OGDC '07 - Stargate Worlds Interview - Part 2

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At the Online Game Developer’s Conference (OGDC), Joe Ybarra, vice president of product development at Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, sat down with Darren “The General” Lee and I to discuss the finer points of what he foresees will be some of the more intriguing elements in Stargate Worlds (SGW). Due to the large amount of information that Joe was willing to dispense on our eager ears, we split the article into two parts. As the title suggests, this is the second interview.

You can read the first interview, which focuses on puzzle-solving, by clicking here. It’s a great read, and I hope you check it out.

During the second part of the interview, the topic of our conversation diverted away from puzzle solving and focused on exploration instead. While I was mainly aiming at geographic exploration, Joe wanted to include other aspects of exploration as well, so we obliged. Here is the final part of our OGDC Stargate Worlds Interview with Joe Ybarra. Enjoy!

Geographic Exploration

OGDC 2007 - Stargate Worlds
OGDC 2007 - Stargate Worlds
Joe Ybarra discussing geographic exploration.

The most fascinating aspect about the geographic exploration in Stargate Worlds is the fact that much of the travel is non-linear, meaning that you can step through a Stargate on a world covered in ice or snow and emerge in a volcanic, lava-filled crater. In all truth, you really don’t know where you’re going to head next, unless you have memorized the coordinates to that particular world.

“One of the atmospheres that we’re trying to give to the player is the concept of always needing more gate addresses,” Joe said. “Because until they get a new address, they really don’t know where to go next. When those new coordinates fall into their hands, they’re like, ‘Oh wow! I have a new place to go!’ They jump through the gate and they’re in an entirely new world.”

Jaffa Warrior Female TTH
Jaffa Warrior Female TTH
As you're wandering the universe, you may encounter some of these female Jaffa warriors.

Stargate Worlds, like other games, also has the built-in need for exploration as the characters look for the best resources available. Often, the areas that have the best alien ruins aren’t drawn out on a map, thus the players are encouraged to go explore the playing field and see what they can find.

Another exploration aspect is integrated into the storyline and the puzzles as well. Since the developers do have an instant teleportation system available to them, they can send players all over the galaxy to solve quests and puzzles. “With the gate, we can make players go through a whole range of different locations to finish a quest,” Joe said. “While the player is completing that quest, he could see a new world he’s really interested in and come back later for a closer look.”

One of my biggest concerns, coming into this part of the interview, was whether higher level players could share addresses with lower level players and perhaps give them an unfair advantage over there peers. It would also take away the thrill of learning new addresses through exploration and achievement. Joe said that the higher players couldn’t “give” the addresses to the new players, but there was still the problem of dialing in the gate to wherever the lower level player needed to go.

“We’re not exactly sure how to deal with this, as of yet,” Joe said. “I mean, a player could power level from 0-50 with a high level character, but they wouldn’t see anything. We want our players to experience the game world and find every little nook and cranny in the game while still keeping the pace of the game relatively high.”

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