Bill Roper On Champions Online Launch

27 Oct 2009  by   Paul Younger
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Champions Online has been out for almost two months now. Things are starting to settle down, changes have been made to key aspects of the game and players are finding their feet, but how does Cryptic Studios’ design director, Bill Roper, feel the launch went? We asked him just that, along with a few other things…First off, congratulations on Champions, it seems to be doing really well and the game already has a huge following. In fact, are we right in assuming there was a bit more interest in it than you anticipated? You sold that first batch of six month and lifetime subscription deals pretty quickly!The response to the special subscription offers was overwhelmingly positive. We’re really happy with the core community and players we have for the game, and now we’re looking for more to join us! Hopefully word of mouth on how much we’re doing since the game has launched is going to bring those folks that aren’t aware of Champions Online out to see what the buzz is all about.What aspect of the launch did you feel worked really well and what are you especially proud of?The game was very stable, and the launch was actually quite technically smooth. I was also very pleased with how quickly and professionally the entire company responded to any issues and hard we all worked to make things better and better from day one.With hindsight, what didn’t work so well and what would you do differently if you had that time over again?Unfortunately we had to make a large balance pass on the first day of wide service. This really was a reflection of our not having the balance down right before we launched our head start program, but if we didn’t do what we did, the game would have been trivialized in terms of time to play and difficulty. We’re very close to what we want as an overall balance now, so now we’re looking at how we make smaller, surgical changes to tune and tweak powers, items, missions, and so on.Is there any feature in the game that hasn’t turned out as you and the team expected, for example, the popularity of a certain Powerset or ability?There are always things that are surprising when you turn a game loose on a massive number of gamers. Probably the most surprising thing was the variety of ideas and power combinations we’ve seen. It’s definitely opened up our eyes to egregious power combinations that were almost impossible to foresee with such an open-ended system as we have in Champions Online. This is the key reason we’re constantly interacting with and communicating with our community – to make the game better in every possible way and learn the things we didn’t know.The new Celestial Powerset is coming up; was it planned to be released after launch all along, was it delayed, or was it designed based on feedback in the beta and after launch? Are there more Powersets on the way?The new Celestial set was designed based on player feedback and interests. It’s a great dual-purpose set where the same powers that harm enemies heal and enhance allies. Our forward focus will be on tuning, balancing, and enhancing the existing power sets as opposed to creating another. Once we’re in a place where we and the players feel good about the balance of the existing powers, we’ll look at doing more.We spoke to you before the game went into beta and you mentioned some other features that might possibly make it into the game in the future, such as hero vehicles and secret identities. Are either of these in the works? Are there any other upcoming new features you can tell us about?We have the Blood Moon event launching at the end of the month, a new HUGE repeatable 5-hero lair in November, and a special themed winter event in December. And in early 2010, we have something amazing planned…

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