Bill Roper talks about Champions Online launch and high expectations
In a recent interview with Warcry, Bill Roper talks about the launch of Champions Online and compares it features to the other games.
Bill Roper was a long-time director at Blizzard Entertainment, and played a role in shaping popular series like Diablo, StarCraft and Warcraft before leaving to work on Hellgate: London with Flagship Studios. He is currently at Cryptic Studios as the Executive Producer of Champions Online.
WarCry: Could you please introduce yourself, for the record?
Bill Roper: I’m Bill Roper, the Executive Producer on Champions Online
WC: How much of the Champions team was involved in the development of City of Heroes?
Roper: All of the top guys … a pretty good number of the team. I wasn’t here then, but a good core of the central people – quite a few guys and gals – worked on the City Of games. We have a nice mix of people who worked on those projects and people who came in from other parts of the industry.
WC: Were there unexpected difficulties in shifting to a licensed framework from an original IP?
Roper: The big thing with an original IP is that you kind of have – compared to a licensed game – you have complete freedom. You can make it up as you go along, come up with different ideas midstream; it gives you a very broad palette to change your world.
With Champions, you have 28 years of character development and world development. I think a big plus that we had here at Cryptic, is that the team liked the world so much they bought the entire IP – they own the world. They worked very closely with the pen-and-paper developers – there was a lot of back and forth with the PNP side, making changes to the universe and characters. So we had a lot of the same freedom you have with an originally created IP, but the benefit of being able to do it with this map and framework in place. We had the best of both worlds.
WC: How much input did the developers of Champions tabletop have on the game?
Roper: Well, when we had some open spots, we could ask, “Hey, you have all these characters – are there any characters in the universe that would be good for this? They didn’t work on the MMO, we didn’t work on the PNP game – though we shared assets for the book – but they were our biggest base of knowledge for what exists in the Champions universe. We had a big library with all of the books, but it was really easy to call them up and talk with them, and sometimes they’d pull out really cool obscure stuff that would have been extremely hard to find on your own.
I think that really, the biggest benefit back and forth was this exchange of concepts and ideas in terms of what they – and we – wanted to do moving forward.
WC: How has the launch gone so far?
Roper: No matter the MMO, you’ve got difficulties. MMOs are gigantic beasts with hundreds of moving parts. Technical glitches, balance patches; things that fade into memory as time goes by, even with the biggest and best MMOs. The biggest thing I’m happiest with is that we’re incredibly responsive to the community. We talk to them, we let them know what’s going on, and we move to address stuff. We had an outage for eight hours since there was a glitch that happened with a moved file that caused all of our servers to not spin up correctly. It took us a long time to track down, but we made sure that we gave all of our players a free day of play, and made a special in-game item for them.
We want players to see that we’ve been working hard, but we’ve also got lots of stuff in the pipeline. Communication with our community is a key. When there are launch troubles, you have to be assuring the playerbase, “Yep, we’re working through this stuff.”
WC: Can you give us an estimate on how many people you’ve got in the game?
Roper: I don’t think I can give out exact playerbase numbers yet, but the game is doing really well! We have a lot of people on every night, and an awesome and active community. We keep seeing our sub numbers continue to rise. But I think PR is waiting to give out the exact numbers, so…
Read the full interview : http://www.warcry.com/articles/view/interviews/6574-Bill-Roper-Talks-Champions-Launch