Don't worry, in Star Trek: Legacy you won't have to divert power through secondary ODN conduits or spout other technobabble. Instead, in this upcoming tactical combat game you'll be tasked with commanding Federation starships in glorious battle on either the PC or the Xbox 360. (Multiplayer will let you control ships from other factions, such as those of the Klingons.) Legacy is also a game that will tie together the five Star Trek television series, so you'll see ships from every era of the franchise. For the latest details on the game, which is due out later this year, we turned to associate producer Gary Conti of developer Mad Doc Software.
GameSpot: In our last Q&A, we learned that Legacy will have a linear mission structure, which means you'll progress from one mission to another automatically. How much time will we get to spend in each Star Trek era before moving on to the next? Will we be able to get a good feel for each era and have plenty of time to explore the nuances of each one before moving on?
Gary Conti: In each era you'll have enough time to explore the different ships and get a feel for the era through the different mission styles and gameplay objectives. While each era is part of the greater storyline, they each have their own distinct "flavor," owing largely to the capabilities of the ships you are captaining.
As for length, we are looking to develop about 15 hours of gameplay in the campaign. That's pretty evenly broken up amongst the eras. So it's roughly five hours in each era.
GS: Tell us about the game's story--we understand that it ties in to an episode from The Next Generation. Which episode was this, and how does it inform the overarching story? How will it tie all the eras together? Did the team recruit some of the writing talent from the television series?
GC: While I can't delve too far into story-related topics, I will mention that some of the major plot points have changed since we released that info back in January. The episode "Contagion" involving the Iconians is no longer relative to the plot. Our current storyline is much more ingenious in the way we span the eras and cover all of Trek history, and it was written by one of the original Star Trek writers.
GS: How will the gameplay change over the course of the story? Will tactics change as new technologies are introduced? If so, how might you describe the differences between early starship combat and late starship combat and how the gameplay evolves over the course of the game?
GC: The way you captain your fleet will certainly change over the course of the campaign. Early Federation ships were much different than the ones we came to know in the TNG era. The NX-01, while a wonderful ship, was largely unshielded and didn't pack the same punch that later ships did. During the Enterprise era, you may not be best suited to running into a firestorm, phaser banks blazing and screaming Klingon curses. You'll quickly learn it's wise to take advantage of the rich space environment and use nebulas, planets, and stationary defenses to your advantage. In his day, Captain Archer was hunted with only his cunning to protect him! As you progress, the style of play will evolve. You will have more and more powerful ships and weaponry at your disposal, but remember, the enemy will have those too.
GS: Star Trek fans are legendary for their attention to detail, so what are you doing to make sure they'll be happy with how their favorite starships look onscreen? Just how detailed are the ships going to be?
GC: Our ship modelers have been hard at work for a long time, assuring that the 60-plus ships in Legacy are true to canon and, in the case of new ship designs, are respectful to the Star Trek universe. We have been fortunate enough to employ the skills of Rick Knox, one of the biggest names in Trek modeling and a true ship guru. The ships, the weapons they possess, and the way they behave in space are all being closely scrutinized in-house by knowing eyes.
Engage!GS: Will ships be modeled in a 1:1 scale in the game? If you pull a Galaxy-class starship (Picard's Enterprise) up alongside an Intrepid-class starship (Janeway's Voyager), will you really get a sense of one being vastly bigger than the other? Or are there going to be liberties taken with scale for gameplay purposes? (We understand that planets and stars are abstracted quite a bit, so they're much smaller than we'd expect, for instance.)
GC: Yes! We've done our best to follow the scale (which is sometimes conflicting) found in Star Trek canon. We want to be absolutely sure that people get a sense of the size and power of these ships. When you roll up in your Galaxy class, you'll get the feeling that it's big enough to eat your friend's Bird of Prey. Plus, the Borg are just freaking huge.
GS: How is damage modeling being handled? If you pummel someone's nacelle, will it explode? Will you see scarring and holes in a ship's hull after a battle? And after a battle, how do you repair your ships? Is it as simple as waiting a while for them to automatically repair, or will you have to head off to a starbase to get major systems fixed up?
GC: Damage modeling is handled procedurally. If you get hit in a certain area, it will show damage. As the enemies unload on your hull, phaser burns will appear; smoke, plasma, and fire will be thrown about; and chunks will start to fly off revealing the underlying structures of the ship. If you happen to nail one of the nacelles, it will blow off the ship, making the ship unable to create a stable warp field, thereby effectively trapping it in your reaches. When a ship is destroyed, it breaks apart into random chunks, letting off multiple stage explosions and unleashing the great power within these ships.
After (and even during) battle you can choose specific systems on your ship to repair via a simple interface. Major damage will have to be done at a nearby starbase, however. It's kind of hard to replace half your hull plating and both nacelles while lazily drifting in space. You can try, but Scotty will get really pissed off.
GS: Will there be variants of each ship class? Can players "modify" their ships with extra warp nacelles, like in the TV shows? Will ship upgrades be represented visually in the game on ship models? Will we be able to name our vessels?
GC: Ships, for the most part, will not be outwardly modified with upgrades. Upgrades are mostly internal components, boosting stats, weapon arrays and ranges, and system capabilities. Ship registrations and names are set by the game as per the storyline.
GS: Considering that the game is scheduled to come out in time for the franchise's 40th anniversary later this year, can we expect to hear some familiar voices in Legacy? Are there plans to enlist some of the television cast for voice-over work? How is the team working with Viacom and Paramount to really convey the authenticity of the experience?
GC: Still no final word on voice talent. We'll be sure to keep everyone posted on any news. We are pursuing this aggressively.
GS: Finally, it's safe to say that Star Trek fans will embrace Legacy, but how are you designing the game to appeal to non-Trekkers? What kind of game can newcomers or strangers to the franchise expect?
GC: We've undertaken the ambitious task of trying to present a worthwhile game to Star Trek fans while making a game that is accessible for all to enjoy. We hope to bridge the gap between hardcore gamers and newcomers to the franchise. Trek "strangers" can expect an exciting, tactical space combat game. It's really the first on the Xbox 360. We'll teach people to embrace their inner Klingon and that it's OK to admit you know a little more about Star Trek than you let on.
GS: Thank you, Gary.