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Interviews: Chris Cao Talks Updates

By William Murphy on March 09, 2011

Chris Cao Talks Updates

It’s an ambitious goal to try and put some new content out every calendar month. You guys have to have some seriously beefy content-building tools down in Austin. Can you shed some light, and be as long-winded as possible here, just how these updates get conceived and created from A to Z? What’s the big-picture process like?

Chris Cao:

It all begins with playing. We’ve been playing the game alongside all of you since launch and we’ve been taking notes on what needs to be improved most. We check that player-first perspective by watching the boards and working with community to make sure we haven’t missed any major topics. Finally, we look at where the majority of our player base is (level and play-style) and make sure to target new content towards the greatest number of people. It’s an ever-evolving process that allows us to remain flexible on a daily and weekly basis with our goals. All along the way, we work with DC and WBIE to make sure that what we’re creating resonates with the brand and keeps that core DC experience coming.


As far as February’s content goes, I’m totally digging the new additions. The PvE stuff is definitely some of the best the game has to offer now. Bane’s duo is top notch, and the Catwoman mission is a blast. But it seems that the real growing pains for DCUO reside in the PvP exploits on the PC side of things only. I know you’re a huge PvP fan, so can you shed some light on whether there are any plans to ban exploiters after warnings?

Chris Cao:

Our customer service and community teams are constantly working to improve the service-side of the player experience. That can range from simple login issues all the way up to reporting exploits and dealing with those who choose to cheat. On the development side, we’ve been implementing multiple systems to deal with the exploits both mechanically and with logging to address issues through our standard customer service protocols.

I’m not a designer. I don’t do code. I don’t claim to know about these things, so that’s why I ask the questions: Couldn’t you just disable macros in the game and avoid all the problems you’ve been having with glitching weapons and powers?

Chris Cao:

DCUO’s combat system is unique in the industry. It is the first time an action game has been translated to the MMO space with all of the complexity that entails. We intentionally don’t discuss how we approach specific solutions, but suffice it to say that we have been actively solving exploit issues with hotfixes and updates. It isn’t perfect yet, but, from our perspective, DCUO’s combat system is worth fighting for, and we’ve made huge strides on our side of the struggle.

Balance is an ongoing problem in PvP. The consensus in my League is that for PvE, everything’s working as intended, but in PvP (and Legends especially), players are reporting that Bane’s been toned down but now it’s Catwoman and Robin running the show. What is the Great and Powerful Oz (that’s you!) seeing back there behind the curtain?

Chris Cao:

As a big PvPer myself, my opinion is that player skill and player opinion both have a lot to do with success in PvP. Skill will enable players to win with a broader set of tactics, but opinion will sometimes drive people to group think. If people think one tactic is best, use that tactic exclusively, and avoid looking at other options, the ‘best’ soon becomes a forum favorite when it may in fact not be ‘the best.’ Now, in the case of something like Bane, there obviously was a ‘best’ for a period of time. And we’ll work hard to balance the exceptions out to keep as many options open as possible. But I’d be careful about declaring for any given character, especially as we add more Legends. Think for yourself first and see if you can’t find the ‘best’ for your skill level and play style.

I’m absolutely loving the light-hearted nature of the Valentine quests, and the Alert. Please tell me they’re not going anyway until the next update. It’d be a shame if they disappeared before we really got to dig into them.

Chris Cao:

Not all holidays are equal nor do all share the same tone. Look for continued variety in both gameplay and scope each update as we seek to fulfill the fun offered by any given season. We don’t believe there’s a hard and fast formula for these things. Instead, we look at the comics, take our inspiration, and build the best experience we can to make the most of that time of year.

One thing about the Catwoman content is that a lot of players expected it to be more of a “full episode”. Akin to the others in the game, with a few starter quests all leading into the final instance. Now, I’m not really complaining. There’s a ton of content that was put into this first update. But Catwoman kind of got the shaft in terms of the spotlight this month, at least in terms of missions. Will future months be going a little bit deeper into their spotlight characters?

Chris Cao:

Catwoman’s episode was actually designed around the character herself and what worked well episode-wise. Catwoman is a special character in that she’s not ‘factional’ and doesn’t work with a large group. That makes it difficult to build fun, big shared-world feeder quests. Instead, her character works best with instanced, up-close content. So that’s what we built. This was about the best content we could build to portray her, not about sticking to a formula.

Let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about March. You had to have known I was going to go there. Can you give us some details on what kind of Green Soder Cola we’ll be drinking in honor of St. Pat’s Day? What will March bring for players? More Booster Gold please!

Chris Cao:

Well, since this is Detective Comics, let me throw a few clues out there. First, luck is always a factor for March and its holiday, and so there’s more than a chance that a few lucky coins will be flipped. Expect a visit from one of Superman’s quirky acquaintances to make the holiday dance. And watch for a previously rare bird to make his first appearance in game.

Will there be more UI improvements as well? I for one would love to be able to keep track of races (both finished and unfinished) on my map and mini-map.

Chris Cao:

We’re constantly improving the UI, but a big set of improvements for the Social UI is coming in March. We’ve actually moved major portions of it into the quick menu so that all of the basic social controls will be much more accessible. In addition, we’ve refined load times, basic controls, and messaging throughout the UI. On Duty will also see several improvements beyond just UI to help with player control of queues, instance groups, and the critical operations that keep group play fun.

Thanks so much, Chris for taking the time sit down with us and address some of the players’ concerns. Communication really does go a long way. I for one can’t wait to see what March has in store for us… especially if you really are hinting at Mr. Mxyzptlk and I’m not going crazy.

Chris Cao:

Thanks to you and the DCUO players at large for making playing DCUO so much fun in live. We’re going to keep adding more with each update. There’s so much more of the DC Universe waiting to be explored!

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.