Interview with Shannon Posniewski (April 2010)
JeuxOnLine: First of all, can you introduce yourself and tell us more about you and your past in the gaming world?
Poz: I am Shannon Posniewski, the new Executive Producer of Champions Online. Leading up to and through the launch of Champs, I was Lead Programmer. I started out in the gaming world in 2003, when I came to work at Cryptic Studios to work on City of Heroes. I was a senior programmer and was responsible for the combat system, user interface, badges, and a million other things.
JOL: When you knew you would be the new executive producer, what has been your reaction and how went the succession?
Poz: Since I was already working on Champions as Lead Programmer, everything went very smoothly for the transition. Bill Roper (the previous EP) spent a couple weeks working with me to make sure I was up to date on everything.
I'm very excited to be EP. I'm a huge fan of the game and relish the chance to help set the direction and vision of the project.
JOL: What makes you the most proud of in the Champions Online programming and what is your favorite feature?
Poz: One thing that I think is great in Champions is the action gameplay. Your superpowers execute rapidly. You can move around while attacking to line enemies up for area of effect attacks. You can block incoming attacks. It's simply exciting and fun to play.
But what is exceptional about Champions is that it lets you completely customize your character. Right off when you create your hero, you can control exactly what he or she looks like and what powers he has. There are no fixed "classes" in Champions. You can choose whatever powers fit your imagining for your hero.
This customization continues down to the villains you meet. Players can create a Nemesis which they need to thwart. I love being able to create a villain which specifically fits into my hero's story. I can set him up to look and play exactly like I imagine.
JOL: Are some of the upcoming features already of your own initiative?
Poz: Yes. I'm personally very focused on team gameplay. I think Champions Online at launch lacked a bit in that regard and I've been putting effort into getting that fixed. In particular, the changes to the mission journal to let you see other teammates' missions are from me.
Well, to be honest, it came from our players too. We've been very active on our forums and with our players to see what they think the game needs. Improvements to teaming were right at the top of the list.
JOL: Following your nomination at your new position, you mentioned your desire to promote some more team play in game. How do you plan to achieve this goal?
Poz: Firstly, the changes to the mission journal that lets you see what everyone on your team is doing. The game will be updated to allow this in the next couple weeks.
Secondly, we will be changing how rewards are calculated so that being in a team is always at least as good as playing solo. Now, there are times when it is not.
Lastly, the content we build from now on will scale so that it's fun to play as a solo player or in a team.
JOL: Some time ago one of your team member asked the players how much they would be willing to pay for an expansion three or four time the size of Vibora Bay. Can we assume you're still having plans to release a paying expansion, provided it is a large area ? If so, when is it due?
Poz: I am very happy to say that all of the content we have planned for Champions will be free for all subscribers. We plan on releasing new content in the form of Adventure Packs. Adventure Packs are great big story arcs, with multiple missions, locations and bosses. Any hero level 11 and above can go on the adventure. Adventure Packs will scale to the team's level and size, so everybody can have fun with it. Players can replay the adventures as well.
Poz: We are on an approximately six week schedule for our updates. The updates alternate between System Updates and Adventure Packs. System Updates focus on changes to powers, user interface, and basic systems are done. Adventure Packs focus on new stories. (That doesn't mean that there won't be content in a System Update (or vice versa), but the focus of the update won't be on that.)
JOL: We already know that Melee and Supernatural reviews should be live around the end of April, can you give us an ETA for the following passives and pets reviews?
Poz: We are going through all the powers and reviewing them. We look to our players to let us know which frameworks and powers they think need the immediate attention, and work on those first. We have already done some updates to passives, and a few more changes are in for the Super Power Pack Update.
JOL: Are there other big updates/reviews planned for the next weeks or months to come? What about new power sets?
Poz: Our next update is the Super Power Pack. The Melee and Supernatural sets are completely rebuilt in this update. It also has new Unity missions in Vibora Bay, updates to the teaming system, bug fixes, and a variety of smaller features.
The update after that one, slated for early June, is our first Adventure Pack. Called "The Serpent Lantern", this adventure takes you to the deep jungle and reveals the source of VIPER's power. It has several different bosses to fight as well as one very big creature to defeat at the end. It's a really great story and even in our early tests is a lot of fun to play.
JOL: While the challenge brought by the Therakiel lair had been unanimously welcome, there is still little endgame content to keep busy players that don't want or don't want any more to make new characters. Do you have a plan to address this? A new crafting update or new Unity missions, a level cap raise or anything else?
Poz: Along with the changes to Melee and Supernatural, a whole new set of Unity missions will be released in the Super Power Pack at the end of April. These are all based in Vibora Bay.
JOL: Are there any upgrades planned for the Nemesis system?
Poz: Our plans are not firm yet, but we are hoping to expand the Nemesis system.
JOL: Can we expect a return of the lifetime subscription, like STO did?
Poz: This is something still being discussed on the business side of things. We haven’t made a decision either way but it’s something we are looking into.
JOL: Any others hot information you'd be willing to share with our readers?
Poz: Nothing that I can think of off the top of my head! You asked good questions.
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