Electric Playground: It’s been a while since we’ve seen a good Star Trek game. What are you going to deliver that the hungry fans need?
Sheldon Carter: There are a couple of things. You’ve had other games where you got to play as the ship, a red shirt or some other characters, but there’s never been a game where you can play as Kirk and Spock, and it’s co-op! You’re both having your own unique and authentic Kirk and Spock.
EP: What’s the experience going to be like if I’m playing as Kirk, versus playing as Spock?
SC: I think the E3 demo is really representative. You see Spock doing things like mind meld, using the tricorder, doing nerve pinches. Then there’s Kirk. He’s doing impulsive things. He’s making leaps he has no business making, he’s running and gunning. He’s using tactics that you wouldn’t normally think of, like calling down an Enterprise strike for face-to-face enemies. The types of experiences you have as those guys are going to be different, unique to who they are.
EP: During the demo we saw a lot of combat. Is there going to be much exploration?
SC: Absolutely. It’s funny, because the demo ends on a really crazy action beat, but at the beginning, there was actually a lot of quiet moments.
We were inspired by games like Metroid Prime. You’re scanning, mind-melding, learning information about the world and using it to overcome obstacles and solve puzzles. Our game is a 50/50 split. I’d say 50 percent exploration/adventure components and 50 percent combat and cover shooting.
EP: The Enterprise itself is practically a character in the series. How much time do we get to spend on it, and are we able to use it in ship-to-ship combat?
SC: No comment on ship-to-ship combat, but I do say there are lots of places on the Enterprise. You’re walking [from the bridge] all the way down to the transporter room. We’ve taken the whole blue print from the movie and we’ve modeled it all in the game. You’re going to see quite a bit of the Enterprise.
In the demo, we’re calling down airstrikes, we’re transporting out sick victims. We’re doing lots of things. Everything you’d expect to be able to do with the Enterprise, you get to do in the game.
EP: The Star Trek universe is vast. How much of it are we going to see? How many planets?
SC: At this point we’re not going to get into details about [quantity]. We know that a big important part of the franchise is being able to explore alien planets, learn about alien races and understand and use alien technology. On top of that, the iconic enemy in the game—the Gorn—they’re from one single episode of Star Trek from back in 1967. If you remember that episode, it was a colonization miscommunication. The Federation colonized a planet that the Gorn thought was theirs and so they fought.
Now we’re on New Vulcan. In the last movie, Vulcan was destroyed. Now they’ve colonized a new planet and we see that the Gorn have attacked. We have a lot of references back to that and we’re going to make sure you get to explore a whole planet.
EP: How much input has Paramount and JJ Abrams had into the game?
SC: We deal with Paramount pretty much on a day-to-day basis, talking about where we’re going with the game. It’s been amazing with Bad Robot, because we’re working with Marianne Krawczyk. She’s the writer and she’s been integrated into that camp. She works with Bob Orci and Damon Lindelof. They all work together so that what you’re getting when you play our game is a rich story.
It’s not a story where you have to play Star Trek the game in order to understand the next movie. It’s more like a stand alone Star Trek that expands the universe that was created in 2009. And that’s why you’re going to learn so much about the Gorn and the relationship between Kirk and Spock.
EP: We saw the phasers, but can you give us a rundown of some of the other nifty weapons we use to disintegrate things?
SC: One of the cool things about the weapons is that they have a normal fire and an alt fire. That’s going to the whole Star Trek thing of “set phaser to kill” and “set phasers to stun.” Even the alien technology that you’re going to use has alt fires.
You’ve got Federation, Vulcan and Gorn weapons, and then you’ve got other technologies that you discover as you play the game. On top of that you have the tricorder, which I feel is that all-in-one cerebral weapon. You’re scanning enemies for weak points, calling down airstrikes… lots of things you can do with the tricorder in combat.
EP: If you are using the tricorder, are you going to have an easier time of dealing with hazards and enemies?
SC: Absolutely. You probably saw in the demo that when you scan something, Research points come up. You use the Research points to upgrade your character and upgrade your tricorder.
EP: Are the actors from the movie participating in the game?
SC: We’ve got the whole cast. In the demo, that’s Chris Pine and Simon Pegg.
EP: Captain Kirk, Picard, Janeway or Sisko?
SC: I take Kirk every time.
EP: Tell us in your own words why Star Trek will kick ass.
For the first time you’re going to play as Kirk and Spock and get a unique gameplay experience from both of those guys.
[Working on Star Trek is] a dream come true. There are certain properties that we all knew growing up and inspired us to do things like make videogames, write, make comics, whatever it might be. Star Trek is definitely one of them. For a lot of us at the studio that’s the pinnacle, so we’re so happy to be in on this. To see where JJ and Bad Robot went in the 2009 film and how they created this ability for everything that was old to be new again, that’s even better.
We have been working on it just over two years now. Two years, and we’re loving it so far. We’ve got another year to go. It’s coming out in 2013.
-Interview by Jason MacIsaac