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Writers Workshop: Writing Physical Descriptions

Whether you are reading a novel or a sim, visualisation is a huge part of the experience. We allow our minds to imagine the scene we are reading, the descriptions helping to form the pictures in our head. We are fortunate to have an incredibly talented bunch of people who help create images for our characters, but what about side characters – those specific to a mission, or a background character for example? Whilst we may have an idea of how our crewmates look, we may not always know just how those around them look.

In this article, we are going to be looking at how you can improve the descriptions that you write about characters.


Lower Decks Interview: Lieutenant Junior Grade Malko, Starbase 118 Ops

We’re here with another interview with a newer member of our community. The title of this column is “Lower Decks,” hearkening back to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled “Lower Decks,” in which junior officers aboard the Enterprise-D speculate on the reasons for recent unusual actions taken by the command crew near the Cardassian border.

This month’s interview is with the writer behind Lieutenant JG Malko playing a Denobulan male Counselor assigned to Starbase 118 Ops.

GALVEN: Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?

MALKO: Hello, and cheers to all the readers! I am a graphic designer in Toronto who works on kids’ television, Photoshopping goofy things that appear on Amazon, Hulu, PBS and TVO! On the weekend I’m the drummer in a bar band, perform in community theatre and host a drunken Dungeons and Dragons podcast.

What has been your favorite moment writing aboard Starbase 118 Operations?

Recently, I got to write a sim that started off as a pretty innocuous sim – a routine engineering check – that turned into a ‘Tell-tale Heart’ style mystery that flip-flopped between murder and a dessert related catastrophe! The stakes were very low, comparatively to many of the gripping sims Malko has been a part of, but that’s what afforded me freedom to have fun with it. Of course, I do have to commend Lieutenant Commander Rustyy Hael on being a good sport and running with it!


Duty Post Award winner – Gogigobo Fairhug, Starbase 118 Ops (Semper Fidelis)

Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of Duty Post awards from our recent 2018 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write, and imagine their characters.

This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Major Gogigobo Fairhug playing a Bardeezan male Marine assigned to Starbase 118 Ops. He won the Semper Fidelis award: “For those Starfleet Marines who have shown great skill in protecting their crew, accomplishing their mission, avoiding tragic loss of life in the line of duty, and upholding the values of the UFoP in times of crisis.”

ORREY: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from?

FAIRHUG: I hail from London, England and despite travelling fairly extensively around our globe for many years, I seem to have found myself back exactly where I started!

What’s been your favorite part about simming a Marine officer so far?

Gogi never had any aspirations of being a Marine, having started off as a Security Officer. But due to some unforeseen circumstances, he found himself taking up the role of CO for the Iron Jaegers – Starbase 118 Ops’ Marine contingent. Therefore, my favourite part about simming a Marine has definitely been Gogi’s internal (and external) struggle of trying to fit into this culture that he knew little to nothing about previously, while also attempting to keep the Marines onside, since he is effectively an outsider who has been given a position of command over them.


Poll of the Week: CSI: Starfleet

Star Trek has varied in tone and style over the years. An individual series can be more hopeful and with a retro science fiction style, or more dark and morally complex. It could even be live-action or animated. But in general, each main Star Trek series is of the same basic genre. What if the franchise decided to branch out in a big way for a new spinoff?

The launch of the new Picard series and the various projects related to Discovery have left plenty of options for spinoffs. Most of these proposed spinoff projects would be focused on particular characters. However, the Star Trek universe is full of characters, technologies, and alien worlds to explore. There could be room to explore that universe through a series that is in a slightly different genre from a traditional Trek series.

A police procedural or a medical drama set in the Star Trek universe would have a lot of options and more than fifty years of reference material to draw on. These other television genres might be unusual for the Star Trek universe, but they could certainly be an interesting look into various corners of the Trek universe.

Which television genre would make for an interesting Star Trek spinoff series?

Click here to head to the forums now and vote in this week’s poll. Be sure to leave a comment in the thread!


Duty Post Award Winner – Jarred Thoran, USS Atlantis (The Strange Medallion)

Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of Duty Post awards from our recent 2019 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write, and imagine their characters.

This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Commander Jarred Thoran playing a Human male assigned to the USS Atlantis where he’s now the Commanding Officer. In the 2019 Awards Ceremony, for his work as the First Officer of the Columbia, he won the Strange Medallion the duty post award that recognizes first officers. Named after Commander Sally Strange, widely known as one of the most creative and dedicated First Officers in the fleet’s early years, this award is given to those who perform above the call of duty in the position of First Officer.

GALVEN: Thank you for agreeing to have an interview with me! Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?

THORAN: It is my pleasure, thank you for having me! I’m Richard, currently a Brit residing in Germany where I am in the process of learning to fly helicopters for a living. I’ve been with the fleet for just over two and a half years, and have loved every minute of it. Outside of simming I am an avid reader, enjoy video games and am just starting to delve back into tabletop roleplaying.

Winning such a unique duty post award such as the Strange Medallion must be really exciting! Is there any kind of inspiration from anything in Star Trek or elsewhere when you write a scene?

It really was an honour to have been chosen to receive the award. The competition was very stiff as we are fortunate to have a great bunch of hard working and talented First Officers across the fleet.

With regards to inspiration, that is an interesting question. I will admit to not being as familiar with Star Trek as many others in the fleet, so I often find myself reading over Memory Alpha or the wiki trying to make sure I get the details correct. Sometimes I’ll stumble across something that will get the old grey matter firing. I’m also quite a visual person, so where possible I like to try and have an image of the surroundings to help me out. For example, I’ll refer to screen captures of Voyager, deck plans as well as search Google for anything similar to what I’m seeing in my head.


Poll of the Week: STO-king The Flames!

About two years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of playing a game with a number of my friends from the fleet. Though I’d played the game for a number of years, it was the first time I’d actually done it as a group. I had so much fun that it still rings in my mind today, and I long to try it again. The game, as you might have guessed from my oh-so-witty title, was Star Trek Online – a free-to-play MMORG set in a truly chaotic version of our beloved fictional universe. One of the best space combat simulators I’ve come across, STO permits people from around the world to easily find each other, and enjoy some battle together.

Some of you may have seen the hilarity that ensues when a number of our group participate in a round or two of Bridge Crew, and I’d like to see how viable that idea is in regards to STO. We have a fleet, but because there’s been little success in getting a solid presence in game, it hasn’t made much progress.

With that in mind, this week’s poll asks you for your opinion on Star Trek Online! Have you played it and enjoyed it? Never heard of it? Not a fan?

Head to the forums to register your vote in the poll now. And don’t forget to leave a comment in the thread!


Poll of the Week: I, Robot?

The Star Trek universe is home to all kinds of sentient life. The various humanoids that populate the galaxy are only the beginning. There are also the members of the enigmatic Q Continuum, giant crystalline beings, spaceborne animals, energy spirits, and a living nebula or two. But what about the androids, holoprograms, and computers of the galaxy?

Advances in the field of artificial intelligence produce artificial intelligences that are more and more lifelike and capable of things that would never be expected from the computers of previous generations. Even technology not typically treated as actual beings, such as the Enterprise D computer, have demonstrated the ability to develop a mind of their own with repeated use. The status of artificial beings such as Lieutenant Commander Data or Voyager’s EMH have been the central conflict in multiple episodes.

While Data and the other Soong androids are a unique case, there was nothing particularly exceptional about the EMH on Voyager until prolonged activation and accumulated experiences as the ship’s doctor caused him to expand beyond his original programming. If the Doctor could become a sentient being, is every hologram capable of the same transformation? Holoprograms such as the Doctor or Vic Fontaine appear to be the exception rather than the rule. What would the effects on life in the Federation change if every holoprogram and computer had the same rights as any other sentient being? How is sentience in an artificial being determined, if it is possible at all? That is the question we’d like to pose to you this week.

Do you think androids, holograms, and computers should be considered sentient beings?

Click here to head to the forums now and vote in this week’s poll. Be sure to leave a comment in the thread!


Duty Post Award Winner – Toryn Raga, USS Atlantis (Lwaxana Troi Medallion)

Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of Duty Post awards from our recent 2019 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write, and imagine their characters.

This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Lieutenant Commander Toryn Raga playing an Al-Layan male Mission Specialist assigned to the USS Atlantis. He won the Lwaxana Troi Medallion: “given to a member who takes a unique role outside of the normal StarFleet positions and creates a colorful and engaging character.”

GALVEN: Thank you for agreeing to have an interview with me! Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?

RAGA: Certainly! My name is Rameses, I’m a complete nerd (aren’t we all?) I’ve loved Star Trek since I saw episodes of TOS my parents showed. I’ve been with 118 for going on two years now, three maybe. I started at the tail end of 2394 I think. Yeah. October. So wow, three years almost! 

Winning such a unique duty post award such as Mission Specialist must be really exciting! Is there any kind of inspiration from anything in Star Trek or elsewhere when you write a scene?

It definitely is! And challenging as Mission Specialists are basically the Renaissance Men/Women of the fleet. They have to be whatever the ship and Captain needs them to be in a given moment. Which, the challenge for me is, as Raga is an Al-Leyan they are culturally prohibited from doing jobs outside what they were raised to do. In his case, a security/tactical one.

As for inspiration, I suppose it’s a mix of fiction and real world sources. At least as far as I see it, Mission Specialists are like special forces. In a way, I think they’re similar to the Starfleet Rangers. They lead, sometimes they’re alone doing a task, sometimes they have to switch between doing multiple things/roles at once. Sort of like Roadies in a way, or supporting sorts. Aragorn, the Rangers from Babylon 5, etc. 


Writers Workshop: Simming Wishlists

As we officially move into 2397 many people are thinking about resolutions, goals and changes for the upcoming year.  But how can you plan to maximize the fun and enjoyment you get from simming?

One exercise that works well for many players is a wishlist.  A wishlist means taking some time to plan out things you would really enjoy simming on several levels and then talking about that wishlist with your mentor, fellow crew and ship’s staff.  This not only helps you focus your writing into key areas that you enjoy the most, but it helps you communicate and collaborate with your fellow players to create a better game overall.


Poll of the Week: Prequel captain?

Prequels are a sensitive subject in many television and literary communities. While some believe them to be generally interesting, positive ideas, the sudden abundance of stories-before-stories has others taking a more cynical viewpoint.

Whatever your stance on this issue, it’s difficult to deny that the Star Trek captains we know and love have had very interesting histories, oftentimes touched on in their respective shows in interesting ways. Kirk’s days at the Academy and his time on the Farragut and Republic had profound effects on his decisions and character years later. Picard’s early command of the Valiant and his background in archaeology have been touched on in novels, and might yield an interesting dive into how he became the man known more commonly to fans. Archer’s time as a test pilot during the race to warp 5, and the resulting tensions and issues with the Vulcan people, might well be a fascinating examination of how Earth grew and changed from war-ravaged hell to peaceful utopia.

This week’s poll asks which captain you’d most like to see a prequel series focus on.

Head to the forums to add your vote in the poll, and don’t forget to leave a comment!


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