Star Trek: The Video Game comes out on the 23rd of this month, and nobody cares about the 21 questions that we’re about to answer here. Gamers want to know three things about this game set in the rebooted universe of the 2009 film: First, tell us that it won’t be awful. Second, will it have as many lens flares as the movie? And third, tell us that it won’t be awful.
Why do so many games that have drawn inspiration from feature films turn out to be rubbish? Is it because companies rush them to market with a microscopic budget in the hopes of squeezing a few more dollars out of the hype surrounding “Iron Man” or “Jurassic Park?” Is it because trying to tie in with the locations, characters, and story of a movie restrains game developers from harnessing their true creativity? Is it because everybody buckles under the pressure to create a truly fun movie-based game?
Personally, I am stoked to get my hands on a copy. Star Trek has a lot going for it. For three years the game has been in development by Digital Extremes, who have recently release solid titles such as The Darkness II and Homefront.
Brian Miller from Paramount Pictures was awesome enough to answer some questions we had about this upcoming third-person co-op action title.
1. First, who the heck are you and what is your role in the development of Star Trek?
I’m Brian Miller and my role as Senior Vice President and Executive Producer for Paramount Pictures was to oversee creative development of the game – from the developer, to the story, the casting, game play and the sound design. Everyone has worked tirelessly over the last 3 years of development to make sure all parties (our studio, the filmmaking team, our writers, co-publisher and developer) were all working to make the ultimate and most authentic Star Trek game ever.
I am absolutely a fan and I’ve seen all of the movies and grew up on the original series. Between the team we have here at Paramount and at Digital Extremes, I’m sure we could answer any Trek question you could throw our way.
3. Have you ever played any other Star Trek video games?
I LOVED the Star Trek arcade game where you could sit in a replica of the captain’s chair on the bridge! You felt like you were part of the crew. That feeling was what we are trying to replicate in the game. We want you to feel like you ARE Kirk and Spock. I’ve played most of the other Trek games as well. The standouts for us would be the Starfleet Command series, 25th Anniversary, Bridge Commander, Starfleet & Klingon Academy, Elite Force and Judgment Rites. As far as the many great Star Trek series out there – you can’t beat a classic. Where else can you experience the joys of battling a giant rubber suited lizard?
[ Ed: Check out this bad boy. Hopefully the 2013 game will have slightly improved visuals. ]
4. Obviously the big story with this game is that you are working with a license and a very well-established set of characters, locations, and weapons. How is this different than working on a game where you are creating everything from scratch? Do you feel as if you were held back at all?
As a developer, you want to make sure you stay true to the brand you are working with. There have been many movie-based games that have been heavily criticized for not being true to the source materials. And when you play them, you can tell immediately that something is wrong. It just doesn’t feel right. Luckily we were able to collaborate with all of the teams that worked on the films. When you have the right people and the right process in place, you can wind up with something truly special.
5. How have you balanced familiar Star Trek ideas with new material?
This is canon in the new alternate timeline universe which began with the 2009 film. Now that the crew’s destinies have been altered, that gives us the opportunity to do things with the Gorn and Vulcans that we couldn’t in the original timeline. Instead of meeting the Gorn Captain at Cestus III we now encounter the species for the 1st time on New Vulcan. This set of events is made possible due to the destruction of Vulcan in the last film and the repercussions of that event. Our characters are still getting to know each other, as the game takes place shortly after the last film, but you may notice that certain banter between the characters is obviously inspired by the original series. Also, Star Trek fans may notice that some of the storylines and dialog are inspired by previous Star Trek films and classic episodes. I’ll give you a little hint – take a look at the classic episodes “Arena” and “Amok Time” for some idea of what you may expect in the game.
From the very beginning we collaborated with the entire Star Trek creative team – whether it was the writing team, the set designers, special effects crew or the actors. Everyone wanted the game to fit perfectly in the new canon created by their film reboot and every creative idea was on the table for discussion. There has been an amazing collaboration between everyone here at the studio, the filmmaking team, our writers and our game developers.
7. What sources of inspiration did you draw from other than existing Star Trek material?
We certainly drew from the 2009 film, specific original series episodes and even some of the earlier films.
We started brainstorming this game when we were still shooting the 2009 movie. We realized early on that the film was going to be something special. And we knew that we had to bring that amazing vision to the gaming space. We all got together and discussed how we were going to do it correctly. We knew we wanted the story of the game to be set after the 2009 film but also not be tied to any specific event in the 2013 film, so it just made sense to release the game prior to the 2013 film.
9. What’s the story like? I hear that it takes place after the events of the 2009 Star Trek movie and the enemy is the Gorn.
We have a completely standalone story that takes place fairly quickly after the events of the 2009 film. The Enterprise is called to a mysterious space station which is run by some of the surviving Vulcans. From there we learn that the Vulcans have been rebuilding their race on a new planet called, New Vulcan. It turns out that a device they’re using to help speed up the process of building their colony on the planet had an unintended side effect; it opened a worm-hole like tear in space. This allows the Gorn to come through and attack. Kirk, Spock and the crew of the Enterprise must save New Vulcan and neutralize the Gorn threat.
It was an honor to be able to take this iconic enemy from one episode 46 years ago and completely reimagine and expand on the whole species. We now have 15 types of Gorn in our game ranging from low level initiates, boss-level Brutes and Sentinels and even 3 types of female Gorn. If you look closely you’ll see many tributes to the original Gorn Captain in our game.
11. What can you tell us about this incredible co-op experience that has been designed into the game?
Star Trek features asymmetrical co-op gameplay, with Kirk and Spock as the key players. Star Trek was built from the ground up as a co-op experience, packing two vastly different gameplay styles and unique character abilities into one game. The gamer can choose to play through the game as Kirk OR as Spock, but only as a team can the mission be completed. Just as in Star Trek, things are easier when you have a teammate to help, so while gamers can play solo and let the computer control the other character, the game experience is really enhanced when two people take on the roles of Kirk and Spock and play together.
The tricorder is probably the most important tool in the game, and it has always been a part of Star Trek. In many games you’ll find a contrivance to include a tricorder like device; we were so fortunate to already have that device in our brand’s history. The tricorder will allow you to explore the world around you and provide you with information. It is also a more practical tool that can activate things in the world, give the player XP, and be used as an offensive and defensive weapon. The tricorder is highly customizable and we encourage gamers to experiment with its various upgrades.
13. Can you tell us anything about multiplayer? Will there be a mode when the only offense players have is the Vulcan death grip?
Star Trek was built as a co-op game from the ground up and it was never our intention to include deathmatch style multiplayer. We believe the appeal of the game is to become Kirk or Spock. There have been games where you’re a nameless redshirt and it didn’t feel appropriate to try and squeeze in a multiplayer mode into our game just to say we did.
We have a pre-order incentive called the Elite Office Pack which includes several uniforms/costumes and a few additional weapons for good measure. Check it out on Steam or Gamestop.com.
15. Are you at all worried that some people will write Star Trek off as another “Gigli: The Game!”? (A really bad movie-based game with a budget of $2.75 and a development time of 16 minutes)
We are trying to break the perception that all movie-based games aren’t worth playing. That’s why Paramount has been so deeply involved . We want to make sure that the Star Trek brand is represented as it should be in the gaming space – as a AAA title. With that being said, this game has a significant budget, was in development for over 3 years and should take you more than 10 hours to complete in 1 sitting.
Playing the game with fans around the world! It’s been years! It’s time to sit back and play!
17. What is your favorite part of the game?
I hope that you’ll find the core 3rd person gameplay exciting, but we also have lots of variety that helps to mix that up. There are moments where you’ll find yourself flying through space, or soaring through mountains on a strange alien planet. You’ll get a chance to control the USS Enterprise and even experience the memories of a Gorn. We hope that the variety of shooting, exploration and adventure makes for a fun gaming experience. It’s tough to pick just one favorite part!
At its core, Star Trek is a 3rd person action-adventure shooter. Much like how the 2009 movie created new fans of Star Trek, we¹re hoping that with our varied gameplay elements and storytelling, that Star Trek: The Video Game will appeal to a wide variety of gamers, whether or not they¹re fans of Star Trek.
19. PC or console? Think about our website and make sure you answer correctly.
PC obviously. I’m a keyboard and mouse guy. When it comes to frame-rate and graphical performance, PC is where you’d want to be for any AAA title.
[ Ed: Boosh. ]
20. Would you play as Kirk or Spock?
Kirk all the way. But honestly, we were surprised in our hands-on demos that the vast majority of players chose Spock.
21. Would you want to make another Star Trek game?
We would love to make more Star Trek games. We are very excited about the next generation of gaming and feel that Star Trek HAS to be a big part of that. Besides, there are many untold stories of Kirk and Spock that need to be told.
We want to say thanks to Brian for taking time out of his busy schedule to give us a clearer picture of Star Trek and how it came into being. If the stars align, less than three weeks from now we will have our mitts on the game and be able to tell you how all their efforts have culminated.
What do you guys think? Will Star Trek redefine what we think about movie-based games, or is it doomed to fail like so many before it? Let us know in the comments.