Interview: DCUO Game Director SJ Mueller On The Birds Of Prey
DC Universe Online's latest content drop focused on the Birds of Prey, an iconic all-female superteam consisting of Harley Quinn, Huntress, Poison Ivy, Black Canary, and Oracle. They're a big deal these days, appearing in their own big-budget movie, but their popularity goes back decades, dating back to their first appearance as a team in comics in the mid-1990s.
MMOBomb recently had the opportunity to talk to DCUO Creative Director SJ Mueller, whose Twitter handle reflects her fandom of comics and especially her love of the Birds of Prey. Needless to say, she's beyond excited at getting to create and enhance some of the characters she read while growing up, and ... well, we'll let her tell you in her own enthusiastic words!
MMOBomb: First of all, as a self-described comic “superfan,” what's it like being able to work on an officially licensed DC video game? And how did you land the gig?
SJM: I feel so lucky to be a part of the DC Universe. I grew up reading DC Comics and using the “Who’s Who” books to trace figures and design my own superheroes and villains. I have been playing video games for just as long and was a huge fan of Daybreak’s EverQuest. And now, I get to combine two of my favorite things, games and comics, for a living!
How did I land the job? One part luck, one part preparedness. I guess I really am inspired by Batman after all. I had heard rumors that the same studio that made Star Wars Galaxies was working on a DC version of an MMO and it was like I heard a record scratch. It took me a couple years of experience at KingsIsle and BioWare before I made the jump to DCUO, but to be honest, that was my goal the entire time!
MMOBomb: Regarding the latest update – obviously, the Birds of Prey are a big deal right now, with the recent movie adaptation, but I'm guessing that they're a team you've wanted to get into the game for a while, right?
SJM: I suppose my online dev handle “Nerd of Prey” gave that away, huh? This episode is dear to me. I have developed so many stories both classic and original for DCUO, but to finally release an official Birds of Prey episode feels like a milestone in my career. I love that team and book so much. I remember when I was working at a comic book store (of course I worked at a comic book store) and someone recommended them to me. At the time it was Gail Simone’s famous first run and I Fell. In. Love. I devoured all the issues starting with Chuck Dixon’s run, but I really connected with Gail’s story telling and it made me feel not only included as a reader, but that I could be a creator as well.
MMOBomb: So, do you have a favorite?
SJM: Oracle. Without hesitation. However, I love them all. Huntress and Black Canary are wonderful characters and have really come into their own, becoming headlining characters themselves.
— SJ_NerdOfPrey (@SJ_NerdOfPrey) April 21, 2020
MMOBomb: And what's your favorite part of the new content?
SJM: Oracle has been an important part of DCUO since its inception, acting as the mentor and guide for hero players, but in all these years they had never seen her or her secret lair Clock Tower. To be honest, I was very doubtful we could pull off revealing the character. For one, her identity is a secret! The art team went above and beyond, and sure enough, there’s an Easter egg where you can spot Oracle hacking away from her saferoom in the tower. I got some dust in my eye when I saw her for the first time.
MMOBomb: Is there anyone else in the DC Universe who you think could stand to be featured more prominently (or added to the game if they're not there already)? Someone else who would increase its accessibility and inclusive nature?
SJM: The answer to this question will always be yes. I think media is recognizing this and recognizing that we can always do better. I have a few characters on my mind but I can’t really share yet. But if we could get her, it’d be wonderful…
MMOBomb: Thanks for your insight, SJ! Is there anything else you'd like to add?
SJM: I really should remind folks that DCUO is free-to-play on PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. The game is the best it has ever been, with an updated tutorial and loads of new features. If you haven’t played it before or haven’t played it in a while, now is a great time to try it again, especially if you’re staying safe at home. Come play with us at a safe distance!
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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