EverQuest wasn’t my first MMO, but it will probably always be my favorite because it gave me, at the time, exactly what I wanted and what I needed. Coming off of three years of hardcore Team Fortress playing, I found a new community. The game itself was only moderately fun, but what saved it were the people. I’ve been looking for that game ever since and haven’t found it again.
But in late 2003/early 2004, I was accepted into the beta for City of Heroes. While I never found the same type of community that I had in EQ, what I found was a game that inspired me. On many levels, the greatness of the game is that, despite what some theory-crafters out there will try to sell you, every character, no matter the build, is playable if you just learn how to play it. But what really sold me on the game, what caused that inspiration, was that the game allowed me to play in the way I wanted to play, even when that was different than everyone else.
To the right you’ll see a shot of one of my characters, Calvin Meeks, writer for The Front Page. He was an investigative journalist who knew no fear, and when he got in trouble wouldn’t hesitate to call in the big guns. For his entire career he never did a mission solo that required super powers, because he didn’t have any. He followed the leads and when violence was called for he phoned up one of the heroes he’d gotten to know while working the beat and together they would take down foes. It was strange and exciting to be able to play the game this way, to join a group and follow them into enemy territory like an embedded combat journalist.
Of course, I played City of Heroes normally as well. I had a few supers who ran around pounding bad guys into the dirt, but I was most excited to play Calvin. And I’d like to think that there are people out there who really enjoyed being the muscle for me.
Eventually, I got caught up in WoW and I wandered off through a series of games, each less satisfying than the one before, mostly because so many of them lacked the basic community that EverQuest and other early games had in spades. And now it just might be too late. NCsoft, faced with losses in other areas, have chosen to close Paragon Studios and to shut down City of Heroes. Efforts are being made to try to save the game, but I don’t hold out much hope.
I logged in last night to check out the protest, and found my old friends list filled with lit up names. I chatted with a few of them and we all had the same regret. “Why did I ever leave?”
If, by some miracle, the game is saved and stays online, I’ll be back. In fact, for the three months that remain, I’ll be there. I need to get in as much of this wonderful game as I can before it disappears forever.