x/post from cityofheroes. Original post here: https://www.reddit.com/r/Cityofheroes/comments/bdqf1w/open_letter_to_the_score_team_re_game_preservation/
Text content follows:
Hey all. I'm going to keep this brief.
I'll skip over the sentimental stuff. There are people here who have stories about the personal value of CoX to them and their community far more meaningful and interesting than anything I could type. My story's the typical one – it was my first MMO, my first taste of an online community, my first online friendships and the first game that ever felt like it meant more to me than a gaming experience. But none of that's important, and none of that is why I'm writing this.
I'm currently attending school to be a librarian, and I work very closely with several video game archivists. The topic of how to preserve MMORPGs is complex, painful, and difficult, and it all boils down to the fact that an MMO exists in two parts, as the client and the server. Even if we can collect and maintain the client, the information held on the user's machine, it's next to impossible to preserve the server code after the fact. The fact that the community has collectively struggled to recreate even a fascimile of what the game once was is a testament to that. There are video game archives, real, actual academic institutions holding onto City of Heroes and Villains discs, collecting paraphanalia, and describing those, to the best of their knowledge, as the last remnants that exist of what once was the game City of Heroes. The game is a cultural touchstone, a significant step in the history of MMORPGs and PC games in general. CoX has immense historical importance to the world of video games, MMORPGs, online communities, and virtually anything else it touched. The lawsuit against City of Heroes through Marvel, wherein a court upheld that its developers were not responsible for the user generated content of the tools they were given in the costume editor, still holds legal significance.
In short, the game is important academically, culturally, even beyond the sentimentality of its community.
I understand and respect your motivation behind keeping the SCORE server hidden. I probably would have encouraged it, in fact, several years ago when negotiations with NCSoft were still ongoing. I have no sympathy for corporations who would try to artificially lock away a piece of history once it's no longer economically viable.
But at this point, in 2019, to keep the code hidden away is akin to hoarding the Rosetta Stone. It's finding an Egyptian mummy and storing him in your attic to bring out at parties. It's discovering an ancient Babylonian stone tablet and using it as a coaster.
I'm not asking you to make the server public – honestly, that wouldn't be good for anyone, I don't think. It would disrupt the community you've built, bring it undue exposure, put the entire project at risk. If the SCORE server goes down, at this point, then City of Heroes is genuinely, 100%, irrevocably lost to time, forever, without question.
That's why I am asking you, begging you, to release the code. Put up an anonymized torrent. Let people download it. At this point, there is one egg in one basket, and with word out to the public about the server's existence, the likelihood that it is discovered and C&D'd grows. If SCORE falls, City of Heroes falls. It no longer exists.
Right now, SCORE IS City of Heroes. That is an incredibly dangerous position to be in.
But with the code online, freely available – even if the anonymized torrent is taken down, others will have the code and can put it back up. The academically, culturally, historically significant game that is City of Heroes will still be preserved. Once it exists publically, it CANNOT die.
I am not asking this as a player. I am not asking this as someone who does admittedly feel a little betrayed, someone who loved the game and is desperate to play again. I understand your reasons. I don't blame you.
I am asking you, as an academic, as a librarian, as someone dedicated to the preservation of anything precious at risk of being lost – please release the game's code.
City of Heroes is in a miraculous position, one that virtually no game gets to have, let alone one with as many moving pieces as an MMORPG. We have the entire working game, ready and waiting, just as it was when it was taken offline. Just today, the cathedral of Notre Dame burned. We lost close to a millenium of cultural history, art, architecture. It's a tragedy that should never happen – a tragedy that wouldn't happen if we were able to freely copy and distribute Notre Dame cathedrals as easily as code.
Please do not let City of Heroes become another Notre Dame.
Keep the SCORE server private. Don't put your server at undue risk. I, in fact, encourage you to do so, to keep it and preserve it as a backup, just as you say.
But a backup is worthless if it's the only copy. As long as it exists in one place, it can always burn to the ground, and there is no recovering from that point forward.
Please consider the value of the game to the world at large, the value in making sure it's properly preserved. Beyond the community, please consider that you hold in your hands a very fragile, unimaginably valuable piece of history that we are at risk of losing forever.
Please, release the code and make sure it never dies.
Corrupted Youth on Infinity
Shoutouts to Bloodvine Academy and the CoX Forum RP community
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