Interview: Brian Miller On Star Trek: The Video Game And Future Of Trek Gaming | TrekMovie.com
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Interview: Brian Miller On Star Trek: The Video Game And Future Of Trek Gaming April 21, 2013

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Interview,Star Trek (JJverse game) , trackback

The new Star Trek Video Game is due in just two days. TrekMovie sat down with Paramount producer Brian Miller for an exclusive talk about the game and the future of Star Trek gaming. Read the full interview below plus we share some more game play and behind the scenes video for the game..     

 

Interview: Brian Miller Talks Star Trek: The Video Game

TrekMovie exclusive interview Paramount’s Brian Miller who is the producer for the new Star Trek: The Video Game.

TrekMovie: The history of licensed game – including Star Trek games (with notable exceptions) – is not always stellar. What are you doing with Star Trek: The Video Game to break that pattern?

Brian Miller:  It all boiled down for us to a very early meeting we had with the filmmakers for the 2009 movie and we knew they were going to open up Star Trek in a big way. Any time you do a movie you look at what you can do with it–books, games, toys, etc. To your point, movie-based games don’t have the best reputation so we tried to look at it differently. We tried to pinpoint why they didn’t work and how do we avoid that and make a really good game. Forget that it was Star Trek, we just wanted to make a really good game period. Star Trek was the icing on the cake.

So once we decided to make a game we thought about what kind of game we wanted to make and so we looked at Star Trek–what is Star Trek at its core and for us that was Kirk and Spock and that lead to it being a co-op game. And from that it kept rolling along, we would do a co-op game where you can play as Kirk or Spock. No other Star Trek game had done that before. But if we are going to do Kirk and Spock then we need to get Chris [Pine] and Zach [Quinto], and if we are going to get them we might as well get everyone else, so it then it turned into: we must make the most authentic Star Trek game that we can.

We then thought about what kind of game we wanted to make and we are all fans of the third-person shooters and a big reason for doing that instead of first person is because we have these amazing actors. I want to see Kirk and Spock and how they banter and if we are seeing through their eyes I miss out on the great performances we are going to get from our actors. But then you say ‘but Trek has never been a shooter.’ So we realized that we need exploration and discovery and that leads to having the tricorder in the game and how it is a great way to interact with the world.

We then though through who will be the enemy and the majority of the people in the room said ‘let’s do Gorn.’ Which leads us to doing a new story. That is the problem with some movie-based game is that it isn’t a new experience. I want to go someplace I haven’t seen, and if I am going to do that it has to be canon, because otherwise it is just a throw-away. So we absolutely want this to be seen as canon. 


New Video: Developing the story of Star Trek: The Video Game"

TrekMovie: So being an official Paramount production and not just something licensed to a 3rd party, should this game be considered as canon as the films and not ‘canon-lite’ or ‘B-canon?’

Brian Miller: Absolutely. It was important for us early on to work with Bob Orci and the filmmakers to make sure that this fit and was part of the canon of their universe. Like we have New Vulcan in the game, which is clearly something that picks up from the last movie.  On the flip side we didn’t want to get too cheeky. Like ‘oh there is a nod to the new movie and there is a nod to the last movie.’ It is a complete story with a three-act structure that isn’t trying to leave you with a cliffhanger leading you to the next movie. We wanted it to end as its own story. There are fun little hints and Easter eggs to the previous film and stuff in the original series, but we wanted to make sure it wasn’t a marketing ploy for the game being directly tied into the new movie. It was never meant to be that because we wanted it to stand alone. 

TrekMovie: Talk about how you decided to not just use the Gorn, but to expand the mythology of the Gorn.

Brian Miller:  The Gorn started with one of those first meetings. It is such a testament to that amazing show to have a character – an alien – that was just in one episode, but people still talk about it. That was a great opportunity for us. As great as the one rubber-suited guy was, the great thing that was done with the 2009 movie is that it allowed us to re-introduce characters in a new way. There is never been much of a discussion about what the rest of the Gorn culture is. We never saw who their leaders are, what are their motivations, etc? We have a very clear version of the "Arena" Gorn – which you saw in the Shatner video – you could see the version of that character in the game in that video – the "Gorn Champion." We wanted to find a way to fill out the Gorn species and sub-species. So go from the lowest guys, a kind of animalistic kind of pit-bull lizards, through the brutes who are like gladiators and enforcers, to our female Gorn, all the way up to
lieutenants and the big commander.


William Shatner battles classic Gorn in promo – look closely in video and you see the classic Gorn from the game

TrekMovie: Let’s say you are a Trek fan but not that into gaming, and not that interested in shoot-em-ups. Is this for them? 

Brian Miller:  Absolutely. We want to tell that story. We wanted to tell a real adventure for these characters. Getting back to that issue of canon–that mattered to us. The best compliments we have got to date is that people came out of the demos and said ‘I feel like I was watching Star Trek.’ And that is the hardest thing to do in gaming is to make it feel right. I can make it look right scans of the actors and get the music and sound effects, but if they aren’t bantering the right way and if the story doesn’t feel like Star Trek then people are going to tune it out. So we wanted to tell a Star Trek story that mattered. So if you aren’t a big gamer, we think this is game that you will really want to experience as a Trek fan. Or even if you are not a gamer at all, then sit back and watch someone else play to experience the story.

TrekMovie: From the demos we can see people running around the Enterprise. They never released the kind of detailed blue-prints like there were for the original Star Trek, so how was it decided how all these parts of the ship looked and were connected together? – again being that you are aiming for this to be officially canon.

Brian Miller:  We have been collaborating with everyone from the art department, the filmmaking team, with Bad Robot, with ILM. You are going to see places you have been before like the bridge, the shuttle bay, the transporter. So we made sure those all looked right, but we also wanted to go to places that we couldn’t or didn’t go to in the film. Like we go into the crew quarters or down in to the turboshafts. Part of the game has a Gorn loose on the ship and there is a moment like in Alien where our guys are trapped in the Jeffries Tubes chasing the Gorn.


A Gorn gets loose on in the USS Enterprise Jeffries Tubes in "Star Trek: The Video Game"

TrekMovie: How different is the experience as Kirk or Spock.

Brian Miller:  Very different. We wanted it to be so that after you finish the game you turn over to your friend (or the computer) and want to play again and get that experience through the other character’s eyes. There are unique weapons, such as Kirk’s captain’s phaser–modeled after an Old West six-shooter since Kirk has a bit of cowboy in him. Spock has this Vulcan ‘repeater’ weapon. But since Star Trek isn’t all about killing things, it is about discovery and learning. So the more you use your tricorder, such as scanning things around you–plants, animals, creatures, things, weapons and other things you find–you get more experience. And the more experience points you get the more you can upgrade your tricorder to do new things and you can upgrade your weapons too. For example you weapon can do ricochet shots or your tricorder could heal your partner from a greater distance.

But they also play a differently. So if you are trying to take down a Gorn, Kirk’s takedowns are much more aggressive whereas Spock can go up and use his neck-pinch. And an idea that came from Bad Robot was to have Kirk have the ability to call in an airstrike from The Enterprise in orbit. And then Spock has the ability to mind-meld. For example in the game the Gorn use this venom to infect and control some of the crew and some of the Vulcans on New Vulcan. Firstly we reward you for not killing them by using stun, but we wanted to tell that story through so there is a scene where Spock uses a mind-meld and you get the back-story on that and it is an experience you only get through the Spock character.


Miller:  The more you use your tricorder the more bonuses you get in "Star Trek: The Video Game"

TrekMovie: How linear is it? Can you take different paths or come up with different solutions to move forward?

Brian Miller:  Well this isn’t an RPG because we are telling a story so there aren’t a million different choices. So there are moments where yes you must do a certain thing like a mind-meld to get past, but there are other moments where there are many different solutions. You can take out a Gorn being very aggressive or you can do it in stealth to get around things and maybe not even engaging. If you manage to get through something without harming any of your crew or sneak past the Gorn you get extra experience points you can use for upgrades.

TrekMovie: Let me turn around an earlier question. What if you are a hard-core gamer with only a passing interest in Star Trek. Can this game appeal to the guy who wants this game to compete with the latest "Gears of War" or "Call of Duty," etc titles?

Brian Miller:  I think we face the same challenge as the 2009 movie which is you need to appeal to a very large audience but also make sure your hard-core fans don’t feel betrayed. We were never trying to be "Call of Duty" or "Gears of War." It isn’t running around in military way and shooting a bunch of bad guys. We want to stay true to Trek. On the other hand we are gamers and we play all those games. We play "Uncharted" and "Arkham Asylum" and "Gears of War." We needed to make sure the gameplay–particularly co-op gameplay–was at a level that can compete so that a Star Trek game could sit on the same shelf as those games.

TrekMovie: I know there is the "elite-officer" pack, will there be more DLC [Download Content] options?

Brian Miller:  You want to make sure you make a great game and sometimes there are games that try to do too much. Personally I sort of get a game–which are not the cheapest things in the world–and a week later ‘oh buy another level’ or the ending of the game is left open so you buy the DLC. We talked about it and we know Trek fans will buy our stuff to fill out their collection but we wanted to make sure we were putting everything we had into our game. Maybe in the future? We will see. If fans react the way we hope they react to the game there are lots of things we can do. We can do another game or other levels or another story or downloadable packs or costumes. But everything we can put into it for now is in this game, we didn’t hold anything back.


Parts of the special "Elite Officer Pack" available for those who pre-order "Star Trek: The Video Game"

TrekMovie: How did having the original actors influence the development of the game?

Brian Miller:  We knew that if we did this game and it got to the point were say Scotty was supposed to be there and it was a sound-alike or he ways mysteriously sent on an away mission, that the fans would say ‘something is fishy.’ So we knew we wouldn’t do the game unless we got everybody. And they were all enthusiastic about doing it, but the surprise was they all said they would do it if everyone else did it. For us that was important because it mean they really were a crew. Their performances were great. That banter is so dead on. Like we were recording with Zach and he stopped and said "do you mind if I made some changes because Spock wouldn’t say it that way" and we were like "of course, are you kidding?" Same with Simon. He had a ball with it and he said "do you mind if I just come up with some stuff?" Simon Pegg doing ad-lib, like with Keenser his little buddy, he just game up with this great stuff. So we called up the developer and said "The good news is we
have some of the greatest lines recorded for a game, the bad news is that you better find a way to get them into the game because they have to get in there." They heard the lines and put a team on it working over night. Zoe also added to it. There is this Vulcan female character that Spock knew called "T’Mar" and Zoe was like "who is this girl?" and Spock can’t lie his way out if it and Zoe took it to a place we weren’t expecting it to go but was absolutely the place to go based on the relationship of those two characters. It allowed us to do something we couldn’t do if we didn’t have the original actors.


Actors voicing "Star Trek: The Video Game"

TrekMovie: For the sake of argument let’s assume the next Star Trek movie comes out in 2016. What is the likelihood of a new game by them?

Brian Miller:  We would love to make another game. There are a million stories that could be great sequel to this game, and other characters we would like to re-visit.

TrekMovie: So you are more likely to stick with original story games instead of adaptations of the movies?

Brian Miller:  Well you don’t really know what fan reaction will be. But it was important for us and I think the right decision for this game to tell an original story. That is what I want to see as a game. I would love to repeat what we did with this one. But it isn’t all about the next movie. For this one we didn’t know when the next movie was going to come. So in this case we will get through this we will do a post-mortem and hear back from the fans. And we will take it from there. I would love to keep making games. I would love to keep Star Trek up on that top shelf. It belongs in gaming in a big way. The Trek fans have always wanted that. We deserve to be treated like some of those other properties.

Watch First 30 Minutes of Star Trek: The Video Game

IGN has three new videos that show the first 30 minutes of the game.

Game Arrives April 23rd – PC Download Now Available for pre-order

The new Star Trek game arrives on April 23rd for XBox 360, Playstation 3 and PC download. You can pre-order the Xbox and PS3 version at Amazon.

You can pre-order the PC download at Steam at Steam for $49.99.

Comments

1. Dee - lvs moon surface - April 21, 2013

Great article!

2. Ash - April 21, 2013

I’m not a gamer really, but this might convert me! Sounds very interesting, and I love that you have the option of being Kirk or Spock. Nice that they have the rest of the crew too. I’d love to hear what Scotty, Sulu and BONES sound like :)

3. Blake Powers - April 21, 2013

Star Trek Voyager Elite Force was a pretty fantastic game. Seems that one gets forgotten too often.

4. Melllvar - April 22, 2013

Looks interesting… but they’re yet to produce anything that holds a candle to Starfleet Academy (best Trek game EVER from all the way back in the 90′s)

5. Sci-Fiddy - April 22, 2013

Pre-ordered.

Lookin’ good..better that TNG for the Genesis

wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation_%281994_video_game%29

Loll

6. Slurpy-Man - April 22, 2013

Kirk: “We need to get that door open.”
Spock: “You will need my assistance in opening it, Captain.”
Kirk: “Right. Ensign Linkara, cover us. Keep those lizard things busy.”
Linkara: “You’ve got it. Alright, Gorn. You may be a giant, slimy lizard creature from space. As for me? I AM A MAN!” *Punch*

Couldn’t resist, really.

7. Platitude - April 22, 2013

The original cast members doing voice work kinda sells it for me. If they were all sound-alikes I wouldn’t even consider buying it.

8. JohnRambo - April 22, 2013

Big thanks to Brian Miller and Digital Extremes for making this game!
I will buy it for ps3 xbox 360 and pc to support these guys.

9. Calastir - April 22, 2013

No more shooters please, they push Star Trek into an ugly direction…

Try mystery rpg’s, strategy and puzzles for a change.

10. Calastir - April 22, 2013

Nope, don’t like these redesigned Gorn at all.
They look like Jurassic Park rejects and don’t even talk!
I want the classic alien design, or at least the silver eyes back.

11. Jonboc - April 22, 2013

Picking this up tomorrow, looks like a great way to spend some time leading up to the new move.

12. singularity87 - April 22, 2013

Flying the ship is always going to work better since somehow that feels more ‘real’ than making a person run about.

But Elite Force 1/2 were pretty good and I still play Armada II Fleet Ops (a mod of the original Armada II). I wouldn’t mind a 2013 update of Bridge Commander . . .

13. Jack - April 22, 2013

10. Haven’t hey said those guys are in there too.

14. rm10019 - April 22, 2013

13- Not quite but there is an ‘Arena’ Gorn in the spirit of the classic but it still looks quite a bit different.

I would love some DLC for some TOS looks but that being said, I am very up on this game and really appreciative of all the work making it a reality.

15. msn1701 - April 22, 2013

I am so excited to play this video game, and I’m not a gamer at all! YAY for choosing Kirk or Spock as your character.

16. BatlethInTheGroin - April 22, 2013

These Gorn look ridiculous. They’re slow, lumbering bipeds, not velociraptors. What’s more, the Gorn are NOT monsters–they were protecting their territory. That was the whole point about “Arena”–Kirk came to realize it had all been a misunderstanding on both sides. It’s clear that the game designers don’t get the species or the episode at all. What’s more, Gorn society HAS been examined, both in the books and the comics, and it was far more compelling than a cheesy video game ignoring TOS continuity. I’m skipping this, which just looks like a poor knock-off.

17. workforkirk - April 22, 2013

I agree that these aliens shouldn’t be called Gorn… AT ALL. That’s why there needs to be some kind of centralized control over the Trek franchise. HOWEVER, the game looks really cool, and I may purchase it just for the chance to tour the new Enterprise. :-)

18. The Sinfonian - April 22, 2013

There are many races in the Gorn Conferederation. They’re all Gornoids, just like humanoids dominate the Federation. Gorn society only exists in canon Trek in two cases specifically: Arena, and In a Mirror Darkly. Why should all the major powers be made of only one single race and species? There’s room for many types of lizardy folk in the Gorn Hegemony. :)

19. Spock's Bangs - April 22, 2013

#16 “These Gorn look ridiculous.”

Yeah! Unlike the original series Gorn, that looked so ..umm….umm…green and rubbery.

20. sean - April 22, 2013

I was into this until the 2nd video. No repercussions for killing off innocent Vulcans is just ridiculous.

Star Trek can work as a theme for a shooter, but it has to be a smarter kind of shooter. Fun quipping between Kirk and Spock is a great selling point of this game, but when you get down to the actual gameplay itself and see it’s just another shooter, well, I’ll skip.

21. rm10019 - April 22, 2013

If one is a Trek fan and gamer, then you don’t skip this game. If you’re neither then why would you be reading this article.

If you are one, and not the other then sure you might not play games or might not have a console or pc capable of playing it.

22. Jack - April 22, 2013

19. Man, you just don’t get it — that’s why it was okay for Kirk to show mercy, because it was rubbery and lame. As 16 says, obviously, had it been fast and accurate, Kirk would have totally been fine to kill the thing.

I’m totally kidding.

Maybe the Gorn are protecting their territory here. Although it seems out of character for Vulcans to put up a colony on disputed territory, or to put up a colony without years of due diligence and permits etc. Oh, and it’s a game. Heck, one of the more recent TNG games involved destroying everybody else and seizing control of the galaxy.

“Gorn society HAS been examined, both in the books and the comics, and it was far more compelling than a cheesy video game ignoring TOS continuity.”

What was compelling about it?

23. TrekMadeMeWonder - April 22, 2013

Y”know.

Too bad the Gorn are so different looking. The one next to Mr. Shatner has a much more interesting look.

Is there an explanation? The last time this happened the Klingons had ridges added and it took 20 years to find out why.

Also, after all this time, it would be real nice to have a regular cast member named Matt Jeffries.

24. benet - April 22, 2013

I’m very happy there seems to be a decent video game adaption of a movie.

Also, it’s a new Star Trek game!!!!
how long has it been since Elite Force or so, the STOnline thing appart….

love the original voice actors and music, graphics looks decent for a current game, not sure about the story/villains tough.

Preordered mine, just too exicted.

25. The Sinfonian - April 22, 2013

@23 The explanation has been made many many times, especially since the CGI’d Gorn in Star Trek: Enterprise. There are many different gornoid races from the Gorn Hegemony homeworlds, and in the Gorn Confederation at large.

26. BatlethInTheGroin - April 22, 2013

#21 wrote: “If one is a Trek fan and gamer, then you don’t skip this game.”

You do if you think the game looks bad. And a shooter game about Gorns who look and act nothing like Gorns looks bad.

27. rm10019 - April 22, 2013

26 – …to you. Looks great to me! Enjoy not playing this game!

28. Calastir - April 22, 2013

@26
Agreed.

@27
Like McCoy answered Spock in The Wrath of Khan: “WE will.”

29. captain_neill - April 22, 2013

I am looking forward to playing this game, but totally agree they got the motives ofthe Gorn all wrong as they were protecting their territory.

Not canon to the prime universe but new canon.

30. Unwanted - April 22, 2013

Getting mine tonight, payed for it last year, just have to walk into Gamestop and pick it up.

31. Joe - April 22, 2013

You will have to excuse my ignorance concerning video games. I am not a game player so I would like to know how somebody like me can get into this. Is it possible to simply watch the story without playing the game?

32. Calastir - April 23, 2013

@31
Yes it is, people upload lots of gameplay video’s onto youtube for example.

Just google for a ‘Let’s play’ or a ‘Walkthrough’ on Star Trek: The Video Game.

I already found one in two parts just now.

33. hyundisuper - April 23, 2013

Here is a link to a real star Star Trek, fan made based in the prime universe!!

stexcalibur.com

34. Z3R0B4NG - April 23, 2013

after seeing these yellow rifts in space for the first time, i expected Tholians for a while….
why would the Gorn have that?

anybody still complaining about the Gorn not being the way they think they are: Comics, Books and Games are only Soft-Canon.

There was 1 TOS Episode that was canon…. 1 ENT mirror universe episode… and since then Star Trek has been rebooted so that the old canon stuff doesn’t matter anymore anyway (at best that ENT episode would matter because it was before the new Movies).
That TOS episode, did not happen (yet) in this Timeline.

They may call it “alternate reality” or whatever… but its a reboot, plain and simple….
it really doesn’t have much use complaining about this Reboot-Soft-Canon-Game not being faithful to some PrimeUniverse-Soft-Canon Comic/Book extended universe*-Stuff that was never even on TV.

35. Mantastic - April 23, 2013

Beyond all the issues with the Gorn in terms of continuity in the story line, I’m just surprised at how low quality the textures on them look. Compare that screenshot of the Gorn to….well pretty much anything in Gears or War 1.

In fact, the textures on all the character models look pretty bad with fairly low poly counts compared to what’s standard today.

36. Julio Scissors - April 23, 2013

Played for a couple hours this morning, pretty good game. It’s a pretty standard shoot-em-up (so far) with story wedged in between the missions. It’s definitely worth renting at a Redbox for a few days, if for nothing else than to have fun with the ST characters and get a little fix before the movie comes out.

37. Danpaine - April 23, 2013

Waiting a few weeks for the price to drop. $60 is absolutely ridiculous.

38. et - April 24, 2013

It arrived today.

It’s fun.

UNTIL… You get to an UTTERLY UNPASSABLE space battle!! My friend and I hammered for over hour at the same forty-five seconds of gameplay, trying to stop the weird-ass Gorn space-pods that fly at your ship. It’s completely impossible to shoot them out of the sky.

I’m hoping there’s some tactic I’m missing, or this otherwise awesome game has hit an unfortunate brick wall.

39. Julio Scissors - April 24, 2013

@38 That level is definitely a pain. The trick is to make sure your Shields are up right before the Gorn ships ram the E. For offense, don’t worry about using phasers, instead use “tactical view” whenever the option presents itself.

40. et - April 24, 2013

@39. Thanks, Julio! I have to say, I tried using Tactical View, but it doesn’t seem to recharge fast enough in time to get them all. I tactical one, and the next one nails me.

And is there a trick to getting your shields up that I was too dense to see? It’s entirely possible I missed that. I’m exactly that kind of idiot.

41. Julio Scissors - April 24, 2013

On the PS3 Shields up is L2. Press it when an enemy ship is approaching, and when there’s a break release it so your shields can recharge.

Hope this helps; took me 5 or 6 tries.

42. et - April 24, 2013

I bet it’s the same on the Xbox. Thanks! I’ll try it when I get home.

43. Unwanted - April 24, 2013

When I picked mine up it came with a small (33 piece) Kre-O set of the TOS version Enterprise. My kids love it!

44. sean - April 25, 2013

Got this from Redbox today. Plays a lot like Elite Force, right down to med & weapon refill stations. Not a great game, but entertaining.

A few things…

A)There are consequences for killing innocents – you are strongly encouraged to stun any infected Vulcans/Crew so you can incapacitate. You will also be unable to achieve the various commendations if you kill.

B)The Gorn appeared in one episode of TOS, and in that episode they massacred a starbase and used a faked distress call to lure in ships for target practice. Making them a species interested in conquest isn’t exactly inconsistent with TOS.

C)The guy in the suit looked silly. That’s why it’s been a joke for 40 years. Anyone who honestly expected a Gorn that looked like rubber and moved at a snail’s pace was being unrealistic.

45. Eric - April 26, 2013

#16 What EVERYONE seems to forget is that this is a totally new time line, universe what ever. The Gorn being different should be expected. They have esteblished that it IS differnt by blowing Vulcan and 8/10th give or take of the species. I don’t get that the fan base can’t grasp that. It’s gonna be different, if you can’t see that or like it don’t see the movies or play the game. But, just stop crying about it.

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