koogrr IM'd me earlier today and reminded me that City of Heroes was shutting down tonight. Koogrr planned to be there, to hold a torch for CoH one last time. "I'll be on Virtue, in Atlas Park 33. When NCSoft first announced they were shutting City of Heroes down, so many people logged into Virtue to protest that Atlas Park reached instance #33. They have kept that instance going ever since."
Even in City of Heroes' heyday, it was extremely rare to see more than two instances of a zone; normally, there was only one.
I canceled my account in January of this year, because the truth was that I had not played since October 2011. Even when the game went free-to-play, I didn't come back to look at it. Not even when they announced they were canceling it.
But at 10PM tonight, I decided to go in.
kagetsume was on too, so I chatted with him for a bit -- we haven't talked in ages. I couldn't get to Atlas Park 33 -- it was full -- so I went to Atlas Park 6. I didn't know where to go, so I flew up to the top of the globe that rests on the giant shoulders of Atlas's statue. There were three other people up there. One of them was DJing a tribute to CoH on Dimensional.Net, so I tuned in. His selection was broad, including instrumentals and a wide range of rock and eras. Almost all with a theme of heroes, rescuing, etc. Related to the theme.
Lut suggested I get some screenshots, so I brought in different characters, my favorites from across several servers. Virtue kicked me several times and crashed once. The queue to log in at one point was over a thousand.
I hadn't meant to stay to the end -- it's three hours past my usual bedtime -- but it's only 24 minutes away now, and oddly I am not sleepy. The music and taking screenshots, getting shots of Lut's characters, talking to people, has kept me up. I logged out Kasadya to bring on another character, Alice Bocor, to get screenshots of her. It's ten minutes to the end now, and I am in the queue to log Kasadya back in after getting kicked. I got back in, and got kicked again in less than a minute. Five minutes to go, and Virtue cannot bear up under the weight of its players' grief, the thousands who want to be there in the end. I am position 84 of 370 in the queue for Virtue, and it's 2AM CST, midnight Pacific: closing time.
At 2:03AM, three minutes after the servers were set to go down, I reconnected with Kasadya. She rose into the air and broadcasted a triumphant "I'm still alive!" An instant later, the server went down for the last time.
But you know, I cannot believe this is the end. Even if NCSoft never sells the game or resurrects it, when I think of all the bootleg WoW servers out there, I have to believe that somewhere, someone -- some hacker or dev who managed to sneak it out -- is running a CoH server. Paragon City is still out there, even if I can't visit it now.
Farewell, City of Heroes. You were the best of the MMOs; I fear we will not see your like again.