For Christmas this past year, I got a new gaming PC. It’s been…magical. For years, I’ve only used laptops and netbooks. Handy for writing or school work; not so much for gaming. I could play indie games, but even then, some wouldn’t run smoothly on high settings. Rather than get one of the new, disappointing consoles, I returned to PC. The transition back to a big ‘ol tower PC has been like night and day. Just this week, I played Half-Life 2 and its two follow-up episodes, comparing what they look like on maximum settings – something I hadn’t been able to do before. It was amazing.
But one of the reasons I enjoyed having a desktop computer for the longest time was playing the one a MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) game that hooked me: City of Heroes. As I’ve mentioned on here, I’m a big superhero fan. I’m not a big fantasy fan, so most MMOs, like especially World of Warcraft, never gelled with me. CoH? Oh man, I poured hours into that. I pre-ordered it and played the pre-launch beta, sinking probably way too much time into it. I’d play around with new power sets to see how they’d work and what ones I enjoyed. Naturally, much like wrestling games, my favourite thing was the character creation. To this day, I’d argue CoH had the best character customization. And it was because of that freedom, along with a perchance for being silly and creative, that DOUG THE TROLL was created.
Before Doug, I primarily played a character named Dr. Corona on the Guardian server. In total, I think there were about a dozen servers. Through the City of Heroes Livejournal community, I met someone who considered each server a alternate reality, like the multiple Earths in DC Comics mythos. Sadly, I can’t remember her name, but it was a unique perspective. They had similar characters, but their looks and powers varied. I thought it’d be fun to try and started making variations of Dr. Corona, including Kid Corona (a fire tank hero). On one server – Justice – my friend had a troll version of one of her characters. Trolls were villain group in City of Heroes, populating early-level areas. They were thugs at best, powered by a superdrug called Superadine. My friend had a group of heroic trolls who had broken away, pursuing a heroic life. She asked if I wanted to join the group with my own troll.
Rather than Dr. Corona, though, I made a troll version of Moby Doug, a tanker I rarely played. This Doug attended a party that was crashed by trolls, was force-fed Superadine until he overdosed. Always speaking in third person, childish in nature, but incredibly strong, Doug the Troll was the ultimate tanker. He could take any and all punishment and dish it right back. And by Kirby he was fun as hell to play. He was part Bizarro, part Hulk, and part Jim Carey or someone else comedic. See, whenever I played Doug the Troll, I played him completely in character. I’m a fast typist (average 80 words per minute), so keeping up on typing him in character was easy. Early into Doug’s reign, I ran up to random high-level heroes and said, “This am stick-up! Doug need to buy stuff! Give Doug money!” It was so hilarious to players that they would actually give me the influence (in-game currency), often a LOT.
Half my time was spent in Atlas Park, a common hang-out spot for people looking for groups or just wanting to hang out and chat. The fact that I played Doug entirely in character on a server not dedicated to role-playing threw people for a loop. Many times, I’d join random pick-up groups just to introduce new people to Doug, scoring laughs from my running jokes:
-Doug randomly belches in someone’s face.
-Reading the newspaper while we waited for other players. (“Oh Marmaduke! You crack Doug up! You am no can sit on couch! Get off couch, silly dog!”)
-Stick his feet in a downed-players face, saying “Doug feet like smelly salts! Get up!” (Or worse even, sit on them and shift back and force, making it look like a butt squiggle.)
-“This am look like job for…” (runs around the corner, changes into the SuperDoug outfit) “…SUPER DOUG!”
-Dressing up in various outfits, some of other known characters, like The Dougisher, Bat-Doug (a popular one), and the best one, DARKWING DOUG.
-Dressing up as other CoH player’s characters, like The Spelling Bee, Rocketfire, and Lord Volf Alteron.
-Sitting on a tank to make it look…well, it might too subtle for you to get. Thing is, I wound up having so much fun goofing around with Doug that it took me forever to level up. In fact, in the entire time I played City of Heroes (on and off for years), Doug was the only character I leveled up to the maximum level 50. And I’m okay with that. Doug gave me endless entertainment and he entertained numerous people.
As I played Doug, though, something strange happened: he became a pseudo celebrity. Doug became so well known on the Justice server that he was recognized everywhere. It didn’t matter where or when I logged on, I was almost immediately greeted with someone shouting, “DOUG!” or “DOUG AM HERE!” (a common shout from Doug upon his arrival). Once, when I was high enough level, I joined a raid on Hamidon (a giant monster that requires dozens, if not hundreds of heroes to take down). In Global chat (where the whole area can hear you), I shouted, “DOUG AM HERE!” The responses were overwhelming: “DOUG!” “DOUG AM HERE!” and my personal favourite, “Doug is here?! Hami is screwed now!”
It probably helped that I was a pretty good tank, too. Team members rarely fell when Doug played meat shield duties. In all the hilarity that Doug created, I still played the needed team role. I played through one Task Force (a series of missions) that we cleared through in half the usual time because the whole team was so well organized. Not one of us fell during the whole thing.
It’s any wonder I logged into the game so often. There were – and still are – times that I felt very lonely. People loved how I acted as Doug and it was infectious not to keep it up. Whether it was posting funny posts like on Valentine’s Day or Christmas or goofing off at a dance party in Atlas Park, I had a blast.
Doug wound up inspiring several people to make Doug-related art. Like a contest I won for Best Character, which got me this: (Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the artist here. But he was amazing.)
A very accurate portrayal. Liz’ mastermind kicked the living crap out of Doug with Volf’s debuffs and holds.
But eventually Doug did hit level 50. And of course, what did I do, BUT THROW A HUGE PARTY. It was Dougtoberfest.
Yes, that’s Doug in a toga. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
So many people came out to celebrate the life of Doug that it honestly blew me away. The City of Heroes community and especially its LiveJournal community made me so undeniably welcome and I loved every minute of it. Even as I struggled with depression and loneliness, Doug the Troll helped make me feel like I was a part of something. Even when I would sometimes get bored of the game or couldn’t afford it and chose to deactivate my account. Which, at the very least, lead to hilarious things like Doug’s vacation. Or running for mayor. His returns (here and here) were always welcomed hilariously by the community. Doug helped sow the seeds for a lot of my silly humour, honestly. It helped me hone my humour into the earnest goofiness I’d like to think I’m known for. There’s a little Doug in Dill, honestly, especially in the self-depreciating humour. Doug helped me stay creative in times when I wasn’t feeling creative.
One of my favourite moments was chatting on Ventrillo with some people from the LiveJournal community. I can’t recall the full context, but someone called me slow. Now, I didn’t speak in Douganese while voice chatting. I “Douged” better in text. But I had to here. I waited for I think two or three hours before responding. The group continued through other missions and conversations. And then, in one moment of silence among the group, I finally shouted, “HEY! DOUG AM NOT SLOW!” They were laughing so hard that they all had to pause playing. Definitely one of my most rewarding comedic moments.
I never really did find anything to fill the void that City of Heroes left behind. I tried Champions Online and DC Universe Online but neither really grabbed me. I’ve yet to really find an MMO or really an outlet as purely FUN as Doug was on a regular basis. Dill comes close, but that’s very different. I didn’t get such immediate and hilarious reactions from people.
For now, let’s give Doug a break to stand about, and reflect on those good times. Yup. Good times.
If any of this story amused you, I invite you to look at the City of Heroes LiveJournal community Doug tag, where I’d posted all of my Doug posts over the years.
I’m also going to finish this up with a few other pieces of Doug art that I still love to this day. Three of them are from Liz Chesterman: