Star Trek Online for PC and console

You have the helm, Mr Cryptic.

The worst-kept secret in massively multiplayer gaming has been outed: the troubled Star Trek Online project has been saved from oblivion and is in development with City of Heroes creator Cryptic Studios.

Star Trek Online is being developed "for both PC and console formats". No word on which consoles, although we'd say Xbox 360 is more than likely since Cryptic's other project, superhero MMO Champions Online, is coming to Microsoft's machine.

Players will take the role of a starship captain for either the Federation or Klingons, and take part in both deep-space shipboard gameplay and exploration of planet surfaces, and other ships, on foot. You'll be able to outfit and customise your ship before engaging in space battles, and recruit and train a crew.

The game is set just after all existing Star Trek movies and television shows. "Immerse yourself in the future of the Star Trek universe as it moves into the 25th century: a time of shifting alliances and new discoveries," says the official website.

The first screens show highly colourful and dense space-scapes as well as planet surfaces lush with vegetation. There is also a giant mushroom forest, which seems to have become an obligatory feature of every new MMO since World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade's Zangarmarsh.

Star Trek Online was previously being made by Perpetual before that studio shut down last year, and transferred the rights to a "Bay Area developer", now known to be Crytpic.

"Star Trek has been a part of my entire life," said Cryptic's chief creative officer Jack Emmert in an open letter on the website.

"There are few other fictional backgrounds that fit the MMORPG medium so well. After all, Star Trek was never about a single character, ship or even planet; Star Trek was always about an entire universe. And MMORPGs are uniquely suited to create such a thing and allow players to explore every inch."

He also reassured fans that Cryptic sees Star Trek as being "as much about exploration as combat. As much about the variety of alien civilizations as it is about the core Vulcans, Klingons, Humans, etc."

No word on a publisher as yet, although we'd be surprised if there wasn't an unseemly scrap over this guaranteed earner of a game. Cryptic will unveil the first details and gameplay footage on Star Trek Online at the annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas on 10th August, so check back then.

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