Champions Online Interviews

The new interviews with different staff members of Champions Online reveal more of the game. G4 X-Play interviews designer Aaron Safronoff. GameSpy interviews chief creative director Jack Emmert.

If there are any regrets over the death of Marvel Universe Online, Emmert certainly doesn’t show them. He calls Cryptic’s former partners “great to work with” and clearly doesn’t wish to dwell on the past. His enthusiasm now is reserved for Champions Online and Champions itself. When Cryptic decided to continue with its superhero game it seemed like either a well-planned corporate fandango or cosmic happenstance that the Champions paper-and-pencil IP was available.

According to Emmert, “(Champions) brings a well-established fanbase and is recognized by gamers as a quality title. It’s been around since 1981 and even old school gamers who never played it are aware of it. That awareness is valuable.” Cryptic actually went further than just asking for Champions, though. It bought the whole IP outright, actually licensing it back to its creator Hero Games in order to continue producing paper-and-pencil RPG products.

Massively interviews content lead Zeke Sparks.

Massively: What’s the process of creating a zone? What are the steps you guys typically take towards finishing a zone?

Zeke: The first thing we do is we figure out what we want in the game and a lot of that is based on making sure players have a varied experience. You can see we’re in the desert. Even in the desert they’re in the area of Snake Gulch, which is evil, hay-wired robot cowboys in an amusement park. Even inside the desert you can see we’ve got Stronghold prison in the distance. We’ve got atomic wasteland with atomic pools and downed spacecraft. So even inside of an area like the desert, which is one of our smaller zones, we vary it up from spot to spot.

We also want to make sure that on a macro level we send you to different spots. So we’ve got the Canadian wilderness that we send you to and Monster Island, with a giant volcano. Once we’ve kind of figured out which places we want the player to experience and what would be fun and cool I’ll sit down with the lead environment artist and with our writer, John Layman and we’ll go over kind of what we want the generic feel of the zone to be like. Then we’ll figure out what different environments we want to deliver within that zone. Then after that, we’ll break it down into zone flow, what segments of the game it needs to fulfill. Then we’ll work with John to come up with what cool stories we’re going to overlay in these areas and what enemies we’re going to use. We get the character guys involved to make sure we’re not going over budget on you know, “There’s going to be twenty different types of people!” Making sure that they can actually produce the amount of stuff that we want to put in the zone. Then my team takes John’s storylines and figures how to turn it into really cool gameplay and actually starts implementing it into the zones. Telling those stories through the environment.

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