It was announced this morning that Cryptic Studios, the maker of the new Star Trek Online MMO, have been acquired by French game publisher Infogrames, the parent company of Atari. Earlier this year the license for STO transferred from Perpetual Entertainment to Crytpic Studios after Perpetual ran into trouble, however this acquisition looks like it will have little effect on the game itself.
According to the official release STO is part of the deal and will continue to be developed:
The transaction encompasses all of Cryptic’s proprietary IP, tools, technology and work-in-progress and integrates all members of the leadership team and employees into Infogrames. This acquisition is a critical step in the implementation of Atari’s strategy to become a leading online game developer and publisher.
Cryptic is currently developing three unique MMO franchises, planned for release over the next three years on PC and next-generation consoles, including Champions Online to be released in 2009 and Star Trek Online to be released in 2010. A third game currently in development will be announced in the near future.
Of the Acquisition, Cryptic’s CEO John Needham sated:
We share a common vision with Atari and their leadership team. With our game development and online platform technology skills, we’re very excited about the opportunities that this unique combination with Atari creates. I am committed to helping Atari grow into a leading online game company and look forward to being part of the team.
Based on official statements and other reports in the game industry media the acquisition appears to include the entire staff currently at work on Star Trek Online and the game should continue in development, but the acquisition does put Cryptic in a strong position financially with greater resources going forward.
The official statement does note a release date of 2010 for STO. In past statements, Cryptic had indicated that it was shooting for late 2009 for a release, however it is unclear if the date slipped before or after the acquisition, so this change may not be related to the Atari takeover.
Meet the STO writer
In other STO news, Cryptic has also published another one of their ‘meet the team’ updates, this time featuring writer Christine Thompson:
Q: What do you do on Star Trek Online?
A: I’m the writer for Star Trek Online, which means I handle the story, characters, plotlines, episodes, dialogue, item text – anything that needs words is my area. I’m also one of the researchers, who can dig through piles of material to find the reference images for the artists or help answer questions like “do we need beaks?” I work with the designers on the content – the things we’re making are very cool and very Trek.
Q: How long have you worked in gaming, and what did you do before Star Trek Online?
A: I was a writer and editor in the newspaper industry for about 13 years before coming to Cryptic Studios. I wrote everything from movie reviews to crime stories, and as an editor I did a lot behind the scenes for the production of the daily paper – laying out pages, coordinating coverage for events like the 2000 presidential election, fact-checking, editing and trimming stories and writing thousands of headlines.
I joined Cryptic in 2007 to write for the web sites and work with the community team. After we got the license for Star Trek, I volunteered to help with some of the writing of the storylines and then I joined the STO team full-time.
Q: What part of Star Trek Online are you the most excited about working on?
A: There is so much about this game that is awesome, but I’m really excited about our episodic mission structure. We’re creating content that’s not “typical” MMO quests – we want to reflect what you’ve seen in the shows, with a variety of locations and actions in each one. I want people to be excited during episodes and eager to find out what happens next, not just wanting to finish quickly so they can get some XP and move on.
Q: What is your favorite Star Trek storyline from any of the series or movies?
A: If I have to pick just one I’ll say “Yesterday’s Enterprise” from TNG. It was such a fabulous story, and it was one where you knew that everything wasn’t going to turn out OK in the end. There would have to be sacrifices. And then the writers spun it around a few seasons later and brought in a new character who changed everything you thought you knew.
Q: Who is your favorite Star Trek character and why?
A: I’m a fan of a lot of the female characters in the series – Uhura, Crusher, Kira, Dax, Janeway, Torres.
Star Trek has never shied from creating characters that are strong and multi-faceted. Trek was one of the first things I could watch where the women weren’t just plot devices, moms or damsels who needed rescuing, and that’s part of what hooked me on the shows in the first place.
Q: What is an interesting fact about you that players would be surprised to know?
A: My focus in college was medieval literature. I’d love to use elements from Beowulf in an STO episode. Oh, and I knit my own socks.
Q: As a writer, which books would you always have on your bookshelf?
A: A good dictionary and thesaurus, at least two grammar books, the collected works of Shakespeare and a copy of On Writing Well by William Zinsser. These days I’ve added the Star Trek Encyclopedia, Star Trek Star Charts and a big pile of Trek novels.
I’m big into researching any topic I’m working on. I like to immerse myself in a world. I’m rewatching everything Trek (including the animated series!) and I try to read at least one Trek-related book a week.
Q: Would you make a good pirate?
A: I think I’ve got the ruthless streak and I know which end of the sword to point at the other pirates, but I’ve got lousy balance. I’d probably fall out of the rigging and break my neck.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to break into the gaming industry?
A: Be patient, persistent and professional. Creating videogames is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work. So be prepared to put your heart into it.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
A: Ad astra per aspera.