City of Heroes – Internet of Villains

I’ve been loosely following the story surrounding SCORE and its related shenanigans since Massively OP’s initial report. While I did play CoH when it was still live, and I do remember it fondly, it would be a bit of a stretch to call myself a fan. I have no particular attachment to any characters I played, nor do I really remember any of the details about them.

What has interested me, however, is how people have reacted to the news so far, at least on reddit. I’m not actually checking the forums and such at the moment and honestly this is all par for the course for reddit. Brought about partially by the post SCORE- The City of Heroes Private Server- is halting development indefinitely in face of legal action. Near as I can tell someone impersonated an NCSoft employee and convinced the people in charge that there was impending legal action so they chose to act preemptively. If anything it seems to indicate how flighty they are with regards to legal action. Again, MOP has a fairly detailed account of these events, including some details I wasn’t aware of. The “test server” that was shut down wasn’t run by the people I thought it was. Additionally, in the ensuing panic, the server was not only taken offline but also wiped. This means that for the moment it no longer exists.

The comments are just straight up full of misinformation though, most of it characterizing the project head as some manner of profiteering slimeball, which really hasn’t been my perception. They didn’t have to release the code or open the server, but when the community effectively communicated that they wanted this, they did it. I actually went ahead and created an account myself, though I hadn’t actually attempted a login, and it’s kinda moot now I guess. At least for the time being.

I’ve also seen a lot of people complaining about privacy concerns regarding what character and player information they may or may not have, especially the idea that he has some form of credit card or payment information. The idea that this information would still be valid and usable seven years later is absurd, but I’ll take the opportunity to quote the original programmer on this subject.

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. – Leandro

Of course, I guess people starting from the position of “he can’t be trusted” wouldn’t put much faith in all that. The big question still remains though. Will NCSoft shut the project down or not? Unless they plan on starting their own server to replace it, and even if they do, there would be a great deal of backlash.

I keep seeing everyone talk about the idea of licensing as a potential solution for both parties. That is, the company offering a “private server” or “emulated server” license to those that are interested so that they can at least make money, possibly more so if they plan it properly. I’m specifically thinking they could require a licensed private server to only allow currently subscribed players in addition to the licensing fee.

Of course, it’s really more complicated than all that. How do you allow these projects to check someone’s subscription status while remaining within proper privacy guidelines and concerns? How will this impact the player-base, since it’s essentially a sanctioned split. Splitting the player base hasn’t generally worked well, historically. There are solutions, of course, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

This story is quite large, and if you’re interested check out the MOP article and its links and updates. If the server is live again at some point, and I can be bothered to log in, maybe I’ll talk about it. It’s really more of a curiosity and talking point for me than something I’m extra excited about.

Y’all be careful, and remember, you don’t have to be a hero to make sure you’re not a villain.

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5 thoughts on “City of Heroes – Internet of Villains

  1. First of all – blog post title of the year. Secondly: I made a comment on the PCG article when this story first broke asking who the real villain was – my money was on the asswipe who outed this SCORE group who put time, effort, money, and their own skills into preserving CoH for friends and family knowing going public would open them to legal action. 1/2 the responses said SCORE was for keeping this source code a secret, the other 1/2 NCSOFT lol. This cracks me up because just releasing source code isn’t like posting a recipe for brownies and now everyone can make it. This SCORE group were professionals and it took skill to integrate the character data and maintain the server as well as get it all running. “The internet” assumes you can download the source code and play CoH on your pc immediately. Ha. I still think this Destroyer Stroyer is the biggest asswipe in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I specifically avoided talking about him. There are enough death threats and stuff already. What he did was definitely a dick move, but nobody really deserves the “wrath of the internet.” I don’t condone what he did, and certainly not how he did it, but the real villains are the people sending death threats and hate mail. Doesn’t matter who they’re sending it to.

      Also, you’re correct, people underestimate the level of effort required to read and understand someone else’s code, or even your own sometimes, much less compile it properly. It really depends on what they have and how complete it is. I’m guessing based on the fact that something was live pretty quickly that it must at least be reasonably complete.

      I’m also unclear how much of it is code and how much of it is compiled binaries, I’ve seen both mentioned.

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  2. The back and forth drama has been amusing to read on a slow news day, and in MMOland, most days are slow news.

    The major thing keeping me away is remembering that I got bored with the mob layouts in CoH years ago – 3 minions, or 1 lieutenant and 1 minion… ramping up to a clump of minions and lieuts and two bosses (cc them twice to nullify!) in an 8 person team or if the late introduced difficulty slider was pushed to the max. No variation, every spawn dotted regularly through the same maps.

    I wish those who enjoy CoH well and hope they can get the experience they’re looking for on the rogue servers, but I have discovered that I definitely need procedural generation in my games to keep some variety going.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure I actually played enough to have noticed the mob layout. I made it to the low 30s, maybe, with a single character, and I could very easily be mis-remembering that.

      I see what you’re talking about though. It’s easy to lose sight of the flaws in a product nobody has actually played in years. Maybe the rogue team could change that, maybe they won’t.

      I’m not really hanging my hat on this one though. The first team to go public didn’t have the will to keep it up. I’ve been thinking about that a bit and if you’re so concerned about legatily that your first response to even the slightest hint of action is to shut it down and wipe the server, this probably isn’t the right project for them to be running.

      I’m sure they’ll eventually get something running. Probably several somethings catering to different tastes, which is how this usually goes.

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