Discover new secrets hiding beneath the cowl of the superpowered action title DC Universe Online, thanks to its developer Sony Online Austin.
What is DC Universe Online?
DC Universe Online is a massively multiplayer action game for PlayStation 3. We're working closely with talented comic book artists and writers like Jim Lee, Geoff Johns and Marv Wolfman to create a virtual representation of the DC Universe (DCU), where you can create your own legacy as a hero or villain.
What were the initial concerns in the planning stages of the game and how have you addressed them?
To pay off on the superhero fantasy, one of our major goals was to provide fast paced, visceral action combat with heavy use of physics. We spent a lot of time early in the development cycle solving many of the technical issues, and we are very happy with the results so far.
How early in the game's development was it decided that players wouldn't be able to control iconic characters such as Batman and Superman?
Very early. Our goal from day one was to allow players to feel like they've stepped into the DC Universe. In this virtual fantasy, all the famous iconic characters actually exist in this world, and the exciting part for the player is to build personal relationships with these characters and establish her/himself in the superhero or supervillain pantheon.
With characters as powerful as Superman and Doomsday, was it difficult getting a gameplay balance that would work without destroying the illusion of being within a living, breathing DC Universe?
Actually it's not as difficult as you might imagine. At the end of the day, the stories drive the interactions with the characters. For example, in [the Frank Miller story] The Dark Knight Returns, an aged Batman fights toe to toe with Superman and wins. It's the interesting stories and plot twists that actually add life to the DCU.
How did you decide on which iteration of certain characters to include, given the constantly changing face of DC Comics' ongoing series?
With about 75 years of story content to pull from, it was a bit of a challenge trying to figure out exactly what we wanted to include in the initial release of the game. In the end, we decided to build the ideal version of the DCU. We wanted a starting point that the mainstream audience could relate to... Clark Kent is Superman, Bruce Wayne is Batman, and so on. In the process, Jim's modernised some characters, and we've cherry-picked some awesome updates like the new Sinestro.
Will the game world reflect some of the big comic book stories that DC Comics has in store for the fans?
Going through this process, we've found that video game and comic book development timelines are on a vastly different scale. In the comic book world a lot can change in a single year, so we've been completely focused on our initial release plan. However, this is an online game with periodic updates and expansion plans, so the sky's the limit after that.
What is the development team most proud of in the game?
First, the visceral action combat is something that truly evolves the genre. DCUO plays like an action console game, so you feel connected to your character, and the heavy use of physics really delivers on the superpowered fantasy. Second, the environments are amazing. Up until now, you've only been able to catch glimpses of the world through TV, comic books and movies. Now, you virtually exist in the DCU and can fly over the streets of Metropolis or explore the alleys of Gotham. How cool is that?