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Massively interviews Shannon Posniewski about Champions Online's F2P changes

Patrick Mackey

Champions Online has made quite the big change with the recent decision to go free-to-play. We got together with Shannon Posniewski, Executive Producer for CO, and asked quite a few questions about how the F2P changes will impact new, current, and returning players.

In addition to these questions, the CO devs have compiled a huge FAQ covering many of the common queries regarding F2P, as well as a primer on how archetypes will work. We tried to avoid asking many of the questions that have already been answered somewhere else, so be sure to check those out as well.

Massively: What can we expect to see as far as new devices and features in the C-Store?

Shannon Posniewski: Most of the devices are consumables. For example, some you may be able to buy in a consumable form or a non-consumable form. You can get these as a toggle power, where it has a total number; let's say it has an hour of full time. So once you use it for an hour of in-game time, it destroys itself. There are other versions where you can turn it on or off for as long as you want and keep it forever. Some are consumable-only, like a health potion, and some you can buy as a consumable form or as a permanent form.

Are there any plans to add travel power devices similar to the crafted ones currently available?

Probably not for launch, but we'll be looking at what people buy in the store and what they're asking for. Honestly it's one of those things where we don't have the time to do it before we hit launch. In-house, we have a list of hundreds of items to build. We've chosen a handful, 25 or so, that sort of span what people will like, as well as the ways to implement them. We won't be taking the existing ones and selling them; we'll have riots on our hands. and it's not fair to people who worked so hard for them. There will be variants, though -- different travel powers that we'll eventually offer in the store.

Are there any plans to release costume pieces that can't currently be purchased in the C-Store, such as the Vibora Bay costume drops or the crafting costume unlocks?

I would say that if we haven't said that something is absolutely exclusive, like we'll never make this again, then it may show up in the store.

Are there any plans to increase bag or bank slots beyond the current maximums available currently to subscribers?

At least for launch of free-to-play, you won't be able to buy more bag slots than four; it's just a UI limitation. I see in the future that there's no reason why we wouldn't add more bag slots in. On the bank slots, we're actually looking at that right now. I suspect we'll be letting people buy way beyond the amount that they can get today.

What can we expect for archetypes? How cross-framework are they going to be?

For the archetypes that we're launching with, we're making sure we cover all of the bases. We're sticking with the classic MMORPG tropes such as ranged DPS, melee DPS, tank and so on. The first eight or so archetypes that we put out are going to be a little more specific for a role that you'd find in an MMORPG. They're not going to cross frameworks a whole lot. Later on, you'll be seeing more cross-framework guys, such as a guy that's dual wielding blades and pistols.

There are powers like Invulnerability, Bionic Shielding, and Resurgence, that are more suited for different kinds of builds. I was more referring to those powers -- will we see those propagated to archetypes?

Yes, like Invul, and some of the other ones, we are picking and choosing and moving those around. In some cases, we'll be making another version of them and putting them in a framework where it will make more sense to pick them. We might be changing them around to make them more appropriate for that framework and then using that one in the archetype. Anything we do like that will also be available to a free-form character.

Will characters such as martial artists (who have both an offensive and defensive passive) have access to multiple passive options and builds as an archetype?

The current plan for archetypes is that we'll be choosing the passives for them. Every build will have a passive; it's silly to build without them. We'll be specifying when and what passive they get. We're also going to do that with a block power too. We're not going to have multiple passives or role switching for archetypes. You are built for your role for one particular spot, and you do your one thing well. Just like in the comics, there's not a whole lot of completely general comic book heroes.

Now as planned for launch, we're not going to have role switching for archetypes. Now later on down the line, we might have an Archetype where his "cool thing" is that he can do a role switch between two particular roles. As we develop more archetypes that get a little more nichey, we might explore that. But at first, not at all.

CO has a very large roleplaying community. Are there any plans to protect the RP community from the potential of griefers, especially when being banned will result in griefers just logging on/getting a second account?

Unfortunately, the only real way to prevent that is GM intervention. We don't have any plans to restrict access to Club Caprice to Gold members only, although we do have the VIP lounge for lifetime and veteran Gold members. All of the chat restrictions and such are still subject to change. We may find that time isn't the best indicator, and maybe we need to do time and a level restriction, or maybe you bothered to spend money in the C-Store and we can instantly drop your restrictions. The restrictions we have right now are based on what other games have done, and if we find that we need further restrictions, then we'll do so.

The previous plan for CO has been to do system updates and add adventure packs. Now that adventure packs are C-Store content for Silver members, will there be a focus towards pushing more for content such as new zones that both Gold and Silver members can enjoy for free?

We're doing some updates -- obviously the Westside and Desert updates that will be available for free-to-play -- and there's some other things we have planned in the existing zones. I mentioned Lemuria before; we're planning on revisiting Lemuria. Will there be new full zones? That really depends on how successful F2P is. New zones are really expensive to develop. We've got plans in the works for at least three different new zones.

Everyone always talks about us promising a moon zone. I've gone on record as saying they've got Canada, which is a white desert, and the Desert, which is the orange desert. And they want the moon? Which would be a... grey desert? But... we actually do have plans for a moon zone that actually isn't just a grey desert. But in any case, we've had plans for some time, but we really need more subscribers to push that.

What kinds of advertising plans does Cryptic have for the F2P launch?

It's still being worked on by our marketing team, but we do intend to have advertising for the F2P launch. We're hoping to actually do sort of a re-launch of Champions with this. The hope is to really get the word out that, hey, we're free-to-play, it's a really great action game, and it won't cost you a dime. Banner ads, probably magazine inserts, but I don't know right now, the plans are still being laid out.

What's going to happen with the Icon perk (which gives an extra character slot)? Is access to it going to change?

It will absolutely not change for Gold players. We're debating whether or not it will be available to Silver players.

How will previous subscribers' characters and slots work?

There's a little bit of trickiness regarding how many open slots you actually have. People who used to be subscribers of Champions will notice that they have a lot of characters they can't play, but they still have an extra slot open. Basically, we don't count the first six unplayable characters against your character count. So even if you had previous Gold characters, unless you had a full stable, you'll be able to make a Silver character and play right [away] without deleting any.

Now that Serpent Lantern and Demonflame are C-Store purchases, are there any plans to propagate or adjust the in-game rewards for them (which are currently the best in the game)?

We probably won't be propagating that to the rest of the game, although we might to the high-end lairs. We have a lot of things we want to do with rewards in general, although it's too early for us to talk about it. In terms of the Legendary stuff, though, that will probably stay inside the adventure packs. The Legendary loot is bind-on-equip, so it can be sold or traded. They can buy it with in-game money, so they don't need to spend real money.

Massively would like to thank Shannon Posniewski for taking the time to talk to us!

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