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Skip Navigation LinksPlayHard > In English > Champions Online. Interview with Bill Roper, Cryptic Studios

Название: Champions Online
Разработчик: Cryptic Studios
Издатель: Atari
Официальный сайт игры: перейти
Системные требования:
P4-2,5, 1 GB RAM, 256 MB 3D Card
Intel Core 2 Duo 3.0, 2 GB RAM, 512 MB 3D Card
MultiPlayer: Online only
Игра вышла: 01.09.2009

Champions Online is an Action-oriented, subscription-based, superhero-themed MMORPG created by Cryptic Studios and based on the Champions license. Successful attacks and blocks increase a power meter which can then be spent to unleash more powerful actions. If a player's character was defeated, one of acquired Hero Stars is lost. These stars are earned for staying alive while defeating NPC's and they provide bonuses to the player (percentage increases to damage, healing, etc.). The game features an "Orb system", where enemies defeated by the player may drop orbs that temporarily benefit the hero's powers, life, or energy.

The game includes non-combat crafting skills, such as various studies in science, arms, and magic, in which these have three other specializations players can choose under them. There are also a variety of travel powers, including swinging using webs or grappling hooks, flying, fire flying, jet-boot flying, rocket boot jumping, hover disks, super jump, super speed, teleportation, acrobatics (fast running, leaps and flips), ice sliding, earth flying, and tunneling. The action takes place in the Champions universe, featuring famous characters as NPC's. Regions include urban sprawls, dinosaur-infested islands, underground ruins, and underwater lairs. A special region called "The Underground circuit" allows PvP competition. Each region in the game supports the presence of up to 100 players in it at one time. It is possible to revisit the same region to redo the same missions again.

The game features a character creation similar to City of Heroes, with additions such as the ability to edit a hero's movement animations (a beast-like hero opting to run and leap on all fours, for example). The player may also edit the color and firing position of their powers, such as changing a power's energy animation from red to green or changing the animation to fire from the head instead of the palms. Another difference from City of Heroes is the elimination of any character class or archetype system; characters can take any skill or power. The game also supports solo play throughout a hero's career if desired. At level 25, players are able to create their own custom Nemesis along with his or her minions using the same character creation system used to make your hero, with added selections specifically for the Nemesis. The Nemesis' minions will then ambush the player's hero, providing clues and information leading to Nemesis missions and eventually to a duel with the villain. The level cap is 40, with special end-game content and gameplay at the cap.

We have really enjoyed touring Cryptic Studios and talking about its games with the developers in the last few weeks. In case you missed two other entries, follow up the links to see the Interview with the COO of the company about its business and another Q&A with one of the producers of the new upcoming MMORPG entitled Star Trek Online. However, the true Hero of this article is Champions Online. Keep on reading further to find out what Bill Roper, Design Director and Executive Producer of the project, has to say about the past and the future of this entertaining MMORPG-game.

- Greetings! Please, introduce yourself.

- Hello! My name is Bill Roper and I'm the Design Director and Executive Producer of Champions Online.

- Give us some background about your career.

From 1994 to 2003, I worked directly on numerous million-selling games in varied producer positions and played a key role in the success of the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo series. I started at Blizzard Entertainment in sound, music, and voice-over, eventually rising to the position of Vice-President of Blizzard North and a Director of Blizzard Entertainment. During my tenure at Blizzard, I oversaw and managed all external projects, coordinated internal development teams, and headed Blizzard's project oversight teams where I was instrumental in shaping the direction of the games. In 2003, I left Blizzard Entertainment with other executives from Blizzard North to co-found Flagship Studios and Ping0 where I assumed the role of CEO. In less than 5 years the companies developed, released, and operated their first online game, Hellgate: London, and had a second game, Mythos, in closed Beta. After closing the company in July of 2008, I took a position at Cryptic Studios as Design Director and Executive Producer on Champions Online. We shipped this game in September of 2009 and have been happily servicing our customers the past three months.

- What other projects did you take part in before?

- Let me name them in chronological order:

  • WarCraft: Orcs & Humans (1994), Blizzard Entertainment;
  • BlackThorne (1994), Interplay Productions;
  • Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (1995), Blizzard Entertainment;
  • Justice League Task Force (1995), Acclaim Entertainment;
  • Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal (1996), Blizzard Entertainment;
  • Warcraft II: The Dark Saga (1997), Electronic Arts;
  • Diablo (1997), Blizzard Entertainment;
  • StarCraft (1998), Blizzard Entertainment;
  • StarCraft: Brood War (1998), Blizzard Entertainment;
  • Warcraft II: Edition (1999), Blizzard Entertainment;
  • StarCraft 64 (2000), Nintendo of America;
  • Diablo II (2000), Blizzard Entertainment;
  • Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (2001), Blizzard Entertainment;
  • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (Collector's Edition) (2002), Blizzard Entertainment;
  • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002), Blizzard Entertainment;
  • Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne (2003), Blizzard Entertainment;
  • Hellgate: London (2007), Namco Bandai Games America;
  • Champions Online (2009), Cryptic Studios / Atari.

- Champions Online has now been out since September. How is the game coming along and how has feedback since launch shaped its current state?

We've got an incredible community that has been giving us some awesome feedback. We’ve spent the vast majority of the past three months looking into and addressing the issues they've raised, as well as building new content and making changes to existent areas based on their feedback and desires.  We're constantly working with them, letting them know what's coming up, what changes we’re making, what we are adding, and having them play through everything on our Public Test Shard. It's been a great partnership between our developers and our community.

- What went right and what went wrong with launch? Is there anything in hindsight you would change if you could go back?

We had our share of bumps when we launched on the content side of things. We've been chasing this ever since, and have made strides to making it much better. But this will be an ongoing project as with any MMO. Finally, we after adjusting the experience curve; we had some content holes that we had to fill. This didn't take us long, but it did mean that the game launched with very thin content. As for what went right, the game was incredibly stable. The only real down time we had was one 8-hour period due to human error on our end. The game servers never had a catastrophic failure, we never lost character data, and we really breezed through a lot of the technical issues. We also had a wide variety of systems in place a solid foundation on which to build moving forward – an open power system, vast customization, Nemesis, PvP, Open Mission, Crisis Zones, and Lairs.

- Were there any features of the game at launch that did not work as you had planned?

We definitely needed more time on balancing the game overall and that bit us when we had to do a large shift in the experience & difficulty curve after the head start program ran. We had the experience curve very close to where we wanted it by the time the game launched wide, but this definitely caused some of our early adopters to be upset that the game play changed after it went live. We also should have done a better job with balancing powers before launch.

- Nemesis is a really unique feature of Champions Online. How do you plan to expand this in the coming months?

Nemesis Confrontation is a huge 5-Hero lair that combines the UNITY and Nemesis systems. Once heroes hit Level 40, they can start doing end-game content which is driven from the UNITY headquarters in Millennium City. Players that have already been going through this Omega content are familiar with UNITY missions, but a new twist has been added in that something is happening that involves the various Nemeses of the most renowned heroes (you) in the world. The lair is built around new technology that allows us to bring in all of the Nemeses and put them together in a single map. And, of course, you'll need to also deal with the evil mastermind that put this entire plot together. The risks, and rewards, are high – but you're Heroes! We're also looking to create new Nemesis tracks built specifically around the various personality & motivation types you set for your arch-enemy.

- What seasonal events can players look forward to at Chistmas and over New Year's Eve?

- In December, we're going to be launching some new technology that allows players of any level to fight side-by-side against a common enemy. This is huge because it allows us to balance an encounter for a number of heroes regardless of their level. The event will be based around traditional winter holidays and has some until now, unseen rewards that should really have players smiling and enjoying the season.

- What content do you have planned for the next few months?

Moving forward, we have a few systems on the drawing board that will allow players to investigate and find their own crimes to combat, as well as a few other surprises to really extend the life and fun of the game. These updates are all designed to be usable by heroes of all levels.

- Why should players come back to Champions Online?

We've definitely added quite a bit into the game that goes far beyond just new missions and power sets. Crossover Missions allow players to share any mission with another person, even if their character isn't eligible for that mission. As opposed to the helper getting the same Primary version of the missions, they get a special Crossover version that has all the same goals, but a different reward scale. This gives them incentive past just being a good person to help out someone, even if they have already completed the mission in question. We've also made changes so that the vast majority of unlocked costumes are for every character on the account. Any costume option that you unlock on an account level can already be used on your Nemesis.  As for showing alternate weapon looks at the tailor, that's a bit of technology we have to write that is actually much harder that it sounds because of how the weapon-replaces work. It's definitely in the pipeline.

- Have you ever been to Russia?

I actually toured Russia in 1993 with Zhanna Aguzarova and the Russian rock band - "Bravo". I'm a trained musician and I had the opportunity to play in Saint-Petersburg and Moscow over the course of 10 days. It was an amazing experience and I have always wanted to return as a tourist to really get a chance to see the country.

- How do you view our gaming community?

I see the Russian gaming community as an amazing opportunity for Western companies if we can find the right partners there to promote and distribute our games. I've always hoped to establish a good rapport with a solid company there, and hopefully as we continue to create fun and compelling games, the right match will come along. As far as the gamers go, we know they're just as hungry and hopeful for good games as everyone else in the world. Gaming, like music, is a Universal language.

- Name 3 things you associate with Russia.

Based on my short amount of time there the first three that come to mind are amazing architecture, excellent vodka, and beautiful women.

- What are your favorite video games?

- I've played so many games over the years it's difficult to choose a favorite, or even a handful. I love everything from hardcore strategy to role playing to action to puzzles to even casual games. From the past I'd throw out Diablo II, Civilization, Rock Band, the Madden series, and on & on. Lately I have been having a great time playing our games here at Cryptic (Champions Online and Star Trek Online), of course, and I've also really been enjoying Dragon Age: Origins, Torchlight, Brutal Legend and Left 4 Dead 2.

- In your opinion, what is the best PC or console game this year?

Well, the year isn't over yet, but I really like Dragon Age: Origins on PC and Brutal Legend on the console the most.

- What do you like to do in your free time?

I compose, play and sing music. I also game and spend time just talking and watching movies with my friends.

- What would you wish to millions of Russian gamers here?

- Happiness
, Health and Fun in your lives. I hope you'll give our games a try and have as much Fun with them as we are!

- We surely will, Bill! Thank you for your time!

12.12.2009 15:27, Unicorn


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Champions Online ["How to: Create a character", 3:44, mov, 1248x702]
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Champions Online ["Defender overlooking", 00:08, mov, HD 720p]
Champions Online ["Super Powers: Power Armor", 1:36, wmv, HD 720p]
Champions Online ["Super Powers: Tunneling", 1:18, avi, HD 720p]
Champions Online ["Swinging", 00:54, avi, HD 720p]
Champions Online ["Nemesis", 1:33, mov, 1248x702]
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