Exclusive Interview with DC Universe Online’s Mark Anderson

Posted Wed, Dec 08, 2010 by jeffprime

dc universe online green lantern
Just like Batman answering the Bat-Signal, gamers everywhere are chomping at the bit to play DC Universe Online. With its Spring 2011 release getting ever closer, Ten Ton Hammer’s own intrepid reporter, Jeff “Ethec” Woleslagle, infiltrated the hidden lair of SOE. Once inside, he talked to Mark Anderson, Art Director of DCUO, to get the scoop on movement challenges, lore and roleplay possibilities, and the PvP aspects (including the newly announced Meteor mechanic for open PvP) of this superhero MMOG.

Ten Ton Hammer: First, I wanted to ask you about something we’ve just started hearing more about: movement challenges. What’s involved with those? I’m guessing that there are different ones associated with the different movement powers?

Mark Anderson: Yes. There are multiple beacons for movement challenges and they are tailored to your specific movement mode. So if you’re a speedster, it’ll be about you going up walls and making huge jumps. Same thing with flyers, such as flying through the rings. That’s what most of those are, and they’re all in now. We’ve been working on those for awhile, and we’re now working on some co-op movement modes. That’s in the works right now, and we’ll have to see how much of that makes it down to the final game.

But it’s other stuff to do in a game that’s otherwise combat-oriented. We want to make sure that there’s stuff for you to do that’s fun and challenging, and those are spread out all over the city.

Ten Ton Hammer: Any thought given to leaderboards for movement challenges?

Mark Anderson: Yes. Having that kind of competition within the game is something we want and wish to encourage, but it is something that we don’t have in yet.

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Ten Ton Hammer: Is there a thematic aspect to the movement challenges, such as having to race to stop the Joker from exploding nukes or something?

Mark Anderson: Not specifically, no. They’re pure gameplay in that sense.

Ten Ton Hammer: There’s been a little bit of confusion over what you and others at SOE Austin have called the “wild, wild west” nature of open PvP in DCUO, where level 15s, for example, can gank a level 5. For somebody new coming to the game, that might not sound like the most fun experience.

Mark Anderson: It definitely depends. The good thing is that there is a much, much wider spread than there’s been in most of the games that I’ve played, where level is kind of king. If you had a few levels on somebody, that was it. However, the content is relatively mixed. We have opposing factions occupying the same space a lot more often than other games. We have safe spawn points. We have safe houses that have guards on them. Most of that takes the characters where they can go through the content reasonably well.

In beta, PvP is not so widespread. It tends to be more concentrated. The main thing that we wanted to kill was the spawn camping. It is things like that really detract from enjoying the game, especially if you’re new to the game. If you just want to go out and do the solo content, then choosing a PvE server is the thing to do.
"Do you start with one power? No power? A combo? There were huge polarizing shifts just within our population of just the devs in the office. So we tried to strike that balance."

Ten Ton Hammer: What other types of emerging PvP are you planning for DCUO?

Mark Anderson: We have the Meteor, which I don’t think you’ve seen yet. We have a meteor that is a PvP flag. Once you pick it up, you’re flagged for PvP. You can run around the city and hand it to your friends, which can leads to pockets of PvP. It’s time-based and it is really cool because it creates areas where if you don’t want to be part of that gang fight, you don’t have to be.

Ten Ton Hammer: You keep the Meteor in your inventory?  If not, how long does the tag last? If you put it down, are you not flagged for PvP anymore?

Mark Anderson: You literally pick it up. It’s a physical object. Once you pick it up touch it, you can take it to other places where you want other people to touch it. Once you pick it up, you’re tagged for awhile. I don’t remember the exact time amount right now.

Ten Ton Hammer: Are there any kinds of rewards for open PvP play?

Mark Anderson: Right now, I can’t tell you that for certain if we do. At this point, we have scoreboards on the PvP matches, but not just open world PvP.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is that something you might consider giving achievements for?

Mark Anderson: Absolutely! If we haven’t mentioned achievements yet, it is something that we’ve talked about. A lot of this is that we want to see what people are enjoying in the game and then encouraging them to do that in the game and to do more of that in the game. We’re seeing what’s going on in beta and keeping a matrix of all of that stuff.

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Ten Ton Hammer: Legend play is one of DCUO’s best kept secrets inside the game. With the Legend Gameplay, is there anything that you’re planning on adding to the game to more directly introduce players to that aspect of the game?

Mark Anderson: On some of them, you’ll get the message through the communicator, but on others, you’ll get a quest item in your journal. So you get a mission objective to do a PvP match in the Legend simulator.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is Legend play something you can play from the get-go, or is there a level requirement?

Mark Anderson: Right now, there is a level limit. I don’t think that we’ve publicly announced what we’re going to do with the preorder “play-as-Batman” in terms of level. I think that we’re going to introduce it low enough so that you’ll get a nice experience throughout the game, and we think that it is something that people are really going to enjoy with all the powers tailored to the specific characters and those one-off powers.

Legend play gives you that experience to play as that character. Early on, our biggest question was, “Do I get to play as Batman?” to which we always said, “No.” But, we were sitting around and we realized that we could probably do this and do it in a way to stop the obvious next criticism of that there’ll be a thousand Batmans running around. We definitely didn’t want that. We think that Legend play is a good balance.


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