G & T Show SL – Cryptic Trip 2 – Kestrel
G & T Show SL – Cryptic Trip 2 – Kestrel is now available to download. Check it out here. Mike recently visited Cryptic Studios and had the opportunity to sit down with the Star Trek Online team for several interviews. The next interview in our series is with Star Trek Online’s Lead Writer and part of the story team, Christine Thompson. Be sure to check out this interview and the others from Mike’s trip by visiting our G & T Show SL – Cryptic Trip Round Up page.
Adrianne joins Mike to interview Christine. Mike starts it off by stating that he loves the latest episode, House Pegh. She mentions that they are currently doing the team play through of the next episode. Mike admits to have cheered at the beginning of the episode and yelled at the end. He shares his reaction to the mission and states the first rule of Fight Club in relation to this secret origination and songs will not be sung. Christine explains that the choice he made was so he could become a symbol for the Klingon Empire. He always was a symbol for Klingons and that battle demonstrated that a victory against the Iconians was possible. The exact details of what happened and who was involved will never be known, but his sacrifice will forever be remembered in the song that was released a week a later.
Christine has been writing the Tales From the War blogs and has written them several weeks in advance. She has to constantly check her schedule to make sure that players have seen something before it talking about it in the blog.
Mike asks about the story team. She explains that because they are a small team, everyone is required to wear many hats. Al, Charles Grey, Stephen, and all of the Content Designers all are able to contribute to the story. Story at Cryptic and any game development is a team sport. She just happens to be the one whose primary responsibilities require her to write the majority of the words that appear in missions.
Mike compliments Christine’s storytelling ability, because during subsequent play-throughs of the new missions, he’s picking up on more and more things he had missed the first time through. The stories and characters are rich and alive. She states that their level of storytelling has increased over the life of the game. In the beginning, they only had 18 months of development time, which was an insane schedule. They quickly learned that players and even the developers weren’t pleased with the idea of ‘shoot five things and go home’ type of missions. At every opportunity, they continued to build up the storytelling techniques by revamping missions, adding cutscenes, singing songs when appropriate, and so much more.
Christine says that the Iconian War has been part of Star Trek Online’s plan since the beginning. During her first meeting for STO, the Iconians were mentioned, illustrating that the Iconian War had been in the works for more than five years. Because it had been building and building for so long, they needed to do the Iconian War justice. Adrianne chimes in and states that you can see bits and pieces of it emerge throughout the game. Mike adds that its true for all factions within the game as well. She drops a hint about the story arc’s finale, stating that they are going to have several content designers and artists working on it, because it’s so big — too big for one person to handle alone.
Adrianne asked Christine if she follows player theories and speculation about what is coming in the Iconian War. She tells us that she has seen some interesting theories but has not seen the correct one yet. She admits that some player theories have sparked ideas. She mentions a reddit post that identified links between Bajor and the Iconians and upon closer scrutiny realized that they could be on to something. They are always paying attention to feedback from players on social media, reddit, podcasts, and even the forums, although it can be difficult at times.
Mike mentions the fantastic voice over work STO has been getting and points to the Iconian War’s first episode which featured Tom Paris as voiced by Robert Duncan McNeil. He asks if she finds it difficult to write for those characters. She says that most of those characters have a distinct voice, and all she has to do is find their voice. She had more trouble with Miral Paris, since we only saw her briefly as an adult in Voyager’s Finale. She often defers to the actors since they know and understand the characters so well. They have changed lines based on feedback from the actors. She mentions some of the lessons she learned from Michael Dorn regarding how Klingons talk and more specifically how Worf spoke — Klingons don’t use contractions. She shares another story regarding Robert Picardo. He wasn’t allowed to ad lib a lot on the show, and when presented with the opportunity to reprise the Doctor for STO, he went to town and was able to deliver 15 to 20 takes per line. Adrianne asks if there’s any plan to release the outtakes at STLV. Christine is going to talk to the audio team about putting together a super cut of I’m a Doctor, not a Blank. Adrianne worked with him on Renegades. Christine has never met him in person. She’s only met most of these people over Skype.
Mike mentions that we are getting Aaron Eisneberg, who played Nog in DS9. Christine was playing his mission prior to coming in for the interview. Mike asks if there are any voice actors she would like to bring back. She would love to bring them all back, but mentions Jerry Ryan specifically. In order to do it, though, would require her to have time in her schedule and them having the right plot line. She mentioned a plot line they had been kicking around for several years that would not work unless they could bring Jerry Ryan back. She goes on to say that she would love to have Ethan Phillips and Kim Rhodes. She teased that they are talking about bringing back someone but couldn’t reveal who it was. Christine mentioned Denise Crosby. She was one of the first and most supportive people lending their voice to the game. She took a chance on them when no one else was willing to do so. She opened a lot of doors that helped them get the Trek actors they have. Prior to her involvement, they had Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy, both of which were contracted through Atari. Zachary couldn’t portray Spock in STO, so instead they had him voice a medical hologram in the tutorial. They also had Chase Masterson, but that was negotiated at a convention.
Mike asks who she would like to get next. Christine has a list of people she would like to get into the game, including Colm Meany, the rest of the Voyager crew especially B’Elanna. Mike noticed that she was missing in the Paris family reunion episodes featured early on in the Iconian War arc. Other people she would like to get includes: Geordi LaForge, Jeffrey Combs, and she’d let Patrick Stewart do whatever he wants.
Mike draws attention to her work outside of STO, including the blog posts and the stories published in Star Trek Magazine. She clarifies that she is not the only one that has a story published in Star Trek Magazine. Jesse Heinig, Kate Bankson, and Jadduah have all written stories for Star Trek Magazine as well. They have been gracious enough to give them space in their magazine for a couple of years now so they can tell Star Trek Online stories and draw people to the game that may not be aware of its existence. She talks about the Star Trek convention in San Francisco. There were a lot of people that didn’t know about the game.
Mike asks about which series is her favorite. She says DS9 has her favorite stories, but TNG was her first series and holds a special place in her heart. She thinks Voyager is the most consistent and finds the Borg stuff was great. She found Enterprise’s third and fourth season to be the most interesting, but wishes that the first two season were pushed a little farther into space. Mike asks about her favorite Sci-Fi series. She lists Babylon 5, Farscape, and Star Wars. She describes herself as an all-purpose nerd, because there are other comics and video games that she likes. She watches Arrow and The Flash.
Mike shifts to Star Trek books and asks who her favorite author is. She likes Keith DeCandido, Dayton Ward, and the Rhiannsu novels by Diane Duane. She’s not linked with PocketBooks except for her involvement in the Star Trek Online novel that Michael Martin had written. Mike is currently reading the DS9 novel taking place immediately after DS9 was destroyed. She admits that she never would have had the guts to do that, because the forums would have massacred her if she had. She’s currently reading an Orson novel, Down and Out in Paris and London. She’s looking forward to reading Dayton Ward’s Armageddon’s Arrow. Mike will be picking it up shortly.
They have already asked her the Lipton questions, but he’s going to ask certain ones again to see if any of her answers had changed since the last time. Her answer has changed, because she has come up with a plot that line that requires that character. She doesn’t want to actually kill this character. She said, in DS9 there were always those episodes where they made O’Brien suffer. If she could bring O’Brien into the game for several episodes, she would make him suffer.
Mike asks if there is anything that she’d like our listeners to know or if there are any hints that she would like to share with us. She mentions that Time in a Bottle is the next featured episode to be released. She clarifies that despite the doomsday theories, they are not ending the game with the completion of the Iconian War. Another rumor that had been going around with the Delta Recruitment event, was that they were going to delete all non-Delta recruits. Both rumors are not true.
Adrianne asks if Christine is working on any new stories. She mentions that she wrote a two part story earlier this year with the second part being released soon. The next story will most likely not be written by her. She wrote a story last year for Pinnacle’s RPG Last Parsec. She talks about it briefly. She admits that the Iconian War has taken so much out of her, she’s had difficulty switching gears to work on any other project. She admits that she’s got a half dozen short stories in various stages of completion. She mentions that she’ll buckle down and try to get them done after GenCon.
Mike asks about conventions and specifically STLV. GenCon is her convention of choice and is usually around the same time as STLV. However, if there is a point when the two would not conflict with each other, then she may make the effort to attend. She has attended the San Francisco convention, but there isn’t going to be one this year. They hope that it returns in 2016 in time for the 50th Anniversary. Christine admits that she doesn’t know if she’s ready for Vegas, because we party hard. She describes herself as a cup of tea and a book kind of girl. Adrianne explains that the people that attend STLV are very social, friendly, and open. Mike admits that he sings in Klingon at STLV. She responded to Mike’s comment that the actor, Liam MacIntire, that played Kahless and sang in House Pegh, has also appeared as Spartacus for two seasons and Weather Wizard in Flash. With that they wind down the interview with Christine.
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.