By admin @ June 19, 2009 at 5:54pm
I’d heard about the Nemesis System even before I started working at Cryptic. It seemed like a great idea to me, something that would come naturally out of the superhero genre and be really cool from a gameplay standpoint. I’m a huge comic book fan, so the idea of every superhero having a personal nemesis really resonated with me. It adds a layer of story and tension within comic books that makes the narrative hang together and takes it to another level. Within Champions Online, I think it can do the same thing.
I’d been working at Cryptic for a few months when I actually got the chance to take on the Nemesis System. We had some restructuring going on, and it was one of two systems that opened up. I immediately asked to work on it. There was the obvious coolness of the idea which interested me. There was also the fact that I know I tend to work better when I get I can focus my strengths in one specific area and control the different variables involved. I was really interested in helping shape the overall gameplay and feel of the Nemesis system because I had a lot of really creative ideas that I could put into the system to make it really fun and cool.
As you probably already know from reading what Randy and Poz had to say, the basic idea is that players get to create their own Nemeses. You come up with what your nemesis looks like, what their powers are, what their minions are like, and what their back story is. You even get to choose their personality type. You go after your nemesis to stop them, but they almost always get away and come back to haunt you later. It’s a great storyline and really fun to play. The big challenge for me was working with all of that within the larger context of the game.
Think about it. Your nemesis is unique. I have no idea what they’re going to look like, what their back story will be, or any of the other choices you’re going to make about them. But, I had to build missions that took into account all the possible nemeses our players could create. And I had to make those missions make sense within the game. They had to feel superheroic for our players and mesh with everything else going on in the Champions Online Universe. I needed to come up with villainous deeds that your nemesis could do outside of just harming innocent people. Those dastardly deeds would all depend on the personality of your nemesis: masterminds would do one thing, maniacs another, savages still another.
Let me give you an example of the sort of missions I had to come up with. Let’s say your nemesis is a mastermind and he’s planning to steal an energy device that’s stored in a bank vault. You get clues letting you know this is happening when you fight against a bunch of his minions who have ambushed you. You keep following the clues through a bunch of challenge missions, and you find out that the device was a key part of a death ray. You track down your nemesis but by the time you do, the death ray is almost working and you have to fight him in a showdown. That would be one vignette. You’ll have several vignettes with your nemesis, because really, they wouldn’t be a very good nemesis if you could take them out the first time you met them. Plus, of course, your nemesis will have other surprises in store for you along the way.
As it stands now, we have a ton of different vignettes that randomize, to make each run-through of the system interesting and a lot less repetitive. The bookends of the nemesis plot arc are the same – you always get introduced to your nemesis through a prison break sequence, and you always have a final showdown with your nemesis. But everything along the way can change. We also have plans for what to do with the Nemesis system in the future, but if I told you, I’d have to kill you.