Stargate Worlds details divulged

MGM-licensed massively multiplayer game being developed alongside two direct-to-video motion pictures.

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Arizona-based developer Cheyenne Mountain has announced that it has begun production on its freshman effort, the massively multiplayer game Stargate Worlds. The game takes its name, and much of its material, from the cult-hit sci-fi TV series Stargate SG-1 starring MacGyver's Richard Dean Anderson, and its spin-off, Stargate: Atlantis (both shows were spawned from the 1994 motion picture Stargate).

Cheyenne Mountain frontman Joe Ybarra met with GameSpot at the recent Game Developers Conference to reveal some early details--Ybarra being an industry veteran whose credits include the original 1987 Bard's Tale role-playing game (in which the designer lent his name to the game's strongest magical protection spell, Ybarra's Mystic Shield).

Apparently, the game has been in preproduction for some years and is now in full production, and is being developed with direct input from Stargate SG-1 show producers Brad Wright and Robert Cooper.

The game dev team has access to most of the art assets from the TV series, including costumes, storylines, and the entire city of Atlantis. The game's story will apparently take place across seasons three, four, five, six, seven, and eight of the TV show's run--a portion of the series that Ybarra suggested is fertile ground for story material. In addition to citing the TV shows, the designer also pointed out that two direct-to-video motion pictures are also in production, and that "new content can be integrated both ways," both from the show into the game and vice versa.

The game itself will feature what Ybarra hopes will be a huge world that will have "all the planets, as many as we have time to build," though the game will apparently be structured to drive players to both explore and to discover the locations of new stargates--the portals that lead to the next unknown destination. In fact, the designer suggested the game will focus on three key points--exploration through stargates; tactical battles using the game's squad-based combat system that will involve both conventional weapons as well as more esoteric weapons such as orbital bombardment; and "replayability."

Players will be able to hit the "level cap" (the game's maximum character level) relatively quickly, and instead of focusing on creating characters that are more powerful, players will be free to explore and to participate in the game's player-versus-player (PVP) battle system, though Ybarra put forward the idea that the game's population will likely end up split between about 10 percent of hardcore fans in PVP, and the other 90 percent exploring the world and taking on quests.

The designer explained that although the game will hopefully appeal to TV fans who may not be familiar with online games, it should primarily be geared toward people who have played some sorts of games, and it will offer well-rounded experiences for different types of players. For instance, players will be able to play as a character in a "scientist" class who crafts items in space-age labs; this kind of crafting will be accomplished through minigames.

The designer hinted that the game should offer a great deal of breadth between combat, exploration, crafting, and quests that may be tied to a character's race or profession, as well as to local geography and the game's overarching story. Finally, Ybarra suggested that although both TV shows' acting talent are interested in appearing in the game in some capacity, exactly how "hasn't been figured out yet."

Ybarra suggests that Stargate Worlds will launch in 2008, with some kind of beta test planned by the end of this year.

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