This interview is taken from FiringSquad.com
While Bethesda Softworks is prepping three Star Trek games for release this fall, developer Perpetual Studios is deep in development of the next big Trek game, an MMORPG titled simply Star Trek Online. While Perpetual is still keeping a lot of details about the game secret, we managed to get its design director Glen Dahlgren to talk a little bit about their plans for the game as our Star Trek game week concludes on the very day of the first Trek TV episode's broadcast 40 years ago.[INDENT] FiringSquad: First, with Star Trek entering its 40th anniversary this week how does it feel to continue this science fiction franchise in a whole new way?
Glen Dahlgren: It’s incredible. I’ve been a fan from way back, and I’ve found that every era has its own character and something distinct to like about it. What’s wonderful is that, while we’re drawing on elements from all of these series, we’re effectively creating a new series—a new era twenty years beyond the most recent movie. This era will have its own look and feel, and is being constructed in collaboration with some of the best-known Star Trek designers as well as with the wholehearted blessing of CBS. This is a wonderful opportunity for us, and hopefully an exciting opportunity for fans as well.
FiringSquad: We know that the game is based on a slightly future version of the Next Gen/DS9/Voyager timeline but what sort of historical references can we expect to see to the original series in the game?
Glen Dahlgren: As I mentioned, we’re pushing our timeline out twenty years beyond what has been shown on screen. We’re evolving everything—uniforms, technology, ships, etc.—however everything in our game is still Trek. There are established themes and construction techniques we’ve maintained in our design to evolve the look rather than supplant it. What’s more, twenty years isn’t that far out; you’ll still see characters you know and love (or hate); you’ll still be able to visit planets or systems that you’ll easily recognize; you’ll relive themes that pervaded many Star Trek episodes; and, of course, we always have time travel…
FiringSquad: We have seen MMORPGs based on licened properties like Star Wars Galaxies and The Matrix Online dissapoint players. How will the development team ensure that such a situation will not happen with Star Trek Online?
Glen Dahlgren: When creating a licensed product like this, there are two fundamental (although sometimes conflicting) goals that one must achieve: 1) Make sure the underlying game is solid, fun, and approachable. We can’t make a Trek game for its own sake, nor do we want to; people have to enjoy playing the game if they’re going to come back to it for hundreds of hours. We need fans of the genre to play our game, not just fans of the license. 2) Fulfill the popular fantasies. People expect certain things when they picture a Star Trek game in their head. They don’t just want to kill space rats for their entire career; they want to meet interesting characters, engage in compelling stories, visit places they know, and crew a ship with friends. When these goals overlap, you know you’ve hit the sweet spot.
FiringSquad: Since this game will likely appeal to people who perhaps have never played an MMORPG before what steps are being taken to keep the game accessible to those players while still be interesting to veteran players? Glen Dahlgren: Every system in the game is created with simplicity in mind. The best gameplay comes from when simple systems interact to create complex strategies. We start the game with an approachable, solo-friendly newbie experience. We then allow the player to find his own way into crews where he can contribute his skills and powers aboard a ship of other players, flying the most powerful ships in the quadrant, and taking on the most devious enemies. And we’re working to provide other channels for high-end content than just pure combat; more on that later.
FiringSquad: Can you give us a few hints about some features that you are especially excited about in the game?
Glen Dahlgren: Star Trek Online is dedicated to providing compelling planet-side, away-mission content, as well as an exciting space experience. I’ve yet to see another game do this out of the box, and yet the Star Trek property screams for it. What’s more, we’re pushing for some innovative ways to combine the two experiences into something not-yet-seen. Beyond that, the crew experience should be fantastic. Players can group in space as they want, but if they decide to join up aboard a crewed ship, not only do they get to fly more powerful vessels, but the captain has access to some incredible abilities. Another goal of ours is to make sure the casual player has the help he needs to catch up with his friends. While we won’t be auto-leveling characters, we will give him some tools that make his off-line time valuable to his on-line experience. There’s much more, but it’s too early to reveal too much. FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Star Trek Online at this stage?
Glen Dahlgren: It’s an exciting time to be a part of this project, where we’re discovering what this game is all about, as well as being a part of this franchise. With new games just around the corner, the anniversary approaching, and especially a new Trek movie by JJ Abrams on the way, how can someone not be excited? We’re forging the future of Trek, literally, and you don’t get an opportunity like this every day. [/INDENT]