Jens Andersen on the future of DC Universe Online and DC's New 52 comics
I've been reading a lot of DC comic books lately, and the thing about the DC Universe is that it's quite large. There are a ton of characters and settings that haven't made their way into DC Universe Online yet.
I tracked down DCUO's creative director Jens Andersen to find out what their plan is for the rest of the characters in the DC Universe, and if they're going to be adopting DC's New 52 lore anytime soon. Along the way, Andersen teases some of their focuses for the future.
PCG: When DC Comics’ plan for a complete re-boot was announced during last year's SOE player gathering, DCUO’s dev team assured players that they’d be staying in the “old” DC universe. DCUO recently added costumes themed after the New 52 styles—is this signaling a shift in the dev team’s plans regarding the New 52? Do you have any plans to add New 52 characters or plotlines into DCUO?
Jens Andersen: Great question. We did state that, and I think we’re holding true to it—in spirit. When we have opportunities to give fans something they want from the New 52, and it doesn’t create any significant conflicts with DCUO continuity, then we’re happy to add it.
So, you will see things that are clearly labeled “inspired by” the New 52 popping up once in a while. What we aren’t doing is getting rid of our entire back story including: Exobytes, Brainiac, or Future Lex Luthor and Batman. These elements would simply be too disruptive to everything we’ve built should we remove them, and in order to truly be New 52 we would have to redo everything. But, I love the old and the new, so I for one am happy to try and draw from both where it makes sense.
PCG: DC’s universe is quite broad, but DCUO focuses mostly on the traditional superhero/villain characters. How do you decide which characters to use in DCUO?
JA: That has always been a decision that is influenced by a case-by-case of variables. Mostly, we look at what we need to balance out our current play experience, what we have on hand or need to make, and what DC Entertainment might be focusing on in the comics at the time the content will be released.
It also depends on the type of content; we have seasonal events as well as major DLCs and each one demands a different kind of consideration when deciding what characters to choose. Time can have a lot to do with it to be honest—we’re not going to try and pull off a complicated character addition if we don’t have the time to do it right.
PCG: I’ve got a couple personal favorites that haven’t made it into DCUO yet that I’m curious about. Can you give a Yes/No/Maybe response for whether you think these characters/series will ever make it into DCUO?
JA: Mr. Terrific, maybe. I love the T-spheres, so when we get our pet system perfectly in order I think Mr. Terrific would make a great addition to PvE and PvP content.
Frankenstein and S.H.A.D.E., maybe. Of course everyone has their favorite characters. Frankie seems like one that is getting some major play in the New 52. Perhaps he’ll square off with Solomon Grundy one day in DCUO for an epic zombie showdown.
Jonah Hex, maybe. Sure, if we ever get around to a big Western DLC… why not?
Batwing, maybe. He might be a weird fit right now as he is fairly new and based out of another continent (not that we don’t transplant characters a lot). We’ll see how Batwing might fit in down the road.
Dial H for Hero, maybe. I wanted to get the dial in the game at some point, perhaps as a way to get Legends characters into normal PvE and PvP modes. I think it is a great hook. Although, that is less of a character, and more of a device, so it’s easier to put in and get into the players' hands. There is definitely some juice there.
Animal Man, maybe. I love the idea of totemic/spirit powers. Tapping into character concepts like Animal man, Vixen, etc. is very compelling. They could make for some great Legends action!
PCG: That's a lot of maybes, Jens. What other characters not in the game do you want to see added to DCUO?
JA: Wow! No one has ever asked me that before. Perhaps you should let me know how many words you can have in this article so I don’t ramble off the page. It's a hard question to answer because we have so many already in the game.
Well here goes (alphabetically): Amazo, Black Manta, Constantine, Darkseid, Elongated Man, Firestorm, Geo-Force, Highfather, Imperix, Jade, King Shark, Lobo, Man-Bat, Neron, Orion, Prometheus, Qwsp, Riot, Starro, Teekl, Uncle Sam, Vixen, Wally West, Xerxes, Yo-Yo, Zauriel… And yes, I ran out of steam at around X.
PCG: That is the trickiest letter in the alphabet. What characters currently in the game do you want to see play a bigger role?
JA: Well, to be honest, all of them. As a live game that grows over time, it's very important to be able to maximize the work you have already done. Thankfully, our license is serial in nature—Batman comics always feature Batman, usually in Gotham city, taking on new criminals and the schemes they plot. So we intend to have lots of our characters get time in the sun.
You will see much more from some of the other characters that aren’t mentors. In fact, DLC 5 will put players into contact with some Magic characters from DCUO they might be familiar with already; these characters will be re-appearing, but with new adventures for players to explore in the open world.
PCG: Are there any DC characters/books that have no place in DCUO?
Never say never. But, there are some books/characters that, at face value, may not seem to fit. The beauty of this brand, however, is that it can all be justified through proper narrative context. For example, The Endless may seem like a weird fit for DCUO. But I would never say that we couldn’t find a way to get Dream, Delirium and their brothers and sisters involved, if we had a great story to tell that could be supported with our gameplay. So, no, nothing is officially off the table.
PCG: Thanks for your time, Jens.
As always, you can download and play DC Universe Online for free from the game's official site. If you're not quite convinced yet, look at someofourpast coverage to find out more about the game. If you're attending Comic-Con in San Diego next week, you can play the game at Sony Electronic's booth on the show floor.