Monday, July 29, 2019

The Orville Interactive Fan Experience

This week UK software development company Messy Desk Interactive released The Orville Interactive Fan Experience.

It's a comprehensive 3D recreation of The Orville's titular spacecraft. Players can freely explore various areas on every deck of the ship, and even interact with control panels with your customized avatar!

I tried it out, and I have to say it's pretty darned cool! They've meticulously recreated the show's sets in precise detail. The walls & floors aren't just flat, but are covered in 3D textures as well. There's even an option to animate the readouts on the various screens!

They used all the sound effects from the show too. And even incorporated music from the show. Best of all, the music is reactive. Take the ship to red alert and the music suddenly becomes urgent and militaristic! Amazing!

Keep in mind this is an early version of an ongoing project, so it's not complete. They haven't built every area of the ship yet, so some doors won't open. Eventually they'll have the entire thing mapped out though.

You can visit the Bridge and sit in the captain's chair. Order a red or yellow alert, or activate "party mode" and send the whole ship into a dance frenzy! 

You can even sit at Gordon's position and take the ship out for a spin! I ain't quite figured out how to actually fly it yet, but I'm told it is possible.

Visit Captain Mercer's quarters...

Take a tour of Sickbay...

Or wander through Engineering.

You can visit the Shuttlebay as well. There's even a shuttle sitting in the bay (labeled ECV-197-1 of course). You can walk inside the shuttle, but for now all you can do is sit in the pilot's chair and open the bay doors. Eventually you'll be able to actually fly the shuttle out of the ship and zoom around. That's for a future upgrade though.

One other thing about the Shuttlebay... Messy Desk even included the infamous "pee corner" from Identity, Part 2! Now THAT'S attention to detail!

As I mentioned above, your avatar can interact with numerous objects and locations. For example, if you go to the mess hall you can activate the replicators, er, I mean the Food Synthesizers and whip up various objects and dishes.

As you may have noticed, this virtual Orville's a lonely little ship, completely devoid of life. I'm told that eventually they plan to populate it with other crew members.

The best thing about this simulation— Fox is aware of it and apparently OK with it! 

See, last year a group called Stage 9 created a virtual Enterprise-D from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Users could explore every deck (including areas not seen on the series), interact with controls and fly shuttles out of the ship— pretty much exactly like the Orville simulation.

NOTE: I've been told that Messy Desk, the group who made The Orville Interactive Fan Experience, are an offshoot of Stage 9, who made the Enterprise-D sim. That explains why the two look virtually identical!

The developers weren't making a dime off it either, as it was purely a labor of love and free for the downloading.

Unfortunately CBS, the current owners of all things Trek, decided to be assholes and shut down the whole project. Not sure how you can tell someone who's making something for fun and not profiting off it to cut it out, but they did.

To me this just shows how out of touch CBS is. Fans were willing to spend hours and hours creating more Star Trek, simply because they love it so much. CBS' actions were a big slap in the face to everyone who ever liked the show.

Luckily, Seth MacFarlane and Fox know the value of fan projects like this. In fact when MacFarlane first saw this virtual Orville, he pretty much said, "Wow, cool!" No shutdown, no cease & desist letters, just a heartfelt endorsement. Well done, Seth!

If you're interested, you can download The Orville Interactive Fan Experience over at Steam, which is apparently some kind of gaming site I'm vaguely aware of. I figured out how to download it and get it up and running in about half an hour. If I can do it, anyone can, so check it out today!

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