Cryptic Studios hosted a panel Saturday afternoon at New York Comic Con to talk with fans about two of their upcoming MMO games, “Champions Online” and “Star Trek Online.” Executive Producer Bill Roper (“Warcraft,” “Diablo,” “Hellgate: London”) was there to lead the panel, and Writer John Layman, Executive Producer Craig Zinkievich and Darren Watts, President of Hero Games.
Bill Roper started the mood off on a light note, when he made the audience say “cheese” as he took photos of the group. He then explained that the bulk of the panel would feature "Champions Online," with information about "Star Trek Online" coming toward the end.
Roper then showed a trailer that was cut especially for NYCC, which had a comic book featuring Defender, an iconic hero of Millennium City, on the cover. Police could be heard on the radio saying that Armadillo was attacking the city, and it needed a champion. The book then opened to reveal gameplay, revealing that Armadillo (an armored, strength-based character) was administering a beat down on a bunch of police officers. A female hero wielding two swords jumped into the fray and began battling Armadillo, and the clip faded out to the “Champions Online” logo.
Roper then explained that the trailer was cut from gameplay footage of him and another staff member battling it out in Millennium City. He stressed that the game is very action oriented, and they wanted to make sure players were fighting lots of enemies at a time.
He then pulled things back a bit to talk about the history of Cryptic Studios. He talked about the success of both “City of Heroes” and “City of Villains” and how excited Cryptic was to now be working with the Champions universe. In talking about how he joined the company, he said that everything started with his interest in the "Champions Online" game. “I've played 'Champions' since I was a kid, maybe I can get into the beta,” he recalled saying to someone before he ever spoke to Cryptic. He then talked about Cryptic being bought by Atari, and said that, in a way, it was like him getting to work with founder Nolan Bushnell.
Darren Watts then gave a quick history of the "Champions" roleplaying game, from its 1981 first release, to the fifth edition of the game that came out in 2002. He went on to state that the sixth edition is currently being developed. Watts talked about the "Champions" game having had “28 years of playtesting.”
Both Roper and Watts talked about how powers developed for "Champions Online" will make their way into the new edition of "Champions," and there will be pre-built sets of powers for those who want to create a pen and paper version of their online character with the "Champions" roleplaying game. “If you can think of a power, our goal is to help you design that power and that character,” said Roper.
The discussion then moved into what makes “Champions Online” special. Roper and the rest of team emphasized the amount of customization players have to create exactly the kind of character they want. There are no pre-defined character classes for the game, but there are power sets, items and talents that will define characters. Players will be able to create hybrid characters, who take on different types of powers, or more focused characters. Players will also be able to take on a utility role, where they pre-set a certain group of powers that help them function in a different role. For example, if a range-based character needs to come in and join direct combat, they can pre-set a group of abilities to help them do that if the need arises.
Another feature of the game is the “Nemesis” system, where players will be able to design their own arch enemies. Once players build up their reputation, they will be able to build a nemesis and customize them to the same level as their own character. Players will even be able to invite friends to fight their nemesis.
Roper then went back to emphasizing the action of the game, stating that when characters are in battle, they'll be moving all around, interacting with the environment, as opposed to standing toe to toe and punching each other. He also said that when players face off against lower level minions, they'll be fighting a lot of them, just as they would in a pen and paper roleplaying game. “Lieutenants and signature villains will feel different and more special when you face them,' Roper explained.
The group went on to say that there are a variety of locations in the world of “Champions Online.” Millennium City will be the first place that players visit, but there are plenty of others. Darren Watts explained that Millennium City was a futuristic city that was built when a villain named “Doctor Destroyer” leveled the city of Detroit. In rebuilding a new city, technology developed by some of the heroes was incorporated into the design.
John Layman talked about the other areas that have been revealed so far, which include a desert location, Canada, and “Monster Island.” Laymen went on to talk about the exhaustive amount of content and dialogue that he's written for game, saying “one segment of one neighborhood's dialogue was 29 pages.” He went on to explain that each location in the game will have several different neighborhoods, and offer different types of gameplay, such as sci-fi, horror and espionage. Gameplay in each of the neighborhoods will climax with a supervillain fight.
The panel was opened to questions from the floor. Here are some of the fan questions:
- How much is this different from "City of Heroes" and how is it not just "City of Heroes 2?"
"A lot has changed since those games. Champions is like what City of Heroes would be if they were able to go back and start over again. It's the result of being able to go back to the very beginning and start over."
- How did the cancellation of "Marvel Online" affect "Champions Online?"
"The tech that got built for "Marvel Online" was applicable to "Champions." With "Champions" we can do whatever we want. The Champions universe has had "over 200 books published for it, giving it as much depth as Marvel or DC.
- Will there be a collection of unusual weapons, such as guitars?
"We just put 200 new weapons into the game and are always looking for more."
- Will players be able to form groups?
"Yes, they will be able to band together, but there will be no bases at launch."
- Can you punch people through walls?
"Maybe not walls, but stacks of objects."
- What about vehicles?
"We are starting to experiment with some vehicle technology. We can't guarantee it on launch, but we're working on it."
More information about the game can be found at www.champions-online.com.
After the Q&A on Champions Online, Executive Producer Craig Zinkievich talked a bit about “Star Trek Online.” He said the game is set in the year 2049, 30 years past “Star Trek: Nemesis.” Everyone is on the verge of all out war, and an ancient dark threat from the past is threatening the alpha quadrant. Players will take on the role of an officer in Star Fleet or the Klingon Defense Force. They will captain and pilot their own ship. The gameplay will be a mixture of space, shipboard and ground elements. Zinkievich explained that players may beam down to a planet, rescue people and transport back to the ship for a climactic battle.
The game will offer a huge amount of customization. The ship and bridge officer can be customized. Players will also have the ability to create entirely new races with a full featured creation tool.
The presentation ended with a video highlighting the race customization in the game, showing many different variations of skin tone, textures, structures and patterns.
For more information on Star Trek Online, head to www.startrekonline.com.