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Jack Emmert Reveals Details

By Jon Wood on August 11, 2008 | General Articles | Comments

Jack Emmert Reveals Details

On Sunday, Cryptic Studios made their very first public presentation concerning the recently announced Star Trek Online. The presentation was made in Las Vegas appropriately, at a Star Trek convention. This was smart for a number of reasons including the fact that in a crowded MMORPG market, the core fans of the IP are an important demographic for the upcoming game. Then, or course, there’s the fact that at a Star Trek convention, you can have your game introduced by Lneonard Nimoy, the original Mr. Spock.

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Before continuing, I should make it clear that the full presentation has been made available via www.startrekonline.com if you’re interested in watching the whole 43 minute long presentation. For those of you who aren’t, I’m going to try to cover the most important bits:

After Nimoy introduces Cryptic Chief Creative Officer Jack Emmert, the info starts to fly. In the opening of his presetation, Emmert tells the audience that ever since their opening in 2000, they had been thinking about Star Trek as an IP for an MMO:

“It came with a rich lore, a background, societies, conflict, communities, fellowhsip, action, drama… it had all of the elements of an absolutely terrific MMORPG.”

“When the opportunity came,” Emmert continued, “for Cryptic to obtain the license for Star Trek Online (which happened when original licensees Perpetual Entertainment went under) we leapt at it.

So, you might say, the lead-up is all fine and good, but I really just want to know about the details. Well, good news, during the presentation, Emmert went into more detail about some of the elements of the game’s design.

The first thing Emmert told us is that the game is going to be set in the same timeframe as Perpetual’s version, about thirty years after the most recent movie, Star Trek Nemesis. From there, he went on to explain that players should expect to see the same universe that they are familiar with, but with a few changes. “Some friends have become enemies,” he told us, “and enemies have become friends.”

Over the next few months, we are told, we can expect to see Cryptic updating their official website with a year-by-year timeline, starting with nemesis, that will fill players in on what’s been happening in the Trek universe since the movie (thus trying to eliminate the confusion of popping into the game and seeing that the Federation is at war with, let’s say the Klingon Empire).

For the Trek fans, Emmert told us that while they have gone through every episode and movie and plan to use that as the foundation for the setting, they have also been looking at the side-projects, things like novels and comics that they are drawing ideas and information from.

With lore behind us, Emmert started talking about more specific gameplay features:

“You will be the captain of a starship. You will control a ship and its crew from day one,” he began, confirming speculation that this would be the players’ role. “Now that does not mean that you’re going to start out in rank as Captain,” he continued, addressing some player fears that advancing through the ranks of Starfleet wouldn’t be a part of the game.

It looks as though each player will have their own crew. Emmert told us to think of them like we would think of pets in a standard MMO. They’re going to be player controlled but AI driven.

“You’re going to equip them, you’re going to give them attributes, you’re going to level them up, you’re going to give them skills.”

Of course the crew that I’m referring to above is the Bridge crew (think main cast of any of the shows. That’s the bridge crew). Emmert told us that there were two kinds of crew: bridge crew and general crew. Bridge crew are pets, general crew act more as red-shirts.

Next, Emmert confirmed that there will be both space adventures and planetary away missions and while he mentioned being “on your ship”, there was some confirmation on the status of ship interiors, a hotly contested issue amongst players concerning the original incarnation of the game from Perpetual Entertainment, with jack telling the crowd that players would be able to invite one another aboard ship.

Next, Emmert promised the crowd :Star Trek combat” in terms of the space portion of the game. He told us that we could expect a slower-paced combat that allows us to be more tactical and allows us to do things like “send security forces to deck five”. On the ground, however, the combat is going to be faster-paced.

Whenever players take their characters on away missions, they will select from their bridge officers which of them will go to the surface (Honestly, this is all starting to sound very much like my first ever Star Trek game, A Final Unity, but I digress).

Cryptic Studios, as many know, are famous for the level of customization that City of Heroes brought to the MMO space, so how are they going to handle customization in Star Trek Online?

Well, it turns out that they’re doing it in a number of ways:

Races - Jack tells the crowd that they will be able to choose from a lot of their favorite races: Andorians, Tellerites, Vulcans, Ferengi, etc. Emmert also tells us that players will be able to create their own race.

Ship - Emmert tells us that players will be able to customize the look of their own ships using things like the saucer, the nacelles, decals, color and the like… all within the guidelines of whatever class of ship you’ve got.

At launch, we are told that there will be two factions in the game: The Federation and the Klingon Empire. Since he goes on to tell the audience that there will be PvP, one can assume that in the thirty years since Nemesis, the relationship between the Federationand the Klingons has deteriorated.

Those are the two factions that players can expect to see at launch, but we were told that we could expect to see more soon after launch. He specifically mentioned The Dominion and The Romulan Empire as factions that we will see soon.

While combat is going to play a role in the game, exploration will playa factor as well, including first-contact. From what I could tell of what Emmert said, player will even have the opportunity to make first contact with a new species (thus being the first player to meet them). He also told us that your character might discover a new race and then suddenly have a crew member from that race.

So, how is Cryptic planning to incorporate MMORPG standards like guilds into the game? Simple, “players can band together into guilds called fleets. In a fleet, you can pool your resources to create a space station or a mining platform or satellites.”

“Some things,” Emmert told us about the factions “can only be accomplished with many people working together.”

So that’s a basic overview of Jack Emmert’s presentation at the Star Trek convention, you can watch the full presentation yourself, complete with some interesting audience questions here, on the official Star Trek Online webpage.

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