I've been a fan of the Stargate franchise for a long time. It's always managed to entertain me, something that is rare for a lot of TV shows, even when it's being hokey or the storyline seems to be in a badly contrived stretch (like the last two seasons of SG-1).

I'd heard about Stargate Worlds a long while ago (2006 I think it was?). What they had put out at the time was some beautiful and amazing looking concept art of different locations players could go to, some different drawings of enemies such as Jaffa armor and the like. Fast forward to now, three years later and they've had a Youtube channel up for some time now. It's also been inactive for quite some time now.

What I'm wondering is how important is it, when doing an MMO based on a franchise property that already exists and is well established, that you do things right? How important is it to capture that feel of that property and make players feel like they are a part of that world? To me, it is absolutely essential.

I used to play the Matrix Online. When I first started back at the release, everything was fresh and new. Then I started to play it a bit and realized that everything was not quite what it should've been. Sure, you had martial arts skills and weapons skills. However you also had Hacker skills. These skills consisted of the players (who were supposed to be in a simulation of the real world) waving their hands in the air as if they were typing on a keyboard, and a glowing keyboard sort of effect would appear, and then the enemy would act like they got hurt. I saw this and I immediately said one thing:

They did the same thing with a healer "class" to heal people and the programmer "class" to summon minions (which to me made even less sense than just the hacking thing). They had taken what could've been a unique game among all the others and just boiled it down to what you see in other games. The Martial arts guy is the Warrior. The guns guy is the Ranger. The Hacker guy is the Mage. The Healer guy is the Cleric. The Programmer guy is the Summoner. They brought in archetypes that have absolutely no business being near the franchise.

I see that the exact same thing is happening with Stargate Worlds. Granted, it makes a little bit more sense with this property than it does with others, but it still is a property which doesn't need to have distinct lines like that. You can be the soldier who has heavy guns. You can be the commando who sneaks around with sniper rifles and such. You can be the scientist who commands machines. You can be the archaeologist who does whatever it is an archaeologist would do in a fight. From what the videos show, that appears to be using a "magical" piece of technology to assume disguises, and then you defeat your enemies by talking to them. Seriously. You talk to them. And if you talk to them correctly, then you win the fight. Hopefully winning the fight in that context means the enemies just walk off to do something else and that you don't just bore them to death.

The point is why do we need the archetypes anymore? I understand that they make things more recognizable for the crowd who is used to playing, but in settings like this where things are based on real world physics they aren't necessary or even practical. Why not try a system like mine?

Characters can learn any ability. Any ability. You can declare your character to be a certain character type and it grants large bonuses to abilities which belong to that class. For example: you take this Stargate game. Apparently only soldiers can use Machine Guns. Daniel Jackson is clearly an archaeologist, so he wouldn't be able to use one in the game. However, I've seen him use them on the show, and his action figure from the original movie comes with one. You can see the problem here, yes? What if instead, all characters got the ability to use all of the weapons (and abilities) and they get a very large bonus to their own class abilities? Dr. Jackson can now wield a machine gun if he wants, but he wouldn't be able to hit things as effectively as O'Neill would. He'd be able to read alien languages that he's seen and translate them much much faster than anyone else would. It opens up your character to all the options that a human would be able to have while still preserving the flavor of who those characters are.

Archetypes are outdated and don't belong outside the fantasy genre. Stop using them, game developers! Stop making Star Wars Galaxies NGE over and over again!

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 10/12/2009 06:03:00 PM


Post a Comment