Star Trek Online is in the middle of their Klingon Year, and their latest story update, House Reborn, is about to release on Playstation 4. On March 2, you can experience an all-new story featuring the biggest collection of Klingon actors they’ve ever had – Mary Chieffo as L’Rell, JG Hertzler as Martok, Robert O’Reilly as Gowron, and Sam Witwer stepping into Kenneth Mitchell as Tenavik. The Klingon Empire is shattered, in the midst of a civil war sparked by the Mad Emperor J’mpok. You must travel to Grethor, the Klingon version of Hell, to fight for the lost soul of the first Klingon Chancellor, L’Rell, mother of the Klingons.
Now is the perfect time to jump into Star Trek Online as an honorable Klingon warrior. The Klingon Year officially started with Season 20 – House Divided, last September. Klingon’s entire starting experience has been rebuilt from the ground up, with high-fidelity visuals, streamlined mission design, and new voice acting. If you start playing now, you will also become a Klingon Recruit, which will grant you access to new rewards as you level up your character.
To learn more about the process of updating the Klingon experience, we spoke with Jessie Heinig, Senior Content Designer. Jesse has worked for Star Trek Online for ten of his eleven years, so he also has a unique perspective on updating the story, as he built part of it himself.
How did you get involved in the process of reinventing the Klingon starting experience?
We decided, “Okay, we’re going to do a whole year of Klingon, and that means we’re going to make Klingon ships. We are going to create some new Klingon character art. We’re going to be rebuilding entire Klingon levels and creating Klingon themed missions that anyone can play. Okay, since we’re redoing a lot of this Klingon stuff, we can go back and also redo our previous Klingon stuff and include these updated characters and new voice work and new ships and so on. after.
And I was specially asked to remaster and re-imagine all of the old Klingon content and bring it to new standards, which was a lot of fun. And it’s really, really amazing to see people get to make new Klingon recruits and play that, often for the first time. We encourage people, “No, go play a Klingon. The time has come. Today is a good day to play.
You worked on a lot of these missions when they were first launched. How has your design philosophy changed almost a decade later?
So the MMO market itself has evolved a lot over the past 10 years. Back when Star Trek Online launched, it was still a time when MMOs had things like 40-player raids that took hours to complete or missions where you spent 45 minutes on a map in a landscape. immense. Missions in which you were placed on a map and received very vague instructions to “Find This Person”. And so you’re just going through this map in a research pattern, fighting enemies until you find your objective.
And part of that is because in the era of subscription MMOs 10 years ago, we built missions designed to be long and exploratory where you had plenty of time to roam the map, see terrain. interesting and make you feel like you’re in this episode of Star Trek on location… It’s like when the Voyagers crew are stranded by Seska and her company. And it’s kind of like, “Well, we’ve been trapped in the Burbank Hills. We will wander aimlessly until we find shelter. Cut to commercial, come back from commercial. “There is a cave, but it’s guarded by a giant special effect.”
So we have had all of this wandering the maps and so on. People don’t want to have obstacles in order to be able to play. They want to download the game and say, “I’m going to jump into the action. I’m going to play, and I’m going to play for five or 15 minutes, or whatever length of time I decide I’m going to play and have a good time.
Can you give me an example of a level where you did some of this visual storytelling to streamline the previous process?
Sure. So, we have redone a lot of that in our ground map of Ketha province. You’re trying to track down this Romulan spy and figure out what’s going on.
Of course, by the time you find him he planted a bomb, but you would start on this platform on a hill in the shadow of this great citadel, the castle which is the home of House Martok. And then you have to go down into the valley below, and it’s just these big fields and a few hills on either side and there wasn’t a very good direction, and so the players were like, “Okay, I talked to Lady Sirella and she’s like, ‘Go talk to people and find out what you can about what’s going on.’ And they jump to the side of the castle and turn around, then they run over the hills and through the woods and pushing through the fields and fighting the wild Targs. It was really easy to get lost and say, “I don’t know where I’m supposed to go, or what I’m supposed to do, or who I’m supposed to talk to.
Our environment team came by here and said, “Okay, we’re going to make sure that this area of the platform that you start off on has a staircase going down and this staircase is going to have railings because the Klingons are safe. regulations, I guess. So that you don’t just look around and say, “I guess I’m supposed to go east, so I’m just going to jump off this thing and run straight east.”
An interesting thing about these missions, and the new missions in House Reborn, is that they merge Klingons from different eras, from TNG to Discovery. How do you approach telling a story that connects two generations of Star Trek content?
This is where we find a lot of our mission and story ideas in Star Trek Online, because Star Trek has a ton of these threads, but ultimately Star Trek is fictional, which means we only see small slices. of what life is like. in the 24th or 25th or 23rd century. We have all these loose little threads that we can pick and use to put this whole tapestry together. And so this is really where Star Trek Online can live, this is every place where Star Trek says, “Here’s a question we raised that we haven’t answered, or here’s something we have.” changed and we haven’t explained why we changed it. It becomes our job and it is an opportunity.
Jesse, this is all fascinating, thanks for your time!
Thank you for hosting me!
You can play Star Trek Online: House Reborn for free on PS4 and PS5 on March 2.