In the Q&A, Castle explains the thinking behind Pain Domination and the restrictions on the design, the player base's role in the creation of Shields, and his own take on which hero and villain powers are the coolest ones in the game right now. Check out the Q&A after the cut.
1. How did you come up with Pain Domination for villains this time around?
One of the long standing ideas with regards to our powers has been that villains aren't "empathetic" and as such, should not be given the Empathy powerset. Players, however, wanted Empathy, or at least certain aspects of the Empathy set. So, we sat down and kicked around a few ideas, none of which panned out, until someone came up with the concept of "Pain Domination." For whatever reason, the name grabbed our interest and gave us a theme to work around. We proceeded to design out the set based on the theme of "Controlling, giving and taking away pain." It would have been very easy to cross the ESRB Teen rating with such a thing, so we were very careful to ensure that nothing crossed the line, despite the thematic temptations.
2. What made you decide to put in shields? Do you think any certain type of player will enjoy these?
A while back, we ran a poll on the forums asking which powersets players were most looking forward to. Shields won the poll. However, due to technical limitations we weren't able to deliver Shields at the time, so we went with Willpower instead. We then used Issue 12's Cimeroran NPC group as a tech testbed for shields and ironed out most of the kinks, leaving us able to deliver Shields as a Player Powerset in Issue 13.
As for what types of players will enjoy the shields powerset, it will appeal to players who try to re-create Viking Warriors, or Medieval Knight type characters, as well as those who are looking to create new unique characters. Combining shields with our current powers and costume pieces just continues to expand our character options.
3. What archetypes will best enjoy each power?
Pain Domination is a perfect fit for both Corruptors and Masterminds, with the caveat that it may be *too good* for the latter. We're watching closely during the beta period to ensure that things remain in balance with other powersets available to those Archetypes. Shields, on the other hand, are a fantastic Tanker set. They work well for Brutes and Scrappers too, but Tankers, whose main role lies in helping to protect other members of their teams, will see the best benefit of powers like Grant Cover, which adds defense to teammates near the user.
4. Can you explain the basic process for getting new powers like these into the game?
Our basic process is we come up with an idea for how we want the powerset to progress, then spec out individual powers as far as what we want them to do. We send that to the animation department, and they make things look cool, while we fiddle with numbers establishing an initial balance point. Once we have the final visual FX, we do another balance pass, and then send it off for testing.
5. What do you think is the coolest villain power and the coolest hero power in the game right now?
I still think Ghost Widow's Soul Storm power is the coolest power on the villain side. Players who select her as a patron get a version of that power, as well. I just love the visuals of it. On the hero side, I've always been a fan of the Battle Axe set.
6. What do you have to do to get the pain domination & shield powers? How do you think players will use them?
Both Shields and Pain Domination are available to new characters. You don't need to do anything special to unlock the powersets.
Pain Domination will be a hit with folks who were looking for specific types of buffs combined with extreme healing capabilities. It will be very difficult to be defeated with someone using Pain Domination on the team. Between healing, increasing your damage capability, increasing your foes' vulnerability to damage and helping to ward off incoming damage in the first place, it's an extremely powerful set.
Shields is a great mix of offense, defense and team buffing all rolled into one powerset. It's a jack of all trades set, and pretty good at all aspects it tries to cover.