Beam me up! Just about a week to go for players to immerse themselves in the first Star Trek MMOG. There's much excitement surrounding this game, one of the major releases of 2010.

MMORPG Gate interviewed Craig Zinkievich, the Executive Producer for Star Trek Online, and learned more about the past, present and future of this anticipated game.

Could you introduce yourself and your role in Star Trek Online?

My name is Craig Zinkievich and I am the Executive Producer for Star Trek Online.

There’s quite a story behind Star Trek Online. How did you end up developing the game, and did you happen to say to yourselves, “we must own the rights for this game!”?

We had the opportunity to get the license when Perpetual went under. The license was then back on the market and we jumped on it. It’s one of those where you’re like “heck yes, I want to work on this game” and then you realize what an undertaking it’s going to be. However it was a challenge that we were all eager and excited to take on.

With the new Star Trek movie widely acclaimed and the franchise regaining steam, do you think there couldn’t be a better timing for your MMO?

It definitely helps that the movie did well and re-energized the franchise. Star Trek is a fantastic IP and has a lot of history so when something new comes along and adds to that history it’s a welcome change of pace. We hope that we can bring something new to the franchise as well.

Have you studied previous Star Trek games, or the series and movies were more than enough to give you the right idea for the MMO?

We did look at previous Star Trek games but we wanted to make sure this was something new and different. But as far as lore and history we looked at the TV shows and movies.

Do you think this is a game just for Star Trek fans, or even those who aren’t familiar with the Star Trek universe will be able to enjoy it?

We like to think the game is for both. We think Star Trek fans will appreciate the nods and references we make that only they might get, but then we also feel the casual gamer will enjoy the game because it’s something different then most MMOs out there.

Star Trek OnlineStar Trek Online uses the Cryptic Engine, also seen on Champions Online. What were the major engine upgrades from one game to the other?

I wouldn’t say so much upgrades as I would say tweaking the code to fit the different needs of Star Trek. Since Star Trek Online is such a massive game with many maps and huge spaces we needed something to create things faster. This is something the Genesis System has allowed us to do. Designers can go in and we can create a lot of maps. I guess you could view this as an upgrade as this was not available at the time for Champions.

In your opinion what makes the episode aspect interesting and how does it distinguishes Star Trek Online’s structure from other MMOs?

Our episodic content is designed to take you to many different locations and environments. Much like the TV series and movies Star Trek doesn’t take place in one location so for example you might have a mission where you have to beam down to rescue a civilian, beam back to space to recover some stolen intelligence and end with a space battle. This structure is different because you can get these missions on the fly and the inner changing between space and ground really cuts out that grinding feeling you get from a lot of MMO’s.

Space combat in Star Trek Online is like another game entirely. Did you went through many iterations – and headaches – until you finally settled down on the right model?

Oh of course. It’s a completely different monster you’re dealing with. First of all Space is 3D so you have things happening on many different plains. Then you have your ship to control, your shields, your weapons, your bridge officers special abilities. But it really makes for fun and exciting gameplay. We feel we’ve gotten space down but we’ll always be tweaking balancing to make sure the game flows well.

Open Instances are part of Star Trek Online. Can you explain them to our readers and why did you decided to add them. Is that so players who like to venture alone don’t get stuck in the most difficult battles?

Well, it sounds like you’re describing two separate things. There are Fleet Actions, which work like giant, open missions that allow a large amount of people to work together to achieve one common goal. In a Fleet Action, you enter an area and work within your team (or solo) to complete an objective. Once the Fleet Action is over, players can leave and the Fleet Action will reset.

We also have open teaming, which automatically puts players working on the same mission on a team. It’s an optional feature that helps people make new friends and get the help they may need on tough missions. We designed it to help combat the isolation people can feel when they’re in deep space.

At a given point we’ll be able to play as a Klingon. How does this affect gameplay? Is PvP the only way to progress?

PvP is the main way for Klingons to level up. There will be some PvE gameplay, but the most efficient way for a Klingon player to advance is to engage in PvP. If players after launch want more PvE content for Klingons then it will be something we will look at adding.

In what way do you plan to expand on Star Trek Online? Regular free updates as with Champions Online or are you also considering expansion packs?

There will be free updates much like Champions Online. We hope to have future expansion packs but that will depend largely on the community and success of the game.

Thank you for your time!

You’re welcome! Thank you!