Cryptic Reveals More about Star Trek MMO

The AP let the cat out of the bag , but Cryptic held their own announcement party on Sunday night to let fans see their new Star Trek MMO, appropriately titled Star Trek Online in action. The event was held in the Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek’s creator) Theater in the Las Vegas Hilton.

Prior to the event, Cryptic touted the fact that Leonard Nimoy, the original (and yes, we have to say "original" now with the new feature film coming) Spock, would be making an appearance, and he did. He started by throwing up the “live long and prosper” sign and teasing that he’d be back to the conference with “Young Me” Zachary Quinto to talk about the film. He then talked a bit about the evolution of Star Trek, even noting how rival sci-fi franchise Star Wars essentially saved Trek through its success. He excitedly announced that fans would be able to join the Star Trek universe and create their own stories through Star Trek Online and introduced Cryptic Studios CCO Jack Emmert.

Emmert first proved his fandom; He talked of watching the original show with his father, and how Star Trek sparked his imagination, eventually fueling his desire to be a game designer. The “societies, conflict, action, and drama” in the Star Trek universe makes it ideal in Emmert’s eyes to make a successful Massively Multiplayer game. Then he gave some new details of the game.

The game itself takes place in the year 2409, about 30 years after the events of the last Star Trek movie, Nemesis. The universe has changed a bit over the years, and to feed the transition, Cryptic’s Star Trek Online website will be updated year by year from 2380 on to expose the story. The TV shows, movies, comics and novels that are canon are all being taken into account, and will feed the mythology of the game. Any “real dork[s] like” Emmert will see a constant barrage of easter eggs pointing to events, places, people, and objects from every aspect of established Star Trek story. Clarifying points from the AP story, Emmert noted that you will always command a starship, but still need to rise through the ranks. Your bridge crew will be “pets;” player controlled, but indirectly. You’ll have an extended non-player controlled crew that helms the rest of the positions on the ship. He re-noted as well that adventures take place in outer space, on the ship, and on the planets.

When on the ship, you’ll be in a tactical style for combat, with you as the commander of the ship issuing commands to your crew. Planetside, there will be a more fast-paced action-oriented gameplay style, with melee and phaser combat.

Complete customization that was a hallmark of Cryptic’s hit City of Heroes/Villains will show up here, as well. Both your character and your ship will be customizable. Ships have to fall in guidelines of the class, but will be as customizable as possible. At launch, Starfleet and the Klingon Empire will be the two factions available, with more unlocked as time goes by.

New planets, solar systems, and civilizations will be created constantly, allowing players access to the fundamental aspect of Star Trek: to explore new worlds. You may be able to recruit new characters from these races, as well as unlocking new goods, resources, and upgrades. Players can have “fleets” within their factions to share and trade these resources, helping grow the community feeling of the MMO. Some of these fleets, Emmert said, have already started recruiting members. If you join their forum, you’re entered into a contest where 5 winners will receive lifetime subscriptions.

Emmert finished his initial presentation, before showing the trailer, by reiterating that the game will come out “sooner than you think” as the engine was already made. The trailer, which can be viewed right here at Newsarama , shows all non-pre-rendered gameplay footage, with people in the office playing real games. This indicates that his boast of “sooner than you think” is accurate, and we may even see two new MMOs from Cryptic next year (Champions Online is coming in April ’09).

Questions from the audience followed the stellar trailer, including some questions on cards from online fans that Emmert had with him on stage.

Q: Are you going to stay true to the Star Trek Universe, or are you just putting a Star Trek skin on a typical MMO?

A: Exploration and customization will make this a Star Trek game. Every member of the team is watching series and reading the books.

Q: How will storylines be created?

A: CBS and a Star Trek writer are helping them keep the game’s Star Trek feel.

Q: How accessible will the system requirements be?

A: World of Warcraft is a great game and runs on just about anything, and that’s a goal Cryptic has for this game.

Q: How affective will Holograms be in the game?

A: They may even be characters in the game, and bridge crews.

Q: What can you see in your ship?

A: Every ship will have decks, a layout, and include Medical, Engine Rooms, and a Holodeck.

Q: How will you handle player death?

A: We haven’t gotten to that, but it will be something relatively minimal; fun is the mindset.

Q: Will there be campaigns/missions?

A: Central Command will issue you tours of duty, but there won’t be “levels”

Q: Will characters be hand-drawn or motion captured?

A: Hand-drawn like in CoH.

Q: How do you not make it a grind-fest, general ETA, and beta testing?

A: We’re all playing the game to make sure it’s entertaining, or we won’t release it. “Less than 3 years.” “Register on the forums.”

Q: Will there be scheduled events?

A: Yes, like the Borg coming and invading certain sectors.

Q: PVP (Player vs. Player)?

A: Yes, times to team up with others, as well.

Q: Will working adults be able to use brains and strategy to defeat 15 year olds who spend 80 hours a week playing?

A: I don’t want to get beat by 15 year olds, either, and we are making the game with that in mind.

Q: Will there be classes?

A: Command is ancillary- your captain will have a specialty (like a college major) that will be in addition to your command.

Q: How will the servers be set up? One huge server or several small ones?

A: I’d prefer one large server so everyone can play together, but it’s a matter of what platforms we’re on (the first acknowledgement that this might come out for more than just Windows PCs).

Q: Will diplomacy be a big part of the game?

A: It’s an essential part of the Star Trek Universe, and will be there, but I can’t reveal any details yet.

Q: Will non-Trek fans dig the game?

A: Absolutely (he shockingly answered)

Q: A little girl asked “How old do you have to be to play it?”

A: Play with your parents’ permission, or when they’re asleep steal their credit card (laughs). “We want to create a game for people of all ages” but any online as all parents should know, should be carefully supervised.

Q: Will it run on Linux/Mac?

A: No idea at this point, not at first release.

Q: Will the AI do its own thing, or be more controlled?

A: You will be in control of your crew.

Q: What level of cooperation will the fleets use?

A: We’re not completely PVP-centric, but there will be a galactic economy.

Q: Will new Star Trek fiction be integrated into the game?

A: The team has read all the novels, especially the post-Nemesis ones, and they’ll use that for as much inspiration as they can.

Q: How will the ship/personal worlds interact?

A: You can board another ship as a social space, but not as a PVP element.

With that, the Q&A ended, and Emmert plugged their website , encouraging fans to sign up for the forums for regular updates.

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