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Former Interplay Dev Talks "Disastrous" Old Star Trek Games

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the doonk-da-doonk dept.

Games 124

In a podcast recorded at PAX, a former Interplay developer named Thom Robertson talks about the problems he encountered while working on the company's Star Trek titles. In particular, he was the lead designer of the canceled Star Trek: The Secret of Vulcan Fury, and mentioned how incredibly ambitious initial plans for the game were. "Just one of the many reasons why that project was doomed to failure was because the team and the management had really no concept of exactly how expensive a proposition they were imagining when they set out to do it. I saw the plans. They were looking at four to six hours of created video, and they were planning on doing it at maybe a 1/20th of the budget of a Toy Story movie. Something did not connect." He also discussed how Interplay was "too close to Hollywood," and the problems they ran into while filming for Starfleet Academy The full podcast (MP3) is available from 1Up; Robertson's interview begins 42 minutes in.

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124 comments

Podcast? (3, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501305)

What happened to good old bandwidth-friendly text?

Re:Podcast? (1, Offtopic)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501353)

fuck the terms podcast and web 2

they are all phony shitty titles for old technology

Re:Podcast? (2, Insightful)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503181)

The parent got modded down, but he's right, Web 2.0 is just "the web" and podcasts are just mp3 files. While we're at it, blogs and tweets are journals and Googling means to search (I've heard people say things like "i'll go google that on yahoo.").

Re:Podcast? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29504043)

podcasts are just mp3 files

Audio or video on an RSS feed. Without the RSS feed, it is just another file.

Re:Podcast? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29501365)

Hmmm. I'd call myself fairly up to date with technology -- I even have a linux box that will play full screen flash video -- but I'm yet to actually understand what is meant by 'podcast'..... I'm going to assume this is a good thing. For some reason, the very sound of the word is enough to make me decide it is something I don't care about -- a little like twitter.

Re:Podcast? (2, Informative)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501397)

"Podcast" means an MP3 of people talking. That's all.

Re:Podcast? (3, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501739)

Podcasts are also often (but not always) delivered via RSS feeds, so you can keep up to date with a regular "radio show" over the Internet.

I agree, though, what is wrong with giving a transcript as well? I get the British Computer Society emails and occasionally go "that looks interesting" only to go "it's in the 'podcast' section? oh well, never mind".

Re:Podcast? (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502411)

what is wrong with giving a transcript as well?

Nothing wrong with it, but it does take time and effort.

left an important detail... (1, Informative)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501773)

"Podcast" means an MP3 of people talking. That's all.

that is it should be played with an iPod.

Re:left an important detail... (1)

chriseyre2000 (603088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502055)

No it does not require an iPod - just some form of mp3 player.

Re:left an important detail... (1)

ukyoCE (106879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502903)

Perhaps the GP post meant his comment to indicate the iPod is where the "pod" came from in "podcast".

Re:Podcast? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29502429)

"Podcast" means an MP3 of people talking. That's all.

That's kind of like describing McDonalds as a place that sells apple pies.

I can't tell weather you are a hilarious genius or a pitiful fool.

A podcast is any media posted in such a way as to be easily downloaded on a regular basis (plus a whole lot more).

Re:Podcast? (1)

fafaforza (248976) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503999)

So what if I download these "podcasts" only sporradically, and frequently only one for a particular "artist"? Is it no longer a podcast?

Re:Podcast? (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29504277)

Can be music too. They are just MP3 files, distributed in a certain fashion.

Re:Podcast? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501453)

What happened to OSS voice recognition?

Is there an OSS voice recognition software out there that I can use to create _passable_ text transcripts of such "podcasts"? I looked at sphinx some years ago and it seems to require way too much fiddling just to get "voice to text".

Great if it's something as usable as: cat audiofile | speech2text --use-model model1 > text_transcript

Apparently nowadays there's commercial software that has pretty good voice recognition.

Re:Podcast? (5, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501553)

What happened to OSS voice recognition?

Dear aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all?

Re:Podcast? (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501567)

Dear aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all?

Sorry, I tried to use my Vista VR engine to reply.

I meant to say "you can find some info on that subject here [wikipedia.org] "

Re:Podcast? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29501585)

Dear aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all?

He meant OSS, not MS BS...

Re:Podcast? (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501467)

It appears you can actually search it, so we threw it out.

Re:Podcast? (4, Insightful)

Shin-LaC (1333529) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501777)

In 2009, everyone is supposed to have enough bandwidth for audio; that's not the problem. What matters is the actual information bandwidth, and that's much wider for written text than for speech. We can read much faster than we can talk, and when you have text on the screen, you can skim around freely. There are some areas where audio and video are really useful (eg entertainment), but most of the time text is the superior medium for presenting information.

Re:Podcast? (2, Insightful)

Kirijini (214824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503589)

What matters is the actual information bandwidth, and that's much wider for written text than for speech. We can read much faster than we can talk, and when you have text on the screen, you can skim around freely.

That may be true, but audio wins in two contexts:

Audio has much better upload bandwidth. It's a lot easier to talk about whats on your mind than to compose a written piece.

Audio is better for multitasking. You can read and walk at the same time, but its much easier to listen and walk. You can't read and run at the same time, but you can listen and run. You can also listen and drive. On the other hand, its hard to both listen and read, or listen while thinking about something other than what you're listening to. But then, its hard to read two different things at the same time, or read while thinking about something other than what you're reading.

Re:Podcast? (1)

Mr. DOS (1276020) | more than 4 years ago | (#29504513)

In 2009, everyone is supposed to have enough bandwidth for audio; that's not the problem.

Thanks, now me and all the other people stuck on dial-up are crying. We'd just gotten over the last time someone said that.

      --- Mr. DOS

Re:Podcast? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29505005)

I think you have to consider your own "input bandwidth".

Programming and listening to a podcast at the same time: possible.
Programming and reading at the same time: not possible.

Re:Podcast? (1)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502375)

What happened to good old bandwidth-friendly text?

I... am not... programmed... to answer... in that area. *beeeeeeeep*

Re:Podcast? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29502963)

I'm with you. I didn't RTFA because there's no FA to R!

Re:Podcast? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29503349)

LTTFP?

You know you are old (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29501373)

When they talk about OLD star trek games and you see them talking about Fury and not 25th anniversary... or the freeware/shareware enterprise simulators of the dos era...

Now get of my damn spaceship!

Re:You know you are old (2, Funny)

LordHatrus (763508) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501857)

You know you're old if you remember that your copy of 25th Anniversary came with a video demo for Fury :-)

Re:You know you are old (1)

TrekkieGod (627867) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502109)

You know you're old if you remember that your copy of 25th Anniversary came with a video demo for Fury :-)

Are you sure? My copy of Judgment Rites came with that demo, but not 25th Anniversary.

The video demo also came with Starfleet Academy. Which was really the game that began the decline of Interplay's trek games. 25th Anniversary and Judgment Rites were awesome. I remember being incredibly excited about Vulcan Fury because it looked like a return to those games, but with cool 3d graphics.

Re:You know you are old (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502461)

the last star trek game i played was the Amiga game by Tobias Richter - it involved going warp 14 till the engines explode... the instructions were all in german so i couldn't figure anything else out. oh and firing on freindly ships for amusing results.

Re:You know you are old (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29504133)

I still get bitter when I think about Secret of Vulcan Fury.

Oh, and while Starfleet Academy was shite, Klingon Academy was awesome. More awesome than Bridge Commander.

Re:You know you are old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29502301)

You know you're old if you remember...

Well, apparently not that old, if the alzheimer's hasn't set in yet.

Re:You know you are old (2, Funny)

Eevee (535658) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502449)

DOS? MS-DOS? Try HP 2000 ACCESS BASIC. I'm sorry, but if the game doesn't involve wasting most of a roll of yellow paper and the loud clatter of a teletype, it's not OLD.

Now get off my mock-up of the Bridge set.

Re:You know you are old (1)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502549)

Yeah, I was hoping to read about 25th Anniversary and Judgment Rites too â" 25th was one of the first computer games I ever bought. (Third actually, after Space Quest V and Sim City.)

Re:You know you are old (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503035)

EGA Trek is still fun to play. You should look for the old 2.x versions that still feature Star Trek races instead of made-up ones (yay lawyers). I also still like to play Begin2 from time to time.

Why yes, I /did/ play "classical" Star Trek games on my Apple //c and DOS machine back in the day, and I even sometimes fire up the one that comes in the bsdgames package.

Re:You know you are old (1)

HalifaxRage (640242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29504633)

I still love EGA Trek. Did you ever have SimTREK? The one where the computer talks?

True That (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503381)

Conquest [radscan.com] and Netrek [wikipedia.org] were fun as hell and you could play them for hours. And I did back in the 80s and 90s. They kept the scope of the games relatively simple and that's why they worked so well. Though fully networked games were still pretty amazing back in the mid 80s.

Meanwhile I can't remember a commercial trek game that I actually felt inclined to play other than the coin-op one, which was similarly simple.

Re:You know you are old (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 4 years ago | (#29504951)

I still play Super Star Trek.

Bandwidth friendly? Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29501377)

You must be new here.

The old problem (3, Insightful)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501701)

It IS interesting how one franchise, namely Star Wars, could generate so many playable games while another, Star Trek, produced only crap. Of course, third person shooters, even if your weapon is a lightsaber, are much easier to make than space fighter simulations, especially when there actually is not one dude commanding and piloting the ship himself but a whole bunch of people working together. Nobody ever accused capturing that as being easy.

I was putting high hopes into STOnline... until I saw that video from E3, I believe it was. Two Klingons standing across the hall from five Federation type people. One of them stands directly in front of the Klingon. So what happens? A short bout of Phaser fire and perhaps a bit of one on one? No. It took them like thirty seconds to take an unmoving target down and surely somewhere among ten to fifteen Phaser blasts.

So basically, they copied WoW. You have your stats, the enemy has his and you just trade blows until the weaker one dies.

WTF?

When did that EVER happen in ANY Star Trek series or movie? They use weapons that kill instantly (or at least stun, unless you are Borg). Not swords or axes that may be excused with glancing blows.

So yes, making this somewhat 'realistic' is harder than a fantasy game for the masses. You should have realized that even before you began.

I believe Star Trek games are crappy because the developers feel we ST fans are somehow pretty dumb. That we'll gobble up any game that even hints as letting us play as our heroes. So they slap some crude Star Trek graphics on the cheapest source code they can find. They cut corners when something is harder to do.

So what do you expect?

Re:The old problem (1)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501805)

Good star trek games exist. They are fewer than crappy ST games, but still.

ST: Away team, while displaying an evident lack of originality (it was basically just commando in space), was very decent.

Re:The old problem (5, Insightful)

Zumbs (1241138) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501939)

If you want to make a good game based on a series/movie/comic book/whatever, you need to capture the spirit of the base.

Star Trek is about mystery, riddles, discovery, and technobabble. Aside from the technobabble this is difficult to do right - not many games have this at their core. Compare this with Star Wars with is about action with a touch of Mysticism. The action part has been done in a lot of games, and is easy to do right.

Re:The old problem (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502535)

The action part has been done in a lot of games, and is easy to do right.

If it's so easy, how come there are so many shitty action games out there, with more coming ("WET", I'm looking at you..). And what's with this fad of getting people to time button presses just to progress what is usually a cut-scene? I'd rather watch the cut scene (as opposed to watching the bottom of the screen to make sure I don't miss a button press), or have no cut-scene at all.

Re:The old problem (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 4 years ago | (#29504075)

Actually, I'm thinking that the Half Life series has a lot of that going on. I would think that the source engine would be a good base to create a Star Trek game around. Great physics, great graphics, and a lot of potential to interact with the environment.

Re:The old problem (3, Insightful)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502029)

It's a little unfair to say that all Star Trek games have been awful. The old 25th Anniversary adventure game which came out back in the 90s was decent. Perhaps not on the level of the Lucasarts adventures of the day, but it was certainly a game you could play, have fun with, and feel like you were doing something in the Star Trek universe. Starfleet Academy and Klingon Academy were good, if somewhat eccentric, space-shooters, while the Starfleet Command games were decent implementations of a tactical board-game which could have been excellent with a bit more polish.

Yes, there have been a good number of stinkers as well (particularly the FMV-adventure games), but let's look at the other franchise you name; Star Wars.

Back in the early and mid-90s, a Star Wars logo on a game was pretty much a sure sign of quality. On the PC, you had the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games and Dark Forces (by far the most intelligent product of the "Doom clone" generation of fpses). On the consoles, you had the Super Star Wars series, which were great (if perhaps overly difficult) platformers.

However, around about the time the sequels started appearing, the quality took a nose-dive. The Episode 1 games ranged from the mediocre and unoriginal (Pod Racer) to the downright awful (anything with Gungans in it). In fact, you could even argue that the rot set in earlier; Supremacy and Force Commander were very poor games, while X-Wing vs TIE Fighter was a disappointment to most people. The TIE-ins (no pun originally intended, but I found I'd typed that and decided to keep it) with the later prequels were no better.

Ok, the games have pulled back a little now from their Episode 1/Episode 2 nadir. KoTOR was excellent (though we can blame BioWare for that), Jedi Knight 2 was fairly good, a few of the RTSes have been ok and X-Wing Alliance repaired much of the damage done by XvT. But the Star Wars gaming franchise still has a pretty chequered history over the last decade, certainly as much so as Star Trek.

Re:The old problem (0, Offtopic)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502153)

Well, I don't expect anything to be decent that is modelled after Episodes one to three. A turd is a turd, after all.

Re:The old problem (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502567)

Sometimes turds can have good uses (thinking fuel/fertiliser). I always though the Tomb Raider series was a turd, but I actually enjoyed the first movie. The second one wasn't up to much though.

Re:The old problem (1)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502231)

KOTOR and KOTOR 2. That is all.

Re:The old problem (1)

Hork_Monkey (580728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29504485)

Yeah, and now they're going to fuck it up with KOTOR 3 being a MMO.

Re:The old problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29503197)

Most of the 'junk' you saw was from a problem of scaling. LucasArts tended to have a 'core' group of people working on particular types of games. Thats why you could buy a lucasarts game and *KNOW* it was a solid title. Then suddenly they dumped tons more people in for production. You can tell it went from 'hey I have an idea lets try it out quick' to large sprawling change requests and story points being bent around and 15 artists having to 'make it work'. They just were not setup for that. They did not scale to the new demands of 4-6 hours of usable video/cgi shoots. Every actor in the game now had to have a unique voice instead of some text. 20k in polygons per actor and 150k for a level. They just were not ready for it. Then the 'core' groups started leaving either thru attrition or layoffs. It is not the same company anymore which is a shame.

Re:The old problem (2, Insightful)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502219)

The difference you have is Star Wars games up until recently where all made BY Lucas. His company made them. Paramount didnt really have a strong game house to develop games. Notice when Star Wars games started to lack quality was right around when Lucasarts where not making their games anymore.

Re:The old problem (4, Insightful)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502275)

God forbid they skip some of Star Trek's 'realism' in order to make the game more playable. Jesus, it's not like SWG's light sabers cut people in half with one swing, or the assortment of blasters one-shotted storm troopers either.

Phasers one-shot targets for one reason, and one reason only: plot. The only times that combat was a going plot concern in any Star Trek series, the phasers were plotted out of existence or plenty of cover and bad marksmanship was provided.

I don't think this game is going to be any better than the array of godawful Interplay releases, but complaining that a weapon in an MMO doesn't kill people outright is ridiculous.

Re:The old problem (2, Informative)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502713)

The point is that with lightsaber battles you can parry and dodge. With phasers you either hit or miss, and you aren't likely to miss at point blank range against a stationary target. You shouldn't have to shoot someone 100 times with a phaser to kill them. If that means that you can't both stand out in the open waiting for your superior stats to grind the other player's health down to 0, so be it. The gaming world would be a much more interesting place if people couldn't rely on the fact that they've played for a zillion hours and collected the superior goat cheese infused medallion of awesomeness to save them from having to actually use their brain and dexterity.

Re:The old problem (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502995)

Thank you, that is exactly what I'm talking about.

They don't have to all be one hit kills. But how good can immersion be if your enemy and you just stand across each other being blasted repeatedly by deadly weapons? In FPS games, there is a concept called relativity. You get hit by a handgun in the shoulder? No big. If it happens to be a tank shell, you're dead. Doesn't matter what 'level' you are.

I mean this is supposed to be a role playing game, or am I wrong? How much immersion can you expect, when people don't even feel the need to duck and cover when assaulted by an enemy outnumbering them 2.5 to one?

Re:The old problem (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503227)

Both of you have totally missed my point. This isn't an FPS, and it isn't a TV show where gunfire is a means of pushing the plot along.

If you're expecting immersion to trump playability and fun in an MMO, you're either totally ignorant of the genre or looking for a reason to complain. Phasers are a staple of the setting, but one-shot kills are neither interesting nor fun for the players. MMO combat is not a scenario where you get killed, respawn at your conveniently located base, and run back into the fight within thirty seconds. Even if it was, that would again defeat the purpose of phasers being deadly weapons.

Jesus, 'immersion'. You do realize that even if things played the way you wanted them to, each and every server would have dozens of variations on Captains Kirk and Picard, spamming their demands for hot tea and hot green women, don't you?

Re:The old problem (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503441)

I mean this is supposed to be a role playing game, or am I wrong?

You are wrong, MMORPGs are power-fantasy games. Not that that matters, since the whole concept of gaining more hit points as you play originates with RPGs.

Re:The old problem (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#29504683)

Easy solution to this problem. Star Trek is better suited to adventure games than action games. 25th Anniversary and A Final Unity were hands down the best Star Trek games. Stick with what works. Star Trek games should be adventure games.

Re:The old problem (5, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502353)

>It IS interesting how one franchise, namely Star Wars, could generate so many playable games while another, Star Trek, produced only crap.

Easy. The creator of the former built its own game studio to make sure the games were made right; the latter whored out its IP to anyone who asked.

Re:The old problem (2, Informative)

StarWreck (695075) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502849)

Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, a first person shooter built on the Quake III Arena engine, was a huge success.

Unfortunately, its sequel sucked and was a massive failure despite moderately improved graphics.

Re:The old problem (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502985)

Not all of the Trek games were shit: 25th Anniversary was REALLY good, and captured the feel of the show VERY nicely.

I also liked - well, I liked the idea of, though the execution was lacking - Birth of the Federation. It was an interesting game, and had it been moddable to make some parts more reasonable, that would have been great. The problem was that the balance was really, really off in some places (send in the birds of prey! Everything dies before it can fight back; who cares if you can't stay cloaked while firing if everything's dead since it's turn based, not RTS combat?), and in other places, even if you were 50x larger than your opponent's empire you didn't have much of an advantage.

There was another game - an RTS, I can't remember the name of it - that was pretty fun to play also. I remember one mission was going after some kind of Romulan power source.

Re:The old problem (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503193)

The combat in 25th Anniversary was poor, but the rest of the game was a lot of fun. A Final Unity was also fun. Borg was okay, if you thought of it as a feature-length episode with some clicking required. I enjoyed Birth of the Federation, although someone borrowed my copy and never gave it back. Hidden Evil was quite fun, but went very silly toward the end.

What do all of these games have in common? None of them is an FPS. Mind you, the worst Star Trek 'game' I ever played was Starship Creator, so that doesn't completely guarantee goodness. There have been a lot of Trek games [wikipedia.org] , (one of my favourites, EGAtrek, isn't there), and describing them all as 'shit' is a bit unfair.

Re:The old problem (1)

Reapman (740286) | more than 4 years ago | (#29504715)

Me and my friend spent HOURS playing BotF. An amazing game and a perfect fit for Star Trek I thought, suprised they didn't make more or fixed some of the massive bugs that game had. The balancing issues were huge like you said, but had the sequal not been canned probably been fixed. Sigh I miss that game :-(

Re:The old problem (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#29504343)

SW games are either a derivative of the FPS or the old WW2 style dogfighting/"sims" as they are called on consoles

The ST Armada RTS games were very popular but after a while they got boring as every mission was the same thing. they had a few single to a few ship combat games but they were a pain in the ass to play as you had to always spin around to fire weapons on different parts of the ship. even in the the 21st century we don't have this problem on warships.

it's the same concept as Madden NFL. A "realistic" game sucks because it's boring. A Madden type sports game is fun because you can score more than once an hour and it doesn't take 3 hours to play a game

Re:The old problem (1)

Jeez01 (1442147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29504617)

Same is true in star wars apart from ligthsaber duels enemies (storm troppers) go down in 1 blaster shot. Yet in kotor or old republic MMO or any star war game it takes multiple shots to bring any down and the Smuggler PC class can go ahead to ahead against a jedi or a sith (you think Han solo can take on a jedi?)... They need to bend rules a bit for sake of balance and game play its true with any franchise not just Star trek.

Starfleet Command (2, Insightful)

Supurcell (834022) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501743)

Why can't they just make more Starfleet Command games? Forget the third dimention of outer space for a second. Yeah, it might have well been old earth sailing vessels, but those games did a good job of simulating battles between heavy-hitting space cruisers at a reasonable pace. The only problem was the incredibly boring and repetitive missions in the single player.

I especially enjoyed the 3rd game in the series for bringing it up to the more recent era of Trek and adding in customizable ships.

Re:Starfleet Command (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29502451)

Why can't they just make more Starfleet Command games?

You've got a compiler, get crackin'

Re:Starfleet Command (1)

StarWreck (695075) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502875)

congratulations on being one of the 10 people who managed to get the 3rd game before Interplay went under and all the boxes magically disappeared off the shelves.

Re:Star Trek Tactical Assault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29503803)

IMO, it was the only good Trek game to come out of Bethsoft. It is more-or-less a stripped-down SFC 1 for DS and PSP. It can be beaten in a few hours, asteroids are everywhere and very annoying, and the gameplay is really simplistic, but it is still a fairly solid portable game good for quick fixes.

Quake 2 Map (5, Interesting)

Amiralul (1164423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501833)

The Quake 2 fan-made map of NCC-1701-D remains, by far, the best Star Trek game experience I've ever encounter. It had the bridge, captain's room, working transporter pads, a sickbay, Jeffries tubes and if you shot the warp core in engineering, the ship will blow up and game over.

Re:Quake 2 Map (1)

404 Clue Not Found (763556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501959)

Ever tried the Elite Force series?

Re:Quake 2 Map (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29504157)

Just because it's the best of the crap doesn't make it good. I haven't played the sequel, but the original is horrible. The Star Trek license is executed well (voices, textures, models, etc). The actual game however is one of the most bland, forgettable, generic run throughs of a fps I have ever seen.

Re:Quake 2 Map (1)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29504645)

I played the EF series to death, literally. I clanned up just like the Quake days (Fraggers United) and played for tens of hours each week until there were no longer enough online players to get a 6 v 6 match going. It's unfortunate that the EF2 release was so cartoonish and slow, it ruined the game and people quit playing.

Re:Quake 2 Map (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29501981)

I remember that... IIRC the map creator also made a map of the Titanic surprisingly good for Q2 deathmatch.

Re:Quake 2 Map (2, Informative)

hee gozer (1261036) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501989)

Re:Quake 2 Map (1)

Amiralul (1164423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502011)

Yep! I forgot about forcefields and turbolifts!

Re:Quake 2 Map (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502093)

That sounds exactly like a fan-made map for Alien vs Predator 2

Re:Quake 2 Map (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503245)

There was a fun Quake 1 Star Trek mod too. It had phasers (including a phaser rifle) and a few hand-to-hand weapons, like a Bat'leth, and you could set phasers to overload. One of the weapons slots was taken up by the communicator, which would transport you to the nearest transporter room, and from there you could transport to most other locations in the ship. If the warp core took enough damage then there would be a radiation leak and everyone would die unless they were in the biosuit (there was one in the shuttle bay). A great way of irritating everyone was to shoot the core a bit then leave a phaser set to overload next to it and activate your com badge. Once you materialised in the transporter room, set the destination for the shuttle bay and transport there, getting the biosuit just in time not to die (while everyone else did). There were some other nice touches, like two holodecks, one containing Data doing a stand-up routine and one containing some of the Quake monsters (holodeck safeties disengaged, of course; and some missing code meant that they could also leave the holodeck and chase you). As I recall, Data used the zombie model but with a different skin, and if you attacked him a bit he'd start throwing brains at you...

Best x-mas party ever! (4, Insightful)

Korbeau (913903) | more than 4 years ago | (#29501861)

That quote made me smile:

He points out other roadblocks to development, such as Christmas party planning distractions

Yeah, because had everyone ordered supper and stayed late instead of going to the party and got in early the morning after instead of over-sleeping from alcohol intoxication during a Saturday, they surely would have made their deadline! Hey, they even provided the sleeping bags.

Oh, and Bob and Cindy spent a couple of hours planning the party each few weeks prior to it. 30 minutes of video footage lost right there!

Management primer: if you're seriously thinking about making your employees skip a Christmas party, the schedule started slipping a looong time ago!

Re:Best x-mas party ever! (3, Informative)

happy_place (632005) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502383)

Having worked an engineering job for an entertainment company, I can attest that life in the more fluffy parts of such companies are a completely different world with entirely different priorities. There's a continual "glam-factor" you have to deal with that's entirely counterproductive to producing a technically challenging piece of technology. At Disney their HR and Marketting departments were like professional cheerleaders. They always had some party going on--something they were planning. After a while it was a serious distraction, regardless of whether you were invited, and everything was catered. After a while I began to wonder how companies like this could stay in business... turns out only a few could. Oh and who could forget that any nontechnical jobs are stuffed with people who just want to be close to entertainment in the off hopes that while the secretary is performing some lounge-singing jazz number off the balcony (because the acoustics are so great) right next to where your cubicle is... (while you're trying to code a state machine in Verilog) that some movie exec will hear her, and she'll be made a star--hollywood movie fantasy! Ugh... No thanks.

Re:Best x-mas party ever! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29503165)

Wow. I worked for a small company unrelated to the entertainment industry that I *thought* was similar, until you got to the singing and etc. You make my experiences sound good in comparison.

Our company was entirely based on a search-and-post website, but was run as if the companies prime directives were:

1) A call center, for people to call in repeatedly to have an minimum wage employee use the website for them.

2) A call center for making payments, because the website didn't allow you to make payments

3) A pep rally, with games, prizes, party committees, and very little work. Prime directive #3 was to get the company listed as the best company to work for in the city.

4) Oh yeah, and throw some more ads on the website, I don't think it's cluttered enough yet. Think Las Vegas. BTW this is on a website that the customers already pay a monthly fee to use.

It never quite made it through to management that people paid money for our website because it was a useful product, and one that we could make more useful to take over competitor's marketshare.

They also never really undestood we could dramatically reduce operational costs by adding functionality to the website instead of hiring more call center employees to handle fully automatable processes. We did implement payment through the website, and automate most of invoicing. But even that was an uphill fight from the devs.

Of course this is what happens when the founder is rich and made a clueless country club buddy the president of the company.

Re:Best x-mas party ever! (2, Informative)

MrAngryForNoReason (711935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503235)

If you listen to the podcast that the summary is talking about the 'Christmas Party' referred to in the summary was actually the production of a high production value 'Christmas DVD' which apparently served no purpose other than to hopefully get a few members of staff noticed by one of the many hollywood types that were around the studio.

BotF (2, Insightful)

mseeger (40923) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502053)

Hi,

The game Birth of the Federation [wikipedia.org] has been an
excellent Star Trek game. Friends of mine still play it on a regular basis
even though it's a decade old.

CU, Martin

Ignoring Engineers (1)

BinBoy (164798) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502151)

Ignoring the engineers finally led to disaster. This had to happen eventually. Fortunately no interns were blown up due to power surges in their computers.

Re:Ignoring Engineers (2, Funny)

Zarf (5735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502345)

I can'na change the laws of software development captain!

I thought it was about 25th annivesary + sequel (2, Informative)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502195)

You know, "Old" Star Trek games by Interplay, which captured the spirit of the Original Series perfectly all the way up to the end-of-episode's philosophical discussion and/or ragging Spock.

Wikipedia links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_25th_Anniversary_(1992_video_game) [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_Judgment_Rites [wikipedia.org]

If you can find these on somewhere and like adventure games, get'em.

Re:I thought it was about 25th annivesary + sequel (1)

StarWreck (695075) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502923)

ooh yeah, I have the limited collectors edition of Judgement Rites. It even came with City on the Edge of Forever on VHS!!! I remember crying when my 386's 50MB hard-drive didn't have enough space for it after installing Windows 3.0 and Microsoft Office.

Because of that I make sure to keep a working computer that can play it (currently a 133MHz AMD '586', more like a 486-DX5, with 64MB of FPM RAM and a 500MB HDD)

Re:I thought it was about 25th annivesary + sequel (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503561)

Have you tried DOSBox?

Re:I thought it was about 25th annivesary + sequel (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503025)

Speaking of Star Trek games, Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity [wikipedia.org] was pretty good too, even if it wasn't by Interplay.

Except for the spaceship battles, which sucked.

Oh, hmm, I also don't remember playing Star Trek: Judgement Rites... I should check if it's on the Interplay 10th Anniversary Collection, which I also have lying around somewhere.

Voyager arcade (1)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502311)

Well, developers apparently haven't given up on making bad new Star Trek games. The arcade Voyager game from years back looked positively awful.

Re:Voyager arcade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29503515)

It was awful, not to mention the "phasers" you used looked like ray guns....

I remember seeing that game and thinking, this is going to be awsome (like the Star Wars arcade game was)....I played Voyager once....and then avoided it like the plague.

If I remember correctly, my i486 version of Star Trek: A Final Unity had better 3D versions of the characters.

Doesn't count (2, Interesting)

Voyager529 (1363959) | more than 4 years ago | (#29504449)

Arcade games are a different breed entirely. While yes, I did spend a few dozen too many quarters on the Voyager arcade game, arcade games don't have the luxury of using complex gameplay mechanics. If one or two screens (and possibly a few in-game prompts) can't explain the game mechanics, players will lose interest quickly and hop onto the next game. When I go to the arcade, I see DDR, Guitar Hero, air hockey, skee-ball, some racing games, and about a dozen different gallery shooters with various minor differences. The Voyager arcade game fit squarely into that last category. I will say that the Star Wars arcade game I played was better done, so I guess even arcade games can have better gameplay mechanics than others. I don't think it's fair in this context though, because Interplay wasn't making the Star Trek arcade games - they were making the console and PC games.

A better game to compare it to was Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force. While it was largely Quake 3 with Voyager styled maps and character and weapon models, was a bit short, and lacked a high replay value on the single player side (beat it in one long sitting the third time), the story was on par with most episodes of the series and the multiplayer is excellent. The sequel involved the TNG cast and flip-flopped it a bit - I liked the single player campaigns much better than the multiplayer.

I might be a bit partial as I do enjoy a solid FPS (loved Crysis, enjoyed Prey, Timeshift, and Halo 2), but as I played through Mass Effect, I kept saying to myself, "This is exactly what a Trek game SHOULD be". Mass Effect did what few Star Wars games do (KOTOR 1&2 notwithstanding), is allow the players to make decisions that impact the outcome of the game, just like the characters of the series do. Quite literally getting to choose which crew member to save is something straight out of any number of Star Trek episodes, but strangely enough never really found its way into any of the star trek games that I played (Except Star Trek Borg, which was basically all decisions and was terribly implemented). The trek universe doesn't lend itself to FPS games and space shooters as much as Star Wars does, so finding the right formula for a killer Trek game with general appeal and executing it properly is a much more daunting task for a game developer. I'm certain that it will happen eventually.

So much fun, but, Career Suicide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29502327)

The article was so much fun to read but that was career suicide. You can *never* speak ill of a previous employer. Doing so is career suicide. Every employer that interviews you and knows you wrote a tell-all like this will be suspicious that while working for them you'll be secretly collecting tid bits for you next tell all story.

Licensed properties are always problematic (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502363)

1. It's usually the bigger companies that get them, not smaller ones.
2. Licensed properties are seen as licenses to print money, the fans will buy whatever slop goes on the market.
3. Consequently the push for the developer is to get something with the licensed faces out the door, no matter whether or not it's any good.
4. Fans go on to purchase these games, living down to the expectations of the publishers.
5. A dependable if not spectacular profit is made from the game.
6. Publishers greenlight another unimaginative, unenjoyable, underdeveloped, hackneyed licensed game.

There was a game based on the old Starfleet Battles tabletop game. Came out yonks ago. It was pretty much half-completed. It had a lot of ambition, you could tell it had the potential to be a good game, but it was seriously only half complete! Sure, the graphics were pretty, single ship and small fleet actions played out fine, but the entire strategic element was obviously spanked together in a weekend. They released a sequel not too long after that. Was it the game they originally planned, this time completed? No. If anything, they broke what did work and replaced the half-baked strategic mode with the distilled essence of pain and suffering, squeezed from the souls of the unborn.

Terribly disappointed.

Re:Licensed properties are always problematic (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502581)

1. It's usually the bigger companies that get them, not smaller ones.
2. Licensed properties are seen as licenses to print money, the fans will buy whatever slop goes on the market.
3. Consequently the push for the developer is to get something with the licensed faces out the door, no matter whether or not it's any good.
4. Fans go on to purchase these games, living down to the expectations of the publishers.
5. A dependable if not spectacular profit is made from the game.
6. Publishers greenlight another unimaginative, unenjoyable, underdeveloped, hackneyed licensed game.

You forgot the biggest problem they all face: They try to force the storytelling of one format onto another.

A game is not a movie in the same way that a movie is not a book.

Re:Licensed properties are always problematic (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503717)

That wasn't a problem for the 25th Anniversary game. It was very much in the style of the TV series, split into several episodes where each one involved the same basic story; The Enterprise finds something, Kirk and the senior crew go somewhere dangerous, work out how to solve the problem of the day, then beam back, make some quips and warp away.

Re:Licensed properties are always problematic (1)

StarWreck (695075) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502981)

The video game based on the Starfleet Battles tabletop game? I think that would be Star Trek Starfleet Command 1, 2, Orion Pirates, and 3! They called Orion pirates an expansion even though it was playable without the original. It was ridiculously over-complicated but enjoyable if you could somehow manage the million different things in your head.

New Unit of Measurement? (2, Interesting)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 4 years ago | (#29502629)

and they were planning on doing it at maybe a 1/20th of the budget of a Toy Story movie

But how many Libraries if Congress would it have been?

Lego Star Trek (2, Funny)

Nylar4 (1452773) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503213)

So they managed to turn Star Wars, Batman and Indiana Jones into amusing takes on the respective franchises. Who wouldn't want to play with the Star Trek universe in Lego form as well? There's certainly enough TV series and movies to make games out of.

Flash trek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29503855)

Basis use flask trek concept anybody?

Appletrek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29504023)

The was always something screwy with Interplay's management, but now it really start to make sense. Atari seems to be run in a very similar manner.

Also, Appletrek for the win, especially if you rewrite the basic to let you rescue the ship.

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