The Champions Online
crew continues to answer questions posed by the community, which has
really been beneficial in giving players a solid idea of the
direction of the game. This week, the developers have completed another
Q&A session with the players, answering questions about the
interface, powers, and much more. The Ten Ton Hammer staff has posted
the Q&A session for you to enjoy, and if you have any questions
make sure you ask - they might get answered!

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Cryptic definitely
wants to make Champions Online accessible to everyone, even if they
don't know the HERO System.

For those unfamiliar with
Champions PnP, will the game interface be one that is intuitive and
easily understood, or will we need to read through all sorts of source
material to understand how to make a character effective? (French)

style="font-weight: bold;">Jackalope: We
definitely want people to make a hero and play without any prior
knowledge of the Champions RPG or the HERO System. We have a saying
(well, I keep saying it) – "zero to hero in no time flat." I
want people to be able to get into the game and have fun as quickly as

However, we are adding lots more knobs for people to play with, as
opposed to our previous titles. We do adopt a lot of the Hero Games
elements in character creation, but players don't need to crunch
numbers in order to make their character.

I'll elaborate a little here. In the Champions pen-and-paper RPG, one
doesn't create a Fire Blast. A player instead starts with the generic
Energy Blast power and then adds Power Advantages and Limitations to
it. There's a ton of tweaking that could be done during this step to
get a power "just right." In Champions Online, a player selects a Fire
Blast with some predetermined effects. Following the familiar theme,
fire has an additional DoT (damage over time) component. In the
pen-and-paper RPG, a player would need to calculate that effect
separately as an advantage and then calculate the new cost of the
"Energy Blast." In the computer game, a player takes Fire Blast. When a
player wants a more powerful Fire Blast, he'll take the next rank up in

But Champions Online is all about customization. So a player can take
that Fire Blast and, over time, add Advantages and Limitations to it.
These aren't necessarily going to be identical to the ones in the HERO
System, but they'll be familiar. Some Advantages can add new damage
types, increase the chance of a critical, or perhaps add some new
wrinkle under particular conditions (imagine a power that does
something extra but only at night …)

When I say "over time," I mean that as a character gains levels, the
player will have the option to add these advantages onto his or her
powers (as well as be required to add some disadvantages, too). In the
Champions RPG, a player does the vast majority of this work at
character creation; later changes are somewhat smaller. But in
Champions Online, a character can evolve greatly over time.

But what if you're a hard core Champions RPG or Hero Games fan, or
maybe just a number cruncher. Is there ever going to be an option to
open up the hood and fiddle with the engine? Let's just say we totally
know that some people would love to have this and we're keeping our
options open. No timeline, no promises. Just keeping our options open.

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Visual components
upgrade along with the development of the character.

I believe I read
somewhere that you guys are, in fact, going to use instances and stuff.
So how often will there be huge, epic battles like Giant Monsters
outside of instances? (MeSoSollyWan)

style="font-weight: bold;">Arkayne: We're
putting a lot of work into our persistent environments. There are going
to be large-scale threats in almost every world location that players
will need to team up to take down, ranging from giant monsters to alien
invaders and super-powerful villains. Monster Island is a great example
of this with a number of nasty creatures ready to challenge brave teams
of heroes!

What kind of visual
change do upgrades bring? Are they simply armor pieces or do they
include things like auras, glows, and graphic effects? (JP1083)

style="font-weight: bold;">Arkayne: Upgrades
come in a multitude of forms. Some are external (i.e. pieces of power
armor) and others are internal (i.e. mutagen serums). The visuals vary
from costume pieces to different glows, FX, etc. As players advance
their heroes they can acquire upgrades with amazing new visual
components to customize their hero.

Please keep in mind that these visual changes are optional, and that
players can simply turn them off if they think it doesn’t
suit their characters. We understand that most players want to define a
unique "look" for their heroes and we want to give them as many
customization options as we can.

The "game features"
section on the main site that talks about custom powers lists several
examples of players changing the color of power animations. It stops
short, however, of explicitly saying that players will be able to
choose custom "animations" to represent their powers. Are you in the
position to say whether, in fact, we will be able to choose from
entirely different animations to represent the same power, or expand on
how this will work a little more? (Cyjack)

style="font-weight: bold;">Arkayne: While you
can change the color of your powers you won't be able to choose
entirely different animations – that would have a huge impact
on the Animation and FX team without yielding a lot of new gameplay
options for the players. Currently, we would rather have more unique
powers for players to choose from than to have fewer power sets with
different animations.

However, there will be other ways for players to customize their hero's
animations including Stances and Facial Expressions. More on this in a
future dev blog!

Will the dual glowing
swords that were seen in the screenshots be a player power or one that
is restricted to Special/NPC's? (GiGaByTe)

style="font-weight: bold;">Heretic: The glowing
blades are, in fact, part of a player power framework I am just
finishing work on now.

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Balancing an MMOG is
always a difficult problem to solve.

I imagine it is very hard
to prevent people from being overpowered with an open system such as
this. What is being done in the way of balance to make sure that every
class (not necessarily every power combination) has a viable purpose
and role in PvE and PvP? (Dantetheinfrno)

style="font-weight: bold;">Heretic: Part of the
problem with striving for balance in a game like this is the fact that
balance means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
Add to this Cryptic's commitment to customization and options for
player development, and it becomes a very tangled problem.

First, we are being as systematic as possible in our design approach.
For powers, what this means is that the numbers and values we assign
are not by whim, but are instead part of an entire system.

Second, when considering how major aspects of combat gameplay work
– things like crowd control abilities, PvP, travel powers,
buffs and debuffs – we check against a set of core
principles. Some of these core principles include: maximizing player
choice and customization, making powers equally useful in PvE and PvP,
always keeping the player active and not waiting for things to happen,
encouraging tactically reactive gameplay in combat, and quite a number
of others.

Third, because we know from the start that players have all of these
options and will do their best to maximize their effectiveness, we have
a pretty good idea of how high the values can get and what will the
impact of those values be on other parts of the combat system. We will
still have a risk of unexpected synergies, but we have some failsafes
that should catch most of these. (No, I am not so naive as to think we
will be able to catch absolutely all of them, but that is the peril of
MMORPG development.)

There are, however, some accidental benefits to an open system such as
this. While players can certainly try to specialize in various areas,
characters are not locked in to a particular role to the point that
outside of that role they cannot function in a meaningful way. Want
some more crowd control? Go ahead and grab some. Not happy with your
defenses? Invest more in defensive powers. 

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Q&A on the Ten Ton Hammer forums!

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016