by Cody "Micajah" Bye
To say that the Stargate license is a tremendous boon to any video game
development studio would be an understatement. First as a moderately
popular movie then as the longest running science fiction series in
United States history, the Stargate brand has captivated audiences
throughout the 90s and for most of the first decade in the 21st
century. Stargate SG-1 continues to be an immensely popular TV show
even as it runs in syndication, and Stargate Atlantis thrives in its
time slot on the SciFi channel. Stargate has garnered fans throughout
the world, and it certainly would gather a large amount of fans to any
video game that gets made.
style="font-style: italic;">This is a bit of
concept artwork showing off the vendors in the Lucia slums.
Enter Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment and Stargate Worlds; the
company's upcoming MMOG based on the activities, characters and actions
as seen in the movies and television shows. Since September 2005, CME
has been working to create a world that will capture the attention of
the diverse Stargate audience and still remain a fun and interactive
game for those players that may not be familiar with the Stargate
universe. It's a daunting task, but one that the folks at Cheyenne
Mountain Entertainment take up with zest and panache. The experienced
crew - made up of industry veterans like Zeb Cook and Joe Ybarra - has
certainly shown enthusiasm for their work.
However, over this last summer the crew at CME went into a "blackout"
period, a time when the developers weren't talking to anyone but the
crew inside their own offices. While they were still at work, the
developers at CME simply needed some time to get to work and make the
game that everyone wants to see. The last few months have seen a
reemergence in the activity at CME, and Kevin Balentine, the company's
senior marketing manager, has been releasing information slowly to the
public. While he was at the inaugural showing of the newest consumer
video game convention, E For All, Kevin called into our conference line
for a quick check up with the status of Stargate Worlds.
style="font-style: italic;">Balentine pointed
out that most of the concept artwork we're seeing is an accurate
representation of what's going into the game.
Initially, we really wanted to check with the team and how their
overall morale was doing with the current major upheavals in the MMO
market. With the loss of Gods and Heroes, the two month reprieve for
Warhammer Online, the delay of Age of Conan and, prior to all that, the
slow disintegration of Sigil, the MMOG marketplace has never been in a
more distraught environment.
However, Kevin seemed pretty confident about the morale of the team in
general, saying that they are surprisingly happy.
“We’ve got a lot of experience and some really good
management,” Balentine began. “We’ve got
leaders from the business side of the fence and the gaming realm, so I
think they struck a nice balance in terms of guys that know things have
to ship and guys that know that things have to ship right.”
“To give an example of the management’s techniques,
they just reorganized how our vacation and sick time is being
used,” Balentine said. “Instead of being separate,
the employees just have one pool of days that they can use however they
need it. So it’s nice for guys like me who want a little
longer break when it comes to Christmas time. It’s a small
thing, but people really appreciate it.”
“As far as the guys working on the game,” he
continued, “they’re involved with the fan forums,
and they’re excited about what they’re working on.
Our staff is constantly trying to think of ways to expand the area that
they’re working on, and it’s apparent that the
entire team is extremely committed to what they’re working
on. Every time you walk by an artist’s desk they’ll
have two screens running: one with their work and the other with
Stargate episodes running. So it’s definitely a good place to
style="font-style: italic;">The Stargate Worlds
universe is living and breathing; it's far from static.
Pleased to know that the Stargate Worlds team wasn’t taking
the MMOG market shake-up to seriously, we turned our questions more
towards the game and the future of that world. While it’s
been stated in previous interviews that there could be some tie-ins
between the game and whatever Stargate TV series is running, we wanted
to run the question by Balentine again to see what the current
situation was concerning TV/Game tie-ins.
“As a matter of fact, this is one of the things
that’s really going to propel us into the future,”
Balentine stated. “In the terms of licensed Hollywood
intellectual property, your blockbuster film is good for your single
player video game. Your television series is the equivalent of an MMOG.
That’s the dynamic that we see. There’s a great
degree of incentive and a great degree of work for us in having a
tie-in with this television series on a regular basis. We want to push
people towards the series and have the series push people towards the
“Our idea is to have things show up in the series, and then
when you boot up your computer and log into the game the same sort of
situations or creatures will be in the game,” he continued.
“It goes both ways, though. We can introduce something into
the game, and then the next week when you watch the television series
you’ll see the new items, creatures or areas in the show.
That’s what we’re shooting for.”
style="font-style: italic;">The developers at
Stargate Worlds are hoping to expand the fan base from the television
“If you look at the progression of Stargate,”
Balentine said, “it began with the movie, which
wasn’t a blockbuster but had its fair share of fans. The
television series (SG-1) expanded on that popularity so that it was
larger than the movie ever was. Stargate Atlantis – through
the first three seasons – were just as good or better than
Stargate SG-1 as they ran concurrently. We want to take those numbers
and expand and build on those numbers like the previous versions of
Stargate has expanded on the fan base.”
As we neared the end of our interview, we wanted to find out what the
current situation was concerning the development of Stargate Worlds. I
mean with a several month blackout, how are fans supposed to know if
the game is on schedule or if things have been delayed? We asked Kevin
to find out and his answer left us fairly speechless.
"We've got a playable version of the game inside of our
building,” Balentine said. “I'm not prepared to
release our beta schedule yet, but I can say that we're going to be
releasing the game in the fourth quarter of next year. You can do the
math and figure out when our beta program will be."
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Stargate Worlds Game Page.