G & T Show SL – Alex “Nod” Engel of Star Trek Timelines
G & T Show SL – Alex “Nod” Engel of Star Trek Timelines is now available to download. Check it out here. Terry and Mike sit down with Star Trek: Timelines Product Manager, Alex “Nod” Engel. Nick wasn’t present, due to other work-related obligations. They discuss mobile game Timelines, Star Trek, Disruptor Beam, and so much more. Be sure to check out this informative interview.
After introductions, Terry mentions that this was the first time they’ve spoken with anyone about Timelines since launch. Mike states that they are all playing Timelines, and that he’s farthest along of their group. He’s enjoying it. Terry is at level 13 and plays when she can.
Mike begins with the new content update that featured the Ship Upgrade system. Alex goes over the nuts and bolts of the ship system and how to upgrade it. Terry clarifies to new players how to get new ships by obtaining schematics. Alex adds that schematics can now be obtained through missions as well. It’s the first step to the ship combat and ship customization that they want to make available in the game. Mike points out that only certain ships are upgradeable at this time, but the plan is to make all ships upgradeable. They are taking their time to make sure the powers and costs are all balanced. They will also be adding more ships eventually. Alex says they have two new ships in the pipeline, but he can’t reveal anything specific about them yet, but admits that they do want to get the Enterprise E and the Sovereign class ships into the game at some point in the future. Terry mentions that there are periodic sales that allows players to purchase ships outright. She purchased the Enterprise D in this manner. Alex likes the D’Kora. They talk about the Ferengi in DS9 versus how they appeared in TNG. Mike requests the addition of Moogie in game at some point. Alex swaps between the Intrepid class, the D’Kora Maurader, and its 5-star variant the Krayton.
Mike moves the conversation to the crew sorting that was introduced to Android devices with the latest update. When Alex was working on Game of Thrones Ascent, he had championed for sorting and filtering. Terry has between 50 and 60 crew and mentions how beneficial it has been for her. Alex mentions that the sorting and filtering feature will be coming to other areas of the game. Mike mentions he has more crew than Terry and describes the process of going through his entire roster as frustrating. He adds that he would love to see crew level added to the crew roster in the Ship Battle areas of the game. He explains that when he’s trying to level his crewman, knowing which levels they are at will help him make better decisions about who to slot based on who needs experience. Alex will bring it up to the team.
They move onto the game’s story. Terry describes it as if they had thrown the entire Star Trek universe into a fan. Q has recruited the player to put time back together again. She discusses the first campaign which featured a point of conflict between Klingons and Augments. Alex explains that the course of your story is determined by the choices you make along the way. They did a similar thing with Game of Thrones Ascent, though in a subtler way. Entire branches of story are not available to the player if certain choices are made, while different branches are opened. He talks about their Lead Narrative Designer, Jessica, wrote the story for most of the game. Mike thinks its very unique and compares it to a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Once a decision is made and the player sides with a faction, irrevocable damage had been dealt to that faction and there is no going back from there. Alex reveals that most people have chosen to side with the Klingons. Terry talks about how unique it is for a game to include decisions that have long lasting ramifications for the player. Alex talks about Jessica writing for the characters and the praise Jessica received from John DeLancie for her portrayal of Q in the story.
Terry asks how many people on the Timelines team are Star Trek fans and how many of them may have felt uncomfortable with the subject matter. Alex explains that the entire company are fans of Star Trek. He shares a story about Rich Gallup, Timelines Executive Producer. Rich had watched the entire run of every Star Trek series during 2015.
Mike talks about how the story not only deals with the shatter timeline, but also with the ramifications of that event in that all of these different factions that have never interacted with each other, or interacted with one another in different ways and at different times, are suddenly interacting with each other in the present. The Mirror Universe and Section 31. Then, there’s the Bajorans during the Occupation dealing with the Cardassians of post DS9, with the Maquis thrown in to stir things up. It’s created a new dynamic in a story that players thought they were already be familiar with. It’s the most exciting thing for them. These What If stories are the best forms of fan fiction and are the inspiration for the team. From the Owner of the company, John Radoff, all the way down, all love Star Trek. Terry is jealous. Alex says it is like a dream come true for them.
Terry switches gear and asks Alex to talk about the basics of the game. It’s a mobile game, currently available for Android and iOS. Alex says they have not made a final decision about whether or not the game will be made available for Windows or any other platform at this time, but it is something they are discussing internally. Terry says it’s easy to pick up and learn. She has both an Android and iOS device, but has only been playing it on her iOS device. She may end up switching, because her iOS device may not have adequate resources available.
Terry asks Alex to explain the action of the game. He describes the game as a collecting game first, with a sort of matching game component in that your matching skills (such as security, science, diplomacy, ect … ) within a certain threshold of points. Each crew also has certain traits (such as Investigator, Prodigy, Inspiring, Diplomat, Astrophysicist, ect…) that will grant boosts when used properly. Ultimately, you’re taking your favorite characters and completing missions with them, such as Away Team, Space Battles, and sorting out the timeline the way you want to do so. It has just as much reading as combat. And they are finding that fans are reading through it. Even the shuttle missions have little snippets of Star Trek lore attached to them.
Since a lot of G & T Show listeners already play STO, she compares and contrasts Timelines to STO. She goes on to describe Timeline as a much more robust version of the Duty Officer system. It is far more than that. There are so many more and different characters. One of Terry’s first characters was Krell Mozet, the Cardassian doctor that experimented on Bajorans. The crew are characters from every show from different points in their respective Timelines. Mike wants a Suitor. Alex says they have new characters coming that will take the very best of what they can offer. These new variants are some of his favorite characters. Terry’s goal is to get a ship full of Rikers. Alex talks about the Riker with playing cards and the creepy expression on his face. Internally, they dubbed him Card Shark Riker. Alex is excited about the new variants that are coming. All characters once leveled far enough can be used as the player’s character portrait. Alex hopes to unveil some of them in an upcoming Disruptor Stream. Mike mentions that last week on the Disruptor Stream, they will be introducing soon new ways to get additional crew slots in the game by purchasing them first with energy credits and then with dilithium. Mike thinks a lot of people are interested in taking advantage of the collecting aspect of the game and collecting all the crew. The Disruptor Stream is every Friday at 2:30pm Eastern. Watch their Facebook page for details as to when it will air.
They move onto their Lipton Questions. Terry runs through a quick description of the Lipton Questions. Mike starts off with the first question: What is your favorite Trek series. Alex responds immediately with TOS. After some thought, Alex response to the next question: which Trek species other than human would he be; he chooses Andorians and explains the reasons behind his choice. Mike follows it with What open-ended series would he like to write if he were given the opportunity to do so. Alex chooses Quark and offers his thoughts on what it would be about. They love his response and would totally watch that show. What games does he run out to get when they are released? Cards Against Humanity is a game he and his family play with all new friends and they always have the latest expansions to it. He also likes the Japanese simulator games created by Kairosoft for mobile platforms. Finally, he grabs anything that Jeff Fogel puts out. His family and friends play a lot of games. This evening before the interview, they were playing a game. He tells us about it.
Terry takes the next question. She asks if there is an IP that he personally would love to work on or create. Alex makes clear that this is only his opinion and in no way reflects anything they are working on at Disruptor Beam. He’s a fan of BattleTech and has played various games and collected their art, and even though there are games that have the Battle Tech or Mech Warrior license, it is his dream to work on those games with giant robots beating each other up. He suggested Space Samurai beating Space Germans in giant robots. Terry’s next question is the name of his starship. Alex decides after some consideration to go with the USS Discovery. Mike and Terry both love his reasoning behind it.
Mike picks up the final two questions. First, if he were kill off a major canon character, who would it be. A condition of his choice would be that the death would have to stick. There would be no miraculous resurrection later on. After some considerable thought, Alex decides to kill off Julian Bashir because of how it would affect everyone around him. He’s got varied relationships with so many different characters, it would be interesting to see how it impacted them. Terry mentions that most people do not choose characters that they do not like, but instead select characters they love. The final question came about because of Timelines. Who would be on his bridge crew. Alex starts off with Kirk. He adds Data, LaForge, Tuvok, and Odo. He thinks he would have a hard time managing his crew.
They start winding up the interview. Alex provides some links for Timelines, including their website, forums, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and the App Store for iOS and Android. Timelines is their mobile strategy game. It launched in January, but its only going to get bigger and better from here. They are huge fans of Star Trek and can’t wait to show everyone what they have coming. Terry reminds everyone that it’s a free to play game, but there are opportunities to make in-game purchases. Terry asks if Timelines will be at STLV 2016. Alex does not currently know if they will be attending, but he does share a story from last year and meeting Nana Visitor. He hopes that they will be at STLV so they can meet and hang out with fans. Disruptor Beam will be at the gaming convention, PAX East. G & T Show will keep our listeners apprised of any other appearances.
Thank you, Alex for joining us!
Disruptor Stream – Disruptor Beam’s Twitch page – https://www.twitch.tv/disruptorbeam
Star Trek Timelines on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/startrektimelines/
Star Trek Timelines on Twitter – https://twitter.com/STTimelines
Disruptor Beam Website – http://www.disruptorbeam.com/
Star Trek Timelines Website – http://www.disruptorbeam.com/games/star-trek-timelines
Disruptor Beam Forums – https://www.disruptorbeam.com/forums/stt
Star Trek Timelines on the Apple App Store – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/star-trek-timelines/id1001250333?mt=8
Star Trek Timelines on the Google Play Store – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.disruptorbeam.StarTrekTimelines&hl=en
But, wait. There’s more.
He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.
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