The City of Heroes rogue server drama continues this weekend as community work advances behind the scenes to bring the game back to life, with a reported 8000 accounts rolled and all trying to wedge into a test server that only overnight expanded to hold more than a thousand. [Update: As of Sunday afternoon, it’s expanded to 2700+.]
Thus far it’s all been without the formal blessing of the company that still owns the sunsetted MMO, NCsoft. That may be about to change, however, as Saturday rumors broke out across the City of Heroes Discord that any potential negotiations between NCsoft and the involved parties might hinge on the character database, not the code and assets.
Readers will recall that one of the most hurtful revelations from the leak of the secret private server last week was the claim that the server allowed players to log into replicated characters from the live version of the game. Obviously, many would-be players would like that character database made available to theoretical future servers as well now that the server codebase has been disseminated. But it looks as if that may be off the proverbial table, and for good reason. Here’s the official statement made on Discord:
Sources in the know this weekend gave us specific reason to believe that yes, the theoretical sacrifice would be more than worth it, meaning NCsoft could be on a fast-track to studio of the year right now, so stay tuned. Until we have public word, however, we continue to advise our readers not to engage in illegal activity and give no one any money relating to these servers.
In related news, and if you’re looking for something to read while you wait, check out this post from Graham West, a former Paragon Studios developer who worked on City of Heroes for several years. It’s a bit of a dump of tech info, explaining how the game’s infrastructure works for those who aren’t in the know, and he uses that to discuss the private server, admitting he’s probably breaking his NDA but doing so to assure everyone that it’s unlikely anyone from Paragon would’ve leaked truly sensitive personal data.
“It’s easy to see a game team member could straightforwardly gather all the live game DBs, plus all the source code and assets, but not the account credentials. It would be easy to add a very basic password check to the DbServer code, and give everyone invited to the private shard a unique, unchangeable password for their account name. With no control or routine access to the AuthServer DB, no need to run an AuthServer to operate a shard, the simplicity of adding an alternative method of access control (I could’ve done something bare bones in literally a day and if an engineer supplied Leandro, they could’ve done that too) and the regard we all held for our player community, I am highly confident he would not have been given any credentials or anything else from the AuthServer’s DB.”
It’s worth a read for some backstory – and the laundry list of other developers piping up in the comments, including Shannon Posniewski and Jesse Caceres.
“I’m actually happy to learn that this shard exists,” Posniewski, now at Cold Iron Studios, says. “It’s nice to know that some people can still get some joy from the game.”
“I had heard rumors and seen a couple posts on other Facebook groups that made me believe this existed,” adds Joe Morrissey. “I think it’s great. I don’t know how many times people have fanboyed out on me when they learned I worked on the game. It seems to get me more cred than anything else I’ve done.”
Finally, if you’re wanting to stay out of it until something formal is announced, or you’re just not into testing in this early period, you may still be “pining” for a character builder. I sure was – and I immediately dug into my old MIDs builds. But apparently there’s an updated version called PINE that includes some Issue 25 content most folks had never even heard of until this week. You’ll want the old boards too. Enjoy!