By Chris Menard:
I'm Chris Menard, one of the FX artist here at Cryptic. For the last few months it's been my nerd-tastic pleasure to work on Star Trek Online.
When I first heard that I was going to be working on STO I was ecstatic. As a long time Star Trek fan, I saw this as a golden opportunity to become an active part of the Star Trek universe and to leave my mark upon it in some small way. My only concern as an artist is that I would just be making beams and lens flares.
Yeah, my first day threw that misconception right out the window.
During my time on Champions Online, I got a bit of a rep for being the guy that always did it big and over-the-top. We were making super heroes, after all. Also, we had almost free reign to make the powers look as cool as we could make them, so I took some liberties. I would then start every new effect with a question like, "What does a mega force blast look like?" From there it was just a matter of trying out different things until the effect took shape.
STO, I quickly discovered, was an entirely different creative challenge. Everyone knows what phasers look like. Everyone knows what photon torpedoes look like. And, if they don't look exactly right, you're gonna get called on it. On top of that, we were challenged with modernizing the in-game FX and to look more like the technology that evolved since Champions Online's Nemesis Confrontation release.
When it comes to making FX in STO the first thing I go for is reference. I am constantly searching for clips from the shows and movies. A lot of care and research goes into every effect, so we know the fans will freak out and be like "OMG it truly is an Iconian gateway!"