Star Trek Online: Characters Creatored

By John Walker on December 18th, 2009 at 11:10 pm.

It's okay, they're behind glass.

The Star Trek Online beta has for some reason allowed us in. So of course this means spending my entire afternoon playing with the character creator. It’s made by Cryptic. Can you guess whether it’s brilliant or not? It’s brilliant.

What they’ve done is very clever. Currently there’s only access to the Federation side, which means the pre-created races available are Human, Andorian, Bajoran, Bolian, Vulcan, and Ferengi. But of course there’s also “Unknown”, the option to let you mould a new alien race for the Star Trek universe. But that comes later.

If you’ve played City of Heroes or Champions Online you’ll know quite how extraordinary Cryptic’s character creators are. Others attempt to offer the same lists of options, but almost none are able to produce the same results. (I’d say the one exception that I’ve spotted is Saints Row 2.) The same is true here. The nuance available to you with the tiniest of tweaks is fantastic, and unlike so many competitors’ creators, changing one value doesn’t obliterate your hard work with the others. Each setting is able to interact with the others without distorting it, so if you want to mess around with your head width, it isn’t going to muck up the mouth size or nostril depth you so carefully picked out.

What they’ve done for pre-established races is very smart. Rather than letting you go crazy-go-mad with the settings, each is carefully fixed so you can’t step outside the boundaries of realistic (if you’ll pardon the term being used when dealing with making alien faces). So for instance, pick a Bolian and it will offer you a generic blue seamed head. Attempt to go crazy and you’ll be able to make something odd, but not insane. And most of all, you won’t be able to give him hair. For instance. Default Bolian:

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And the most messed up Bolian I could make:

He’s not a handsome chap, but it could be worse.

The same works for all races. However, you can get silly. A Vulcan has to have pointy ears, but he can also have Klingon dreads that hide them:

The same logic applies throughout. You can give a Ferengi a big head, but you can’t change his ears, or give him blue skin. It makes sense – you’re dealing with established species. But crucially, the enormous array of facial options means you can create a completely unique Ferengi, Andorian or Human. As well as picking out uniform designs and colours to enhance that. But then there’s Unknown.

Start your own race and you can go batshit. Suddenly all the options for all the races are available, along with a bunch of very silly bits and pieces you can attach. It’s not quite as detailed as I’d have thought it might be, and I wonder if more options might be added before the game’s out, but with a relatively limited set of extras you can make some very odd looking beasts.

I’m not the sort who goes straight in to make the most monstrous thing possible on my first go. I can’t help but make something I’d want to play as, so my first creation, one Carina, is an elaborate and detailed creature, but I’d say still relatively sensible.

With a character I want to play as created, then it was time to get silly. Meet Fugly:

What surprises me is that she’s not already a race in the Star Trek universe. And now for a bonus, here’s Zachary Quinto mucking about in a recording studio:

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44 Comments »

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  1. invisiblejesus says:

    OK, making your own alien race sounds pretty cool. I may have to temper my cynicism about this game in light of that.

  2. Sir Forkington says:

    what’s with the weird fisheye effect on the last image?

    • John Walker says:

      There’s no fisheye effect.

    • Sir Forkington says:

      You sure? the right hand side seems stretched a tad, or is it possible to make lopsided people? because that would be.. interesting.

    • John Walker says:

      It’s just an optical illusion caused by the weirdness of her face and the slight angle she’s turned to.

    • Premium User Badge

      Arathain says:

      Yup, I think it really is just that ugly.

    • Calabi says:

      So ugly it distorts photons.

    • lethu says:

      Man I laughed so hard at that last one, silly is a really matching word here. I even had tears of joy, well done, I wonder what it would be like, running into some real playable character like this one in the game universe and then interacting with him, might be worth a thousand acid trips, this game is starting to grab my attention, I will be watching it more closely.

      I just hope they won’t refract and do as Funcom did with the Age of Conan character creator during the beta, it was really displaced off their part.

    • Gutter says:

      Maybe the creator allows to customize breasts individually?

  3. EyeMessiah says:

    Then you will see, it is not the fisheye effect that bends, it is only yourself.

  4. Railick says:

    The one you made is actually very cool looking (not fugly) I would play as that race. I think it would be neat if you could make your own race and actually establish it (save give it a home world) and then other players could pick from a list of player created races that are okayed by the developers so that race actually starts to propagate ect.

    Still I could certainly see this getting out of hand and making Star Trek very un-Star Trek (How many milliseconds will it take for someone to make a face that looks like a human sex organ?) I mean there are some star trek races that are already pretty close ;P

    • invisiblejesus says:

      It did cross my mind reading this that it’d be really cool if a group of friends/guildmates all made up characters from the same race and really played it up as part of the setting.

  5. Railick says:

    I hate Bolians cause it looks like they’re face is spliting in half and it makes me sick to think about that happening to me.

  6. Web Cole says:

    Why does your Vulcan with Klingon Dreads look like somebody’s granny? (That is to say, if somebody’s granny had had breast implants).

    Basically what I’m getting at is man-face(hello ‘tache!) huge-knockers.

    • DrazharLn says:

      I think if it zoomed out a little you would see that those are pecs, not breasts.

  7. mandrill says:

    The big fight for the Sci-Fi MMO space next year is going to be between SWTOR and STO (a conflict as old as time itself it would seem) and STO’s character creation is going to be one of the weapons in Cryptic’s arsenal in that battle. Will STTOR have anything to match it? We’ll have to wait and see.

    On another somewhat unrelated note; what determines one’s eligibility for these beta programs? I have had applications in for pretty much all of the recent MMOs that have entered beta testing, and whilst people I know have been chosen for them I, alas, have not. It would be nice to know what I’m doing wrong.

    • -Spooky- says:

      I see no “fight”.. STO / CO chareditor is not all, when the gameplay sux.

  8. Wulf says:

    I’m increasingly disappointed by the realisation that the races are probably going to be nothing more than the “Hey, let’s see what happens if we let this group of girl scouts, along with their beautician kits, and this group of rabble-rousing young lads and their play-dough have at it upon the face of that there sleeping hobo.” nonsense of TNG and later.

    The truly interesting Tholians won’t be seen at all. The really quite interesting Gorn will probably be on the faction that has to engage in PVP to advance. Not to mention that the Kzinti-inspired Caitians, whose culture I would love to elucidate upon through RP, will likel be completely absent as they’re only partially canon.

    A Star Trek MMO could have a lot of potential for mind-bogglingly alien races, but I fear that the most we’ll see are the Gorn as a shallow PvP element.

    I’d love to be proved wrong, as I want to like this and I want to believe it has some of the TOS magic, but the more I see the more I feel that I’m just setting myself up to be knocked down at the end of the day.

    Oh well… there’s always Guild Wars 2 and the truly magnificent Charr to look forward to! \:D/

  9. Dinger says:

    Do what I do, Mandrill: on the application form, in the field “name”, put “Peter Molyneux”.

  10. bill says:

    The world’s greatest Forehead Simulator?? Sweet.

  11. Nick says:

    Fugly is obviously a sweet and sensitive soul, who is just looking for someone to love/eat. Also I think that the creator is feeling up her left breast.

    Can you export races to other people? It’d be quite cool to have an RPS race.

  12. StalinsGhost says:

    Two arms? Two legs? TWO EYES?!

    I am unimpressed!

    Nah, looks pretty nifty, really.

    • Morte says:

      “Two arms? Two legs? TWO EYES?!”

      … and all the planets look like California

    • StalinsGhost says:

      It’s a widely known fact that neo-Borg-Arnie decided that it wasn’t enough to bring you to California through cheesy commercials, but he must bring California to you!

  13. Larington says:

    Sir, you have created an alien race that looks more interesting than almost every race in Star Trek, surely that is not allowed.

    And, if you can combine the experience of 10s of some skilled physician into a hologram, why do they even bother having like, more than 5 real human crew members on board a federation starship, why not crew these things up almost entirely with holographic crew members? It’d mean less letters sent to parents telling them about how person x sacrificed his/her life for some good or other, afterall.

    • Starky says:

      Power requirements.

      If they staffed the ship with holograms, they’d not have enough power to remodulate the deflector dish to solve whatever problem they happen to face.

    • Ace says:

      Probably because people like to fly about on spaceships instead of having holograms fly about.

  14. Dolphan says:

    The backstory is based around a Klingon-Gorn war, so I really doubt they’d be on the Klingon faction. Looks like they’ll definitely feature, though I doubt they’ll be playable (unless you can be a rogue federation one, Worf-style).

    • Wulf says:

      @Dolphan

      I phrased that badly.

      What I’m getting at is that the Gorn are a warrior race, the Klingons are a warrior race, therefore, it might be fair to consider that the Gorn will probably get the same kind of PvP content as the Klingons, as opposed to the PvE content that the Feds are getting. I expect the Gorn will just be another PvP faction, and should I pick Gorn, I’d end up having to fight other players, rather than being able to go off gallivanting around the Universe, exploring, and exclaiming expletives in a loud and confused way at whatever bizarre things I might find.

      I can hope that the Gorn would have PvE content, but seeing what they’ve done with the Klingons, I’m hesitant to get my hopes up. Yeah?

  15. Tei says:

    He.

    To me the only difference from Star Wars and Star Trek, from Space Opera to Epic Space Exploration is that on Star Trek the lasers are lasers. When you shot a laser, theres a beam of coherent light from your weapon to the target, maybe perforating the target and continuing beyond to the infinity. Since light move at the speed of light. Lets hope that on STO the beams are instant, and not something else…

  16. Chiablo says:

    Aion has some really good messed up character settings in it.

    The first thing I do when I get an MMO is make a character named Max Slider. Every facial or body option that can be modified is set to max.

  17. Eddie Bax says:

    That ‘messed up’ Bolian looks an awful lot like China Mieville. Considering the size of China’s guns, and the potential hurt they could inflict, I’d instead call him a ‘ruggedly handsome’ Bolian.

  18. Baris says:

    I can’t really see there being a ‘fight’ between TOR and STO, most likely TOR won’t even acknowledge STO and STO will struggle to carve out a niche market of gamers that like space but prefer Star Trek to Star Wars.

  19. Paul says:

    No, they’re not “partially canon.” They aren’t canon at all. Therefore, they’re a no go, as CBS won’t let them stray too far.

  20. Appiah says:

    I remember reading that unknown species can be given a name, background and the template can be published. It might have been in the STO FAQ.

  21. Nerdo says:

    In this game the Klingons beat the Gorn and they’re on the same side.

    Neat character creator.

    The Caitian are neat, but mostly just derived of Larry Niven’s self-insert kzinti which he got by writing an episode of the Star Trek cartoon. Kinda lazy and self-promoting on his part IMO. If they put those in, which I’d be happy to see despite what I said, I’d like to see them fleshed out properly.

    My pointless nerd-rage aside, the game looks to me to be shaping up pretty well. I’ll give it a go.

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    I expect the Gorn will just be another PvP faction, and should I pick Gorn, I’d end up having to fight other players, rather than being able to go off gallivanting around the Universe, exploring, and exclaiming expletives in a loud and confused way at whatever bizarre things I might find.

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