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AGDC: The DC Universe Online team spills some beans

Kevin Kelly

The Art of the DC Universe Online panel was overshadowed by the presence of artist Jim Lee, who fielded most of the questions about the design elements that are going into this game (as it's based on his visual style). We managed to learn some new elements about the game, including the special "inspired by" mode they've added to character creation.

The panel consisted of art director Jared Carr, Jim Lee, lead character artist Jason Smith, and creative director Jens Anderson. Check out all the zap!, pow!, and bam! highlights after the break.

  • One of the challenges was creating the female characters for the games. According to Lee, "We tend to draw women with very long legs, and when that gets translated to 3D it doesn't work very well." He didn't say anything about the enormous boobs that most of them are drawn with.
  • They've had to nail down a lot of design elements that are variable in the comics, like the length of Batman's cape.
  • When you create your character in the game you can choose "Inspired By," which gives you a set of tools to allow you to create a character like Batman or Superman. Alternatively, you can just create your character entirely from scratch.
  • The player characters in the game will match the size of the iconic DC characters.
  • You're able to choose a Power, a Power Source (a ring, a pistol, your eyes, etc), and an Origin, as well as design your own costume.
  • There are different versions of some of the character's costumes, and in some cases the game artists have improved on the comic book designs.
  • Jim Lee visits the Sony Online Entertainment Austin offices every three to four months, and the development team also visits the Wildstorm offices in La Jolla, California. They also have weekly calls and video conferences.
  • In some cases the team is using locations and events that won't appear in the DC comic books for one or two years.
  • Jim Lee has gotten pretty good at making videos of himself in various character poses, but he's scared it'll leak out all over YouTube. He's thinking about doing them while wearing a Mexican wrestling mask for anonymity, so keep your eyes peeled.
  • Metropolis and the Daily Planet are definitely in the game, but they haven't revealed other locations yet. "We're trying to make it as wide open as we can."
  • They hinted that the sewers of Gotham City and the Batcave will definitely be locations or instances in the game.
  • The initial contract is just for the iconic DC characters to appear in the game, but you might eventually see Wildstorm characters as well.
  • "We have to run on the PS3 as well as the PC, and the PS3 side has their own budget, so we have to be careful when planning environments." Does that mean they'll have to scale the PC side back to match the PS3? Inquiring minds want to know. We have an email in to Sony to clarify this.
  • NOTE: Here's the official response from Sony - "No. I was just saying that we will take our vision of the environment to the highest possible quality bar while taking into consideration the scope of our environments. This is naturally going to be driven by the system specs on the PS3. "Scaling back" implies we've gone too far, which as far as I can tell is not the case. I was only making a comment on the fact that building for consoles has a much more specific hardware spec, unlike PCs that have high and low end configurations."
  • Jim Lee has a not-so-secret obsession with Zatanna.

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