I like my christmas stories sad.
I like my christmas stories sad.
by Christian, @Falke, the AngryPanda or whatever else floats your boat
In Paragon City I could fly.
Somehow I want to end this entry after that line because it manages to say almost everything I want about City of Heroes and it’s untimely demise that needs to be said. But my beloved City deserves a few more words than that. In fact I’ll have to divide this entry into paragraphs so it won’t be one massive wall of text.
Hope is candle
Paragon has been more than a hobby or a game for me. A few years ago it was my life, at a time I had no job and no perspective and no hope for the future I dimly remembered a beta I had played two years ago for some obscure super hero MMO. It just wouldn’t run stable on the university connection I had at the time so I gave up on it but now I had a normal connection so it was time to try again. In one of the most random and best decisions I’ve made in my life I decided against buying the EU version of the game in a store and instead try to download the US version since people here do not really get what comic book heroes are about. Its simply not as much part of the culture as it is in the US.
Living in a one room apartment with the only furniture being a bed and a desk, staring at empty walls and thinking I’ll never ever get anywhere again I stepped into Atlas Park and my life changed forever. Some of the change was instant. A flash of joy in a life that I was almost ready to give up. Some came over time, things I learned or grew into. Turning me into a better person. Not a good person by any stretch but better than before. City of Heroes started a chain reaction that would improve myself and my life for years to come.
A city of heroes
If you’re not a gamer you will think no silly little video game could be that important. Let me assure you I’m 31 years old, I’ve done all the things that are supposed to make real life all that great and fuck you this place was that important. If you played MMOs you may have a tiny bit of an idea how special Paragon was but don’t kid yourself, you got no clue how unique COH was. In this world there is a whole society, from the evil marketeers, the elite powegamers, the farmers for money, the taxibots only out to help, the seedy underbelly of Pocket D that can go from painstakingly stupid to deeply disturbing the more you learn about it. The silver age super groups and their silly little worries about good names and roleplay. There’s no end to the groups in COH but for some reason in this game they didn’t just coexist. They lived together and formed a society. People were not only talking to their guilds like they do in so many other games. The roleplaying silver age hero might also be a master of builds and hang with the powergamers, he may farm for hours while no one is on and play the market in between. For each of these things he was probably a member in several global channels. After all that he may have gone for entertainment of the darker sort, quite possibly on another character or even account just so no one would know. Still this one person would know the equivalent of a dozen or more guilds in a normal game.
On my first day no less than three people came right up to me, showed me around, gave me some starting money and taught me the basics of gameplay. Why did they do this? They checked my character and saw I have no veteran badges and thus must be new. People do that in Atlas Park. Every hour of every day they just take a casual look to see if anyone is new and may need help. No shouts of noob and other crap, every new hero is a potentially positive asset to the commnity and the game as a whole.
In City of Heroes you don’t just get to play another person, a mighty paladin or crafty warlock. You get to play whoever the fuck you want. You get to do exactly what you want. And most importantly you get to wear the pants you want. The result is not only a character you invest time in and like the mechanics of. The result is a person that you made, that looks like you want, can do what you think is awesome and fun and even has the history you made up. A little but important difference between COH and other games is the box for a biography that gives you 1000 characters for a short description of your hero. You have no idea how much that does for a game. With a left click and a glance you can usually see if someone is the sort of person you want to hang out with, from self-righteous hardcore roleplayer to minimalist farmer to anything in-between, left, right, above or below.
I had just seen the Birds of Prey TV Series at the time I started playing and my first character was practically a rip-off of that version of the Huntress, “Shadefalcon”. All black leather, attitude and the ability to kick bad guys so hard they’d fly into the next room. On the first day I got to team up with a disilusioned rogue cop who dubbed me a “vigilante” a little bit that immediately made it into my bio. By week two I had been recruited into Evolution X an elite group of mutant superheroes working for the government in organized uniformed teams. In short I was part of a living breathing world and already involved in one of its many many little parts. At times the results of what people create in this game are so terrible to behold that you wish you’d have brainbleach but you can be sure that of the hundreds of heroes around you every single one looks exactly the way they think of as awesome and that’s what really made the difference.
Putting on the Cape
If you think that free-mixing subcultures from 80s cartoon themed supergroups to a secret slave-trade beside the cages of the monkey fight club are all that Paragon has to offer you couldn’t be more wrong. Global channels connecting people to form elite Taskforces, share roleplay or coordinate on the market run through the game like arteries, connecting not only characters but player accounts (even across servers) and forming the informational lifeblood of the game. Above even the global channels and those dedicated player organizing them stood those creating the fansites and sources of information. The only other game that comes even close to the available information and supporttools is World of Warcraft a juggernaut with 10 million players.
City of Heroes, one of the smallest players of the game managed to have extensive wikis, character creation tools and guides on levels other games could only dream of, all created and maintained by dedicated fans of the game. Dedicated radio stations running events, creating SG ads running life DJs for every day of the week and a charity that raised over 30 thousand dollars for sick children and veterans in the time of its existence, City of Heroes had it all. Contributing even a little bit to the things the titans our community did could make me feel like I’m part of something better. City of Heroes may not have changed the world but there is no other game out there that reaches out so far to help its players and even people who have nothing at all to do with the game at all. Being part of the City of Heroes community is a privilege even for someone as jaded and miserable as me. In Paragon City I met heroes.
Tomorrow will be the last day of City of Heroes. Part 2 and 3 will happen during the day. Next time: A tribute to some of the friends I made, acknowledgments of mistakes I made, the dark sides of the game and how it changed my real life.
6 days till City of Heroes, my home away from the troubles of real life closes. It’s been rough for months, with people bleeding away to other games are frightening speeds. There’s also hope with large numbers of the community regrouping in Champions Online. But things will never be the same, among the many many thing we will lose is DJ Steel of the Cape Radio, the man who made the ad for our very own guild Next Gen. Hundreds of hours of music, promotions and in-game events. This may seem minor to some but then they obviously never were part of a community like Virtue. We’ll go on but this is just one of many friends we will lose along the way.
This is an entry about a button. Because buttons are awesome. Even Sony knows buttons are awesome. And Sony is run by a bunch of dickheads. But this isn’t about buttons and their upside for gaming. I’m not getting into the Move vs Kinect debate here (hint: No matter what you throw into that one the Wii wins). I like buttons for my gaming. In fact in my book they can all screw themselves. Even the Move and it’s buttons. Why? Because I’m a PC gamer. You want to know how many buttons I use for gaming? 31. Plus a direction stick and a mouse wheel. Oh wait and I forgot the basic mouse buttons. So I use 33 buttons. And some stuff. Since buttons are awesome you can imagine just how great my gaming must be now. Well it would be if they didn’t close my games. The cunts. Now I really wish I was one of these rich internet twats to just throw money at the problem till it goes away. And buy hookers. That’s not situational. I’d always wish I was rich for the later. Anyway I’m not one of those guys who had a smart idea to make cash on the net. Or a stupid idea if you take a look at facebook. Did you know that one of the most important things in this world is the Facebook like button? Of course you do, it is after all that important. And brings me back to the point. Wow that was clever of me. Except it wasn’t my point. My point was buttons but not just any buttons. I’m talking about the YouTube play button.
Now YouTube was another great idea that made someone rich. I admit I wouldn’t have thought of that. I’m still not sure how “hosting way too much shit for free” is in any way a viable business model. I mean I see how they can make money with ads now but did they start out like that? Their business plan was essentially: Create an unsustainable website, sell it for millions, sip mochitos for the rest of our lives. Awesome plan. I need one like that.
Anyway, old YouTube had obviously many problems. Like shitty resolutions, long loading times and the mentioned unsustainable business model. It also lacked some problems new YouTube has. Like being completely unusable in europe due to blocking everything and taking down every video about a cat just because someone in the music industry sneezed and thinks his crap is running in the background. But you want to know what I really miss about old YouTube? Of course you do, you’ve come this far reading this mess after all. I miss the play button. This button:
Now some of you may say: But they still have that button. To which I would answer by filling your mouths with the excrements of google’s programmers. Which probably tastes like cotton candy but that’s not the point. The point you fool is that this button used to do something! What did it do? Well it made videos play. That’s what a play button should do. Don’t tell me it still does that I’m out of disgusting ideas on how to punish you for it. These days the play button only does something if you pause the video first. Then it can make it start playing again. Now that is nifty. But it was way more nifty to only start the video if you click the button first. As in utterly convenient. Because videos starting with no control are shit. If you open some link to look at it later you don’t want it to start playing now. You want it to start playing once you tell it to play. If your browser crashes and reopens with 20 open YouTube windows its kinda shitty if they all start playing at once (I can’t be the only person that tabs like crazy right?). So yeah once upon a time the play button was mighty. Only it would make a video play. Videos would not start on their own. And it was good. And that was my point. You’re welcome.
This world is populated by completely insane people. And no I don’t mean the dipshits who handed the rule over Europe to Goldman&Sachs. Okay maybe I do. No in this case web magazine called Mad Mikes America has stumbled over this blog. Seeing my usual mix of uninformed insulting gibberish these people didn’t do the sane thing and run away but instead asked me to write for them. I was tempted to ignore the mail as some sort of spam or nonsense but for once decided to leave the panda cave and see what this is about. From my first impression Madmike’s is an extremely leftwing (for US standards anyway) magazine that has no qualms about insulting and ridiculing conservatives. Sign me up!
Since the site is not exactly aimed at geeks I had to find something I could write about that their readers might get. So basicaly I picked something all geeks already know and no normal person gives a shit about. Recipe for success!
Unlike my own site these people give a shit about reader numbes, seach engine optimization and all that jazz. Among other things that meant I had to watch my wordcount and make some sense. I ended up having to delete a whole paragraph of my introduction so it wouldn’t make up half of my article. To be fair it was just a rant anyway but I like to rant. But since I don’t watch any of these things here this is the complete unedited introduction
Superbowl ads are the only time of the year anyone actually care or even be disappointed about them. As folks apparently were this year. Can you imagine discussing about ads “playing it save” during an episode of NCIS? Of course not, you’re too busy using the break to run and throw up after their latest close-up-shot of a coroner cutting a sharpened dildo out of someone’s stomach or something. Also if you’d actually watch the ads your brain would immediately start melting, causing a few seconds of agonizing pain before flooding out and leaving you with the sudden idea that “Intelligent Design” might be a valid scientific term. But not so during the Superbowl half-time. These ads here are almost events by themselves.
The reason for this is simple. The damn things are so incredibly expensive that they actually have to put some effort into them. I imagine each year these marketing consultants open a secret box in which they keep the shriveled husk of the only creative employee that ever managed to get through their screening process. They then carry the poor babbling wreck, ignoring her pathetic pleas to ever see daylight or her family again. A terrifying machine-made of a ridiculous numbers of tubes is used to distill the last drop of creativity from this body. As the former intern finally gets the sweet release of death the sparkling bit of possibility of chaos is used on a newly created TV spot. It socks through the filmroll of this soulless and generic creation, filling it with life and joy, turning what was previously the product of dead souls and the result of tables full of consumer demographics into witty, loveable Superbowl ad. At least sometimes. Sadly these corpse-mannequins only exist to prop up suits and use buzzwords so they don’t actually know if their product is any good. All that’s left to them is throw it into the ring and then act like they knew what they were doing after it succeeded or sacrifice the weakest of their pack if it doesn’t (I’d say them eat them but I think their flesh turns to dust if you touch it). They go to all this effort and even compromise their mission of taking all fun and joy out of this world because add time during the Superbowl costs around 3 million dollars for about 30 seconds. Apparently this year they might have even gone up to 3.5 million.
And that finally brings us to the point. Marvel Studios has invested up to 7 million bucks to show you this…
If you want to read more you will have to go over there. And if you never left a comment before (and I know you didn’t!..) it would be nice if you do so now. Maybe we can just trick them into letting me do this again. This may not seem like much but for someone who earns his living with writing it is pretty big that any of my ramblings would be published even by someone their size in my second language. A long way to go but if I can reach a point at which my English gets good enough to do my job in it I just might not have to die here after all.
First of all I don’t know how. Second I only have like two readers, one of which is me and the other you moron.
Last but not least I prefer posting fancy videos that make a point way better than I could.
Then I add a quote from someone who makes another point that I didn’t even think about yet:
The politicians who got on board with this must fall into one of two categories:
And there you have it. A whole entry with no original content. That’s even better than a black box. And somehow even less creative. You’re welcome.
Still not happy? Okay here’s a black box.
This one if for Nice Dino mostly. If the other two readers I have left like it too, you’re welcome.
Yeah well let’s see if your stuff of 125 goes to that sort of effort. I seriously hope this controller fails so hard that they go under from this shit. Why does it piss me off so much? Because I work for a shitty little company that actually doesn’t treat its customers much better. It isn’t as insulting but on every other level it does the same and I hate it. Yes people like me would lose their jobs. But bosses like mine would stop making money if you couldn’t get away with shit like this. It would be worth it.
Who am I kidding. Of course they will.
More info here. Prepare for your brain to bleed. They only bright side is this: How serious can you take something written by Tiffiny on a site named boingboing. That’s been said by the angry panda with the lasers…