Interview with Bill Roper (March 2010)
JeuxOnLine: Revelation is due out in mid-March and will bring us many new things, one of theses being Vibrora Bay. What can you tell us about this new map (following the crisis zone)?
Bill Roper: Vibora Bay is a city of mystery and mystic origins. The new enemies you'll encounter there are steeped in magic, and the missions and storylines reflect this. The zone is about ½ the size of Millennium City, but much more of the content is found within instances, so it feels quite large. There is also a new level 40 Lair that is our biggest and best to date.
JOL: How went the creation of the Vibora Bay? Did you encounter any particular issues?
BR: We spent quite a lot of time bringing Vibora Bay to life, and it took a huge amount of our team to do so. I think this led us to not come out with as much content over the past 6 months as we could / should have, but the outcome of that work is exciting our players. The one big issue was that we made another city, and that undertaking is amongst the hardest things we do in development. Apart from the sheer size of the area, there are just so many different elements that need to come together to make a city work.
JOL: Vibora Bay allows us to have more contact with the Champions and to give us the feeling to be at the same level as them. Is there plan in the upcoming content to move forward in this way, to give players more interactions with them?
BR: We want to increase the importance of the players' heroes in our future storyline, so make them a bigger force in the world. This may be accomplished by working hand-in-hand with the best-known heroes in the world like The Champions, or by putting the player in situations where his character plays a vital and key part in solving a crisis.
JOL: In the recent "State of the game" you spoke about the "adventures packs" coming alongside the regular new content like "Vibora Bay". What form do they take and at which rate can we expect to see them implemented?
BR: The Adventure Packs are designed to provide 2-3 hours of content that can be experienced by heroes of almost any level. They are very thematic and story-focused in nature and have special perks and rewards associated with them. We don't have a set timeline for the Adventure Packs as we're in the very initial phases of development, but the goal is to have them out on regular, shorter intervals. We don't want players waiting another six months before getting some concrete new content.
JOL: What other details about the level 40 lair of Vibora Bay can you give us?
BR: Therkiel's Temple is a huge, high-end lair that has tricks, traps, and puzzles for the heroes to solve as well as some of the nastiest enemies we've ever created. The goal was to give our expert players a real challenge set within a vast and varied environment. There are several sub-bosses to battle, each in their own special thematic areas of the Temple, before you face-off against Therakiel himself. But this Lair is about more than simply fighting. There are puzzles to be solved and teamwork is essential to success. Lastly, there are new rewards to be won here that are amongst the very best in the game, so heroes will want to go through this fun and exciting challenge again and again.
JOL: It was said by Tumerboy on the official forums that a new social instance would see the light. Can you give us more information about this?
BR: The main social instance in Vibora Bay is the SS Bayou Queen, a steamboat located just off the main dockside. In terms of the game experience, we placed this close to the initial starting position to ensure everyone could get to it safely and easily. Inside you'll find The Bayou Queen restaurant, serving some of the tastiest morsels in Vibora Bay. The Queen's Quartet plays nightly and after the show, you can head upstairs and party into the wee hours of the morning.
JOL: Despite the good news with the arrival of the tier 4 powers, we can regret their limited number. Why not one power per power set? Can we expect more powers and new power set to be implemented in the future?
BR: We wanted these powers to be really big. With the amount of work required to make them, it was a better bet to have them be highly-powered and balanced if we made less of them. As for future powers, we're finishing our balance and revamp work on the existing sets before delving into any new areas. We want to really shore up what we already have before starting anything new.
JOL: What about the Nemesis in Vibora Bay? Are there new missions about them in Vibora Bay?
BR: We have not yet integrated Nemesis into the setting of Vibora Bay, but it is something that we've had design discussions as to how it would be implemented. It really comes down to priorities and scheduling as we move forward.
JOL: Are there or will there be Unity missions in Vibora Bay?
BR: Therakiel's Lair ties into the UNITY system, and there are other missions that will be coming online within the city in the next few weeks.
JOL: Some players were greatly expecting some high level content. Why did you chose to make a 37-40 zone instead of high end content with high challenges/instances (Ex: with level 42/45 enemies, toughs, legendaries ones on maps like in Monster Island)?
BR: Moving the level cap up wasn't something we could have easily done right now as it would have instantly antiquated all of our current end game Lairs. We chose to create a high-end area within the current level cap to not only offer a new levelling option, but also to have more end-game content with Therakiel's Temple.
JOL: Now that Vibora Bay launch is about to be released, what is up next? Did you already made plans for what will be in the next expansion? Any estimation on when we should be able to see it?
BR: The next things in the queue for Champions Online are a big powers and combat balance pass that is based almost entirely on what player feedback. We're really going to run this through its paces since there will be a lot of changes coming – and all for the best! After that we'll be working on our first Adventure Pack. These are regular content updates that are designed to take 2-3 hours to complete and are heavily story themed. They have their own special rewards and perks, and are playable by heroes at almost any level.
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