Recently I had the chance to speak with Randy Mosiondz, lead designer for Champions Online about the pending Super Hero MMOPG that looks to be a true classic.
OCMS: What is the background and setting of the game?
RM: Champions Online is based on pen-and-power super-hero roleplaying game that’s been around since the early 80’s. The setting is based in a modern-day. Super powers started coming into existence in the 1940s which gave rise to a number of powerful super-heroes and super-villains. The most prominent of the villains is Dr. Destroyer, a malevolent genius whose most infamous superweapon decimated the city of Detroit in the 90’s. The Champions are one of the most famous superteams who rose up to fight against the rise of super-villains.
OCMS: How will players gain experience and level and how will you address level grinding problems?
RM: Players gain experience by defeating enemies, completing missions and other achievements, and exploring the world. We’ve got a fairly fast level progression and we’re trying to vary the world and player tasks enough so players get more personally involved in the game.
OCMS: How are missions assigned in the game and what sort of missions will players face. What enemies will players encounter?
RM: Missions are delivered in a number of ways with a mix of traditional and exploratory methods. There are mission contacts spread throughout the world to provide a bit of guidance to where you are, what’s going on in the area, etc. Then you have the “discovery” type missions where you explore the world to find wrongs that need righting. You might find a ringing cell phone you can answer that has a frightened kidnap victim on the other end, or you might come across an alien force on a hostile island and try to thwart their invasion plans.
As for the enemies, you have a VERY wide range. Violent gangs and cultists are running loose in Millennium City. VIPER is an evil organization bent on world domination and has its hands in plots around the world. Different alien races have plans to invade earth and subjugate humanity. And of course there are a rogue’s gallery of super-villains have nefarious plans heroes need to thwart. You won’t be running short of different enemies to fight!
OCMS: What are some of the character classes and the strengths and weaknesses they have?
RM: We actually have an open powers system in Champions Online. Players will be able to pick whatever powers they think fit their super-hero theme. If you want to be an elementalist with fire and ice powers you can do that. If you want to be a power armor guy with electricity you can do that.
OCMS: How is player vs. player going to be handled?
RM: We have an arena system where players can test their meddle against each other and earn rewards. We plan to expand this as the game grows.
OCMS: How are guilds/clans setup and what socialization features will the game offer?
RM: We have a guild system in place so players can set up their own superteam, assign ranks, team colors, team symbol, chat, etc.
OCMS: As a follow up, how will guilds/clans be able to raid one another?
RM: We’re going to be releasing more information about this as we get closer to launch. ?
OCMS: Will players be able to have sidekicks?
Same answer as above…stay tuned!
OCMS: How will player Deaths be handled in the game?
RM: If a player is he suffers a temporary penalty and damage to slotted upgrades.
OCMS: How will missions and tasks be assigned and will the game contain zones that are level specific?
RM: The first part of this question was answered in my response to question three, but as far as level-specific zones, there are various hotspot locations around the world for players to explore. Most of these locations are various levels of content. You might head to the Desert to deal with a mutant attack and return much later to deal with a super-villain outbreak in another part of the zone.
OCMS: What sort of graphic engine is the game using and what features does it allow you to include in the release?
RM: Champions Online uses our own in-house Cryptic Engine which supports such features as per-pixel lighting, High Dynamic Range lighting, shadows, bump-mapping, postprocessing (depth-of-field, refraction) and ragdoll physics. One of the big things we’re pushing with Champions Online in particular is a method called comic shading which uses outline rendering on high-resolution 3D textures, allowing us to give a four-color comic book feel to all our characters and terrain.
OCMS: The scope of the game sounds amazing, what are some of the biggest obstacles you see in creating the game, and what are your biggest goals for the game?
RM: One of the biggest obstacles is actually meeting our goal of “total customization”. There are lots of problems associated with building an open powers system in a massive multiplayer environment and keeping things relatively balanced but I think our team has done a great job in overcoming this challenge. One of the biggest goals is to create a great core super-hero game world which players have lots of different things to do in varied environments with the potential for expansion in later content updates.
OCMS: What are some of the biggest difference between Champions and City of Heroes and Villains?
RM: Champions Online is much more fast-paced; here’s a lot more movement in the game and reacting to combat situations and the environment. The world itself has wildly varying environments with everything from Millennium City to Monster Island, from deserts to the cold north. Finally the customization aspects have been taken to the next level in Champions Online both visually and functionally.
OCMS: How is currency earned and used in the game?
RM: Heroes come from a wide variety of backgrounds so we wanted to keep a general system in mind that fit the background fiction of whatever character you want to create. We have “resources” which can mean anything from inherited wealth to charismatic influence. Resources are used to acquire “upgrades” for characters in the game and other cost incidentals.
OCMS: How is leveling and new powers dealt with in game?
RM: Whenever players levels they gain either new powers or advantages they can apply to those powers.