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Stargate SG-1: The Alliance interview, new screens emerge

New pretty pics of JoWood's sci-fi license, plus interview with the game's developer

New images of Stargate SG-1: The Alliance, the videogame adaptation of geek-bothering Sunday afternoon TV favourite, have just popped out of our mystical screenshot portal. And, um, here they are. Ta-da! Along with an interview too!

Stargate SG-1: The Alliance is a first-person shooter with team elements, built using the Unreal engine. Developer Perception promises plenty of interesting titbits for hardcore fans of the series but also pledges to make the whole thing accessible for total SG-1 noobs.

Alliance is apparently set just before the episode entitled 'Threads' in season eight of the TV show. Ancient Egyptian baddie Anubis has somehow managed to resurrect an ancient evil race called the Haaken, who have been locked away for centuries by the Ancients. Understandably they're a bit ticked off, and guess who's going to get it?

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You. Or rather, your team made up of all the main characters from the show. Different skills and abilities will be available depending on the character you're playing, so a mission played as Daniel Jackson will have to be approached in a very different way to the same mission played as Colonel Jack O'Neill.

A co-op mode will also allow players to enjoy the game together, each person taking the role of a different member of SG1.

Here's Stargate's project manager at Perception, Radek Madjer, talking about why the game will appeal to fans and newcomers to the series alike.

How would you best describe Stargate and what features do you feel will grab the attention of FPS fans?

Radek Majder: It is an FPS with a strong team aspect. There are many of different and visually stunning worlds to explore, some based on episodes from the show as well as some new ones. We have also incorporated the humour and wit of the series combined with a strong story.

The player will be able to draw upon the SG-1 team-members special combat abilities or employ them him/her self when playing the particular character. We also have a unique co-op mode. The player will be able to play through the story mode in single player and the AI will assume control of the other three characters. In co-op, you will be able to go back and play through the story mode with three friends, each one assuming the role of a member of SG-1.

With each character having unique abilities and taking different paths through some of the game, there is excellent replay value in co-op where players will be able to see parts of the game that they didn't in single-player.

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Can you tell us about the story of the game?

Radek Majder: The game takes place right before the episode 'Threads' in Season 8 of the series. We've already revealed that Anubis is involved somehow. What we've not revealed explicitly is that we've created a new enemy called The Haaken. These guys were bottled up by the Ancients thousands of years ago and Anubis has let them out. It's safe to say these guys are uber-baddies.

We have really crafted a storyline that is up to date with where the series is at, taps in to many of the major themes set up in the show over the years, and adds the layer of the Haaken. We have SG-1, Anubis, the Tok'RA, the Re'tou, the Replicators, the Ancients, (Oma and Shifu in particular) and the Haaken. It's a storyline that fans of the show will love, but for those that are completely new to Stargate, they'll be able to pick it up and follow along.

Can you tell us something about the mission types the game has to offer?

Radek Majder: There are many different types of objectives in each mission. We have several mission types including a Foothold situation at Stargate Command, where the base is overrun and you have to retake it. Others where you must infiltrate one of Anubis's bases and of course we have the Haaken. Making missions challenging and new is an ongoing task that takes many months.

At the start of each mission you must define the task in hand and arrange how best to tackle the mission. Can you explain how this works and can you just head straight to the mission?

Radek Majder: As the storyline puts certain demands on the game the missions are pre-defined. We've tailored each mission to the abilities and characteristics of the player. If you play as Daniel Jackson in a certain mission for example, you will be required to use different skills than if you play a mission as Jack O'Neill

What advantages does using the Unreal engine for SG-1 offer?

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Radek Majder: The Unreal engine is a proven piece of technology, it was chosen as it allows us to make many modifications and additions of new cool features and improvements to create this game.

There's a lot of political intrigue in the show. Will we see much of the Stargate universe's 'backstory' in the game, or is everything self-contained within the game's plot?

Radek Majder: We need to allow people new to the Stargate universe to understand what's going on. For those familiar with it however, there are a number of treats in the story...

Does the game touch upon Stargate: Atlantis at all?

Radek Majder: Not sure, does it? ;)

There will be large expectations amongst the fans for this game; they will be expecting the feel and the humour of the TV series how are you going to create without compromising on the quality of the game?

Radek Majder: We don't feel that we have to compromise the quality of the game at all, in fact we think we have translated the feel and humour of the show into the game, making it even more exciting. When we first looked at Stargate, one of the things we decided that we needed to maintain were the team aspect that SG-1 (our heroes) have, and the humour in the show. These goals have been constant throughout.

The show is renowned for its character humour as well as scripting. How much of the characterisations of Col. O'Neill and the others will we be seeing and how will it be integrated into the game?

Radek Majder: We are mindful of the humour of the show and with the help of the writers of the show we've made every effort to make the game as close to the show as possible. We see this as a key element of Stargate.

Please tell us about Perception and what products have you done before Stargate SG-1: The Alliance

Radek Majder: Perception is based in Sydney, Australia. We have about 60 staff on board full time and work with a number of external contractors. We are currently working on Stargate SG-1: The Alliance as well another unannounced project. The company started off developing coin-op games, Thunderboats and Top Down Racer.

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We also worked on a number of contract jobs over the years in the games arena. We will continue to look at licensed products, where we go out and acquire the license ourselves, as well as working on original product.

How big is the team working on Stargate SG-1: The Alliance?

Radek Majder: We have about 50 staff in house working on The Alliance plus about 12 external contractors. The team is made up of programmers, artists, level editors, designers, sound guys, testers and so on. We are working on three formats, PC, PS2 and Xbox.

How long have you been working on Stargate SG1 - The Alliance and how did you got hold of the Stargate licence?

Radek Majder: We started working on what would become the game in 2003. We were looking for a license with which to develop a game on. We approached MGM in regards to Stargate as we were all fans and felt that it would be a perfect fit for video games. We went through the regular processes you go through for something like this and emerged through the other side in late 2003.

Considering that this is such an important brand how are you going to get round the expectations that this will be just another licence game?

Radek Majder: First, we aim to make a good game irrespective of the license. Second, we try to stay true to spirit of the show and third we try to be as accurate as possible to the show. Having 60-odd Stargate freaks working on the game helps too...

Stargate SG-1: The Alliance is due on PS2, Xbox and PC later this year.

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