AGDC 07: Stargate Worlds Interview with Kevin Balentine


It’s been a couple years, but Cheyenne Mountain is just about ready to pump out the information on Stargate Worlds, the MMO adaptation of the highly popular television franchise. At AGDC we met with Kevin Balentine to discuss the game, its progress and some further details of its design.

Now only roughly one year away from its intended launch in Q4 of 2008, the team is excited to finally get talking. So far, they’ve only released a handful of screenshots of some small areas. Expect that to change in a big way over the coming months.

The game has six factions players can play as. The “good guys” are the Stargate Teams (SGC), the Free Jaffa and the Asgard. The “bad guys” are the Op-Core, the Loyal Jaffa and the Goa’uld. Most of these names are familiar to fans of the shows, but the Op-core are a new invention for the game, developed in close consultation with the show’s writers.

“[The Op-Core] are the SG teams without the morals,” Balentine explained as he laid out the two sides. Obviously, with the races neatly organized into two opposing factions, it makes one wonder what kind of player vs. player opportunities the team has in mind. It’s too early for them to say, unfortunately, but Balentine did acknowledge that they have a plan for it.

Each of the six factions gets it own epic quest that is one small part of a larger overall storyline for the entire game. This hopefully allows those achievers who must see everything to see the same story in six different lights.

The Cheyenne team intends to also offer free periodic content updates to the game that will include things like whole new worlds to explore. On top of that, they also hope to keep a regular place in retail channels with full on expansion packs.

Their much hyped combat system seems to have survived the prototype phase. While they would not get into user interface or other questions like that, he did say that it remains a tactical, RPG system and is from the 3rd person point of view. The game is not an FPS and requires players to think tactically and take cover. Their enemies will.

The artificial intelligence (AI) in Stargate Worlds evaluates situations in real-time. Too often, MMOs throw players into scripted encounters. Balentine told us that in Stargate, the enemies chose what to do based on the position of their enemy. Enter from one door and they act one way, enter from another and they do something else. If they pull this off, it promises to offer a lot of replayability.

Finally, Balentine spoke of their concept of an “Evolving Galaxy”. Cheyenne hopes to break the MMO paradigm of a static, unchanging universe through its quests. He gave the example of the Tollan and their home world Tollana. In the series, this world was eventually destroyed, but in the game, it begins intact. As players progress through their epic quests, the world is ultimately transformed.

However, for those who join six months after launch, that world remains pristine. What the player sees is based on what they have done and a form of layered instancing ensures that everyone sees the right things. This creates several paradoxes for players at different levels, which Balentine didn’t address directly, but did say they have a plan for.

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