Star Trek D-A-C: Paramount Interview
We chat to Paramount Digital Entertainment producer, Ben Hoyt, about the new Live Arcade game based on the blockbuster movie.
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Tomorrow, May 8, is a key date in the mind of Star Trek fans everywhere; it represents a rebirth of the franchise and new vision of Gene Roddenberry's iconic series. With the entire cast of the new movie and director JJ Abrams being flown over to the London premiere recently, it was clear just how important Paramount view this new iteration of the Star Trek universe and its determination to expand its appeal way beyond the classic or commonly expected fan-base.
I have to admit to some personal excitement at seeing the cast in the flesh but unfortunately pictures and personal cast interviews weren't allowed. However, with any major new franchise comes a new video game, and Star Trek is certainly not a spring chicken when it comes to the gaming genre. The new title has been kept under wraps for some time, and this appears mainly due to spoilers within the game that reveal key aspects of the movie.
This gave Kikizo the opportunity for a first hands-on and interview with the Senior Producer for Paramount Digital Entertainment Ben Hoyt on this new studio, development of the title and their impressions of the new Star trek universe.
Kikizo: So you work within Paramount as a relatively new developer, tell us a little bit about your background?
Ben: The game is published by Paramount Digital Entertainment and it's a relatively new department within Paramount that's doing publishing of games directly, as opposed to licensing games which is something Paramount has been doing for a long time. The game was developed by a small independent developer in Los Angeles called Naked Sky Entertainment. Their previous work they would be best known for is Robo Blitz which was an early title for the Xbox 360 online arcade and was the first 3D title on Xbox Live Arcade.
Kikizo: Are you a big Star Trek fan yourself, or new to the genre?
Ben: Oh I'm fefinitely a fan of Star Trek, going back to say The Next Generation which I watched with my dad quite a bit when I was a kid.
Kikizo: Now a lot of this new movie harks back to the 1960's series, did you watch that as well?
Ben: Well... some, but like I say that was before my time. But you know, the focus of the game was about trying to create something that was about the new film, and that took the filmmakers' vision for Star Trek in the film and extended that experience for an audience that maybe is or isn't a Star Trek fan. Just like an audience that maybe is or isn't a fan of Star Trek games. We worked closely with the film makers to make sure that this happened, and there was a lot of sharing of assets whether that was sound effects or art assets or music. Those are all things you'll find in the game, trying to capture the look, feel and sense of excitement in the film.
Kikizo: So the fact the you're actually within Paramount rather than an an external third party developer makes life easier to get access to assets?
Ben: Absolutely! I can't make any broad generalisations about other film makers or anything but I can say that there was a tremendous amount of involvement from the filmmakers in this game, and from choosing the high level direction to reviewing regularly the progress of the game and giving feedback on what they thought was working and what they thought wasn't working, that sort of thing. Not to mention any other direction allowing the development team and key creative people from the developer to gain early access to the script and to screenings and to reference materials, that sort of thing, in order to try and make sure the two fit together as nicely as possible.
Kikizo: Star Trek games have traditionally leaned towards the strategy or role playing style, and now it's more of an action experience - what encouraged this arcade action route?
Ben: Well just like this film is one that is a very broadly accessible, action-packed and exciting film, we wanted to make a broadly accessible and action-packed type of game, something people can pick and play and not have to be a hardcore gamer to be able to enjoy it.