Entry 2.0 - "A Fan Beams Up"
Stardate 61107.8 (August 23rd, 2007)
Welcome back to the STO DevLog, our ongoing look into the development of Star Trek Online, the most audacious massively multiplayer online game in the four quadrants!
This month we thought we'd hand the microphone over to one of Perpetual's more recent arrivals. Although he's only been on board for a couple of months, he's been actively engaged in Star Trek Online longer than nearly all of the STO team members. Confused? We'll let him explain:
Hello fellow STO-awaiters! You might know me around the startrek-online.net boards as Perpetual_Sorvats. I've worked here at Perpetual for a few months now, but I've been looking forward to STO for much, much longer than that. I actually first registered on the STOnet forums back in July 2005 under the handle "RogueEnterprise", and I've been following the development of Star Trek online ever since it was announced, way back in September of 2004!
My real name is Stavros Conom, and a few months ago I was lucky enough to be hired on at Perpetual Entertainment as a Quality Assurance Tester. Needless to say, as a big Star Trek fan and video game aficionado, having the opportunity to work at the company developing Star Trek Online was too big of an opportunity to pass up. Within days of starting here, and learning all I could about this game, comparing my excitement to a Vulcan's uncharacteristic tendencies during the pon farr would be a little bit of an understatement.
Christine Brownell and Mike Stemmle (the Lead World and Story Designers) have done an amazing job organizing even the smallest facets of Trek canon into a galaxy that, if the extensive Wiki pages detailing STO's design are any indication, will be above awesome to explore. That's one of the benefits that STO has, being developed at a smaller company - every part of the game is getting excruciatingly close attention to detail. The people here definitely know their Trek.
Of course, a great big world would be rather pointless without something to do in it, which is where Lead Systems Designer John Yoo comes in, supplying the team with MMO-gameplay design know-how that works really well with Mike's story framework and Christine's innate sense of what makes game environments fun. In short, it really does seem to be the "best of both worlds" (Star Trek episode pun intended). Whenever I come across any new piece of information that rolls out of the design department, whether it's outlining the layout of a sector, a discussion of shipboard player roles, or the functionality of a possible crafting system, I get really psyched.
Although Perpetual's QA Department is currently spending most of its time testing the massively mythological adventure that is Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising, occasionally we are lucky enough to catch a glimpse across of an early build of Star Trek Online, during what we call a Build Verification Test
Let me tell you, this game looks good, especially considering its early, early state. In fact, it's not uncommon for a few testers to clump around a testing station when the new build comes in, showing off the latest and greatest additions to the game.
The latest surprise came during the most recent milestone build. The new inventory system was in place, and the latest, snazzy icons had been implemented, opening the door for future abilities to be activated. Cool.
But then I saw the Gorn.
Not some funny-looking man-in-a-suit Gorn, but a real, blinking, breathing, snarling Gorn, who apparently happened to enjoy brandishing energy weapons and who was out for QA blood. Sure, I had previously seen Hyoung Nam's concept art, promising a dramatic physical upgrade in these classic Trek enemies. But as intimidating as they had looked there, seeing them in-engine was something else entirely.
After phasering him down (apparently, at this stage of development, our weapons lack a Stun setting) I didn't feel quite as threatened. But with a fully realized, (angry) Gorn already implemented and a lot more on the way, STO is shaping up to be an awesome contribution to the Star Trek mythos in a way that nobody has seen before. Before you go off on a mission against any aggressive Gorn, though, make sure you pack your medkit.
Testing the Final Frontier,
Thanks for the enthusiasm, Stavros! We also really love taking shots at the Gorn. Of course, the whys and wherefores for the sudden rise in Gorn hostility throughout the galaxy are still something of mystery... but that's a subject for a later DevLog.
Join us next time on the STO DevLog, when we'll be revealing another aspect of the Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations that IS the Star Trek Online development process.
Speaking of IDIC, check out this serene bit of concept art by Ryan Dening:
I can almost taste the plomeek soup.
May the Great Bird of the Galaxy bless you,
PS Thanks to Greg, Binky, and most of all Stavros for getting this edition of the Devlog together.
Mike Stemmle is the Story Lead on Star Trek Online. He believes that in the end, the oo-mox you take is equal to the oo-mox you make.