Gameforge is known for its free-to-play browser-based titles that range from social to fantasy. They are now tackling the world that Gene Roddenberry created with Star Trek: Infinite Space, a new online title that allows players to play the role of a Starfleet captain in the comfort of your own browser.
Not content to just skim the surface with detail, they enlisted the help of Michael and Denise Okuda. Having a part on most of the television series, they bring a level of detail and knowledge that raises the game to something any Star Trek fan should take notice of. At E3, we were lucky enough to have some time with the Okudas to talk about Star Trek: Infinite Space, and why this is a title all fans of the universe should try.
CGM: Could you tell us your names and what you have done in the past?
Michael: My main job in the art department is lead graphics designer in control panels and alien languages and all those kinds of things. But being the big resident geek in all this and on the show, I became the tech consultant for the writers. And then Denise and I started writing books about Star Trek chronology, The Star Trek Encyclopedia, and we kind of became resident resources.
So fast forward to many years later, we find that it helps things like Star Trek: Infinite Space to have someone who doesn’t just know their details, and has an overview of the entire thing.
Denise: I worked with Micheal on the same thing, on the television series and features. I was working in the art department as graphics designer, but I was also video supervisor for the shows and like Mike says we kind of amassed a volume of knowledge for writing these various books. Then Gene Roddenberry came to Michael and asked him to kind of put together a chronology, and we did so. We wrote a book and we did Star Trek Encyclopedia, so we have all this information either in our brain or at our fingertips, and so when we were hired to do Star Trek: Infinite Space, we were using that database and our knowledge from working on the shows to be consultants for the game.
CGM: What shows have you worked on?
Michael: I started with Star Trek IV. I worked on all the movies from Star Trek IV to Star Trek 10. I worked on Star Trek Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, Enterprise. And then more recently we worked on the remastered version of the original Star Trek series.
Denise: I worked on Star Trek features VI through 9, and worked on Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise and associate producer on the remastered. So we like to think we worked on all he incarnations, even though we were just little kids when the original series was on.
CGM: What have you added to Star Trek: Infinite Space?
Michael: The first question was: what era of Star Trek do you set it in? Because Star Trek is such a broad canvas,the storyline spans centuries.
CGM: Does the actual technology change from generation to generation that much?
Michael: Well, the technology changes, but more importantly the storyline changes. And so what we did was we sat down with Gameforge for two solid days and we just brainstormed . We tried to figure out which arc of the Star Trek saga would be best suited to the gameplay that they wanted to do. And by the end of that, it was very clear that Star Trek Deep Space Nine was perfect for what they wanted.
CGM: So what is the difference between Deep Space Nine and Next Generations aren’t they the same time frame?
Michael: Same timeframe, different story. The Enterprise is going boldly into the unknown and exploring, which is really the core of Star Trek. Star Trek Deep Space Nine has that, but also it was the only Star Trek series that had a serialized epic conflict, which was the Dominion War. And it had the most kind of things that translate into gameplay.
Denise: It had the greatest variety of ships, the greatest variety of combat situations, the great variety of conflict, adversaries; there's a lot of colour l characters and such. And on the show you had your powerful ships, but you also had the diplomacy, and thats also part of Star Trek. You know if you have to fight, you fight, but if you don’t have to fight well maybe there's an alternative, and that is also part of this game, it's very much in keeping with Gene Roddenberry’s plot.
What ships have you brought into Star Trek: Infinite Space from the show, did you have any say in that?
Michael: Basically we helped in cataloguing most of the ships in the show, the full seven-year run, but the really fun thing is there are certainly a number of Klingon ships. But part of the fun of Star Trek is any new form of Star Trek is considering new stuff. You want it to be new and fresh but it also has to very much respect whats came before. So we help get them to view sources to do that to the greatest success possible.
Denise: And Star Trek fans really know their stuff. It's pretty amazing; you really have to be on your toes, so our job was to be consistent to what they may have seen, you know, on-screen and also to expanding like Mike said. And to expanding the universe so as long as we start at the point of consistency that people know, and then expand from that. We feel that it's going to be more acceptable, and very cool.
CGM: Explain to me more what factions you need to really get that universe?
Michael: At the initial game launch, it's the Klingons and the Federation, which makes a huge amount of sense because both are very rich cultures that we know a great deal about, because we have a sense to bring you to the Dominion. I'm a little fuzzy with who you play with but there's a really good sampling and, of cours,e the intent is as the game progresses it keeps adding things through.
CGM: As a fan, why should they be playing this, and what kind of surprises and things they will recognize will be in the game?
Michael: What's cool about it is you're in the Star Trek universe. The ships respond to your commands, your friends are there, and you can go on these adventures with your friends.
Denise: Yeah i think that's it, you love the Star Trek universe, you watch it on TV, and now you get to actually be in it, that's really, really exciting, so that's what's cool to us.
CGM: What would be any surprises for fans of the show? Will they see anything that they wouldn’t expect see in the game?
Michael: I don't know if there’s necessarily anything, but yes, there's always something like that-- here's a new ship i haven’t seen before, here's a new thing i haven't seen before.
CGM: So not all the stuff in the game is new stuff.
Yeah. I think if we did only that, we'd be cheating the fans, and it's clear that people would be able to understand that. They're trying to respect what's coming before and we're trying to keep it fresh.