Hello my friends, and welcome to this episode of the Space Game Junkie Podcast! This week, Jim, Hunter and I welcome on one of the designers behind one of personally my favorite games, Star Trek: Klingon Academy. Brent Kollmansberger worked on both design and story for this legendary game, and fortunately he remembers quite a bit! We therefore talk about the formation of the project with a whole new team, what he’d do differently if he had to make the game again, what he’s most proud of and much more. We get some fantastic insight into the game, its design, development and much more, and it just makes me giddy to learn more about it. We also welcome on former guest Ken Burnside to talk about his involvement in the Starfleet Battles board game, of which Brent is a big fan. It was basically a mutual geekout society. ;)
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:35:10 — 30.6MB)
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Next week, we have an early show because our guest is overseas, so join us at 6 AM pacific time next Tuesday as we talk to the developer of Galactineers. As always, if you have a question or suggestion, you can leave it in the comment below, email us at email@example.com or hit us up on the forums. Thanks for listening/watching, and enjoy the show!
P.S. We had some Skype/Internet issues this time out, so the recording cut out a couple of times. I’ve edited the MP3 file as best I can, but if you wanna hear the whole unfiltered show, watch the YouTube vid. :) Thanks!
- K-dog Games Facebook Page
- Wizard Rage X-Box Marketplace Page
- K-dog Games Blog
- Coding with K-dog
- Starfleet Command
- Starfleet Academy
- Energy Hook
3 thoughts on “SGJ Podcast #162 – Klingon Academy”
Great interview guys. I happened to be perusing Klingonacademy.com’s forums to see what was new lately and a member had posted this interview. It was long, but worth it.
There are various pieces of back history I know and that I’m sure other people know far better.
– Yes, all of us KA fans would love a copy of Brent’s KA master spreadsheet. LOL :0D
– If you never got a chance to read Ron Hodge’s KA Post Mortem piece, it’s worth the read: https://web.archive.org/web/20070614001748/https://klingonacademy.3dactionplanet.gamespy.com/view.php?pg=KAPostMortem
– Ginsuing rocked. Too bad Totally Games couldn’t do something similar with Bridge Commander. All TG did was bring all their old Star Wars game tricks over to create a mediocre ship destruction system.
– The other voice program I recall that was around at the time was Roger Wilco.
– Piloting, not flying. ;0)
– With Bridge Commander, I always played in Chase View because I wanted to see all the eye candy and not be couped up on the bridge.
– Gunnery Chair mode was a “why bother” feature. Using the gunnery chair meant giving ship control to the developmentally challenged AI. More often than not, the AI would try to dodge incoming fire at the risk of it hitting an exposed hull rather than maneuver the ship so an up shield could take the hit. It did far more to put the ship in danger, like play chicken with planets and lose. It would have been so much better if resources would have been put to something more important, like a external camera system that tracked your target.
– Yes! Situational awareness sucked. The only time the camera would track your target is when you used the seldom used Gunnery Mode.
– With the scripts that were released by the KA team, there was a set that delt with external camera modes and a target tracking mode. I’m not a programmer, but in October 2016, I took a week or two to sift through a lot of the script code with Notpad++ to see if there was any way to create a script that would cause a ship’s external camera to follow your selected target. I wasn’t able to find anything that led me to believe there was a way to enable target tracking, but I didn’t exhaust all my query options towards people that might know more. instead, real life got in the way and I had to put that project on the back burner.
What I did deduce from old KA posts from experienced scripters and coders was that some of the KA scripting package components were incomplete. There was a camera utility script that fit that description. After some back and forth PMing with Klingonacademy.com’s admin, John Addison, and posting example code to get his take and input, he pretty much concurred. So, target tracking might or might not be possible. Including it should have been a no brainer requirement a la Bridge Commander. So, in KA, I just go to external camera mode, turn the camera around with the keyboard arrow keys so it’s facing the bow of the ship, and then I have my one button push check towards my aft area for half-assed situational awareness.
– Unless you meant Kang from TOS’s “Day of the Dove” or The Simpsons, it was General Chang. ;0)
– As Brent said, KA was an in house game engine that was a full overhaul of the broken SFA engine. Originally, Raphael Hernandez wanted to use the Volition FreeSpace 2 engine, which would have been awesome and a major time saver. True to form, cheap ass Interplay management nixed that idea and said the team had to do with the broken SFA engine. If it was up to me, I’d take a bat’leth to Brian Fargo and the rest of the Interplay management of the time for that and other decisions.
– Klingonacademy.com member Komat out of the Czech Republic is the one that spent the time going over DirectX 7 documentation to come up with the fixes and patches for KA to run at higher resolutions. https://jiridvorak.webpark.cz/ka/
– STO – Some of the space battles I’ve seen on YT look pretty cool, but others just looked like old school video game arcade stuff. The fact that the space combat isn’t 3D is also another turn off. So, I never ventured into it.
– Elite Force 1 & 2 were created by a quality game shop called Raven using IDs Quake 2 engine.
– If you don’t know and haven’t already interviewed the STExcalibur team working to overhaul Bridge Commander, you might look into them. Earlier this year, they switched over to the Unreal 4 engine. Previously, they were trying to make a new game engine with the original engine, but the age of the engine proved to be problematic. https://stexcalibur.com/
– First person shooters, EverQuest, and World of Warcraft started to eat into space sim gaming popularity too. Computer Gaming World’s 1999 Game of the Year was FreeSpace 2. It was labeled something like, “The Best Game No One Played”.
– Sounds like you have Squire James of the Klingon Academy II: Empire at War mod hang out on your FB page.
– The SOTSE mod is sweet and I’ve seen Gul Dukat game play on YT videos via another reviewer.
– Star Trek: New Worlds, never played it, but a NZ guy I know did and he said it was quite buggy. Dubbed “StarCraft meets Star Trek”.
– The demise of Interplay – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interplay_Entertainment
– If you haven’t seen it: Never before seen gameplay footage from Star Trek: Secret of Vulcan Fury – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds_XKnhjRfA
– You can make some KA mods if you have the right tools, like LightWave 5.6 and preferably LW7 for ship creation or modification, and you know what files to alter, but you can’t really mod the game engine. The ka.exe file is pretty much locked down. Short of a decompiling ka.exe using the source code, which is elusive to non-existent, you really can’t do too much. Even so, you’d be better off getting a hold of a copy of something like the FreeSpace 2 engine to remake KA. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FreeSpace_2_Source_Code_Project
– The KA Mission Builder never saw the light of day. There was a guy on the Klingonacademy.com website named Lil Dave from NZ that tried to make one, but from what I heard and what he told me, it was a bit buggy. He was one of the people associated with the KA spin-off “Romulan Dawn” project. Never played it. So, I can’t give any feedback.
– That bit about collisions when you seem to have enough distance might be due to how the ships were made in LightWave. If you look up “gaming bounding box”, I think it might be part of the issue. When the ships were created, a box with a preset distance is automatically created around the ship object. For collision detection, it might be that it’s the boxes of each ship that are colliding rather than the ship models themselves that inset inside their respective boxes. So, even when you have X-km between you and an oncoming ship, that might be the distance between ship models, but not each ship’s bounding box. Now, I could be wrong, but I think that’s the reason. Regardless, it would have made so much sense during the klaxon warning to have a distance indicator reading popping up under the target reticle so you didn’t have to keep darting your eyes to the other distance indicator to see if you were getting too close before veering off a target.
– Interesting. It’d be nice to know what the original ship scale was per ship so we could alter it in a ship’s SHP file to see if it reduces or elminates the distance underestimation leading to collision.
– Patch 1.01 addressed the most flagrant collisions that were reminiscent of the Romulan command cruiser backing up into the Klingon K’T’inga in the first demo. I don’t recall what Patch 1.02 fixed and modified.
– Inon Zur was the KA score composer. Honestly, I hated the KA score and didn’t think much about Zur because ot it. Then, years later, I played Crysis, of which he was he composer. I was impressed and happy to hear that he had improved so much from the KA score. If you look for them, there are some great Inon Zur interviews. Interestingly, he’s scored a lot of big game titles. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inon_Zur
– From what I saw in a GOG forum regarding KA, it looks like it might be in the works. https://www.gog.com/forum/star_trek_starfleet_academy/klingon_academy/post9
– The “voice” part of the VOS actually meant that you’d hear voice commands per 10-keyed in commands or keyboard function key command selected.
Star Trek Klingon Academy: Downloads – https://gaming.trekcore.com/klingonacademy/downloads.html (Hint: DVD Kit)
The old Interplay KA website on a CZ site – https://www.startrekgames.cz/site_ka/development.html
If you want to up your KA gaming fun, here are three ship mods I revised because I wanted something more like I saw and heard in Star Trek TOS episodes and TMP movies.
Best using slowest KA game speed setting.
PES Revised TMP USS Enterprise 1701 2.1 Battle Scene 3.0
USS Enterprise (TMP) vs. K’T’inga D7 (TMP) – Test Video
Release: PES Revised TMP USS Enterprise 1701 2.1
IKV Amar vs. USS Enterprise (Test Video 1.1)
Release: Moonraker’s Revised TMP IKV Amar 2.0
USS Enterprise (TOS) vs. Romulan “Legion” Light Cruiser
Release: PES Revised TOS USS Enterprise 1701 2.x
My Klingon Academy YT page
Amazing post, thanks so much for sharing, and welcome!
You’re very welcome.
I’ve got a kind of love/hate relationship with KA, but as you guys said, it’s really the only game in town. So, when I had time, I learned how to do some things to make parts of it more like I wanted. As for the videos, they’re just hobby quality, but they allow me to do some other fun creative stuff when I have time.
Although, on the learning curve word of warning, you might have to adjust your sound card equalizer settings. Newbie me forgot to disengage my equalizer during game and music play for some videos. So, the sound on a number of videos got over amplified/driven. Adjusting the sound card EQ sliders down a notch takes care of most of the problem in addition to varying the volume.