VideoGamer.com: What level cap will Champions Online have?
BR: Champions will launch with a level cap of 40. We wanted to try to have a much more defined polish over the game. I think most people think, oh well 50 is the level cap you always start with. Not every game does. Some even come out with much lower level caps. It's really more the play experience within that. It's certainly something that will grow and will start growing immediately, but it's nice to have that headroom. Even within that number of levels the time to play is very similar to what you would see in an MMO that had about 50. It is kind of an arbitrary number. For us it's much more about the amount of content that's put in there, the polish of that content and then the experience the players go through. I think we just did a mission count yesterday and we're just under 1000. Should keep people busy!
VideoGamer.com: One thing Age of Conan and Tabula Rasa suffered from was a lack of content for high level players. What kind of high-level content can players expect from Champions Online at launch? I imagine it won't be long after launch that players approach the level cap.
BR: It's a huge challenge because you try to create this experience for your players that is full and rich and well rounded out, and gets them to that level cap, and then what you're doing past that is always a big question. I think to a degree it is a huge challenge because normally you're going to be compared against games that already have a lot of maturity...
VideoGamer.com: Like World of Warcraft.
BR: Yeah, like World of Warcraft, for example. If people think back clearly to what was in the game when it launched, it's nowhere near, not only what it is now but what people think it was. People say, WoW always had this awesome PvP system. WoW had duelling when it came out. There was no PvP system. There were no rewards, there was no Battlegrounds. There was nothing. You could basically find a guy in the street and challenge him to a duel. I think that was good because it laid the framework. It showed players, yes we contemplated people fighting people. It will happen. But I think the challenge with that is players may look to this endgame content and have to realise that that high level endgame content is very different than the rest of the content in the game for the most part, because it usually has to have alternative types of rewards and alternative types of experiences. A lot of that main drive that you have that gets you to that level, which is levelling and items that get better and better over time, has to change.
Now all that being said, in Champions we have come up with a few things that right away you want players to be doing. We have some daily instances. So WoW players will be familiar with that concept. We have teamed instances that you can only get into once a day, that have higher level rewards that are associated with them, higher levels of rarity. So there are reasons you want to go back. We've spent a lot of time on those to make them fun and challenging and exciting for players. And those are both team and solo oriented. We do have PvP in the game. It was actually easier for us to do what you would think of traditional PvP stuff than duelling because of the way the game works. We'll have probably two to three different types of PvP available. Those will have ranking systems, there are rewards associated with that, some of them have their own special costume unlocks. And there's actually a whole fictional reason why our heroes fight each other. We have a very vocal community and many of them are very deeply into the superhero genre. So when they heard that it has PvP they were up in arms. How can you have that? Heroes don't fight each other! There was already fiction in the world as to reasons why heroes would fight each other.
Players will be able to find promoters throughout parts of the world, especially in Millennium City, that will enable them to participate in the Hero Games, which is like WWF on super serum. The heroes aren't really there fighting each other because they're trying to hurt each other. It's more a contest of skills. We've got other PvP that is designed to be what we call Apocalypse scenarios, which are heroes training for potential end of the world scenarios. The one we're working on right now to get in when we launch is, what if heroes were made criminals and thrown in jail, in a super prison? In that training mission one side is trying to break out of the prison, the other is trying to keep them in. The concept of that is that the heroes are training to be like, what if there is a huge super villain outbreak? This is what you would be training to do. On the other side of that Apocalypse scenario, heroes are training for, what if heroes became outlawed, but you had to get out to save the word? There's fictions that make sense within the superhero genre even built into the PvP.
There's something like 500 plus perks in the game. Perks for us are like Achievements on Xbox. Some of them are simple to get. Some of them are exploration. Some of them take a long time to go through, have lots of requirements. That's something I think players will do well past the level cap if they want to be that kind of collector. There's a crafting system in the game. Again I think that's something players will do well past the level cap. So we really want to put in elements that even if they aren't the end all, be all of that higher level content, are there for players to be doing right away, and then lay the groundwork for that. The Nemesis system is another one. Nemesis right now is designed to have you continue to play it even when you're level 40. The idea behind Nemesis is you're creating your arch enemy.
VideoGamer.com: What's the latest on the beta?
BR: There are applications now in the closed beta. Players can go to Champions-Online.com and sign up for the beta. We are especially eager to get more players into the beta from Europe. We have forums localised in German and French. We have specific EU times set up now for players to come in so we're not making you get up really early or stay up really late to play. Those are already happening. We're already doing EU closed beta. We are eagerly searching to have a lot more people participate in that.
VideoGamer.com: Will you do an open beta?
BR: We will eventually do an open beta. I don't have the exact time on that yet. We've been growing it both strategically and now much more organically. We started with people that we knew, friends and family, this is fairly standard. And then broaden those invitations out, everything from holding contests to previewing it on our website. We've got a good base of closed beta people in now and a lot of names that are in the queue for us to get invitations out to, which we've been doing. We've also now started approaching it very much like Gmail. So we are now starting to send our current beta players beta key invites that they can give out to their friends. So if they have got in and they have their buddies who are jealous about that, they can be a hero and they can invite their friends in to play with them. A big benefit that players in the UK and across Europe have is the fact that we're hungry for beta testers there, so the queue is much shorter and easier to get through. We've just started the beta there. If people want to check the game out and get involved in the beta they've got an excellent chance to get right in.
VideoGamer.com: I've read June and spring for the launch of the game. When will it be out?
BR: I don't have an exact date. I have spring as well. That's what we're building to. We've got our milestones we're hitting and getting the last systems put in, doing a lot of polish and final passes in tweaking and tuning. They haven't given me my exact date. I just know what my milestones are and we're working to hit them!
Champions Online is due out for PC in the spring.