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E3 2006 Preview

Jon Wood Posted:
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David "Zeb" Cook recently joined Stargate, Jon Wood finds out what he's up to

Today, I had the opportunity to sit down with David “Zeb” Cook, the Lead System Designer of the upcoming IP MMORPG, Stargate Worlds, being developed by the aptly named Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment.

The game itself is still in a very early stage of pre-production, and already it has generated a great deal of hype, being based as it is, on the extremely popular Stargate franchise. The flagship of the franchise, Stargate SG:1, has already run through its ninth season on the air and spawned a spinoff series, titled Stargate Atlantis.

Creating a game based on such a popular pre-existing idea can be a mixed blessing for developers. There is, of course, the recognition factor. After all, SG 1 wouldn’t still be on the air if it didn’t have an extensive fan base. That fan base alone could make the game a success. On the other side of things, an intellectual property like this comes with a certain amount to responsibility to those fans, as well as to fans of MMORPGs. In that vein, David says that they aim to “take what people want in MMORPGs and make them feel appropriate to Stargate.”

One of the ways that they are choosing to achieve this has been to foster a great working relationship with MGM, the production company responsible for both television series. David tells us that the relationship is a very strong one, and that MGM is not just committed to making their television ventures, but also have a strong commitment to making the MMORPG a success.

In terms of gameplay, nothing much has been decided for sure. That’s not a real surprise, given that they’re still in that phase of production where you throw ideas around and see what sticks to the wall.

Combat-wise, David told us that the focus would be on “modern combat”. In that, they’re trying to simulate actual projectile combat. One of the things that David point out was that it can get a bit tricky when it comes to the massive amount of damage that gun actually cause in real life. Generally, if you get hit even once by a bullet, put in the right place, you’re in serious trouble. This is where realism has got to be tempered by what people want and expect from an MMORPG. As he said, if the realism of the damage of these weapons were to appear In the game, then there would be a lot of dead characters, in a very short amount of time.

In terms of race and class, David told us that there were certain races that were a given to be included, like the Humans or the Jaffa, for example. The list does not stop there, however. As David told us, while they were not yet ready to give us a comprehensive list (in pre-production, most anything can change), there would be a number of options to choose from, both expected, and with the possibility of a surprise or two. Classes will be specialized in a certain field. You’ll be able to, for example, be a warrior-type like Jack O’Neil from the series, or a medic-type character. He did mention, that while these classes will be unique and specialized, there will still be some crossover in abilities. Daniel Jackson, after all, was an archaeologist and a linguist, but that doesn’t stop him from drawing a P90 and firing it from time to time.

We also talked a little bit about the story. While the exact details are still being hammered out, he tells us that they are striving to give players a sense of purpose from the very start of the game. Something that answers the question, “why am I here?” When deciding this, according to David, they have to answer the questions, “What are the motivations for each of these groups [SGC, Go’auld, etc]? What makes them tick?”

Stargate fans wait with bated breath to see how this latest incarnation of one of the longest running science fiction franchises will turn out. MMORPG.com will continue to follow this game throughout its development.

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Jon Wood