Saturday, 26 October 2013

"Yes, we have a T-rex."

"Doctor Grant, my dear Doctor Sattler, welcome to..." uh, Star Trek Online! Yup, dinosaurs are coming to Star Trek Online, as combat companions to the Voth in the new Dyson Sphere story line. They don't actually have a T-Rex; sixty-five million years after that species presumably left Earth in the Voth zoo-ship, its descendent, the Viriosaurus Rex is one of three "bio-engineered dinosaurs" the Voth have also equipped with armour and weapons to help in combat situations. STO's Designing the Voth blog post beautifully summed up the role of dinosaurs in the game:
At one point our Lead Designer, CaptainGeko, said, “all I want is dinosaurs with frickin’ laser beams on their heads!” We all chuckled, and then he said, “I’m being serious; this is a game. Let’s have some fun!”
While the Viriosaurus Rex is the Voth's cyber-dino tank, he is joined by the smaller Dankanasaurs, which are "raptor-like dinosaurs used by the Voth as shock troops and terrifying swarmers", and Furiadons, "larger alien raptors with higher cognitive abilities than the animalistic Dankanasaur". You can read more about them in STO's Voth ground combat post. Here they are in action:

Aside from dinosaur awesomeness, the Voth themselves also have a role to play in all this, and have got an STO make-over as result, with greater variety in their look. As if dinosaurs aren't enough, they also have mechanical exosuits to give them the upper hand. Here are a few examples, you can read more about the Voth and their tech in the above linked STO blogs as well:

The Voth have ships too of course, continue after the jump for a look at those, and the latest STO Starfleet design too.

With two Voth ships appearing in their one and only TV appearance, Voyager's Distant Origin, the STO design team had quite a limited palette to draw from when considering addition Voth starship designs, as they described in their blog post about designing the Voth ships:
...we took note of visual elements that were symbiotic between the two canonical ships. A variety of these elements were isolated and used to create a visual design language for the Voth’s ships. We created this language knowing that we would have to create anywhere from three to five new Voth ships. This acted as a strong stepping stone for deciding where to start.

Similarities aren't the only thing to take note of, but differences as well. Aside from the obvious, size and mass, we extracted more information, which laid out the ruleset for our wiggle room in designing new, interesting features. On top of that, we outlined a variety of things that we felt were important for filling the gap between the incredibly large and incredibly small.
Here are some of the concepts they came up with:

They seem to have boiled these down to two new designs, used along-side STOified versions of the TV Voth ships. Here's the fleet, from larger to smallest: Citadel class dreadnaught, Bulwark class battleship, Bastion class cruisers, and Palisade class frigate.

STO have another blog post detailing the abilities of each design, and Voth ships in general.

The Voth are still to come, but already in the game is their latest Starfleet design, the Avenger class. As they described in their design post for this new ship, the designers when all out in making this ship combat ready:
We first started by really increasing the “battlefield” feel of the Avenger. It has visible, modeled hard points for all of its weapons. The windows are inset to give them a more protected, armored look. The deflector dish is rectangular, which gives it a stronger feel. The neck is thicker, which makes the ship look a little chunkier and more ready for combat.

You can get full specs for the class on yet another STO blog post, including details of the variant design of the ship for fleets in the game:

And as ever, there is a development patch for the class too. Here's the final version, but check out Thomas Marrone's Tumblr to see some of the more fanciful designs he came up, based on an another franchise's background on the name Avenger:

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