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Courtesy of fortyseven communications

Star Trek Fleet Command, a new MMO real-time strategy and role-playing game, set in the 2009, 2013, and 2016 cinematic Star Trek universe, takes flight today on iOS and Android.

Developed by Scopely (the award-winning mobile games publisher behind such popular franchises as WWE Champions (iOS, Android), Walking Dead: Road To Survival (iOS, Android), YAHTZEE With Buddies (iOS, Android), and Wheel of Fortune: Free Play (iOS, Android)) and CBS Interactive (Download.com's parent company), the free-to-play game puts you in a galaxy that the Federation, Klingon, and Romulan forces are all fighting to control.

You're the commander of a starbase, tasked with enlisting the right officers (James T. Kirk, Spock, Nero, and Uhura, for example) each with unique skills; collecting and bolstering powerful ships like the Enterprise, the Romulan Warbird, and Klingon Bird of Prey for an epic fleet; and making use of the most powerful technologies to set you on a course for success in epic battles. But sometimes peace negotiations are in order, so ultimately those who also possess the best strategic and diplomatic skills will succeed in dominating the galaxy.

SEE: Top Star Trek apps for streaming and games

Star Trek Fleet Command, which allows players to "boldly go where no one has gone before," is different than previous Star Trek games in that it's the first free-roaming MMO Star Trek game to combine role-playing game style progression and real-time battles with enemy ships on smartphones and tablets. With its AR feature, it also, for the first time, brings the USS Enterprise into your orbit.

Download.com spoke to David Eckelberry, VP of Game Design at Scopely, about the inspiration behind the game, some of its most innovative aspects, and the moral lessons that it imparts.

What inspired the creation of Star Trek Fleet Command? What inspired the story?

Ultimately, credit for Star Trek Fleet Command's inspiration belongs to Gene Roddenberry. We grew up watching "Star Trek" on television, with fond memories of James Tiberius Kirk, Jean-Luc Picard, and others. For some, like me, we started with late-night syndicated viewing of "The Original Series."

For others, the final frontier was explored with the "Next Generation," "DS:9," or "Voyager." Or some combination of all of the above.

Roddenberry's bright, interesting, and optimistic dream of humanity's future captured the attention of fans for decades. For us, Fleet Command represented a new way to explore that galaxy, with players in charge of making new decisions and determining their future in a universe we all came to love.

In which ways will the game feel familiar to Star Trek fans and in which ways different?

Many familiar elements, characters, ships, and technologies can be found in Fleet Command. You'll be able to find -- and eventually, build -- your own USS Enterprise, take to the stars, and face the unknown. You'll meet Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and others. You can explore the galaxy and find your place there, with missions that take you from one distant corner to another.

The most significant surprise our players may discover is that Starfleet isn't the only game in town. You can sign yourself up to defend the noble and much-lauded United Federation of Planets if you want that sort of thing. Or you can find that your path is a more honorable one, committed to defending your people and forging a path that's more about valor than convenience or peace. The Klingons will be looking for you. Other players may find that neither justice nor honor is what they need, but instead cunning strategy -- and victory at any means. They need only visit Romulus for their true calling.

We've never witnessed a Star Trek series that was centered outside the perspective of the human-led Federation. Perhaps now you can build that narrative on your own.

What are the greatest and most innovative aspects of the game?

Fleet Command lies at the intersection of several games and genres. To some players, the focus may be on the role-playing, as they gather crews of starship officers for their adventures. Then they can venture out on missions throughout Federation, Romulan, and Klingon space; make decisions that affect standing, offer rewards, and establish their role in the galaxy; and even increase the power of their crew and build synergies within them.

Other players may enjoy the strategic and economic game, building up a fleet of ships, a starbase, and then researching technologies to gain advantages on rivals and enemies, or seeking out the optimal plan to combine upgrades, mining, and seizing territory.

Still, others may take up the grand game of diplomacy. Numerous players all seek to gain power in the galaxy, but none of them can truly succeed and dominate without building the alliance to support them. Allies can offer solutions to problems and answers to questions. They help identify the enemies, track them down, and ultimately share in a common defense -- or offense.

Or embrace the narrative experience. Players can find out what discoveries are scattered across the many star systems to visit in Fleet Command and what the core mystery is all about. Who or what is Maia, the artificial intelligence that proves so helpful? Who constructed it, and why? Who among the great powers of the galaxy know about her, and what are their plays ahead? The mission system is part tutorial, part epic story, and part guide for all players to find their way within Fleet Command. Start there, and then find out what kind of player you want to be.

What keeps the game challenging?

Different missions provoke different challenges. Hostile marauders roam the galaxy, and while their cargo may prove precious and valuable, they won't part with it easily. Even the Pakleds may have a few tricks up their sleeves to keep would-be heroes on their toes. Or at least, with their shields fully charged.

Ultimately, the challenge comes not just from the challenges that we, the game developers, forge for you, but from what all of the players make of their shared universe. Will you rally other players into a strong alliance that allows you to progress and succeed together, beyond any other? Will you take up arms against others, proving a tyrant of space? This is a shared universe, with all the opportunities to lead, to defend, to ally, and to betray. Who will you trust?

Can players without great familiarity with Star Trek enjoy this game? How so?

Fans of Star Trek will catch a few more of the references and jokes. Whether they call themselves Trekkies or Trekkers, players who know Star Trek well may need a bit less explanation when it comes to understanding the advantage of a stronger deflector dish or the value of the warp engines. All told though, everyone enters Fleet Command on equal footing, with guides to make sure that no one gets lost along the way. It's a grand new adventure, with new ideas for everyone to explore.

"Star Trek" TV episodes were typically organized around morality lessons. What are the morals of this game?

Just as Mr. Rogers sought to impart his wisdom to young children, for many of us, Star Trek offered a prescription to make a better world, and to better ourselves in the process. Let's consider the lesson of self-sacrifice: where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one, exemplified most famously by Kirk and Spock in a reactor core, but in every rush to the aid of those in distress. In Fleet Command, you can choose to defend your friends, but also form new alliances, to warn others of dangerous and aggressive foes, and then take up arms to defend the weaker among you -- even at a cost.

Then there's the push to keep exploring and to keep learning. The future doesn't hold promise if the universe can't surprise it, and we can't keep surprising ourselves with what we may be capable of. We learn, we progress, and we grow.

The advantages of diverse representation, with starship crews representing not only varied cultures and ethnicities of Earth but by alien species and even artificial persons, each with equal rights and opportunities. In Fleet Command, the friend you make may be from another state, another region, another country, or another hemisphere. And once we get that SETI application integration, who knows?

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Takeaways

  • Star Trek Fleet Command, a new MMO real-time strategy and role-playing game, set in the Star Trek universe takes flight today on iOS and Android.
  • Star Trek Fleet Command, which allows players to "boldly go where no one has gone before," brings the USS Enterprise into your orbit for the first time, with its cool AR feature.


Catch the trailer for Star Trek Fleet Command here:

Also see

Joshua is an editor for CNET's Download.com. He covers the mobile tech and apps that power our lives and interviews celebrities about their favorite apps. Previously, he worked as an editor at Healthline and Gay.com and as a contributing writer for Mac Directory, MacAddict, SF Weekly, SF Examiner, and SF Chronicle.