Friday, January 29, 2010

Zachary Quinto saying good-bye to 'Star Trek'

Actor Zachary Quinto has had enough of the whole sci fi star thing. He plays bad guy Sylar on Heroes and was perfectly cast as Spock in last summer's blockbuster remake, Star Trek. However, he's ready to hang it up for a while and distance himself from the Star Trek franchise to pursue other roles. "I'm stepping away from Star Trek for at least two years — no movies, no conventions, no anything for a while, " he told

He says he hopes that his fanboy cheering section is willing to leave the sci fi world for a while to enjoy his other pursuits. "I want to invite them along with me on my journey, which is going to take them out of their comfort zone and into other areas and other styles of storytelling."

No word yet on what those other roles may be, however, as his page lists his next project as the Star Trek sequel set for release in 2012.

Patrick Stewart on turning 70

Patrick Stewart turns 70 this year, and he looks the same as when he assumed the captain's chair aboard the Enterprise in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" nearly 23 years ago.

As he slips into the command chair of an office overlooking the historic Miners Foundry in Nevada City at the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival on a recent Saturday night, Stewart orders a glass of wine. He was in town to introduce a documentary he narrates, "Nature Propelled," an extreme sports film by his friend Seth Warren.

The next week, after a few days of skiing with his girlfriend, Stewart would be in San Francisco for a "Star Trek" convention and to rehearse with San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas for a Stravinsky piece they will perform at the Chicago Symphony next month. Later this year, Stewart will be seen in television adaptations of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" (he is Claudius) and the title role in "Macbeth."

Q: So you're doing Stravinsky ("Oedipus Rex") with Michael Tilson Thomas - are you a musician?

A: No, there's a storyteller in it, threaded through the music. We did something like that together in San Francisco about six years ago, and we really enjoyed working together. ... I'm passionate about music - it fills my life. So to spend five days with some of the best musicians in the world is my idea of heaven.

Q: You haven't done many films lately. Are you taking a break?

A: I've been almost exclusively focusing on theater the last five years, because I have a lot of catching up to do (smiles). It's all I ever wanted to do. I had no ambition to work in television, I had no ambition to work in film, because it just seemed improbable and unlikely. All I ever wanted to be was on the stage, because the stage was, well, quite crudely, the safest place to be. Far safer than the outside world. ... Everything else that happened was an accident. A wonderful accident.

Q: An accident that led to two prominent roles in two major franchises: "Star Trek" and "X-Men."

A: My feeling is you cannot have too many franchises in a career! My dear friend Ian McKellen was in "X-Men," "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and soon will make it three, with "The Hobbit."

Q: You were just knighted during the 2010 New Year's Honour services, so now you're Sir Patrick Stewart. You have a long and distinguished stage career, but would you have been knighted had you not played Capt. Jean-Luc Picard?

A: (Long pause.) It is a result. I'm grateful to you for making me reflect on that. Because the cumulative result of "Star Trek" and the "X-Men" ... when I went back to the U.K. after 15 years away, I went and did an Ibsen play ("The Master Builder"). ... Not a writer that fills theaters. What "Star Trek" did was to take me out of the world of being an elitist Shakespearean actor with a very small audience, and it put me on an international stage. ... After the role ended, I was able to mount stage projects that I never would have been able to do before.

Q: I know William Shatner went through a period where he hated being Capt. Kirk. What about you? Ever resent being identified with Jean-Luc Picard?

A: No, I'm grateful. I did a one-man show that did quite well, "A Christmas Carol." ... We sold the first week on Broadway through the "Star Trek" fan clubs (laughs). That was the marketing! And they filled the place. It doesn't matter why they come. ... Ian and I, we shared a dressing room for seven months (in 2009) doing "Waiting for Godot." I do think we've been significantly creating a new audience for live theater.

Q: So you turn 70 in July. You look like a man of 50. Any thoughts on the big 7-Oh?

A: I think I have great peasant genes. You ought to look at my thighs! I've got great peasant thighs - and hands. And I've got to thank Hollywood. I think 17 years in Hollywood where I really took care of myself - really took care of myself.

The fact of the matter is, I've never been so happy in my life, I've never been so fulfilled, and I've never been so optimistic - well, except it looks like we're going to have a conservative government in England. ... My kids are good, my grandchildren are great.

I just spent five years renovating a house in England. And it's done! And I just did it for me. And I can't wait to get up in the mornings. Anyway, in 10 days' time, I'll see all my doctors in Los Angeles, and we'll see what they say. Because I had a heart procedure five years ago. Came out of the blue. And wow, it was shocking. Hopefully, they will sign off on me again, as they have every year since.

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Daredevil Plans Skydive From Space a la Star Trek

If think the Star Trek reboot was far out, wait 'til you read this: Pro skydiver Felix Baumgartner is preparing for an atmospheric jump similar to the one undertaken by Kirk and Sulu in the recent movie. In the spirit of the franchise and action-packed prequel, the real-life adventurer will "boldly go where no man has gone before" as he jumps from the edge of space into a supersonic freefall towards Earth.

At a press briefing on Friday, Baumgartner and a team of scientists and specialists officially announced the Red Bull Stratos mission to surpass the record-breaking jump made by United States Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger in 1960. (Watch exciting newsreel coverage of his jump here). Kittinger's success laid the groundwork for the space program fifty years ago, and now he wants to help Baumgartner pick up where he left off -- you could say it's a space exploration reboot. (Watch the trailer here). If successful, the Austrian athlete will be the first human to break the speed of sound in freefall, attaining Mach 1.0 (about 690 mph).

Despite three years of planning and the advantage of not having to land on a small drilling platform while fighting Romulans, the jump will be a lot harder to achieve in reality than it was for J.J. Abrams. ("That was me and Chris on wires in the tight suits and hanging up in the air at Paramount Studios," explains John Cho, the actor who played Sulu.) Plus, unlike Kirk, Baumgartner won't have a friend along to help him if something goes wrong.

In lieu of a Starfleet shuttle, Baumgartner will use a stratospheric balloon to rise to more than 120,000 feet -- nearly 23 miles away from Earth -- a record in itself for the highest manned balloon flight. Once he steps into the air (wearing a flexible, pressurized spacesuit not unlike the ones Kirk and Sulu wear on their jump) he'll exceed the speed of sound in about 35 seconds but will not pull his chute for another five minutes, creating the longest and fastest freefall ever achieved. This real-life drama has everything you want from a space story including a great leading man: You might recall Baumgartner's entertaining work as the Birdman crossing the English channel in 2003.

The project's technical director, Art Thompson, admits they are concerned about the shock wave he'll face when reaching supersonic speeds. "In early aircraft development, they thought it was a wall they couldn't pass without breaking apart," he said at the briefing. "In our case, the vehicle is flesh and blood, and he'll be exposed to some extreme forces." There's also the matter of atmosphere pressure at altitude. Unprotected, the test pilot's blood would boil, leading to a rather gruesome death. But Baumgartner's spacesuit should take care of all of that (just as long as it's not red).

The jump is due to take place above North America this summer. A Vulcan might describe the undertaking as reckless but, if it works, it will be as awesome as the Final Frontier.

I Do: Star Trek Style

The Tech Museum of Innovation, located in the Silicon Valley, is offering a Star Trek wedding for one lucky couple.

Last autumn, a lucky couple won a Star Trek-themed wedding at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and now the same opportunity to win a wedding package is being offered to those on the West Coast.

According to a press release from The Tech, the Tech Museum is hosting a contest to select a lucky couple to get married, or to renew their vows, on the U.S.S. Enterprise bridge from the original series in Star Trek: The Exhibition.

Couples across the galaxy are eligible to win the ultimate wedding package, which includes exclusive use to the bridge during the ceremony; a private museum room for a reception; two-night’s stay at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, and a two-tier, Star Trek-themed wedding cake from Bijan Bakery & Café.

To enter, couples simply submit a photo along with a few short paragraphs on why they should be picked to say “I do” or renew their vows on the bridge. Deadline for entries is February 3rd, with the winning couple receiving the highest tally of worldwide votes cast on the Tech’s Facebook page from February 4th – 10th.

The winning couple will be announced just before Valentine’s Day, with the ceremony to take place in March or early April.

“We’ve seen many a Star Trek character fall in love and get married on the series,” said Peter Friess, president of The Tech Museum. “But how many couples actually have the chance to get married in real life, on one of the most iconic, science fiction set pieces ever? This will be a unique ceremony that they’ll remember forever. And it will surely be one of the most unusual events ever at the museum.”

Star Trek’s final beta closes with a bang, a star system full of phaser fire and a few torpedoes up the nacelles

Borgs and Klingons and Federation … oh my! Beta closes with full-on invasions, and gets ready for release

That the Borg was on the move was known. That the Borg would invade Sector Space was probably not anticipated by many … well, with the possible exception of the Cryptic development team for Star Trek Online, the massively multiplayer online title being released by Cryptic and Atari on February 2.

The Open Beta phase came to a conclusion last night, and those thinking to avoid conflict on a massive scale had to work to do that. The Borg were everywhere – as were the Klingons. But whereas the Klingons were much easier targets for the fleets of Federation ships engaged in the brutal brawl, the Borg were more high-powered, more precise in targeting, more prone to attack with numbers favoring that attack, and more than capable of shredding shields and ripping through the hull of the starships of young captains.

But that didn’t mean those young captains ran from the fight. On the contrary, the fight was on and while the Federation may not have given as good as it got, it didn’t back down.

Until the final beta session, Sector Space is usually wide open
with only friendly ships and systems dotting the landscape

There is always a sense of wonder when coming to the end of a beta. The launch of the game is just around the corner (in the case of STO, the head-start is on the 29th and the game goes retail live on February 2), and it is the last chance for the devs to throw a curve at the players, reveal deeper gameplay elements and just have a little fun. It is a time of joy and sadness. The joy comes from the fact that the ‘real’ game begins soon; the sadness is in saying goodbye to new friends and companions in the journey to date.

Of course, promises are made to try to find battle companions when the game goes live, but seldom is that possible. Games release with multiple servers, and sometimes names change in the creation process (not only in subscriptions but of characters) and it’s hard to hook up in retail. About the only things that can be said are to offer well wishes and hope to meet again.

Friendships are formed in the heat of battle, and when someone ‘has your back’ it is easy to make certain you have theirs in return. The chance to fight together, to laugh and even – as in the case in battling the Borg last night – die in the effort brings MMOers together. It is a celebration of the very thing that MMOs are all about – socializing and enjoying time in the company of others. When the enemy is light-years ahead in ship design and armament, it is not the time to be playing the role of the loner.

Ok, my ship got hammered … every time. And while the cliché may be that in space no one can hear you scream but in my space (the monitor and the walls that make up the gaming area), there were some exclamations of astonishment at how fast I got obliterated and then some chuckles.

Federation shields up, Klingon shield down = bad day for the Klingon ship

One of the best elements of STO is the way instances are handled. You fly into an instance and if there are others there on the same mission, your ship becomes part of that team. What they accomplish is credited to you. You don’t have to fly to that beacon that is guarded by a swarm of Klingon Birds of Prey. Nope, an ‘instance’ teammate picks it up and your quest updates as well. You can spend time keeping those trigger-happy Klingons off the ship picking up the quest object. If the quest calls for destruction of a number of enemy squadrons, you don’t have to kill all of them. Hopping into an instance and finding several starships there ready to get happy with phasers and torpedoes is a lot more fun than having a battle cruiser target you with four Birds of Prey cutting off evasion routes because you got caught alone in a sector where you should not be alone.

Last night, though, Sector Space was swarming with enemies that flying too close meant being warped into an instance and a huge battle. Should players expect that in retail? Maybe … and maybe not. There will undoubtedly be areas of space that are a lot more hostile. But for the end of open beta, for the last beta session before release, the dev team pulled out a few stops and made it a frantic and fun experience.

Star Trek Online leaves space dock very soon, and the final party for its testers was not only one to remember, but portends that some intriguing and entertaining elements lay ahead for subscribers.

Star Trek Online Interview With Executive Producer Craig Zinkievich

It won't be long now until Star Trek Online is finally released to the masses. We've been a part of the beta and shared our experiences, but we had more lingering questions we wanted to see answered before the game's release date. We sat down to talk with Star Trek Online's Executive Producer Craig Zinkievich to see what light he could share on the upcoming game.

MPOGD: As someone who has always been fond of the Borg, I'm personally a bit disappointed that I won't be able to play as them with a regular subscription. Why the decision to make the Borg a Lifetime subscription only race? Will Borg become open sometime later for everyone else?

Well, bear in mind that even Lifetime subscribers arent playing the Borg race, per se. Theyre playing a liberated member of the Borg, like 7 of 9. So in reality, theyre playing within the Federation on Klingon faction, not the Borg faction. We dont yet have plans for making the true Borg a playable faction, but its something we may look into later on down the line.

MPOGD: Given the franchise and how die-hard many fans are to it, how hard was it building the lore and gameplay mechanics for the game? Were there any instances where you had to "step on the toes" of some fans or change elements of the franchise to fit the MMO format?

Im sure weve disappointed some Star Trek fans out there, but any time you create a game based on an IP, youre going to disappoint some people, just because their vision of the game is different from yours. With STO, we stated early on that fun gameplay was very important to us, and that wed design a game with that goal: make a fun Star Trek game. With that comes some sacrifices to realism, but overall we think we captured the Star Trek feel.

MPOGD: Could you explain the story of the time period the game is set and why that particular time frame was used?

Sure! So the year is 2409, which is 30 years past Nemesis. Romulus, as you know, has been destroyed so the Romulans are fighting among each other to rebuild their planet. The Cardassians have been hit hard by the Dominion war and they are barely hanging on existence at this point. The Klingons see this and they recognize this as an opportunity to spread the Empire. They also are aware of this species out there that are called the Undine. The Undine are shape shifters and have infiltrated every major power in the galaxy. The Klingons trust no one right now including the Federation, so with the Klingons trying to spread their empire, peace treaties between them and the Federation fall apart leading to war.

MPOGD: I've been playing the game and one of the big kicks I got was seeing Deep Space Nine. What's some of the other treats you have in store such as in popular landmarks or characters that will be making appearances?

You bet ya! There will be Riza, Vulcan, Qonos, and Gateway where the Guardian of Forever rests. Those are to just name a few, but there will be plenty of places that people see and recognize. Not as many of the characters are in just because most of them have moved on and retired, but you will see some. Ill let you be surprised when you discover who they are.

MPOGD: One thing quite different about the game is the leveling system, which doesn't exactly list people as numbers, such as, "Hey, I just dinged 25!" Why the decision to go this route?

We wanted progression to feel more like the Star Trek universe, so we wanted to denote big steps of development in the form of ranks: Ensign, Lieutenant, Lieutenant Commander, Commander, Captain and Admiral. However, there are varying degrees of each rank, just to reinforce that youre advancing within Starfleet even between ranks. So, a rank 5 Commander will generally be a bit more powerful than a rank 3 Commander.

MPOGD: Players can create their own character and race, but how tied is Cryptic to using what the franchise has already established? Was Cryptic able to make their own races and have them be main factors or villains in the game?

We do make our own races in the game, but those are used mainly for exploration. You come across a new race and make contact. At this point, however, a Cryptic-created race isnt a major villain in the games plotline, though we have developed the Undine a bit. There are so many adversaries the Federation are going to have to worry about that there is not just one main bad guy. They have the Klingons, Borg, Orion, Nausicaan, the Undine, and many more.

MPOGD: Unlike many other MMORPGs, Star Trek Online doesn't feature the same character classes and pre-defined roles. There's not exactly characters that are strict tank, ranged DPS, etc. Could you talk about the character classes and how they differ from each other?

It really just so happened that the 3 classes we have you pick is what makes since to Trek: Tactical, Engineering, and Science officers. Now, you can say that tactical is good for DPS, engineering for tanking, and science for healing, but they each do so much more, especially in space. You can, for example, be a Tactical officer in a Science ship, and use some of the innate properties of that Science ship to accentuate your Tactical abilities. We wanted everyone to be comfortable with the class they picked. That they werent going to be hindered by not having some of the other classes on their teams.

MPOGD: We've seen that pre-order bonuses are going to include pets. Are pets going to be offered outside of the pre-order deals? What can you tell us about what pets will be in the game and their function and roles. We hear the tribbles have the nasty habit of multiplying on players.

Pets will probably be something you can get through micro-transactions. They may have a little functionality but mainly be as something to follow you around.

MPOGD: The game currently doesn't have a death penalty, which is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it's nice not losing valuable time and stats from being killed, but yet it takes away the thrill and worry of going into a battle outmatched and giving us that fun sense of tension. Will a death penalty be added and/or why the decision to go the route Cryptic has?

We do currently have a death penalty; its just temporary. In space, any time you die, you lose some of your crew. Your crew affects your ships repair rate, as well as a host of special abilities you can use. And on the ground, if you die youre forced to respawn at a point behind where you progressed. Ultimately, we opted for a pretty light death penalty because we dont want to punish people for taking risks like the captains from the shows did. Kirk never lost the Enterprise, no matter what crazy stunt he pulled, did he?

MPOGD: For fans who have seen the various shows, Star Trek isn't always about going in with guns blazing, but also about meeting new species and coming to an understanding. While having a ton of that in the game wouldn't be the most exciting thing, are there any instances or quests that will lean towards diplomacy or this line of thinking?

Yes we have those. We have missions where you dont shoot anything at all and you do solve things peacefully. Early on, youre called upon by Starfleet to solve a labor dispute on a mining colony, for instance. Its also something were looking to add more of. This is a time of war and people will be fighting, but we do want to give people that sense that they can explore new worlds.

MPOGD: Most MMORPGs have a large, overarching story, filled with more personal and local stories that eventually lead to the bigger picture. What's the bigger picture of Star Trek Online? Is there an ultimate story or villain that's a major factor in the game?

We tell our games story through Episode missions. Theyre missions designed specifically to feel like an episode of one of the TV shows. They last between 45 minutes and an hour and a half, and feature a lot of scene changes, as well as transition between space and ground. Weve broken them up into seasons; each season is focused on a different antagonist. At launch, there will be about 40 Episode missions.

MPOGD: Right now people can only visit ship bridges, but will there be more areas that players will be able to access later on? Will ship interiors serve a bigger purpose or are they more for show and a sort of player housing more than anything else?

We want to add more interiors that people can visit and more functionality on them. It will really in large part depend on player feedback. If they want more command in the bridge and more access to other parts of the ship then we will most definitely try to add that into the game at a later date.

Video game review: 'Star Trek Online'

Star Trek Online PC/$49.99/Feb. 2

In 1964, screenwriter and producer Gene Roddenberry developed "Star Trek," an NBC science-fiction series that followed the adventures of the Starship Enterprise and its crew. Over the next four decades, the franchise, including its many spinoffs, evolved from its humble beginnings as a campy adventure show to become one of the most recognizable pieces of sci-fi entertainment in the world. Now after six series, 11 feature films and enough memorabilia to cover the surface of Mars, Cryptic Studios is ready to send fans into space to experience their own epic adventure thanks to "Star Trek Online."

Set your phasers to stun, grab some dilithium crystals, and prepare to delve headfirst into the legends and lore of the "Star Trek" universe. This massively multiplayer online role-playing game will have you saving the galaxy as a captain of a Federation starship or conquering it in your Klingon Warbird. As you pursue your mission to either help or hurt the Federation, you'll fly at warp speed from planet to planet visiting iconic places and making contact with strange, alien species.

In "Star Trek Online," you are the captain. While on your ship, you'll choose the missions that your crew will tackle, whether it's an explosive space battle or a journey to unexplored places. While space combat and universe-spanning travel would be enough to satiate any Trekker's appetite, that's only half the adventure. For the first time in an MMORPG, gamers will have the opportunity to send teams to the planet's surface or to other starships to gain allies and battle enemies. While on the ground, you'll command five underlings who will either survive thanks to your brilliant leadership or die like the many red shirts who came before them.

At the onset of the game, you'll experience Cryptic's amazing customization though both starship and alien species creation. Each ship you command will be fully customizable to meet your needs while still staying true to the source material. By creating your own alien species, you'll be granted the unique opportunity to see your bug-eyed beast strolling among the familiar locales of the "Star Trek" universe.

With its vast universe to explore, strange creatures to meet and epic battles to participate in, "Star Trek Online" is thoroughly prepared to take you where no gamer has gone before.

Media Link: Check out "Star Trek" marathons on Syfy starting with "Star Trek: Enterprise" Monday, Feb. 1, followed by "Star Trek: The Next Generation" on Tuesday, Feb. 2.,0,383228.story

Comics Review : Star Trek The Next Generation Ghosts Issue 3

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Ghosts #3

Reviewed by Patrick Hayes aka PatBorg

The covers: Picard is falling to somewhere on the "Regular Cover" by Joe Corroney, while on the "RI Virgin Cover" he's falling to an even emptier place because all of the cover's writing is gone. Overall grade: Both A

The story: There's a lot happening this issue. Worf is still being held a prisoner by the Dorossh. Speaker Kojaal is more than willing to give in to their demands to release the Klingon, but the Enterprise crew is unwilling. Meanwhile, Everuud regains consciousness and begins to move the "ghost" portion of the story forward, until two characters appear muttering a "traditional send off" and he shuts down. Another ghost loosens his tongue so Crusher and Troi get the biggest reveal of the story. There's a nice cliffhanger ending that's sadly undone by the cover image. There's some stuff to enjoy in this episode of Zander Cannon's tale (Data's every line, dissention in the ranks on Page 13, and Troi pushing the right button--figuratively and literally-- to get Everuud to open up), but the Worf scenes fall horribly flat (I'm officially over Worf speaking about honor in any Star Trek medium) and just how much longer can readers go with the obvious lies they're getting from all the alien characters. If this were DS9, several characters would be blunt (Odo, Kira, Sisko, etc.), state that someone is obviously being untruthful, and the story would move on at a more rapid pace than this. I'd like this series to wrap in four issues instead of five. I'm hoping that Picard's destination in Issue #4 ups my interest. Overall grade: C-

The art:
I like Javier Aranda's Worf, Data, and Crusher. These characters look consistently like their respective actors. I also enjoy his backgrounds. They are highly detailed and his alien worlds take me to places I've never seen. His two space shots (Pages 20 and 21) are wonderful. I'm still continuing to have problems dealing with his interpretations of Picard and Riker: age lines are overdrawn, so much so that I expect to see Picard keel over and die in any panel, while Riker doesn't look the same from panel to panel (I've noticed that Aranda like to draw Number One from an angle looking up at him, under his chin--it's done that way in three panels alone on Page 10). Aranda moves the scene well on his pages, but when the two leads are drawn so poorly it's going to taint how I feel about this book. Overall grade: C-

The inks: Again, Aranda's artwork overshadows how I look at Marc Rueda's work. I simply do not know how to appraise his abilities with the pencils he's been given. Because of this, I have to give his inks the same grade as Aranda's art. Overall grade: C-

The colors: This is the one bright spot (no pun intended) for this comic. John Hunt's work is dynamic. Cannon and Aranda have given Hunt many varied locations and characters for Hunt to spread his palate. Page 3 is a pleasant pastiche of blues and browns, broken up by vivid red uniforms and an electric green (panel two). Pages 4 and 5 are made even more oppressive by the desolate yellows, browns, and tans. A really great contrast comes quickly on Pages 6 and 7 with the blues. It's a rich and varied job. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Again, a lot of dialogue! Neil Uyetake is a letterin' fool, who also includes sound effects of an unlocked door, laughter, two "zoor" energy bursts, and a door chime. Overall grade: A

The final line: I want to be impressed, but I'm still waiting. Overall grade: C-

January 28, 2010 | by Giannii Star Trek Online Swag at Select GameStops Nationwide!

In early December, GameStop announced their exclusive collector’s edition of Cryptic Studios’ upcoming Star Trek Online MMO and now on the Star Trek Online Facebook Fan page, they announced that prizes will be given out during the February 2nd midnight launch at select GameStop locations nationwide.

As far as what type of prizes, and which GameStops would have the giveaways, they weren’t specific but promised more details very soon. I can’t help to think of type of prizes will be given out and if there will be a costume contest. If it continues to rain over here on the west coast, my Vulcan hair style will be secured.

What kind of prizes will they give out? Free downloadable content? Star trek swag? Also will there be a costume contest? Will you dress up and as what?

Star Trek Online warps into stores next week so if you’re interested check out the STO subscription bonuses.

Source: Star Trek Online FB Fan Page

Star Trek Online Ready for Warp, Borg on the Way

There’s only one more day to pre-order Star Trek Online and access the special Headstart Weekend, beginning Friday, January 29th. It’s also the last chance to gain access to any number of great, exclusive pre-order items, like a special Borg Bridge Officer, the Original Series Enterprise and more.

Pre-ordering also grants you access to the limited time Lifetime membership promotional offer. Pay just $239.99 and you can play Star Trek Online forever, with no monthly fee. Still a hefty sum for a video game.

After launch Cryptic is fully prepared to support the game with continuous updates and new content including, The Borg:

The Hive Mind Is Everywhere

The Borg are invading! Just in time for many of you to reach the rank of Admiral, we’ve got three new high-level Episodes centered around the classic Alpha Quadrant menace, the Borg. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Collateral Damage - Help save civilians caught in a battle between the Borg and Undine.
  • Recovery - In this follow-up to Collateral Damage, Rescue colonists infected by the Borg virus and fight Undine determined to destroy them!
  • State of Q - Q transports you back in time to do him a special favor.
  • More to come!

In addition to compelling scripted content, you’ll be able to check out a brand new, Borg-themed Deep Space Encounter. Can you and your friends hold off the coming invasion? It won’t be long until you’re called upon by Starfleet to save the galaxy!

Don’t forget to check out the new exploration content included in the Borg content pack, too. When you find some respite from the Collective, seek out new life and civilizations at your own pace. The universe is just waiting to be discovered.

Raid Episodes Coming Your Way

If you’re looking for a challenge, look no further than the upcoming Raid Episodes, which combine bold storytelling with our toughest five-man missions yet. These are just a few of the Raid Episodes we’ll be rolling out over the coming weeks, beginning a week after launch. Raid Episodes are available to both Federation and Klingon players.

  • Infected - Investigate a federation station that Starfleet has lost contact with.
  • The Cure - A planet has been completely taken over by the Borg. Fight them for control of the planet.
  • Khitomer Accord - Travel back in time and uncover and participate in the events that led to the release of old Borg you encountered in the Tutorial Episode.
  • Into the Hive - Track down a missing Starfleet captain and come face to face with the new Borg Queen.

More Action in the Alpha Quadrant

Even more great additions are planned for Star Trek Online. Here’s just a bit of what’s coming:

  • Klingon Fleet Actions - Form up with your closest friends and do battle in large engagements.
  • A New Klingon Ship - You asked for it, we made it: A Tier 2 Klingon Battle Cruiser.
  • Klingon Star Clusters - Seek out new life and civilizations ... and subjugate them! Additional PvE content for the Klingon faction.
  • Federation vs. Federation PvP - Practice against your allies before engaging your enemies.
  • New Ground Maps - We’ll be adding a new Ground Assault PvP map, as well as a new ground Fleet Action.
  • More IP Locations - Check out Rura Penthe and our whole solar system, from Mercury to Pluto.

Star Trek Online and the mechanics of ship combat

Tactical combat will win the day, but there are many elements to consider

Star Trek Online’s spaceship combat is an odd mix of standard tactics and flexible thought. Many gamers make jokes about “button mashing” – repeatedly hitting the same buttons to win. In Star Trek you will be mashing the same buttons because starships only have a few weapons. You will, however, be thoroughly engaged. Shield power needs to be re-routed, enemies need to be kept in your weapons’ firing arcs, and some weapons need to be activated at just the right moment to get their best effect. Players need to think ahead and be flexible in order to succeed. Maneuvering your ship can be the most important part of the battle, since everything is in constant motion. Unlike other games where some players will rarely have to move during a fight, everyone must pay attention to what’s going on around them – or pay the price.

Combat is divided roughly into quadrants. For those of us who haven’t had an opportunity to enjoy the open beta experience, imagine a circle with an X in it. The X divides the circle into the quadrants players will focus on in combat. As your ship is attacked, shields in a quadrant will be drained. Repeated attacks to a single quadrant will leave your ship vulnerable. This leads to twisting, spiraling paths as you attempt to keep your opponents from hammering on a single quadrant while attempting to target a single section of their ship in response. Now in addition to the shield quadrants, weapons have a range or spread. Star Trek Online gives players a lot of options in terms of their space-born weaponry. There are phasers, disruptors, torpedoes, and even mines. With the energy weapons there are wide-arc beams, narrow-arc cannons, or even all-around turrets. Every weapon has both an advantage and a disadvantage. Players will need to carefully consider how they want to approach combat.

In general, the more “all-purpose” a weapon is the weaker that weapon is. Turrets that can always shoot the enemy, regardless of firing arc, have the lowest DPS of any weapon in the game. By contrast, torpedoes and cannons have the highest DPS in the game – with limitations. Torpedoes can do absolutely horrifying damage if they manage to hit the enemy’s hull. Against shields, torpedoes are significantly less effective. Cannons deal massive damage but, like torpedoes, are restricted to a single quadrant only. If you mount a single-quadrant weapon in the forward or rear weapon mounts you can only fire them ahead or behind your ship. You cannot fire them “broadside” in the left and right quadrant. Energy weapons deal a standard range of damage all the time – however when compared to torpedoes their damage against hulls is lackluster.

While this might sound limiting, there are some options. The wide-beam phaser or disruptor arrays are between 180 degrees and 270 degrees. Mixing and matching weapons in the fore and aft can let you build heavy broadsides. When I was enjoying the open beta I placed phaser arrays in both forward weapon mounts and the rear mount on my starter ship. While this gave up the torpedo damage against unprotected hulls, it gave me three weapons that I could fire in either broadside quadrant. I found allies willing to work with me on weapon placement and we mowed down opponents. From range I could fire several broadsides and knock down the enemy’s shields in a single quadrant. With an ally using twin torpedo launchers in their forward arc, we ended up combining for some impressive alpha-strikes.

Another trade-off to consider is that torpedoes have a fairly long re-use timer compared to energy weapons. Thus, the torpedoes are rarely available. Energy weapons refresh much faster, but firing them drains weapon power. Energy weapons deal damage based on how much weapon power you have available. When you divert all power to the weapons you can do fantastic damage with your energy weapons – as long as the power holds out. In the above example, firing all three phaser arrays would drain 15 of my maximum 100 weapon power. I had to be careful or my energy would be drained complete – leaving my energy weapons with slightly more impact than throwing Nerf darts at my enemies.

Going back to the concept of cannons, single quadrant-only weapons have the most damage possible in an energy weapon. Combined with diverting all power to the weapons you can do moderately terrifying damage to your enemies. Unfortunately that means you’re only firing at them from a single arc. With wide-beam arrays you can strafe across several arcs and continue firing. Cannons can only fire forward or backward. That means the only shields your opponents are going to be facing are your forward or aft shields. You risk leaving yourself extremely vulnerable to try for quick kills. It’s a calculated trade off. Before you assume this is a profoundly bad idea, I would remind you of the example of the Defiant.

The Defiant (from Deep Space 9) is a prime example of a ship using forward-mounted weapons exclusively. Cryptic has taken this example into the game and gone to great lengths to make sure it is a viable concept. When working with a heavy cruiser, STO’s version of a tank or meat-shield, an attack vessel armed with cannons can get a few passes while your cruiser holds the enemy’s attention. Thus, I reach my most important point about the tradeoffs – each tradeoff affects your ship. It makes things much more interesting when you are working with a solid team who is willing to equip their ships to compensate for the weaknesses in others. As I said earlier, I found allies willing to equip photon torpedoes to take advantage of my heavy phaser arrays. Their torpedoes covered for the fact that I did very low damage against the enemies’ hulls.

STO has included a fairly uncommon weapon from Star Trek lore – mines. Mines can be impressive as you can deploy them before beginning combat. I’ve seen players end up with minefields of 25 or 30 mines before a single shot was fired. Unfortunately, mines have a very short “attack” range, meaning you have to drag the enemies over your mines to make them engage. Mines also have a delay between when they are launched and when they will begin attacking. Thus, you cannot simply strafe your enemy and drop mines right on top of them for an immediate attack. (Note this tactic will work, but there’s a delay between mine deployment and the explosions.)

Finally, shields become very important when you consider the options available to players. Not only are shields charged in quadrants, players can redistribute their shields literally on the fly. If you are taking a pounding on the left side, you can re-direct power from other shields into the left quadrant. Players can also turn their ship, protecting depleted shields by moving other shields in the way. In this example, if your left shields are being pounded, you can turn towards your enemy, placing your forward shields in between your enemy and your vulnerable hull. Carried out in heavy combat, you can literally end up spinning circles so that charged shields are always available.

Star Trek Online can boast one of the most unique combat systems I’ve seen from an MMO in years. Players will be able to spend hours tinkering with their weapons, debating tactics with their friends, or trying new things. There are so many options available that players will be free to find a weapons load-out that works for their own personal style of play. I hope that players will enjoy the complex system as much as I have. To paraphrase a very, very old sales pitch:

“Easy to learn, but longer to master.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Star Trek Stunt Crew Earns SAG Award

The stunt men and women who worked on the 2009 blockbuster Star Trek earned the Stunt Ensemble award from the Screen Actors Guild. Although they didn't get to collect their trophies onstage during the show, at least the stunt crew was recognized for their hard work in bringing to life director J.J. Abrams' vision. The Screen Actors Guild is one of the only major award bodies to actually bestow an award on stunt crews. The award was announced during the SAG Awards pre-show by Screen Actors Guild Awards Committee Chair JoBeth Williams and Awards Committee member Scott Bakula. Nearly 100,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild vote on the annual awards.

The winners of the Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture are Robert Alonzo, Daniel Arrias, Sala Baker, Steve Blalock, Joey Box, Ben Bray, Mark Chadwick, Ilram Choi, Zack Duhame, Pete Epstein, Jeremy Fitzgerald, Terry Jackson, Craig Jensen, Paul Lacovara, Rob Mars, Mike Massa, Heidi Moneymaker, Mike Mukatis, Courtney Munch, Kimberly Murphy, Chris Palermo, Jim Palmer, Eddie Perez, Dan Plum, Damion Poitier, Susan Purkhiser, Mike Schneider, Dennis Scott, Chris Torres, Webster Winnery, Jr., and Marcus Young.

The San Francisco Star Trek Convention

Creation Entertainment has been gone from San Francisco for a good number of years, but they promised to return in 2010. I was surprised that they managed to book the San Francisco icon, the Westin St. Francis Hotel. The Westin St. Francis in the old days would never have greeted Trekkies at the front door! As Creation’s Adam Malin commented, the down economy made it possible.

The convention boasted the appearances of William Shatner and Sir Patrick Stewart on Sunday. I was delighted that Saturday seemed to be Deep Space Nine day.

It took so long to register at Creation’s table that we found Armin Shimerman and Max Grodenchik already on stage. Someone asked just then if they were really friends. Armin replied, “Yes, we’re very good friends even though Max doesn’t think so.” Max just smiled.

Another fan asked Max how he got the girl (Leeta). He explained that Dr. Bashir is a good-looking guy, “and his female fans wanted him to be single. So they came to me,” he reported to a big laugh.

The question of make-up invariably came up, as it always does. I’m always surprised by the answers because Armin and Max are such great storytellers. “We started at 4am and were done by Wednesday afternoon,” said Armin as the crowd roared. Armin added, “My make-up took longer than Max’s, but my make-up looked better than Max’s.” They both agreed it took two hours to complete the make-up by the seventh year of the show. What’s it like wearing that head? “Like a head cold,” explained Armin. “You’re congested and you can’t hear, which is ironic. The make-up got to be oppressive by the ninth hour, and you wanted to rip it off. But, of course, you couldn’t.”

Max added to the debate. “There was a scar (on his face) from the day before, and they’d apply the glue directly into the scar. It hurt like hell.” Armin added, “We used to be 6’ tall leading men…”

One fan asked why Quark seemed to show a lot of emotion in the episode where Quark went back to the Ferengi home planet to stop Moogie from making a profit and destroying their reputation. Armin: “I was dealing with my own problems with my mother (at the time). They (the scenes) were much more emotional and heartfelt from the others.”

A small boy came up and explained that he really liked the Ferengi episodes. He added that he and his mother were going to the costume party at the convention dressed as Quark and Ishka, respectively. “No offense,” he said to Max. Max stuttered in reply, “But I’m the Grand Nagus!”

Favorite Rules of Acquisition:
Max: #48 – The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife.
Armin: #1 – Once you have their money, never give it back.

Casey Biggs ran on stage with a lot of enthusiasm. He opened by saying that he loves San Francisco, and he and his wife had the most wonderful dinner the night before. “My wife writes cookbooks, and I’m surprised I don’t look like John Schuck,” referring to the rather rotund actor who played a part-time Cardassian on Deep Space Nine.

Casey related how he got the part of Damar, the Cardassian lieutenant to Gul Dukat. The audition consisted entirely of five lines, “They’re enraged, Sir. Fire!” and producers were very impressed with how he said the lines, which Casey thought was very funny. “An extra could say these lines. I was trained at Julliard! But swallow your pride and go in and say the lines.” When he gets the part, “I think it’s a one-day gig. Three hours for make-up. One hour to take it off. Two pounds of rubber on my face.” The director whispered to him during Casey’s scenes, “They have big plans for this character.” As Casey related, “We were the Nazis of outer space. When I was looping my character – adding dialogue, I got a note that read, ‘We want you to sound more Cardassian.’ So I made it more militaristic. Marc Alaimo epitomized that to a T. He was scary.”

When it came time for Damar to die, Casey was delighted that it was in the last episode, and almost the last scene. Except that he read that Damar was to be killed by a ‘ND alien,” where ND meant ‘non-descript.’ “I told the director I wanted a John Woo death (i.e., guns blazing, blood flying, dying in a beautiful woman’s arms). And that’s what happened. Only I die in Andy Robinson’s arms.”

Vaughn Armstrong came out when Casey was finished and the two of them sang a couple of space ditties that Vaughn had composed. Vaughn has played 12 Star Trek characters. Or, as Casey explained, he’s spent more time in the make-up chair than anyone. On one episode, he spent six-and-a-half hours in the make-up chair only to be told they didn’t need him that day. He had to come back the next day and do it all over again, starting at 3:30am. They were done shooting in about 20 minutes.

Vaughn told us that the pay was very good at the time. And Star Trek just keeps on giving. “Every episode I’m in I get residuals. And every day one of them plays somewhere.”

Patrick Stewart came on stage, looking dapper as always. He told us that he had seen the new Star Trek movie and immediately called J.J. Abrams to tell him what a marvelous movie he had made. The night before, Patrick attended the performance of the San Francisco Symphony, led by Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas and featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Yo-Yo, apparently, was “devastated” that he couldn’t come to the convention on Sunday. “And I mean ‘devastated.’” MTT and Ma’s daughter, Emily, however, made it to the convention. Patrick told us that he will be performing with the San Francisco Symphony and Tilson Thomas in Chicago next month.

We haven’t seen Patrick much, as he’s been working for the last six years in the theatre. Although he really enjoyed his years on Star Trek, “the last six years have been the best and happiest (years) of my life.” He announced that his Hamlet will air on PBS in April. “It’s three hours long, so clear the evening. It’s terrific.” And his MacBeth, which promises to be truly a different take, will air on PBS in the fall. “It’s as exciting a production of Shakespeare as I have ever seen.”

In an answer to an aspiring actor, he answered, “First thing: expose yourself to as much Shakespeare as possible, and one is by reading. Don’t be afraid of it. Actors do not have a better friend than Shakespeare. Rent the DVDs. See it live whenever you can. Find a company and stick with it.”

Someone asked him about being knighted, and we heard: “It hasn’t happened yet.” He received a letter in the mail, which he finally opened when he got to his stack of mail. “Quite an emotional letter.” Then he had to pick a date this summer when he would be knighted. And he had to remain silent about that fact until it was announced just before New Year’s. “I’m looking forward to it immensely.”

Upon this declaration, William Shatner came on stage and knelt before the almost-Sir Patrick. He had to be helped up by Stewart, who proclaimed, “Arise, Sir!” Shatner said: “I was wondering if you’d put in a good word for me.” As it turns out, they’re both resident aliens in the U.S., since Patrick is from England and Bill is from Canada.

When Patrick had left the stage, Bill said to the audience, “I admire him so much. This incredible theatrical reputation. But then," he added with a smirk, "I’m Captain Kirk.”

Bill’s new interview show, Raw Nerve, has been received very well. He announced that he will have three shows on the air this year, as projects he’s produced (one is “Aftermath” on A&E) will be launched. “To hell with Shakespeare.”

He related that he has yet to see the new movie, but J.J. Abrams promised to give Bill, his family and friends a private screening of Star Trek on the Paramount lot very soon.

A fan asked Shatner about his death scene on Generations. He told us that, as he lay in the rubble, on one take his last words, ad-libbed, were, “bridge on the Captain…”

The room was packed for the two captains, and they seemed to get along famously, each of them quite secure in what are hallmark careers. It was a pleasure to see them.

J.J. Abrams Talks Briefly About Star Trek XII and Plans for Leonard Nimoy Return to Fringe

So we know Star Trek 2 is coming out in the summer of 2012, so that must mean it’s J.J. Abrams’ priority, right? Well, he’s got a lot going on, including the ongoing series Fringe, and starting up a new spy show Undercovers. He had a lot to discuss with the Television Critics Association with a group of reporters surrounding him, but even they wanted to know about Star Trek.

Q: On Fringe, where did the combination of outdated ‘60s technology and the future come from?

J J Abrams: Part of it is I feel deleted. I love that feeling of anachronistic technology. You know, the printing press at the office, I just love that stuff. Part of it is to go the opposite of hyper f***ing floating holographic technology and go back to insanely tangible steel pins, pulleys, strings. I just love that.

Q: Is that more or less expensive to create?

J J Abrams: It’s sort of a combo. It was well, you come upon something like oh my God, look at this thing. Other times we make it, which is crazy, but it’s always more interesting for me.

Q: Where will the second half of the season go? Will we see the “other” version of Walter?

J J Abrams: I will say that the story we had at the very beginning of the season is going to play out. There were some adjustments that we made along the way, some things came up earlier than we thought, but what I think is fun about where it’s going is on the one hand, there’s this inevitable thing that will happen but I think there’s going to be a huge surprise too at the end of the season so I’m really excited.

Q: When we first saw the other world, it was better, with the twin towers standing and Len Bias alive. Now is it a sh*thole and that’s why they want to come over?

J J Abrams: I think the fun of there is this sort of growing problem and that there is something brewing sort of between these two places, to me is just a fascinating kind of premise. It’s so big and the key is how you make it specific and how you make it personal. I think some of the stuff you’ll be getting to with all three of our characters, I’m really happy with where the story goes.

Q: Are there any more plans for Leonard Nimoy?

J J Abrams: I have tons of plans for him. Whether he’ll be part of them is another question but there are plans aplenty.

Q: I should say for William Bell.

J J Abrams: I would love him to return as a character and I think that there’s a chance that will occur.

Q: Are you satisfied with the ratio of standalone episodes to seasonal arc episodes on Fringe?

J J Abrams: I think it will be somewhat consistent with where it’s been but I always like a great standalone, but I’m also a sucker for that ongoing serialized story. So I’m sort of in a place where I would be thrilled with more serialized stuff but I also know that that’s a reasonably difficult way of doing television.

Q: Are the two universes on Fringe finally going to start to collide?

J J Abrams: There is some pretty cool stuff that’s going to happen, by the end of the second season. Then again, Jeff [Pinkner] and Joel [Wyman], who are really running the show, have threatened to kill me, if I reveal anything. I will say that the plot that they had, at the beginning of this season, that we all talked about with Akiva Goldsman as well, will be coming to a really cool conclusion. I’m very excited about it.

Q: Are you looking forward to doing more standalone spy stories in Undercovers?

J J Abrams: Yeah, this show does have ongoing stories as well but they’re much more personal based and character based, but I’m excited to do a show that has a more fun energy and a little more comedic than arcing dramatic.

Q: Obviously the marriage will be a continuing story, but nothing like Rimbaldi mythology from Alias?

J J Abrams: There won’t be any of that. I think that there will be some things that will give the story a sense of inevitability, and yet you’re right, it won’t be going into that place of crazy mythology heavy stuff.

Q: How did you decide to direct the pilot of Undercovers?

J J Abrams: I just enjoyed the idea of it. I enjoyed the script. Part of it was I enjoyed the parts that Josh wrote but I enjoyed the chemistry of these two people and it became clear as we were working on it that rather than be sitting on the set every day with someone else directing it being annoyed, I’d rather just take the burden on myself and try to annoy myself.

Q: Did NBC just go to you when they opened up the 10:00 slot?

J J Abrams: Well, we sold the show to NBC before all this went down so we’re suddenly surrounded by hours that need to be filled. So all I can tell you is if we don’t make it on the schedule now, we’ve totally screwed up. There were already some slots. Now there are five more slots available so I’m like oh my God, the pressure’s on even more now. It’s exciting. It’s also like oh God, I hope we don’t screw it up.

Q: How many projects are you working on now?

J J Abrams: Well, we’re working on the Star Trek thing. We have Mission Impossible we’re working with and then Lost, Fringe and Undercovers. There’s a bunch of stuff also floating around.

Q: Since they’ve announced a Star Trek release date what does that do for your schedule? Do you have a production start date?

J J Abrams: No, but I think if you work backwards, one could probably figure out generally where it would be. There’s no hard, fast date.

Q: Have Bob and Alex started typing yet?

J J Abrams: They have not yet started typing but discussions are being had, discussions about typing.

Q: How do you feel about the end of Lost?

J J Abrams: Bittersweet. Again, Damon and Carlton have been running that show so they’re the ones who are really I think going to be going through that phantom limb feeling of having worked on something for so long and all of a sudden it’s not there. I’m sure Damon and Carlton will both be insanely relieved because they’ve been working their asses off but I’m sure it’s also a little heartbreaking too.

Q: Are you satisfied with it?

J J Abrams: Oh my God, yes. This year’s going to be really cool.

Q: With Lost ending this season, will you be directing the last episode?

J J Abrams: No. Jack Bender has really been the guy on that show as the directing producer, so it would be wrong for me to come in and be like, “Oh, move over, I’m going to direct.”

Q: But, you did the first episode.
J J Abrams: I know, but it would somehow be spoiling all this amazing work that he’s done. The fact is that he’s been living in Hawaii with the cast, so he’s going to do the last episode.

Q: But, you will be directing on your new show?

J J Abrams: I’m doing the pilot of Undercovers, yeah.

Author Keith R.A. DeCandido on His Upcoming Star TreK Novels and Comics

Unreality SF posted a new interview with author Keith R.A. DeCandido, in which he talked about The Unhappy Ones, his novella in the Seven Deadly Sins anthology, and his Alien Spotlight comic Klingons: Four Thousand Throats. Here are few excerpts.

One tie-in line which has managed this task more than once is the Star Trek line, the home of Keith's next two releases after Heart of the Dragon. First is The Unhappy Ones, his novella in the anthology Seven Deadly Sins - in which each of the seven sins is represented by a Star Trek race - set for a March release. Keith's story covers wrath and features the Klingons.

"In the 23rd century, the workers in a mine engage in civil unrest after two murders," says Keith, giving us a short teaser for the story. "A QuchHa' (no forehead ridges) is murdered, but it's ruled an accident with little investigation; in retaliation, the HemQuch (with forehead ridges) who likely killed the QuchHa' is also murdered, but his killer is condemned to death. This leads to riots and violence beyond the capaibility of the mine supervisor and his security chief to handle, so the Klingon Defense Force sends in three QuchHa' captains to deal with it: Kor, Kang, and Koloth."

While the Klingon/wrath decision was already decided when Keith came on board, he was very eager to write this combination. "Marco Palmieri came to me and said, ‘How'd you like to write 23rd-century Klingons for a change?' I jumped at the chance, especially given what we learned in Affliction and Divergence on Enterprise about how the smooth-headed Klingons came about. Besides, I'll always jump at the chance to write Kor, Kang, and Koloth." Even if the chance to connect the Klingons another deadly sin had been presented to Keith, he probably wouldn't have done so. "You could probaby put Klingons together with pride, but of the seven possible sins, wrath really is the best fit," he contemplates. "You could also put the Nausicaans, Chalnoth, Tamarians, or even, if you wanted to get entertaining, the Vulcans (in the pre-Surak days) with wrath."

Also in March, his Star Trek: Alien Spotlight II comic Four Thousand Throats... will be re-released in an omnibus edition of the five part series of comics presenting the Star Trek races. Four Thousand Throats..., which recently was named Best Single Issue Star Trek comic of 2009 by, presents three different takes on the proverb the title is derived from told by a familiar charcter. "At three different points in his life, Kang tells a story, the ‘moral' of which is the proverb ‘four thousand throats may be cut in a single night by a running man'. The first is right after the Organians stop the war with the Federation in Errand of Mercy, the second is in the early 24th century, and the final story is told shortly before Blood Oath."

Telling three stories in a single issue comic sounds like a difficult task, but while Keith agrees with that, he also is very happy with the final product. "Oh, it was a challenge," he has acknowledges, "having to tell, in essence, three seven-page stories. I had to really boil each story down to its essence and not waste any time. I'm actually quite pleased with the results."

Writers talk Star Trek 2 villain and express interest in Indiana Jones

STAR TREK writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have given a few more clues about their ideas for the sequel.

They talk about the massive pressure to build on the success of the first film and reveal it will have a villain as its main focus.

In a Q&A session in Beverly Hills, the duo mention the classic adversary Khan, previously played by the late Ricardo Montalbán. The character first appeared in the 1967 TV episode Space Seed and returned in the 1982 movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

On the setting for the story, Orci explained: "We would never do a will be some time in the five-year mission. But that is a question. Should we pick them up immediately the next day or should it be later, we are still discussing that."

And Kurtzman says the villain will be hugely significant in the follow-up: "I think our idea on this is that the first of any series is about them coming together or the formation. I couldn't really tell you what Jeff Bridges was doing in Iron Man, but it doesn't matter at all because it is all about Iron Man becoming Iron Man.

"Whereas I think sequels are very much about the villain. Because while [in the first one] the villain serves to bring the crew together, the second one I think has to be a true challenging of what that family is about. That is why Wrath of Khan was so amazing. Khan tested each one of them and ultimately asked for the ultimately sacrifice, and that is why that movie held up so well."

Many fans have been speculating that Khan will be brought back while others want fresh challenges for the Enterprise crew that have not been seen before on the big or small screen.

Both writers say there is much more pressure to deliver this time round. Orci said: "Frankly I feel more pressure because we were so confident when we came up with the idea of how to bridge canon, and yet free ourselves from canon. Now we have no excuses for anything, now we are free. Now we don't have the benefit of low expectations."

As for dream projects, Kurtzman said: "I would like to take a run at Indiana Jones, but that is a pretty closed door, so not sure that is ever going to happen." Orci joked that they would like to remake Star Wars.

The duo were speaking after a screening of the film for the Writers' Guild of America (WGA), reports Trekmovie.

Star Trek is the first movie in the franchise to be nominated for a WGA award; it's one of five nominees in the adapted screenplay category. The awards are being presented on February 20 and you can find a full list of nominees at the WGA Awards website.

Captains of the Star Trek Enterprise Smackdown: Picard vs. Kirk

One of the highlights of this weekend's Star Trek Convention was the unusual appearances of both Sir Patrick Stewart (who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation) and William Shatner (who played Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek series), who took to the stage and played BFF's for their fans on Sunday, answering (and in some cases dodging) some of the nerdiest questions known to mankind. Highlights of this Q&A included Shatner threatening a 10 year-old child, and Stewart scolding a crowd member in the front row for eating potato chips too loudly.

The next part of this post has to be prefaced with an important caveat: according to sources very close to the Federation (the interstellar federal government system ... duh), no captains of the same fleet would ever, EVER, fight one another. In the world of Star Trek, according to sources, Captain Picard and Captain Kirk aren't competitors, and no such competition should be encouraged.

Joseph Schell
​That being said, seeing the two on stage together this weekend made the comparison almost impossible to ignore. It didn't help that Shatner kept asking Stewart to put a good word in for him with monarchy in the hopes of being knighted. So SF Weekly decided to conduct a poll of the people who one would assume might make the most informed decisions about all Star Trek-related matters -- trekkies who showed at the convention, of course -- and asked each of them three pressing questions. These are the final results.
Question #1: Who would make a better US president?

Captain Picard was the all-around winner here (Captain Kirk only got one of 20 votes, in fact). One fan said Captain Kirk would undoubtedly be impeached when he was caught sleeping with some employee, and another said Kirk would make a much better hot-headed senator.

Question #2: Who would win in a fight?

Captain Kirk won the votes here, even though some attributed their votes to Patrick Stewart's admission during the Q&A that he had stopped eating red meat. "Kirk is just a baddass," said one fan, explaining her vote.

Question #3: Who would be the better kisser?

This was definitely the wild card question of the three, but Captain Kirk won overall with 18 of the total votes. Captain Kirk, according to those who voted for him, had been around the block a bit and therefore knew what he was doing a bit more than Picard, who one fan said was "practically frigid." However, some fans agreed that Picard would be a more thoughtful kisser. One gave Picard a vote for best kisser based on his British accent. "Plus," added the fan, "I've never kissed a knight before."

'Star Trek 2' Will Focus on the Villain

With only a week to go before the Oscar nominations are announced, Star Trek seems less and less a candidate for one of the ten Best Picture slots. But there's still a good chance the film's script, by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, will be honored with a Best Adapted Screenplay nod. After all, the duo is nominated for a Writers Guild Award. But does it really matter what honors the first film receives? Aren't we all just looking forward to the future, interested about what the sequel will be like?

Yes, this is why we're ignoring the majority of what Orci and Kurtzman had to say at a WGA nominees screening of Star Trek last week in order to focus on what little tidbits of info they spilled about Star Trek 2 (or whatever it will be called). They don't seem to really know what the sequel will entail yet, so there wasn't much to divulge. Orci admitted they're still discussing whether or not the film should pick up directly after the first film or take place much later, for instance.

One thing that's for certain, however, is that it won't be a remake of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Yet it will be similar to that much revered installment in that it will be concentrated on its villain. Check out the exact quote after the jump.

"I think sequels are very much about the villain," Kurtzman told their fellow screenwriters. "Because while [in the first one] the villain serves to bring the crew together, the second one I think has to be a true challenging of what that family is about. That is why Wrath of Khan was so amazing. Khan tested each one of them and ultimately asked for the ultimately sacrifice, and that is why that movie held up so well."

Kurtzman brought up Jeff Bridges' villain from the first Iron Man, recognizing that he wasn't of much significance because the movie was all about the superhero's origin. Of course, he could have said the same thing about Eric Bana's character in Star Trek given that viewers' biggest criticism with that film seemed to be its lack of a strong villain. Also, we have yet to see if Iron Man 2 will be more about Mickey Rourke's character than Tony Stark.

In any event, this theory on the writing of bad guys in franchises is interesting and promising for Star Trek 2. In addition to Wrath of Khan, I'm reminded of both The Dark Knight and Superman II in terms of sequels that are very much about their villains. But how many other sequels can you think of that went in this direction? I want to say the TV show Lost (which was created by Star Trek director J.J. Abrams) is almost relevant in the way it introduces the series' main villain in the second season, but that's a bit of a reach.

Star Trek 2 is already set to be released June 29, 2012.

Star Trek Writers Talk Sequel

With the release date set for June 29, 2012, Star Trek 2 is already underway. Writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are hard at work developing the concept and direction for the sequel to J.J. Abrams' reboot.

In an interview with The Geek Files, Kurtzman said:

"Whereas I think sequels are very much about the villain. Because while [in the first one] the villain serves to bring the crew together, the second one I think has to be a true challenging of what that family is about. That is why Wrath of Khan was so amazing. Khan tested each one of them and ultimately asked for the ultimately sacrifice, and that is why that movie held up so well."

But that doesn't mean that the pair is going for a remake. Orci even stated:

"We would never do a will be some time in the five-year mission. But that is a question. Should we pick them up immediately the next day or should it be later, we are still discussing that."

Meanwhile, in an additional interview with (you can check out the video there), Orci said that they "[s]till consider themselves in 'the early stages of story development' but feel the film can go into pre-production in 2010."

Star Trek XI Awards: One Win And One Loss

Last night, the Producers Guild Awards (PGA) were announced, and Star Trek XI, up for the Best Produced Motion Picture, lost to The Hurt Locker.

The loss may be a sign that the Oscar race might be a bit closer than expected and that Star Trek XI might have had a role in Avatar’s PGA loss last night.

121109STXThe Hurt Locker beat out Star Trek XI, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Invictus, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, Up and Up In The Air for the top honor.

Sasha Stone of Awards Daily thinks that District 9 and Star Trek XI, two other sci-fi movies, might have hurt Avatar’s chances. “Avatar’s votes could very well have been stolen by District 9 or Star Trek fans,” she said. “If you go by the producers, you have J.J. Abrams, who is successful enough to be a threat. And then there is Up in the Air’s Ivan Reitman. There will be others who vote for the Pixar movie. With ten movies, the vote is potentially split up all over the place. Somehow, The Hurt Locker prevailed.”

Next Tuesday, The Academy Award nominations will be announced.

When it came to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, Star Trek XI fared better, although it was not in contention for the biggest award. Star Trek XI received the Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture Award, beating out Public Enemies and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.