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Stargate Worlds enters production phase

Tuesday - November 21, 2006 | by Darren Sumner

Stargate Worlds creator Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment has moved from pre-production into full production on the highly anticipated massively multiplayer online video game.

To celebrate, the company has released a new series of images from the game -- actual computer-generated environments, created from the game's detailed concept art with the Unreal 3 engine. Click on a thumbnail below to see the image, along with commentary from Nick Heitzman, Lead Artist at Cheyenne Mountain.

"These are a few images from our visual target for Stargate Worlds," Heitzman said. "Basically we wanted to cut a small slice out of one of our worlds, and through concept art and the magic of Unreal 3, bring the whole scene visually up to where we want to set our bar. We chose a desert world, and the Goa'uld, because of their familiarity to folks from the basic Stargate lore. The Goa'uld influence lets us have some anchor in reality through the Egyptian cultural influence, while still keeping to the wonderful vibrancy of the show through the Jaffa soldiers and overall color and style of our visual target."

"This structure is, in fact, a Goa'uld Resurrection Station on some far flung desert world," Heitzman said. "With excellent concept as reference, we took the polygon count to the edge of reasonable, and then pushed the visuals even further with normal, parallax and specular mapping. We've also made use of Unreal's amazing effects, such as heat distortion, particles and localized lighting.

"Also, while our mesh is lit using a light map solution, the character shadows and lighting are dynamic, and recognize the static shaded areas in real time. Our characters, as personified by our Jaffa guard in the shots, utilize multiple shader types per material. Giving ornate metal one 'feel,' while flesh and silk cloth two other completely different textures on screen. Plants and skin use transmission masking to enhance lifelike appearance. The sarcophagi in the screenshots animates to activity, toggling on emissive lights and glow which bathe the character in illumination. So many details have been given process to achieve our desired visual quality, we are very happy with the final result as a massively multiplayer playground.

"While we expect to continue to make strides visually throughout the project, the images from this area give a good representation of how Stargate Worlds will look, both in style and detail. Now imagine this visual quality across a wide variety of cultures, worlds, huge starships, and more. We hope to use all our talents and Unreal 3 to bring the Stargate mythos to artistically stunning reality."

Visit GateWorld's Video Games section and to learn more about the game! Stargate Worlds is expected to be released for the PC late next year.

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