I have mentioned in a couple of posts the role various forms of inspiration play in content creation. Music, books, television, movies, poems, video games, and comics all serve to hopefully divert our attention in a positive direction, while also giving us opportunities to be part of diverse communities. What is required is an open mind to look past perceived differences in order to focus on what binds us together.
Over the course of a couple decades now, I have played a number of what in the gaming community are called MMORPGs; Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games, which also take a massive amount of dedicated time to play often to the detriment of other pursuits. If I am to be honest, it is probably one of the main reasons why it took me so long to finish my first book. Ultimately, I am accountable for how and where I spend my time; it is not a game developers fault I chose to spend most of it with them. Alas, a topic for another time.
Priority juggling aside, well written lore and dialogue in any game, no matter the audience type or platform, does serve to stir our creative soup. Generally, I prefer single-player games where it is just you against the game, not needing to worry about other players coming along and acting like buffoons by jumping in place for 10 minutes or asking you to dual, i.e. fight them, in spite of have the feature disabled and remaining silent when they bombard you with incessant private messages.
I could write an entire post alone on the differences between single player and multiplayer games. Bottom line? If it stimulates your creative juices in such a way where new ideas are generated or makes you more productive on your own projects, play whatever you want to play. Games of all types are so nuanced, I doubt any gamer can regulate themselves to strictly one style. Why would you want to? Inspiration and creative insight comes at us in all directions, often from sources we least expect.
City of Heroes is one of those sources. It took the concept of playing a super powered hero and, later on in the games lifecycle, villain to the next level. It defined what a comic book inspired, super hero MMORPG should be by providing diverse power sets, the ability to insert background stories, and giving players the most robust costume customization of ANY fantasy or super hero based role-playing game. If you were to ask any prior or current City of Heroes player about my last statement, I doubt any of them would disagree.
I view City of Heroes much like the relative of the family who often shows up unexpectedly, has no problem getting under your skin by calling you out on your nonsensical statements but still ends up being the one you want to hang out with the most. Any game worth playing should remain fun while challenging you to become a better player; however, the exceptional ones find a way to wiggle themselves close to your heart and provide refuge from a crazy world. City of Heroes did such a thing and more.
You will find my tenses a little all over the place in this post due to the official servers hosting the game shutting down in November 2012. Then, everything changed in 2019 when the games original source code was leaked by a former employer of NCSoft, the games publisher, resulting in the launch of private servers to host it, rebranded as City of Heroes: Homecoming. I will not go into deep detail about the games development history. There are links provided below for those who are interested to pursue at their leisure.
City of Heroes continues to provide me a means to expand my creative self in other directions. Everquest and Everquest II are two fantasy based MMO’s I have also derived great pleasure in playing, while learning more about myself along the way. I am often primarily science fiction focused due to the needed emphasis on my current project, The Sy’Arrian Legacy series. Diverting creative energies in other directions often provides me the greatest breakthroughs when I find myself stumped on how to begin a new chapter or new concept. My only advice is to make sure you do not spend too much time on other pursuits and neglect what is most important; your writing.
In my opinion, the greatest quality City of Heroes brings to the table is not what it strictly does for me. Its chief asset has always been the online community it attracts. The blurb I wrote for this post says it all and after having played a number of MMORPGs over the years, the City of Heroes community is one of the best, if not THE best. This is what truly inspires me and, in turn, affords me the opportunity to return the favor by creating believable characters in my own content.
I am often told by a good friend, mentor, and master of the red ink pen to go put, “Butt in chair (BIC)!” Look like I better get back to writing.
Safe travels all.
Information referenced in this article was obtained from the following sources and not considered exhaustive:
City of Heroes Wiki: https://cityofheroes.fandom.com/wiki/City_of_Heroes_Wiki
Everquest II: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EverQuest_II
Paragon Wiki: https://paragonwiki.com/wiki/Main_Page