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

    
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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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Michael Gerringer

I hope something is worked out. I finally got logged into homecoming yesterday and it really does feel like coming home. There is not a MMO like it anymore. Champions Online never felt like City of Heroes. It just did not capture the magic. At least I can enjoy it for the time that it is here. Good times!

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Castagere Shaikura

So are these so-called negotiations a big secret so we can’t get a feel about what’s going on? We have been hearing the same thing for 2 or 3 months now.

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BigAngry

They’re under NDA, yes.

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Hikari Kenzaki

It should also be noted, that $5000 was raised in 5 minutes.

Cyclone Jack
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Cyclone Jack

“NCsoft negotiations continue.” I don’t think this has changed in 6 years. While I’m not calling bullshit, we might need Penn & Teller to look into this.

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Utakata

They’ll probably tell you that the negotiations are legit. And to butt out of it instead. o.O

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Samuraiko

The day that we get an *official* announcement from NCsoft that they are leaving the rogue servers alone is the day that players will log in and hear across the Broadcast chat:

“I’M FILMING, EVERYONE LOOK AWESOME!”

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

*summons a geyser to scrub the place clean*

There. Now the place looks spic and span.

That being said, you are missing out. I understand the hesitation, but still.

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styopa

Then I hope they never do.
Streamers are cancer.

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Samuraiko

I’m not a streamer. I filmed in-game, then edited the footage as music videos, trailers, how-tos, etc., and posted them on my YT channel.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Correct! Samuraiko does great work!

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styopa

No personal insult intended. I like your work a lot, and no, I wouldn’t call you a streamer at all. I thought your comment was a general one about how the streamers will flock to the game.

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Samuraiko

Nope, was just talking about me. :)

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Tee Parsley

Oh yeah, enjoyed your work! I even stumbled into one of them, mostly through just good timing.

Hope your return is enjoyable…..

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

I don’t particularly like streamers but I don’t know if they are cancer.

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styopa

I hesitated over the word myself, but ultimately decided to use it.
I’ve seen some hideous behavior (and heard of worse) from streamers and their packs of slavering fans. TBH it isn’t honestly the streamers, it’s the power they apparently wield over the brainless hordes of followers to swarm into games like commandable locusts.
So I’ll amend that: streamers aren’t cancer, streaming may well be.

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Hikari Kenzaki

Thank you for putting all streamers, including Massively OP’s own MJ in the same box.

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styopa

Did you notice where I said “it isn’t honestly the streamers”? Or were you blinded by white knight rage?

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Hikari Kenzaki

It’s not white knight rage, it’s personal offense, but yes I saw the backpedal. But you can’t be a streamer without streaming, so you are calling our passion cancer. Yeah. Still the same.

Still, I shant feed the troll any longer. Just maybe think a bit before you lambaste the livelihood of 1000s of good people just because some are scum?

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Bruno Brito

Just maybe think a bit

You’re asking too much.

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taugrim

The day that we get an *official* announcement from NCsoft that they are leaving the rogue servers alone

Realistically, that isn’t going to happen. NCSoft has no meaningful financial incentive to do so.

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IronSalamander8 .

I feel bad I haven’t logged in a couple of weeks. I’m still glad it’s here and I donated to it early but been elsewhere a lot lately. Part of that was friends saying they felt the constant door missions got boring which has some merit but then at least one of them is playing Diablo 3 which after you beat the story is nothing but running rifts over and over so I can’t get their logic there.

CoX is still my favorite MMO to date, but it’s not perfect and for the same reason I have almost no interest in classic WoW, I feel I’ve done this all already, I’ll likely play it more when they play classic WoW as back then I found WoW a mess in beta and went back to CoX and played that for most of WoW’s vanilla period till just before BC. Kind of funny how history repeats itself.

xpsync
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xpsync

I feel like i ended up in some kinda temporal loop. swg, coh, wow lmao

I was really feeling panda, but wod is the chit for me atm.

It’s all been taste testing the expansions as you level through them so fast, my focus is to cap my warlock on the new server home, then branch out with alts, but from someone who since launch has only ever played alliance…

Horde is spoiled af comparatively and prolly bad wording but everything is so much cooler overall, mounts, even my base for WoD is a thousand times cooler than the crappy alliance base.

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IronSalamander8 .

I’m mostly horde anyway; finally got Zandalari trolls unlocked this weekend and made one but may never get Kul Tiras humans or dark iron dwarves, although the dwarves look pretty cool though I have to admit!

Worst thing about horde is finding enough surface that isn’t spiky to sit on! XD

xpsync
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xpsync

“NCsoft negotiations continue” Damn!

I doubt this would come out to be anything other than good news.

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Denice J. Cook

Honestly, I picture this latest attempt meeting the same bad end as Mercedes Lackey’s and various other Titan members’ past Hail Mary efforts with NCsoft, but we’ll see.

xpsync
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xpsync

Hope not but yea never know.