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What Could Have Been: Paragon Nearly Bought Itself

Sigh.

City of Heroes is no more. Paragon perished, and with it, so did a home away from home for many colorful victims of radiation overdose. It was a sad day at RPS’ nuclear-powered space base, and not just because it meant the Justice League became our closest orbital neighbors. You’ll remember, though, that fans certainly didn’t go down without a THOOMKAPOWBIFFZOTT-ing fight. But, until now, we didn’t really know the other side of the story. Unsurprisingly, Paragon was waging a war of its own, and it was trying every last trick in the book to stay afloat. The part we never heard about, however, is how close the house that City of Heroes built came to pulling it off.

Apparently, another company was lined up to purchase Paragon from NCsoft, but discussions felt through at the last minute. So Paragon wheeled out the big red button and initiated its emergency backup plan: self-purchase. If successful, it would’ve become an independent entity, presumably with City of Heroes in tow.

So then, what went wrong? Former Paragon lead designer Matt Miller explained the tearful tale to Gamasutra:

“Things looked like they were going to go well and then things just kind of stopped going well. I’m not exactly sure where the sticking points were, but in the logistics of business there’s always some sticking point somewhere [on which] people just aren’t willing to budge and I think that’s where we ended up. There were one or two points where neither side could budge.”

“On the night before we all got the notice of the studio shutting down, Brian, Ross, and Destin were in there still trying to work out that deal. We were a signature away from things going through or not – and we unfortunately fell on the not side.”

Which is utterly heartbreaking to hear – a superpowered punch to the gut if ever there was one – especially in light of the content Paragon still had in the pipe for its mighty flagship. But hey, it’s not all bad. From CoH’s ashes have arisen things like the (thankfully still updating) Phoenix Project, which aims to rebuild City of Heroes from the ground up – or at least do a really, really, really good impression.

It sounds, however, like Paragon’s former staffers have largely scattered to the winds. Gama’s feature (which I highly¬†recommend you read all of, if you get the chance) doesn’t have the happiest ending, but it’s closure nonetheless. Miller explained:¬†“A lot of people got severance as well on top of those 60 days. So, a lot of people went out and found jobs to start on November 1st to basically have stuff lined up. Within a couple weeks people were already lining up their own careers. Getting that new studio started just got harder and harder the longer time went on.”

“There were some core groups of close friends who would get together for coffee, go to the movies, get together for game nights and stuff. We continue to play games – board games and stuff. It’s become less and less [frequent] nowadays but there are still several of us who keep in touch.”

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Nathan Grayson

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