Can you introduce yourself and describe your role on the project? How long have you been in the gaming industry and what drew you to your current position?
My name is Chris Lena and I am the Senior Producer on Champions Online. I have been working on these MMO things for about 7 years.
Why did you decide to adapt the Champions system instead of rolling your own new hero series? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach?
A lot of people here at Cryptic have always had a deep fondness and respect for Champions and the other Hero Games products. Besides Champions being a kick ass game in its own right it is a fantastic story for an MMO. Remember that Champions and its heroes, villains, locations, and stories have been developed and played since 1981. That is a incredibly deep well to draw on.
What's the core design concept for the game and how has it evolved as development on the game progressed?
Not to sound cliché but our first goal is to make the game fun. We want the action to be fast and dynamic in a way that you have to be paying attention. We want to deliver a great diversity of environments. I should also add that we are committed to having more meaningful customization than you have ever seen! Those core principles have not changed.
Most of the change over development has actually occurred because we strayed from those core ideas. One instance is originally we had an archetype system for picking powers – essentially you pick a class and that determines the powers you can choose from. We received a lot of feedback from people following the game that that was not something they wanted. We thought about it and realized also that taking out classes and having an open power selection was also in line with our emphasis on customization. So we removed archetypes and now Champions Online is completely classless…I should say without classes.
About Champions Online, I've heard a lot about character creation but what about the story itself? Will we see any mass arch-nemesis breakouts in our future?
Yes. Like I mentioned before, the original Champions has been around since 1981 so there are way more storylines and characters than we could ever use. The story is vital to the game and putting the player right in the middle is just the way we like it.
Can you talk about the arch nemesis system in the game? How do you keep the variety in the game?
There isn’t much I can say about the Nemesis System at this point. At some point in your career you will be able to create your very own Nemesis. This will include designing their costume and general disposition.
How will you interact with your fellow heroes? Will people be able to solo in the game if you want to (for the Batman types out there).
Although we will have group content you will be able to play solo and progress from level 1 to the max level.
Will there be a bit more variety in the types of tasks you have to do as a superhero? Is it more than just go to this location and beat up the bad guys?
Part of being a super hero is doing heroic things. Rescuing citizens, putting out fires and things of that sort are all things that heroes can and will be doing.Would Champions Online support the sharing of fan-created content?
We have no plans on supporting that at launch but Cryptic Studios is very interested in the concept of user generated content so we definitely will not rule that out for the long term.
Can we get any peeks at some of the other locations in the world of Champions Online?
No but keep an eye on the website
What were the biggest lessons you learned from your previous super hero games?
One aspect in super hero games that is much stronger than other genres is personal identity. Being able to create the exact character that you have in mind is extremely important to a lot of people. This is why we are putting so much emphasis on customization: costume, power choice, animation stance, nemesis, etc.
One of the things that turned some people (OK, me) from City of Heroes was that I was in so much XP debt from dying that there was now way I was going to get to the next level without a lot of grinding, how are you handling death in the game and will gamers have to do a lot of grinding to get anywhere?
We are still tweaking the death penalty but I can tell you that we will definitely not have XP debt or negative XP or anything like that.
Looking ahead, how far away are you from a closed/public beta?
[Chris] We do have a number of people logging and playing now regularly but we still have not announced our beta sign ups.
How will the PC experience differ from the console experience? What's the biggest challenge in bringing a MMO to the console? Will you be using the built in points system to collect a monthly fee or will you be using your own payment system?
From day one we have built this game as both a PC and a console game. We have found that if you are absolutely committed to both then you solve a lot of your problems through the way you design the game. That being said designing a user interface for both PC and console has been a big challenge. You have to keep in mind that players could have really tiny standard definition TVs and work from that.
Anything else about the game that we missed that’s important?
Did I mentioned you can pick up cars and hit people with them?