A Mild-Mannered Reporter: No hope for CoH, no faltering for us

Death need not be the end of hope.
By now every City of Heroes fan has no doubt seen NCsoft's backhanded dismissal of the entire Save CoH movement. If by some coincidence you hadn't seen it, congratulations! Welcome to Wednesday; here's your bad news. NCsoft has heard us and responded with, "Aw, shucks, we really tried," which is the equivalent of a five-year-old child claiming that he did try to clean his room after three minutes of picking up toys and putting them back down in roughly the same spot.

If I sound bitter, it's because I am. But what does this mean for City of Heroes? Is all hope truly lost? Have we lost the fight to save our city? Is there no chance for a reprieve or some shining light in the late night?

Well... not much. But this is not actually the change that it's being framed as. This is what we went in knowing, and while it changes the game being played, it doesn't change many of the hard facts. I said in my first column that we were fighting a battle with a slim hope, and the fact that it's now pretty much no hope doesn't change much, nor does it mean we should stop fighting.

Reading between the lines.See, for me at least, supporting the Save CoH movement was never about actually saving CoH. That was certainly a desirable outcome, yes, but I figured our odds of doing that were never anywhere near good, as I explained in my very first column on the subject. We were always fighting a decided issue in which we had little chance of convincing NCsoft to reverse the decision.

So why bother? To explain, I'm going to have to hit you all with some Kurt Vonnegut. Specifically, a major plot point of the book Player Piano (and if you're worried about spoilers for a book that was published 60 years ago, there are spoilers below, so skip down a paragraph).

The main characters in Player Piano wind up in a movement called the Ghost Shirt Society, a movement meant to protest some of the grotesque inequalities and injustices brought about by a world run entirely by vaccuum-tube computers. (It makes sense in context; I'm glossing a bit.) The founder of the movement explains that it's named after a Native American movement full of adherents wearing white shirts, which they believed made them impervious to bullets.

In the end, the movement completely fails and the main characters are hauled off for various associated criminal acts. The founder explains that the Native Americans failed as well, shot down in great numbers because their shirts were in fact quite vulnerable to bullets. But that wasn't the point. The point was standing up, putting a face on the circumstances, and rebelling against something that was wrong, even if it didn't lead to victory in the end. The point was that sometimes the statement is more important than immediate victory and that it's worth standing up for what's right even if you're standing up for the losing team.

We can all see the parallels here. Most of the people at the top of Save CoH and several people below knew from the beginning that this was a losing game. That's not what matters. It's more important to try and not back down than it is to actually prevent the game from shutting down because the odds of that have always been microscopically small.

So NCsoft has said that they don't really intend to do anything more about CoH. We've got about a month and a half left. The question becomes whether you, as players, want to accept that answer or want to go down standing up.

If it's the latter, it's time to get rid of things like petitions and organized in-game events. Those are thing designed to raise awareness, and honestly, awareness has been raised. It's getting raised right now. The CoH players on the Massively staff, for example (like Bree and me), are doing everything we can to remind people that yes, this is still A Thing and it's horrible. NCsoft has made it very clear that it's heard us, so now the only remaining choice is to make our voices louder.

Keep mailing. Keep calling. Keep posting. Keep making a public show out of what's happening and refuse to go quietly, and not because you expect NCsoft to turn around and change its collective mind; we need to be honest about what we're doing here. This is no longer a matter of saving our beloved game. This is a case of making it clear what's being done, that we aren't happy, and that this can happen in other places.

Because we're not a flash in the pan, get it?  I slay me.Above all else, don't lose your determination. I'm not going to say that you shouldn't lose hope because honestly, hope has left the building. We are hopeless. Hope is reserved for those who think things might turn around; it's time to be realistic and discard that. But losing hope and losing your will are two very different things. It's important to keep that fire, even though you know it won't fix anything.

Heroes stand up and keep fighting a losing battle in the hopes that someone else will be able to start up the fight again later and win it. Villains fight their losing battles because they know that their time will come again. Neither group accepts the ending, even if it's inevitable.

We are heroes. This is what we do. Even in the face of oblivion.

You can send feedback via the usual email (eliot@massively.com) or down below in the comments. Next week, I'm going to look at the unseen victims of this whole miserable event, things you may or may not have even thought about up until now.

Postscript: Some of you may want to rally in the comments or email about a possible emulated server, on the basis of idea that the game won't really going away if the community can manage to get that running. Unfortunately, those hopes are slim; NCsoft has taken legal action to shut these things down before, and to my limited non-programmer understanding, getting CoH into an emulated state is not an easy task. Even if it does prove possible, that's not really what I would consider saving CoH so much as impersonating it with reasonable fidelity, although you're welcome to a different opinion on that point. Down that road I shall not go.

By day a mild-mannered reporter, Eliot Lefebvre unveils his secret identity in Paragon City and the Rogue Isles every Wednesday. Filled with all the news that's fit to analyze and all the muck that's fit to rake, this look at City of Heroes analyzes everything from the game's connection to its four-color roots to the latest changes in the game's mechanics.
This article was originally published on Massively.