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plenty of questions but not too many answers - yet
All answers from Thomas “Blixtev” Blair, Lead Systems Designer, DCUO
This Ask SOE features a number of questions which were selected from among a couple dozen that were submitted by the forum members at DCUO Source. If you would like to contribute questions for future editions of Ask SOE, feel free to register for the website and start posting!
Q: Does the game physics apply to the character's weight? For example, if my character weighs 100 pounds and has "Level 10 Leaping Ability" (or whatever the power would be called) does he jump farther than a 500 pound character with exactly the same leaping power? If both are hit by a car, do each of the characters get thrown the same distance?
A: Whoa! Lots of questions wrapped up in that one. To start with for gameplay reasons all characters size/mass is assumed to be the same, simply because we would like to avoid players having to choose being a small/light character simply because it was more advantageous than being a large character when it comes to jumping or being thrown. We want the player to fulfill their superhero fantasy and not be penalized because their character is large or small physically.
Q: What are some examples of defensive abilities and how do they work?
A: Some of our defensive abilities are reactive and automatic, and others are active abilities linked to your current role. We are really trying to push our model beyond the traditional damage soaker for our defensive role, and are testing several methods to let players feel like a brawling superhero.
Q: Can we get a listing of the powers or power themes/sets, including travel powers, that are currently definitely going to be in the game?
A: Since the game remains a work-in-progress we can’t give you a definite list. We’re playing around with all sorts of ideas. I think it’s safe to say that right now we have flying, super speed and acrobatics available as movement types. As far as powers, we are trying out all sorts of ideas, from atomic powers to electrical to ice and earth.
Q: Will certain character appearances help/hinder gameplay? Will being small really make you harder to hit? If a character has wings or even a cape, are those potential targets? And if being small does make you harder to hit, is there any reason not to make all my characters dwarves or is there instead a benefit I can gain from a character who is very large?
A: This is a challenge every team who has ever dealt with small and large characters has had to deal with, albeit from a targeting perspective. It is much easier to target a large character than a small one. In physics-based game, dodging an attack by moving out of the way is very important and we are investigating ways to make it as small an issue for the players character choice as possible. We too do not want to see a game full of dwarves when we have so many fantastic different character models for you to play with.
Q: You've touched a bit on the "knockout mechanic" and timed encounters, but one issue which is always something of a big time sink in MMOs is the respawn mechanic after death. If your character is truly "knocked out" as opposed to cloned, brought back to life, etc., will there be any reason to have spawn points after a knockout?
A: We think the most valuable thing people have is online time together in the game, going on all sorts of crimes and capers and have a blast doing it. Nobody enjoys corpse runs and we definitely want to make it as easy as possible to jump right back into the action once you get knocked out. That’s why you have the option of starting right back in the middle of the fray, or you can decide to rejoin in a safe spot that is out of the line of fire.
Q: Chris Cao blogged about PvP recently, and he explained the types of PvP that we can expect to see in DCUO. This question is about the tangible rewards and affect on the game world that participating in PvP will have. For example, why would a player choose to participate in a battleground as opposed to doing open world PvP?
A: I think it’s too early to talk about the advantages or disadvantages of doing world PvP or not. We’re still focused on building the game and making sure it’s fun regardless of how you play it.
Q: Secret identities have been a hot topic at the DCUO Source forums, and while we understand that SOE has a policy of not talking about a feature until it is in-game and playable, the community is dying for any information on secret identities. Is there anything new in the way of information that you can give us?
A: Sorry, we can’t talk about it yet. I promise we have some really cool stuff in the works. I’ll have to refer you to the policy you mentioned in your question ?
Q: Blizzard recently released their second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. Blizzard initially released World of Warcraft roughly a week after EverQuest 2, yet EQ2 has had twice the number of expansions that WoW has had. Will we continue to see rapid development and support for expansion content for DCUO?
A: We’re still in pre-production and I’m not sure what the plan is for expansions. Once we get Metropolis and Gotham City in order, then we will start talking about other areas of the DCU. We’re dealing with a massive place that includes parallel earths, etc., so the possibilities are really endless.