City of Heroes developer steps in to take Star Trek to the MMO frontier

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“Star Trek has been a part of my entire life,” writes Jack Emmert of Cryptic Studios. We suspect this is probably the single best way to begin a new announcement about a Star Trek game, assuming that “I am Patrick Stewart’s secret love child” comes with some sort of libel risk.

Cryptic Studios is an MMO developer, who you may know from such massively multiplayer online games as City of Heroes and City of Villains. It has just revealed – following much speculation – that it is soon to be the brains behind Star Trek’s first MMO outing.

Launching an MMO is no mean feat, even when it’s endorsed by a franchise as obsessively followed as Star Trek. The game was originally supposed to be developed by Perpetual Entertainment, which impolitely went bust in October last year. After a bit of faffing, the IP license for Star Trek Online transferred to Cryptic in January, although it was not until now that the new developer’s identity was properly known.

The game aims not to be the standard MMO fare. Frankly, that’s been done to death by WoW, LotRO, AoC and a hundred others anyway, so this is a good start. You won’t take on the role of a single character per se; instead you’ll be playing a captain at the helm of an entire ship, taking part in deep space exploration, or cracking out the transporters and watching minority characters get eaten by space nasties on planet surfaces.

At the moment, it seems you’ll only get the choice of playing Humans or Klingons, but I wouldn’t be that surprised if this changes over the development time, especially given the wealth of races and technologies Star Trek canon has to play with. You’ll also be able to customise your spacecraft and presumably upgrade the ship with irate Scottish guys to whinge at you about how she’s incapable of rerouting the power from the deflectors through to the mess drink’s cabinet while under a sustained photon attack.

The setting, which is highly critical to this endeavour, puts the game just after the events of the series and films, when the Star Trek universe is transitioning into the 25th century, “a time of shifting alliances and new discoveries”.

“We want to make a game that best captures the real essence of Star Trek,” writes Emmert. “We see Star Trek as much about exploration as combat. As much about the variety of alien civilizations as it is about the core Vulcans, Klingons, Humans, etc.”

Cryptic plans to release the game on PC and Xbox 360. Cryptic already has another MMO planned for the Xbox 360, so maybe it’s telling the truth; or maybe it’s just a good idea to tell potential investors that’s what you’re doing on the off chance someone manages to find a decent way around the fact there’s no keyboard or mouse on the Xbox.

As an MMO universe it is brimming with potential and the idea of having a whole ship at your disposal could add enormously to the tired old MMO formula, assuming that there’s any practical means of capitalising on that with exciting computing technologies. With a project of such magnitude still in such early planning phases, don’t expect to picking up a copy of Star Trek Online in anything resembling the near future, but do keep an eye on the official website for some genuine gameplay footage that is being unveiled on August 10th.

Star Trek Online (via Eurogamer)

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