Champions Online: Nemesis and Omega Interview with Bill Roper
Ten Ton Hammer: You’ve mentioned that players can only have one ‘active’ nemesis at a time, but once they’ve been defeated will you be able to revisit them later on?
Bill Roper: We’ll definitely have ways you can reactivate nemeses where they break out of Stronghold and you’ve got to go stop them again. We know that players will want to be able to go back and revisit some of their old enemies which is the reason we wanted to have these galleries so that you won’t be making these villains that are just gone; they’re there to be used again and again as players want or as we come up with clever and evil ways to do so.
since our href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/co" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Champions Online
community site went live, the superhumans otherwise known as the Ten
Ton Hammer staff have been diligently putting together an excellent
collection of href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/co/guides/new" target="_blank">new
player guides, but we also
understand that many potential players are interested in hearing more
about what type of high end content the game will feature. With that in
mind, we recently sat down with Bill Roper to discuss what types of
challenges await players with the Nemesis and Omega systems.
Ten Ton Hammer: You recently mentioned that the Nemesis system has
returned to the beta, and I know that some aspects have changed a bit
from when details first emerged last fall. Could you give our readers
an overview of some of the tweaking and polishing that went into the
system with the latest iteration?
Roper: One of the big things
we did is we lowered it from level 30 to 25, so we had to build the
content to fit into those extra five levels. I think the biggest thing
is that Nemesis really has gotten a lot more detailed and almost even
cinematic in nature.
There are basically two types of missions you go on. One is what we
call ‘popcorn’ missions that just kind of pop up
anywhere. A lot of those would be ambushes, or you stumble across the
minions of your nemesis doing something. Those tend to be driven more
by the supporting cast that you build out for your nemesis.
Then there are also these challenge and showdown missions which are
linked together. They’re very thematic, story-driven and
hand-crafted to a very high degree. Within those there are a lot of
different variations because we really designed them for a high amount
of replayability. So certain missions you go on from challenges and
showdowns, for example, they always feature your nemesis, and
they’ll feature some of that supporting cast; not only the
ones you’ve designed as assigned minions but also different
villains that come up that are specific to the nemesis storyline that
may float through parts of that whole storyline.
There are different things you’ll find, or different
‘Easter eggs’ that open on different maps depending
on whether you’re going through solo, or whether
you’ve got three people in your team or there are five people
in your team. So there are chances for other things to happen on those
maps. This encourages players to make a ‘nemesis
When you go through and complete the storyline chain and arc that ends
with putting your nemesis in Stronghold, the supervillain prison, you
can then create another nemesis. It’s kind of like building
out your own villain gallery of the villains you’ve made.
Then as you go through another nemesis story arc it might have some of
the same stories or you might have some different challenges and
showdowns, but even if you get one that you’ve been on before
there are different things that can happen on the map because
there’s a lot of randomness inside of those maps.
So you might say, “Oh, I got this challenge or showdown again
but I did that solo last time. I’ll be sure to take a team
with me this time because I couldn’t get into that one area
before” or “I’ve heard that
there’s this cool thing that unlocks because I’ve
got five players” So different villains could show up and
that kind of stuff.
So a lot of it’s been putting that effort into having that
randomization within the system, and having really highly crafted
challenge and showdown stories that you’ll go through. I
think it’s very telling that when the Nemesis guys handed it
off to the sound and they saw some of the cinematic sequences
– the in-game cinematics that happen in the personal
storylines – they were like, “Oh man, these are
like little movies!” They were really blown away with just
how much work was put into them.
I’m really excited; I think the Nemesis challenges and
showdowns are going to be very challenging and engaging instances for
players. And the system itself is just so cool; I love the idea of
being able to create a villain and then show it off to people.
I think the last part then is that we wanted to devise a system that
was really fun, really engaging in and of itself at launch but then
also gives us a huge foundation to be able to create new content
post-launch. That’s part of the reason we want players to
build up their nemesis gallery, so then we can start doing things where
you have more than one nemesis so there can be new maps or missions
that use that. Or if we have multiple players going into a map that all
have nemeses we could do some things with that even, or whatever else
we can think of past that.
I’d love to be able to have nemeses randomly appearing in
other people’s missions. It would be cool to be fighting and
say, “Oh wow, here’s a villain!”
You’re used to fighting villains obviously but you know
it’s a nemesis because they don’t play like any
other villain in the game. So seeing that and then going,
“Wow, who was I fighting?” and somebody else says,
“Oh dude! That was my nemesis!” because they were
on your team or something.
So there’s a lot of different things we can do to make the
Nemesis system extensible in a lot of different ways moving
forward, but it was really important for us to have a really engaging
and engrossing system in when the game launches and I think
we’ve really accomplished that.
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Ton Hammer: You’ve mentioned that players can only have one
‘active’ nemesis at a time, but once
they’ve been defeated will you be able to revisit them later
definitely have ways you can reactivate nemeses where they break out of
Stronghold and you’ve got to go stop them again. We know that
players will want to be able to go back and revisit some of their old
enemies which is the reason we wanted to have these galleries so that
you won’t be making these villains that are just gone;
they’re there to be used again and again as players want or
as we come up with clever and evil ways to do so.
Ton Hammer: You’ve been doing some pretty cool things with
social networking so far. With the Nemesis galleries, will there be a
place where players can go, for example a page on your website, to show
off their various nemeses to other players?
Roper: That’s an
awesome idea. I don’t have any empirical knowledge of it, but
I would not be surprised if the web team already has that kind of stuff
planned. The Nemesis system uses the same kind of character data that
your characters do when you show them off, so we should be able to do
that with your nemeses as well. That’s probably something
that, if they haven’t already started on, will be on their
list of things to get done.
Ton Hammer: How intuitive will the Nemesis system be overall? Will
players be given in-game alerts or be prompted in some way when Nemesis
missions become available?
Roper: There’s tons
of ways we let you know. There are Perks associated with Nemesis, so
not only are they in your Perk chain, but you’re also getting
notifications on-screen. We also use classic in-game missions with the
question marks and exclamation points, and we even use your in-game
email, so don’t be surprised if you get a piece of mail and
it’s someone talking about your nemesis.
Once you’ve created a nemesis, we also bring the action to
you by ambushing you with your nemesis’ minions and then
sometimes when you defeat them, the minions might have clues that push
you further down the story chain. So there are a lot of different ways
we give you that push down what’s happening with Nemesis,
keeping players easily informed.
Ton Hammer: One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about the
game is the way many of the major systems and gameplay mechanics all
link together in some way to form a cohesive experience. Do the Nemesis
and Omega systems share that type of direct link at all, or are they
wholly separate aspects of the game?
Roper: They are style="font-style: italic;">mostly
separate but we do have plans moving forward for how to tie those
together to have some cool Omega/Nemesis stuff, although
that’s more a case of being something for once we get out the
door. I think the way that they’re the most directly linked
is the fact that they’re both designed to be repeatable
systems, so we anticipate players going through and doing a lot of the
Omega stuff in a way that it’s something they’ll
want to come back for every day and I think the Nemesis system is going
to be the same way. But in terms of direct tie-ins between the two, I
think that is definitely on the plate.
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Ton Hammer: Awesome. The Omega-class villains obviously played a large
role in shaping major aspects of the Champions universe - for example
Millennium City wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t
for Doctor Destroyer. Is the Omega system in Champions Online built
around that same notion of massive confrontations with some of the
world’s most powerful villains?
Roper: The idea behind the
way the Omega system works is that, UNITY, which is an organization
within the Champions IP that is basically the high end global threat
response team. They’re an organization that looks at threats
worldwide and the ones that are the most dangerous are the ones that
UNITY finds out about, and has a superhero response team that they send
What we wanted to really do with that was to make sure that these were
really fun, really challenging high end instance-based content, and
kind of having that ‘global crime computer’ feel
where they’re finding out what’s happening. Then
once you’ve been invited in and accepted into UNITY which is
really the best way to put it in terms of storyline, once you do that
you can go to UNITY’s headquarters in a hidden area of
Millennium City. Then there are basically five threats a day that have
been identified, and those threats will change every day so there will
be five different missions you can go on each day. When you complete
those five missions you’ll be able to get a sixth which is a
As you’re completing these chains of missions
you’re earning commendations within UNITY, and then
you’re able to use those commendations - which is an
alternate form of currency that you’re now able to use - to
get special Omega rewards which will be gear and costume pieces or
titles and some other things like that. And then you’ll also
be able to use those commendations to get access to high level,
So the idea is that we wanted to make a system that changes every day,
somewhat along the lines of daily missions. But as opposed to doing the
same ones all the time or having them on timers or anything, every day
there are five new missions that you can go on.
The thing that I like about it is the way that our mission tracker
system works you can have up to 15 missions active at a time. So if
I’m level 40 and I’m really not doing any other
story missions in the game and I decide to go do some Omega missions,
but say it’s a Thursday night and I’ve got to go to
dinner with friends and family and things like that so I’m
not going to be able to play but I know my friends are going to be on
this weekend. I can go Thursday to UNITY and get the five missions and
then the next day I can go and get Friday’s missions from
UNITY and I can still do all 10, because they’re still in my
This is something we wanted to do so that it’s a bit
friendlier to players that don’t have the ability every
single night to be playing. I know that there’s players who
will do that, and that’s what the system was designed for is
those high end players who will want to run these missions but maybe
they’ll want to store up a couple of days. Then they can go
do them all, so say it’s Friday night and you can say,
“I’ve got both Thursday and Friday
night’s, let’s go do those.” Then since
the associated missions, that sixth mission is tied to the completion
of the first five you’ll also be able to do that one.
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Ton Hammer: So you’re avoiding that kind of pressure where
players feel like they have to complete something that same day once
they’ve started it…
Roper: Right, so even if you
don’t have time to play you can pop in and grab the missions
Ton Hammer: The Omega system seems custom tailored for being able to
host live events as well. Are there any plans for events that might be
linked to the system, or at least possible as future content?
Roper: Probably possible for
the future, but we don’t necessarily have anything planned on
day one. We can definitely do events but I think the hardest thing for
us with doing them is doing anything that’s a “live
event”. With the way our system’s set up you can be
in areas that have multiple instances, so you can have different
instances of Millennium City or even different tiers of Millennium
City, so it’s hard for us to say, “Hey everybody
– come to Millennium City!” because we
don’t know which version of Millennium City you might be in.
But definitely the system is set up for us to be able to do things like
setting events that happen after specific amounts of time, or happen
daily or that kind of thing, and I think that’s something
we’ll be able to do a lot of really fun stuff with.
Ton Hammer: Going back to the Omega system then, is there an
overarching progression apart from the daily mission chain that might
be comparable to traditional end game raiding where you might need to
defeat a certain villain or complete a given challenge in order to
progress to another, more difficult one? Or is the system built to be
more dynamic in terms of what path you choose to follow?
definitely both, so I think we’ll have a nice mix between the
Ton Hammer: Awesome. Then shifting gears a bit I wanted to briefly
touch on costume slots in-game. Will players be able to open up or
unlock additional costume slots through normal play, or is the focus
more on having a base costume that you create up front and then
continue to add to or tweak as you progress?
Roper: There are definitely
more costume slots that will open up. A couple of weeks ago
that’s one of the things that came up where we were like,
“Hey! We’ve never turned on the rest of the costume
slots!” in our beta, right? But everything’s been
built in terms of, yes there are more costume slots and this is when
you get them, so it’s all in our master rewards table of when
players get them; we just didn’t turn it on yet.
That’s one of those challenges of development when
you’ve got a game that’s so big and has so many
moving parts. Literally twice a week we have meetings where we go over
the list of these things and then assign them out to make sure they get
addressed, and costume slots was one of those things.
So yes, there will definitely be more costume slots available. I think
one of those things that’s really fun is that when
you’re making a hero, being able to say here’s my
costume that I wear every day, here’s my cool battle armor
version or here’s my ‘golden age’
costume. Players, I think, like to have all of those different costumes
they can drop into. I know I did tons of that in the ‘City
of’ games so we’ll be sure you have that same
Ton Hammer: Is the plan to still have costumes linked to swapping out
different builds, so that you have the option to swap into a different
costume when you change builds?
Roper: Yep, you can
definitely still do that; it is a part of that build screen so if you
want to you can also assign a costume.
Ton Hammer: Sounds great. Thanks for taking the time to answer our
Roper: You bet!