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Dev Profile: Daron Stinnett

Dana Massey Posted:
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The Producer of Star Trek Online lets us peek behind the scenes

Daron Stinnett is the Executive Producer of Star Trek Online, currently in development at the San Francisco-based Perpetual Entertainment. In our first developer profile Q&A in a while we ask how he got there, what he does and how you can get there. We also snuck in an update on the progress of the game itself.

MMORPG.com: Let us begin with an introduction to who you are, what you do and what you’re working on.
Daron Stinnett:

Hi, my name is Daron Stinnett. I am the Executive Producer for Star Trek Online.

MMORPG.com: The gaming industry draws from all quarters. Can you run us through how you came to your current job?
Daron Stinnett:

I’ve been making games professionally for 25 years starting in High School at a time when the typical team size was one. My focus for the first half of my career was on programming but the nature of small teams gave me the opportunity to become involved in most aspects of development. In 1990 I moved to the Bay Area to join Spectrum HoloByte where I Executive Produced the Simulations group responsible for Falcon 3.0 and other flight sims. About 12 years ago I joined LucasArts as a Project Leader/Director leading the development of several titles including Dark Forces, Outlaws, Starfighter, and most recently, Republic Commando.

MMOs are the new frontier for both game players and developers. They offer an opportunity for innovation that has all but vanished from the traditional games market. So after several years on the console side of the business, I decided to jump into MMO development by joining Perpetual Entertainment to head-up Star Trek Online.

MMORPG.com: You have what many would consider a dream job. What is your favorite part of your job?
Daron Stinnett:

I enjoy so many things about the games industry. One of the more rewarding aspects is the diversity of skills and knowledge that one can bring to bear in this field…History, engineering, literature, math, fine art, writing, economics, sports – just about any subject has relevance to games development. The opportunity to continue my education in the pursuit of making great games has been a consistent source of personal satisfaction.

Another benefit is the opportunity to interact with people who enjoy the games we make. For the last few years I’ve been working mostly on console games where there tends to be less contact with the gaming community. Of course now that I’m making an MMORPG, I’ve had a chance to reconnect with gamers in a way I haven’t experienced since my time working on Falcon.

But perhaps the best part about working in the games industry is the opportunity to work on a daily basis with so many bright, caring, and creative people. My time at LucasArts taught me the value of working with top talent. There is nothing more rewarding than working with an energetic team with great ideas and the capability to turn those ideas into a successful game.

MMORPG.com: What to you is the most challenging part of your current job?
Daron Stinnett:

The characters, themes, and stories of Star Trek are loved around the world. And it is our goal to make a MMORPG based on Star Trek that will appeal to everyone with an affinity to the series. At the same time, we feel a responsibility to the trekkers out there who have very detailed expectations. So the greatest challenge that the team and I face is meeting the expectations of the hard-core Star Trek fans while also delivering a MMORPG that is appealing and approachable to the millions of more casual fans.

MMORPG.com: For those who wish to follow and join the industry, what is your advice?
Daron Stinnett:

Many of the people I hire got their start by having a college degree in either computer science or traditional arts combined talent and a love for games. But for those who are interested in game Production or Design roles, the road in is not always so clear. My best advice is to start in QA (Quality Assurance). I’ve worked with a lot of very talented and senior team members who got their start in QA. Experience testing games gives a unique and valuable perspective on game quality and an insiders understanding of one of the most critical aspects of game development.

MMORPG.com: Finally, can we get a brief update on Star Trek Online’s progress?
Daron Stinnett:

We are in Pre-Production which means we’re doing a lot of planning and prototyping. The design team is exploring and documenting our major game systems such as economy, character progression, travel, etc. The art team is busy doing look development to establish visual quality expectations for our many diverse environments. And the engineering team is beginning work on our first major gameplay prototype that will explore our riskiest and most interesting gameplay feature: starship combat.

Many thanks to Daron for his participation.

If anyone has any comments, you can post them here.


Dana Massey