I recently had the chance to sit down and talk with Kevin Balentine, Public Relations Manager for Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, where we talked about all things Goa’uld in the upcoming MMORPG, Stargate Worlds. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve watched and enjoyed enough Stargate to know full well who and what the Goa’uld are. Still, for those who aren’t familiar with Stargate or for those who need a refresher, the Goa’uld are snake-like parasites that squirm into a human’s brain stem and take over. They are selfish, evil, and megalomaniacal, with little regard for the lives and rights of others. They were the main villains in the galaxy when Earth rediscovered her stargate and first stepped out into the universe.
At that time, the bulk of our galaxy was controlled by the empires of these flamboyantly dressed parasites who ruled by posing as gods and enslaving the populations of entire worlds. The first eight seasons of SG-1 pretty much charts the downfall of the Goa’uld Empire and their status as supreme gods of the Milky Way.
In light of the failings of the Goa’uld during this era, the Goa’uld of Stargate Worlds have decided to take a different approach. To start with, like several of the Goa’uld that were still alive late in the series, they’ve decided to drop the whole god act. After so many of their kind were killed by a small band of lowly Tau’ri (Ancient for Earthlings), it’s hard to keep up the charade. Kevin described this new breed of Goa’uld as having learned from the mistakes of their predecessors. Instead of sitting on their thrones issuing orders and bragging about their awesome might while sending minions out to do their dirty work, they’re more willing to go out and do the dirty work themselves. In fact, Kevin revealed that Goa’uld behaving in this manner are the ones that create the circumstances that put the main story of Stargate Worlds into motion, although he couldn’t be more specific about what they are actually up to.
I asked Kevin if this means that the Goa’uld will no longer be making some of their classic blunders, such as capturing the heroes, then going down to the dungeon dressed in the cumbersome garb of an Egyptian God to gloat to their new captives, only to discover that the their prison turns out to be quite easily escapable, and the Goa’uld often ends up getting shot for its arrogance along with many of its minions.
Turns out old habits die hard as Goa’uld may still continue to use some of these tactics, they are megalomaniacs after all. But they won’t be dressed as gods. They’ll still be dressed in outlandish clothing, but Kevin described the fashion statements of these new Goa’uld to be more along the lines of high fashion here on earth, think “Paris runway fashion models gone wild.”
Many fans, including myself, were surprised and elated when Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment announced that players would be able to play as more than just humans working at the SGC. Players can be Humans, good or bad, Jaffa, free or loyal, Asgard, and of course, a Goa’uld. The Goa’uld’s changes in behavior go deeper than simply learning from the mistakes made while fighting the team on SG-1, these are literally a new breed of brain snakes. They have their own queen, and their own artistic and architectural flavors.
The changes are also a necessary to make the Goa’uld playable, and to take them beyond the realm of villainous NPC’s. It’s hard to have fun posing on a throne all day while you send your minions out to do the fun stuff. Of course the Goa’uld can’t deny their true nature, so even though they’ll be getting their hands dirty, they’ll have plenty of help. That’s because the Goa’uld are the main ‘pet’ class for the bad guys, where ‘pet’ is defined as ‘burly Jaffa with a staff weapon’. You might be wondering why any Jaffa in their right mind would want to follow a Goa’uld since they dropped the god delusion. The answers reside in the Stargate series and established Jaffa behavior. We see time and again in the show that many Jaffa weren’t good people in a bad situation, they were just plain bad people. Many of the still loyal Jaffa follow the Goa’uld because they are powerful, and provide a path to glory in battle.
Aside from providing an overview of what’s going on with the Goa’uld, Kevin also spoke about a few of the things that are still in the works. It has been said before that CME is in regular communication with the producers of the Stargate series, and they get advanced copies of scripts. Kevin mentioned that Co-Executive Producers Brad Wright and Robert Cooper were pleased with many of the ideas that are coming out of Cheyenne Mountain, and we shouldn’t be surprised if we see Goa’uld in future episodes behaving in the manner described above. Even Ba’al, the last remaining system lord of significance dropped the god act a few seasons back. Likewise, we’re told to expect to see some ideas airing one week on Stargate Atlantis or other spinoffs to show up in the game a few weeks later.
I’ll take the closing line of this article to pass along the PR line Kevin used to describe where they want Stargate Worlds to sit on the Stargate continuum of success. He described the original Stargate movie as a moderate success, calling it a 5 on no particular scale. SG-1 became the longest running American sci-fi series, calling it a 10 on the same scale. Stargate Atlantis has built on the success of SG-1, at times pulling in higher ratings while the shows ran concurrently. He called Atlantis about an 11 or 12. On that scale, Cheyenne Mountain is shooting for Stargate Worlds to be in the range of 15 to 20. They’re still fairly tight lipped on game specifics, but Kevin said to expect the flow of information to begin to increase early in the next year as they prepare for their recently announced fourth quarter 2008 release.
P.S. – I thought it was pretty cool that the Goa’uld you play will be the snake and not tied to a specific host. This means that players will be able to swap hosts. Not sure on the specifics of this mechanic yet, but still wanted to mention it.
Below, please find concept sketches of some Goa'uld architecture and tools: Towers, Tools and Walls respectively:
Below, please find Earth-based Hangar & Weapons Range Designs, and Military Huts: