Interview with Shannon Posniewski (September 2010)
It's been a year since Champions Online release, a little bit less since you're at its head but much more that you've been working on it. Thank you for taking part in this Q & A, in which our readers have participated by suggesting a few questions like we can do for a Ask Cryptic.
Poz: It's been a busy year! We've put out a big zone, added and improved lots of content, added power frameworks, added Supergroup features, and launched an Adventure Pack (with another one about to go live).
My switch from lead programmer to executive producer has gone pretty well. Bill did a great job launching Champions and building Vibora Bay, so I had some big shoes to fill. When I took over, we moved to doing smaller updates more often. I think it's been a big success and I think the overall quality of the game is much better than a year ago.
If you could go back, what would you do differently? And what more would you have liked to do during this time?
Up to launch, Champions Online wasn't focused enough. I think that we probably should have postponed or cut some classic MMO features in order to focus more on polish and game feel. For example, maybe it would have been better to not have an auction house or even crafting, but have a superior or larger set of missions.
When Champions first shipped, we decided to do a big new zone as an update. This took a long time to put together, and we didn't do much else in the meantime. I wish we had made it smaller and did more maintenance along the way. We definitely learned from this and have done smaller updates more often since.
Although we spent a lot of energy on powers over the last year, I think we probably should have spent even more. Some powers at launch were quite complicated and buggy; we should have taken steps more quickly to simplify and improve them.
How do you expect the forthcoming year?
We'll be addressing the problems we have with powers. We are making a giant pass on all of them to fix up their descriptions (which are sometimes baffling, misleading, or incorrect). At the same time we'll be making bug fixes and some balance tweaks. We have been doing this one framework at a time for a while, working on the most problematic sets first. We decided to change direction a bit and do a less deep but wider pass on everything.
We will also be revisiting existing content and improving it. We'll be focusing on early- and mid-game at first. We want to get players into Millennium City and interacting socially with everyone right away. I also want to put more stories and events throughout the mid-game (the 20s).
Finally, I want to expand Nemesis more. Our players love this system and are clamoring for more. They have a lot of great ideas for expanding it, which we'll be following up on.
And, of course, we will continue with adventure packs, costumes, and powers.
When are we going to see the resurgence of the Bloodmoon event at each full moon?
We've decided that the Bloodmoon event itself is haunted. We made changes to make it more fun and less rote, tested it and had it ready to go a few months ago. Right before the full moon we tested it again, and it suddenly didn't work! So, we missed that full moon. We missed the next full moon because of scheduling issues, but we had it bulletproof for the one after that. Except that something else went strange and kept us from starting it. Basically, it's cursed.
So, Bloodmoon is on deck and ready to go again at the end of October. For Halloween, of course. Let's all keep our fingers crossed and hope that it's haunted in a good way this time. After that it will happen with each full moon again.
During the beta, players had the chance to repel a massive Qulaar invasion. Will we see new scenarios like this one, some sort of "save the world" scenarios ?
Through our Adventure Packs, you will "save the world" several times! We will also continue to have events that span from the funny, cute, and monstrous (like last year's Holiday event) to more Earth-shattering stuff.
In order to favourite the role-play, will we see the emergence of dedicated places and super-groups HQ and will there be more animations (preferably free), for example animations when you change your costume?
We're very interested in doing some kind of player housing. We're looking in to a couple different ways to do it so it fits into the game well, and feels superheroic.
Costume change animations are on our wishlist, but I can't say when we'll get them.
In terms of PvP, are you planning to expand the options available with new arena, the opportunity to do free duel between teams/super-groups or even, like it was during the Bloodmoon, to offer massive free PvP in open areas ?
We hope to provide another arena, as well as a way to limit and control what kinds of things can be done in the arena (for example, disallowing travel powers). We don't have this scheduled yet.
A year ago, the game was announced as fully translated in French and German. Since then, the localization seems to have entirely stopped. Several translations and the official non-English websites are no longer up to date, new content is not translated and the community manager have disappeared. Many players then, with no other choice, moved to the English version or left the game. Do you think that the translation of the game will resume during the coming year or has it been abandoned once and for all ? And do you plan to offer activities with the Devs at time that are more accessible for the rest of the world or reductions in the C-Store at other dates, etc.?
Unfortunately, the cost of keeping the translations entirely up to date was too high given the number of players we have who natively read those languages. It was a very difficult decision to make.
For general game events, we make sure that we give both hemispheres plenty of "prime" time to play. Doing the same for Dev events is more difficult because we all live in California. We do try to get as much overlap as we can while respecting Devs' sleep cycles.
Cryptic Studios recently announced the development of Neverwinter. Would you have some chit chat around the office on this to share with us? Otherwise, what are your impressions as a gamer on this?
We're very excited about Neverwinter, too. I don't have any inside information I can share right now, though.
As a gamer, I can't wait to play it. I loved the older Baldur's Gate games as well as earlier incarnations of Neverwinter.
STO players will soon have a tool to create missions and it will be the same in NeverWinter. Will this tool also be integrated into CO?
It's too soon to say for sure, but I would eventually like to get it into all of our games. Other online games have tried mission editing before, but I haven't seen anything that comes close to the depth and functionality we are planning. The tool gives the writer a lot of flexibility while also providing a stable enough framework that the missions are likely to be understandable and fun for players.
Bill Roper recently left Cryptic Studios. Do you have any hints for his fans on what he plan to do next ?
Bill said that his entrepreneurial itch needed some scratching. Like you, I'm curious to see what he comes up with!
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