G & T SL – Al Rivera And Agents of Yesterday
G & T SL – Al Rivera And Agents of Yesterday is now available to download. Check it out here. While Nick is out at Awesome Con, Terry and Mike had the distinct pleasure to talk with Al “Captain Geko” Rivera about Star Trek Online, Agents of Yesterday, and so much more in this Supplemental Log. You definitely don’t want to miss it.
Mike handles the introductions this week. It has been a while since Al had joined them. Agents of Yesterday is the big news that everyone is talking about. Terry talks about the Temporal Cold War that has been brewing with the last few episodes. Agents of Yesterday takes them into the thick of things from a different perspective. Al shares that the point of view of the new expansion, players will be a Captain from the 23rd century. It has been some of the most challenging work that they have done since its such a complex story. He goes on to say that some of the new missions will be available to existing characters. They may be attacking these stories from different timelines. There are alternate dialogs depending on which timeline you’re from. The new expansion, the player is a TOS captain and not a current timeline character, but the player will be traveling forward and backward through time. Its not a completely isolated experience. In addition to the story missions, there will be other types of content as well.
Al offers some spoilers on some of the recent STO missions involving the Nak’uhl and the current state of the Temporal Cold War. Mike and Terry have not played on Tribble yet, as they don’t want to get spoiled. Al wants Gold members to get on tribble and help them test the content, but hopes that people won’t talk about it to spoil the story. They had to put portions of the story on Tribble because there is so much content as part of the expansion.
Al shares how they came to the decision to do the Agents of Yesterday expansion featuring TOS for Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary. This had been in the planning for over a year and a half and the story has slowly been building towards this since the early stages of the Iconian War. The Nak’uhl have been working through time. Mike mentions that the blog posts involving the Nak’uhl and what they have been doing to the timeline has been intriguing.
Al reveals the celebrity voices that will be featured in the expansion. They include Chris Doohan, Walter Koenig, Chase Masterson, Matt Winston, and there’s one more that they have not official announced yet. The season takes place in 2270 and takes place after TOS and prior or during the TAS era. Al summarizes what the Nak’uhl is trying to accomplish with their time traveling antics. The Sphere Builders, the Krenim, and other factions all want to bypass the Temporal Accords. Mike points out the hypocrasy of it, considering what the Federation, Klingons, and Romulan Republic tried to do in order to restore Romulus.
Terry praises the game’s story thus far along with the Crystaline Entity event. They discuss the events briefly before going on to discuss the Agents of Yesterday Temporal Agent pack. While they pull up the link, Mike mentions the blogs revovling around the points of interest that will be part of the expansion, including Golordon Core. Mike appreciates the screenshot included with the blog post for that episode. Al explains how TOS filmed onsite and used contemporary buildings in their episodes. They did the same thing with this mission in an attempt to capture what the Original series had done. He goes on to describe all of the known tidbits of information regarding Golordon Core from the various series and movies. The battle of Caleb is another never seen but once mentioned events from Star Trek DS9 that they have expanded into a mission. They also revisit some of the other TOS episodes, including Babel, Cestus, and others. Al offers some background on Cestus.
They shift to the Agents of Yesterday pack. The first several ships are TOS era. Some of the TOS ships reminded Terry and Mike of the Archer class from Vanguard and Seekers book series. There are also 26th century ships that are inspired by their 23rd century counterpart. Al reveals that if you have both ships within a specific class, you can change the costume of the 26th century ship and replace it with the 23rd century one. Mike is heartbroken because there isn’t a T6 counterpart to the constitution class ship. Al refuses to comment on that at this time. These ships are only available to FED and TOS Captains. The 31st century ships are open to any faction. Also included with the pack are several TOS era uniforms, including a torn uniform pack, Andorian, Tellarite, Vulcan Ambassador, Mirror Universe, and TOS Command Tunic. Some items are duplicates for some people, but for new players they will be able to get them here. There also specializations, upgrade kits, and several titles. Al can’t reveal a specific date but it would be out in July and will be out before the convention.
Cryptic will be at STLV. They haven’t announced anything specific yet, but Al will be there. They are hoping to have their booth next to G & T’s booth.
Terry asks Al what he wants to talk about. Al decides to talk about some of the challenges they had to overcome in order to make the TOS expansion work. They know where they need to do to get to expansion four and what they need to do for expansion five, so they can start laying down the seeds. Terry sends her condolences to the writers for everything they had to do with this expansion. Al comes up with the big ideas, but the writers have to get them there. Part of their process is to figure out each character’s timeline. They had already met Scotty, but trying to determine where and when you meet them. The order of events may not be linear, but they had to keep it straight. Al doesn’t think they will do that again.
Terry talks about their 50 for 50 and reveals that Time travel episodes ranked surprisingly high and thinks that this STO expansion will be very successful due to the popularity of time travel episodes. Mike takes them on a short squirrel to get Al’s perspective on his Edith Keeler as a Temporal Agent theory. He explains his reasoning. Al thinks she’s a bad temporal agent if she happens to be one, because the Nak’uhl would have looked both ways before crossing the street.
Al talks about how important it was to start the player within TOS as opposed to starting in 2409 and having them travel back in time to the 23rd century. Time Travel had to be used for this expansion but not as the starting mechanism. The player will be going forward in time. He talks about some of the problems with Enterprise’s Temporal Cold War and how it created opportunities for the game to fix some of those issues. He goes into the level of detail and the number of changes they had to make to the game for the new expansion to work. They had to adjust the UI, the in-game items, the drop tables, kit and space powers, critters, music and sound effects, and so much more. When you’re in the TOS era, everything has to be TOS-era specific. It is essentially a different game within STO. Even the technobabble had to be approached differently for TOS than for the rest of the game.
They even had to make concessions, such as the personal shields. They were not available in TOS, but they were in TAS. He couldn’t rebalance the entire game to work without the use of shields. But with TAS’s life support belts, personal shields were possible, allowing them to progress without the need to rebalance the entire game and all of the weapons. Another issue had to do with Uniform color. In TNG, Command is Red, Operations is Gold, and Blue is Science. In TOS, Operations is red, Command is Gold, and Science is still blue. The big issue came into play when they were trying to rectify the issues between TOS and TNG’s Command and Operations and their respective colors for TOS and then applying it to the game’s UI. They eventually compromised but the solution wasn’t a perfect one. Also, the Delta is unique to the Enterprise. They had to make 90 different logos and the player gets to choose their own logo to represent their ship. The effort that had to be put into this expansion was monumental. It is also one of the reasons why they have not done a Captain Proton mission yet.
While they were working on this expansion, they also developed their port for XBox One and Playstation 4 consoles. They had to create another team to work on the console games. Mike asks about the Schroedinger’s Cat situation the last episode had left the Federation President and Klingon Chancellor in. Are they alive? Are they dead? Mike has no idea. Al explains that they both lived through the episode. Mike compares it to the latest Walking Dead season finale. Al explains that Okeg is his personal representation in the game, so he won’t be killed off any time soon. Mike was pleased to see Okeg in game rather than being eluded to.
Terry has to wind down the interview, but she wanted to talk about the console experience first. The people that play the game through a PC will be on a separate server from that of the console players. Al explains that PC players will receive new content first before the console players because of the way console games have to be certified by their respective owners (Microsoft and Sony). Also, for the PC, they are able to repair bugs and exploits immediately, but with consoles, an exploit or bug can go several weeks to months before fixes are certified for release. So, it’s important that they only send working updates to the consoles and that can only happen after it has been out on PC for some time. Mike asks about the Graphics pass that is being worked on for the console release. It will eventually be released to the PC after it has been released for the console. With the graphic pass, they have been going through and repairing bugs on as many missions as possible. No date has been announced for the console release. The console will eventually get Agents of Yesterday but not at launch.
The consoles will get the entire game with a few minor tweaks. They tried to strip out certain features but discovered that when they pulled on one thread, a lot of stuff started to unravel within the game. Most of their tweaks have been made to make the game controller friendly. A blog will be out soon that will talk about the control scheme. Al prefers playing the game through console now. Terry is unable to use controllers very well. Some of the changes they have made have made things easier to use. Terry has a good computer with a good graphics card and wonders if she’ll be taking a performance hit. Al thinks that the graphics pass along with other improvements should result in better performance. Mike states that he has an XBOX 360 and has been planning to upgrade to XBOX One, and that STO coming to the consoles has accelerated his upgrade plans. Mike and Terry would consider playing with the respective nephews through the new STO. The console version of STO is being designed for new players. They don’t want to move people from the PC game, but they do encourage PC players to check it out. However, they are doing this to reach an even larger potential fan base. Mike asks if the Zen Store and lock boxes will be available on the consoles. They will be doing some things to catch up console players, but not everything will be available right away. But the more specific details of how the store will be set up is not Al’s department.
They plan their next visit with Al between Agents of Yesterday release and STLV. They wind down this week’s interview with Al Rivera.
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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