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The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Roper Moves On... To Where?

Posted by BillMurphy Wednesday March 17 2010 at 4:29PM
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It’s very fashionable to hate Bill Roper these days. After the underwhelming performance of Hellgate: London and Champions Online, folks are pegging him as some development villain out to rape their wallets and soil the good name of gaming. I wonder though if someone else who wasn’t so highly admired by fans of the Diablo series (which Roper helped refine) would be receiving the same backlash that Roper has endured over the past couple years.

Maybe my standards are simply lower than most, but I greatly enjoyed both Hellgate and Champions. I still play the latter now and again, and I’m anxious to see how Hellgate is resurrected under new direction later this year. I agree with the general consensus that Champions was certainly light on content at launch, and I still wish that there was more than one path to take when leveling, but the gameplay itself is entertaining. The same can be said of Hellgate. Whatever flaws the game had, I found the combination of FPS and Action RPG really compelling. Gearbox later took the concept and perfected it with Borderlands, but Hellgate is still the first game to try it.

Is the immense hype and subsequent letdown behind both titles due to Roper? I don’t think so. Hype is a willfully engaged-in practice by consumers. Sure enough advertisers help push it along, but we’re the ones that fall for it time and again. I’m dying to see Kick-Ass next month, largely in part due to the previews and online marketing campaigns… if the movie sucks, I’ll definitely be upset (especially since Mark Millar actually helped write this adaptation). Also, if you don’t what I’m talking about go forth and Google.

So now months after release, Bill Roper is leaving his role as executive producer on Champions Online in the capable hands of Shannon Posniewski who has been with the company since Cryptic’s CoH days. Champions itself seems to be headed in the right direction both as a game and as a service with a focus on communication and smaller content releases for the title. I’m sure I’m not the only person who wonders just how much Revelation will bring to the game when it launches at the end of the month. And with Champions on a fairly steady path towards improvement, Mr. Roper is moving on to “other design responsibilities” within Cryptic.

But what exactly does that mean?

The state of the game in which he announces his departure doesn’t specifically say where he’s headed and I think he would have said so if his intent was to join the development of Star Trek Online. This is likely a sign of things to come from Cryptic. We’ve known for a while now that they have multiple titles in development outside of their two recently released games, we just don’t have any concrete info on what said titles are. One unsubstantiated rumor is that the next project from the studio could be a Neverwinter Nights MMO.

If such a game is actually in development, will it be similar to Champions Online and Star Trek Online in format and design? A charge folks are laying against Cryptic is that all three of their titles thus far have basically been the same product with minor veneer changes. I wouldn’t go that far, but the similarities are certainly there and I’m not sure the same features would be well-suited to a Neverwinter Nights MMO. I think such a game would wind up being a little too much like Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online, and we all know that DDO needed to move towards a Free-to-Play model to find success.

A better indicator of what Bill’s now working on might be the images found on the studio’s In Development Page. The images there seem more along the lines of supernatural, post-apocalyptic, and steampunk-themed titles. But hey, it’s convention season in the gaming world again. Maybe we won’t have to wait too long to find out what’s coming next from Cryptic. Who knows… maybe there will be nothing MMO about the new project. And despite the bad rap he’s been seeing of late, I’m still curious to see anything Roper puts his hands on. After all, I still have him to blame for many lost hours making boss runs in Diablo II. That allows me to cut him a little slack.

EricDanie writes:

I deeply hope they understand what they are doing wrong - we're talking about both gameplay depth and diversity, when they release their next title.

Wed Mar 17 2010 8:53PM Report
mirkrim writes:

 "A charge folks are laying against Cryptic is that all three of their titles thus far have basically been the same product with minor veneer changes. I wouldn’t go that far, but the similarities are certainly there and I’m not sure the same features would be well-suited to a Neverwinter Nights MMO."

Those "same features" aren't well-suited to a Star Trek MMO, either, but apparently that didn't matter.  I would not be surprised at all if Cryptic's next MMO went in exactly the same direction.

Wed Mar 17 2010 10:32PM Report
ericbelser writes:

I can put on my wizards hat and predict exactly what is next for Cryptic...another content-lite, cheap knock off of Champions in a slightly different setting...probably another Vampire/Steam Punk offering that they will grind out in a year and release well before it is ready. It too will make them money, because the consumer is lapping up anything served it seems these days.

Wed Mar 17 2010 10:46PM Report
Dinendae writes:

While it may not have been a NWN based MMO, Cryptic and Atari were working on an AD&D inspired MMO from statements made in their financial reports. However with the Hasbro lawsuit, I am guessing that is on hold for now.

Wed Mar 17 2010 11:52PM Report
pencilrick writes:

The problem with Hellgate:  London was the extended opening scene.  It just went on and on and on.  Didn't help that it felt contrived, like a bad Hollywood movie.

Cutscenes and intro's, IMO, need to go back to the "short, sweet, and effective" days of Diablo I.  The first Diablo game did it right.  Brevity sometimes is a plus.

Thu Mar 18 2010 3:02AM Report
Khalathwyr writes:

Here's to hoping the Hasbro lawsuit goes for Hasbro. After reading about Champions and having played Star Trek I can most assuredly say that I do not want Cryptic's vision to touch my beloved D&D IP. If someone is ready to sit down and make a non-instanced world akin to how Turbine did originally with Asheron's Call then that's who I want to see tackle an MMO with the D&D IP.

I enjoyed Diablo I&II. That said I don't think Roper is the right guy or Cryptic is the right company to tackle a D&D inspired MMO based on their most recent offerings.

Thu Mar 18 2010 4:14AM Report
Talin writes:

I vote for Roper to be president..........................of cell block 17.

He should be in jail for the practically criminal misrepresentation he has done for the last two games he was involved in (HG:L and CO). He is a spin doctor, and a very accomplished one, but he lies through his teeth and has lost all credibility with many gamers.

Thu Mar 18 2010 6:39AM Report
Inktomi writes:

 So funny. I never trusted this dude. I am going to watch CO now with someone new at the helm. If I see some good changes coming to it, I am going give it a roll.

Thu Mar 18 2010 9:55AM Report
storm-dragon writes:

Well I am just glad Roper isn't able to put his "magic touch" on any upcoming Buzzard games. I do think that CO is getting better despite him rather than because of him...If Cryptic would have been able to use the Marvel-verse instead of the Champions setting I think it would have turned out to be a very different product. As for upcoming games have heard everything from NWN Online to CoC online to Deadlands Online...time will tell, but I really don't see Cryptic winning over much venture capital with their recent track record.

Thu Mar 18 2010 11:50AM Report
storm-dragon writes:

Buzzard games?? Meant Blizzard lol

Thu Mar 18 2010 11:50AM Report
Talin writes:

I vote for Roper to be president..........................of cell block 17.

He should be in jail for the practically criminal misrepresentation he has done for the last two games he was involved in (HG:L and CO). He is a spin doctor, and a very accomplished one, but he lies through his teeth and has lost all credibility with many gamers.

Fri Mar 19 2010 6:10AM Report
wrecklass writes:

His name came up in STO forums recently and the general opinion was that it was hoped he wouldn't land there. While I don't despise the guy as some seem to, I do think he needs a PR trainer. Stating in interviews that they were adding "15-20 hours of new content" to CO with the recent updates was just wrong. How does one get 15-20 hours of content to be a good thing for a game that people are supposed to pay to play for months?

Roper does not understand the MMO concept. He makes entertaining games, but he needs to go back to co-op four player games and forget the MMO scene.

Tue Mar 30 2010 12:09AM Report

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