Star Trek: Resurgence is finally out! A Brand new narrative focused Star Trek game where we as the player get to make the big decisions, and deal with their consequences. We got the great opportunity to sit down with the writers of this great new game, Dan Martin & Andrew Grant!
We got to ask some very interesting questions; why the game was set when it was? what it was like bringing in legacy characters? and much more!
Beware, this interview will contain spoilers for Star Trek: Resurgence.
The game not only follows a commander but a petty officer on the lower decks of the resolute? Was it always the plan to have this fairly unique split perspective of the game?
Dan Martin: Yes it was early on that we knew we wanted to have multiple points of view, because it just gives a richer gameplay experience. We also, were looking at what are the different ways that you can interact on a starship. The sort of assumed thing that you will do in Star Trek game is play as the captain. Obviously, we didn’t even go with the Captain, it’s a commander, First Officer coming in, who has to play up and down the chain of command.
Then even before the the TV show Star Trek: Lower Decks, there was the episode “Lower Decks” in The Next Generation. It followed a bunch of ensigns, so they’re not even enlisted, they are academy graduates. It was really interesting to see what it’s like when the decisions coming from the bridge affect you in ways that you don’t even fully understand.
On top of all that Miles O’Brien was always one of my favorite characters. He’s just a Blue-Collar Union Man. Obviously he got a whole lot more depth in Deep Space Nine, but even on The Next Generation you just see him as the guy that works the transporter, and he’s got this whole other life that you generally don’t see on the bridge. We wanted to give players a new experience to roleplay in the Star Trek universe.
Andrew Grant: The only thing I’ll add to that is that from the very beginning, before we even knew that Jara and Carter would be our two playable characters, our first goal was “how can we capture the most immersive Star Trek experience possible”, so just having one POV felt limiting. As Dan said, we get really excited about the possibility of making difficult choices as one POV character and then seeing that ripple through and affecting your other POV characters, so you really feel and live with the weight of your choices.
Difference in Comic and Interactive Medium
You also wrote the prequel tie-in comic to Resurgence, Star Trek: Resurgence. Did the process of writing this backstory for the resolute differ much from making the story for the game?
Dan Martin: Definitely, the process is that it’s all writing, but writing something for interactive, it’s just a whole different set of creative muscles that you have to use to make something where the player can inject their own point of view and to give them that space to make decisions that they’re not they’re not sure which way they want to go. In the comic we wanted to present those types of moments as well.
Obviously, the player doesn’t get to make that decision there. So we give you one version of it, but in the game you get to replay it, you get to try out multiple versions. It’s interesting to see people play and say “Oh, this is this is my version, this first version, and then I’m gonna go and I’m gonna play another version that somehow is not my version” Because when you first come across one of those decision points in the heat of the moment that’s when you figure out what you think and what you believe.
Andrew Grant: That actually been really exciting watching people playing through the game. They purposely enter into every decision like; “I’m going to be true to myself and true to the Starfleet ethos in this play-through”. Then they’re also saying; “In the future, I’m going to come back and and try something different and just see how that plays out”.
But to answer your question in terms of the different formats of writing the prequel comic versus the game, what’s interesting is that in the game, one of the challenges and limitations is that you’re always with your POV character, never cutting away to the villains point of view. So in the comic, we have the luxury of going wherever we want narratively, and it felt like a good way to set up the ship and the dynamics aboard the ship before the game.
Talking about the ship. There are many different ship classes in Star Trek, and you chose a Centaur class as the hero ship of the game. Why did you choose the Centaur class? And why name it the USS Resolute?
Dan Martin: Well, it’s a beautiful ship, I think that is part of it. We did make some changes to it. We looked at a lot of different ships of different scales. We knew we wanted it to be a little bit of an underdog. So we weren’t going to go with a sovereign class, or a refit Galaxy class Dreadnought. We wanted something that felt like it was going to be on its heels a little bit, if things went sideways. So that was our first guiding principle for it.
And there are a lot of interesting classes, there’s the Cheyenne class that looks great. The Nova class is really small, and would really be in trouble in this story. The nice thing about the Centaur class is it has this position where it straddles the design of the original series movies, being kit-bashed from Miranda class and the Excelsior class. I think there’s some discussion about when it was actually built. Our version of it is that it first starts appearing in Deep Space Nine, and it was built for the Dominion War. But maybe there was a version built before that. But this round of Centaurs were built as quick destroyers for the Dominion War. After the war is over they’re re-christened with new missions, and maybe refit after the war.
It let us bring some of the TNG, Voyager and Deep Space Nine aesthetics to it, and having your foot in both of those aesthetic camps of the original series movies and The Next Generation era. It lets people inhabit a bunch of different parts of the franchise that they always wanted to go into, you watch a show and you say “what would I do if I was Captain Kirk and bones and Spock and were put in different situations”. This game lets you do that. We wanted to put you in a place where you feel like you’re at home making those decisions.
Andrew Grant: And we spent so much time discussing, debating and really given a lot of careful thought to each design element. So now flashing forward, so much further beyond, when we were having those original conversations, to see that some of those design choices are resonating with the audience is just so gratifying.
Talking about the design elements, in one interview, the development team talked about how they modeled the alien species to make them look alien but still fit that trek aesthetic of “human-with-prosthetics-on-their-forehead”. Did that influence at all how you wrote these new alien species of the Hotari and Alydians?
Dan Martin: Yeah, well if you go back to the Horta in The Original Series, it is a very non-humanoid type of creature but it’s ultimately imbued with motherhood. It’s a Mother Bear protecting its its offspring, right? So even if you were to go with a very different kind of look to an alien creature, what grabs us as people and storytellers and I think an audience and players is the human element. Science fiction allows us to explore the human element through a different lens.
When it comes to the actual design of it, we did want them to look humanoid so that you could read the emotions on their faces because that’s how we tell our stories is through emotions. We also wanted to push it a little bit further. So it wasn’t quite a person in a suit, the Alydians are like eight feet tall, the Hotari about seven feet tall. They’re a little bit pushed beyond just the person and makeup. But it’s about the way you interact with characters. So for us, it was about making them feel fully fleshed out.
Andrew Grant: Yeah, that for us is the core of the experience. As we craft dialogue and the dramatic structure of the game, it is really about conveying those emotions. So as Dan said, creating characters that can overcome the limitations of a small dev team and limited resources, being able to capture those emotions and let the audience really feel the impact of their choices, positively and negatively, is is really important.
Stretch and Found-Family
And talking about that, being able to interact and latch on to the emotions of these alien characters. I have to say one of my favorite moments in the game was the found family scene between Diaz, Edsilar and Arminta “Stretch”.
Dan Martin: I love that that has become a nickname that people talk about! Someone mentioned Stretch on the forum, and on social media!
Could you say a little bit about how that scene came together? Because it’s such a lovely scene, and I just want to hear more about it.
Dan Martin: Well, there are a couple of things going on in that scene. I guess we’re, we’re kind of in the territory of spoilers. Edsilar, we developed her to have this backstory about she’s a trill, she’s an unjoined trill. People have called out or said, Well, if she’s an unjoined trill, if she doesn’t want to join, that’s easy to do in the Trill society, because it’s such a great honor. It’s so hard to do. I would counter that, what we know is that that’s actually not entirely true. More people can join with the Trill Symbiont than they let on.
There’s also a sense of, if your whole family goes to an Ivy League college, you’re kind of expected to do the same. So for her to reject the idea of this great honor, that maybe is something that her family does do. That’s always been part of her storyline, and the way that it interacts with what’s going on. So we wanted a place where we could delve into it. It’s kind of, if you’re turning your back on the family that is blood in some way, where do you find your family?
And it’s this found family. I think even going back to the very beginning, for me, Star Trek is about camaraderie. It is a family that develops, that Kirk, Spock and McCoy they’re brothers in all but name, right? Kirk is more of a brother to Spock than Sybok is. So I think that when you go to, it’s like a family living room in Star Trek The Next Generation, they treat each other with respect and like family.
So I think that that’s one of the the feelings that we wanted to bring about for a player. You only get there by playing and maybe arguing with people back and forth until you get to that point. So it’s a lot of work to get there. But it’s incredibly gratifying to see, people comment on that. So I’m very glad that it reached you as well.
Andrew Grant: Yeah, and I’m glad you brought it up, because it’s one of my favorite scenes in the game. There are so many moving parts in our larger narrative. You tend to focus on sort of the big choice moments. Then, by contrast, this scene is just so intimate and personal, and resonates with the audience that I wish we had time and space to include more of these types of moments in the overall experience.
So talking about that, are there any other smaller more intimate moments that you wanted to put into the game between any particular characters?
Dan Martin: I mean, the list of things that we wanted to put into the game that we just didn’t have space for could fill this entire half hour that we have. I think that at the end of the day, it just has to the the story content, that’s going to be in the game, is the stuff that absolutely has to be. You may watch deleted scenes from a movie, and you might say that the deleted scene was great.
Why did they cut it from the movie? And then if you watch it, where they patched it back together in the movie, you might see that is why they cut it because it slows this down. I already felt that somewhere else in the movie. But, you know there are things that I wish we’d had room for that if we get another chance, maybe we’ll get some similar version of it, earned in a similar way, and another perhaps adventure for the USS resolute.
Andrew Grant: Yeah, we had to make so many difficult creative choices along the way. And again, we were just a small team, putting this game together as quickly as we could. It just became about, how we deploy our resources and get the whole experience. So unfortunately, some of our favorite moments ended up on the cutting room floor. But that’s not to say that we can’t explore some of those ideas in different situations.
Obviously, the end of the game has a number of people being bio-formed. It doesn’t really explain what happens to these people. So I’ll ask you, what happens to them?
Dan Martin: Well, I certainly have my ideas. But until it’s on the screen, and in the players hands, that still is going to have to remain a question. Maybe we’ll get to tell that at some point.
Andrew Grant: Yeah, I will leave it entirely to the audience’s imagination to project forward, what possible outcomes could be.
Were there any other legacy cameos other than Spock & Riker, talking about things that were cut?
Dan Martin: I mean, we considered a bunch. I think that when once we gotten to the point of the story that we wanted to tell, once we got off just throwing anything out there, once we knew that we wanted to tell this particular story which came very early, there was kind of an obvious fit for those two characters, three characters, if you want to talk about legacy characters.
It was a pretty obvious fit, that they were going to be the ones that made sense in our story. I think that there may be other opportunities in the future. There’s certainly characters that I want to write for. I’m sure we’ve seen the success of Picard season three, that there is an appetite for revisiting these characters, and they’re much beloved for very good reason. So, again, sort of who knows?
Andrew Grant: Yeah, early on, we the considered a number of possible cameos. Then once we landed on our premise, we really felt like the ones we chose were the most organic fit. I will say that in the prequel, we were able to get Geordi in there, which was kind of fun.
Dan Martin: And Picard and two other legacy characters!
Similarities with Picard Season 3
People have remarked on the similarity between the Borg hacking in Star Trek: Picard season three, and now the bio-forming in Star Trek: Resurgence, as well as the Living Construct in Star Trek: Prodigy. Is there a reason why so many writers have leaned towards a story for the threats being Starfleet being corrupted?
Dan Martin: I think that they’re sort of on a continuum. Living construct has sort of less personality than say the the Borg. With the Borg there’s the Queen, there’s Locutus, there’s Hugh, there’s Seven of Nine. Then with the Tkon in our story, they’re all individuals that are coming back. I think there’s something about it that is less about Starfleet being corrupted. It’s more about who are we? What is what makes you you? Would you still be yourself walking around in your body, but with a completely different personality. Are you still you, right?
These stories, specifically to bio forming, we wanted to look at what it was like, when you lose somebody, but they’re not really gone. That’s confusing. I think it makes for an interesting playable space. It just started, opening up these ideas of, when do you give up on this person that has changed? You know, it’s obviously a science fiction version of it. But beyond anything you can sort of forgive or accept.
Andrew Grant: Any parallel to season three is good fodder for the conversation, but it was strictly coincidental. In fact, our story was conceived, I want to say almost before Season Two of Picard.
Dan Martin: oh, yeah fully before Season Two of Picard, and we like to say Great minds think alike. It’s a fantastic company to be placed in. So we’re certainly not going to turn up our noses at it. I was right there pumping my fist cheering in the, the latter episodes of season three, along with everybody else.
The story focuses around the Fallen civilization and the Tkon. Was there a particular reason why you chose the Tkon and not any of the other Fallen civilizations, like the Iconians, or the Slavers or other ancient Star Trek civilizations?
Dan Martin: Well, in part because I think a lot of us really love Star Trek The Next Generation. For me, that was where I became a Star Trek fan. It still has its popularity amongst fans. The other thing is that I felt like, we were just sort of looking at beta canon, as they call it. How much has it been explored? There are some appearances of Tkon in books and comic books as well. It just felt like it hadn’t been worn out, there was room to do something, and put our own spin on it that respected those other versions of it, without completely going against what had been established.
I mean, even going back to the TV show, they say that the Tkon Empire was destroyed because of a supernova. But they also say that they could move stars. So you know, we’re kind of jumping off from that and saying, well the supernova might have been the inciting incident on the fall of the empire, but there’s more that went on for this giant space-faring civilization to completely disappear.
Andrew Grant: That was sort of the perfect balance of we know just a little about the TKon, but not enough, that would be limiting to us dramatically, or narratively in any way. So it gave us a lot of latitude to create that history for them. Then, of course there’s the excitement of environments and characters that you remember or recognize from the TNG episode. Then once I started to think about having Portal in our game, that’s when I was hooked, because to me he’s just such a compelling and cool character to interact with.
Dan Martin: Yeah, when you talk about the Iconians a lot of them don’t have that established personal connection to a character. You want to interact Portal. He’s so kind of mercurial. Whereas if it’s just hieroglyphs that you’re looking at, that doesn’t have the same kind of engagement.
Jara & Tylas
Jara & Tylas were a couple which I came to really adore in this game. Was there any possibility of a relationship between the two?
Andrew Grant: We’ll let Dan handle that.
Dan Martin: Well, you know the specific romance that’s playable in the game is with Carter and Miranda. I think a big part of it, to me, Star Trek, for all the jokes about William Shatner and The Original Series. Getting this shirt torn and, finding an alien love interest every week. It’s actually a really small part of the Star Trek story. So romance, to me is less important than camaraderie, which is why we thought that’s the kind of relationships we focused on. Once you release something out in the world, people are going to, invest themselves in it in all kinds of ways. Star Trek is a welcoming place, and we welcome that kind of investment.
Andrew Grant: And we wanted to create a strong relationship that didn’t necessarily need to veer romantic
Where do we go from here?
Obviously, you probably can’t say much, but if you could would you tell more stories about the resolute? Or would you tackle another ship? Would you stick in this timeline of the 2380s? Period? Where would you go with Star Trek resurgence from here?
Dan Martin: Well, it’s hard to say without any amount of certainty, but we chose this period for a reason. There’s a lot of room narratively before the Romulan supernova event, becomes the focus of storytelling in Star Trek. I think it’s five or seven years from the time period of the game. Andrew and I wrote the prequel, in large part because we wanted to continue with our friends on the USS Resolute. I didn’t want to leave the ship, when we finished writing the game. So they live and breathe to me, and personally I want to see more of them.
Andrew Grant: Yeah, I think it’s really hard to speculate at this point. I mean, obviously it’s in the hands of the fans. So far, the game has been so well received. As we think about what could be possible in the future, I always love a combination of the familiar and something that is completely refreshing and unexpected. So stay tuned.
I definitely look forward to anything else that may come from you guys, because Resurgence was amazing. I loved it. Thank you so much, you did a great job. You can really tell the work you’ve put in, so well done.
Dan Martin: Oh, we really appreciate that. You know, it’s a game that I wish that I could play as a fan. It’s exactly what I want. It’s the the time period. I think we made it so that people who aren’t fans could certainly play and enjoy. It doesn’t ask a lot of you in terms of prior knowledge.
I think that for anybody that grew up watching these shows, it’s going to hit a little bit different. That’s what we’re after. It has been phenomenal to see the response that people have had to play it and making the decisions that they say it’s like playing through a season of the show where they get to make the decisions. It’s like, if you ask somebody to write exactly what you wanted them to write about it? It’s happening, so I can’t really ask for more.
Andrew Grant: Yeah, that’s been really gratifying. And thank you for the kind words, it’s been really gratifying to watch people play through and just see how excited they get about all of the details that we really put a lot of thought and attention into. Like people are really excited about the carpet color of the carpet on this ship, or the wood paneling on the bridge. We labored over all of those creative choices. So to find that it’s really resonating with fans is just so gratifying, thank you.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Star Trek: Resurgence is available on PC via Epic Games, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S.
You can find our review of the game here: Star Trek: Resurgence Review
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