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Champions Online Powers Interview #3 - Ice, Fire, and Electricity

Posted Mon, Jun 15, 2009 by Cody Bye

The standard four-color comic book has its essential powers. You need your super-strong individual, a toon that can be acrobatic in some way, a foxy super heroine, and the brash individiaul that wields the book's elemental forces. In our continuing series of power-focused interviews with Cryptic Studio's Bill Roper, the Ten Ton Hammer staff grilled the Champions Online developer on the Ice, Fire, and Electricity power sets. Keep reading to see his answers, including whether or not "Earth" is ever going to be in the elemental set!

Ten Ton Hammer: The elements are kind of like the "standard" super hero powers for any universe - you've got your Iceman, Sandman, Human Torch, and lots of others. What did you do in Champions Online to make player heroes stand out but also give them a traditional sort of feel?

Bill Roper: I think because we've always been trying to strive for that four-color comic appeal in an MMO for, all of those examples you gave are perfect for what we're trying to strike. Obviously characters within the Champions Universe and player heroes will use those elemental powers, and really what we wanted to be able to do is really play off of how those powers work with other powers that you may have and any sort of special effects they might produce.

With Fire for example, we make sure that there's this synergy within the Fire power set so the more you use your fire powers, the more they all work together. For instance, the fire powers build endurance whenever you're around enemies that are on fire or generally around fire. Another interesting one is the synergy with electricity and how it has a chance to do a negative ion charge which basically means that the next time you do an electrical attack there's a chance it might arc to an additional enemy.

So basically all our powers have things built into them that if you elect to stay within that power set you get a different side benefit to those powers. That's where the uniqueness of our power sets come in. We're sticking to the traditional powers in fire, ice and electricity, but we're then giving you an added bonus in how those powers interact with each other.

Ten Ton Hammer: What gameplay archetypes do the elemental powers fall into. Are they all ranged DPS oriented? Or are there some powers within Fire, Ice, and Electricity that are more melee-focused, maybe in the DPS or Tank areas?

Roper: There's definitely a broad range of powers. There's offensive powers, defensive powers, ranged powers, point-blank AOE powers, and we even do things where you can take certain elemental powers and apply them to weapons. For example, you could have claws that are electrically charged. In this way, you can build a lightning martial artist that has a lightning shield and uses hand-to-hand attacks but has that with lightning powers tied in.

We tried to allow players to have powers that aren't just tossing lightning bolts or doing ranged DPS. We give you a lot of ways to change it up.

Ten Ton Hammer: In our initial powers preview, our writer was amazed that you had gone out of your way to make each of the elemental tracks unique. You weren't just doing Ice Blast, Fire Blast, Electricity Blast. Was this always your intention or was it something that came up during beta?

Roper: We definitely wanted to make sure that there was a big difference in the powers. We didn't want Fire to work exactly the same as Ice or Electricity, albeit blue-white-and-icy or yellow and sparky. We wanted to have different ways of how they work as well, and I think the best way to put it is "secondarily" in that each of the elements has its own little effects.

We wanted to have - as best that we could - all the different power sets have a different feel, flavor and gameplay mechanics - both primarily and secondarily.

Ten Ton Hammer: Do each of the three elements have key points to them? Like you mentioned that fire does some damage over time - do all the powers have something like that? Is that something that all the fire powers have? Or is that just something that only one or two powers in the fire set have?

Roper: It definitely is something - for the most part - that is across the powers. Obviously this isn't the case for all of them, but most powers have this secondary thematic element. With fire, if you catch things on fire it can spread. With electricity, it's the negative ions where you're setting up to arc your powers to secondary, and possibly even tertiary, targets.


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