NYCC: We preview Star Trek Online, which boldly goes forward

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Craig Zinkievich, executive producer of Cryptic Studios' Star Trek Online massively multiplayer online role-playing game, told SCI FI Wire that the new game is set in the year 2409—30 years after the events in Star Trek Nemesis—and that major developments have take place since we last left the Star Trek universe.

"The Khitomer Accord between the Klingons and the Federation has broken down, and they're on the verge of all-out war," Zunkievich said in an interview over the weekend at New York Comic Con. "There's an ancient threat that has also come back that everybody in the Alpha Quadrant is going to have to worry about." has been releasing frequent updates about what has happened in the past 30 years to bring gamers up to date. He also told us that the famously doomed "redshirts" will make an appearance.

Zinkievich says that MMORPG newbies need not fear being overwhelmed by difficulty levels and expert players. "Star Trek is many different things to many different people," he said. "There's the exploration. There's the episodic storytelling. There's the PvP [player vs. player] right along the neutral zone. And so I think that there is room in the universe for all different sorts of gameplay and therefore all sorts of different levels of players who can come in and really enjoy themselves."

Zinkievich told us that the game is being developed for both PC and console, but which console has not been announced yet. As far as gameplay, he told us, "There's ship gameplay and ground gameplay. In Star Trek Online you are an officer in either Starfleet or Klingon Defense Force. You are the captain of the ship. You captain your ship, you pilot your ship, you're in charge of your bridge crew and other officers on your ship. There's ship combat, and you beam down for away missions as well. ... At launch the people on your ship are NPCs. Your bridge officers. There's a really cool feature in the game. You recruit them, you give them names, [decide] what they look like, you level them up, the skills they have, the equipment they have, and these guys really help you out in space gameplay. And then when you beam down to the planet, they're right with you as your away team." He said that the ship gameplay is a slower, strategic style, while the ground gameplay is much more fast-paced.

You can play with the races familiar to Star Trek fans, such as humans, Klingons, Vulcans, Gorn, etc., or you can create your own. "You can just go crazy," he said. "It's really awesome. We've released character footage which shows a little teeny tiny bit of what you can do with the creator. You can choose what your skin color is, what it looks like. There is bone scaling on the head that you can deform that, forehead ridges. ... You can really explore the cosmetic side of things, and the artists have done an amazing job. You can choose the racial attributes that your new race has. You create the race, add yours to the universe and share it with your friends."

Since the game is set after the events of the most recent Trek movie, many familiar characters have passed on. But, Zinkievich told us, "there are so many storylines that show repercussions from things that those characters did that live on and have to be solved and addressed. And there's a really good chance that you're going to see those characters' descendants." There's no firm release date for the game.