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GDC Preview: Stargate Worlds

News Editor Garrett Fuller had a chance to sit down with Stargate Worlds' Joe Ybarra, Vice-President of Product Development for Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment. The pair talked about the direction of the upcoming MMORPG.

Okay Stargate fans, this is the article you have been waiting for. Today at GDC I got a chance to sit down with Kevin Balentine and Joe Ybarra from Cheyenne Mountain. The guys were very happy to discuss the game and many of its features. Loads of material that has not been known about the game will be known by the time you finish this article. Everything was talked about from game mechanics to character classes, races, PvE elements, and of course PvP between the dark and light sides of the Stargate Universe. Hold onto your weapons, we're going through the gate now!

Let us start off with character design. Players will have the ability to choose between two sides or factions. Cheyenne refers to them as the light and dark sides, but more closely tied to the television show they are the good and evil factions of the universe. On the side of light you can play humans, Asgard, and the free Jaffa. On the dark side you can play humans who have gone bad, Goa'uld, or the Jaffa who have remained loyal to their overlords. There are many class archetypes in the game that are defined by the races. Human players have the options of the classic Stargate team. Soldier, commando, scientist, and archeologist are all there as playable opportunities. The other races are more defined by the skill trees that represent their growth. The Asgard are defined as the scientists were the Jaffa are the melee fighters. Speaking of melee lets talk about combat.

Joe was very quick to bring up three key points in the development of the game that they are really trying to stick with. Those are modern combat, exploration, and re-playability. Joe's hope for combat is dynamic. There will be weapons going off everywhere, players will have the option to duck and hide for cover. There is everything in the game from rifles, staff weapons, hand grenades, even the Asgardian weapons. The team is working on balancing combat as best as possible. At the same time they want the in your face fighting experience. The game is not a first person shooter though. It will however be combat heavy and the four man teams (think SG-1 squads) will have to work together on the battle fields to fight it out against NPCs as well as the dark faction of players. Yes folks, the PvP will be intense.

Moving on to exploration, the game will try to capture the feel of being able to go anywhere in the universe just as the Stargate allows. The game will take place in the time period from season three to season nine of the SG-1 show. With the first expansion planned as Stargate-Atlantis. The main reason Joe pointed out for this time frame is that so much went on in the Stargate world at this time. The Replicator Wars, the rise of Anubis, the appearance of the Asgardians, and humans learning star travel all play a major part in the story lines of the game. While exploring the universe there are two story lines you can follow. The dark and light paths that you choose to walk with become an epic adventure that will carry you throughout your levels. Also there are class storylines, race storylines, local and larger area quests to follow. The PvE side of the game is all about exploration and that is what the team hopes to bring to players. The key here is that the storylines will drive exploration. Worried about the time it will take to explore the whole universe? Don't, the team hopes to have a two hundred hour in-game time frame for players to reach maximum level. This leads to our next area, re-playability.

Joe wanted to stress that players should not feel bogged down into reaching the end game. He wants players to go through the world and enjoy the content. Plus he wants people to be able to play multiple characters without having to give up their day jobs. This is a wonderful feature for players who do not have a lot of time on their hands. The other main goal of the team is to continue to add content on a regular basis for players to explore, even going back and adding content to areas that players may have already gone through so the play experience will never be the same. With loads of PvP fighting planned in the game it will be great for players to enjoy different characters on both sides of the war.

In regards to PvP combat Stargate begins with its two factions. Small squads or four players will work together or players can join the fighting solo. Commands will make up the larger teams (think guilds) and players will be able to go out and fight it out all over the universe. One of the goals of the team is to have Command vs. Command wars waging all over the universe by the time players reach the end game.

There is a unique area in Stargate where players will get a chance to not only feel like part of the game, but part of the show as well! Joe was quick to say that MGM has been working hand in hand with Cheyenne Mountain to have the show and game work together on developing the universe. Yes, I know, SG-1 is over, but Atlantis is still going strong, also MGM is planning a third Stargate series which will tie into the game. There are also two DvD movies coming out in the Stargate universe. Needless to say, fans of the series will be very happy to have the game elements shown on TV, as well as television elements shown in the game. This feature of Stargate Worlds may prove very exciting indeed. Along these lines, Joe did say that Cheyenne Mountain does see the Stargate scripts when they are written up so that they can work together with the series to bring the best entertainment experience possible to players and viewers.

Whew, still with me? Okay, the good news is that the game expects to have its first playable version by the end of the month. This takes them out of pre-production and into full on production of the game. The development team has set high standards for game design, artwork, and performance. With more people coming on board to perfect artwork, design, game mechanics, and features the game is moving along very well in its development cycle. After speaking with Joe and Kevin, there is know doubt that these guys are very excited about Stargate and the game they want to give to you guys. Thanks again to the team for taking time to sit down with us. I know I dropped a lot of information in this article, I also know that it is probably not enough. We will certainly keep watch on Stargate Worlds throughout development and continue to give you the news as it comes to us. For now, enjoy the show, who knows your character may be a part of it one day!