Friday, November 5, 2010

Star Trek Online : A Free-to-play future?

In an interview with Eurogamer yesterday, Cyrptic's Jack Emmert indicated that the decision to make Star Trek Online a free-to-play game is dependent, at least in part, on the success of one of its other franchises under a free to play model, that being Champions.

"If we did Turbine's level of success, that would certainly merit the discussion!" (Turbine re-launched Dungeons and Dragons online as a free-to-play, as well as another title of theirs which went free-to-play in Europe, Lord of the Rings Online. D&D Online has made big money for Turbine, and Cryptic will obviously be hoping that the free-to-play model, which it seems is being adapt by new gaming companies on a regular basis, will be successful for them as well.

As far as Star Trek is concerned, Mr. Emmert had this to say: "Im sure people are wondering whether we'll do it with Star Trek and the question is really how well it does for Champions." Jack offers some advice to his Star Trek fans to perhaps help guarantee a free-to-play model, or at least that will help steer their starships in that general direction: "We're not sold one way or the other with Star Trek yet. If people want Star Trek to go free-to-play then get in and play Champions and help make it a great success, because that would send a strong message."

Even so, he gave no guarantee that a success with Champions would seal the deal on a free-to-play model for Star Trek. He continued by noting "There are more people than just I on that decision and I can't begin to say it would be and automatic 'Yes, we'd do it," (if Champions is a big success.)

Champions Online's subscription structure will look like this. There will be two member tiers for play - the Silver (or free-to-play) tier and a Gold tier for paying (at $14.99/mo) tier. Silver members have limitations on classes, costumes and character slots, but the 'meat and potatoes' of the game - leveling from start to superhero status - could still be achieved without spending any money. And as with the free-to-play model, players can purchase content, items and buffs on a piece-meal basis - the "microtransaction" concept. I'd imagine that that this will be the model pursued for Star Trek...and they wouldn't be alone, a recent prime example being Everquest 2 and SOE's Everquest 2 "Extended" free to play service.

So the bottom line is this...if you are really looking to not pay for Star Trek Online in the future - then you had better pony-up and start (or keep) playing Champions Online, buy some stuff, and keep your fingers crossed.

Will Ferrell Sings Star Trek

Video: Shatner ‘Sings’ Cee Lo Green’s ‘Fuck You’

Star Trek legend and Sh*t My Dad Says star William Shatner sing-talks his way through Cee Lo Green’s obscenity-riddled hit “Fuck You” in this clip from Lopez Tonight. With the lyrics bleeped and/or altered in all the right places, you can watch this distinctly Shatner performance at work.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Holograms are becoming tangible

Holograms, staple of Star Trek, Star Wars and innumerable other science fiction universes, are creeping closer to reality.

Holographic image of an F-4 Phantom fighter. Credit: University of Arizona

The National Science Foundation announced Wednesday researchers at the University of Arizona have produced holographic video images able to be refreshed every two seconds. That still seems crude and primitive (think Captain Pike in his silly prop hospital chair in the original Star Trek series), but it remains the tantalizing stuff of make-believe to Earth-based mortals.

“This advance brings us a step closer to the ultimate goal of realistic holographic telepresence with high-resolution, full-color, human-size, 3D images that can be sent at video refresh rates from one part of the world to the other,” said project lead Nasser Peyghambarian in the foundation announcement.

Some applications of holograms being talked about are disappointingly mundane, if that’s even possible when we’re envisioning actual holograms. You have, for example, meeting attendees from other cities “beaming in” to a central conference room. Also: Draftsmen and engineers designing things with holo-helpers. Hokey examples include Japanese researchers playing with a holographic ball, and CNN’s faux holograms on the set of the 2008 presidential election night coverage.

If hologram technology ever reaches practical feasibility, the possibilities are unlimited. The boss could pop in at your workstation to check on a project or chew you out. Mom might zap into the back yard to call the kids in for dinner. NFL referees could review disputed plays without wasting all that time in those ridiculous hooded replay booths. Video-game opponents could spring to life in your game room, necessitating a quick melee response if you want to survive. Military planners doubtless would be in ecstasy.

I always thought the Star Trek Next Generation holodeck was beyond cool. Obi-Wan Kinobi’s hologram shimmering out of R2-D2 enraptured Star Wars fans. Now we can dare to imagine the prospect of the science fiction come to life.

Star Trek's Mr. Sulu latest voice for 'It Gets Better'

Ever since the suicide of Indiana teenager Billy Lucas, nationally known gay activist and Seattle icon Dan Savage has been rounding up celebrities for his "It Gets Better" campaign.

The latest to weigh in is Star Trek's Mr. Sulu. Actor George Takei, who came out himself several years ago, lent his distinctive voice to support bullied gay teens.

In a video posted on YouTube, Takei took aim at Clint McCanse, a school board member in Arkansas, who said he wished more gay teens would commit suicide.

"No person, let alone an elected school official, whatever their personal or religious beliefs, should ever wish death upon another human being," said Takei.

And never one to back down, Takei made it personal.

"I can only suspect that you have some, shall I say issues, to work out."

At the end of his personal message to McCanse, Takei said, "I sincerely hope you don't kill yourself Mr. McCanse, because no one should wish that upon someone else."

Simon Pegg: Star Trek 2 is written

Simon Pegg has revealed the plot of Star Trek 2 has been written, but he is still waiting to find out what it is.

The Burke And Hare star, who played Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott in JJ Abrams big screen version of the hit sci fi series, revealed the rivalry between Captain James T. Kirk and Spock was set to continue in the sequel, but that they could be united by a common adversary.

Simon said: "It's been written now, I don't know what the story is, it's not 'til next year."

He went on: "They are busy hashing out the story and they're excited about it. Damian Lindeloff had to finish Lost, and now they're at it. He has said that they're hoping to carry on the relationship between the crew and if they have the adversary."

The British actor, who is currently filming Mission Impossible IV also let slip he has a role in an upcoming secret project, but refused to give anything away.

Simon said: "Because it's not in place or definite yet, I can't say too much about it otherwise it'll be one of those parts that nearly happened.

"Too much is said too early these days. There's too much information being disseminated and there's no mystery any more."

Star Trek's USS Enterprise: owners’ workshop manual from Haynes

The 160-page guide delves into the technical specification of the world’s most famous fictional spaceship, containing in-depth drawings and a step-by-step approach to stripping the ship down to its essentials and reassembling it.

An invaluable tool to any aspiring Scotty, the book was written by Ben Robinson and Marcus Riley with the help of former NASA designer Michael Okuda, who worked on the Sci-Fi series for more than 20 years.

Co-author Robinson said: “It's something I think people have wanted for a long time, a proper history that puts the Enterprises into context with one another and gives you the story of how they evolved, with each ship building on the last.”

This something of a departure for Haynes, who started publishing car manuals in 1965, although they have diversified somewhat in recent years, producing books on classic military aircraft, Wallace and Gromit contraptions and a manual on teenagers.

Writer Damon Lindelof says that STAR TREK 2 will be “awesome”

Since the announcement of a sequel to last summer’s frankly smashing blockbuster STAR TREK, the internet has been literally alive with speculation, debate and discussion.

star trek 03 1024 300x225 Writer Damon Lindelof says that STAR TREK 2 will be awesome

There was originally talk that 2 would see the return of Kahn to the TREK franchise however this has recently (and officially) been ruled out. From my very comfy swivelling armchair in leafy England I can feel the collective sigh of discontent as it rolls out speedily across the bandwidths of the world. I must also confess that before STAR TREK (2009) I wasn’t really a fan but that I am a new convert. *runs and hides from the die hards*.

Anyway, STAR TREK had the unique quality that it successfully did what so many reboots have tried and failed to do in cinema history; it pleased almost everybody. It was funny, it was sensitive and most importantly it respected that which had gone before.

A movie for the fans by the fans…


So moving swiftly back to the now, STAR TREK 2 writer Damon Lindelof confesses that the STAR TREK universe is not about villains. The second movie, he says, will tell the story of the crew of the USS Enterprise. “We’re obviously aware of what people are saying on the web and we’re interested in it but at the same time TREK is not about villains, it’s about the crew and their relationship with eachother; that family”. I

Discussing the progress of the script, Lindelof was quoted as saying that it will be “awesome”. Encouraging words there Damon and thank you again for those pearls of intergalactic wisdom, I’m sure the DVD commentary will be both inspiring and degrading for you in equal measure. I truly can’t wait.

Returning to the possibility of villains, Bad Ass Digest (not a euphamism) reports that the villain is definitely one of the following. Harry Mudd, Trelance, Gary Mitchell, The Talosians or the Horta. So, if we’re totally honest, they probably have no idea either… I’m guessing that it will probably be a little out of left field and they’ll tackle the audience head on with a villain that works both psycologically and cinematically. Your guess is as good as mine on who, or what, that ends up being.

Please though make sure JJ Abrams is sitting in the Director’s chair because between this and SUPER 8, I may just let out a little bit of wee.

Asian Actress For Star Trek’s New Vulcan

The internet was all of a flutter yesterday as a tiny piece about the use of iPads in Hollywood mentioned a meeting which took place with writers and producers of the second Star Trek movie in its newest incarnation. Here is the quotation, lifted from the New York Times.

“[Robert] Orci, meeting with the producers JJ Abrama, Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk, and his fellow writer Alex Kurtzman, jump-started the discussion with an iPad slide show, showing stills from the first film, snapshots of potential locations and a photo of a suggested actress for one of the roles. On the woman’s photo, he had used his iPad to paint on a Vulcan ear.”

Some additional information which has been doing the rounds of agents’ offices and casting chatter for a good few weeks is the search for an actress of Asian origin to play the new Vulcan. As there isn’t exactly a glut of working Asian actresses in Hollywood with the required looks, age and height (the character has been noted as being “5ft 6 plus”) the field is a narrow one. What we do know is that the actress whose photo was used by Bob Orci is not under consideration, (she’s thought to be too much of a name) but was a suggestion of type. That actress was definitely of Asian extraction.

At the San Diego Asian Film Festival last weekend a panel of familiar East Asian faces including Lost‘s Daniel Dae Kim and Glee‘s Harry Sum Jr. discussed the recent headway made for Asian actors on network television but still bemoaned the limited opportunities in Hollywood features for Asian leads. (Althought not present, actress and writer Maurissa Tancharoen’s song “Nobody’s Asian in the Movies” could have been a nice soundtrack to the panel.)

Star Trek is one of the few sci-fi hits of recent times to have a prominent Asian character. Gene Roddenberry wanted Hikaru Sulu to represent all of Asia (a fact that wasn’t lost on Korean American John Cho when he took over the role from Japanese American George Takei) and imply that a peaceful future awaited the East of the continent which had seen a great deal of conflict when Trek began in 1966. The show became known for its willingness to push buttons, especially when it came to reaching out to other races and acknowledging cultural sensitivity (Spock was the first lead character on US television to be in an arranged marriage. though it didn’t exactly end well).

What hasn’t been established is which actress will follow in the footsteps of Linda Park (Hoshi Sato) and Jacqueline Kim (Demora Sulu). With Star Trek not filming until July next year, who’s up for a little speculation?

T’Pring, Spock’s Vulcan bride played by Arlene Martel; Dichen Lachman; Maggie Q

‘Star Trek 2′ Will Not Feature Khan, But Will Focus on a ‘Classic Character’

We’ve been looking forward to hearing story details for , which JJ Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci have been drafting over the past few months. Rumors have persisted that Khan, the villain from the second film in the original Star Trek movie franchise, would make a spectacularly unimaginative return. But that’s not the case says a new report, which also emphasizes previous claims from the Abrams camp that we might not see a traditional ‘big bad’ villain in this movie at all.

So what will we see? Very likely the return of a character from the original Star Trek television series.

Devin Faraci’s new venture, the Alamo Drafthouse-affiliated Badass Digest, is the source of this info. Actually, a tipster is Devin’s source, and had this to say about the original series character that will be key to the new film:

It’s definitely a character that will make fans of TOS excited. Think along the lines of Harry Mudd or Trelane or Gary Mitchell or the Talosians or the Horta. Actually it’s one of those that I named.

So who is it? I’m totally in the dark when it comes to Star Trek characters, especially in the original series, but thankfully Devin is a serious Trek nerd. He runs down those possibilities and narrows it down to two that seem most likely: Gary Mitchell and Trelane. Who the hell are they?

Devin describes Trelane as “a godlike creature who ensnares the Enterprise and toys with the crew,” and notes that he was revealed to be part of the Q Continuum, the race of beings introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

But he puts better odds on the appearance of Gary Mitchell, Kirk’s best friend as revealed in the second pilot for the original series. An energy field gives him “godlike abilities,” but he kinda breaks under the strain and ends up battling his best friend. There’s great material there for a Trek sequel, especially one that wants to stay character-based. I hope this info is on the money.

Possible huge Star Trek casting news!

Star Trek:

Did a New York Times article just give away a massive character spoiler for the Star Trek sequel? Judge for yourself. The article talks about how Roberto Orci brought his iPad to a meeting where the creators were planning the next film:

Mr. Orci, meeting with the producers J. J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk, and his fellow writer Alex Kurtzman, jump-started the discussion with an iPad slide show, showing stills from the first film, snapshots of potential locations and a photo of a suggested actress for one of the roles. On the woman's photo, he had used his iPad to paint on a Vulcan ear.

So what actress do you think they're talking about? And is it true that they're looking to cast a female Vulcan? If so, who would it be? (Saavik, presumably, is too young, but there's always T'Pring. Or, just as likely, a new Vulcan character.) What do you think? [New York Times]

'Star Trek' Sequel Will Focus On Family

Ever since the May 2009 release of J.J. Abrams’ blockbuster “Star Trek” reboot, fans have been trying to guess what villain they can expect in the sequel.

But frequent Abrams collaborator and “Lost” executive producer Damon Lindelof said that the bad guy really isn’t the point of the film. When it comes to Star Trek, it's always much, much more than who wears the Khan pecs.

“Trek is not about villains," Lindelof said at Saturday's Scream awards. "It is about the crew and their relationship with each other, that family. If the villain helps sort of flesh that out and bring that to life, then we have hit a home run."

In fact, if there's another thing Star Trek movies definitely are not, it's comic book films.

"It’s not like the Batman movies where you are like, ‘OK, they have done The Joker. How do you one-up The Joker?’” Lindelof said.

Scripting for the next movie is already under way with Lindelof and the writing duo from the first movie, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Now that he doesn't have to worry about crafting together a crazy island story on the former ABC series "Lost," Lindelof seems to have some more time on his hands in working on the next script involving the USS Enterprise.

“It is progressing,” he said. “We are putting a lot of pressure on ourselves for it to be awesome.”

Following its release in summer 2009, Abrams’ “Star Trek” became the all-time highest-grossing film in the franchise, even when adjusted for inflation. Starring Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock, the film earned more than $257 million at the box office.

The as-yet-untitled sequel is expected to hit theaters on June 29, 2012. Abrams is believed to be returning to the director's chair for that movie, although it hasn't been confirmed just yet.

Nichelle Nichols Addresses Her Opinion on J.J. Abrams Star Trek Movie and the Spock / Uhura Romance

Nichelle Nichols is, as always, lovely and chatty and full of positive energy. And, given the opportunity to answer questions from you, the readers of, Nichols turns on the charm and answers questions in great, entertaining detail, often venturing into side conversations that are even more entertaining and detailed. She talked about the new film, discussed passing the Uhura baton to Zoe Saldana and recounted the story of how Martin Luther King convinced her to stay on TOS. Here then, is part one of our two-part interview with Nichols. Look for the second half tomorrow.

What did you think of the new film and the recasting of Uhura? And did you ever think, “My Uhura wouldn’t do that?”

Nichols: First, I loved the film. I loved the fact that J.J. made great use out of the technology we didn’t have, that everybody thought we had. As a film, I loved it because I’m actually just crazy about J.J. and about Zoe. “Uhura wouldn’t do that…” You have to understand and allow for the fact that this is a prequel. Let me tell you a story and I’ll try to keep it short. J.J. invited me to lunch. We had a wonderful time. It was after the usual lunch time, so we had the commissary to ourselves and could have a glass of wine and lean back and talk – without everybody looking and wondering, “What are they saying?” We talked about the character and the recasting and the movie, and I thought it was so wonderful of him to take the time to talk to several of the (TOS) actors before he went forward. He didn’t have to do that.

He picked my brain here and there, and we talked about he would have loved for me to be in the film and what would have taken place. I said “I’d love to play her mother or her grandmother.” And he said, “You look too young to even play her mother, much less her grandmother.” I said that’s what women will look like 300 years from today, and they’ll probably live to be 150 and maybe more. He looked at me and said, “Well… Hmm.” I said, “Good health and longevity will be simple.” We finished lunch and it was around the time of the writers’ strike and around that one was coming the actors’ strike. So there was a concern there and he had to get finished. Everything that was already written could be done. They couldn’t stop that. But they could stop anything new.

Ultimately, the strike threat prevented even the possibility of you being in the film. But that story about your lunch with Abrams has more to it. Please continue…

Nichols: J.J. and his right-hand man, who was with us, were walking me to my car. Actually, they were driving me to my car. It started to rain and he said, “Hey, Nichelle, have you got time? Why don’t you come on the set?” He said that Zoe wasn’t on set, unfortunately, but that just about everyone else was, and he wanted me to see the set. I said, “Oh, I’d love to,” and we went across the lot to the set. I walked in and there was the command level set and my heart stopped. As I was coming in someone said, “Be careful, ma’am, there are cords and things down here.” I said, “Well, I’m used to them.” He looked up at me and said, “Oh my God, that voice. Of course you know. Hello, Ms. Nichols. How are you?” And he shook my hand and said, “How good to see you.” We went on deeper to the sets and I met a few of the actors, and then J.J., who’d disappeared for a few minutes, came back around.

Everything calmed down and the next thing you know they were bringing out J.J.’s director’s chairs. They brought out three, one for him, one for his assistant and one for the script gal. They seated me in the one that said J.J. Abrams and he said, “I’ll be right back. Take care of Nichelle.” I’m sitting there and they’re rearranging and getting the cameras up because he wants this shot right. I’m making small talk with the people there and I look up and, from about 10 feet away, in walks this beautiful young woman with a ponytail and pulling up the zipper on the back of her uniform. And she said, “Are we shooting now? They just called me in…” She’s looking around, looking to see what the setup is.

Well, it’s Zoe, who wasn’t supposed to be working that day. J.J. had her called in, supposedly for some scenes he didn’t get, that he wanted to do. She didn’t get an answer from the assistant and she looks in my direction and says, “Well, how soon does he… AAAAHHHH!” When she saw me nothing else came out of her mouth except “AAAAHHHH! and “No way!” Now she knew that she was brought in to meet me. And he’d set me up, too, to meet her. Isn’t that cool? And there’s a great photo of us on the set. Then they brought out her director’s chair and put it next to me, and for the next two hours we had the greatest time, the greatest conversation, and I just fell in love with her. She’s so gorgeous and so good and so funny, and you would have thought we knew each other all our lives, or at least all her life.

What did you make of the Uhura-Spock relationship in the movie?

Nichols: The only way I could explain it was that she was a recruit and this was her first trip out. It was the five-mission where no man or woman had gone before. So J.J. had the right, as the director of the prequel, to show the characters as young people. NASA recruits train for a year, sometimes two, before they go out on their first mission. As young people, they’re excited and they’re new and they’re going to go on this mission, and there’s romance and so forth that’s going to go on. Kirk was hitting on her a couple of times and he was hitting on everybody else because he was cute – and knew it. She shined him off, but Spock fascinated her, her serious side. Now, this is me making my story on what happened, but he saw in her his human side and she touched a side of him that they were supposedly discreet about.

Now, go back to my participation in Star Trek as Uhura and Leonard (Nimoy) as Spock. There was always a connection between Uhura and Spock. It was the early 60’s, so you couldn’t do what you can do now, but if you will remember, Uhura related to Spock. When she saw the captain lost in space out there in her mirror, it was Spock who consoled her when she went screaming out of her room. When Spock needed an expert to help save the ship, you remember that Uhura put something together and related back to him the famous words, “I don’t know if I can do this. I’m afraid.” And Uhura was the only one who could do a spoof on Spock. Remember the song (in “Charlie X”)? Those were the hints, as far as I’m concerned.

Saldana is playing Uhura now and into the future. Do you see her building to your interpretation?

Nichols: OK, let me tell you another little story about Zoe and her approach to it. Zoe played it just like I was saying, a young recruit. They’re having fun. It’s exciting. They’re serious about their training, but when they’re off duty they’re like young people (typically are). I didn’t meet Zoe until halfway through her filming. As we sat there for two hours, she picked my brain. She said, “How did you approach Uhura? I’m so excited to meet you, and tell me about it.” So I told her. I said, “I created her as a serious person, but not that serious.” I told her that Uhura was as serious as cancer when we were on duty, but that when we were off duty she could be in the rec room singing, and teasing Spock with that song about him.

So I’m going on, talking, talking, talking, not knowing what Zoe has shot yet, not knowing how she has approached the character. She asked me about my background, my parents, and I told her about that. I told her I created Uhura’s parents and that they were rather like my parents, that they would have expected the highest from me. Blah, blah, blah. Blah, blah, blah. And Zoe got very serious. She said, “Oh, my God, I wish I’d met you, talked to you before I started shooting.’ I said, “I’m sure that you’re bringing something fresh and beautiful.” She just looked at me and said, “Yeah, but I see Uhura in a whole new light.”

All right, that part of the story ends. I kept a good relationship with J.J. and everyone. I go to a premiere in Catalina Island, which was shortly after the premiere here in L.A. I couldn’t go to the L.A. premiere because I was at a big, big, big convention in Germany. When it was over I understood what the young lady was talking about when she said, “I wish I had spoken to you before I started,” because she was playing it light and flirty at the beginning. The time I spoke to her was the time they were then going on the ship. Do you remember the scene where she says, “No, I’m going! I was promised this, and I’m going,” and they had to take her on? She was destined to go on. She kissed Spock in a different way and said, “I’ll see you on board.” When she walked on board she was a full-blown Uhura in every manner and way that I had created the character.

Star Trek XII Script In Progress

According to, work has begun on writing the script for Star Trek XII.

Last week, Roberto Orci tweeted about beginning work on the script. “To do list: get groceries, do laundry, start writing Star Trek, walk dogs, get new book to read, vote…”

Orci confirmed with TrekMovie that he has begun work on that script along with Alex Kurtzman. “Fingers have been put to keyboard,” he said.

Star Trek XII will release on June 29, 2012.