Priority One Interviews Disruptor Beam CEO Jon Radoff

Greetings! This past weekend, we (the inDevelopment team!) attended the Official Star Trek Convention in Boston. Disruptor Beam–the game company working on Star Trek Timelines–had a presence there, and I had the pleasure of sitting down with CEO Jon Radoff to ask a few questions.

Star Trek Timelines

Ell: How accessible is this game going to be to casual gamers? As someone who tried to get into Star Trek Online, the game mechanics kind of left me in the dust as someone without a high skill level when it comes to gaming.

Jon: It’s a much different game than Star Trek Online, which is an MMORPG, which tends to be very focused around combat systems and combat progression, so Star Trek Timelines is going to be more oriented around story and story development. And it’s built for tablets and mobile devices, so–a device that fits in your pocket will be able to play the game. You’ll also be able to play it on the computer.

So, it’ll be built for accessibility from the very beginning because this is a game for all Star Trek fans, really, which means people who’ve been watching it for forty years, but also the crop of people who are coming into it because of the movies. I think the intergenerational aspect of Star Trek is one of the things that’s really awesome about it, so bringing people together from all of those different generations is important.

Ell: Is Timelines going to keep offering new content without making new players feel like they’ve missed something, or they’ve been left behind?

Jon: Well, it’s designed around a huge galaxy worth of content to explore, so we’re going to be adding content to it all the time–but it’s not like you’re going to miss anything, it’s going to be that there’s more and more stuff all the time. We’re going to add content to the game every single week, so if you’re there and you’re paying attention to everything, you’ll always be able to find new stuff to do.

Ell: So, is it going to be subscription-based?

Jon: No. It’ll be free-to-play.

Ell: Completely free?

Jon: So, similar to Star Trek Online, you’ll be able to buy items in the game–characters, and things, like that. But the game’s totally free-to-play, and you don’t have to spend any money. You’ll be able to do everything in the game without spending money, but if you want cool characters, if you want all the versions of Jean-Luc Picard, those are ways that you can do that.

Ell: So you’re going to be drawing on characters just from the TV and film canon, or are you going to have some original characters, or maybe a nod to the books or anything?

Jon: We’ll introduce some of our own content, but we’re going to really draw upon everything that’s ever been on TV, so back to The Original Series, TNG, all the way through Enterprise. We’ll be able to draw upon the characters and storylines that were across all these different seasons and series, but we’ll definitely be introducing new content as well.

Ell: You’ve described Timelines as not an MMO, but it has MMO elements. Could you just explain that a little bit? Is there any game that’s similar to it that’s out right now?

Jon: I don’t know if there is–I mean, we try to be pretty innovative in our game design. There’s aspects of our game, Game of Thrones: Ascent, which is based on the Game of Thrones TV series and books that will be similar in terms of storytelling. In that game there’s a lot of dialogue and you make decisions about how you want to progress with the plotline, so we’ll draw upon some of that. Other games from companies like Bioware, like their Star Wars games, and Dungeons and Dragons games also have that kind of dialogue and storytelling elements.

So I think at our core we’re a company that’s about stories, and then having people interact socially with each other around those stories. So that’s the piece that’ll be really important to this game. But in terms of a directly comparable game, I’m not sure that there is one. I mean, it’s an MMO in that it’s massive, it’s multiplayer, and it’s an online game. It’s not an MMORPG, because that means something really specific. That’s World of Warcraft, that’s Star Trek Online–which tends to be focused on that first-person perspective, walking around a map, and real-time combat; that’s not going to be this game.

Ell: That sounds good to me. When are we going to be able to see some gameplay examples?

Jon: In the exhibit hall today we’re going to get the first-time look at the view of the way planets and the galaxy looks through the port and spaceships. And we’ll be continuing to release more and more stuff over the course of the year.

Ell: Do you guys have a release date?

Jon: No. When it’s ready–when it’s good. What I’ll say about the release date though is that we really have a passion for the community around Star Trek as well, and we want to make this the most community-driven game that’s ever been created, really. It means not just being here at the conventions, but allowing people to come in, join our Bridge Crew program, stuff like that. So we’re really going to be working with fans to shape the course of the game, and also have those fans there to tell us when it really is ready for everybody.

Radoff, Executive Producer Rich Gallup, and Lead Designer Tim Crosby presented the first footage of Timelines' gameplay at Trek Boston.

Radoff, Executive Producer Rich Gallup, and Lead Designer Tim Crosby presented the first footage of Timelines’ “infinite” galaxy at Trek Boston.

The Timelines panel was impressive–we got to see footage of the beautiful planets and systems which will be included in the game. Timelines will not be real-time strategy, but instead rely on turn-based combat; “Who your crew is matters immensely,” said executive producer Rich Gallup.

One thing I really liked hearing was in response to a fan’s question about diversity: Disruptor Beam has more women on their team than almost any game company they’ve seen, and they wanted to keep diversity in mind in the game itself.

Another fan asked if content from the reboot films would be included in the game–they said it would not be ruled out as possible future downloadable content. Disruptor Beam wants to hear what fans have to say about what they want to see in this game, which is still very much in development. One way to get involved is by joining the Timelines Bridge Crew, which will provide players with early access.

Ell, for Priority One Interviews

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