At this past E3, members of Totally Games' Star Trek Bridge Commander development team revealed that they had scrapped the game's multiplayer features in favor of creating a richer single-player experience. It appears that those plans have changed, as Activision and Totally Games have announced that Bridge Commander will have five different multiplayer modes: deathmatch, team deathmatch, Federation vs. non-Federation, starbase attack and defend, and turkey shoot. There will be support for four players through the Internet and eight players through LAN. The two deathmatch modes will be straightforward, with individual or teams of ships fighting each other in a race to get the highest score before any preset limits, such as number of frags or an actual time limit, are reached. Federation vs. non-Federation takes the Sovereign, Galaxy, Akira, and Ambassador ships against similar ships found in the Romulan, Klingon, and Cardassian empires. In the starbase attack and defend mode, players will have to defend their starbases from enemy assaults. Last, the turkey shoot mode gives players an opportunity to shoot as many NPC ships as possible in a limited amount of time. We had a chance to speak with Larry Holland at Totally Games about Bridge Commander's newly announced multiplayer features.
GameSpot: Multiplayer often seems to stress a game's design in very different ways from a solo campaign. What are some of the design considerations that have gone into adding multiplayer?
Larry Holland: Balance becomes an issue in multiplayer in a way not seen in the single-player game. For the single player, it has to be fun for that one player--that means creating things to be skewed in his or her favor. For multiplayer, you have to make it fun for everyone. In the design of games like Quake, every person is weighted the same. But for Star Trek, we can't have a Klingon Bird of Prey be as powerful as a Federation Sovereign-class ship. So we have to take balance into consideration and weight things by scoring.
GS: How have you balanced the ships from the game's four factions for multiplayer?
LH: We haven't tried to balance the ships. They are inherently unbalanced, so if we were to balance them, it wouldn't feel like Trek. Instead we try to balance the point system so even if you use a small ship and get destroyed many times, you can win in points against a larger ship that only gets destroyed once.
GS: Are there special weapons or environmental obstacles to vary the tactics in one-on-one ship duels?
LH: Yes, we have many environments specific to multiplayer that aren't in the single-player game. These environments can be very wild--for example, we've created a system with 20 planets closely packed in it that players can maneuver around. Just the very nature of having a human opponent will force the player to adopt new tactics. We've built a game system that we hope people will find deep enough to develop their own interesting and varied strategies. People here at Totally Games have already developed their own distinct play styles and ship preferences.
GS: Thanks, Larry.
Bridge Commander is currently scheduled for release in Q4 2001. For more information on Star Trek Bridge Commander, take a look at our