(This article has been updated since publication; updates are at the bottom!)
Well, you wanted the City of Heroes private server code, and you got it.
“It was uploaded onto a Discord server someone started who we don’t know,” a Discord source familiar with the situation just told me. “Like 300 people congregated there and now the files have spread like wildfire. It’s not the character files. It also doesn’t contain the mission files or NPCs, but it’s a big piece of the puzzle for reverse engineering the game that no one but Leo had before.”
It’s all part of a story we’ve been covering all week, as information about a secret City of Heroes private server was leaked across the web and the community agitated for its purveyors to disperse the code to everyone, not just the chosen few. Last night, it became clear that was a real and possible solution to the drama unfolding.
Ahead of the drop of the files, we spoke to the anonymous Discord participants who were apparently given the code to clean up and roll out to the public. Here’s what they told us.
MassivelyOP: Are multiple people receiving all of the files, such that multiple people can independently host the game? Or is this one of those things where everyone’s getting a different thing and only with their powers combined can a server actually be run? Is it going to be possible for anyone to access all or part of these files? Or is it going to be passed only to specific person or people vetted to run a community server?
Everyone will have access. That seems to be the most satisfying approach. We’re not going to make a server either. It’s up to the community to do with it as they see fit. That seems to go along with what Leo would want.
As for the characters, the person holding the code does not have them. Leo still does. It’s just the server code as far as we know. I don’t want to speak for Leo, but I believe personally that he intends to give it back to us in a way that ensures we get our characters and not characters belonging to other people. He’s not really involved at all at this point. I assume that anything regarding the character info will be dealt with at a later date! We don’t have the character database, in any case.
What is being done specifically to ensure that the code remains with the community in some way forever? Like, what if everyone with a copy gets hit by a bus?
Not a whole lot immediately. [The person who received the code last night] was only a random dude.
What is happening to the actual existing SCORE server and the people on it and their characters? Is that over?
[Ed: They didn’t answer this one – I assume since they don’t want to speak for the SCORE folks because they aren’t the SCORE folks.]
How are people protecting themselves from legal action beyond the Great Scrubbening?
As far as the scrubbening, he scrubbed it. We don’t know! It’s really terrifying to be honest. Either way, it should be clear: We are operating independently from Leo. Nothing we say should be construed as an official message from Leo in any way. Dude’s dealt with enough hardship as it is.
We’d like to thank our sources for their candor. To be clear, we are not encouraging illegal activity and advise everyone involved to consider their actions carefully.
Update, April 18 afternoon
Just to clarify here, the file dump is apparently not complete – not plug-and-play, so to speak. It’s missing some content and mission files, according to multiple people poring over the code. It’s for “big kids” to turn into something functional – “something people should have the tools to recreate,” my source told me. Apparently, the reconstruction is 1) possible but 2) going to take a while. So try to have some chill.
Update, April 18 evening
Leandro has commented on the COH Discord tonight about the state of the handover, specifically noting he’s waiting for other folks to provide the hardware so he can get them what they need to get it all running. “I want servers with the specs I listed to get a playable shard out ASAP so the trolls die already.”
On characters: “I am getting lots of pushback about releasing [the character database] both in and out of SCORE because players don’t want ‘their’ characters to be available to anybody. So I’m putting that release on hold until the dust settles and the community at large can come to a decision.”
On servers: “Piggs won’t be there because server actually runs slower if you have piggs; but all the data files that WOULD go into piggs will be there. […] Whatever servers I set up will use the latest binaries and data that SCORE itself was using, internally referred to as Issue 25: Unbroken Spirit. This is simply because it will be the fastest to deploy, since it already has tools for account creation, all the microtransaction garbage like the Paragon Rewards tree removed, and many other optimizations. I am sure there will be a lot of complaints about it not being a “pure” release that will want a lot of changes stripped. Have some patience. It will take much longer to get a server set up if I have to roll back my repositories to early 2013 and hunt down a version of the data files that would play nice with it and does not have massive gaps in content. I don’t even think such a version exists. This was a massive reverse engineering that took months to get something usable.” [Thanks, Sean!]
Update, April 18, night
Last update from us tonight: Leandro notified us that folks are getting very close to getting a preliminary server online. It’s expected this evening, possibly within the next few hours. Gonna be honest, I’d love to be there to watch it, but I rather desperately need to sleep before I fall over, so instead, if you’re up and want to see some weird history, you can go watch it yourself in the #build-compile-discussion channel on the CoH Discord
Update, April 19, morning
We’ve updated the “unicorn” article
with a very brief summary of our chat with the person who claimed to be facilitating discussion with NCsoft. (No matter what you believe, please stop harassing him.)
Information about the continuing work on the various projects can be found on the Titan Network forums and Reddit.
Update, April 19, late morning
Update, April 19, afternoon
A kind player on Discord let us know that there is a screengrab of an “article” that superficially appears to be from Massively OP, supposedly reporting that NCsoft is investigating the private server. While we have no doubt NCsoft is aware of the community’s efforts right now, the article itself is an absolute fake. We did not publish that article, and I’m guessing our regulars can easily spot the formatting and prose errors that mark it out as such.
According to public Discord chats, work on an initial server is continuing. We cannot link directly to the site, but we’re pretty sure you can find what you’re after on Reddit. :)
Update, April 20, evening
The test server is live
! With a highly silly name!
No, it’s not my screenshot and I’m not running the server; they’re just messing with us. Thanks to the lovely lady who sent it to me. :)
Once again, we cannot advise doing anything illegal – and yes, this stage of the project is going to continue getting harder and harder for us to cover, but it’s not because we don’t want to, please understand. Information about the server can be found on Discord and Reddit.
Completely confused? You’re not alone. Here’s all of our coverage to date:
City of Heroes’ Homecoming just outlawed video of their rogue servers
City of Heroes Homecoming players have racked up over 47 million hours
NCsoft follows up City of Heroes code copyright filing with fresh trademark application
Massively OP’s 2019 Awards: Biggest MMO Surprise
City of Heroes: Homecoming kicks off the winter season in its latest patch
City of Heroes: Homecoming patches in the third part of Issue 26 with new stories and powers
City of Heroes’ Homecoming announces Issue 26 Page 3, Halloween content, and collab with other rogue servers
City of Heroes’ Homecoming rogue servers are now blocking copyright-infringing characters
City of Heroes Homecoming is now banning accounts for… real-money trading
TonyV leaves City of Heroes NCsoft negotiations, resigns from Titan Network
City of Heroes: Homecoming plays with Rage crashes, PvP stuns, and Tanker powers on the test server
City of Heroes Homecoming asks players what they want from a licensed server
City of Heroes Homecoming players have rolled almost a million toons to date
City of Heroes Homecoming adjusts snipes and Dominator powers with the latest patch
Today’s City of Heroes’ Homecoming patch future-proofs the rogue servers for Mac players
City of Heroes’ Homecoming Team finally posted a new beta patch after months of public quiet
City of Heroes’ Homecoming rogue servers have joined the Titan Network/NCsoft negotiations
Catching up with City of Heroes’ Homecoming rogue servers as NCsoft negotiations continue
One of City of Heroes’ rogue servers, Reborn/Pleiades, was just shut down by its operator
City of Heroes: Homecoming hit 100K players as another donation round funds
Perfect Ten: 10 things I’d love to see added to City of Heroes in the rogue server era
City of Heroes: Homecoming adds numerical power cooldowns, nerfs Death from Below, adds User Agreement
City of Heroes: Community harassment ramps up as Homecoming counts 91,000 players
Perfect Ten: Helpful tips for returning to City of Heroes in 2019
City of Heroes: All the public servers we know of, plus Reddit’s launch and Homecoming’s name release
City of Heroes: Homecoming concurrency, Rebirth and Reddit’s i24 servers, and the future of basebuilding
City of Heroes: Homecoming’s new home, EU players, multiboxing, SEGS, and… piglets
City of Heroes rogue server teams activate i24 PTS, prep for tomorrow’s Homecoming server moves
City of Heroes community forms Round Table as Homecoming rogue servers count over 56,000 players
City of Heroes’ Homecoming servers port to Canada this weekend, server status page is live
Leaderboard: Would you donate for a City of Heroes rogue server?
City of Heroes: New servers, Discord drama, and Homecoming gets $6900 in donations in 20 minutes
City of Heroes’ Homecoming rogue servers will offer character transfers after all
City of Heroes now has a fifth rogue server live as Homecoming buffs up and work on i24 continues
City of Heroes’ rogue servers nerf AE farms, boost XP, but can’t do character transfers
Two weeks in, City of Heroes has four rogue servers and heartwarmingly massive queues
Nearly 30K people have rolled City of Heroes rogue server accounts as the game turns 15 years old
Aaaaand now there’s a new temporary City of Heroes rogue server up
The Titan Network is negotiating to open a legal community-run City of Heroes server
City of Heroes’ first new rogue server shut down over a fake legal threat, but admins say it’s coming back
Leaderboard: Do you plan to play on a City of Heroes rogue server?
City of Heroes’ rogue servers may abandon character restoration as 14000 gamers register to play
Lawful Neutral: Is it safe to play on City of Heroes’ inevitable rogue servers?
The City of Heroes private server team has released its code [Update: The test server is live]
What’s going on with City of Heroes now: ‘This game is a unicorn’
Massively OP Podcast Episode 217: City of Heroes after dark
Into the Super-Verse: The death of the City of Heroes community
Leaderboard: Where do you stand on the ‘secret’ City of Heroes emulator?
‘Secret’ City of Heroes emulator operators address SCORE leak drama, rebut personal info database rumor