Senior Producer Yanagi on DC Universe Online

When Sony unveiled the first trailer for “DC Universe Online” at E3 2008, it was time to officially get excited. Many fans knew that a DC Universe MMO was being worked on, but details had been scarce up to that point. The trailer looked good, and when Jim Lee started talking about his own gaming history and the passion the creative team was bringing to the project, there was even more reason to look forward to the final product.

Since that time, fans have seen some screenshots, some videos of the creative process, and also learned that Geoff Johns will be penning the story for the game. Overall though, there’s still a lot about this game that we don’t know, and it’s clear that Sony is being careful with this project. CBR News was lucky enough to get a chance to ask some questions of Wes Yanagi, Senior Producer for “DC Universe Online.” As it’s still fairly early in the development process, there were some things that Yanagi could not speak to, but he answered as many of our questions as he could.

CBR: We've heard about both Jim Lee and Geoff Johns' involvement in “DCUO.” Do you expect to get additional DC Comics creators involved as the project moves forward?

Wes Yanagi: For now all we’re talking about is the involvement of these two comic book superstars from DC. Did you know this is the first project they’ve ever collaborated on?

Will the storylines and quests in the game mirror iconic DC stories, or will they be all-new?

The DC Universe is huge. It’s so huge that we can’t build all of it up front. We’re focusing on our story that Geoff Johns is writing. It is a terrific plot that allows players to become part of this rich and exciting universe. From there, the sky’s the limit for our expansions.

How will grouping work in the game? Do you have to be part of a group to participate in an event, or can players jump in if they happen to stumble across a battle between the good guys and the bad guys?

We do plan to provide players with established mechanisms for grouping. On top of this, we will also add systems to allow players to jump into an encounter they might stumble across. After all, it makes sense for a hero swoop in out of nowhere to help save the day or for a villain to pile-on and take advantage of some chaos. On a larger scale, we will also support the concept of guilds, which we are calling Leagues for heroes and Legions for villains. You will also have a lot of interaction with groups like the Justice League or the Society. Joining them is certainly something to expect if you can earn it.

Are costumes completely customizable, or will the templates be based on existing character costumes? For example, if someone were to create a winged character like Hawkman, what is the level of customization they have to create their own look?

We can’t get into too many details at this point, but when you create your hero or villain, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of body sizes, silhouettes and hairstyles. We spent a lot of time iterating on these designs with Jim Lee, our executive creative director, to get a nice range of choices. The costume options will be influenced by your character's origin, such as technology or magic. Once you roll a character, you’re not locked into that specific costume — it can change over time if you so choose.

Could you explain the idea of power themes as opposed to classes?

We will have a wide variety of powers to choose from. Players will gain power as they level, and leveling occurs as players complete the game content. But we wrap this and tweak them in metaphors that make sense for these characters. In the DCU, heroes and villains become more experienced by training, discovering new powers, and practicing with the ones they already know.

How are you balancing the controls and gameplay between the PC and the PS3?

With our current internal build, you can play with either a mouse and keyboard, or a PS3 controller. So, it’s really just a matter of personal preference with the controls. From a gameplay standpoint, we don’t see it as two platforms. We see it as two ways to play the same game, to step into the same universe.

Stay with CBR for ongoing coverage of “DC Universe Online,” as we’ll be checking in a little later on in the development process. For more information about the game, visit www.myspace.com/dcuo and www.dcuo.station.sony.com.

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