The big story in MMORPG news lately is about City of Heroes, the second-most talked about dead game after Star Wars Galaxies. Apparently, somebody has been working on (yet another) City of Heroes emulator in secret. There’s a lot of drama around it, because of course there is. I don’t know all the details and it’s tiresome to read through the articles about it.
First some background: I never played City of Heroes. I haven’t played *any* superhero MMOs, with the exception of one free-to-play game I tried for perhaps an hour, many years ago. I don’t even remember which one it was. It *might* have been City of Heroes, but I don’t think so. I think it was Champions Online. Short version: I didn’t like it. I remember being annoying during character creation, and leaving perhaps before even getting to the game world.
Wait, I forgot: I played a little bit of Marvel Heroes. Twelve hours worth. I lost interest quickly.
I own almost every one of those Batman Arkham games on Steam but I haven’t played any of them.
I don’t particularly enjoy the superhero genre in general. I never have. I never read comic books as a kid, and I don’t read them now. The last time I watched a superhero-themed animated show was probably the Saturday Morning Superfriends cartoon circa 1980 (“meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom!”). With rare exceptions, I don’t care for the popular Marvel or DC movies. Superheroes just don’t resonate with me. It’s far less believable to me than high fantasy or science fiction or horror settings.
So to be blunt, I don’t care one way or another if there’s a City of Heroes emulator or three or four. (I think there are actually three or four competing with each other right now, after this new revelation about SCORE.) I personally think it would be better for everyone if these people working so hard on these emulators spent their time writing brand new games instead.
I can’t help but feel like the fascination with emulators of old, dead games is a huge red flag about the current state of the MMORPG genre. It speaks of a fundamental mistrust of the future of the industry by players, to say nothing of what it says about society in general, that people would rather retreat into an insular, walled community of like-minded people frozen in the past, rather than remain in a public space embracing the changing future.
For myself, I can’t think of a single MMO that has shut down that I would care to play again. The only one that I *might* make an exception for is Asheron’s Call. But I doubt I would play it more than a few hours. Just enough to look at it and take some screenshots or video and remind myself that yeah, multiplayer games are definitely much better today than they were in 1999. In any case, my old characters are long gone. The good times I had in that game are long gone. That sense of discovery and this-is-all-new-to-me excitement is long gone. It’s best to move on and find new excitement.
So yeah, not much to say about this. However the story turns out, it won’t have any effect on my gaming life. It’s extremely unlikely that I’ll ever play a City of Heroes emulator, or any of these new City of Heroes spiritual successors under development-before, during, or after this controversy. (I mean, if they are free, I might try it out for an hour or two, but that’s probably it.) This SCORE story for me just highlights the universal truth that human beings as a species are far more interested in finding ways to fight against and divide each other than anything else.
Oh, now I see that the SCORE team released the source code to the public. Presumably because they think that might free them from all those heaping piles of legal responsibility they suddenly find themselves crushed beneath. “We totally stole this thing from our employers but now we’re giving it away to everyone, so it doesn’t count? We did horribly unethical things at our workplace that every one of our future employers should look at very closely during the hiring process, but it was for the good of the people? That’s how laws work, right?” Amusing.