WP : Can you give an outline of the company and history?
RM : 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 a 2nd unannounced project. The company started off developing coin-op games, Thunderboats and Top Down Racer. We also worked on a number of contract jobs over the years in the games arena. We will continue to look at both licensed products, where we go out an acquire the license ourselves, as well as working on original product.
WP : When did you start working on the game and how did you gain access to this licence?
RM : 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.
WP : Why did you decide to use the Unreal engine to create this game and what do you think that engine will be able to add in the creation of the Stargate universe?.
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.
WP : What’s the storyline of the game?
RM : 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 added 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.
WP : How would you best describe your game to our readers?
RM : It is a 1st person shooter with a strong team aspect.
WP : Why should they be excited about it?
RM : The players will have lots of different and visually stunning worlds to explore, some familiar form the show and some new. They will also get a deeper understanding of the Stargate universe and encounter some new baddies.
WP : Can you tell us something about the Stargate game that no-one yet knows?
RM : The SG-1 team members all have special combat abilities. Some of these are just expanded upon from the show …cough… ribbon device…cough and some of those fit in with the storyline we have.
WP : Can you tell us a little about the nucleus of the Perception team working on Stargate?
RM : 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 etc. We are working on 3 formats, PC, PS2 and X-Box.
WP : Do you create your own in-house tools and what kind of R/D department do you have?
RM : Our in house testing and R & D department continuously reviews our game as well as other latest games. Based on their findings we are continually refining and updating the toolset and the game to deliver a great gaming experience.
WP : 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?
RM : 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…
WP : 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?
RM : 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 2nd, the humour in the show. These goals have been constant throughout.
WP : There has been a sea change in the FPS games with the release of Half-Life 2 and Far Cry, these games have not just added the graphics but the polish to the experience, with creative storylines and great set pieces, has this affected your approach to the development of this game?.
RM : They haven’t necessarily affected our approach to development but they have certainly set the quality bar higher then ever before, all game developers will now be compared to those standards however not all of them will be able to afford an extended development cycle.
WP : How would you best describe Stargate and what features do you feel will grab the attention of FPS fans?
RM : It is a 1st person shooter 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 3 characters. In co-op, you will be able to go back and play through the story mode with 3 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.
WP : You are using team based game, how will your system work and how will it affect the style of play?
RM : We have a very easy to use “command” system that affects the game-play style. We want to keep The Alliance accessible so our command system is very simple to use.
WP : So each characters will have their own abilities, but could you outline a situation within the game were by each character adds to the mission in hand their abilities?
RM : For example when playing as O’Neill you can order one of your characters to use the “Hand of Light” to confuse and hurt enemies allowing the player and the rest of the team to make more interesting game-play choices.
WP : What are some of the different types of mission goals on offer and how much research was needed to make them really challenging?
RM : 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.
WP : Will you be able to swap between each character once in battle and if so why would you do this and how much would this have affect on the mission?
RM : You will not be able to swap between characters in a mission, however you will get to play the game as all of the main characters (Story based co-op).
WP : At the star of a mission you can define the task in hand and arrange how best to tackle the mission can you explain how this works and is that important, can you just not bother with it and head straight in to the mission?.
RM : As the story line 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
WP : How much contact have you had with the people working on the series from the writers, producers, director and actors and what have they been able to add to the development of the game?
We have been getting extensive help from the cast and crew of the show. We’ll be announcing some specifics at a later date, but suffice to say we’ve had complete access to the cast, crew, sets etc.
WP : In the TV series the baddies always tend to run at you blasting, will this be the approach to the AI for the enemy foot soldiers or will they have a degree of intelligent and how much?
RM : We have a number of different enemies in the game they will have different behaviours associated with them. The Haaken are tough… and smart
WP : Are missions episodic in nature, or is there a larger ongoing story arc?
RM : Missions are episodic but they follow a story arc just like the main story arc throughout the season in the TV series. Imagine a season long storyline and you get the idea.
WP : 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?
RM : We are mindful of the humour of the show and with the help of the writers of the show have made every effort to make it as close to the show as a game will allow. We see this as a key element of Stargate.
WP : There’s also 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 to the game’s plot?
RM : We need to allow people new to the Stargate universe to understand what’s going on. For those familiar with it however, there’s a number of treats in the story…
WP : Does the game touch upon Stargate: Atlantis at all?
RM : Not sure, does it???
WP : Is it pure FPS action with each character just having different attack options, or are you taking advantage of the fact the show relies heavily on linguistic problem-solving and scientific R&D in the mission structures?
RM : Again, missions that use specific characters have different styles of gameplay in them. If you play a mission with Daniel Jackson however, there are certainly elements of puzzle solving. The game is unquestionably an action game, but we do mix it up a bit…
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