I was playing around with my newly acquired Star Trek GOG games last night and thinking wistfully of my favorite Star Trek game: Star Trek Bridge Commander. It was an Activision game published in 2002 centered around starship combat. A flawed attempt at creating a Star Trek experience though I had quite a bit of fun with it. It even had Brent Spiner and Patrik Stewart reprise their roles. I think I have the CD in my physical game collection somewhere. The main campaign has you commanding the USS Dauntless as a Galaxy and eventually Sovereign class ship. It had combat, exploration (though pretty linear exploration) and a well paced story. It was centered around the events after Generations with a rising threat of a new war and a new alien race discovery. Combat was rather good too as I recall but some missions could be vicious. It also had multiplayer and a rather rich modding scene that went on for years after the game was released. Full campaigns, many ships from the ST Universe, balance changes and all sorts of cool things. Cool things that ranged from well done to buggy as sin. Sadly, Bridge Commander hasn’t seen a sequel or been sold on Steam or any other platform. The developer’s website is still up but hasn’t been updated in a very long time. Leading me to think the company is dead and according to Wikipedia, it is. The game itself is only sold on Amazon but for $99 which also suggests it isn’t in print anymore.
So, I was surprised to see a fan remake calling itself Bridge Commander II when I decided to look up the modding scene of ST:BC1 for kicks last night. It sells itself as:
Interact with everything you wanted to interact with in games like “Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force” and the original “Star Trek: Bridge Commander” while meeting new players or existing friends in a truly open universe.
Which isn’t a bad idea. They talk about bringing back some of the original cast to reprise their roles (for a fee of course), using the Unreal 4 engine and making this big open MMO for players to explore. I don’t hate the idea of any of this, I think it’s really cool. But I also think this small team is biting off way more then they can ever hope to handle. At least, to reach the goals set by this project and with the limited amount of funding they no doubt have. And their growing fanbase is still extremely small by any measurable standard.
The biggest problem with this fan remake? It’s something that could very easily been shut down and I have a really hard time supporting it. It’s not officially sanctioned by CBS/Paramount and there is a Star Trek MMO on the market right now that does a lot of the things BCII promises. Granted, I don’t really like that particular MMO as it leans far too much on the WoW formula but it works and people enjoy it. It’s probably why the Indiegogo campaign utterly failed to pick up any steam whatsoever, only making ~$1,000 of a $500,000 goal. I mean, doubtless some of that is because the community has moved on but also because many are no doubt wondering if/when Paramount will come around and shut the whole experiment down. As for myself, well, that currently running MMO and recently released movie-based games makes projects like these….really questionable in my mind. Sure, some of those games are pretty awful. But they have the right to make awful games under the Star Trek license. This project does not. It’s one thing if you’re trying to update a game and bring it to modern OSes. That requires the original game in most cases in order to run. This project on the other hand doesn’t require the original game. It’s quite another thing to build an entire new game and ask for money. Even if that money is currently optional, it’s pretty obvious that you’re going to need more if you want to bring this project to completion.
I understand the desire to have a sequel to a favorite game. There are far too many games I’ve played that got the short end of the stick with lack of post-release support or even new sequels to rejuvenate the franchises. But I won’t support a fan remake if it’s not officially supported by the rights holders and they can be easily reached. Furthermore, the franchise isn’t dead. So, doing this is asking to be sued/shutdown. I would say that the right’s holders are in the clear to shut this project down. Especially since the team behind BCII is asking money for it from an indiegogo campaign, that admittedly failed. They could possibly get away with this if money wasn’t a part of the equation but they made it one. And Paramount guards its trademarks jealously.
I’ve been slightly tempted to try out the alpha but I’m not crazy about installing software from an unknown source or letting a poorly optimized game mucking around with my computer. The minimum specs are pretty insane: CPU: At least an AMD FX-6100 or Intel i7 3517 series or above, RAM: 8GB DDR3 or above and GPU: AMD R9 270x or Nvidia GeForce 950 GTX. The only reason I’m talking about this project is that the Facebook page is still active and they’re clearly working on it. And while I wish them the best, I think they’re playing with fire. Anyway, I felt like talking about it today as a curiosity that I found on the internet. No other particular reason.
Thanks for reading as always.