After Bethesda Softworks acquired the rights to make Star Trek games last year, they hired famed screenplay writer D. C. Fontana (Trek, Babylon 5, Earth: Final Conflict) and her writing partner Derek Chester to script the storylines for Star Trek Legacy and Star Trek: Tactical Assault. Fontana's participation in these projects underscores a growing trend in game development, where top writing talent is being brought in to supplement next generation production values. She believes this is healthy for the industry: "Today, the games have to have more going on in them--story, character, crisis or conflict, goals. Because of that, I believe writers will begin to see the possibilities in this form of storytelling."
Fontana also penned Activision's well-received Bridge Commander, and Legacy has promising previews. However, the valuable experience that Hollywood writers and bestselling authors bring to the table doesn't always guarantee a successful game. While R. A. Salvatore's Demon Stone may have been a decent platformer, not even Chris Claremont could save X-Men: The Official Game, and Dungeons & Dragons writer Keith Baker's efforts weren't enough to overcome the uninspired gameplay of Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom. Still, it's refreshing to see a focus on narrative that has served companies like BioWare so well.
Star Trek Legacy will be released next week for the PC and Xbox 360, and will feature the voice talent of all five starship captains from Archer to Janeway. Hopefully, it will fare better than its handheld sibling Tactical Assault, which has suffered a Khan-like wrath from gaming critics.