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Stargate Worlds: A Post-Trailer Interview with the Team

Updated Wed, Dec 16, 2009 by Cody Bye

Questions by Cody “Micajah” Bye and Garrett Fuller
Answers by Dan Elggren (Studio Head), Chris Klug (Creative Director), Howard Lyon (Art Director), and Jeremy Taylor (Product Manager)

There is no better way to grab people’s attention on the internet than by creating an intelligent, sleek, and sexy piece of video. Recently, the crew at Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment did just that when they released their first trailer for the upcoming MMORPG, Stargate Worlds. Rising among the ranks of the worlds “top upcoming PC games”, Stargate Worlds is first and foremost an MMORPG, and the staff at Ten Ton Hammer would be at fault if we didn’t get you the best content for the game on the web. The staff quickly set up an interview with the crew at CME, and Cody “Micajah” Bye and Garrett Fuller had a long chat with developers Dan Elggren, Chris Klug, Howard Lyon, and Jeremy Taylor to talk about their game.


Ten Ton Hammer: What are the two worlds that we actually see during the sequence of the trailer? Can you tell us a bit about them?

A shot of Anima Vitrus.

Dan Elggren: The first world that you saw was Agnos and the second world you saw was Anima Vitrus.

Chris Klug: Agnos is an artificial intelligence world. It’s related to stuff that the ancients did. The world is essentially a giant artificial intelligence entity. It takes the form of a location in space, but it’s really just a construct of the artificial intelligence.

Anima Vitrus is a kind of “living world,” meaning that it takes the Gaia concept (that the planet is a living entity) and manifests that into a more obvious fashion. Those are both high-end worlds in our universe and sit in the late 30s to early 40s level range. It’s set up as a sequence; you go from Agnos to Anima Vitrus.

Ten Ton Hammer: You had a Death Glider shoot at the group of characters as they pass through the Stargate. Is this going to be a common occurrence in the game or was that more for dramatic effect?

Dan: I think it’s essential to know that we will have these sort of “story sequences” the moment you enter an instance or just through general gameplay, but it did make it into the trailer for dramatic purposes.

Chris: We’re hoping that one of the key things that will distinguish Stargate Worlds from the rest of the titles in the genre is that there is a battle for the control of the universe that is happening in the game. The battles that are going on are more military in nature than in your typical MMOG and so things like a Death Glider swooping by overhead are going to happen. Maybe not literally what we saw in the trailer, but something similar.

Ten Ton Hammer: In the official trailer that was released to the various websites on the internet, it sounds like the human says, “We come in peace. Wait….no we don’t.” But at the same time, he has an Asgard with him. Will Asgard players have the option of playing an evil character, or did I just infer too much from that clip?

A look at aritificial intelligence world of Agnos.

Chris: The line was supposed to be a joke. *laughs* The Asgard are definitely on the same side as the original Stargate troops, so you could call that the “good” side if you want. They will not have the option of playing an evil character.

Ten Ton Hammer: I just wanted to sort that out for anyone who misunderstood the purpose of that particular line/sequence.

Chris: I understand, but it was supposed to be a joke in that this group walked through the gate and encountered something that they didn’t expect.

We actually went over that whole scene for hours, and we never thought that people would interpret the group as being evil because of that line.

Ten Ton Hammer: Has anyone brought it up besides me?

Chris: *laughs* You’re the first!

Ten Ton Hammer: Speaking of the Asgard, what’s the little object that’s floating beside him as he walks through the Stargate?

Chris: The Asgard characters have drones, which do a lot of the Asgard heavy lifting, combat, and that sort of thing.

Dan: I mean, how do you really take an Asgard into battle? That’s one of the questions we always heard, but players wanted the Asgard combat capable to make them more appealing as an archetype. The drones can be upgraded and played with as you advance your player character. It adds an interesting difference between the Asgard and the other races.

Chris: When we had our first conversation with Wright and Cooper, I asked them directly whether the Asgard we see on the show are nimble, but limited by the puppeteering technology. Basically, we were wondering how they wanted the Asgard portrayed.

They responded by saying that the Asgard are much more physical than what we see in the show, but at the same time nobody thought that the Asgard would be wearing body armor and have an AK-47 cradled under their arm. We went with the idea that they would offload their physicality onto their drone.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is the drone like a pet? Similar to what Hunters in WoW and Mages in EQ have?

Chris: It certainly falls into the same aspect of gameplay, but it functions a little differently. It needs to be under your direct control, rather than simply following you around.

There are other pets, in the classic sense, in the game, but the drone functions differently.

Dan: It’s like your body armor, essentially.

The horizon of Agnos.

Ten Ton Hammer: That leads me to the next question: Is Stargate Worlds going to be a combat heavy game? If so, will it be more of a first person shooter style of gameplay? In all of your interviews, you talk about “cover” and the AI of the enemies, and I think a large portion of the community is wondering about that question.

Dan: The combat system is definitely unique among MMORPGs, and we definitely have a combat focus. We had to think of a different way to do combat, simply because we had characters with energy and projectile weapons running around. It wouldn’t be very likely, in our world at least, to have a character get hit over the head with a sword.

That said, we’re definitely not an FPS or a twitch-based game. The game is more along the lines of a typical MMORPG in that you’ll be clicking on your enemy, but the way the combat moves is going to be very unique. You enemies will use cover, and there’ll definitely be different techniques that you’ll need to employ to actually succeed in combat. How you manage your group and the targets you’ve acquired will be a big step in how our combat system works.

Chris: The paradigm we’re really aiming for is to try to make the players aware of their environment. The targeting and the actual combat mechanics will not be alien to MMO game players. What we want them to do is be a little more aware of what enemies are in their local area and for them to focus on managing the environment where the enemies are.

They should be asking themselves: Where have the enemies taken cover? Where can I take cover? The targeting and the combat won’t be any different than what you see in WoW. However, it does take place at range 90% of the time, but understand that the enemies aren’t going to just rush you and try to get into hand-to-hand combat with you. They will shoot at you from range.

The challenge is to figure out where players can take advantage of the enemy’s weaknesses on top of taking cover themselves. It plays out very simply, and the biggest difference is that the game encourages you to take cover and move. If you stand still, out in the open, you’re going to get shot. If you move and take cover, you’re going to be protected. That’s what we’re trying to encourage players to do.

Ten Ton Hammer: So if you get shot, is it going to be a bit more damaging than what is normally seen in a typical MMORPG?

Chris. We’re working on the balance of this right now, but you are more vulnerable – in our game – if you just stand out in the open. However, if you take advantage of what we give you – cover, movement, strategy, etc. – it plays very similarly to a traditional MMOG.

That said, it’s not a hit point battle. We are not delivering a game where the person with the most hit points wins. It’s the person who can control the battlefield the most intelligently who will win the conflict.
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