In response to the Black Friday announcement, City of Heroes players gathered in Atlas Park on the Virtue server on September 8, 2012, at 5:00 PM Eastern, in a show of support for the developers at Paragon Studios.
Before the Rally
An "All Servers' Vigil" on September 3, 2012 was organized by Rubberlad through the official City of Heroes forums. People from several servers turned out, and while it did not have the same response as the later Unity Rally, some servers had multiple instances of Atlas Park running during the vigil.
The event was first announced by TonyV on the City of Heroes and Titan Network forums in the early hours of September 5. DJ Pheonyx of The Cape Radio was quick to offer to broadcast the Unity Rally live, and word began to spread rapidly on various social media sites. Players began suggesting that those in attendance should hold torches as a symbolic display of the flame that they carried for the game.
Players began to gather on Virtue several hours before the start of the rally. Many started flashback or Architect Entertainment missions in order to prevent the game from automatically logging them out while they camped out for the event. By the time the rally began at 5:00 PM Eastern, Virtue had filled with a backlog of 200 queued players waiting to join the server. Players began to overflow to Freedom in order to continue filling Atlas Park.
In addition to The Cape's brodcast, AFKRadio broadcast superhero music during the event and Massively covered the rally via live stream on Twitch TV.
Transcript of TonyV's Speech
Because of the overwhelming response, the servers had to spawn multiple instances of of Atlas Park in order to bear the load of the characters that were entering the zone. Before the rally ended, 33 instances of Atlas Park had been spawned on Virtue with approximately 300+ people in the server's queue. Another 11 instances of Atlas Park had been spawned on Freedom and spillover from Freedom had started logging into Infinity.
At it's peak, the Unity Rally produced 33 instances of Atlas Park on the Virtue server. Atlas Park 33 (or AP33) - as well as the HoldTorch emote used by many participants in the rally - became a symbol for the community's unity and strength in numbers. AP33 became a rallying cry of the #SaveCoH movement.
When the Unity Rally ended, several players left their characters logged in to Atlas Park 33, holding torches and standing vigil in order to hold the zone open for as long as possible. It was originally assumed that the vigil would only last until the next shutdown of the servers for maintenance. This, however, proved not to be the case. Through the aid of one or more employees who remained employed either by Paragon Studios or NCsoft, each time the severs were brought back up, Atlas Park 33 was respawned on Virtue for players to reenter and resume standing vigil. These torchlight vigils continued right up to the final moments when the servers were brought down for the last time.