OGDC '07 - Puzzling Out Stargate Worlds - An Interview with Joe Ybarra

Over the past few months we’ve seen varying amounts of
information from the developers at href="http://www.cheyenneme.com/">Cheyenne Mountain
(CME). They’ve been handling all sorts of
interviews and
Q&As, but even with a fairly high level of communication with
the game industry press, very little has been said about two of the
more important facets inherent in the href="http://stargate.mgm.com/"> style="font-style: italic;">Stargate SG-1
television series:
the puzzle-solving and the exploration.

At the Online
Game Developer’s Conference
Joe Ybarra, vice president of product development at Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, sat down with Darren “The General” Lee
and I to discuss some of the finer points of what he foresees will be
some of the more intriguing elements in href="http://www.stargateworlds.com/"> style="font-style: italic;">Stargate Worlds
(SGW). Due to
the large amount of information that Joe was willing to dispense on our
eager ears, we’ll be splitting the interview into two parts,
with the conclusion of our interview to be posted on Wednesday.

The initial focus of the interview was on the puzzle-solving
aspects of Stargate
; a topic that has been mentioned in previous
interviews but never really analyzed in depth. Joe was excited to hear
of our interest, and his responses were both insightful and interesting.

Puzzling out Stargate Worlds

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align="center"> style="font-style: italic;">Joe Ybarra and Cody "Micajah"
Bye discussing the intricacies of the puzzles in Stargate Worlds.

When asked about the puzzles in SGW, Joe was eager to explain
why they were a fundamental part of the gameplay experience that had
been considered from the very beginning of SGW’s development.
“When we were first coming up with features to implement into
the game, we wanted a non-combat gameplay mechanism to really reinforce
some of the things in the show that were non-combat related,”
he said. “If you actually watch the series, combat is a
fairly small motif when compared to the rest of the actions the
characters in the series partake in.”

For those of you that are unfamiliar with SGW, Joe is
referring to fact that Stargate
is more oriented around
discovering new technology, analyzing alien artifacts, and opening new
Stargate coordinates. While combat with the enemy does occur in the
television series, it is only a small part of the overall storyline and
basically falls during the climax of episodes or long-running
storylines rather than being regular occurrences.

The target audience for the game was also taken into
consideration when the puzzles were being developed and discussed.
“We wanted to reach out to the customers that
aren’t necessarily into these games (MMOs) for the
combat,” he continued. “There’s a fairly
large percentage of those players that are out there, and we
didn’t want to ignore them like some games do.”

According to Joe, CME currently has seven different mini-games
that players encounter within SGW. These games are triggered by
different activities that the players engage in when they are exploring
the various worlds. “Imagine that there are alien ruins on
the planet you’re exploring,” he began.
“You’re an Archaeologist archetype character. What
are you going to do when you walk into these ruins? You’ll
walk in and there will be areas you can click on, such as a
“rune totem” or another sort of aged script. The
Ancients were notorious for leaving those things scattered about the

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align="center"> style="font-style: italic;">Every world will have various
puzzles that the team will need to solve.

“When the player clicks on these areas, there will
be a little casual mini-game that will pop up that the player will
engage in and try to decipher what it says,” he said.
“The game might have the player match icons or orient
different sections of a puzzle to beat the game. These sort of
mini-games are scattered throughout the world, and you might need to do
them to unlock a new area or expand an ability.” These
puzzles, according to Joe, will also level up, getting even more
complex as you progress farther into the game.

But what Joe described was oriented more towards a solo-play
activity. There are also puzzles that will be sharable with other
members of a player’s party. So if you’re in a
situation that’s particularly nasty and you have a really
complex puzzle in front of you, your party members will be able to help
you through it.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Stargate Worlds Game Page.

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