Stargate Worlds. Huh?

I’ve been hearing a LOT about Stargate Worlds lately. And speaking as a dedicated geeky SF fan who used to go to every area SF convention when she lived in Northern California, all I can say is… Huh?

I mean, I kinda liked the movie, have it on DVD and watch it occasionally for some hot Kurt Russell action, and yes, I know they made it into a TV series. I watched an episode, once. There was this guy who used to be an alien, but didn’t know it, and the Stargate people turned him human, but when a doctor left a laptop with his complete medical records with him and he turned it on and saw that he was really an alien, he turned into an alien again. And I guess he was a vampire.

I don’t mean to be flip or insult Stargate fans, of which I know there are many. I just didn’t get the show. I guess they eventually also rediscovered Atlantis, which spawned its own show. What I’m getting at here, is, why don’t they make an MMO for a more popular SF TV series, like, say, Battlestar Galactica? Or a world-in-a-spaceship thing like Robert Heinlein’s “Orphans of the Sky” or Gene Wolfe’s “Book of the Long Sun” (excellent series, by the way). That concept was used in an old Canadian TV series starring Kier “David Bowman” Dullea called “The Starlost” that I watched when I was a kid, and any MMO based on it would definitely be better than the series.

But the real issue I have is, this is a show that has such a limited appeal I doubt I know anyone in real life who has even heard of it — how can this possibly succeed? I am actually also a little hopeful. If a niche MMO becomes profitable, that may help open the way for even more niche MMOs in the future. Let’s get away from the place we are now which insists that any game with only 200K subscribers is a failure.

The stats are kinda interesting…

* Unreal 3 Engine and Big World back end – as used by Vanguard. If you liked it there, you’ll like it here.

* Two factions – why just two? It’s be tough to find just two factions ANYWHERE on Earth, unless you limited your sample size to two.

* Classes: Jaffa, Goa’uld, Asgard, human soldier, scientist, archeologist, and commando – I kinda figured out the last four, but wtf are the first three? Asgard — does this class have anything to do with Norse mythology? Which actually would be kinda cool.

* No vehicle combat or player controlled starships – even though the movie didn’t have much to do with space, I guess the series does (I thought the Stargates were used instead of starships — there’s probably a reason a show called “Stargate” uses space ships instead that I don’t know. My guess: space ships look cooler than metal arches.). Anyway, if you have a space ship in your game, why not let people steer? This is one of my big probs with Star Trek Online.

* The MMOG will follow the events from SG1 but feature different stories: Replicator War, the Apophis War, the Tok’ra war with the Goa’uld, etc. — no non-fan knows what this means. Way to draw in new people.

* 15 USD monthly subscription rate — interesting to see if a niche MMO can sustain this.

* Possibility that SG cast members to do voice-overs — I know McGuyver is on the show.

* Evolutionary Combat and Advanced AI — one thing clear about all MMOs is that the enemies are built to DIE. You can EASILY program an AI to be very good at killing the player — the point is not to make them fight better, but to die more entertainingly. I have never played an MMO in which the bosses or normal mobs showed the slightest bit of real intelligence, though the Bane in Tabula Rasa flanked me once, which was cool. Anyway, I would take that with a grain of salt. A mob that is any good at killing players will find itself shunned.

I hope for the best for Stargate MMO. I just can’t help thinking that this fills a space where a Babylon 5 MMO was supposed to be.

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25 thoughts on “Stargate Worlds. Huh?”

  1. Own all 10 seasons on DVD, own the movie, have watched all 4 seasons of Atlantis..
    The fact the last season of SG1 was about King Arthur, Merlin and the Holy Grail…yet, there have been episodes about aliens, this is a true Sci-Fi-Fantasy setting which lends itself I believe to a better setting than Tabula Rasa’s or Star Trek even for an MMO..

    Take into account characters grew as the show progressed…they gained items, abilities (Samantha Carter had a brief stint of telepathy…)…if this is done right, the possibilities for adventure could be endless…

    But, after the fiasco that was LOTRO (Lord of the Bore Online) or Matrix Online …a great concept…(even to the point of killing off a main character from the movies) but poorly executed…all I can do is watch patiently, and just dream of what my MMO world of SG would be like until I see their idea’s

  2. How would you convince a WoW player to come try out a Stargate MMO, assuming they weren’t already a fan of the show? That question probably can’t really be answered for a game in development, but it’s a necessary question. Better PvP? Faster (or no) leveling? User-created worlds? Squad-level combat? A chance to influence the world?

    I imagine, though, that most of the people currently interested in a Stargate MMO already play an MMO of some sort. Will adventuring in the world of their favorite show be enough for them to give up WoW (or whatever game they play)? Any IP-based game has to struggle with that. It can’t just be good, it has to provide a better experience than the one they already have.

  3. I’m a huge Stargate SG-1 fan but I would have to admit this MMO is probably being designed primarily for fans of the series. Then again you can’t forget that World of Warcraft was originally based off an IP also and was mostly counting on fans of the RTS games to be their target audience. As more information became available though it became apparent that Blizzard was doing something exciting things and word traveled. WoW didn’t gather 8 million players right away.

    The Stargate MMO has a unique chance to take advantage of being the only new DIKU based sci-fi game to hit the market in quite awhile. We’ve had Anarchy Online and Star Wars Galaxies come out but those were before World of Warcraft really reshaped MMO design philosophy. Tabula Rasa and Eve-Online are sci-fi based but run on unique game mechanics that don’t seem to have mass appeal. Stargate will probably set the standard for future sci-fi based avatar combat games. I expect Bioware’s KOTOR project and Blizzards Starcraft MMO to be similar. I don’t see any of these games releasing until 2009-2010 at the latest.

  4. WoW’s IP was based on games, and the players had a history of online play with Stargate hasn’t got that advantage… Lord of the Rings Online was based on a non-game IP, and it made it, and of course choice and competition is the best way to ensure a larger MMO market. But they have real challenges ahead to get the word out to non-fans in a way that doesn’t alienate them — and that was really the point of my initial post.

  5. I agree with Relmstein here – Stargate Worlds is likely being designed and targeted (at least initially) for fans of the show. They even put together a prime time trailer for the game which aired during Stargate: Atlantis on January 4th.

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