Superheroes are killed off, resurrected, revamped, and rebooted all the time, but doing that to a superhero video game can take a lot more legal wrangling. When NCsoft shut down super-powered MMORPG City of Heroes and its developer, Paragon Studios, people tried to save it. Fans rallied and Paragon tried to buy itself out of NCsoft. The servers closed in November 2012. Then, last year, a studio founded by fans raised $678,189 on Kickstarter to make “spiritual successor” City of Titans. Like Growly Gus [or Wolverine, as Marvel call him in the US -ed.], they keep getting back up.
Now a group of fans say they might possibly get to resurrect City of Heroes too. Maybe. They’re in talks with NCsoft to license the name and start running CoH servers again.
After much patience and politeness, this community group is at the negotiating table with NCsoft, Nate Downes explains (he’s also the president of City of Titans dev Missing Worlds). The current plan/proposal/hope is that the City of Heroes intellectual property will split from NCsoft to a new holding company. This would then license City of Heroes to community folks who wanted it, including letting Missing Worlds turn City of Titans into a proper City of Heroes sequel.
This company would also license the City of Heroes engine from NCsoft to run servers. They wouldn’t get source code to change anything, or the user database or character data, but they would get to run servers with the Issue 23 version of the game (not the Issue 24 build in open beta when CoH closed).
Missing Worlds also hope to connect with Atlas Park Revival, a project trying to recreate City of Heroes’ Atlas Park zone as a multiplayer playground. The plan is to get APR on the City of Titans codebase, as they’re both Unreal Engine 4, then use it as a stepping stone between CoH and CoT. They don’t think CoH will run on Windows 9, see, and want a backup for the community to gather in.
This is all far from settled, though. Don’t get too excited yet, as Downes warns:
So where are we now? Right now, still discussing terms, ideas, limits. The challenges we have been given we stepped up for and handled. Likely there will be discussions and adjustments right up until the moment the deal is signed. The whole thing may fall apart. For all we know, everything done so far has been nothing but a delaying tactic so they can say once again that they tried to work with the community to no avail. But until such time that becomes clear, we will continue forward in good faith.
Missing Worlds weren’t the only group of fans trying to make a new City of Heroes-y game, mind. Valiance Online has an early, early build you can download and play right now. Heroes & Villains is supposedly a thing too, though it doesn’t appear to be up to much.
Update: fixed a rather egregious error. It’s not just Missing Worlds talking to NCsoft, but a group of community members. Apologies.