For over 40 years, Gene Roddenberry’s science fiction universe Star Trek has been enthralling millions of fans all over the world. Names like James T. Kirk, Jen Luc Picard or Catherine Janeway are as familiar to us as the militant Klingons, the bargaining Ferengi or the imperialist Cardassians. Star Trek has influenced our every day culture so much that even Google or Facebook are available in the Klingon language. Gameforge has signed an extensive cooperation agreement with CBS to publish the first browser-based Star Trek game. ‘Star Trek-Infinite Space’ is currently under production in Frankfurt, in close collaboration with Star Trek screenwriter Lee Sheldon. The game will take place in the diverse Deep Space Nine universe and is scheduled for release in summer 2011. At the start of the game you can choose between two factions – the Federation or the Klingons and choose from a range of races including Human, Andorian, Klingon or Bajoran.
Once a team with differing skills has been assembled, there’s nothing to stop the voyage into hundreds of diverse individual missions, during which they will come across the occasional familiar face from the TV series. Additionally, players can use the special cooperative mode to explore space with up to five friends and they can meet with up to fifty other players in special player-versus-player sectors to battle it out in space conflicts.
Utilizing Unity3D technology, players will enjoy spectacular 3D action on an unprecedented graphics level has got Star Trek experts Michael and Denise Okuda, as well as screenwriter Lee Sheldon on board to offer fans a genuine Star Trek experience. And it is free, simply log on and play Star Trek: Infinite Space!
First off I have to point out how enthusiastic the Gameforge team are about their project and how contagious that enthusiasm is. I was just starting my day full of appointments, the NOS energy drink hadn’t kicked in yet and the team of Gameforge greeted me warmly and immediately filled my hands with information about their title including a book on how to learn Klingon. After many warm handshakes we sat down, had a brief tutorial and before I knew it I was flying a Federation ship, checking out the lounge in Deep Space Nine and getting a quick feel for a universe I had watched far more than I had played.
Flying the ship was fun, my crew worked like a skill system, each one bringing their own abilities to the fight. The ship was easy to learn to handle but not so easy as to make it boring and the battles looked beautiful. Even though the game is still in fairly early development (not in Alpha yet) I was still able to get a feel for the game and I could understand the team’s excitement. 2D navigation will be available for more access to non-hardcore gamers so that if you are not a big gamer but love Star Trek you can still play the story. If you are just a hardcore gamer and want to feel the power of a Klingon war bird or a Federation star ship and don’t care much for dialogue you can ignore the boxes, skip the cut-scenes and start blasting away. They really are trying to make the game not just accessible to a wide audience but also make it tailored to a wide audience which, as any Trekkie or Trekker could tell you “does not sound logical”. But damnit reader, they are developers not just fans! Ok I’m sorry I’ll stop but I do have to elaborate just a touch more on the skill set. Your percentage of success at anything from scanning a planet for life to firing a successful torpedo depends on the skill level of your crew in that area and when you are about to attempt them it gives you a percentage so you can decide if you want to risk it. These decisions as well as where and how you choose your battles mean the difference between survival and your coffins being jettisoned by another ship.
This game is still in the early stages but has everything you could want for a successful game: great graphics, excellent engine, Star Trek experts on board and oh yeah, one more thing I forgot to mention: the music changes dynamically and was performed by a 67 musician orchestra. I know I will be giving this game a run at warp speed!
On this interview I was also asked to find out the answer to how they feel about BigPoint moving into the U.S. and starting to compete with Gameforge globally. Gunnar Lott, Gameforge Productions, let me know that they feel on equal footing in the U.S. and that they are actually stronger in Europe. Lott went on to say that there are no bad feelings between the two companies and they are both working to expand the niche. “And” Lott said, “we consider ourselves more than an MMO company.”