Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life For Me

No, this post isn’t about the Disney ride. Neither is it about the series of movies based on that ride. Today I’m writing about the distraction that has been eating what little spare time I have, at the cost of my writing time.

I have played computer games for many years. I played Dungeons & Dragons all through high school, and when computer versions came out, I had to try them. These games were in DOS, the ancient system long before Windows or the Internet. I can remember attending a professional conference and hearing about the brand new shiny object that was about to explode on the country, the World Wide Web.

Over the years I’ve tried many games, but avoided MMOs like World of Warcraft. Share my gaming time with legions of people whose life goal was to make me miserable? Not for me. But then some friends convinced me to give one a try.

“City of Heroes is different,” they said. “You get to play a superhero. There’s no Player vs. Player, so nobody will attack you. There’s no fighting over ‘treasure’. It’s fun.”

So reluctantly, I gave it a try, and I loved it. The CoH community was like no other in the gaming world. People helped each other. They gave each other free game money, which was easy enough to get that the ‘gold farmers’ gave up trying to sell us what we could get for ourselves. But best of all, I was a hero. I wore tights, and yes, I had a cape. I could fly! No mounts or other paraphernalia like other games had, I just took off and flew through the skies of Paragon City. It was my home away from home.

Then in 2012, the company that owned the game shut it down. Several reasons were given. It was a South Korean company, and they said they wanted to focus on games that did well there, which CoH did not. There were rumors of the game being used as a tax write off. Many in the gaming community assumed that this meant that CoH had not been making money, but that was not true. While not in the league with WoW, it was producing a steady and reasonably sizable profit. There are companies out there running games with a smaller profit, and glad to have it.

Whatever the reason, we mourned. Some tried to find homes in similar games, but there was an almost unanimous consensus that there were no games on the market that could beat it.

That was then. A few months ago, a miracle happened. Word got out that a player from the old days had managed to get his hands on a copy of the game code, and was running a private server. The CoH community exploded. I’ll save you the drama, the infighting, the cheers and accusations. At the end, what matters is that the person decided that the fairest thing he could do was make the code available to everyone.

So now there are about half a dozen ‘pirate’ or ‘rogue’ servers where people can play City of Heroes. Are they legal? No. NCSoft still owns the game. But since the servers are being run for free and their rights are not being used for profit, we are hoping that they turn a blind eye.

I confess to a touch of malicious glee. NCSoft could have had my money all those years, but they decided they didn’t need it. Their PR pronouncements made it clear that they arrogantly believed that I would just shrug and play one of their newer, shinier games. They were wrong. I haven’t been near any MMO since the day City of Heroes closed, much less one of theirs.

I’m flying again, and I love it. I know I need to buckle down and get back to work, but it feels so good to be back in Paragon City. My feet will be back on the ground… sometime. Soon.

This was originally posted on my old blog, Middle Class Poor.

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