You asked your Champions Online questions, and we got you your
Champions Online answers straight from the mouth of Bill Roper!
It’s been awhile since we ran our last VIP interview, so we
thought it’d be good to start back up with some question on
the upcoming super hero MMO. You definitely had some tough questions,
but Bill was game enough to answer them all. We cover everything from
new player experiences to player housing to PvP content, so sit back
and enjoy!

style="font-style: italic;">[Editor's Note: Some of the
following questions may be paraphrased for ease of reading. The general
point of all the questions remains the same.]

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Ten Ton Hammer: How
accessible will the game be for the MMO newcomer? Are you going for a
control scheme along the standards we’re expecting these
days, or are you bringing something new to the table? Also, what kind
of customization and/or personalization are we looking at for the UI?

Bill Roper: I
believe our game is really accessible for people that are new to the
MMO space. The visual elements of the UI aren’t customizable,
but the actual hot key presets you can go in and choose from various
options that include types for the classic fantasy MMO player, which is
a lot like the WoW control scheme. Or you can go in – if
you’re a big City of… player – and you
can choose an option that maps your keys like what you find in the City
of… games.

You can obviously also go in and set your keybinds for everything in
the game. In fact, you can even have a left-handed keybind set. We have
a really awesome UI lead for the game, and at Cryptic the UI has really
become one of our core technologies. There’s stuff
that’s absolutely game specific – there has to be
– but the core technologies are going to span all of our

We pay a lot of attention to making sure that the game, from a UI
standpoint, is very accessible. Things appear on the screen when
players need a hint or need some encouragement on what to do next.
There’s also a tutorial that covers a lot of the core
mechanics of an MMO for players that aren’t familiar with
this sort of gameplay. That said, we really put in front of our
designers this challenge of making a tutorial that you could play
through once, learn all of the basics, and never have to go through

So we ended up with this tutorial that is like something that [the
movie director] Michael Bay might have come up with. There’s
big explosions and aliens, and you have to go through and help take
down this massive mothership that has been terrorizing the city. From
moment one in the game, you’re not only learning how to play
but also playing a part in this fun and exciting set-up.

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Ten Ton Hammer: Can you
change your alignment? (cause sometimes heroes have midlife crisis too)
At launch can we expect more than just Good/Bad/Neutral alignments?

Roper: There
isn’t really such a thing as “alignment”
in Champions Online. There isn’t that sort of component in
the game, so players can really be anything that they want to be. That
said players are creating heroes and heroic characters, and that was
one of the biggest pieces of feedback we’ve been receiving
from beta testers, that players wanted to feel more heroic. Like they
were doing something that was important. And that’s what
we’re striving to give them.

The Champions universe has been around since 1981, so the background is
really rich. There’s actually a whole sourcebook out there
called Dark Champions, which explores this sort of gray zone, morally
influencable type of heroes. That’s something we might
introduce later, but we already see players in beta that have built
heroes that have that dark look and feel to them. They use the darkness
power set or munitions and have an ex-military sort of guy
that’s on the edge. He might be out fighting crime, but
he’s not a nice guy.

Players really tend to roleplay that out with the powers that they
choose and the costume that they create. While there isn’t
necessarily an alignment system built into the game, we find that
players who get into super hero MMOs tend to be really big roleplayers
naturally. The players have really carved out their own sense of
alignment without us having to put that into the game for them.

Ten Ton Hammer: And some
of the power sets definitely tend to lend themselves towards building
up that sort of character like darkness and even sorcery.

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Ton Hammer: How much
focus is there going to be on PvP? And is the PvP going to be arena
type PvP? (LightningSC)

Roper: The
great thing about PvP for us is that Champions had already devised a
method of giving ways for heroes to fight each other.  The
took that system and put them under the umbrella of “Hero
Games,” which is actually a tribute to the company that
created Champions back in the early 80s.

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The Hero Games are both sanctioned and unsanctioned super hero fights.
Right now, we’ll be launching with three different types of
PvP, basically. There’s “Bash” which are
unsanctioned fights between heroes that is a free-for-all, and the
setting is the streets of West Side, which is one of the neighborhoods
in Millennium City. It’s kind of a gangland in the city, so
it makes a great area for players to really just throw-down in a
free-for-all fashion.

There’s also the UTC – the Ultimate Tournament of
Champions – which is five on five arena fights. There are
different arenas that you can unlock as you go through gameplay. Each
of those arenas have their own particular layouts and challenges and
bonuses. Our PvP guys here are really, really into this style of
gaming, and so they’ve put a lot of effort into making sure
players can’t do things like “spawn camp”
and  then also utilize things in the environment for offensive
and defensive purposes.

The third type is what we call Apocalypse Maps. These are set up as
scenarios where heroes take either one side or the other in a sort of
“end of the world” experience.  The
Apocalypse Map that we’re shipping the game with is called
the Stronghold Map, which is the super villain prison in the world.
Heroes on one side have taken the side of the villains – or
maybe wrongfully accused super heroes – and are trying to
escape the Stronghold. The other side are the heroes that are trying to
quell the uprising and keep them inside Stronghold.

If you’ve ever played the DotA maps for Warcraft III,
you’ll find that the Stronghold Map plays a lot like that.
It’s really cool, and you’ve got heroes and
villains that you can call in as reinforcements. There are emplacements
that you’ll need to get past that are static, mounted
weaponry, and NPCs that you’re fighting. You’re
basically trying to take out the leaders on the other side, and
it’s an absolute blast.

We’ll obviously be adding more to the game as time goes on,
but those are the “core frameworks” of our PvP
systems.  I didn’t mention it yet, but
there’s also a whole reward system in place for these things
as well. There are special costume and titles that you can only unlock
through PvP. Players will also gain experience while playing through
the PvP system as well, so you can level while you’re PvPing.

It takes a while, but you can do it. If you really want to leveling,
you should be focusing on missions and that sort of thing.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will
there be perks tied into the PvP?

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Roper: Yup.
We’ll definitely have those too.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will
there be any large group content (2 or more groups) at launch, will we
get more through content updates, and will we be looking at a tiered
progression model versus static “anyone-can-do-it”
content? (Chilidawg)

Roper: We
definitely have that type of content in the game, with monsters that
you’ll fight that can take anywhere from 10-20 people to take
down. Some of those mobs are organic, in that you just go out and find
them in the world, while others you’ll have to know where
they are to go attack them.

There’s a lot of content that’s designed for
smaller groups, like groups of five.

In terms of updates, we definitely are going to be focusing most of our
attention of content oriented around large groups and single groups. So
high-level monsters, lairs to go into that are five-person instances,
and also seeing what our players are wanting as well. It’s
been great during the beta period that we’ve had the sort of
close interaction with our players and really focus on things before
they make it out to the public. That said, we’ll continue to
focus on polishing and creating new content post ship as well.

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Ten Ton Hammer: Can you
tell us more about player housing or guild bases if you are going to
have them or not? (RawGutts)

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Roper: That
won’t be in at launch, but we definitely want to be able to
add in things like headquarters and bases and things like that. We have
some pretty cool ideas on making that not only an important thing that
guild can do, but also building it around having guild level goals and
being able to accomplish missions that you’ll need to
complete in order to keep building on to your headquarters.

When we were building it, we realized that it’s a really neat
system, but it’s also kinda complex so we couldn’t
devote the sort of assets that we’d need to put there to get
it done. As opposed to half-assing it, we wanted to make sure we got it
done and had headquarters that people could really be proud to show

Ten Ton Hammer: And
I’m sure you want to be consistent with the level of
customization you have in the rest of the game.

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Exactly! *laughs* That’s where you start getting into huge
amounts of asset creation.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will you
have digital distribution for CO? (RawGutts)

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Roper: We’ll
have both. I’m not positive who we’re doing digital
distribution with, but players will be able to get the game through
Cryptic’s website and Atari’s website for
digital… or at the very least we’ll point you to
where you can find it. We want to be sure that players who want to stay
at home can, and we’re big fans of digital distribution. I
buy almost everything I can that way.

Ten Ton Hammer: What the
hell is a Cryptic Buck? (RawGutts)

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Roper: As I
mentioned earlier, Cryptic has a set of core technology that we build
upon, and being able to  have digital distribution for things
that are both inside and outside the game was very important to us. We
wanted to have a system in place that allowed people to get stuff that

So we came up with these Cryptic Bucks, and you can use those to get
anything inside or outside of the game. We basically wanted to allow
players to have a denomination that can be used across everything that
Cryptic does. It’s definitely something we’ve
fleshed out as we look towards the future as well. We’ll have
players that are bouncing between CO and Star Trek Online, so they can
use those for either game. Or maybe they just want to get a hat.

As opposed to having to do billing for three different or four
different solutions, we just made Cryptic bucks and are allowing
players to use them wherever they want. It’s actually a model
that gets used quite a bit in Asia, for those developers or publishers
that have several different online games. You see that concept a little
bit with US game cards, but traditionally that’s just used to
pay off a subscription fee.

We’re trying to expand that out, so that if players get
something with Cryptic bucks on it, they can go “Oh! I want
pay for my subscriptions on these two games and buy this product from
their store. “

Ten Ton Hammer: So more
of a way to fully integrate the various aspects of you distribution?

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Roper: Yup!
We’re trying to make it easier for everybody; easier for the
player and easier for the developers, because it’s always one
point that it goes through.

Ten Ton Hammer: Thanks
Bill, and we'll talk to you soon!

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016