Stargate MMO In Production

Yet another MMORPG on the horizon; this time it's Stargate Worlds. Licenced properties are cropping up all over now, and I can't help thinking that some of them are just not going to take off - an MMO is a time-consuming hobby, and very few people can play more than two at once.

The game itself will feature what Ybarra [the designer] hopes will be a huge world that will have "all the planets, as many as we have time to build," though the game will apparently be structured to drive players to both explore and to discover the locations of new stargates--the portals that lead to the next unknown destination. In fact, the designer suggested the game will focus on three key points--exploration through stargates; tactical battles using the game's squad-based combat system that will involve both conventional weapons as well as more esoteric weapons such as orbital bombardment; and "replayability."

Well, an emphasis on replayability is no bad thing. An MMO with a focus on exploration isn't easy to manage, though - unless they're looking at something with the sheer breadth and depth of EVE Online, then players are going to map it and have the maps on the internet faster than they can add new areas. Indeed, EVE is fully mapped, even if details vary over time. And while exploring just to see areas yourself is a lot of fun, and my warlock has died more times because of that than anything else, it's not actually part of the gameplay in most games.

Players will be able to hit the "level cap" (the game's maximum character level) relatively quickly, and instead of focusing on creating characters that are more powerful, players will be free to explore and to participate in the game's player-versus-player (PVP) battle system, though Ybarra put forward the idea that the game's population will likely end up split between about 10 percent of hardcore fans in PVP, and the other 90 percent exploring the world and taking on quests.

It's pleasing to see a designer with a realistic idea of where the players will be, though. The WoW designers seemed to think that everyone would raid, and anyone who didn't was casual, and would never hit level 60 - hence the bizarre imbalance of raid content as against anything else. Character advancement and improvement, though, are such strong themes in computer RPGs as they stand that it's hard to see how they'll avoid it.

The designer hinted that the game should offer a great deal of breadth between combat, exploration, crafting, and quests that may be tied to a character's race or profession, as well as to local geography and the game's overarching story.

Well, nothing ground-breaking, but a solid-sounding offering. I'm not a huge fan of the Stargate series, but I can see its potential for an MMORPG. If they can hit a good balance between game aspects, as they're saying in that last quote, it could have some power to pull players away from less balanced games - particularly if they're already fans. Still waiting for anything that sounds like a third-generation game, though.

Posted by Drew Shiel at March 23, 2007 8:37 AM

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