing is prohibited during times when queues are active or servers are entering Overload Protection. To check queue status and overload protection see #status-updates #live-shards #live-graphs

Thanks!”

 

 

And for our last bit of Homecoming news; Tempest is looking to start doing a weekly streamer meet and greet,

“Hey, everyone! I’m about to be going to bed, but I wanted to give you a heads-up to a project I’m planning. No @ ‘s since this isn’t a major server matter. Are you a streamer? Cool! I’m meeting so many of you lately and, honestly, it’s really hard to keep up with how many new faces and old at once! So in an effort to try and get a chance to show up and meet and greet with all of you, I’m going to be working on a Streamer Saturday! (Possibly Sunday?) The idea would be that 7 streamers that want to can coordinate a time with me to show up on their teams and in discord for a simultaneous seven-way combined stream! If you want to participate in this streaming simulcast, coordinate in the #streaming where you and others can coordinate who’d like to show up! My hours on Saturday and Sunday vary a tad, so each week I’ll pin what hours I should be home and free for such an event, and you can discuss plans and the like. Please keep non-related chatter in the channel to a minimum, is all I ask! Happy Streaming, and goodnight!”

 

Today has also seen a new City of Heroes server emerge, Rebirth! Rebirth is an issue 24 server.

There are 579 registered accounts holding 1303 characters so far.

You can find out more here I also have a quote from Retched at the CoH discord,

“The server is configured to grant everything it can that was originally microtransaction-only. Anything showing as locked in character creation can be earned in game. The following missing sets cannot be auto granted due to technical issues:
Black Knight
Halloween 2011 bundle
Assorted other Halloween parts (unreleased, likely intended for a 2012 bundle)

The following sets are not granted automatically due to being awarded via Paragon Reward Tokens. What to do about these is TBD.
Samurai armor
Tech sleek armor
Boxing set
Mecha armor
Tech Knight set
Fashion Boots/Awakened Gloves

A few individual pieces are also earned through reward tokens. Other than that, if anything else is missing, please let an admin know. Thank you! Also an addendum SOME Power Pools are still trapped behind the “MTX” (or Microtransaction) server. We’re working on getting those out to everyone. The Sorcery Power Pool and Force of Will power pools are still trapped. We’ll work on getting those out to people as soon as we can. ((EDIT: Force of Will will actually be removed outright. Evidently it’s still too broken for release.))
As for Veteran Rewards, as announced, we’re still trying to work on a way to let them out but we still want you to earn them via game play. We’ll figure out what is the plan is once we can determine how to unlock it.”

 

Rebirth is not affiliated with Homecoming, and is running a different version of the game. Homecoming is Issue 25 whereas rebirth is 24. Homecoming has all costume pieces and powers unlocked at creation, but in Rebirth you still have to unlock them. I will bring more Rebirth news as I get it as well!

 

 

And that is it for this issue, check back next week for more news and join us in Discord to chat about the game, until then, “Go, Hunt, Kill Skulls”!


May 25th, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, Massive Multiplayer Online, PC | No Comments »

PC Game Review :- Swag and Sorcery from  Lazy Bear Games & Uroboros Games

Grind for resources, manage your own fantasy village, create and equip your heroes and send them to collect swag in Swag and Sorcery – a new streamlined RPG from the creators of Punch Club and Graveyard Keeper.

 

 

Swag and Sorcery is touted as a streamlined RPG developed by Lazy Bear Games and Uroboros Games, and published by tinyBuild. The latest game from the creators of Punch Club and Graveyard Keeper has received mixed reviews on STEAM, which seems to be a fair reflection based on my experience.

 

Your skills are required to track down the Emperor’s stolen suit which will fix all the Kingdom’s problems. (Damn, that must be a nice suit.) You hire adventurers and send them on dangerous quests. The intrepid travellers will complete the quest on their own, but this is far from an idle game. If their health runs out, the quest is failed and you lose any precious loot you picked up along the way. You can call them home alive and “supervise” by casting spells you research as the game develops.

 

 

Your hired heroes are far from just monster snacks, they are needed to craft items in the village, helping to unlock and improve more crafting buildings which in turn, allows you to craft bigger and better armour and weapons. You keep your workers healthy and happy by paying for time at the Church and Spa. Although I found the Church to be less essential as I discovered more craftable items, because your heroes regenerate health over time whilst in the village.

 

There is plenty to keep you busy in the game; between levelling up at the training camp, collecting loot on adventures, upgrading the village and competing in fashion competitions. Yes, you read that correctly. Periodically, fashion competitions crop up which you can enter for a fee. Judges have different preferences for colours and styles, and can be bribed with items. Bribing is a bit of a gamble though, as a liked item will help your cause, but a disliked item could ruin you. I think I found a bug in this part of the game though. The list of unlocked ‘Likes’ and ‘Dislikes’ for each judge seemed to reset before every competition, so unless I kept track it was a guessing game each time.

 

 

Gold is the main currency in the game, but recipes for more outfits and accessories are acquired with raw and crafted materials, so you can soon find yourself running low on essentials. While Reputation with the kingdom is earned by winning fashion competitions and working on improving the village.

 

As well as set goals to complete for rewards and advance the game, random encounters can occur at any time. This can be a travelling merchant offering an unknown item for payment up front, or a suspected thief captured by villagers who require you to pass judgement. These encounters are a gamble. The merchant could be offering a bargain or be ripping you off. Your reputation could suffer by releasing the thief, or you could be sued for wrongful execution. Either way, the random outcome definitely makes the game more interesting.

 

 

The game can be grindy and due to lack of information on some screens, you can end up screen-hopping and mumbling stats to yourself as you try to equip your heroes correctly for the upcoming adventure, or to remember who is the most efficient crafter for a certain building. Having loved Graveyard Keeper, I have no doubt that quality of life fixes will be plentiful from the developers, and at the time of writing this article, have already begun.

 

The story dialogue is witty, but forgettable and the gameplay can become frustrating. For example, you have to complete a quest level several times to even get a chance to face the boss. If you forget to equip a health potion on the boss quest, and fail horribly, you have to keep replaying the same quest over again to be able to fill the boss battle opportunity bar. That said, the game is saved by it’s cute cartoon styling and massive range of activities. You will not be lost for something to do in this game.

 

 

I am definitely looking forward to more updates and bug fixes, and this is not a game I will be giving up on just yet. I can’t wait to see Swag and Sorcery reach its full potential.

 

Swag and Sorcery is available now on STEAM. and at only £9.99, not a bad investment

 

 

As it stands at review, a solid 6 out of 10 from me and at only £9.99, not a bad investment with regular updates still coming.

~ScarletDragon


May 23rd, 2019 by Scarlet_Dragon
Posted in Game Review, Gaming, General, PC, Real Time Strategy | No Comments »

PC Indie Game Review: AVARIAvs from Juncture Media

In AVARIAvs, players choose a party of 3 heroes to battle against an opponent’s party. During battle, opposing players choose their actions simultaneously and then witness the mayhem of their decisions. Combat rages on until one winner reigns victorious by decimating their opponent’s HP to zero.

Be warned however, matches that do not conclude promptly may be subject to JUDGEMENT…

 

 

AVARIAvs Is a turn based pvp game, where you make a team of three characters and battle it out online or side by side from your couch. Think of it as using a JRPG like Final Fantasy 7’s classic turn based combat to fight pvp matches, but both sides turns take place at the same time based on which character has the highest speed and plays out in real time!

 

 

In Avaria the players can select premade teams of 3 characters or build two custom teams from the 16 characters offered in the game. However you currently can only have a single character from each faction. As the match progresses a judgement system is activated to kill off characters to keep the match from dragging on, I have only ever seen the judgement affect the losing team.

 

 

The graphics and art for the game are amazing, while the sound track is a perfect fit for the game. Combat animations are spot on and a pleasure to watch while the match speed and turns have the perfect pacing. AVARIAvs hits all the bells and whistles I was hoping for from a competitive pvp game that is not a another moba or battle royale. This is something new, refreshing, fun, tactical, and awesome. I can see this game easily becoming the next League of Legends in popularity and Esports.

 

 

AVARIAvs is available now on STEAM. For more info, check out the links in the description below and remember to check out Sanitarium.FM and join our discord for more gaming news, info and community chat, over on Discord

 

Check out the video version of this review here –

 

AVARIAvs is an easy 10 out of 10 as a truly unique, and fun, experience that gets the competitive juices flowing and never fails to deliver on a good time. Get out there, represent your favorite characters, and fight to the death in AVARIAvs folks.

~Darsch


May 22nd, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, Massive Multiplayer Online, MOBA, PC, Real Time Strategy | No Comments »

City of Heroes: Paragon Weekly News – Issue 1

Greetings my fellow Heroes and Villains! The beloved City of Heroes is back with a vengeance! For the past few days I have had the pleasure of playing City of Heroes homecoming, a set of servers currently being hosted privately but open to the public. The game is working great and even has unreleased content that was never seen before, due to the NCSoft shutdown of the game prior to the release of the content.

 

 

So let us go ahead and jump into some crazy stats real quick then we can get into other tidbits of info. 30,000 game accounts have now been created. The shards each have a player cap of 1,500-2,000 players per shard. As of the time of writing this article Over 86,000 characters have been created, with a total of 11,580,007,259 experience earned. Characters are currently holding 13,065,748,305 influence (CoH version of gold) total and 10,000 people just in the Discord!

 

Character archetype breakdown
11,323 Brutes
10,815 Masterminds
10,785 Blasters
9,466 Scrappers
7,855 Controllers
6,914 Tankers
5,963 Defenders
5,224 Corruptors
4,419 Sentinels
3,918 Dominators
2,982 Stalkers
1,446 Peace bringers
1,328 Arachnos Soldiers
1,304 Warshades
985 Arachnos Widows

 

As you can see the servers have been crazy busy, those stats were just for torchbearer and excelsior. The homecoming server shards have been so popular the Homecoming team had to set up a login queue to maintain stability. At one point yesterday the CoH Discord had 17,625 users chatting. CoH homecoming is now up to 4 server shards, with a fifth temporary shard that will be spun up and down as needed. Torchbearer, Excelsior, Everlasting and Indomitable are the normal server shards, Halcyon is the temp. Everlasting and Indomitable were just added on April 28th.

 

 

Yesterday the 27th of April, I had the pleasure of making some new friends while playing my widow Ariela on the Excelsior shard and discussing the return of City of Heros. It was clear that many people are thankful the game has returned and the game had a profound impact on them. Here are some direct quotes from the team chat:

Insanguinata: “This game has haunted my dreams for the past 7 years, literally waking up in utter disappointment when I find out it was just a dream that I was playing CoX”
Godfather: “yeah I know that feeling”
Ariela: “I legit cried when I got to log in the other day and play”
Crimson Wolf: “Same”
Godfather: “I stopped playing when they announced it was shutting down. I’m a grown man but I wept like a little kid whose favorite toy was ripped out of his hands by the neighborhood bully. I always had and have fun playing this game, no matter what, and it was like losing a limb, or a loved one. one outlet for creativity gone for no reason. I hated myself later for not playing those last few months, but I really, I’d think about CoH and tear up and have to find some way to stop thinking about it”

A big thank you for allowing me to quote you guys!

 

In other more sinister CoH news, someone has been going around impersonating Prominent community members and staff asking for donations and talking about a patreon. DO NOT GIVE THESE PEOPLE MONEY! This a scam plain and simple. There is another server not affiliated with homecoming that is also asking for money and does not even have a playable server up yet. I would advise against donating to that as well. The homecoming team is not taking donations or accepting money; they are currently bearing the cost themselves. This is well over $2,000 a month to do this for us. They have also been working tirelessly to make this dream a reality, so cut them some slack when the servers go down for maintenance.

 

 

In more fun news there was a costume contest being held on the homecoming forums. A big congrats goes out to Kenwe, Harvest, and LycraBoy, they won special titles unique to them, 200 reward merits and The Fashion Victim badge. Way to make history as the first place winners of the first Homecoming Costume Contest and the first costume contest held for CoH in over 6 years.

 

The homecoming team has made 3 types of Super Packs available for purchase at the Auction House. From an official post found here https://score.savecoh.com/index.php/topic,1204.0.html

“The value of each Super Pack is roughly equivalent to 10 Reward Merits & some goodies
Each pack contains 5 things
The prices are likely to increase over time and without notice
The drop tables may also change without notice
It’s possible you may encounter issues, packs and items may disappear before or as you claim them – until this has been tested thoroughly, use them at your own risk as there will be no refunds for lost influence or items
The money spent on these packs is removed from the game, it isn’t going to another player (essentially, this allows us to combat inflation)
Super Pack: Heroes and Villains
Cost: 10 million inf
Contains most of the items listed on this page
Some items (such as the costume pieces) aren’t included as they’re now free
Other items (such as Brainstorm ideas) have been added
Drop rates are generally more generous than they were on live
Super Pack: Rogues and Vigilantes
Cost: 10 million inf
Contains most of the items listed on this page
Some items (such as the costume pieces) aren’t included as they’re now free
Other items (such as Brainstorm ideas) have been added
Drop rates are generally more generous than they were on live
Super Pack: Lords of Winter
Cost: 25 million inf (price will be reduced during the Winter event)
Contains extra-special Winter enhancements
Contains some Winter-event themed goodies (temporary powers, candy canes, etc)
Also contains most of the same filler content as the other two packs”

 

Also: a bit on Architect Entertainment which is the player made mission content system from the same forum post linked above,

“The AE XP reduction will be remaining in place for the foreseeable future. Soon, however, we will be making a change to allow any arcs flagged as ‘Dev Choice’ to give full XP like any other non-AE mission.

To reiterate, the primary reason for the XP reduction is that the traditional farm maps used by many players put an incredibly high strain on the server’s CPU (this isn’t related to any memory leaks as some have suggested). It was causing everyone to have a degraded experience, which just isn’t fair.

In addition, some of you may have experienced issues editing and updating AE arcs you uploaded in the first week or so of the servers being online. This was caused by the AE databases not being shared by the different shards when we first brought Excelsior online. We’ve since rectified this issue and all new AE arcs are now fully accessible across all shards, but there are some older arcs that have been stuck in limbo.

We’re looking at various options for fixing this and aren’t completely certain on which route we’ll take first, but we would like to request that everyone make frequent offline backups of their AE content for the time being, as we may need to wipe some or all of the AE database in order to fully resolve this issue. If a wipe is required, we will give you a minimum of 3 days notice.”

 

For the final bit of news this week, you can join me in game on excelsior, my chat handle is @Darsch and I am more than happy to give you an invite to the OFFICIAL Sanitarium.fm Supergroups The Sanitarium on Villain side and Sanitarium.FM Heroes side, where we will have weekly Task force and strike force runs, weekly Hamidon raids, weekly pvp events and regularly scheduled costume contests! We are always accepting new and veteran players alike! If you would like to join us just message me for an invite in game or on Discord or in the comments below.

 

 

You can join us in game by downloading Tequila and selecting SCORE to play! Account Creation
1) Create a Forum account at https://score.savecoh.com/index.php?action=register
2) Create your Game Account. This is the account that you will actually use to log into City of Heroes. To do this, click “Game Account” on the forums after signing into your forum account. You can find this just above the Announcements category. Alternatively, you may use this click: https://score.savecoh.com/index.php/board,1.0.html

Install CoH
1) Download Tequila if you’re on Windows from http://patch.savecoh.com/tequila.exe, or Island Rum if you’re on Mac OS from http://ir.powermad.net/islandrum-mac.zip.
2) Install the game in whatever directory you want. *For Windows 8 and above, it is important that this is not in your Desktop, Documents, or Downloads folder due to permissions. We recommend installing to C:\Games\City of Heroes. It is also important to make sure Tequila goes into the same location as CoH.
3) Tequila and Island Rum should automagically download the client once you start them, but note that due to server load, your download may be slow.
3A) For faster downloads you may use the magnet link magnet:?xt=urn:btih:FD5ADD155E5FD01D6013B026A8766E56C2841E3D&dn=City%20of%20Heroes to download most of the City of Heroes data.
4) Once Tequila or Island Rum have finished updating, ensure that “SCORE” is selected at the top left and click “Play”.

 

See you in game folks, and check back next week for more news and join us in Discord to chat about the game!


May 10th, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, Massive Multiplayer Online, PC | No Comments »

Community News:  City of Heroes source code release news

3:00 PM EDT April 19th 2019…

That was when it happened, a miracle of heroic proportions. 5 days later is when I heard the news and my heart skipped a beat. The City of Heroes source code was dropped, not a reworked code, not new homegrown emulator code, it is the ORIGINAL game code. Let that sink in for just a minute, process it. Did your heart skip a beat too? Did you just experience a roller coaster of emotions like I did? If so, soon we can return home brothers and sisters! If not, its okay, soon you can discover why this is so huge for us.

 

 

City of Heroes was shut down for no apparent reason on November 30th 2012. The game was successful here in the west, maintaining profitability, but it is believed NCSoft shut it down due to poor reception in the Korean market. Petitions to save the game and numerous other attempts were everywhere. All fell on deaf ears.

 

 

Fast forward to today, City of Heroes still has a rabid fan base, numerous spiritual successors are in development, and there are more than a few groups working on an emulator. The release of the source code will accelerate these emulators by leaps and bounds, no longer are they reverse engineering scraps of code and writing new stuff from scratch, now they have the original source code to work with. Instead of taking years to get an emulated game we can get the real deal in a much shorter time.

 

 

Now to be fair the source code drop did not include Mission Arcs, other game content, or the character database. But the player and NPC databases are one and the same, and is currently being scrubbed and sifted through and will be dropped once that process is finished. everything that is currently missing is being worked on getting ready for release. Stay patient, and keep the faith alive, soon we will be in paragon city together again! Why am I so sure of this? Because there has been a secret CoH server running and in development for the last 6 years! Not only that but the Titan network is still working on trying to get a legal server running!On to the leaked secret server; it was outed by Destroyer stroyer, AKA Doc Boy, who says his real name is Brian. It was leaked in a video he posted to youtube which has since been taken down. He claimed to have been invited to the private server after dumping game screenshots to reddit, and claims the server was running for 6 years with the game’s original code and player character data. He also claims the devs had access to personal info, and was kept secret until now with ban threats and NDAs. Due to this leak of the secret SCORE (Secret Cabal of Reverse Engineers) COH server Leandro Pardini, the lead dev on said server, confirms the server’s existence and spoke out about numerous accusations made by Doc Boy and the need for the secrecy in the first place. Here is the complete statement –

 

The Secret Cabal of Reverse Engineers
Before I talk about City of Heroes, I need to go back in time a little bit. It has been over six years since the shutdown, so a lot of people either forgot or never knew how the server project started. And for that, I need to talk about another game.

When NCsoft closed Tabula Rasa in 2007, a group of devoted players banded together to code a server for it. It was called Infinite Rasa and it developed things in the open, with a project website and forum. The overall architecture was being discussed publicly and there was a buggy server that allowed players to log in and run around the initial area.

Then it was hit by a Cease and Desist order by NCsoft in November 2011. The website was seized, the forums went dark, and progress completely stopped. One thing was made abundantly clear to everybody: NCsoft was not going to tolerate the development of servers for their games, even four years after they were shut down.

When City of Heroes closed in November 2012, this was very fresh in my mind. Instead of trying to develop a server out in the open to suffer the same fate as Infinite Rasa, the efforts to revive City of Heroes focused on trying to acquire the IP from NCsoft through various means, with any server development being held in secret.

And here is the irony of the entire situation: the fact that a City of Heroes server is being developed in secret is not a secret. If you search for the phrase “Secret Cabal of Reverse Engineers” in Google, the very first result is a post from 2013, in which a player is explicitly saying that the server development efforts “might want to stay as low as possible”.

 

So that is what SCORE did. It utilized closed forums with, closed access. Invite only; initially only for developers, though eventually expanded to friends and family of anyone who had access. Accepting an invitation to the project involved a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), and anyone who breached it had their access revoked. Over the years, multiple people who weren’t happy with how fast the project was moving or wanted it made public were removed. For the most part this was not an issue, because the community at large, at the time, understood that this was a secret project, a backup if everything else failed. That seems to no longer be the case.

 

 

There are currently calls to make SCORE public because of the extra exposure; the reason given is that, after six years, NCsoft surely wouldn’t care. But Infinite Rasa also thought they were safe after four years. This is not a mistake you make twice.

 

I believe that the reason this particular NDA breach gained so much traction when others didn’t has to do with the community evolving over time. Many people no longer remember that efforts to acquire the IP were ongoing at the time, and so server development was agreed to happen underground. It is possible that a lot of people that played City of Heroes while they were teenagers, and never engaged with the community at the time, are now adults who never knew about it in the first place.

 

 

Now, I need to address the connections, or lack thereof, between SCORE and other projects that have become entangled in this dramatic reveal.

 

Super Entity Game Server

The Super Entity Game Server project already existed back in 2012 when the City of Heroes servers were shut down, and their goal is to implement a fully playable server that connects to the original release client from 2004. At the time there was a lot of discussion about contributing to SEGS rather than starting a separate project, but the fact that SEGS uses the original release client, while SCORE targeted the latest beta client from 2012, makes both projects fundamentally incompatible. The projects are separate, and as far as I am aware, none of the lead developers or community managers ever accepted an invite to participate in SCORE.

SEGS has been given as a reason why the secrecy behind SCORE is unwarranted. After all, they have been operating for ten years now, and have not received any Cease and Desist orders by NCsoft. It should be noted that SEGS has not yet released anything to the level of what Infinite Rasa had: working weapons and enemies, though limited to just the starting area. It’s also possible that using the original release client makes them a less appealing target. In either case, they are certainly braver and more willing to take risks than I am, and I really hope that it works out for them. While my attempts to contribute to SEGS were extremely limited mainly due to my own lack of familiarity and patience with their programming framework, I still am cheering for their success and I hope that, if this whole situation attracts attention to them, it’s only in the form of new developers seeking to contribute their skills to the project.

 

The Titan Network

While the initial recruitment for SCORE happened on the Titan Network forums, the project was split off as soon as possible. Because of the then-ongoing efforts to acquire the City of Heroes IP from NCsoft, the owner for the site did not want a server development project to jeopardize the negotiations, and has on multiple occasions disavowed the server project completely, although discussion of SCORE are still allowed as far as I know. This might seem overzealous, but it is perfectly understandable; the Titan Network aims to be a hub for the City of Heroes community and their many projects, and being linked to a specific underground project introduces a liability that could cause them to be shut down as well.

Once it was clear that acquiring the IP was not going to happen, the Titan Network created a project where all the user data is held on the players’ own computers and the game processes are distributed among players. This is a brilliant idea, as it means that there’s no server to shut down; Paragon Chat operates on a standard, open source chat client. I collaborated on this project’s early days, but again, the goals are too different for the projects to be merged into a single thing. And because of the difficulty in properly implementing a distributed server, I recommend that anyone with the development skills to contribute to a City of Heroes server project joins SEGS instead.

 

Paragon Studios

This is where things get less pleasant. This last NDA breach has had some malicious elements to it, probably to inflate the claims and make it feel more dramatic than it is. While I won’t deny that some former Paragon Studios developers are aware of SCORE and have provided helpful tips in the past, this should not be shocking to anyone who has been around the community long enough; I have seen some former Paragon Studios developers in the Discord server for SEGS as well. Under no circumstances should there be fingers pointed at them; anything they shared was done so with the tacit understanding that it would not endanger their current or future employment. I am very happy to take the heat over this entire situation, even though I think it has been overblown. Leave them out of it.

There is one specific rumor that needs outright debunking, though: at no point did I, or anyone else I know, receive a database containing player names, emails, birth dates, payment information, or any other personally identifiable information. Not only would this have been a massive breach of privacy, but that is not information that a game server would ever need to operate, and so it would have been completely pointless to share.

 

Reddit

The person behind the current NDA breach cites Reddit moderators being too quick to remove all mentions of any private server, except for their two stickies for SEGS and Paragon Chat. While this again might seem overzealous, it really isn’t. Reddit as a whole does not tolerate when a forum triggers legal complaints; very recently, the subreddit where piracy is discussed had to delete 10 years of archived discussions to prevent being shut down. There are also the very valid concerns that malicious actors would post links to City of Heroes servers that turn out to be scams which infect the player’s computer with malware or stealing payment information. Reddit offers no accountability regarding who posts anything, and so it should be heavily policed to guarantee a safe environment. If this feels like censorship, you are always free to start your own subreddit. I do not moderate the City of Heroes subreddit, the Titan Network or any Facebook group.

 

Trust and Feelings

This is a difficult thing to address, because nobody likes feeling lied to, even by omission. At the same time, operating under an NDA comes with some rules that are well understood. The fact that we’re talking about a server project for a game while the company that owns the IP is still active and used aspects of the IP very recently for Master X Master makes things more complicated.

My approach to enforcing the NDA has always been to not reply to any public posts that revealed details about SCORE, and just contact the specific party to have the information taken down. Others have gone as far as to call them liars or crazy, which goes against my wishes. I do apologize for anyone who was on the receiving end of verbal abuse due to this situation.

Back in 2012, the City of Heroes community agreed that SCORE would operate in secret until we had something ready for release. The fact that nearly nothing has been released six years later is probably part of the reason why this attracted so much attention; the community has shifted and changed, and not many remember how the project began. I am sure a lot of people are curious to know how much progress has been done; however, with SEGS having regular and interesting releases, it feels quite unfair to come out of nowhere and steal their thunder with a progress report on something that is hidden by design.

Unless and until we are certain that a Cease and Desist order is no longer a threat, the NDA regarding SCORE development will remain in full effect. For most people this will seem like a moot point since most of the community are aware of it, but keep in mind, that is also how we started. Until then, support SEGS! They are very close to a new release and I will be very disappointed if the ghost of SCORE overshadows their accomplishments.”

 

That is a lot to take in. Many people are understandably angry that this server existed in secret for so long with no way to play other than an invite. Now it remains to be seen how this will affect the future of the SCORE server and other projects now that the source code has been dropped by the people over at SCORE and how this all might affect the attempts by the city of titans folks to get a legit community server running with NCSoft approval. As of the time of this article a new public test server was launched with 14000 registered users and over 2000 active players, the servers current cap.

 

 

We’ll bring you more news as we hear it
~Darsch


April 27th, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, Massive Multiplayer Online, Multiplatform, PC, Technology | No Comments »

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