DreamStation.cc was fortunate enough to interview Evan Lorentz from the Stargate Online Trading Card Game. Based on the hit series that was spun off from the feature film, the Stargate Online Trading Card Game takes ten years of Stargate SG-1 and turns it into an innovative online experience as well as a paper trading card game for playing in person. Be sure to check back with DreamStation.cc when we review the Stargate Online Trading Card Game.
DreamStation.cc: Could you introduce yourself and tell us what your primary functions in the creation of the Stargate Online Trading Card Game were? Could you also tell us what other games you’ve worked on in the past, if any?
Evan Lorentz: I’m Evan Lorentz, the game designer for the Stargate Online TCG. I’ve been with SOE Denver (formerly Worlds Apart Productions) since the launch of Star Chamber since The Harbinger Saga in 2005, and was one of the creators of the Auto Assault TCG. Before that, my background was in the world of physical trading card games, having contributed to the design of The Lord of the Rings TCG, Star Trek TCG, and other games published by Decipher Inc.
DreamStation.cc: For those of our readers who are mostly into video games, what exactly is a Trading Card Game (TCG) and how well does the genre lend itself to an online game such as the Stargate TCG?
Evan Lorentz: Unlike regular card games, where all players share a single deck of cards, a trading card game lets each player bring their own deck of cards that can be customized to his own personal strategy. He can choose from any of the cards he has collected, and might use different decks in different games. Just as sports trading cards show you the different statistics of specific athletes during specific seasons, the cards in a trading card game are all different, and depict the specific ways they each play when you use them in a game.
The trading card game dynamic is well suited for online play. The computer polices all the rules of the game, so you don’t have to be concerned if you come across a card you don’t completely understand. The computer also allows quick and easy management of your collection, and offers tools to make building decks a snap.
DreamStation.cc: Maybe I’m old school, but it seems like the Stargate franchise lends itself much better to an action adventure game or maybe even point and click, so why a trading card game?
Evan Lorentz: The Stargate universe is enormous - there are 10 seasons of Stargate SG-1 alone! So I think there’s room for many different approaches to a Stargate game that can exist simultaneously, each one a different but completely appropriate experience. A trading card game is especially well-suited to capturing the “puzzle-solving” aspects that SG-1’s adventures sometimes take, and can also really showcase the teamwork and sense of humor on the show.
DreamStation.cc: Tell us about the online portion, what can players expect from the Stargate Online Trading Card Game? Also, could you tell us about the “Through the Gate” program and what privileges that allows the gamer?
Evan Lorentz: Players can expect a deep experience that keeps growing. Every time you face an opponent with a new kind of deck, or change up your own deck, the game will play differently. And with nearly 300 cards available in this first set, players will be exploring new possible combinations for a long time to come.
The “Through the Gate” promotion is available for players interested in both the online and printed incarnations of Stargate TCG. A player who collects a full set of cards online can choose to trade away those cards and receive instead that complete set of cards in printed form.
DreamStation.cc: Is it difficult to craft a Trading Card Game that doesn’t borrow heavily from other TCG’s currently on the market? What kind of fresh ideas does Stargate Online bring to the table?
Evan Lorentz: Right now, a lot of the current TCGs are very serious simulations of a one-on-one combat against your opponent, so immediately, Stargate TCG stands apart from those. Though your opponent does stand in the way of your victory, you aren’t trying to “destroy him” to win; instead, you are trying to use your hand-picked SG team to explore the galaxy and defeat the adversaries and obstacles your opponent sends their way.
Unique to this game is a system where your characters gain experience every time they successfully complete a mission. Their skills can improve this way, making them better and stronger on later turns of the game. Your entire strategy can change according to which characters you choose as the “stars of the show,” the ones you build up most through these successes.
DreamStation.cc: The Stargate Online Trading Card Game has just gone Beta, what can potential gamers expect from this and what can players expect in the future in terms of updates, new card decks, etc? Also, how much, if anything, is this going to cost gamers?
Evan Lorentz: The Beta has gone very well, and things are going to keep on rolling with the launch. New expansion sets of cards will be released regularly for the game. Each set will increase the number of strategies and possibilities for players to explore. The software itself will remain a free download, and players will enjoy unlimited play with the cards in the collections, with no subscription fees. Each player decides for himself how much to buy into the game, purchasing starter decks and booster packs to expand his personal collection of cards.
DreamStation.cc: What are the pros and cons of the digital version of the Stargate Trading Card Game versus the paper version?
Evan Lorentz: Playing online, you’ll easily be able to find an opponent at any time. Managing your cards and building decks is easy, since you can quickly search your collection for cards matching any characteristic you like. But some players enjoy the tactile thrills of a printed trading card game, opening packs and physically handling cards during the game. There are certainly good sides to both forms.
DreamStation.cc: For a project such as the Stargate Online Trading Card Game, being this is a licensed game, how many players do you anticipate to play the first six months or so after the game has been released and what sort of player turnout would it take to deem the game a success?
Evan Lorentz: As a designer, I deal with making the game as fun, satisfying, and strategic as I can, and make sure that we don’t take away from those ideals as we add expansion sets in the future. I let others focus on getting people to try the game, while I try to make sure that everyone who does enjoys it and wants to keep playing.
DreamStation.cc: Is there anything else you want to tell our audience about either version of the Stargate Trading Card Game? Tell them why they should be putting away World of Warcraft and playing Stargate Online, they apparently need a kick in the pants to do so. Help them out.
Evan Lorentz: Stargate TCG provides an enjoyable gameplay experience in manageable chunks of time. If you’ve only got 30 minutes to spare, that’s still enough time for a game against most players. You don’t have to take part in any kind of “daily grind” to enjoy the very best the game has to offer; you’re limited only by your own strategic resourcefulness. You can be a part of a social environment and share strategies with other players without directly tying your own personal successes in the game to theirs. And best of all, every new “encounter” you face against an opponent will result in something entirely new; each game is dynamic and different, and isn’t a scripted series of events you’ll keep repeating the more you play the game.
DreamStation.cc: Putting chips in your sandwich is: a) Perfectly acceptable and perfectly delicious -or- b) The ultimate in disgusting.
Evan Lorentz: I don’t even really like my foods touching on the plate, so my vote is disgusting.
DreamStation.cc: Better dessert, cake or pie?
Evan Lorentz: Cake. Pie is just a way of chickening out and pretending it’s healthy because it has fruit or something in it. Cake’s for the real dessert lovers.
DreamStation.cc: We would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us and our readers. We look forward to playing the Stargate Online Trading Card Game and any other future projects.
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