City of Villains Interview

HomeLan Fed has conducted an interview with Cryptic's Dave "Zeb" Cook and Shane Hensley, asking the senior designer and senior writer a batch of questions about the upcoming City of Heroes expansion, City of Villains. One of the questions to follow:
Q: What do you think your background and experience gives you in designing the expansion?

A: RPG's and MMOG's are very alike and different at the same time. In some ways they share a lot of the same challenges of creating interesting worlds and fun player experiences in situations where you, the designer, don't have total control. In both types of games you spend a lot of time thinking about how players will use (or misuse!) what you've created and you also spend a lot of time working with a community. In my fifteen years of working on AD&D and other role-playing games, I've learned a lot about how to create interesting worlds, game mechanics and stories that involve players. You need to do the same thing in an MMOG.

At the same time, pen-and-paper games are different from computer games. What's easy in one can be hard in the other. You need to think about the fact that you are creating a massively shared experience, instead of a private game for a small group of friends. There are technical issues that impose limits and create new opportunities -- everything from animations to AI to bandwidth. For me, the last ten years of working in electronic games has been about relearning how to make games adding this whole new layer of knowledge to what I already had. So what's exciting now is that I get take the lessons I've learned from both fields, work with a really skilled team, and explore a growing field where there is still a lot of potential for new ideas.