OGDC '07 - Puzzling Out Stargate Worlds - An Interview with Joe Ybarra - Page Three
“Traditionally, it’s almost like the stories are for solo-players,” Joe said. “Most games don’t have storylines that mesh at all, and often one players story is completely separated from another player’s story.
“In our game,” Joe continued, “Because of the nature of what we’re trying to do with the overall architecture and game design, we want the two factions (good and bad) constantly interacting with each other. There are plenty of planets that have zones and puzzles where players are going to meet up and have to deal with one another.”
When I asked Joe whether these combo puzzle areas would require PvP to find out who has access to it, he assuaged any fears that we may have had concerning forced PvP by stating that only PvP servers will have open PvP at these points. Consensual PvP is still a possibility, but it is not forced between the players.
Ybarra also talked about the alternative routes that players can go along, when they're dealing with puzzles.
One of the other avenues where puzzles have influenced the SGW gameplay is in quest completion. According to Joe, quests will have various ways to complete them. “Let’s say you have a locked door in front of you,” Joe said. “In SGW, you have a variety of options to choose from on how you want to get this door open. You could blow the door open. You could lockpick the door, which is a mini-game in itself. Or you could find the computer controls for the door and hack into the system to open the door. You’re not limited to one function when it comes to getting through an area.”
As players access these puzzles, it’s not something that is done as an “out-of-time” experience. “All puzzles are going to be done in real time,” Joe said. “There’s a countdown timer that forces players to be on their toes to try to complete these games. However, the sense of urgency to complete the puzzle is determined by the type of situation you’re in. If you’re out by yourself looking at ruins, you’re not going to be in a hurry. But if you’re party is waiting for you to pick open a door’s lock so you can escape from a gang of murderous Jaffa, the situation is a little more dire.”
Giving Players Dead Space
Another type of mini-game that Joe’s team at CME created was developed to address this issue of “Zen gaming” or “dead space” where it’s necessary to give characters something to do besides work on a storyline or actually do something productive. For example, fishing in the World of Warcraft is like this, as it’s not particularly essential to fish to keep a character progressing in the game.
“In MMOs, you have to have dead space; activities for players where basically nothing is really happening,” Joe said. “These are needed when players want to kill time or basically want to log-in and use their client as a chat room to talk with other players. And we have a couple of games that really achieve this level of play.”
Even the more martial characters will benefit from puzzles.
Benefiting from Puzzles
Even more martially inclined characters will want to help the scientist and archaeologist types to go and solve their mini-games, because if they’re in a group and a mini-game emerges, they’ll receive XP as well. So it’s in the best interest of all the players to try and do as many of these mini-games as they can, if they wish to explore an avenue other than combat.
Concerning puzzles, Joe really wanted to emphasize the fact that SGW isn’t going to be wholly focused on combat, and all of these incentives are available to players who are interested in completing and finding different sorts of puzzles. With martial character escorts, players of all types and races will be traveling across the various worlds in this Stargate-based MMO, completing puzzles and reaping the rewards.