by Cody "Micajah" Bye, Managing Editor
style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">
by Joe Ybarra, Senior Vice President of Strategic Operations for FireSky
Last week, the folks at Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment shocked the
world by announcing that they had created their own publishing division
to support the launch and distribution of their upcoming MMOG, style="font-style: italic;">Stargate Worlds. On
Friday, the Ten Ton Hammer staff released the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/30709">first part of
interview with Joe Ybarra, FireSky's senior vice president of
operations, who answered a variety of questions concerning their
upcoming FireSky brand. Now we're pleased to release the second part of
our interview with Joe and his thoughts about the future of FireSky.
Ten Ton Hammer: How do
you think your switching between games idea will work in practice? Is
the equity going to be a straight across deal? Would a level 50
character in Stargate
Worlds transfer into a level 50 character in an alternate
That’s really dependent upon the product because, as I was
mentioning earlier, not all the products that we’re going to
be delivering will even be MMOs. So how we perform that transfer or
linkage will actually have to be done on a case by case basis. Some of
the transporting elements may be things like bringing your
avatar’s look and feel into the other spaces, or something
like that. Other options may be transferring items into another space,
particularly things like internal currency in game environments.
There are a lot of different techniques that can be applied. Again, we
will implement what is appropriate depending upon what the target
product is along with the source product. A lot of this has to be
worked out over a period of time on our side, because there’s
different types of problem solving that we have to do based on the
types of products that we're making. If everything we were building was
an MMO, I could give you a more straightforward answer to your
question. But since it's not, it's much more difficult to answer your
Ten Ton Hammer: Now that
we've had a publisher announcement, should we expect to see more info
released concerning Stargate
summer we're going to start releasing information on our archetypes,
mobs, and several of our planets. We're going to have several big
announcements this summer in the time frames of E3, Comic-Con, and
So yes, you're going to see a distinct ramp up of content.
But that's completely separate from FireSky, and even without it you'll
be seeing this sort of information released.
Ten Ton Hammer: Where do
you see the company going with the FireSky brand?
part of what we alluded to earlier in our conversation. We're trying to
develop a range of products and being the publisher/operator of these
products across a very wide spectrum of subject matters, game genres,
and target audiences. A lot of that is to reinforce the social
networking aspect of it.
Conversely, as a social networking aspect of the group as it evolves,
we want those customers using that part of our service to play all
types of different games. Many of the customers who might use a MySpace
or Facebook won't necessarily be hardcore gamers or even MMO players.
We want to make sure there's something for everybody out there. Of
course that's going to take some time, but we do feel that it is
On of the things that we've actively discussed among the team is how
we're going to make customer support and care an integral feature of
the service. Typically speaking, in the gaming world customer support
and care are only recognized when they're bad. We want to flip that
arrangement. When you're using our service, we want you to feel like
we're really taking care of you, and that if you have problems,
concerns, or even suggestions on how to improve our services, we can
act on that information as quickly as possible.
One of the other component of our service that is really interesting,
to me at least, is that we're trying to simultaneously launch style="font-style: italic;">Stargate Worlds in
both North America and Europe. Longer term, we want to operate our
service in the Asian market as well. What that immediately raises is
the cultural differences in the types of products that we want to
create that will appeal to these international markets as well as the
Some products lend themselves to this. For example, in style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft
everyone plays the same game. It may turn out that as our product line
evolves, we may develop products that are specific to individual
nations or we may have to modify products to make them more successful
in different territories.
I think that's another aspect of our business model that I find to be
quite a big challenge, because it's a pretty tough market to jump into
even without worrying about making different variations to the same
Ten Ton Hammer: Are you
thinking of opening some international studios to help you with the
term, absolutely. If you really look at the bigger picture business
model, one of the things we talk about a lot internally is how game
development and deployment is more like television programming than any
other analogy. We have to provide an ongoing stream of content that's
reliable in terms of when we deliver it and is consistent from product
to product. It also has to have a wide appeal.
If you look at it from that perspective, there's a fair amount of
problem solving we have to do just with the content alone, let alone
some of the other considerations that we've already talked about.
Ten Ton Hammer: How long
- in total - have you been working on this FireSky project?
probably close to a year and a half now from when we first started
contemplating this possibility. There's been a lot of pre-production,
where five to six months of our tasks was based around developing our
production plan, schedule, budget, and the components necessary to do
certain things with the product.
The last six months was dedicated to pulling in the staff that we
needed along with building up areas like our distribution channel,
network operations center, customer care group, and other things.
Ten Ton Hammer: Are you
looking at regular distribution models for getting your products in the
hands of gamers? Will Stargate
Worlds be in all the major stores?
our current plan is to deploy and try to hit the broadest retail
distribution that we possibly can. With SGW being a AAA title, it has a
fairly significant footprint. To deliver the world that we're building
at a high level of quality, that's a fairly good-sized download for
However, we are looking at electronic distribution, along with other
options in-place. The strategy for Stargate, however, is to have a very
strong retail presence.
That said, some of our products in the future may not have any retail
component at all, simply because we can digitally distribute them. But
the AAA titles in particular will require us to have a box product
simply because they're really big and we can put in additional value
added features we can give to a customer who buys a box.
Ten Ton Hammer: What
about free to play games? Will FireSky be in that market as well?
do whatever we want. The way our billing system and customer support is
designed, we can really take care of all the different types of games.
Subscription, free to play, micro-transaction, redemption model;
there's a whole slew of different ways to do that.
This is yet another reason why we thought publishing our own game would
be the way to go because we want the flexibility to do whatever we want
with our product.
Ten Ton Hammer: And
you're not against publishing an imported game?
We're pretty agnostic about where the products come from. We just care
about the quality of the products. All of our products need to be
consistent in their quality and play value.
Ten Ton Hammer: Is there
anything else you'd like to tell Ten Ton Hammer readers and style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Stargate
particularly. Just keep posted on what we're doing here, especially as
we gear up for the launch of Stargate
make sure you check out the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/30709">first part of
our FireSky interview!
Do you think the concept of switching characters between games is a
good one? What sort of problems might they encounter? href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=26312">Let
us know on
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Stargate Worlds Game Page.