Catching up with City of Heroes’ Homecoming rogue servers as NCsoft negotiations continue


It’s been a while since we checked in on the flourishing City of Heroes rogue server community, but it’s been busy indeed, with multiple servers springing up and even returning to service. The largest batch of servers, run as a group under the Homecoming banner, swelled to over 100,000 registered players this past spring when the game was brought back to life, albeit in the shadows, by player developers. We dropped a round of questions for the team last week, and we’re delivering their answers today – read on!

MassivelyOP: How is the population on the Homecoming servers evening out so far? What’s the current peak?

Homecoming: We’ve been keeping track of our daily unique player metrics, as shown in the above table. By all metrics, we’re down about 25% from our peak in late May/early June, which is actually a bit less of a drop than we were expecting. As for peak players online, our absolute highest peak was just under 10,000 players online during US Memorial Day weekend. Since then, our peak weekend players have dropped to about 7,000-7,500 online, and on weekdays our peak tends to be about 6,000-6,500 online. (Leandro specifically notes here that “those numbers don’t include Justin,” Homecoming’s separate test server.)

What’s going on with Homecoming and Mac accessibility? How many people actually play on Mac and are affected?

The upcoming release of OS X, 10.15 (Catalina), entirely drops support for 32-bit applications. This affects a lot of software, not just City of Heroes. To be perfectly clear: Homecoming hasn’t taken any action or decision to exclude Mac players – this is entirely out of our hands. Unfortunately there is no easy fix to this problem. The two main options are to run the game under a virtual machine, which results in a large performance hit, or spend a massive amount of effort converting the game client to 64-bit, with no guarantees that the 64-bit version of the Wine compatibility layer will be able to run it well anyway. Catalina is currently in beta and isn’t due to be released until September 2019. We are aware of efforts in the community to find a solution, and hopefully something will materialise, but until that time we advise anyone that wants to continue playing on their Mac to stick to 10.14 or set up a Bootcamp partition.

A while back there was a rumor that one of the smaller servers had been served some kind of DMCA-oriented takedown – was that true? Was it from NCsoft? What were the ramifications for the server teams, if any?

We’ve seen no actual evidence of this, and a search in the Lumen database shows no relevant takedown notices by NCsoft. As such, we consider this rumor to be false.

At the end of May, NCsoft apparently filed copyright documentation for the City of Heroes game code, which was surprising to say the least. Are you able to talk about that filing? Any impact on Homecoming at all?

We were never under the impression that NCsoft didn’t own the copyright to City of Heroes, so this filing changes nothing for us.

Do you folks have a window for the next big patch and an idea of what’s going into it? A little tease? And maybe could you discuss a bit for folks the philosophy behind pushing out really big patches rather than smaller ones – does it turn out to be more stable for your team?

We’re still in the early stages regarding future development and aren’t ready to talk about our plans just yet. Our efforts right now are focused primarily on our infrastructure in order to give us a strong foundation for the future. Bree will be our first call when we’re ready to talk about new content! [We did ask additional questions about specific story content and collaboration between servers, but Homecoming reps say they are unable to answer these yet.]

Your GMs have run several costume contests – does the staff have other plans for different types of events?

Definitely! Our team fantastic team of Community Reps and GMs are currently in the planning process of several events, including AE and base editor contests. Our hope is to eventually establish a regular rhythm with unique themes in the same way we’ve done with the costume contests.

The next big funding round is coming up [in fact, it was on July 6th, after these questions were sent off, and players raised $5827] – any anticipated deviations from the cost outlook last month?

Our monthly costs have settled down to around $5000, with only a few other one-off expenses occurring this month – mainly to do with getting our new website/forum online and some filing fees for our transition to being a non-profit. One other finance-related change is that we’re going to be moving out fundraising window to the last Saturday of the month rather than the first. This is happening because our hosting provider has moved several of our billing dates with very little notice and actually left us in the negative (even after using the contingency fund). As such we will actually have two smaller donation windows in July (on the first and last Saturdays), and then continue from there with the last Saturday of every month after that. [There’s more info about this on the official forums.]

Anything else you guys want to tell the MOP readers?

Be excellent to each other!

A few additional comments. While I originally sent these interview questions to Leandro Pardini, most of the responses returned to me were given from the perspective of the Homecoming team as a group.

We reached out to Tony Vazquez, Leandro Pardini, and the Homecoming team for confirmation that discussions between Titan Network and NCsoft over some sort of future for the game are still underway. Everyone is understandably nervous about jinxing it, but yes, we got it on the record again from TonyV himself: NCsoft negotiations continue.

We also asked Homecoming about a rumor regarding its finances, but Homecoming rep Cipher posted a public response in Discord this past weekend that we’ll quote since it does address the question we asked.

Cipher: I also wanted to take a moment to address the misinformation floating around that we’re being investigated or are in trouble with the IRS as I have had a few people message me concerned about us. This is untrue. We have not been contacted by the IRS or any other authorities, and have been operating everything as above-board as possible. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that we are in full compliance with the IRS as well as state and federal authorities.”

Want to see the game in action here in 2019? Eight MOP writers streamed the game a few weeks ago and are plotting a return visit this Wednesday evening.

Got City of Heroes community news you think we should cover? Drop us a note!
In the spring of 2019, gamers uncovered a secret City of Heroes server running using the sunsetted game’s original code, which was ultimately turned over to the community. There are now multiple public and private servers for the beloved superhero MMORPG, with over 100,000 people on Homecoming alone. So far, NCsoft has not commented publicly or taken legal action on them and is still in talks with players regarding the game’s future.
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