Champions Online, the superhero MMORPG in development by Cryptic Studios, has once again given us an inside peek into the minds of one of their developers. This Q&A is with Brian Gilmore, Content Designer and Ten Ton Hammer has reposted the article for you! (The original article can be found here.)
Brian Gilmore - Content Designer or secret ruler of an alternate dimension?
Q: What do you do on Champions Online?
A: I'm a member of the content team on Champions Online. I make missions, create contacts, place spawns all that kind of thing.
Q: How long have you been working in gaming, and what did you do before Champions Online?
A: I've been in the game industry for a while now, but the majority of my time has been at Cryptic Studios. I've been here for more than five years. Before Champions Online I was on the content team for City of Heroes and City of Villains.
Q: What is your typical workday like?
A: I get into the office in the morning and get all the latest updates to the game. Then I check my schedule and tasks to see what I need to do that day. I'll start the game and then open the editor. And then, I make the greatest MMO content in the world with the best MMO team in the world.
Q: What aspect of Champions Online are you most excited about working on?
A: I'm an old-time Champions player, so I'm excited about everything. In fact, I owe my job at Cryptic, at least in part, to my knowledge of Champions. Seriously I put it on my resume when I first applied in 2003, and when Jack had me in for an interview he started asking me Champions questions. Midway through the interview, he turns to Craig (Zinkievich, our executive producer) and says "you're not going to understand a word of this for like 10 minutes," and then launches into hardcore Champions talk with me. It was definitely the most unusual interview I've ever had.
Q: You're a hardcore Champions player. Tell us a story from one of your games.
A: I was running a game, and for a long time I'd been building up this group of villains I'd made called "The Demon's Hand." The five of them were real pieces of work; each of them was able to challenge the players on their own, and each one also had a group of villains under their control. I'd planned on making a huge running fight as the players fought The Demon's Hand group by group.
But my players took a different tack. They eluded the first group of pursuers, went back to their base and called in every favor they had with every other superhero and honorable villain they knew. When The Demon's Hand showed up in full force, battle was joined as 29 heroes fought 25 villains in a showdown that rocked the city, destroyed the base and took three sessions to complete. It was epic!
One of the reasons I really enjoyed it as a GM was that my players were so engaged in the game that they had remembered all of those NPCs, and even kept notes on a lot of them. Sure, it derailed my original plan, but the end result was much cooler and the players had a blast.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I'm quite the nerd, so I do a lot of geeky things. I play video games, read sci-fi, and play tabletop RPGs and miniature games like Warhammer 40000. I've also been kept pretty busy this year with a bunch of great geeky events in the Bay Area like Yuri's Night, Maker Faire and the Robogames. I'm also working on a book.
Q: What is your secret superpower?
A: I am the secret ruler of an alternate dimension known as "Brian's Crazy World." In Brian's Crazy World, anything is possible and there is infinite time and money to implement the wildest ideas imaginable into our games. Over the years, I've learned how to find the ideas that are sane enough to cross between Brian's Crazy World and our own reality, and, if I'm lucky, get them into our game.
Q: What is an interesting fact about you that players would be surprised to know?
A: I've memorized almost every song in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado.
Q: What three things would you want on a deserted island?
A: A small yacht with a GPS system that can be crewed by a single person, ample supplies and a book on how to sail.
Q: What TV show, book series or comic was cancelled too soon?
A: I'm gonna go old school on this one and say Max Headroom. That show was so ahead of its time that it's still 20 minutes into the future. And there's never even been a DVD release.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to break into gaming?
A: Bruce Harlick, one of the original creators of Champions, once told me very simply that: "Writers write. Game designers design games." If you want to get into game design, then you need to start designing. Deconstruct the design choices in the games that you like, and compare them to other games in the same genre that aren't as good. Write up designs. Form a mod team. Download game making tools and make a game. All this kind of stuff is much easier today than it was even five years ago when I was trying to break into the industry. It may seem difficult or even impossible, but if you're motivated, you can make the opportunity.
Q: Do you have anything you would like to add?
A: I'd just like to thank all of the people who have played our games. I hope you've enjoyed them, and I'm really excited to show all of you what we can do now in Champions Online.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Champions Online Game Page.