Invited to the Cryptic Studios Press Day, the first thing one notices when walking into the offices is....big. The studio is huge and is housed in what was originally a Netflix complex. Climbing stairs and wandering through vast spaces, one quickly realizes that Cryptic developers do everything BIG and it shows.
Cryptic's CEO John Needham set the mood for the day with a short talk which, in typical Cryptic fashion, wasn't just a small thing. Even in his five minutes with us, Needham dropped a few unexpected nuggets of information:
" Cryptic is now partnered with publisher 2K Games
" Champions is the first natively developed game for both PC and Xbox 360
" Developer tools will be released for fans to create content to be hosted on Cryptic servers
" Champions Online is ~one year away
The big 'Cryptic dream' was fleshed out by Jack Emmert who took us on a nostalgic look back at the pen and paper Champions. First hitting the scene in 1981, Emmert played and loved the campaign so much that the property was purchased. That's right: Cryptic Studios owns Champions lock, stock and barrel. Because of this, the online world and the print product are moving along together. The print editions will mirror the game content and expand it in the future.
Emmert shared his belief that the world of the PnP game and the world of the computer game can share existing space and move along together. The dream, in Emmert's opinion, can easily become a reality.
Taking a breather from the discussion, Emmert took us on a "walking tour" of Monster Island. Monster Island, like most things Cryptic, is a huge place with gargantuan denizens. Monsters are stored here and our first look was at creatures such as a fire gorilla and a mechanized dinosaur.
Other things noticed during the Monster Island tour:
" The world plays like a comic book, a goal that Champions developers constantly keep in mind. Players are treated to powerfully rendered characters and creatures with the rest of the world being less distinct.
" It is obvious that Champions is being developed for both PC and the XB360. While a game controller is a necessity on the Xbox, PC players will have the option to use their keyboard/mouse combo or a peripheral game controller if desired. Character movement is fluid and natural and a 360 view is offered along with other camera angles to suit the player.
" "Minimalist" UI
Obviously such a tour generated questions from the group that generated several interesting answers:
" Cryptic is hoping to develop a native voice chat program to facilitate communication between PC and console players
" The technology exists to allow PC and console players to coexist on the same servers.
" Players can complete ~90% the game alone though there are dungeons that can -only- be played in groups.
" Guilds will have focused tasks and things to do.
" PvP will yield experience, faction points, and equipment drops.
" PvP will be in at launch.
" Crafting and the economy will allow players to invent things
" Transportation will include planes, boats, rockets from hub areas to other places in the game.
" Achievement badges called perks will be included
" System specifications will be tailored along the "mid-range" to allow access to as many players as possible.
" Champions will not be ported to Macs.
" Emmert ended his portion of the discussion with this quote, worthy of inclusion: "Our goal is 'zero to hero in five minutes'."