Brian Urbanek is a combat systems designer for Champions Online.
"Meet the Team" InterviewEdit
Q: What do you do on Champions Online?
A: I work on the combat and systems team, creating both the powers that players use and the sinister challenges, beasties and powers that our system will use against them. At the moment, I'm putting the finishing touches on martial arts, getting started with my next set (which, trust me, will go over with a bang) and retooling aspects of the game's macro economy to fully take advantage of some great new crafting features we're bringing online.
Q: How long have you worked in gaming, and what did you do before Champions Online?
A: I've worked in gaming for 12 years, and on MMOs in specific for eight. Before Cryptic, I've had the honor to work with a lot of people at many different companies including Dreamforge, Wolfpack, Westwood, Nevrax and others.
Q: What is your typical workday like?
A: Each day I wake up and try to think of new ways to make our programmers' lives more difficult. This usually entails finding new ways to stretch our tech to the limits in order to make whatever power I'm working on really stand out from what other games allow. I think it's critically important that we remember we're making Champions, and that our powers aren't "spells" like in a fantasy MMO, but are instead flexible, epic superpowers.
Q: What part of Champions Online are you the most excited about working on?
A: I'm already working on half of it – player powers. I'm getting to help create the spectrum of what players can do, what challenges they can overcome and what problems they can solve. Of course, the other half is challenging players by making trials and tribulations worthy of their skills!
For now, I'm mostly focusing on the first half, but all that will change when I start working with the team on the Omega System (insert dark, ominous laughter here).
Q: What superpower would you want and why?
A: See, it's not about the actual power itself; it's about the flexibility with which it can be used, and the breadth of applications to which it can be applied. Telepathy, telekinesis, hard light manipulation, mad genius engineering – any of these could lead to great feats of heroism or devious acts of wickedness.
That being said, and to avoid being accused of copping out, I'd say a form of energy control similar to a certain supreme sorcerer or lantern of an emerald persuasion. I want to "feel" the energies coursing around my hands, and experience shaping raw possibility with my will.
Q: What was the last book you read?
A: Nonfiction: War and Decision by Douglas Feith. Fiction: Inside Straight, edited by George R. R. Martin, which is part of the Wild Cards series.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: Play games! And read. Lots of reading. And drink coffee. Man, life is good.
Q: You design combat systems. What game or games do you think had great combat?
A: "Great combat" involves matching of mechanics to style. If I'm going to be honest, I'd have to give a nod to the pen-and-paper RPG Exalted by White Wolf.
In the realm of computer and console games, it depends on the genre. God of War and Soul Calibur are obvious standouts. Sins of a Solar Empire is an excellent recent RTS with combat that's both visceral and beautiful. For turn-based games, Disgaea on the PS2 wins for sheer fun factor, and the ancient titles XCom, Master of Orion 2 and Master of Magic will always stand as the definitive classics for the PC.
Q: If your life was a reality show, what would it be called?
Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to break into gaming?
A: Know games! Don't just know the rules; look at the patterns, the systems. Try to figure out why they're trying to accomplish things, and why they did things the way they did. Learn new ways of doing things – different games do combat differently. Why? God of War and Resident Evil are both fantastic games with lots of combat, but they handle combat in completely different ways. Why are the systems they use right for one game, but not for the other? Be able to answer these questions.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
A: We're doing what we can to make this the best game it can be, and a game that our fans are going to love. Keep watching … we won't disappoint.