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Champions Online VIP Interview - Cryptic Bucks, PvP Update, and More

Updated Mon, Jul 13, 2009 by Cody Bye

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!

[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.]

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? (McMental)

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 products.

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 again.

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.

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? (ZeroMerc)

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.

Roper: Definitely.


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