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DC Universe Online interview - SciFiNow - The World's Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Magazine

DC Universe Online interview

We chat to Sony Online Entertainment’s Ryan Peters and Toby Jones about the MMO.

How have you found reception of DC Universe Online so far?

RP: Thus far, we’ve already opened up six more servers, faster than expected. The reception has been tremendous, you know? We always anticipated a good crowd but we didn’t anticipate the need to rollout that much server space this quickly, but it’s certainly something we’re happy to do because it means people are getting in the game and playing it.

Do you think the licence plays a really important part in bringing new people to the fold with the MMO?

RP: Yeah – the DC licence is something that has global recognition. They know Batman and Superman, even if they don’t know shit about World Of Warcraft, so that’s definitely the strong suit. It’s also a different type of gameplay experience, you know? An MMO experience typically has turn-based combat and we’ve got a game here that plays exactly like a console game; it just so happens there are thousands of other people sharing the world, too.

How did you go about adapting the DCU for the MMO genre?

RP: Well, I think our goal when we started this process…DC was curious about bringing their 75 years of content into a fully realised massively multiplayer world and Jim Lee had some background experience with the SOE people – he was one of the original Everquest players and knew a lot of the team over there. That really started the conversation about what it would take to bring a fantastic property like this to a fully realised 3D universe, for lack of a better term.

Why do you believe it’s different to other MMOs?

RP: It’s different in so many ways. The most important difference is less about the levelling and the repetition, the grind that you encounter in a traditional MMO. We want you to feel super as soon as you jump into this game. Your movement mode – your flying, your acrobatics…we want you to earn abilities quickly. Once you’re in Gotham or Metropolis depending on your hero or villain, we want you to have that moment of ‘wow, I’m cool. I’m having that moment of hero fantasy from day one.’ You don’t have to wait until level 30 to feel that.

What did Geoff Johns and Jim Lee bring to the game?

RP: Oh, gosh – when it comes to the look, when you jump into the world you’re going to see Jim Lee’s art style. He does a very distinct interpretation of the DC Universe and he’s obviously one of my personal favourites. He’s a gamer at heart too, so he could give both creative and gamer feedback – Geoff Johns gave us our backstory. He’s a tremendous asset as well, bringing 75 years of backstory together at once in a way that makes sense is a daunting challenge, and I think he came up with a really compelling backstory for the game.

What kind of DC resources did you have access too?

TJ: We have an entire library that is dedicated to ensuring we have all the source material necessary. We also have a required reading list for every designer and developer that starts to work on DCU Online. There are certain story arcs, certain graphic novels you have to go through so you can have a key knowledge of these things. We have a curator who actually checks books out – you send an email to them and they bring you a comic. You’ve seen Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons, right?

RP: It’s pretty much the game developer equivalent. Don’t tell them I said that, by the way…

TJ: For me it’s really excited because I’m a huge comic book fan. I knew a lot about the source material, but it’s been surprising to me how much information has been available and how much we’ve managed to put in the game.

That required reading list must be the greatest workplace obligation ever…

TJ: It was tough. It was difficult to do, but somehow I powered through it and went much, much far beyond.