154: He Is The Champion

He Is The Champion

"Steve Long has a reputation in the pen-and-paper RPG business. When I first met him, I was told he was a writing machine. Maybe it's more apt to say that Steve Long, the mild-mannered game designer, is the secret identity for a super-powered writer capable of producing a book's worth of text in a single bound.

"Today, he's the creative shot-caller behind the dice-powered superhero RPG, Champions, which Cryptic Studios is currently adapting into an MMORPG. ... Long has been living with the game for close to 30 years now, and is helping to guide it from its tabletop roots into a new era where the RPG and the MMORPG can (hopefully) live side by side."

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I'm always happy to see pen & paper RPG design reflected in the world of computer and video games. Still, I can't help but feel a sense of dread after reading this article.

With the Champions IP now sitting in a video game company's hands, it seems like it will be all too easy for Champions to vanish from the pen and paper universe forever. It wouldn't be the first RPG to disappear after an IP transaction (Shadowrun and Battletech, I'm looking at you).

I'm also disappointed that the brilliant Champion's rules system isn't going to be reflected in the MMORPG at all. Did anyone actually play Champions for the setting? As Steve Long said, the whole point of Champions was that it *wasn't* Marvel or DC, you could make your own heroes and your own universe.

If what we get with Champions Online is what we'd have gotten with Marvel, just with the Champions IP instead of Marvel IP, that'll be a disappointment. I hope Cryptic at least takes a hard look at the open-ended customization-friendly philosophy that made Champions beloved by gamers, and tries in some way to bring that spirit into Champions Online.

For what it's worth, neither Shadowrun nor Battletech are actually gone: meet Catalyst Game Labs. If I had to predict the future, though, I'd say that you will see some beloved pen-and-paper games squashed by their video game/MMO incarnations in the next few years. I'm choosing to trust Mr. Long's confidence, though, and believe that Champions can survive in both media simultaneously.

I've got to take issue with some of what this article says. Steve Long is only the guy who purchased the rights to the Champions IP. George MacDonald et al did all the hard work. Now, from what I understand Long is a really... boundless writer; he can write *a lot*. That's fine. But the article makes him out to be the creator and master of all things Champions and HSR. This really isn't true, he only purchased the IP for Champions sometime after Hero Games went under. And then came the dark years, the years of R. Talsorian and Fuzion.... *shudder* =)

Also, I have to quibble with anyone paying attention to Long at all in relation to Champions Online. Sure, he was the one who sold the IP to Cryptic... but he sold ALL the IP, every last bit of it, and in turn was granted a license to produce HSR and Champions-related gaming stuff from Cryptic. All the stuff that Cryptic is using is the background fluff for Champions, which Steve Long has never had a hand in creating but for some supplements. He has as much to do with Champions Online as Tolkein's son has with LOTR-OL. So why is he being lauded and feted here?

I'm always happy to see pen & paper RPG design reflected in the world of computer and video games.

I see their design reflected in every CRPG on the market. What isn't based on AD&D is based on... um... on some other version of *D&D.

I would think that a mathematically complex and option-heavy system like HERO is a perfect match for being done with a computer.
Avoid long tables, tons of modifiers and calculation by hand and just SEE how' you character's attributes change if you selext this feature or that (maybe even have some graphs).


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