Former City of Heroes players have plenty of options to try to fill the void of their favorite MMO. There’s a chat shell that uses the original client, there are superhero MMOs out right now, there are multiple superhero MMOs in development, and now, there’s a City of Heroes emulator for those who don’t mind walking on the grey side of legality.
The project is Super Entity Game Server (or SEGS for short), which allows fans to run their own City of Heroes server. SEGS has just put out its first public release and compares itself to SWGemu in focus and goals. Right now the client is fairly limited, allowing players to make characters and walk around Atlas Park, but the team hopes that it will be expanded to include all of the content that City of Heroes had when it closed down.
As an amateur historian and an MMORPG enthusiast, I generally applaud efforts by the community to resurrect, preserve, and even reboot sunsetted games. While there are legal issues to consider, especially over intellectual properties, I want these games to continue on in some fashion. If a studio is not willing or able to do it, then having the community pick up the slack is an acceptable solution in my book.
But this past week I was wondering if there are cases where fan emulators of these MMORPGs might not be worth pursuing. Is keeping City of Heroes operating as a ghost of itself in Paragon Chat helpful to a community that maybe should move on at this point? Do some of the smaller emulators that lack funds and development talent end up doing a disservice to the original title?
What are your feelings on this? Are fan emulators of dead MMOs worth developing, or should we let the deceased rest in peace?
Perhaps one of the most amazing MMORPG emulator projects is one that has flown under the radar of the larger community. Following the shutdown of Disney’s Toontown Online in 2013, the community relaunched the game as Toontown Rewritten. Instead of wallowing in obscurity, the emulator has flourished with a vibrant community and regular updates.
It’s been so successful, in fact, that the dev team has held player conventions for years now. The next ToonFest is coming up at July’s ReplayFX Arcade and Gaming Festival in Pittsburgh, PA. It’s here that fans will gather together to meet with the developers, hear update announcements, and attend panels with the team.
“I still believe that one way or another, Toontown’s going to hang in there and have that long, long life,” said Schell Games CEO Jesse Schell.
Curious about Toontown Online and why it’s inspired such devotion? Read up on this title in our Game Archaeologist column!
Curious about what’s going to happen to all of those World of Warcraft legacy emulators with WoW Classic on the way? It doesn’t look like any are feeling that they should pack up and leave, especially considering how long it might take for the notoriously slow Blizzard to get its version out the door.
The Elysium Project reported that it has a population hovering between 3.5k and 5.5k players and is preparing to release Patch 1.6 and Blackwing Lair on March 10th. Light’s Hope posted a schedule of server events and plans to merge its three shards together on June 6th, with a fresh PvP realm coming online soon thereafter.
Additionally, there’s a new legacy PvP server called Kronos III that should be coming online on March 31st. The server won’t allow multiboxing and has buffed XP in groups to encourage players to team up.
Desperate for some World of Warcraft Classic news now that the BlizzCon high has faded? Forbes has an interview up with Blizzard Executive Producer J. Allen Brack and Senior Game Designer Jeremy Feasel that at least touches on the challenges that lay ahead in bringing a legacy server to the gaming population.
The two don’t mince words about the technical challenge, but say that there is a plan to minimize the complexity of such a project and move forward. The studio said that “lots of decisions to make” and many things to do, such as to partner with the community and get feedback about the formation of Classic.
Brack emphasized that Blizzard wants to structure this so that it will not be managing two MMOs at the same time. He said that headaches aside, it’s a project worth pursuing: “We’re convinced, through the desire of those folks, the desire of our internal folks, and the desire to preserve what WoW was, that this is the right decision.”
Scroll back in your brain a decade to 2007, when Sparkplay announced it was building an MMORPG called Earth Eternal, a free-to-play, microtransaction-based MMO (yes, that early) notable for its purely anthropomorphic races, PvP, and clan-centric gameplay, which actually had a solid if small following and earned plenty of praise. Following an open beta in 2009, Sparkplay went bankrupt and sold the game to Japanese company Sankando, which operated a beta version with spotty uptime in 2011 and apparently closed down at the end of that year.
Since then, fans have put together several other emulators and communities that I can find, the most recent of which is Earth Eternal: The Anubian War. In fact, the srver apparently came online last year and has been steadily updating since. Most recently – this past weekend – the player team updated with the Valkal’s Shadow patch and infrastructure tweaks to boot. The update boasts a new region, new quests, new dungeons, a new town, a new storyline, a new book system, near gear, and on and on. Not too shabby!
We don’t cover the Battlefield games much on Massively OP, but this particular story caught my attention anyway because of the company and subject involved. According to a piece on Gamasutra, EA has effectively stymied a player-run effort to resurrect several Battlefield games, including Battlefield Heroes, as de facto emulators with online services, which have attracted significant fan support.
Revive Network says it was issued a polite request – not a formal cease-and-desist demand – by EA’s legal team, casually asking the site-runners to put an end to distrbuting the clients that make the resurrection possible.
Following a nasty bout of corruption and scandal, the Elysium Project — a World of Warcraft vanilla emulator — has officially disbanded. In its place has arisen yet another emu, this one called Light’s Hope. But is there any reason to think that things will be better this time around? The project leads certainly hope so, which is why they posted a lengthy letter explaining the situation and attempting to calm down a disgruntled community.
In the letter, blame for Elysium’s issues is laid at the feet of two members who participated in gold selling and outright theft of funds. However, the remaining team has asked for no retaliation by the community: “At this time, several key members of the project leadership are stepping down and walking away. We expect most of the staff will follow suit given the information revealed here. What is done has been done — we are moving on and request that you do the same.”
What are lawyers good for? Pouring lemon juice on the open wounds of an MMO community desperately trying to hold on to the remnant of their closed game, apparently.
The closure of at least one Asheron’s Call emulator earlier this month was confirmed this week to be what many assumed: a cease-and-desist letter from Warner Bros. One of the main forces behind the emulator projects, a player named Pea, posted an account stating how he initially wrote to WB about the game’s closure and his growing involvement in the emulator scene.
Pea noted that prior the game’s shutdown, Turbine had released some information about the client that made creating emulators “significantly easier” from fans. He also assumed that WB did not care about the Asheron’s Call franchise and had abandoned it, which fed into the emulator projects taking root.
The muddy waters of emulators and the contentious conversation around World of Warcraft legacy servers is getting a whole lot more crazy this summer, thanks to a new emulator project on the scene.
As the name implies, Burning Crusade doesn’t seek to just replicate the vanilla WoW experience but everything up through the MMO’s first expansion. The emulator promises to take players on a journey to level 70 and the Outlands, complete with raid attunement and factional warfare. The free PvP server that has been in development at least since 2012 and recently went into open beta testing.
“Development for Burning Crusade has spanned years behind closed doors and is designed to emulate a World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade private server up to retail standards,” the dev team posted. “Using publicly available data, we have tackled the fundamental issues that remind players that they aren’t playing on official servers. Our software is the product of closed source development around clean professional programming standards. The goal of the project is to produce a complete and satisfying experience.”
See what this server looks like after the break!
In just two weeks, a long-forgotten social MMORPG might be making a comeback. The team behind FreeSO, a Sims Online emulator, announced on Twitter yesterday that “on 15 May 2017, things are coming.”
Excited about the upcoming announcement? Some members of the community set up a FreeSO Discord channel to chat about the game.
This is the first word we’ve heard from the FreeSO project since its update in late March regarding the progress of its test server. In January, the game had to downshift from open to closed beta due to the popularity that it was generating.
The underground revival of The Sims Online is seeing marked interest from the community, as players are checking out the current FreeSO beta. In fact, a month ago, the team set up a Sunrise Crater test server and has been pleased to see the activity that it has generated.
“At max, we’ve sustained 350 concurrent players in around 60 lots, on one server box,” the team reported. “There are just over 2,000 lots on the map, and 11,521 avatars in existence. Cumulatively, sims have §75,528,319 in the bank, and have bought §92,393,467 worth of objects (191,956 objects)!”
A wipe will eventually hit the test server, but this won’t be coming for a while. The lead developer said that players shouldn’t expect any major new features soon, as he needs to finish up his Masters project first. So for the time being, “bug fixes and stability” are the mantra of this game. FreeSO actually had to downshift from an open beta to a closed one back in early January due to the server getting swamped.
Were you there when they turned the lights out on Free Realms? The title went dark on this family-friendly MMORPG back in March 2014, but some fans have held a torch for it ever since. A few are going further than that by attempting to resurrect the game in an emulator for PC, though it’s unlikely that Daybreak has given its blessing.
Last December, Free Realms Sunrise announced that it was trying to bring back the MMO in some way, shape, or form: “Our developers have been working on this project for countless hours trying their best to make this a reality and get Free Realms back into your hands. While before we were unsure if it was possible, we believe now that with a enough time and effort, we can bring back a decent portion of the game. We unfortunately can’t guarantee that everything that was in the original game will become available. However, there is still a lot of discovery to be had. This is only the beginning.”
Things have progressed since then to the pre-alpha point.
Did you play Free Realms in its day? Would you give an emulator a go?