In this edition of meet the team, itís our pleasure to introduce Josh Ferguson, one of the Star Trek Online teamís content designers. Josh works specifically in exploration content, so when youíre boldly going where no man has gone before, he's the guy to remember!
What do you do on Star Trek Online?
Iím a content designer. Specifically, I deal with a lot of the "Exploration Content." One of the core components of the Star Trek universe is the whole "Öwhere no one has gone before" idea, and Iím doing a lot the content work geared towards supporting that notion. No "One" may have seen precisely what the player is exploring, but there is a whole lot of work needed to make sure that it makes sense, plays well, fits Trek and above all Ö that it is fun.
How long have you worked in gaming, and what did you do before Star Trek Online?
Iíve been making games for 14 years. Iíve worked on quite a number of games over the years at companies like Turbine and Microprose, as well as more than four years here at Cryptic. I have a couple of shipped MMOs under my belt, but perhaps most relevant to STO's community, I had a somewhat minor role on Star Trek: Birth of the Federation Ė a game which I still remember very fondly, even though it has been a decade since it shipped.
Who is your favorite Star Trek character and why?
Hands down, I loved Morn from DS9. He was the source of a lot of humor, sure, but his greatest strength was in how the other characters spoke to and about him. Itís that kind of nuance and implied background that I think Star Trek has always been a fantastic source of.
Trek has always conveyed a rich universe in subtle ways, from the numerous Mirror Universe stories down to Spockís arched eyebrow accompanied with a dry "fascinating Ö." Morn exemplified that. I was among the group that so wanted him to have the final words in the series finale of DS9.
What is an interesting fact about you that players would be surprised to know?
Given the international flavor of our community and of Star Trek fans in general, it might be of interest that I was born in a small town in Australia (Warrnambool). Though I grew up just outside of Seattle in the U.S., I spent a lot of summers (okay, winters in the Southern hemisphere) in both Melbourne and Canberra throughout my childhood.
Another unusual fact is that I entered (and did well in) a couple of demolition derbies when I was younger. I havenít come across too many other people who have participated in intentional car accidents as a spectator sport.
If you could choose to be an alien on Star Trek, which species would you want to be?
Voth are really cool, especially given their "Distant Origin Theory." While their society, as depicted on the show, was deeply mired in superstition and rigidity to the point of repression, I did love their ship and their look.
Which is cooler: monkeys, robots, pirates, or ninjas?
The designer in me balks at this question! The answer should be "whichever one the player wants to be." And there should be an odd number of choices, so we can adopt a much more interesting RPS style advantage/disadvantage balancing approach.
But the short answer is Ö Zombies.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to break into the gaming industry?
Get a college degree, and preferably not only one from one of the "game schools." Iíve certainly worked with, and respected, people who did not have a traditional college education, but I would strongly encourage people to get the breadth of knowledge and research habits that a four-year degree promotes. It will only help you make better games!
What was your first favorite video game?
Digging back into the early days, Iíd have to say that there were a couple of games that I loved dearly and really helped shape my thinking, and even my choice of career. I played so much Elite on my C64 that the red floppy disk wore out. Then there was a game called Adventure Construction Set, also on the Commodore 64, that I spent a large chunk of my young life trying to fill up with game ideas Ė so much so that it felt more like work than a game. I do remember banging my head against various restrictions of the hardware and the software! Things have come an extraordinary distance since those days, but we still seem to always be right at the edge of stretching those same boundaries. Luckily, I can actually help stretch those boundaries today Ö and get a paycheck for it!