Welcome to the 14th issue of Trekkie Central Magazine. This issue takes a look at the animated side of Star Trek. We take a look at various series and a computer game. First off we speak with various cast and crew members of the animated episodes of Starship Farragut. We speak with creator Michael Struck and artist Kail Tescar. We also speak with John Broughton aka Captain Carter; Michael Bednar aka Commander Tacket and finally the son of James Doohan, Christopher Doohan who plays Thelin. Next we revisit Star Trek Aurora and USS Tamerlane and have interviews with their respective creators Tim Vining and Guy Davis. We also have reviews of both Aurora and Tamerlane. Also we take a look at a once proposed series to Paramount. Back in 2005 three people, all Star Trek fans, proposed Star Trek Final Frontier to Paramount. This animated series nevr made it off the ground but now the creators have released the plans for the show on the internet and here we have an exclusive interview with the three creators Doug Mirabello; David Rossi and Jose Munoz. Finally we take a look at the latest addition to the Star Trek Universe, Star Trek Online. We have a interview with Executive Producer Craig Zinkievich about the creation of the game. Also we a fantastic article on Star Trek Online by Eric Granger. We have also got an interview with Michael A. Martin who is the author of Star Trek Online: The Needs of The Many. To finish off we have a Captains Log which takes a look at Star Trek The Animated Series by Camren Burton. We all hope you like this issue Live Long and Prosper Richard Miles Editor
Starship Farragut Section An Interview with Michael Struck An Interview with John Broughton An Interview with Kail Tescar An Interview with Michael Bednar An Interview with Chris Doohan
USS Tamerlane, Aurora and Final Frontier Interview with Tim Vining A Review of Aurora Trek by Gerri and Eugenia An Interview with Doug Mirabello, David Rossi and Jose Munoz USS Tamerlane A Review by Richard An Interview with Guy Davis
Star Trek Online Interview with Craig Zinkievich Star Trek Online: Whats it all about? By Eric Granger Interview with Michael A. Martin
10 12 14 16 18
22 25 28 34 36
38 44 48
Trekkie Central Show Review: Star Trek Phoenix: Cloak and Dagger
Captains Log by Camren Burton
Special Thanks: Interviewees: Michael Bednar; John Broughton; Guy Davis; Chris Doohan; Michael A. Martin; Doug Mirabello; Jose Mirabello; Leo Roberts; David Rossi; Michael Struck; Tim Vining and Craig Zinkievich
Staff: Writers: Camren Burton; Gerri Donaldson; Eric Granger; Richard Miles and Eugenia Stopyra.
Writers: Camren Burton; Gerri Donaldson; Eric Granger; Richard Miles and Eugenia Stopyra.
Images: Temporal Studios; Foxtail Comics; TC Productions; Cryptic Studios; Star Trek Aurora; Neo FX.
Production Companies: Cryptic Studios; Temporal Studios; Pocket Books; Neo-FX; Farragut Films; Foxtail Comics and Star Trek Aurora.
Head Writers: Gerri Donaldson and Eugenia Stopyra
Graphics: Richard Miles
Creative Consultants: Michael Hudson and Rick Pike Assistant Editors: Heather Ashleigh and Alex Matthews Editor: Richard Miles Publisher: Richard Miles
STAR TREK PHOENIX: CLOAK AND DAGGER AN INTERVIEW WITH LEO ROBERTS
TCM: What does it feel like to finally have the pilot done and ready for release? LR: It feels fantastic and I am very excited to be able to show the fans what we've been working on. TCM: How long is the pilot going to be? LR: The Pilot will be a total of 30 minutes and is Part 1 of "Cloak & Dagger". TCM: You have changed the uniform of the Starfleet crew from when we last spoke just over a year ago, what was your reason for this? LR: The uniforms we premiered a year ago are called Generation One and we created those to provide a transition for the fans for two reasons. One, to offer a new color scheme, and secondly assist the fans to go from the look in the TNG movies to 42 years into the future. The uniforms seen in the Pilot, known as Generation Two, were always the intended look to properly reflect the passage of time from Star Trek: Nemesis to 2422 when "Cloak & Dagger" begins.
TCM: Some of the main characters have changed from what was originally announced what was the reason behind this? LR: Star Trek: Phoenix, like all other fan productions, is a volunteer-based organization and having 150+ volunteers means that we will have people come and go at every level. We have had a few actors depart the production for a spectrum of reasons usually because their acting career became more intense and thus reducing their availability for the project. To fill the missing gaps, we created new characters to introduce to the audience. TCM: What can you tell us about the storyline for Cloak and Dagger? LR: The Pilot takes place in the year 2422, one year into USS Phoenix's maiden voyage. After a major attack on the ship, the captain and crew launch a mission to rescue an away team stranded on the remote planet, Katrassii Prime. But, the closer they get to rescuing their shipmates, the more they become entangled in the secrets contained on this perilous, hostile planet. TCM: Is there anything else you can tell us about the production? LR: We are thrilled to be so close to the finish line, to show the fans a glimpse into the future of Star Trek. We have worked very hard to respect the vision of Gene Roddenberry and also respect established canon. This is just the beginning of the adventure and we invite the fans to join us. A little secret...watch the character vignettes because they all tie into the Pilot.~
Hello, my name is Michael Struck and I am the owner and manager of NEO f/x, a visual effects company located in Portland, Oregon. We have been operating since 2003, mainly focused on creating simple logos and videos for those in the Portland area. Around 2005 we wanted to expand from our core business and enter the entertainment industry. As most new filmmakers find when they begin, it is not easy to break into this industry. So, we started reaching out to smaller filmmakers, student directors, and internet fan films to slowly ease our way in. In 2005 we found Starship Farragut, a Washington DC-based fan production. Their episodes were set in the TOS timeline and based on a new crew and ship. Unlike New Voyages/Phase II which had already established themselves, Starship Farragut was just getting started, so this was our opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new project. Fast forward to 2007 and we had helped produce a couple of successful live-action episodes of Farragut, and we found ourselves in demand by other productions outside of Star Trek. However, we also wanted to do one of our own pet projects which was 2D animation similar to the Filmation Trek of the 70’s. I had actually written a story treatment for Farragut, but just like some of the stories for the original episodes of live-action Star Trek, my story was a bit too ambitious for a limited-funded live production, but could easily be created in animated format. However, I was no screenplay writer, so I solicited a story from Tom Scott, president of Magique Productions. This was a very impressive story that was very ‘Trek like’ in its structure and story. While we made a decision that this would be our animated episode, I still wanted to see my story come to life. Fortunately, one of the other productions we were beginning to work on was Of Gods and Men. This is where I met Jack Trevino, one of the writers of OGAM and a couple of ‘real’ trek episodes on television (DS9 specifically). He knew of our work in Farragut and commented that he wouldn’t mind writing a story for this series. I told him of our plan for an animated episode and my story, and we began collaborating on a script that would work in this format. As the scripts were begin developed, I wanted these episodes to not simply be classified as fan productions. While most of the cast of the live action Farragut would be involved, I wanted some ‘special guest stars’ to be included as well. One of the plans I always had in mind was to include a character from the original Trek episodes as part of the Farragut crew. In the original animated Trek episode “Yesteryear”, the timeline was altered and Spock was no longer part of the Enterprise crew. Instead, the first officer of the Enterprise was a gray Andorian named Thelin. This character was originally voiced by James Doohan, and only appeared in this one episode. My rational for including him in the Farragut crew was somewhat ‘logical’ if not inventive; Thelin must have been in Starfleet to eventually end up on the Enterprise in a parallel timeline. And as we all know, one small incident in the past can have major consequences in the future. So, with Spock not being around in “Yesteryear”, maybe Thelin did some heroic act that got Kirk’s attention and he was on the fast track to Lieutenant Commander. With the original timeline in place, however, maybe Thelin didn’t get to meet Kirk, and he ended up on the Farragut as only a Lieutenant. Either way, I needed someone to voice this character, and I thought one day ‘why not ask the son of James Doohan to do it’. As luck would have it, Chris Doohan was interested in getting into voiceover work, so it took little convincing to get him involved. In addition to Thelin at Navigation, we also have a new character to the Farragut crew, Lt. Scott Taylor. Taylor is being voiced by Hetoreyn, the composer of the live-action episodes. Hetoreyn is originally from the UK, so it will be nice to have a non-American accent on the bridge.
The story Jack and I wrote also involved a guest female character. Jack immediately recommended Chase Masterson from Deep Space Nine and OGAM. This is where I got my first dose of ‘Hollywood reality’. Actors belong to a union (The Screen Actors Guild) that protects their rights, and they simply can’t work on any project they want…The project must be SAG Signatory which ensures that the actor is treated as they should be. This is one of those ‘insider’ things I had no idea about; however, Chase was very open to helping NEO f/x become SAG Signatory so she could participate. This opened the door to other actors such as Vic Mignogna and Tim Russ (Tuvok) having some cameo roles in the episodes. Once recording began, we started animating. At this time it was only myself and Kail Tescar (webmaster of startrekanimated.com) working on the project. However, word of the project spread quickly and we began getting volunteers work on the project from all over the world, including a former Disney employee, a couple comicbook artists, and even someone that helped pitch a postTNG style cartoon to CBS. For the music, Hetoreyn volunteered to participate with writing a new opening theme. This would allow us to create a new opening sequence that is unique to Farragut. However, throughout the episode we ended up using original TAS music to give it that 'Filmation feel'. Outside of the simplified animations, most people are nostalgic about the music of the original animated episodes. These were original creations and were used A LOT in not only Star Trek, but other animated episodes created by Filmation. As we moved forward on the episodes, I was spending a lot of time in Los Angeles getting the recordings, so I decided to look up Lou Scheimer…one of the co-founders of Filmation (the original creators of TAS). How surprised was I when he invited me to his estate that overlooked the San Fernando valley! I showed him our work and he gave his complete endorsement of the project saying “You have to follow your vision of what to do, and don’t let anyone detour you. “ He has since recorded a promo and cameo for these productions that we attached to the trailer for "The Needs of the Many". Overall, this has been a fantastic project. Looking back to 2003, I would have never thought I would be working directly with actors, or meeting legends in the animation world. The other thing I never anticipated was the amount of effort it takes to put a cartoon together. When we originally announced this at the beginning of 2008, we thought for sure it could be done by the end of the year. However, defining the character and getting the recordings the exact way we wanted them took a lot longer than we anticipated. Therefore, we slipped our release date to mid2009 for "Power Source", and the very beginning of 2010 for the full release of "The Needs of the Many". So far, fan reaction has been very positive! As always, you can get that ‘animated feeling’ by having an animated image of yourself drawn up by Kail from StarTrekAnimated.com. Simply go to http://www.startrekanimated.com/tas_portraits.html and follow the instructions. Please note that there is a charge for this service. You can also purchase NEO f/x and Farragut Animated merchandise from our online store here: http://farragutanimated.com/store.html Michael
TCM: In â€˜The Needs of The Manyâ€™ Carter and crew encounter the same Gorn that featured in Star Trek The Original Series, What difference are there between this story and the original series one?
TCM: What differences are there between your character in the animated episodes and your character in the Live Action series? JB: Besides from being "two-dimensional", not a whole lot from my perspective. ;)
JB: Well before in TOS, the Gorn did not have a real beef with Starfleet - in this episode, the Gorn captain has a vendetta, and Carter and crew are at the receiving end of it. This story is different in that it brings elements and a storyline from TOS, but it is an original story using the Farragut characters. Of course, doing this episode lent itself for having one familiar TOS character! TCM: What developments do we see for Captain Carter in these two episodes?
TCM: Was it fun producing these two animated episodes? JB: In terms of "fun," I can relay that it wasn't as painful as doing the live action! A lesson learned from doing this production for me was underestimating the rehearsals and script read-throughs with other cast members. We received some good direction; however, being able to do a script readthrough and a rehearsal or two would have added value to the audio aspect of this production. TCM: When you were first approached with the idea of doing animated episodes what was your initial reaction? JB: My first reaction? I thought "Hell yeah!" I thought it was a great idea. This was something that Michael (Struck) wanted to do for a long time and jumped on the idea to bring the live action series and crossover to animation. I'm delighted that we did it and proud that we were the first to do it.
JB: I don't want to ruin the surprise for folks - especially, since "THE NEEDS OF THE MANY" is not out yet, but will say that Carter's performance is different in this one that in "POWER SOURCE." TCM: What else can you tell us about the making of these two episodes? JB: Having done this, I have a greater appreciation for animated films. Also, NEO f/x and its group of artists could have done the animated project better with much more realistic animation and special effects, but being a TOS-purist, I appreciate the careful attention to detail in accurately replicating FILMATION's style of Star Trek from the 1970's. Just as Farragut Films has spent similar time and effort to replicate 1960's Star Trek (our tagline is "CLASSIC TREK NOW"), NEO f/x has brought back something great for both the fans of the time, as well as new ones. Hope you like it! ~
TCM: How did you become involved with The Animated Adventures of Starship Farragut? KT: Michael Struck contacted me and asked me to get involved. I was reluctant at first, as I’ve had others claim they wanted to create a new animated episode of Star Trek, but after I did a lot of artwork for the project, they disappeared and didn’t follow though. TCM: When did you first discover Star Trek? KT: That’s hard to say. It seems like Star Trek has always been a part of my life. I think I first turned onto it when it went into syndication. TCM: Why do you have such a love of the Animated Series? TCM: Did you enjoy working on the episodes? KT: I have a love of Star Trek, the animated series is just part of that. I have a special place in my heart for the animated series for two reasons. One, I was there when it debuted. I was thrilled that Star Trek was coming back. I have very fond memories of sitting in front of the TV with my bowl of Fruit Loops and watching each episode as it came on. Second, I’ve been running the StarTrekanimated.com for over ten years now, and it has been a big part of my life. Through the website I have made many friends who are very dear to me. TCM: How did you become involved with Paramounts release of the Animated Series on DVD? KT: The producer Tim King contacted me through my website, and asked me if I would help him. How could I turn him down? My name is on an official release of Star Trek, how cool is that? How many fans get to say that? Would I be involved? You bet! TCM: What can you tell us about your role on The Animated Farragut Episodes? KT: I started out as lead artist, but as Michael and I worked on the project, I kind of morphed into an associate producer. As the TAS expert, which I had kind of become from having watched each episode a thousand times for my website, Michael relied on me to keep him “honest” or true to the look and feel of Filmation Star Trek.
KT: No... I’m just kidding, kind of. It was a lot of work, very time consuming. This thing was in the works for over 2 years! I thought I was only going to do character design; I had never done any animation before. It can be very tedious, like spending 8 hours on a shot that is only seen on screen for seconds. But it was also very satisfying doing something that had never been done by fans before. The end result was great, but it was a long road getting there. I credit Michael for his patience and his being a great motivator. TCM: Why did you launch the website Star Trek Animated.com? KT: When I got my first computer, I decided I wanted to make a website and Star Trek seemed a natural. I did a search and found thousands of sites about Star Trek, and only one about the animated series, Curt Danhausers Guide to the animated series http://www.danhausertrek.com/AnimatedSeries/Main.html I think I even wrote him and asked if he minded if I created a TAS website. He was very gracious and has become a good friend over the years. His site is still there too, and is a great resource.
TCM: When did you discover you could draw in the same style as they did in The Animated Series or was it something you developed over time? KT: I started creating TAS wallpapers, and such for the site. Mostly aliens and ships at first, as I had no confidence in my ability to draw humans. But over time I started drawing the crew, then I started to draw myself and friends as TAS characters. This eventually grew into my TAS portrait service, http://www.startrekanimated.com/tas_portraits.html .
TCM: Is there anything else you can tell us? KT: I’m 6 foot 5, enjoy movies, sunsets and long walks on the beach.~
TCM: What differences are there between your character in the animated episodes and your character in the Live Action series? MB: Other than the obvious animation or live, there really are no differences. The character was pre-determined by myself before we began the script for “The Captaincy.” My character is simply an extension of my own self. Idealistic, prefers to settle things without the use of force, but isn’t afraid to use force if necessary.
TCM: In ‘The Needs of The Many’ Carter and crew encounter the same Gorn that featured in Star Trek The Original Series, What can you tell us about your characters role in this episode? MB: For that you have to watch the episode. TCM: What developments do we see for Commander Tacket in these two episodes?
TCM: Was it fun producing these two animated episodes? MB: It was fun to see the final results, but I treat it like I’m preparing for a final exam without knowing the answers. You hope and pray that you do the voice justice for the hard work that the animators have put into this. All in all, I’d say the voice talent has an easier go and while the finished product looks flawless, the work is extensive. I often tell everyone that I work harder doing Starship Farragut than my day job. TCM: When you were first approached with the idea of doing animated episodes what was your initial reaction? MB: Cool! I don’t have to build any sets or props. We’re going to be a cartoon.
MB: Hopefully some good voice work. It’s harder than it seems. Tacket brings strong leadership and devotion to science in both of these episodes. Thankfully I’m not left in command this time. Can’t blame me for any damage the ship takes. TCM: What else can you tell us about the making of these two episodes? MB: Many days went into the voice work. Just when you thought you had everything done, Michael Struck would come back with a different line or the same line said differently. This was an enjoyable project and I only hope that we can do more of them in the future. ~
TCM: How did you become involved with Neo-FX and The Animated Adventures of Starship Farragut? CD: Well, initially, Michael Struck saw my name on a trekmovie.com interview and, as he said, ”a light bulb went off” . He contacted my bands myspace (the muddflaps) and got a hold of me. Initially, he asked me to voice the character, Thelin, which is one of the voices my father did on the original animated series, then Jack Trevino stepped in and added Scotty to the episode. Michael called me and asked me if I would like to play both characters. Of course, I said yes. I remember giving Michael a line or two in my Scottish accent (on the phone). My feeling at that time was that my accent wasn’t that good, but I guess it was good enough. The voice of Thelin was a bit easier to do, but I had fun doing both.
TCM: What can you tell us about the character you play? CD: Outside of Scotty, the other character I play is Thelin, a half Andorian helmsman. This character was in the original Trek animated series for one episode, by Michael wanted him to be a regular character on the Farragut, and he appears in both episodes of Farragut. TCM: How did working on this project differ from working on the latest Star Trek Movie? CD: It’s funny, because a year earlier, I would have never thought that I would be sitting in the transporter room next to the new Scotty, Simon Pegg, or playing Scotty in the animated version. It’s difficult comparing the two, as they were so different, in so many ways. Both projects gave me a chance to work alongside some very talented people, like Simon Pegg, J.J.Abrams, Chase Masterson, Tim Russ and many others. That, for me, was the most rewarding part. A dream come true. TCM: How long did the work on this project take? CD: I was only there for the day, but I did come back at a later date to add and change a few lines. Michael’s superb direction really helped streamline the project.
TCM: Your father worked on the Original Animated series, did you ever feel that working on these episodes honoured his work on the original series? CD: Well, I can hope so, but there were some very large shoes to fill. TCM: When you first heard of this project what were your initial thoughts and feelings? CD: Truthfully, I thought it would be great if they could actually pull it off. It seemed like a very ambitious project and I knew that the fans of Star Trek would scrutinize every aspect of it. That alone, made me very nervous about playing Scotty (doing a Scottish accent). Not so much by the dialect itself, but it’s comparison to my father’s Scotty. I was in Scotland a couple years back, and had a conversation with the Provost of West Lothian. He said that he heard that I was up for the role of Scotty in the new movie. I told him that I wasn’t and that my Scottish accent really wasn’t that good. Laughing, he said “ then you’d be perfect…your father‘s accent was terrible”. Remembering that helped relieve the pressure a bit. TCM: When you watched the episodes for the first time what did you think? CD: I was blown away, really. NEO f/x did an amazing job. Their intent was to make this in the 70’s filmation style, and they did that seamlessly. I’m very proud to be a part of it. Would you participate in this project again? In a heartbeat. TCM: Is there anything else you can tell us about your role in this project? CD: It was great working with Michael, Chase, Tim, and the sound engineer Ralph. We need to do another set of episodes!~
TCM: What can you tell us about Aurora since we last spoke? TV: When we last spoke, we were still mostly establishing Aurora’s characters, particularly Kara, both her past and present, and starting the dominoes to fall towards where she ends up at the end of Part 3. The trick, from a writing standpoint, was to try to balance the events that both build the characters and advance the current plot. I have a rule about writing that every scene should do two things at once—advance the plot, and let the viewer know more about the characters or your setting. TCM: You have released better versions of the first three parts, what changes did you make and why? TV: The biggest change, since the last released versions of Parts 1-3, is the added music, composed by a musician named John Catney, who I think did a wonderful job of capturing Aurora’s vibe by treading the line between modern and traditional music--it has a clean spare sound, but is also beautiful and haunting in some places, light and airy in others. This quality in his music I feel really enhances the scenes where it appears, and lends Aurora the kind of finish and polish that I think people expect in a complete dramatic production. I also made a few small tweaks here and there—tightening a shot, adding the frosty breaths in the cargo bay in Part 2, etc., though for anyone who hasn’t seen the earlier parts since their first iteration—particularly Part 1—they will note much bigger changes, so I recommend giving them another look, since, with the music and the latest tweaks, I feel that Parts 1-3 are in their final form. (Probably!)
TCM: Can you tell us a little bit about how Aurora came in to being? TV: I had been working in 3D modelling and animation for years, both at work and at home, but just about five years ago or so, I felt like the hardware and software available to me— particularly the 3D characters from Poser and Daz3D--had finally reached the point where an individual might be able to create a fully-realized dramatic production. Off-the-shelf 3D software had been capable long before that of creating great spaceships and effects, like for exciting space battles, but I’m a character-oriented storyteller, so I wasn’t really interested in any kind of serious animation until I could put fully-emotive and sympathetic characters into it, and with the advent of (then) new character models from Daz3D, and the capabilities of Poser animation, tied with Cinema 4D to model and render in, I felt that it was time to give it a try. That was also just after the cancellation of Enterprise, so I think the confluence of these two eventualities led me to the idea of trying a Star Trek story. I’ll confess to being naïve enough to believe that I thought I was the first person to think of this—I honestly didn’t know there were other fan films until after I started production! As for the characters and storyline of Aurora, they grew out of my early fascination with the civilians of Star trek, particularly in the Original Series, who seemed really brave and resourceful to be out there in the galaxy, on their own, just trying to make a living. TCM: Why did you decide to set Aurora onboard a cargo ship? TV: As I was saying, I always found the civilians of Star Trek really fascinating. Starfleet was out there in the galaxy, of course, exploring and facing dangers, but these civilians were out there too, and they weren’t highly-trained or well-armed, and they weren’t sent out there: they went out on their own looking to make their way, either looking for their fortunes or maybe just getting away and willing to blaze a new trail or stake a claim, like the early American pioneers, just with planets instead of plains, and aliens instead of Indians. With Aurora, I wanted to tell their story, so rather than a Starfleet starship bristling with weapons and a crack crew numbering in the hundreds, I set Aurora on a tiny, unarmed cargo ship with just two people. And, I’ll admit, from an animation standpoint, it’s a lot easier to only have to animate two main characters for much of the movie rather than a large crew.
TCM: How long does each part take to make? TV: I’m averaging about one part per year—ouch, it hurts to say that! I guess it’s fitting, in a way, that this movie has turned into my own “five year mission.”
TCM: At the end of Part Four Kara is still stuck in alternate universe, what can you tell us about that part of the story line? TV: Well, I can’t say too much without providing spoilers to my own movie, but I think anybody who has watched Aurora to this point and knows Kara’s history will recognize the extremely profound and personal ramifications of the revelation at the end of this part. TCM: Is part five going to be the last part or are there further parts planned? TV: Part 5 should be the conclusion of this storyline of Aurora. I have Part 5 outlined, but sometimes it isn’t until you fully flesh out the script that you know just how many minutes of animation it will be, but the plan is for Part 5 to be the end.
TCM: What else can you tell us about the future of Aurora? TV: I have a number of Aurora storylines in mind. There’s a saying in fiction writing that “character is story,” and in creating the characters for Aurora, a number challenges and situations that I’d like to see these characters deal with in their own way have come to me beyond this first story. That said, right now I’m just concentrating on finishing this storyline, and if all goes well (like lightning not frying all my electronics again this Summer) I hope to finish it before the Fall. Wish me luck! ~
Written by Gerri Donaldson and Eugenia Stopyra
The internet has allowed some amazing things to happen to the people who use it and this magazine demonstrates that in itself! What is much more amazing is that there are people out there who have wonderful talent and vision and we as users are privileged to be able to see what they do. One such talent is the amazing Tim Vinning and his fantastic project called Star Trek Aurora! Tim is an artist, animator, writer, director and so much more. Because of our interest in Sci Fi and in particular Star Trek, and the writing that we do for this magazine and our other projects such as GE News and Women Talk Sci Fi podcast we have seen many movies and TV shows about Star Trek both professional and amateur.
So we feel quite able to say that this is one of the best and it stands up there at the top in both the amateur and professional fields. Tim Vinning’s Star Trek is amazing. Have we used that word too much? We think that is the only word that we can use that hangs true when discussing Tim’s work! It is available at www.auroratrek.com so after you read this just go and download it and, you will, really really thank us!
Tim’s Star Trek Aurora is set not long after the time of Kirk and is about Captain Kara Carpenter and her Vulcan first mate T’Ling and their exploits and journeys on the Starship Aurora. The story is about a flawed human being who has to deal with issues from her past that are both touching and brutal. Kara is a tortured being who cannot forget her past but has not allowed this to define her. Strong, brave and independent she is someone you would want to be at your back. The story is compelling and you really like this character and you feel for her.
Tim was interested in what happened to the characters that we saw every week in an episode of Star Trek: TOS and wondered where their story went after Kirk and crew left the planet, space station, or space ship so he decided that he would tell us about someone who had encountered Star Fleet and the life that they led.
But, the star of the show is the amazing (yes that word again!) quality of the animation of Tim’s work along with his scripting and the voice acting. Tim calls in favours from his wife, Jeanette who voices many of the female characters, including Kara and T’Ling who also sings the theme and of course his friends all who have contributed to this quality work. The rendering of his characters is wonderful and as we write this we have enlarged an image of Kira as much as we can get it on a 24” screen and we are just awed at the rendering of Kara’s hair, her freckles and textures of her skin.
This is not just the 2D animation that you see in any old cartoon. This is like watching a live action film with believable movements and a desire to find out more. It is full of comedic elements and any trekkie will enjoy seeing the little touches in the background with the in jokes that will have you checking out each scene again and again to see if you can find more! Tim certainly knows his Trek and he has garnered talented actors.
We are just waiting for episode 4 (part 2) to complete the movie and I hope that Tim may just call this Season 1 and we get to see more in the future. Star Trek Aurora is great entertainment, and you don’t have to know anything about Star Trek, you just need to like watching very good entertainment, with a great storyline, and characters that you will care for.
So far we have had episodes 1 to 4 (part 1) and we can’t wait for the next one. Check out Tim’s site at www.auroratrek.com and watch it. If this was available commercially, we would buy it!
TCM: can you tell us about Final Frontier? FF: Final Frontier is a five-part animated Star Trek series meant for distribution over the web. At the time we began formulating the idea, “Clone Wars” was our real inspiration (the original shorts, not the modern CG series). We wanted to do something similar for Star Trek, using short-form animation. The three of us had worked together behind the scenes on Trek for years. We knew some of the right people to help move the idea forward, and so we decided to forge ahead. TCM: Whose idea was Final Frontier? FF: Two of us had previously worked together on another Trek project in the same format, telling stories from the TOS era and the U.S.S. Excalibur (this was before the reboot film was announced). That project fell apart for various reasons. Dave then decided the best choice after that was to move ahead into the future, and he got us all together to work on Final Frontier. The setting, storyline, and characters are a true collaboration, the result of many nights of sitting around our offices on the Paramount lot and picking apart each other’s ideas. TCM: Can you talk us through what happened with CBS and why the show never made it to screen? FF: Final Frontier was born at a strange time for the franchise. CBS and Paramount had split up, and the rights to Star Trek were stuck in a strange limbo. CBS had TV rights, Paramount had film, and no one was quite sure where that left internet rights. Startrek.com was very excited about Final Frontier, but the money would have to come from CBS Interactive. Our initial pitch with them went well, and we were asked to draw up a budget. We met with several animation companies and got budgets for a few different approaches (including a CGI version). The process was slowed by CBS trying to figure out the rights issues, but it was looking hopeful. Then, at the end of 2007, CBS Interactive was restructured and the entire staff of Startrek.com was laid off all at once. With all of our connections gone and Paramount gearing up to focus almost exclusively on the upcoming film, the project was essentially dead.
TCM: Why was the medium of animation chosen for this series? FF: We felt that animation would allow us to do things that were impossible in live action. We could visit planets and meet races that were truly alien, not just rubber faces on a soundstage, and do it all on a budget that made sense for web distribution. It would also appeal to a younger audience, who may never have seen any Star Trek before.
TCM: Whose idea was it to set the show so far in the future (2528)? FF: From the very beginning of our talks on Final Frontier, we knew that the best thing to do was to move ahead and tell stories set in the future. One reason for this is that it freed us from having to worry about the enormously complicated history that’s already been set up in the Star Trek universe. Working behind the scenes on “Enterprise,” there were numerous times when the series felt like it was almost collapsing under the weight of Star Trek’s established future, and we wanted to avoid that. That’s minor, though. The main reason for the future setting is that we felt that Star Trek (and science fiction in general) needs to be constantly moving forward and showing its audience exciting new things. TCM: How did the background story for the show develop? FF: It has a lot to do with the state of the franchise at the time. “Enterprise” was slowly fading away, a lot of fans felt like Star Trek had lost its way, and the future was uncertain (the film hadn’t been announced yet). The back story to Final Frontier was designed as an allegory to this idea. In it, Starfleet has lost its way and forgotten the ideals that it was originally based upon: optimism, exploration, and altruism. It’s a fairly dark past, but this new captain and crew were going to turn it around. Star Trek has always been great at using metaphor to comment on current events, and this was an extension of that idea, using Final Frontier as a metaphor for the state of the franchise itself. On a more focused level, another problem with working in a world as rich and detailed as Star Trek is that the universe is pretty much established. Even if we jump ahead into the future, our worlds and players are set. There’s Klingons here, Romulans over here, and Borg way out there. We can add new races and planets as we go, but the major pieces are always the same. The Omega Event was devised as a way to mix that up. By cutting some sections of the quadrant off from warp travel, it allowed us to explore not just the frontier but also our own space, and see some of these established races in a new way. We’ve gotten a lot of comments that the story is too dark, too “Battlestar Galactica.” It’s important to realize that these elements are simply background, and that the series itself would have been very positive, showing how Starfleet left that darkness behind and returned to a more positive worldview that we haven’t seen since “Next Generation.”
TCM: What can you tell us about the characters in the series? FF: We started with our core three: Captain Chase, Commander Holden, and Lieutenant Donal. Chase is an idealist. He could be commanding a much more impressive ship, but he wanted Enterprise for the legacy of her name, a legacy that many have forgotten in this time period. After years surveying Omega fields, he’s seen exactly what the disaster did to Federation space, and he’s ready to move past it. Commander Holden represents a more modern Starfleet, and he’s the one who constantly has to rein his captain in. He’s caught between his innate sense of following the rules and his burgeoning respect for his captain’s ideals. The two often reach similar conclusions, but from opposite starting points. Donal is our head of security. A short-form animated Star Trek has to be high on action in order to keep things moving and appeal to the widest audience. However, unlike Star Wars, Star Trek involves people stopping to talk from time to time about what’s going on. Working under these constraints, we knew that Donal had to have a real voice. As these central three characters learned to work together and see things from each other’s point of view, we would have seen the state of Starfleet change around them. Outside of those three, we added a Protocol Officer. Based on a position in the Russian navy during Communist rule, Preston was a character whose job was to make sure Chase was doing things by the book. This gave us a chance to have Chase voice his opinions directly to the source. Mister Zero, our Chief Engineer, is the true alien, and gives us that outsider perspective we’ve seen from characters such as Data and Odo. Other characters such as Jax and Dr. Prowse were only loosely explored in the pilot, but would have grown as the series progressed.
TCM: Why did you choose the Enterprise for this series? FF: The Enterprise is one of the most important pieces of Star Trek. Approaching an entirely new era, one that was designed to recall the glory days of the franchise, couldnâ€™t be done without that ship. TCM: Can you tell us a bit about the ship? (design, registry etc) FF: Our Enterprise is a much smaller ship than its predecessors, and is a reflection of its time. Whereas past Enterprises were flagships, this one is a heavy cruiser, designed to patrol the border. The legacy of its name has been mostly forgotten, but Chase is out to change that. We never reached a final design on the ship, although we were headed in that direction. After meeting with Mike Okuda to talk about how to go about designing a new Enterprise, he suggested we change one of the three key pieces: the saucer, the nacelles, or the engineering section. We decided to alter the saucer, losing the graceful curves in favour of harder lines. There are a few variations of this design we liked, all available on the Final Frontier site, but we never settled on one. The registry was never finalized. We knew that we didnâ€™t want to just add another letter to it, but hadnâ€™t decided if it should be NCC-1701. Most likely it would have had a completely new registry in order to illustrate how much things had changed. We were so focused on the nuts and bolts of getting this thing produced that details like this were put off until later.
What was the inspiration for Final Frontier? The three of us love Star Trek. We grew up on it, and the show was a big part of why we decided to get into the entertainment industry. Final Frontier was a chance to be creative in a world that we all love, and we were in a position where our chances of actually getting it made weren’t too astronomical. Have you considered releasing Final Frontier as a fan film? Maybe if we win the lottery. In order to do this right, it would require a very large team of people and a pretty sizable chunk of money that we would never be able to recoup. Though the budget is small compared to a feature film or live action TV series, it’s still more money and manpower than we’re capable of pulling together. Is there anything else you can tell us about Final Frontier? We’d really like to thank the people who have helped us out on this project. Comic artist and writer Jeff Parker was responsible for translating our often incoherent ramblings into a focused art style that we loved from the moment we saw it. A large portion of our concept art after that was done for free by our good friend Bryce Parker at Pixar, who saw an article on Final Frontier in its early days and asked if he could help. Our storyboards are being done by an artist named Mei-Yi Chun, who read the script online and was inspired to help out. We’ve met a number of artists, writers, composers, and animators who all share a passion for Star Trek, people we would have never even known existed if it weren’t for Final Frontier. It’s truly amazing how technology brings people together, and it’s a testament to the passion and creativity of Gene Roddenberry and all those who have followed him that Star Trek can still bring people together like this. If nothing else comes out of Final Frontier, it was amazing to be a part of this collaboration and dabble in this world, if only for a little while. ~
Written by Richard Miles
Please note that this article was taken from an earlier issue.
The positives of this story were that the author and artist got the feel of the original series exactly right, whilst at the same time making his mark on the Star Trek universe in an extremely unique way. My one problem with it was not within the comic itself but with the viewing system. To view the pages you have to click on each page individually which is fine when you start reading, but after a while I started getting a bit confused as to which pages I had read and which I hadn’t, a full PDF version would be a nice addition in the future. The next comic that was released is actually the first issue of the series and is called ‘The Champion-Part One’. The first thing that struck me once I had downloaded it, albeit as a zip file, was the fact that there were forty pages a significant increase from the Omake previously. This issue features a ‘guest’ appearance of Lt Commander Smithfield from Starship Farragut, toasting one of her subordinates promotion to chief engineer aboard the Tamerlane, these scenes are very important as it sets Tamerlane in the same universe as Farragut and Phase 2, which shows that the writer is very much prepared to keep within the canon laid out not only by official Trek but also that, that has been built up in recent years by the fan films.
USS Tamerlane is the only fan made Manga comic book. When I first came across Tamerlane, via the Starship Farragut forums, I was admittedly a bit dubious, how can anyone make a comic with the feel of the Original Series, blinking Christmas lights and the bright colours that feature very heavily in the series. When I logged on the Tamerlanes website at www.usstamerlane.com and downloaded the first Omake, which is Japanese for short story, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it really was. The author and artist Guy Davis had not only managed to capture that exact feel but also make it his own as well, by introducing a whole host of characters that make Tamerlane very different from any acted Star Trek series both official and the fan made productions of New Voyages (Phase 2), Farragut and Exeter. The first Omake is entitled ‘By Her Reason Swayed’ and introduces us to the Captain of the USS Tamerlane, we also discover that she is only a commander, in a similar vein to Deep Space Nine. The comic starts with Commander Julienne Cochrane issuing orders to her crew. As the story progress’ the reader discovered that she is actually sitting her ‘Kobiyashi Maru test’ in an attempt to become the rank of Captain. The pace of the story is pretty quick, but doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the Comic in anyway, and that is a credit to the writer of the plot. During the commanders test we see her use some very unorthodox manoeuvres in an attempt to beat the test. After the test has finished we discover that she had cheated after ordering someone to change the parameters of the test.
The story is another fast moving tale that immediately draws the reader into the world that surrounds the crew, and as a result makes the read that much easier and very much enjoyable. As the story progress’s, and the new chief engineer beams aboard, we are quickly thrust into a fist fight in a bar, the ends up with the Captain having a black eye, something that didn’t happen that very often to Captain Kirk, which I must admit was a refreshing change. After that event the ship receives a distress call from an Orion slaver spacecraft. The crew respond to the call and beam over to the ship to find it abandoned or so they think until they read a life sign, with their new chief engineers assistance they are able to access the room from which the life sign is coming from and are startled to discover a young girl chained up. They release her and are about to beam her to Tamerlane when they receive a call from the other half of the away team that they need the skipper right away, only for the girl to warn them of a monster still being one the ship. This leads to a wonderful cliffhanger, that has certainly made me want to download the next issue. Overall Tamerlane is a wonderful production and I am eagerly awaiting the next issue, the couple of things that I would say against it are that it would be nice to be able to download it all in one piece and therefore view it all at once, and also it would be nice to see some colour although the black and white finish doesn’t detract from the story. Would I recommend it, in short yes, so head along to www.usstamerlane.com and see it for yourself.~
TCM: What can you tell us about Tamerlane since we last spoke two years ago? GD: Well, not much has happened in the world of Tamerlane since we last spoke: I agreed to help work on the Farragut Animated Adventures and it became a much larger project than I expected pleasantly so- But that diverted me from the world of Julie Cochrane for a bit. However, as Farragut approaches completion, so does The Champion. I'm right now working on the final few pages of drawing. Then it's just a matter of putting in my ziptones, and wrapping up the pages. I am hoping (Fingers crossed!) that I'll be ready to release the completed episode by mid-May at the very latest. TCM: At the end of issue 2 of The Champion, the Tamerlane is in a bad way, is this is the end the Destroyer Tamerlane, or will they get out in one piece? GD: Perhaps not in one piece, per se, certainly not unscathed or unchanged. Just like any good Starfleet captain, Julie will pull her ship through. The Little T is a tough old girl! TCM: Has the time, this project takes up changed from the around 100 hours you stated in our last conversation? GD: Yes. There are some surprises in store for the last issue of The Champion that required some additional work. I decided to use a 3D program to help with the one thing I dread: Backgrounds. I can do them, but I don't enjoy doing them, and they take way too long for me to do. So now I let the computer do the backgrounds. But this does mean I had to stop, build all the sets of the Tamerlane in 3D, and then restart. Because I was going to be replacing the handdrawn backgrounds in favor of rendered ones, though, I felt compelled to model them myself, so it is still all my work. It was very time consuming, but very worth it. It's also a one-time thing, the models are all built now so for the next episode, they will be ready.
TCM: You have chosen a woman to be in command of the ship, what prompted that decision? (why the change from the traditional male captain) GD: Well, this is sort of a long story: Way back in 2005 my friends and I were sitting around and I was talking about doing a Star Trek Fan comic. A good friend of mine said “I really wish someone would make “Star Trek: The Rest of the Federation”every one of these shows is about super captains in charge of big ships or stations.” We talked about the stereotypes that captains in Star Trek must fulfil: they must be smart, strong and able to fight a Gorn in a single bound. More importantly, though, was that they had to be larger-than-life, even the female captain (Janeway). They made her out to be pretty hard and callous in order to make sure no one thought that her femininity inhibited her leadership abilities in any way. My mother was the boss of her own company, she worked in television and movies during the 80s, when it was pretty tough being a woman in charge. Through all of this, though, she was still kind, funny and witty. Sure she was tough; she was willing to stand her ground in front of numerous Native American tribal councils, but she still smiled and laughed and cried and all of those very human things. I didn't model Julie Cochrane after my mother directly, but I wondered what would happen if you had a captain whom wasn't larger than life, perhaps even a little smaller than life. That's more what I wanted to explore in Tamerlane: This isn't a larger than life ship, these aren't largerthan-life people, they are people like you and I who just happened to be in Starfleet, doing the very best they can in order to do the job. And their job hurts, sometimes a lot. That's really what “The Champion” is about; it's a character study of normal people in an extraordinary situation. TCM: Has the project changed much from what you originally conceived? GD: That is a rather tough question; certainly the drawing style has matured. I have used Tamerlane as a testing ground for a number of different artistic experiments, certainly. But the heart of the project hasn't changed since that day years ago when I flipped through the Star Fleet Technical Manual and decided on the name “Tamerlane”. TCM: Do you know how many issues The Champion is going to be? GD: Part three is the last issue, in fact I'm taking a little bit extra time to take all three issues and make them into one large 170 page episode. A normal Manga Tankoban (The Japanese version of the Graphic Novel) is around 300 pages. My goal is to make at least one Tankoban. So though The Champion will end with this issue, it isn't the end of Tamerlane.
TCM: You stated on the Tamerlane website that you are now using a tablet to draw directly onto the computer, is that speeding up the process of drawing in anyway? GD: It is indeed, I bought a used Motion Computing M1400 tablet PC (Slate) off of Ebay and within a week I knew that I had made one of the most important purchases of my life. Before the Slate came along I would print two 8.5”x11” (A4) pages with the frame boxes and the dialogue printed on it (Comic books are done on 11”x17”(A3) master boards, but I don't have a printer that large, so I'd print two smaller pages and tape them together), then I would blueline the pages (Using a non-photo-blue pencil), ink the pages, then separate them and scan them back in. I would clean up the pages in Photoshop (Because that is a messy scan) and reprint the pages, reduced, so I could “color” them with greyscale markers, then I would scan that master back in. For every page of comic, there were three prints and three scans. I felt like I was killing a rainforest every time I did an issue (120 pages of paper for each issue). With the Slate, I simply draw into Photoshop directly... I've been saved all that printing and scanning time and the rainforests have been saved as well! It's a total win-win. TCM: Is there anything else you can tell us? GD: Well, as I often do, I feel I have rambled on too long! Thank you for the interview and your patience!~
TCM: How did Star Trek Online come about? CZ: Another company was working on the game when they folded. We got into contact with CBS, the owners of the Star Trek license, and were able to work out a deal where we were able to develop our own Star Trek game. The rest is history! TCM: Who decided to set the game in the year 2409? CZ: Our writers came up with that year. We liked the idea that it was in the future but not too far past what people knew. It also allowed us to tell what had led up to the year 2409 and explain why things happened the way they did. TCM: What races can we expect to encounter during the course of the game? CZ: You will encounter many of your favorite races in Star Trek Online. Vulcan, Klingon, Borg, Andorian, Romulan, Cardassian, and Ferengi to just name a few. But there are still new races to meet and engage. The galaxy is a very big place.
TCM: Can you give us a description of what goes into making a game of this magnitude? CZ: A lot of sweat and tears! Long days and endless nights! Really, itâ€™s just everyone being on the same page, working together and communicating effectively. Itâ€™s just a lot logistically that you have to handle. There are a ton of ideas at the beginning so you have to decide what direction you want the game to go in. Whatâ€™s feasible and what is not? What is something that we may want to add but will have to come at a later time? Then when you have all of that info you have to tackle milestones. Everything is not going to happen all at once so you have to take steps to get there. TCM: How did you decide the look of the game, did you refer to the Star Trek Canon or was it all built from scratch? CZ: Mostly it was us taking things and inspiration from the Star Trek universe. There is so much there from the franchise that it pretty much has everything you need. Also you want the game to feel like Star Trek. If you change too much with the look and design it begins to look like something else. There are some new things we added such as personal shielding and new ship designs, but those had to be approved by CBS.
TCM: Can you give us a bit of Federation history from the end of Nemesis through to the beginning of the game? CZ: We have great writers and we have the path to 2409 laid out on our website http://startrekonline.com/fiction. I would recommend any Star Trek fan taking a look at that since it gives a great description of the events leading up to the beginning of the game. I’ll give the quick version, though: The Romulans are fighting amongst each other over who will be in charge since their home planet has been destroyed. The Cardassians were almost annihilated during the Dominion War, so they’re just trying to get back on their feet. Klingons, with new leadership in place, see the opportunity to spread the empire. They are also weary to trust anyone since they believe species 8472, also known as the Undine, have infiltrated every major faction throughout the galaxy. Peace treaties between the Federation and Klingon have fallen apart. Also to make things worse, the Borg have returned bigger and badder, even more set on assimilation. TCM: How long did the game take to build? CZ: It took us about two years of development to get the game where it is today. TCM: What plans for the future of the game have you got planned? CZ: We’re focused on a lot of stuff in the near term. We’ve put together some brand new, Borg-themed content for high-level players. We’re also going to be introducing some more PvE content to the Klingon faction, and the Klingons will also be getting a new ship in the near future. Long term, we want to continue fleshing out the galaxy and challenging players with new and exciting things that still remain true to Star Trek. TCM: Is there anything else you can tell us about Star Trek Online? CZ: We’ve had a great time working on the game, but this is just the beginning. This is where it gets really exciting. We get to listen to player feedback, see where they want us to take the game and then try our best to make that happen. ~
Please note: this article will probably be littered with acronyms that may confuse the novice; I shall endeavour to explain them as I go.
I have been playing MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online) games for years and I was delighted to finally be able to play in the Star Trek sandbox with the release of Cryptic's Star Trek: Online (ST:O) in February this year. What Star Trek fan hasn't wanted to command their own starship or strap on a phaser to go on an away mission? Now I get to do both as, in a quite ambitious and risky move for an online game, ST:O contains both starship combat and planetside missions for a player to get their teeth into. I was lucky enough to get access into the Open Beta phase of the development of ST:O, and even got to look over the shoulder of the spousal unit as they played in the Closed Beta (shhh! that's technically against the terms of the non-disclosure agreement, but we're all friends here, right?). When a game such as ST:O is in development, it will go through a number of phases starting with an initial Alpha phase where the developers put together the framework of the game to get the ball rolling. Cryptic had something of a headstart on most MMOs as they already had an engine from their Champions Online game they could use as a base and they also inherited a majority of the assets that Perpetual, the previous company who had the licence to produce a Star Trek MMO, had created. This allowed them to get a working version of the game up and running in a remarkably short time - no doubt spurred on by the big fat bonus cheque Atari wafted under their noses if they released the game early - $21 million, if rumours are to be believed! After the internal Alpha stage, the game then went out to a limited pool of Closed Beta testers, who were asked to play the game and find bugs, suggest where improvements could be made, to say what they liked and disliked about the game as it stood. The Closed Beta stage consisted of many re-writes, improvements, changes, character wipes and bug squashing. Of course, as Captain Kirk discovered with his encounters with tribbles, getting rid of some of the bugs just reveals more hiding away in the back. Eventually the game moved on to the Open Beta where hundreds of thousands of players were invited to come in and, essentially, break the game. That's not quite what they call it but that's really what they want to happen. In an MMO, some errors do no show up until thousands of people are all trying to do different things at once and what seem to be discrete portions of the game code suddenly react together in unforeseen ways. This is also the most dangerous phase of any MMO development for a company as at this point all nondisclosure agreements are lifted and word gets out on the internet within moments. With so many people hammering their game, both the vocal proponents and opponents are given ample ammunition to argue their points in the blogsphere.
It's safe to say that Cryptic grossly underestimated the demand for the game. Many times during the Open Beta phase the servers crashed or were taken down for hours at a time under the unexpectedly high load placed on them by the player base. To give credit where credit is due, Cryptic ordered more hardware and put their network maintenance team on a 24 hour work schedule to try to iron out as many of these problems as possible before launch. Almost inevitably that wasn't enough as come launch day the servers were still struggling under the load and addressing the performance issues was Cryptic's top priority. Over the last few weeks, stability has considerably improved; much to the relief of the players. All of the above preamble doesn't really tell you much about the game though, does it? My experience of the game has been mixed, with a mostly positive overall rating. As is the nature of pretty much all online games available at the moment, you will spend most of your time killing things (be that ships in space, creatures on planets or other players in both environments) to gain some rewards in the form of advancement and materials. This is pretty standard fare for an MMO and there are not many out there that don't follow this model to one extent or another. It could be reasonably argued that there is far too much killing to accurately portray the Star Trek sandbox as seen in the series or films.
There are very few missions that deviate from a linear do A, do B, do C, get reward paradigm and I would welcome an option to solve more missions with diplomacy like Picard than going in all guns blazing like Kirk. Because you can group up with other players, you can join in fleet missions where you fight enemies such as the Borg or the Crystalline Entity that you could not normally tackle alone. Some of the most fun in the game can be zooming around swathes of space with a group of friends (or complete strangers). At launch you could only play Klingons as a PvP (Player-vs.-Player) faction with limited advancement outside of that sphere, but Cryptic have responded to player feedback and intend to make the faction more rounded within the PvE (Player-vs.-Environment) model in a future content update. Cryptic have also said they want to develop more non-combat/exploratory missions as well, so perhaps I'll get my wish somewhere down the line. There are some lovely touches in the game as well, enough to gladden the heart of any fanboi. You can walk around DS9 and visit Quark's bar, you can travel back in time via the Guardian of Forever (where the Klingons sport the TOS make-up rather than the TNG era cranial ridges) and you can even fly around the Briar Patch - although it's nothing as depicted in Hidden Frontier, which is a shame. Overall all it's a game that has enough Star Trek influences to keep me playing for a long time, and as I've fronted up the cash for a lifetime membership, that's just as well! If you are a Star Trek fan and a MMO fan, I'd recommend giving it a whirl. So shields up, phasers to maximum, and see you on the flip side.~
Article written by Eric Granger.
TCM: Where did the idea for The Needs of The Many come from? MM: I’m not sure exactly how the decision to have Pocket Books publish a novel tying in with Star Trek Online came about. But I think John Van Citters at CBS (Star Trek’s licensor) came up with the concept of doing an oral history of the Undine War (the Undine being Species 8472). TCM: How did you become involved with the book? MM: Margaret Clark called me one day last summer to tell me that her fellow editor, Ed Schlesinger, was putting this project together. He then offered me the opportunity to write it, and I grabbed it. Deadlines were pretty tight, so I had to work very quickly. Fortunately, Ed was very helpful and supportive, as were the folks at Cryptic Studios, the company that created Star Trek Online. Christine Thompson at Cryptic was very forthcoming with the game-specific information I needed to make sure the book tracked with the game’s post-Nemesis continuity, which differs in certain respects from the continuity we’ve been developing over the past decade or so at Pocket. TCM: When was it decided to include Jake Sisko as one of the writers? MM: That happened pretty early (say sometime in July or August of 2009), probably during one of the first phone discussions between Ed and myself. In fact, putting Jake into the center of things might have been one of John Van Citters’ early suggestions. Wherever the idea came from, it felt very right to me. So I structured the book as a series of interviews conducted by Jake Sisko during the early 25th century. The interviews are all retrospectives on a shadowy war against the deadly and paranoid Species 8472, aka the Undine. I came to think of Jake Sisko as the Studs Terkel of his era. In The Needs of the Many, Jake functions as an oral historian of the Undine War, just as Studs became the premiere oral historian of World War II with The Good War: An Oral History of World War II. And among the interviewees are many familiar faces—including Worf, Geordi La Forge, Seven of Nine, Kathryn Janeway, Quark, Vic Fontaine, Kasidy Yates, Elim Garak, and Jack from DS9’s “Jack Pack”—as well as a few new ones. Once we’d all decided to put Jake Sisko’s name on the cover, it occurred to me that I had to find a way to put my name there as well, as a “collaborator.” After all, I didn’t want a fictional character to get all the credit. Fortunately, Jake is a generous guy; not only did he not mind sharing the by-line with me, he insisted on placing my name to the left of the ampersand.
TCM: What can you tell us about the storyline of The Needs of The Many? MM: Unlike a traditional novel, The Needs of The Many doesn’t have a central plot through line running from beginning to end, other than the common events of the Undine War with which I presume all the interviewees (if not the audience) are already intimately familiar. Instead, it’s a series of war stories, as told by those who actually experienced them. While there isn’t a single plot connecting all these separate episodes, there is a thematic link of sorts: the idea that high-stakes undertakings like the Undine War—a conflict that threatened the very existence of the Federation, humanity, and many other species across the galaxy— require extraordinary courage and sacrifice from those caught up in the maelstrom of events. Each tale touches upon this theme of sacrifice in some manner. Without getting preachy or political, I wanted to demonstrate that humanity is at its best when it gives due consideration to Surak’s (and Spock’s) assertion that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” TCM: What was it like writing a story that relates to a computer game, as opposed to the TV series? MM: I never had to think about that. Although the format was different—interviews as opposed to a straightforward through line narrative—I was thinking about what I always think about during the writing process: character and story. The fact that the source material was game-related wasn’t terribly important to me, since I was trying to create a story-and-character-based glimpse into the game’s take on the Star Trek universe rather than a game manual. TCM: How does The Needs of The Many link to Star Trek Online? MM: Partly, by emphasizing the Undine, one of the biggest of the Big Bads of the Star Trek Online universe. And by spotlighting some of the areas where STO’s continuity diverges from what we’ve established at Pocket—such as the Data’s return from the dead. And by establishing an “episodic” style of storytelling, which is the built into Star Trek Online’s basic structure. TCM: Are there likely to be any sequels? MM: I hope so. But it’s too soon to tell. I’ve proposed a sequel already, in a more traditional novel format rather than another oral history. I think we’ll have to wait a bit to see how the audience reacts to the first volume before any concrete plans can be made. TCM: Is there anything else you can tell us about the book? MM: I don’t want to risk wrecking anybody’s fun by letting too much more out of the bag. So I won’t mention how the Lucsly and Dulmer story manages not only to stay within the game’s continuity, but also manages to reconcile it with Pocket Books’ continuity. Star Trek Online: The Needs of the Many is coming out on March 30, 2010. I hope everybody has as much fun reading it as I had writing it.~
Star Trek: The Animated Series – A Writer’s Perspective In the early 1970’s, it was a time of uncertainty for the Star Trek franchise. The original series had ended. Many studio networks expected it to fade into obscurity, but to their amazement, the ratings from reruns of those 79 episodes indicated a soaring popularity with viewers. This trend began prompting attempts by Gene Roddenberry to bring Star Trek back to the airwaves. However, the universal problem of budgeting made the endeavors difficult. In 1972, an agreement was reached with Filmation Studios, well known for their later 1980s series, “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” and “She-Ra: Princess of Power,” to create a low-budget, animated version of Star Trek. Nearly all of the original cast revised their roles, with the notable exception of Walter Koenig as Ensign Pavel Chekov (although Koenig did write a later episode, “The Infinite Vulcan”). The show first aired in 1973 on Saturday morning cartoon television. To save money on voice actors, James Doohan (Scotty) and Majel Barrett Roddenberry (Christine Chapel) voiced many characters’ roles throughout the series. Many staff writers from the original Star Trek series also wrote episodes, including David Gerrold (“More Tribbles, More Troubles”), Stephen Kandel (“Mudd’s Passion), and most notably, D.C. Fontana, who penned the most recognized episode of the animated series, entitled “Yesteryear.” In “Yesteryear,” Kirk and Spock return from a time journey through the Guardian of Forever to a present where no one recognizes Spock, and an Andorian named Thelin is Kirk’s First Officer. After learning that Spock had died as a child, the adult Spock uses the Guardian to travel back to his childhood on Vulcan. This episode provided viewers with their first real look at Vulcan, beyond the ancestral grounds seen in TOS’s “Amok Time”. Young Spock is tormented by fellow Vulcan children who accuse him of being an emotional barbarian. (J.J. Abram’s “Star Trek (XI)” apparently also drew some source material from “Yesteryear.”) Majel Barrett assumes the role of Amanda, previously played by Jane Wyatt. Trekkers are treated to a performance by Mark Lenard as Spock’s father Sarek. When young Spock sneaks out in the middle of the night to undergo a personal test of survival in the desert, with his pet sehlat I-Chaya in tow, adult Spock follows and rescues his young self from a wild desert animal that critically wounds I-Chaya with its poisonous claws. Young Spock manages to bring a Vulcan Healer, but it has been too long, and he is forced to choose between a life of pain or a peaceful death for his dear pet. Aside from this minor variation, the timeline is restored. Studio executives were concerned about this type of sensitive and difficult subject matter being exposed to children on an animated series, and in fact, pressed Roddenberry to change the ending and allow I-Chaya to recover, but Gene stuck to his guns, and the result was a powerful award-winning episode of Star Trek which ended up providing source material to several series’ episodes throughout the subsequent spin-offs, including Star Trek: The Next Generation’s episode “Unification Part I,” and Star Trek: Enterprise’s “The Forge,” to name the most prominent examples. The Animated Series was unique among many such programs at the time, as the writers did not ‘dumb down’ their stories for the kids, or shirk from using large words (especially with Spock). They did not treat it as a children’s program, but continued writing as if for the original television series. As a result, the Animated Series appealed to Trekkies both young and old. The Animated Series also allowed many of the main characters to develop somewhat beyond their confined roles from TOS, with Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett) having a central role in “Mudd’s Passion,” and Nyota Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) assuming command of the Enterprise when all of the men are incapacitated by an alien siren-song (an unfortunate example of old-style sexism). This was one of Uhura’s biggest roles in Star Trek, until Nichelle Nichols starred in the independent film, “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men,” where she finally received a long-overdue chance to shine. Other guest voice-actors who reprised their TOS roles on the Animated Series included Roger C. Carmel as the rogue Harry Mudd, and Stanley Adams as tribble-trader Cyrano Jones. Many episodes were also sequels to TOS episodes, including “More Tribbles, More Troubles,” as a follow-up to the comedic “The Trouble With Tribbles;” and “Once Upon a Planet” seeing a return to the amusement park planet from “Shore Leave.” Unfortunately, the Animated Series was not without problems of its own. Though not constrained by the limited construction and makeup budgets of TOS, the Animated Series displayed the same regrettable tendency to play fast and loose with continuity in several areas. Most notably, this is seen in the appearance of a 23rd Century equivalent of a holodeck in “Practical Joker,” and in “Slaver Weapon,” which introduced the feline villains, the Kzinti, arguably one of the worst concepts ever included in Star Trek, in this writer’s opinion, as well as the concept of the extinct Slaver race. (What little history was established with the Kzinti claimed that they had fought four wars with Earth 200 years prior, which would be in the 21st Century, before Starfleet was formed, or humans were even travelling into deep space.) The Animated Series had a running time of approximately 24 minutes per episodes, and ran for two years with a total of 22 episodes. It was cancelled in its second season, in 1974. Eventually, Gene Roddenberry decided that although he was proud of TAS, it should not be included as part of Star Trek’s “official” canon, much to many fans’ disappointment. Nevertheless, despite being dismissed from inclusion, The Animated Series made its way to VHS release in the 80’s and 90’s, and finally was released on DVD. Because of its influence on subsequent Star Trek series (i.e., holodecks, Vulcan culture, etc.), many fans continue to include it in their DVD collections, and to consider it as canon, (including this writer, aside from the previously mentioned “Slaver Weapon” and “Practical Joker” episodes). Despite the low budget TAS suffered from, most fans, including myself, enjoyed this series, and wished it had been allowed to run a bit longer. However, its influence continues to live on with fans, especially those who produce fan-made Star Trek series. Recently, in the past two years, one Star Trek fan-film group, Starship Farragut, has collaborated with Neo-FX to produce two new episodes of their fanseries, animated in the style of The Animated Series, with “Power Source,” written by Thomas J. Scott, and “The Needs of the Many,” written by Michael Struck and Jack Trevino. These episodes have seen special guest-voice performances by Tim Russ (Tuvok from Star Trek: Voyager), Chase Masterson (Leeta from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and Chris Doohan (son of legendary James Doohan). “Power Source” and two-thirds of “The Needs of the Many” are available to view or download for free from the internet at http://www.farragut-animated.com. Another series in development also took inspiration from and is planning to use Captain Robert April and Dr. Sarah April (both of whom appeared in TAS’s “The Counter-Clock Incident”) as characters in their planned work, Star Trek: Origins. This show will take place 30 years before TOS, with characters that tie into many areas of the various Star Trek series, including George Kirk (James Kirk’s father), recent Starfleet Academy graduate Ensign Christopher Pike, and a Denobulan science officer named Deyziel, grandson of Dr. Phlox. The Origins team continues to work toward release, despite setbacks from real-life. Interested fans can follow our progress at http://www.startrekorigins.com (note: this writer is the Head Writer for Origins). Star Trek: The Animated Series continues to shine as a fan favorite, and will (hopefully) continue to do so for many years to come. Let us all hope that TAS will live long and prosper.~
Interviews with: Suzie Plakson and Eugene Roddenberry
Published on Apr 28, 2010