Tag Archives: Cryptic Studios

Daybreak buys Cold Iron Studios

A press release went out from Daybreak on Tuesday announcing that they had purchased Cold Iron Studios.

It follows you as you move about the room!

To preserve it, since Daybreak has shown a willingness to re-write history at times, here is the body of the press release:

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – August 11, 2020 – Daybreak Games, global publisher and developer of large-scale multiplayer online games, today announced it acquired Cold Iron Studios, the San Jose based studio of veteran MMO, action and shooter developers currently working on a PC and console game set in the iconic Alien universe.

Cold Iron Studios co-founder Craig Zinkievich will continue to lead the studio and the development of the Alien game, reporting to Ji Ham, CEO of Daybreak Games. The game promises to deliver an action-packed, sci-fi shooter experience unlike any other game on the market.

“We’re incredibly proud and excited to be part of the Daybreak family,” said Zinkievich. “Daybreak and Cold Iron share the same passion and long history for delivering action-packed multiplayer games for audiences worldwide. In combining our decades of experience developing and launching globally successful multiplayer titles, we’re destined to make great games together.”

“We are delighted to have Cold Iron Studios join the Daybreak Games family and accelerate our next generation of growth,” said Ham. “Strategic investments in highly talented and proven teams that have outstanding leaders and a track record of developing awesome online games is an important part of our growth and strategy for Daybreak.”

Cold Iron Studios was established in 2015 by the creators of City of Heroes, Star Trek Online and Neverwinter. Under the new ownership, Cold Iron Studios will operate independently with Daybreak acting as publisher providing marketing, tech and operational support.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

There is nothing particularly startling in the text.  The terms were not disclosed because neither were publicly held companies, so what goes on is viewed as none of your business.  I guess we can confirm that Ji Ham is still the CEO, though I am sure Jason Epstein still owns the whole thing.  Or Columbus Nova.  Or whoever.

Cold Iron will operate independently, with Daybreak acting as the publisher the way they do with Lord of the Rings Online, a tidbit that once again brings up the “do they or don’t they” around who owns Standing Stone Games.

As the background image on their web site strongly suggests, Cold Iron is working on a licensed game based on the Alien franchise.  There isn’t much in the way of details on the site, save for a brief description of the company.

Cold Iron Studios was founded in 2015 by three industry veterans who had a goal of creating games they want to play and building a team they love working with. Since then, the team has expanded to 30+ awesome developers and we’ve moved into a downtown office in the heart of Silicon Valley. We’re a diverse group of passionate gamers with decades of experience developing and launching award-winning MMO and action titles. Currently, the team is working on a new PC and console shooter based on the Alien franchise.

So it is a shooter for PC and consoles based on the Alien franchise.  Oddly, when you click on the careers or apply links, they resolve to another game studio, Scopely, and to the Marvel Strike Force page specifically in one case. Scopely acquired the 20th Century Fox gaming studio Foxnet Games, which published Marvel Strike Force, earlier this year.  Cold Iron had apparently been a part of that deal, having been acquired by Fox previously.  Scopely has now turned around and sold them to Daybreak.  Four owners in five years is very Silicon Valley.

More interesting perhaps is the connection to another company, Cryptic Studios.

Cryptic, which made City of Heroes for NCsoft and Champions Online, Star Trek Online, and Neverwinter, has been part of Perfect World Entertainment since 2011.  It still has an office in Silicon Valley, over in Los Gatos just around the corner from Netflix. (The Cryptic sign was still up when I drove past a couple months back anyway.)

Cold Iron was founded in San Jose in 2015 by a group of former Cryptic employees.  That is close enough to Cryptic as makes no difference.

Meanwhile, over at Daybreak, Cryptic co-founder Jack Emmert now runs the Austin based studio for the company that runs DC Universe Online and operates under the name Dimensional Ink Games since the studio split announcement earlier this year, though he reports into Daybreak in San Diego, so their independence as a studio remains to be proven.

But the connection, a Cryptic founder being in place at a company that purchase a studio built on former Cryptic devs does incline one to try and draw a connection.  Yes, it is a small industry with a lot of cross-pollination, but Daybreak and/or Jason Epstein haven’t exactly been visibly keen to open the wallet and invest in anything.  Layoffs and shut downs and cancelled plans have been more the legacy of the last 5+ years.

But now they’re spending?

And Dimensional Ink Games, of the three Daybreak sub-studios, is the only one who has even hinted that they have a new title in progress.  Is Cold Iron going to be used to back that plan up?

Yes, I know the press release says they will be operating independently.  I also know that when somebody owns you, you’re exactly as independent as they say you are at any given moment.  I worked for an independent start up at one point and spent a few months working on things for another independent start up because the VC who bankrolled both companies liked their idea better than ours for a brief stretch of time.

Anyway, Daybreak spent some money, we know very little, and there is plenty of room for speculation and wild conspiracy theories.  Go crazy.

Other Coverage:

Reviewing My Demands for 2011

This year I eschewed the traditional practice of making predictions and issued a series of demands for the MMO industry for 2011.

Why demands?

Well, when you make predictions and you are wrong, it is your fault.  If you make demands though, and the company does not live up to them, it is THEIR fault!  Ha!  Rather than scoring my own predictions, I get to score their behavior.

So it is time to review my demands for 2011, made way back on January 2nd.  I gave everybody until December 15th to meet my demands.  Now it is time to see who complied.

Blizzard:

Stop looking so damn smug.  Tell us what Titan is,  ship Diablo III, and add some more content to the top end of World of Warcraft.  I swear half the game is already level 85.  Oh, and another sparkle pony, but something a little less frou-frou this time.  And an expansion for StarCraft II.  Somebody has to sell some PC games this year.

See, this is what is wrong with Blizzard these days.  I threw a crapload of demands at them, six if you include “stop looking so damn smug,” and they barely made any of them.

To sum up, we still do not know what Titan is, Diablo III is out in 2012 somewhere, and no expansion for StarCraft II.  I mean, how tough was that last one?  Oh, and they still look damn smug.’

All we got was a new sparkly pony, the Winged Guardian Mount, and some more content at the top end of Cataclysm.  Not enough I say! Not enough.

Sparkle Kitty vs. Sparkle Pony

For this I decree that Mike Morhaime will have to come up with more public rationalizations about WoW subscription numbers, including at least one additional convoluted SWTOR impact denial.

Sony Online Entertainment:

Smedley? SMEDLEY!  Pull yourself together.  I know those PlayStation people are bossing you around, but you make money.  Certainly more than they make on hardware.  Refine what you have.  More server merges.  Reconcile EverQuest II Live and EverQuest II Extended.  Work on the PC controls for DC Universe Online because I am NOT hooking up a console controller to my PC just to play it.  And finish with the Agency already, you’re starting to embarrass us all.

SOE on the other hand, complied with almost all of my demands.  We certainly got server merges on a number of fronts, and some are still coming, including the merger of the Live Gamer EverQuest II servers into standard servers. EverQuest II Live and EverQuest II Extended were reconciled, with Live eating and then becoming Extended.

And they certainly finished up The Agency.  Ouch.

In fact, the only demand they missed on was fixing the controls for the PC version of DC Universe Online, and they were so busy launching, consolidating servers, and then converting to free to play that I guess they can have a pass on that.

For this I grant favorable portents for Planetside 2… provided they don’t pull an “Agency” move with it and string us along for several years.

Cryptic:

Just go free to play across the board already.  Champions and Star Trek Online.  Everybody else is doing it.  But don’t screw over the lifetime subscribers.  And when you go free to play, make sure you have something shiny and new to bring people back.  Oh, and Neverwinter, get it out this year and don’t screw it up!

Cryptic… Well, everything is either free to play or in the works.  They’ll be a month late on the demand in the case of Star Trek Online.

Neverwinter though… just where are you guys even going with that title these days?  Cryptic is supposed to be your company name, not your business plan.

I put a curse of market confusion upon Cryptic for Neverwinter… which they deserve just for choosing that name.  There are OTHER locations in Forgotten Realms you know.

BioWare:

Everybody is watching you.  You’re not making some single player game.  You’re making an engine, an engine that is supposed to take in money and deliver the joy of being in the Star Wars universe.  Don’t let those wankers in San Mateo make you ship early.  Meanwhile, since you guys seem to be in the MMO driver’s seat at EA, for now, don’t screw around with Ultima Online, but do something about Warhammer Online.  You’re bright guys, you’ll figure something out.

Wow, talk about delivering.  I am pretty sure they moved the early access back to the 13th of December just to be clearly within the scope of my demand.  And yet it is late enough that we cannot really tell if the engine is set to vacuum up money from Star Wars loving fans.

Plus they didn’t screw around with Ultima Online and they came up with a DoTA-like game reusing Warhammer Online assets and branding it as Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes.

Full points all around.  For this the force will be with them… for three months.  They are on their own after that!

CCP:

Will you put that drink down already?  EVE is still going, still making money, still popular, still unique, I get it.  And you are improving it over time.  But really, you’re starting to look like a one-trick pony.  What are all those people in Atlanta doing?  You don’t have to ship something new this year, but at least make us believe you’re really working on something new.  We’re starting to think you’re spending all that money you make on akvavit and exotic dancers.

CCP is the only company that actually responded directly to my demands.  CCP Manifest dropped my a note just 8 days after my post promising that we would all see amazing things from CCP this year and that my demands would be fully met.

And then, of course, Incarna hit, the player base blew up… more than usual…  plans were re-assessed, people were laid off, projects were set aside, and the summer of discontent basically loomed over the staff at CCP.

And then they refocused, shipped the Crucible expansion to mostly favorable reaction (it sure is pretty), and plans seem to be solid for DUST 514, with a release target (Spring 2012… which means by Christmas, right?) and a platform (PlayStation 3 works for me).

So I guess, in the end, they met my demands.

I would suggest that we did not need all the drama, but that seems to be one of the vital ingredients to any CCP operation.  That and alcohol.  I know they aren’t spending all their money on booze, but I suspect there is still a line item in the budget for it.

For this I grant an early Spring and no bankruptcy in 2012.

NCsoft:

Aion, City of Whatever, and Guild Wars.  Is that really all you have going in North America?  Well, there is Lineage II I suppose.  And what do you have on your to do list?  Blade & Soul?  Really?  Don’t bother.  And let Guild Wars 2 gestate to full term, which means don’t ship it in 2011.

I didn’t ask much from NCsoft, and they delivered.  No Guild Wars 2 in 2011.  Now the question is will we see it in 2012?

Your boon is the usual subscriber boost as you move all of your titles to free to play business model.

Trion Worlds:

Your big opportunity is coming.  Ship Rift at just about the time when WoW Players have finally wrapped up the high-end content and you could get… a stable half a million subscribers.  Okay, that isn’t WoW numbers, but history shows that most people just stick with their favorite MMO forever due to the social network they develop.  Hrmm… that is sounding like a prediction, not a demand.  Okay, go and get a half a million subscribers already!  By June!  With your shield or on it and all that!

Trion, you made it.  While you were out there claiming a million customers, I am going to take it as read that that meant more that half a million subscribers at one time.  And you even kept them for a while, thanks to Cataclysm backlash, a late ship date for SWTOR, and essentially no new competitors in your field.

For this you get favorable portents for End of Nations and a soft landing from the SWTOR effect.

Other MMO Studios:

Which of you is even poised to do anything in 2011?  TERA is going to be another Asian oddity, soon forgotten by the mainstream.  It was all that Aventurine could do to ship Darkfall, they won’t be doing anything else. Funcom won’t get The Secret World out in 2011, they’re more likely to cut more staff.  All of you other studios, select a champion and send it out to do battle.  Yes, it can be TERA if you cannot find anything else, but I’m telling you it is going to be completely forgettable.

Nothing?  Really, no small studio champion has arisen?

Fine, you’re all doomed to mutter about the success of Minecraft and Angry Birds.

Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw:

When Star Wars: The Old Republic ships this year, review it.  I know, it is a muh-more-puh-gah, but this is Star Wars and BioWare.  I demand it.  We all demand it!

Alright, you’re absolved because of the late ship date of SWTOR.  But  I expect a review of it next year.

Dr. Richard Bartle:

You were awfully quiet in 2010.  And you’ve got your three level 85s in WoW now. (A very common claim these days.)  Go say something controversial.  Declare WoW dead.  Predict SWTOR will be a failure as a virtual world.  Make some news.  Do an interview with those people at Massively.  They’ll print anything you say.

Dr. Bartle was kind enough to comment on my original demands list that, while I found the past controversies surrounding his statements in the gaming press amusing (remember the “I’d Close WoW” headline or his positive view of Stranglethorn Vale), the whole thing tends not to be so much fun for him.

And he managed to steer clear of such controversies, despite my egging on certain members of the Massively staff.

So he gets a pass as well.  We can just hope that somebody takes note of his idea of how to break the current state of stagnation in MMOs and that he has a good fortune in 2012 as he attempts to educate us on the obvious.  I personally look forward to further education.

Scoring

What is there to score?

Okay, if you want to view my demands as predictions, I think I did okay this year.  But I did not really go out on a limb with anything either.  2011 was a quiet year in many ways, with titles being pushed off into 2012.

Now, do I go back to outrageous predictions for 2012 or stick with unreasonable demands?

Daggerdale – Atari has More Dungeons & Dragons Coming

Last August, Atari and Cryptic announced a new non-MMO, single-player/co-op multi-player was being produced.  It was titled, ever so originally, Neverwinter.

Neverwinter
By the way, I would like to throw out a few other Forgotten Realms locations that could have games based around them, thus avoiding more repetition of Neverwinter. (Or Baldur’s Gate, for that matter.)

Waterdeep maybe?  Zhentil Keep?  Calimport even?  The elves of Evermeet perhaps?

All fine locations.

Anyway, I received a note today about another Dungeons & Dragons game, again not an MMO, but featuring single-player and co-op multi-player action.  This time Atari has teamed up with Bedlam Games to create Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale.


And the first thing going for it is that at least it isn’t named Neverwinter. (Or Baldur’s Gate.)

But otherwise it sounds… well… a lot like Neverwinter.

Solo or Co-op Play
It’s up to you! Whether you choose to do battle in the mines of Tethyamar or skirmish on the Tower of Rezlus, you can fight solo, join with up to three friends online, or battle alongside a partner locally.

Questing
Explore Daggerdale’s main questlines to reveal its intriguing backstory, mysterious characters, and the richness of its world. Extended depth and experience reward exploration and side-quests.

Immersive Combat
Battle a wide range of enemies by engaging in intuitive pick-up-and-play melee, tactical ranged combat, or powerful spell casting.

Develop Your Character
Select a class, build your ultimate hero, collect loot, and earn experience! Select powers and feats to enhance and customize your hero as you level up.

Stunning Levels and Deep Exploration
A wide variety of perilous quests encourage you to explore Daggerdale’s richly detailed environments.

Multiple Game Modes
Unlock new areas and challenges in Campaign mode, or hone your skills and discover powerful new items in Freeplay mode.

Authentic D&D Experience
The detailed world of the iconic Dungeons & Dragons franchise has been painstakingly recreated for a rich, complex, and thrilling game experience.

It also includes the usual claim to be true to the spirit of the 4th Edition rule set, though it lacks some of the heavy-hitter name that Cryptic mentions prominently; R. A. Salvatore. (He wrote the story on which the game is based.)

Oh, it does have one more thing going for it that Cryptic’s Neverwinter does not.  Daggerdale is supposed to be out before Summer.  Cryptic is still living up to its name and still saying just “2011” on the Neverwinter site.

Anyway, it is clear that Atari is big on Dungeons & Dragons of late.

Daggerdale is slated for Windows, XBox 360, and PlayStation 3, though my experience so far in cross platform is that PC players get the short end of the stick.  And Daggerdale’s latest video doesn’t exactly have me wetting my pants in anticipation.

Not that it looks bad, but there wasn’t anything that really stood out either.

How about you?  Have you heard anything good about Daggerdale?

Or have you heard anything new about Neverwinter?

Cryptic Calls My Forgotten Realms Bluff

If you didn’t like the IP idea in my last post, why not just go with Forgotten Realms?

Is Forgotten Realms good for everybody?

(Quiet you Dragonlance weenies!)

As noted over at Massively, Cryptic announced their next project, Neverwinter.

Neverwinter

This is what Cryptic has to say about the game so far:

About Neverwinter

100 years have passed since the Spellplague consumed the world of Faerûn. Neverwinter, a once majestic city of magic and adventure upon the mighty Sea of Swords, is still being rebuilt from near total ruination. Even as new wonders of stone and iron rivaling ancient works are being raised by the hands of man, dwarf and elf, dark powers beyond reckoning vie for control of the land…

This is a world that promises death for the meek, glory for the bold and danger for all. This is the world of Neverwinter.

Neverwinter Nights Reborn

Continue the critically acclaimed adventure! The #1 best-selling Neverwinter Nights series of PC RPGs returns with an epic Dungeons & Dragons storyline, next-generation graphics, a persistent world, and accessible content creation tools.

Immersive, Imaginative

Enter a world ravaged by the Spellplague. Wrest victory from the claws of darkness and battle the greatest of civilization’s enemies in and around Neverwinter, a storied and ancient city upon Faerûn’s Sea of Swords.

Challenging, Complex, Classic

Epic gameplay and action rooted firmly in the best traditions of the RPG genre await those heroes courageous enough to brave the Spellplague and all that it has ravaged.

Build a Fantasy

Easy-to-grasp adventure creation tools empower users. Bring compelling quests to life and build challenging levels! Share creations with the entire world in-game. Become a part of the existing Dungeons & Dragons universe… Then build a new one.

Play Together or Die Alone

Encounter dangerous foes and perilous environments. Work with others, strategically, to overcome nightmares, demons, monsters, and beasts of legend.

World Without End

Neverwinter features co-operative multiplayer in an ever-evolving, persistent world where Dungeons & Dragons adventurers quest alongside thousands of other warriors, rogues, wizards and faithful avengers.

New D&D, Beloved D&D

Neverwinter is a true Dungeons & Dragons experience based on the acclaimed 4th Edition rules — a first of its kind!

A Legend Arises

Unprecedented character customization as only Cryptic can deliver. Imagine a hero, make a hero, become a hero.

Neverwinter is based on the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons rule set and set around the Forgotten Realms location of  Neverwinter.

This is pretty much what I have been asking for.

I was just commenting on a post the other day regarding DDO and how Eberron doesn’t thrill me, but Forgotten Realms… now there is an IP!

We’ll see how the D&D 4th edition rule set gets translated… that is always a leap of faith… but it couldn’t end up that bad, right?

And now, here we are.

Certainly, there are aspects to this concept that interest me.

  • Forgotten Realms

My favorite D&D campaign setting ever!

He’s the man for Forgotten Realms fiction… but doesn’t he work with Curt Schilling?  How do you explain that one to the head man?

  • Cryptic Studios

If nothing else, I want to see the fantasy RPG version of their character creator.  That should practically be a stand alone game in and of itself.  And if they’ve learned other lessons, so much the better.

  • Content Creation Tools

Yes, there is the 90% crap rule, but if they can figure out how to promote the good stuff so we can find it, this could be worthwhile.

  • Did I say Forgotten Realms already?

Oh yeah, still excited about that!

  • Not an MMORPG

Interesting.

Jack saysI wouldn’t say MMORPG at all — Neverwinter is a cooperative RPG.”

So where will Neverwinter stand then in the grand scheme of things?  And how does “not an MMORPG” fit in with their statement under “World Without End” I quoted above?

Is this just positioning, a “Neverwinter is not WoW” message?

Will it be “not an MMO” the way Guild Wars and Dungeons & Dragons Online are “not” MMOs, lacking as they do the shared, persistent world?

Will it be a step closer to the Dragon Age segment of the fantasy gaming world?

Or will it fall closer to Diablo III and Torchlight II?

And how will we be paying for this game, whatever it ends up being?

I will certainly want to keep an eye on this new game.  We’ll see if my calls for a real Forgotten Realms MMO were a bluff or not.  And, if nothing else, I always like to see how the game that ships lines up with the first press release.

Meanwhile, the last time I was in Neverwinter, it looked like this:

Neverwinter Map – TorilMUD

Not exactly impressive, but that was the way things were back in the day when I played TorilMUD regularly, and I enjoyed it immensely at the time.

MMOs and The BBB

The BBB is the Better Business Bureau, a resource you may have heard of before.

Omali at Massive Multiplayer Fallout took a look at the Better Business Bureau web site to see what they had to say about various studios that produce massively multiplayer games.

I won’t spoil his post by repeating it all here, but there was quite a dichotomy in the ratings.  The BBB give letter grades from A to F following the academic model and most companies either got an A or an F.

Sony Online Entertainment and Blizzard Entertainment (Blizzard is actually one of the few on the list that are BBB Accredited) were among those getting an A.

Cryptic Studios and Mythic were both on the F list.

The only company in the middle of the pack was NCsoft, which received a C-.

And a pile of other companies have no rating at all.

Aside from some of the information in the profiles I’ve linked, I’m not sure that the ratings would affect my own buying decisions.

How about you?

Do these ratings surprise you, confirm your own views, or just represent another data point that may or may not affect your life?

STO Character Creator – Experimenting

Playing with the character creator for a while this afternoon, I did discover that you can, in fact, create a female avatar with large breasts wearing a tight, leather-like uniform.

Created in the name of science...

You know… if you like that sort of thing.

That does not mean, however, that you have to shake it in front of the whole bridge crew and make them feel inadequate.

Cryptic Does Dance Moves

Dignity should be maintained.  Waving your hands in the air like you just don’t care should be avoided… at least in that outfit.

Still, Cryptic appears to have dodged that “no hot avatars” problem that Vanguard seemed to have so long ago.  (Even the Vanguard team seemed to admit that to that at a later date.)

Star Trek Online Options We’d Like to See

Star Trek Online.  It’s coming.

Okay, so the myriad of pre-order and special edition options that Atari and Cryptic have announced so far (are they done yet?)  have certainly made the task of what to buy a little more challenging than is common for an MMO launch.

Still, we all have another choice here.

We can complain about how Cryptic and Atari have apparently gone off the rails on the bonus item front.

Or we can embrace change and encourage it towards it ultimate silly destination.

(Personally, I plan to do both, but that is another story.)

So in the interest of embracing change, I have begun to formulate a list additional pre-order, special edition, or other purchase option bonus features that I think Cryptic and/or Atari should look into.

That is what I have come up with so far.

What other options should Cryptic and Atari consider?

I’m sure I can think of more.

Or maybe I’ll go watch that fleet action video yet again and try to forget this.

Star Trek Online – More Desicions on What to Buy

We have already been exposed to the variety of pre-order options that Star Trek Online offers.  To get the item you want you have to purchase your pre-order from the right vendor.

Now Atari and Cryptic have announced another wrinkle in the decision process with their press release regarding the Collector’s Edition and Digital Deluxe Edition of the game.

ATARI PRESENTS STAR TREK™ ONLINE COLLECTOR’S EDITION AND DIGITAL DELUXE EDITION FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY

Special Packages Contain Exclusive Content, Collectibles, and Game Access

New York, NY (December 11, 2009) – Atari, Inc., one of the world’s most recognized videogame publishers, and acclaimed MMO developer Cryptic Studios™, announced today a Collector’s Edition and a Digital Deluxe Edition of Star Trek Online, available for purchase on February 2, 2010, for a limited time only. Both packages include exclusive content, collectibles and game access.  Right now, the $79.99 Collector’s Edition can be pre-ordered at GameStop.com and the $59.99 Digital Deluxe Edition can be pre-ordered at Direct2Drive and STEAM.  Both special editions are also available at Atari.com.

“True Star Trek fans are sure to appreciate the exclusive features the Star Trek Online Collector’s Edition and Digital Deluxe Edition boast,” says Jim Wilson, President and CEO of Atari, Inc.  “With extended content and one-of-a-kind collectible items, Star Trek fans and gamers alike can experience the full extent of the Star Trek experience.”

The Star Trek Online Collector’s Edition adds to the experience with such bonus features as:

  • Deluxe Packaging: Futuristic 3dX holography set in a high quality brushed aluminum finish.  Heavy duty construction with magnetic closures and nested compartments for all components.
  • Deluxe Manual: High-end, hardbound, art book, manual and disc case in a single, elegant package. “HD Printing” on over 40 glossy pages highlights exclusive art from the Star Trek Online universe.
  • Communicator Badge: High-quality cast-metal design based on the in-game badge model. Fully 3D sculpted with recessed burst and curved contours.
  • Guest Passes:  Credit card style buddy passes to invite three of your friends for a three-day trial of Star Trek Online.  Codes can be transmitted digitally or physically.
  • Red Matter Capacitor (in-game item): A unique item that charges up and delivers extra energy to all of your ship’s equipment for a short time.
  • “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Uniform (in-game item): Uniform Options from “The Next Generation” Series.  The timeless look worn by Picard, Data and Riker.
  • “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” Uniform (in-game item): Uniform Options from the “Deep Space Nine” Series.  Gray shoulders on a black uniform, just like Sisko, Worf and Dax.

The Star Trek Online Digital Deluxe Edition offers such bonuses as five exclusive in-game items as well as the ability to play as a “Joined Trill” – a symbiote that grants you several lifetimes of experience.  The five exclusive in-game items include:

  • Original Star Trek Uniform Set: Three uniforms from the original series (blue, red, yellow).

  • Exclusive “KHAAAN!” Emote: An unforgettable moment from the second Star Trek Film.  This exclusive emote allows players to relive Kirk’s unforgettable moment of fury, with the timeless cry… “KHAAAN!”

  • Exclusive Klingon Blood Wine Toast Emote: Raise a glass like a Klingon!  Greet other players with an exclusive Klingon gesture –the blood wine toast.

  • Unique Registry Prefix: Give your ship the coveted NX prefix, seen only on a handful of elite Starfleet vessels like the Defiant, 22nd century Enterprise, and Prometheus.

  • Unique Ship Item: Automated Defense Battery. This Tactical Module grants any ship a passive 360 arc attack power with a short range.

In Star Trek Online, the Star Trek universe will appear for the first time one a truly massive scale. In this massively multiplayer online game, players can pioneer their own destiny as Captain of a Federation ship or become a Klingon Warlord and expand the Empire to the far reaches of the galaxy. Players will visit iconic locations from the popular Star Trek fiction, travel to unexplored star systems, and contact new alien species. Every moment spent playing Star Trek Online will feel like a new Star Trek episode in which you are the hero. Immerse yourself in the future of the Trek universe as it moves into the 25th century: a time of shifting alliances and new discoveries. As the Captain of your very own ship, it’s up to you to lead your crew on missions that span the galaxy.

Star Trek Online is a licensed product from CBS Consumer Products.  For more information, please visit: www.startrekonline.com

Now I had seen in various places most what came with the Collector’s Edition, though the Red Matter Capacitor is a new twist. (And perhaps skirting a bit too close to the last movie.)

The Collector's Edition

But the Digital Deluxe Edition?  A “Khaaan!” emote?  And I don’t get it with the Collector’s Edition?  And the uniform set from the original series?

What are they thinking, making the original series ship and the original series uniforms essentially mutually exclusive?  Did somebody pass out these bonus items by drawing them out of a hat?

I need that “Khaaan!” emote right about now.

And this is only going to get worse I bet when we find out what the European distributors are going to be handing out.  You just wait until we find out the French are getting a Joan Collins “City on the Edge of Forever” bridge crew member or some such.

I suppose we will all be able to identify who bought which version where on day one.

Cryptic, you’re making me crazy.

Star Trek Online Pre-Order Choices

Cryptic is making me crazy already.

I am going to play Star Trek Online.  On this we are decided.

Potshot seems to be sharing my enthusiasm on the subject, so it looks like we might have makings of a bridge crew or flotilla or squadron or whatever the group mechanic is for the game.

And if we’re going to play, we might as well pre-order and reap the benefits of that, such that they are.

But the pre-order bennies haven’t been exactly clear up to this point.

In the absence of information, I went to the default, which is to order from Amazon.com.  I’ve been ordering from them for 12 years now and they have always been good to me.

Amazon.com showed a borg bridge officer as the special pre-order item.

I knew 7 of 9, and you're no 7 of 9

Fine, I put in the order.

Then I saw that GameStop had something different.  A “bonus starship” as part of their pre-order package.

On the surface, a bonus starship might be lame.  But when I went to the site to look into it, the ship turned out to be a Constitution class starship from the original series.  For those not up on the lore, that would be the same class as the Enterprise.

To Boldly Go...

Okay, cancel my order at Amazon.com (sorry guys!) and head over to GameStop.

Only at about this point, the gaming press starts reporting on this situation in detail, since Cryptic finally put out a press release on the subject.

NEW YORK, Dec. 7 /PRNewswire/ — Atari, Inc., one of the world’s most recognized videogame publishers, and acclaimed MMO developers Cryptic Studios(TM), are pleased to announce several pre-order programs for the highly anticipated Star Trek Online for PC. Based on the world renowned sci-fi series, Star Trek Online gives gamers and fans of the fiction a chance to boldly explore the Star Trek universe for the first time on a truly massive scale. Star Trek Online is available at retailers in North America on February 2, 2010.

All Star Trek Online pre-orders receive guaranteed access to the Star Trek Online Open Beta test from January 12th to January 26th, 2010. In addition, Star Trek Online also offers an exclusive Early Start Program with pre-orders at all participating retailers that runs January 29, 2010 through launch on February 2. The Early Start Program allows players to get a leg up on other interstellar explorers and access the Star Trek universe the weekend prior to the game’s launch. Unlike beta play, all in-game progress made during the Early Start Program will carry over to the live adventure.

All customers who pre-order Star Trek Online receive access to the Open Beta and Early Start Program. Details on exclusive pre-order content for Star Trek Online include:

GameStop

GameStop customers receive the ability to command the exclusive and always classic USS Enterprise from Star Trek The Original Series.

Best Buy

Best Buy is offering their customers a fun in-game pet. As a Federation Captain, players own a famed Tribble of Star Trek lore that will accompany them on their travels into the final frontier. As a Klingon commander, players control the boar-like Targ, a beast found on the Klingon home world of Qo’noS.

Amazon

Amazon is offering an exclusive “Liberated Borg” Bridge Officer. This bridge officer, who comes with unique nanotechnology augmentations, assists in missions and gains experience as the player does.

Wal-Mart

With the Wal-Mart Bonus Skill Points package, receive addition skill points that enable players to improve their characters quickly.

Target

Target customers who pre-order Star Trek Online receive a unique ground weapon — a TR-116. This rare projectile weapon is used in dampening fields and other challenging environments; it is also modified with a micro-transporter which beams the fired projectiles to targets at close range so that a user can fire without a direct line of site.

Direct2Drive

Direct2Drive customers receive an exclusive Multi-Spatial Personal Shield. This advanced personal shield system is based on Borg technology, which constantly regenerates itself and the health of its wearer.

STEAM

STEAM is offering customers Chromodynamic Armor. This armor is based on technology brought back from the Delta Quadrant by USS Voyager improves the damage and critical hits of energy weapons.

In Star Trek Online, players will visit iconic locations from the popular Star Trek fiction, travel to unexplored star systems, and contact new alien species. Every moment spent playing Star Trek Online will feel like a new Star Trek episode in which you are the hero. Immerse yourself in the future of the Trek universe as it moves into the 25th century: a time of shifting alliances and new discoveries. As the Captain of your very own ship, it’s up to you to lead your crew on missions that span the galaxy.

For more information, please log onto www.startrekonline.com

So many choices.

Of course, the real die-hards on the forums want to know if they can buy some or all and combine them on a single account.

I am only buying a single copy, so I had to take a deep breath and think on this a bit.

A pre-order bonus cannot… or at least should not… give you any sort of huge advantage in game.  Every pre-order or collector’s edition item that I can recall has generally outlived its actual usefulness pretty quickly.

And if usefulness is going to be set aside, then style is really the way to go.  And for style, you have your tribble or you have your Constitution class starship.  But that still leaves a choice.

Decisions, decisions!  I’m leaning towards the starship.  I’m already humming the incidental music from the episode “The Doomsday Machine” in my head.  But a tribble…

Nostalgia Proximity Alert! Collision Imminent!

Wihelm: Continuity One Two Three Abort Reminiscence!

Computer: Code invalid. Abort failed

Computer: Nostalgia field engaged

Computer: memory distortion set to random

Wilhelm: *scream*

So here we go.

Way back when I was a kid, back in a time between kindergarten and about third or fourth grade we, as kids, seemed to go through a stage where we ceased just playing with things and spent our recess and lunch hours playing at being things.

Looking back, it was very much a reflection of what was influencing us as kids… which is to say we played at things we saw on television.

Unlike my father in his day, we rarely ever played at being soldiers, at least at school.  He grew up in the shadow of WWII, which was viewed as a “good thing.”  For us, the Vietnam was on the news every night and it was a “bad thing.”  Many of our teachers actively discouraged anything that smacked of the military.

So we had to find other ways to dress up our desire to run around and pretend to shoot each other.

Cops and robbers was popular, primarily because it required little in the way of window dressing.  Some people were cops, some people were robbers, cops chased the robbers around, we had shoot outs, and argued about who shot whom first.  Generally the cops lost.  Authority figures were on the out, lawlessness reigned.  It was quite the exaggerated reflection of the country beyond the school yard.

We also played Planet of the Apes quite a bit.  This was not as popular because you had to conform at least minimally to the story line.  But it was an outlet for gun play and we did not care about the symbolism represented by the failure of man and the ascension of the apes.  We just wanted to pretend to shoot at each other.  Apes tended to lose and man usually reasserted his primacy.  In some way this probably predicted the election of Ronald Reagan.

And then, once in a while, we would play Star Trek.

Star Trek was different.  Not as many people would play, but girls would join in.  They wouldn’t play cops and robbers or Planet of the Apes, but a few would tag along for Star Trek.  So I knew there was something special going on, since the last time we played pretend with the girls was back before we decided playing house was for sissies.

And while we would cut to space battles and shooting phasers pretty quickly, the whole thing was different.  We would start out behind the backstop standing around as arrayed like the bridge crew.   We would crash around as the ship went into battle, then beam down to a planet or over to another ship looking for trouble.  Prime directive?  Our phasers were never set to “stun.”

But unlike the other two things we played, nobody was playing the bad guys.  This was a PvE roleplaying affair.  Nobody played a Klingon or a Romulan, they were all pretend.  When we shot, there was no follow on argument about who shot whom to break the flow of the story.

I should have written down the names of those who joined up on the bridge for these occasional play sessions, these pre-pubescent Trekkies, just to see who still feels the pull of that show to this day.

I don’t need to say that Star Trek was huge and had a lot of influence.  I think the fact that I can write about Star Trek without giving much in the way of context says enough.

But to be there, in the early 1970s, was to feel the influence when it was still young and fresh and still fit into its uniform and did not require a hair piece.  The original series was in syndicated reruns constantly throughout that decade. (Though at one point, every time I turned on the TV they seemed to be playing “And the Children Shall Lead,” an episode I grew to loathe.)

Star Trek lived on through some really bad episodes in the third season (see above), through cancellation, through an animated series, through some really weak movies and bad uniform choices, through a series of spin-offs (each with its own major flaws) and unlikely aliens, and through wave after wave of truly bad video games (with a rare gem now and again) to still exert influence today.

And I have pretty much eaten it up through most of its history.  I have watched all the shows, seen all the movies in the theater, read a disturbing number of the books, played the table top games, the role playing games, the MUDs, and a good portion of the computer games.  And after all of that, I still feel a great affinity for the universe of Star Trek.

Which is a blessing and a curse.

Star Trek again looms on the horizon for me.  Not a new TV series or a movie to stress my faith more than any midichlorian ever could.  No, it is a new computer game, a game with a lure unlike most that have come before it.

Star Trek Online.

Press Release Screen Shot - Your Game May Vary

A massively multiplayer version of the Star Trek universe.

Something within me sings with joy at the thought of a Star Trek MMO.  This is exactly what we were trying to achieve standing in a semi-circle out on the edge of the field at school way back in the day.

But part of me wants to look away.  That part shudders with the fear brought on by the dozens of mediocre TV episodes and poorly thought out games that came before.

According to the press release, Star Trek Online will be here soon.

ATARI TO SHIP STAR TREK ONLINE ON FEBRUARY 2, 2010

Star Trek Online Offers Fans and Gamers Opportunity to Experience Beloved Star Trek Universe through Space and Ground Gameplay

New York, NY (November 9, 2009) – Atari, Inc., one of the world’s most recognized videogame publishers, and Cryptic Studios™, creators of the acclaimed Champions Online, City of Heroes and City of Villains, announced today the highly anticipated Star Trek Online for PC is set to release on February 2, 2010 in North America and February 5, 2010 across Europe and Australia.  This first-of-a-kind massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) will offer space and ground gameplay to fans and players.

Star Trek Online is poised to become the ultimate Star Trek gaming experience,” said Jim Wilson, CEO of Atari, Inc. “Throughout the last four decades, Star Trek has been a mainstay in pop culture, influencing legions of fans through television, film, and more. Star Trek Online opens a whole new chapter and expands upon this incredible universe in 2010.”

Taking place in the year 2409, continuing the story of the latest film installment, Star Trek Online boasts extraordinary features and lets fans both new and old experience unparalleled adventures.  Players will have the opportunity to become a high ranking Starfleet officer and will participate in missions that will take them into the depths of space, across exotic planets and even inside other starships.  Star Trek Online offers total customization, where every ship players command can be customized, from color to construction. Additionally, anyone can create their own species in Star Trek Online, as well as customize the look of their avatar’s uniform.

For more information, please visit: www.startrekonline.com

February 2nd is sooner than I would have thought possible, which does not help me deal with the dread.

In an office just miles from where we played Star Trek as kids… and even closer to where I live today… a team at Cryptic Studios is preparing Star Trek Online.

Of course, just a couple of years back, the same game (or not the same game) was being developed by a team at Perpetual Entertainment just an hours drive from my home before it was cancelled, so salt is being consumed in quantities large enough to get a caution from my doctor when it comes to the eventual availability of the game.

Something about all of this playing out within proximity of my home makes it all the more compelling for no logical reason.

Not that it matters.  Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.

I do not have much in the way of a choice when it comes to this.  I’ll be there on day one.  If they offer a lifetime subscription, I’ll buy it.  A collectors edition?  Let me get out my credit card.  Star Trek alien prostetics I can wear whilst I play?  Sign me up.

Press Release Screen Shot - Things May Never Be This Cool

So you know where I will be on February 2nd.  Prepared for disappointment but still full of hope.

Unless, of course, the whole thing gets delayed.

Nah… that never happens!