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Interviews: Chris Cao Interview

By William Murphy on September 03, 2010

Chris Cao Interview

One of the highlights of recent shows has been the “Iconic Play” in PvP matches. Could you go into a little more detail concerning how this will work? How will you determine who gets access to what Iconic characters, how will players initiate matches, and so forth?

Chris Cao:

The Legends System in DCUO offers players a chance to play as an iconic character on demand. Fictionally, players take on the guise of an iconic DC character via a simulator. They gain the essential combat abilities, super powers, and movement styles of the iconics. In a variety of simulated famous locations (e.g. The Batcave), players go head-to-head in PvP matches to earn fame or infamy for themselves. Players start off being able to play a couple introductory characters. Over time, they can spend the fame or infamy they earn on unlocking more Legends characters, or they can save their points to buy iconic PvP battlesuits or other PvP gear. But remember, at launch only players who pre-order will be able to play as Batman.


One thing the community has been teetering back and forth on is Crafting and whether or not it’s going to make the release candidate. Can you clear the air on that one for us and go into some details on the decision?

Chris Cao:

I like crafting. As Lead Designer of EQII, I worked to put in a dedicated crafting progression and product path. It made sense for the game and it built on the tradition Everquest had established.

As the Game Director of DCUO, I chose to pursue the ‘DC’ (Detective Comics) part of the universe with investigations and collections. They made sense for the game and the tradition of the DC Universe. But they are not ‘crafting.’ You can’t kill a deer in DCUO and make a hat out of it.

But you can scour the alleys of Gotham to find clues left behind by The Riddler. You can leap from roof-top to roof-top as you search for scattered sections of Brainiac’s technology. And you can listen to news reports by Lois Land and Vicki Vale that tell tale of nefarious goings-on.

In DCUO, you’re making your own superhero or super villain. You’re crafting your own legend.

The cities of Metropolis and Gotham seem to be the big main areas of the game. Can you talk a little bit about the size and scope of each? Are they broken down into sections, a la City of Heroes, or are they more seamless entities with different décor and themes tied into different locations?

Chris Cao:

In the comics, Gotham and Metropolis are more than just backdrops. They are characters in and of themselves. The same is true in DCUO. Each city is gargantuan in size (nearly a thousand square blocks) and filled to the brim with the characters and stories of the DC Comics. You literally never know who you’ll run across or what kind of incidental adventure will pop up in your path. Players navigate the cities seamlessly, moving all the way from East End in Gotham (where the Waynes met an untimely end) to the far west and the island on which Arkham Asylum perches. Along the way, there are dozens and dozens of points of interest for players to explore. In DCUO, Gotham and Metropolis have been realized as immense, deep, and living cities that players will be able to fight for, and over, throughout the coming years.

What about something… less urban? Are there plans for other areas from the DC Universe. A great deal of the canon takes place outside of Earth for instance.

Chris Cao:

A universe is a big thing to make, and you can’t do it justice by trying to build it all at once. So we’re starting with the core of the DC Universe: Earth. As many players new to the DC canon will learn, our fair planet is important for many different reasons to the universe at large. As you play through your hero’s or villain’s journey, you’ll learn these reasons as well as travel to some of the far flung corners of the planet (and its nearest neighbor). While the main areas of the game are based in cities, a large portion of it happens in other locations…and even other planes of existence.

There seems to be more of a reliance on items and gear in DCUO than other games in the Super genre. Will gear play a large part in how well your character does in PvE and PvP, or is the emphasis more on cosmetics as opposed to stats?

Chris Cao:

It’s true. Some comic characters don’t use devices. Some don’t change their look. But players like new stuff! And DCUO is set up to give it to them. From new looks, to new gear, to new adventures, this game was built to expand and grow. We leave the choices in you hands. If you want to keep your classic look, do so. But you don’t have to. Our style system let’s you split form and function so you can keep a look while shifting stats. You get the best of both worlds.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.