[Interview] Jim Lee vs. DC UNIVERSE ONLINE

Jim Lee sat down with us and answered a few questions about DC Universe Online.
Author: Ryan Green
Published: October 12, 2010
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While roaming the floors of New York Comic Con, we stumbled upon famous comic book artist, writer, and new co-publisher of DC Comics, Jim Lee. Lee, who has worked on The Punisher, X-Men, and Batman, among others, was kind enough to sit down with us and a couple of other journalists at a DC Universe Online press event to have a roundtable Q&A.


The following questions were directed at Lee during the session, and, yes, we did our best to actively participate despite our sweaty hands and shaky knees. Please enjoy the results of our little group therapy session with Jim Lee below.

What made you want to go from the written word the comic to spearheading something like an MMO?

Jim Lee: I got into comics 'cause I loved comics as a kid - I was very passionate about it. Same thing with games. I always played videogames - Pong at the beginning, [and then] Space Invaders, but the one that really got me hooked was EverQuest. I just found something in an MMO that was very different than in a "normal" videogame experience, and that's community and playing against other people and that kind of challenge of outwitting, outplaying other real people. So when this opportunity came up at DC, when I heard they were interested in making an MMO, I said, "Well, I have to be involved." This is something that I love playing and I feel like I can contribute something meaningful. So I guess they wisely let me come in. I think they needed someone to oversee the creative direction of the game and, obviously, I knew something about DC Comics, so that helped out. So here we are.

Have you ever been involved with a DC project on this scale?

Jim Lee: No - nothing on this scale. This [other] game, Batman: The Rise of Sin Tzu, that came out years ago. The Joker was supposed to be the main villain at the end of the game, and they decided that it was [a] duplicate of another Batman game they had just done. So they wanted to create a brand-new villain. So they asked me to create Sin Tzu, and so I worked with a writer that they were working with on the game. And we created this character custom-made for the videogame. But that was it.

That was really at the end. They had already designed everything and they really just put this model [in] instead of the model that they had originally [built]. Something like this has been a very different kind of experience. I remember flying down to SOE in Austin for the first time, and I spent a week there. It was a crash course in learning about videogames, pipelines, and infrastructure and learning the terminology of MMOs. Just really seeing how much of a logistical challenge it is building a videogame of this size and complexity versus creating a comic book. Us three could do a comic book and we'd be done in a month. It's a whole different kind of experience and different kind of mentality and different kind of energy. It's been fantastic [a] great learning experience.

So I guess it's safe to say that we'll see you and maybe Shotgun Elvis playing the game when you get a chance.

Jim Lee: Shotgun Elvis? Yeah - you know what? I appreciate the fact that people wanna play those kind of characters. But I'm more old school then that. I like the guys that try to look tough and look more like, "I'm grim, the defender of the night." That kind of stuff. But I know that people like playing zany type of characters. If it was just an MMO of my taste, a lot of stuff wouldn't be in there, but I fully appreciate and acknowledge that people like to unleash their inner spirit and play what they want. And that character is an awesome one. I remember when I saw that for the first time, I was laughing in my chair. It's hilarious to have that kind of stuff in the game, 'cause that's what makes it feel rich and real. And, actually, the DC Universe has a lot of that stuff in there already, from Ambush Bug to Egg-Fu and characters like that.
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