Interview With Daron Stinnett – Exec Producer of Star Trek Online MMORPG

The massive multiplayer Star Trek game ‘Star Trek Online’ is still a year and a half away, but Perpetual Entertainment is already building buzz about the project. Last week they showed off some of their work at the Game Developers Conference and today they put some of that artwork (below) on the official site. Now that things are starting to happen TrekMovie.com decided it was time to make first contact with Perpetual. Executive Producer Daron Stinnett made it clear that the game (like Star Trek XI) is just in pre production, but there are already 35 people working on it full time. Stinnett is a long-time fan of the franchise and apparently when the word went out that Perpetual were giving Trek the MMORPG treatment, the Trekkie game designers came calling. "A lot of great talent was attracted by it…people really excited to be part of a new vision of Star Trek," says Stinnett. 

This new vision is a Star Trek universe set 20 years after the time of Nemesis. Stinnett says they chose the time for good reason…

We are not doing what other licensed games do. We are not just replicating the universe, we are creating a whole new world here. A world that will work well as a MMORPG and allow us the maximum of flexibility to match the fictional world to what we need to make a great game. The time after Nemesis gives us the maximum amount of creative freedom. It is a way to move Trek forward which many fans are looking forward to.

Even though they are moving the universe forward they are still sticking with the source material, especially TNG, VOY and DS9. "We are really drawing from everything Star Trek has to offer," says Stinnett.  The playable map will encompass much of Trek’s Alpha and Beta quadrants (sorry no trips through the Bajor wormhole). This scope means players will run into many familiar races (including the Gorn), but there will also be new races to deal with such as the Bimphalians (a scary new enemy).


Away team explores STO’s universe (click for more)

Klingons in Starfleet?
One of the more pronounced changes in STO’s universe relates to the Klingon Empire, which is now (gasp) part of the Federation.[or maybe not see update below] Although that seems jarring, the obvious benefit is that it allows gamers to play as a Klingon (all players must be a member of Starfleet). Even though the Klingons are part of the UFP, Stinnett still promises that there are still some conflicts going on within the empire. And don’t worry, there will still be Klingon style ships in the game. In addition to the Klingons there will be 6 other playable races in the game, but Perpetual are going to hold off revealing the final list and designs for a few more months. The final races have been chosen based on those that are "unique, in both physique and personality." Stinnett did say that early design sketches (see here) are no longer accurate saying "those are very wrong."

UPDATE ON KLINGONS: Daron tells TrekMovie.com that the details of what the arrangement between the UFP and the Klingons may not be that the Klingons are part of the Federation, but whatever the arrangement is Klingons ‘are free to join Starfleet and use either their own hardware or Starfleet hardware.’ Something in between an alliance and full membership perhaps. Hopefully when we do our next story on STO we can clear it up, but Perpetual do say that whatever the arrangement is it is controversial within their fictional world, as it is on some gaming message boards.  

Even though Perpetual are moving Trek forward, there is still a respect for Trek’s sacred ‘canon.’ Stinnett assures:  

We are careful about the history of trek. We tie into it and recognize that history. But the core are the values…we want it to be so people recognize the game as a Trek experience that feels like the values of Trek. Such as the value of ‘inclusiveness’, with Star Trek Online, we are working on game systems that promote diversity and inclusiveness among player characters.  We also hold high other Trek values such as exploration, inventiveness, friendship, and of course, the notion that combat is not the only means to end a disagreement – even if it is often the most entertaining!


Sacagawea Class (click for more)

Yes sir, no sir?
One issue the developers had to deal with is replicating the experience of a Starfleet officer while still allowing the freedom of a game. Starfleet is essentially a military organization, with all its rules, regulations and following of orders. Players join as an ensign and can climb to the rank of admiral, but do you really want to have to follow the order of every player and NPC that outranks you (which is everyone when you start). On the other hand if you let everyone do what ever they want, then how can you run Starfleet and avoid the  ‘Leroy Jenkins Factor‘ of one crewmember screwing things up. Perpetual’s solution to this is to allow player’s to choose how disciplined an environment they want, Stinnett explains

We have to be careful about griefing [players who disrupt the game and abuse other players]. It is not going to make a fun experience if there is a grievous environment where you are being told what to do, especially by other players. So there will be an option and we will have role playing servers where players who are more inclined to follow those rules as they saw it from the shows. We could have gone down that road and made it a hard core experience, but we decided to make it solo friendly. Rank will come into play much more with our version of guilds, which we call fleets. That is where there will be some player control over other players, but it is all opt in for the player.

In addition to joining guild/fleets, players will also be able to join factions within Starfleet. "Everyone is generally on the same side, but there is definitely internal factions from good to bad; there are plenty choices and opportunities to differentiate." This option will go some way to deal with some gamers concerns that, unlike other games like Star Wars Galaxies, everyone in STO is on the same side (Starfleet).

One area that Perpetual have worked hard to emulate is the concept of a bridge crew. This is of course a fundamental part of Trek on TV and film, but at first Perpetual struggled a bit to find a way to translate that fictional experience to a game. Stinnett thinks they have it down.

We thought long and hard about the bridge experience knowing how important it would be to the players.  And I’m happy to say that we came up with a promising means to cast the crew experience as an extension of traditional MMORPG grouping to create an alternative and compelling form of social gameplay.  It is a good example of how a license can push a team to think outside the box and move the state-of-the-art forward. 

Enterprise F?
Picard’s last Enterprise was a Sovereign class ship, but since this is 20 years later the designers can keep things going. Perpetual have developed the successor to that ship which Stinnett describes as "conforming to the profile, but is new and different." However even though there are more advanced ships in the game, it is still not decided what kind of ship the Enterprise will be (or even if it is in the game at all). Some ships will be hubs (like cities are in other games) and Stinnett says that they may use a Galaxy class or even a Sovereign for these. There will also be space stations and ground based cities as well. 


station concept (click for more)

2D/3D
Much like Khan, Perpetual’s first view of space combat ‘indicated two dimensional thinking,’ but Stinnett says they have moved on from that. Originally space combat was not going to allow players much room to maneuver their ships in the vertical plane, but now that has been freed up quite a bit. Although Stinnett is clear that STO ‘is not a flight sim’, he says there is now some vertical breathing room….

Players wont feel they are overly constrained and trapped to one plane. There will be more freedom, but we don’t expect people to do barrel roles… that isn’t part of Star Trek combat.

Possible tie-in to Star Trek XI
If all stays on course then Star Trek Online will be released close to Star Trek XI’s premiere. Stinnett says they haven’t yet contacted Paramount to talk about tie-ins but thinks that the game and the film can help each other. He his excited about the possibility, saying "even though we are at the other end of the timeline, we still have holodeck and other tons opportunities to have elements that show up in the movie."

Like the film, Star Trek Online is still a long way off. However after the film, STO is the second biggest Trek project in the works right now and will eventually involve well over 100 people. TrekMovie.com will be keeping an eye on this exciting project and bringing fans the latest updates as they happen.


the new  Starfleet emblem (click for more)

UPDATE: STO is ‘a year and a half’ away…and not ‘a couple of years’ away…even better!

Vote: looking forward to STO?…vote in the latest poll (right column)

More: MMORPG.com GDC Visit With Perpetual 

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Michael Appleton

How many years are we away from Virtual Technology where you strap the electrodes to your head and you ARE on the bridge of the Enterprise sitting in the command chair? As Keanu Reeves would say, “whoa…”

steve-o

ok so i think i may have just pee’d myself… i am sooo excited. world of warcraft sux, and this will be the new addictive game that everyone wants to play- HOORAH!

Skippy 2k

I’m really looking forward to this, I got into the mmorpg mood again a few weeks ago and re-activated my Final Fantasy XI account. I like playing with real people in the game as opposed to just the AI…. can’t wait to have a trek based version! Been looking forward to seeing more on this game, thanks!

laserlover2254

NIce, I”ll try to get this someday.

Al

What does griefing/grevious mean? Never come across that.

Josh T. (The Twenty-Fifth century's not so tough) Kirk Esquire'

The only way I’ll play it is if you can unlock Kirk as a playable character. The 25th century looks like it needs a little trailblazing action by the one and only. ;)

“Oh My….”

doubleofive

6. Al

Griefing is when someone logs into an MMO just to kill other players and make things miserable for everyone around them.

By-Tor

To truly understand a form of griefing, follow the Leroy Jenkins link.

I am…somewhat pessimistic. I have had high hopes for Trek games so many times before, and been disappointed almost every time. The latest is Legacy, which I was all worked up over…until I got it, anyway.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the Trek experience doesn’t translate well to games, and an MMORPG is even trickier.

I hope it works; I really do. (Though my wallet and wife don’t, I suspect.) But if it does, it will be a pleasant surprise.

[…] I pee my pants a little bit everytime I hear new news about the Star Trek MMO.  It has so much potential, and yet so did Enterprise. Rate This Post: (No Ratings Yet)  Loading … Leave a Reply […]

Some ince clarifications in there. Klingons serving in Starfleet I can bear, the Klingon Empire in the Federation though? Well, let’s just say I’m looking forward to seeing how they work that one out :D

andorian sushi

you don’t unlock characters (though maybe races). This is you making your own starfleet officer.

Wow, a new MMORPG that looks to be worth playing. I for one am excited. First I thought it was only going to be within the enterprice but now they have the planets and stations. It will be huge! I love that they have the option to roleplay without the interruptions of non-rp players.

Dont mess this one up guys! *shakes fist*

//MHA

I can’t speak to the game play…most of the art design, however, is fugly.

Fidgit

#14 – I don’t know about fugly but it certainly is uninspired (and uninspiring). I would also caution the designers not to wander too far afield. What is shown here does not look particularly Trek-like to me.

Does anyone know if there is a monthly charge? If so, it will have to be *very* good since I can afford, at most, an hour or two a week to play any game, no matter how compelling. We fans do have lives outside of Trek, believe it or not.

Dave

I am excited about this, is this game experience so what like World of Warcraft?

[…] Interview With Daron Stinnett – Exec Producer of Star Trek Online MMORPG | TrekMovie.com I don’t play MMORPGs, but I will almost definitely play this game. (tags: gaming Star+Trek) […]

Cervantes

#14 Dennis

“Fugly”…great word which I personally hadn’t heard or read before, but will no doubt be using for the rest of my life now!

“Fugly” (F****ing ugly)…I love it. Thanks Dennis.

I agree with you Anthony. The main problem with MMORPGs today is that you have to give up almost everything that has to do with your normal life to come anywhere within the game. And I know that that is something I (and my girlfriend) do not want to happen.

I know that is a very hard thing to do but I bet the benefits will bring allot more long term players to the game.

//MHA

ScarJack

Real trekkies don’t have girlfriends… so there’s nothing to give up. Real Life is futil.

:-D

Tom

As a roleplaying fan, it’s great to hear there will be servers catered specifically to us. The Star Trek RP base on the net is *huge*, it’s smart to tap into that.

Trevok

Happy to see it’s progressing still a year and a half is a fair while off. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.
LLAP

deltaraven

hi im a wow player and a devoted star trek watcher.
i think perpetual is making a huge mistake not doing the dedicated rpg servers and the not so dedicated servers players stuck in one kind of server is not good thats why wow has survived for soo long we got more than one kind of server.
some people like me want the real startrek experince yes sir no sir.
An d given the fact im in the military it helps me not care
but im real sad they decided to shove us into one kind of server.
now bring on the hate mail lol im an mmorpg vet i love hate mail
now to soothe you all look at kirby punch g’ . ‘)=D ha ha ha

James

deltaraven, they said that their would be a server for RPG and another one for non-RPG players so there will be diffrent kinds of servers.

“So there will be an option and we will have role playing servers where players who are more inclined to follow those rules as they saw it from the shows.”

Stellar Cartographer

I hope they include spacial anomalies. I’d love to be out there in space somewhere and just randomly come across some uncharted anomaly like a … *rolls random science phrase dice* … tachyeon substring.

And will we be able to modify a photon torpedo to do ANYTHING we want? Geordi was always able to pull that off.

IM POOING MY SELF WITH EXCITMENT

dildo

This was already supposed to be released last summer. Another 1.5 years and once we get there we’ll hear another delay.

dj4y

i have 2 agree with my fellow gamer up there, WoW is pants. star wars galaxies was my 1st MMO, (when it used to be a proper game!!!) and i only entertained pay 2 play games because it was star wars and also sci-fi, after that of course i was hooked on the whole concept of grouping and the community aspect of these types of games.
For those who are not into a cross between lord of the rings, super mario bros and a disney movie, theres not alot of choice out there, i expect ill be 1 of the 1st in line to play star trek online.

hadron

Supposed to be released last summer? What are you smoking, Dildo? That’s BS.

I can’t wait to play this game and hope there is some great missions out there. Because I love playing in space and then having a chance to go down to a planet with it’s own distinctive taste will keep players playing for hours on end without getting bored when we reach that top level. I love the part about stations and having player cities which adds a whole new lvl of having your own spot in the universe to call home to go to. I hope they design lots of items you can decorate your home with. I do hope they bring the entertaining part in as well such as a 10 forward where people have a chance to socialize with other people in game instead of just allways playing the game if you know what I mean.

I dont want to be in star fleet I want to trade.

DoenerKebap

I dont want to be in star fleet, either.

I have an idea:
Why not create a whole new race, which is based on collective thinking… you could call them THE GORB… with some queenlike female leader…

and you could give them the special ability to kinda “assimilate” starship captain… and for the case that you plan to give the TV-characters some role in the game MAKE JANEWAY LICK THE QUEENLIKE FEMALE LEADER’S TITTTTTTS

hmm, i should start making some kind of sci-fi tv series……..

E

The game is looking and sounding great. However i don’t like the idea of only being able to be in StarFleet(Federation) I think this will limit the game. Not everyone was a Federation nut. And while yes you can play other species, being limited to one faction kinda blows. I might check the game out initially, but doubt it will hold my interest for long.

DaveL

Awsome! Can’t wait!

But don’t agree on different Servers.
One/Two Server is good because all the people will be there hence more players.

4/8 Servers means more spread out, so less players.
Less players = AI Universe which would suck

In my opinion, having Starfleet as the only option for players is a bad move.
The Faction rivalries of WoW is what makes the game great.

I like the Idea of having different servers for structured and non structured play. I’d join the structured one of course :D

AbZ

glad to hear the news, but for some people slating wow on here is disappointing, not only has it revolutionized mmorpgs and forced change on other mmo’s it has drastically altered the landscape of online gaming 1 months subscription from dedicated wow players alone would of saved “enterprise” from being dropped from t.v. and for the 8 million plus subscribers perhaps you should be more cautious when slating a game you probably have little comprehension of and has actually opened the door for this type of game to be made for your genre. Perhaps doing research or learning before you make naive comments will help some of you, such as wow grows at around 400 people an HOUR… and has a population higher than new Zealand, Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland and Israel. Or in effect what your doing is slating gene Roddenberry but praising the development of a trek-show… i.e. if it wasn’t for A then B would never happen The forum replies here along do not bode well for your in-game interaction, from immature naive and drastically sad comments it may be best to have zero player interaction for the most part. There are so many features from this game which will have been derived from World of Warcraft’s success and if you interacted with that community instead of slating the game you could make a good impact on shaping the outcome of this game, as it doesn’t take many things to make a mmo a flop. Hope they make… Read more »

Cpt.Mach

Can´t they make so we can be androids?

Mearick

I can’t wait until this game comes out, and I definetly don’t mind being in Starfleet. The shows basically center on Starfleet, and that’s what the creators of the game are doing. No problems with me on that. I’d like to be able to maybe be a Vulcan, or half human half Vulcan myself.

If more klingons’s are going to be in starfleet I hopethat they would get to wear this comm badge, let me know if they do; it would rock and or roll!

Shane Reeves

I first learned about Star Trek space combat with a board game. You had a chart with ship specs and everything was turn based in the extreme. I liked the need to really think ahead of your opponent since your ship had limited resources and didn’t stop on a dime. I really think the developers need to play the original “2D” grab your Enterprise model, some torpedo board pieces, and some dice and feel the excitement of a slow moving highly strategic death match. I know that the developers will find a balance between action and strategy.

p.s.- What if each larger ships requiring a crew ran more like an “Instant” or a “Raid.” Different ships would literally be quests, or scenarios. Four people to a team and each person gets their own display on their “hud” unique to their roll on the bridge. The big “Dungeons” would require a crew of 20-40 players all doing their part. that would be cool! Good Luck guys!

thunderduck

I always thought that guilds in this game would be treated as service on a ship. You wouldn’t join a guild, you’d serve on the Boseman or something like that. A player would first have a name, then a title under it showing the character is a member of the Boseman. The leader of the Boseman is, of course, the Captain. If the Captain of the Boseman rises in experience enough he/she can get more than one ship, making that person an Admiral. There are two ships now, The Boseman and the Icarus, and players can serve on either, but the leader chooses a ship to command and has a Captain command the other and so on. I suppose the ship names need some way of notating the Admiral they are commanded by, but that was my thinking anyway. Maybe it’s too complicated, but I thought it might be a good way to follow the same kind of hierarchy in other MMORGP guilds without actually calling them guilds, as well as stick to the hierarchy of Starfleet.

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