Excalibur breaks the mould of traditional space simulation games by putting the player firmly in the boots of an experienced Starfleet captain. From the outset you will be able to control your character and command your ship as if you were standing on the bridge yourself. From taking direct control of the helm, to transferring command of any ship in your task force, or even calling your senior staff to the briefing room to discuss mission tactics; Excalibur is the most immersive Star Trek experience ever. Set six months after the events in Star Trek: Nemesis, Excalibur's story mode deals with the turbulent political scene caused by a decade of war and turmoil. From the second Borg incursion in First Contact, to the fall of the Dominion and the collapse of the Romulan political system; these events resulted in huge loss of life and changed the Alpha Quadrant forever.

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Hello everyone,

After our recent announcement regarding the Unreal Engine, we would like to start a new way of bringing interesting facts from the project to you. As the PR team was coming up with ideas, we found it is important for you, the fans, to get to know some of our developers, and we thought there could be no better person than Josh F, our Lead Writer for Excalibur. Here at Excalibur, we focus on bringing great content to the game. From all Star Trek experiences, the story is the most vital aspect of any Star Trek, as it creates the momentum we live in when we enjoy watching TV, a movie, or play a campaign in a game. Without further do, I would like to introduce Josh F, our Lead Writer in Excalibur.

KaneCabal: Hey Josh, thanks for taking time out of your daily schedule! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Josh F: I officially joined the Excalibur team in early 2011, after a long interview process in which applicants submitted writing samples based on prompts from the team’s existing story development materials. Fortunately, they liked my submissions enough to offer me the position of Lead Writer, and even wanted to incorporate some of my generic submission materials into the game itself. At first I worked very closely with Mark Ward (our former Creative Director) to transform the team’s abstract story concept for the Single Player campaign into a fully-developed, structured game plot with a multi-dimensional cast of characters. I have enjoyed an extraordinary amount of creative freedom, a free hand, basically, to craft the story of Excalibur. I can't begin to describe how grateful I am for that level of trust from the team, and I hope to exceed their expectations.

KaneCabal: That seems to be a very awesome way of joining the team. I can even tell myself, its great for you to be on the team! What is your current occupation beyond Excalibur?

Josh F: I live in Los Angeles, California, working as a camera technician specializing in digital cinema systems and high speed photography. That's my day job, keeping the lights burning. In the evenings I work on my writing projects including mostly television, feature film, long form narrative, and (of course) Excalibur.

KaneCabal: Despite working a great deal of time in your daily job and also in Excalibur, which would you say is your favorite game?

Josh F: I'll split my answer in half for Star Trek and non-Trek games. My favorite game of all time would probably be Half-Life 2. I had never really experienced that level of immersion and NPC interaction before, nor have I enjoyed anything like it since (except HL2's episodic sequels). You really come to care about those characters: Alyx Vance, Eli, etc., and you absolutely hate the antagonist. I was just supremely impressed by the quality of the writing. Actually so much so that I jumped at the chance to write for a video game years later, with Excalibur.

As for Trek-related games, I have to say it's a tie between Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force and Star Trek: Armada. Armada was one of my first Trek gaming experiences (not counting TNG: A Final Unity), and it really stuck with me. I appreciated the involvement of original cast members in both that game and Elite Force. Elite Force was just a superb Star Trek experience, as well as having great game design, mechanics, etc. They knocked it out of the park. That was the first (and pretty much only) time I've ever felt like I was inside a Star Trek story (okay, maybe there was a bit of that feeling in Star Trek: Klingon, but that experience was on rails and therefore more limited).

I'm one of the few members of the team who had a more limited experience with Bridge Commander, though I've since done quite a bit of research to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, just to be sure I could capture some of the feel of that game. We're doing our own thing with Excalibur, though we often compare it to games like BC and Elite Force...that's just an efficient way to explain what we're trying to accomplish. Hopefully the end product will be something you haven't seen before, at least in part.

KaneCabal: Myself I can also confirm that I liked Armada a lot. I wonder: How did you get involved with Star Trek in the first place? Shed some light into your journey of becoming a Star Trek fan.

Josh F: I've been a fan since my early years. My mother and I used to watch TOS. Our local library had the entire series on VHS. TNG was still on TV at that time. I watched it voraciously, rented a few episodes on tape, taped episodes from live TV, and wore those out. I can remember spending my own money to buy the (relatively) expensive VHS boxed set of the original films (Star Trek I - VI), which I watched all the time. I remember being incredibly excited when Deep Space Nine came out, and watched that series avidly as well. Some of my first science fiction novels were Star Trek books (TOS, TNG, and DS9).

So you could say I was hooked at an early age. I had the toys, my parents saved hundreds of hand-drawn sketches of starships, schematic style. I used to design everything from ships to hand phasers, even main bridge layouts. I was (and still am) something like a mild-mannered super fan. I only exclude myself from that group because I haven't been to conventions or dressed in costume. Immense respect for those who take it to that level. Star Trek fans are some of the most passionate people on this or any planet.

KaneCabal: Since you have seen everything about Star Trek, most fans would probably ask you this: Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, or Archer?

Josh F: Picard (Sorry, Jim). While I loved William Shatner as Kirk, and his was the first captain I ever watched on TV, I was so young that there seemed to be some kind of gap between TOS / Original Feature Films and The Next Generation. I really latched onto TNG, and subsequently Picard always felt like the quintessential Starfleet officer to me. I also enjoyed watching Sisko and Janeway, though I was not as invested in DS9 and VOY as I had been in TNG. I love Scott Bakula, but I never really felt he was the best choice to play a starship captain though. Frankly, I think the writing and overall creative decision-making during the production of Enterprise were contributing factors (beyond his control). But each to his or her own. There's no accounting for taste, after all.

KaneCabal: Since you do have very good understanding about story, how would you say Star Trek has changed within the last few years? Do not limit yourself to just movies.

Josh F: Obviously we've had the J.J. Abrams-helmed "se-boot" and its own sequel, and that creative vision has basically taken center stage since 2009. Enterprise ended in 2005, which means we've gone without a Trek series on television for a decade. After Activision lost the video game licensing rights, we also saw a huge gap in commercial releases which is why I think so many mods and fan projects have cropped up in that vacuum. Games, fan films, fan series; All of those are a product of an incredibly loyal and passionate fan base providing themselves with the sort of entertainment they continue to crave. There aren't any shows on TV right now that even vaguely resemble Star Trek. That's how much things have changed.

I was fortunate to have grown up during the golden age of Star Trek games, movies, series, toys, the whole deal. The Simon & Schuster era, when they published things like the Enterprise-D Interactive Manual, of all things. We just don't have access to detailed products like that anymore. Everything feels far more superficial. And that frustrates me. It's as if Star Trek has gone entirely mainstream, concerned only with its sense of style...like it's supposed to be a fashion statement.

I believe Star Trek was always meant to stand for something more. A way of looking at our own world, our own trials and tribulations through the lens of a distant future. An environment in which we could explore the mysteries within ourselves and each other. With space battles. That was Star Trek, to me. I hope to see it again someday. Perhaps that's why I joined Excalibur in the first place, and why I've stayed with the project through all the tough times. Excalibur is aiming high, trying to recapture that original vision of the franchise that the fans are still valiantly keeping alive in their own way.

KaneCabal: Speaking of J.J. Abrams' version of the Star Trek universe, do you think it has certain story aspects that might be interesting for your own story in Excalibur?

Josh F: In abstract ways, perhaps. Their focus on character interaction, on conflict, is something that any story needs to have. And I felt their humor, while perhaps a bit too pervasive, was well executed. There's a lot of humor in Star Trek. I think some fans tend to forget that. I appreciate those aspects of Star Trek (2009). The sequel (Into Darkness) felt like it hit the reset button for the characters...all their growth in the first film seemed to have vanished by the start of the second. At least, that was my personal reaction.

I know I'm not going with J.J.'s "mystery box" approach. That's not how I think in terms of storytelling, but I do feel I can draw some inspiration from "new" Trek. Just don't expect to see direct story tie-ins. Excalibur is set firmly in the Prime Universe, and our timeline does not take us nearly as far as the Hobus Supernova (2387), so there will not be opportunities for the two universes to intersect in any meaningful way. Any future J.J.-verse content would rest solely on the shoulders of the fan community.

KaneCabal: Let's go back to Excalibur: As much as I know what you do, tell the fans what you do regarding the Excalibur project.

Josh F: I am the Lead Writer, and head of Story/Character Development. That basically means I am responsible for all story, character, and lore development for the Single Player campaign, and any ancillary game modules, whenever needed. I not only create characters for the principle and supporting casts, but also NPCs (Non-Playable Characters), and the dialogue for those characters. Ideally I will be able to expand the size of the writing team when we hit full speed development on the SP campaign, allowing me to focus on the main story while other writers flesh out the many NPC and procedural elements we hope to feature in the finished game.

As I said before, I've been given a great deal of room in which to work concerning the Excalibur Single Player campaign and its characters. The interesting thing about writing for an interactive medium has been the degree to which story and gameplay depend on each other. I had never worked on anything so interrelated before. While it can be very difficult, it's also a great challenge, and I've enjoyed having the opportunity to contribute to game design beyond simply putting dialogue on a page, or crafting biographies for original characters. The Excalibur team is also very, very flexible and open to suggestions from all its members when it comes to overall game design. That's another reason I think so many of us have stayed with the project for so long.

KaneCabal: While writing the main story, what inspirations do you take to create the story? Do you draw more on canon series like The Next Generation, or more unofficial story aspects?

Josh F: I rely on screen canon first, and secondary or tertiary canon second (or third, respectively). That means you'll definitely see familiar elements and references from TNG and DS9 (and perhaps VOY, where appropriate) in the Excalibur story, but don't expect to encounter Mackenzie of Calhoun (as we're essentially ignoring that "other" U.S.S. Excalibur, and her adventures). I've gone all the way back to the original Constitution-class U.S.S. Excalibur featured in TOS to create the lineage of the ship. I've also spent a great deal of time creating her command crew, as if I were planning the principle cast of a "sequel" series for TNG. This approach will hopefully help us to revive that feeling of camaraderie and family that the Trek television series embraced, only now with a clear interactive component to the fan experience.

Having said all this regarding canon, we do plan on incorporating elements of fan design into the game. One key example of this is the selection of the Century-class for the U.S.S. Excalibur, with the blessing and support of the Century's creator, D. J. Curtis. So, bottom line, while we care deeply about canon and staying true to the spirit of Star Trek, and Gene Roddenberry's vision, we aren't afraid to move the ball down the field, so to speak. To channel Q, the alternative (playing it safe) would just be...boring.

KaneCabal: Just recently the team announced the switch from Evolved to Unreal. How does this switch affect your story writing? Are there any new tools that you can use to create a more immersive story?

Josh F: I've decided to briefly pause story development while I evaluate the greater degree of creative freedom we are anticipating with Unreal Engine 4. As I said before, writing for a video game requires a great deal of interactive design consideration, and with a new engine come new design features and tools. There are so many dialogue system options, for example, already available as plugins that could greatly expand our ability to execute the story as written, not to mention custom game elements we are fully capable of developing on our own...I have no doubt we'll be able to realize an immersive, original Star Trek adventure. Assuming, of course, we can recruit enough developers as we move into active development of the SP campaign.

Frankly, I don't think that will be a problem. The community has been incredibly supportive of this transition, and the project as a whole. I think potential developers will be excited to get involved in the implementation of the story of Excalibur once we're ready to bring it to life.

KaneCabal: Let's take a look at your writing part. As you probably know, most writers have some sort of a writers block. Does that happen to you when writing the story?

Josh F: It happens. But it's usually not so much a block as various paths...only one of which is the correct way forward with a particular plot element or character arc. Determining which choice is correct (especially in an interactive story with many potential choices at various points in the overall plot) can be difficult, and take time to resolve. The trick is to keep at it and not give up. Or give in to discouragement. Eventually you always find a solution to a problem if you look hard enough.

KaneCabal: Now, not trying to dig too much into here, but is there anything you can tell us about the story, or are we in danger of being assimilated by the borg, thrown into a brig, condemned by Section 31, or even worse, get a delivery of tribbles?

Josh F: *laughs* Well, I can tell you the Borg aren't in it, so I think you're safe as far as assimilation is concerned. That may disappoint some fans, but the team and I felt that the Borg have been featured so many times in Trek gaming that their inclusion in Excalibur's story might too easily become a crutch. We wanted to avoid that. The game is predominantly set post-Star Trek: Nemesis (though not terribly long after the events of that film). There will be framing sequences set during the Dominion War, which are crucial to the audience's understanding of the protagonist and his relationship to other major characters and events in the game. I can give you a basic premise:

The U.S.S. Excalibur and her captain are ordered to lead a joint Federation-Romulan mission into the Neutral Zone to investigate the disappearance of the U.S.S. Titan, which was on a diplomatic mission to Romulus before vanishing on her return journey. The fragile new Romulan civilian government, propped up by its military, has proven more open to strengthening diplomatic ties with the Federation than ever before, even accepting outside humanitarian aid for the first time in history. We begin to understand just how extensively Shinzon's coup d'état weakened the Romulan Star Empire as a whole, and how precariously balanced its power structure remains. Our protagonist is dropped right in the middle of this seething political cauldron, faced with not only a potential tragedy and interstellar incident, but also the prospect of a broader conflict that could threaten the entire Alpha Quadrant.

That's sort of the dust jacket synopsis. There's a lot more to it, and I can't wait to see it really come alive. After almost five years of writing and dreaming, I feel like we're finally getting close.

KaneCabal: Josh, thank you so much again for taking your time to take part of this interview. I believe the fans and I have a greater understanding of who you are, what you do, and what your role in Excalibur is. I better let you get back to writing an immersive story.

Let us know, you the fans, what you would like to hear about!


Project Status Update

Project Status Update

1 month ago News 30 comments

The Star Trek Excalibur project gives a big update on the state of the game. If you are interest check it out!

Ships Of Excalibur: Drydocks!

Ships Of Excalibur: Drydocks!

4 months ago News 12 comments

A monthly edition of Ships Of Excalibur gallery featurette!

Status report: May 2015

Status report: May 2015

5 months ago News 5 comments

Rob returns with another monthly status report that focuses on another big set of features...

Ships Of Excalibur

Ships Of Excalibur

6 months ago News 7 comments

The monthly regular, Ships Of Excalibur, returns with a tribute to the warrior race!

RSS feed Downloads
Model Viewer v1.7

Model Viewer v1.7

4 years ago Demo 20 comments

The NanoFX Model Viewer is a utility that allows you to view models with the same graphical effects that will appear in Star Trek Excalibur. This latest...

Model Viewer v1.6a

Model Viewer v1.6a

4 years ago Demo 7 comments

The NanoFX Model Viewer is a utility that allows you to view some ship models with some of the graphical effects that will appear in the final release...

Post comment Comments  (30 - 40 of 387)
darth252 Jun 6 2015 says:

I know I am coming off bitter and perhaps I am a bit been waiting a very long time for another bridge commander or something like it only better...looks like thats as good as we will ever get.

I'm done following this, was nothing but hot air.

Not gonna bother wishing them luck they just screwing around with this thing was too big for them simple as that.

Just be done and cancel it and enjoy your life dont spend waste both your time and our time with this nonsense.

-2 votes     reply to comment
jonsin1459 Jun 9 2015 replied:

Hmm bit unfair mate, You can see some amazing things happening, just don't watch and monitor it everyday and then it will just come to you.

You should be hoping they don't give up rather than telling them to.

+2 votes     reply to comment
darth252 Jun 11 2015 replied:

I rather a team admit defeat and tell us it's not happening than waiting waiting waiting and then nothing happens.

Realise I have dreamt of a game like this for star trek for...well all my life. Just seems way too unrealistic.

I am more than willing to be proved wrong but 10 years man just doesn't sound legit too me.

0 votes     reply to comment
nejck Creator
nejck Jun 9 2015 replied:

You might want to recheck some of the facts. All of the core development team is still intact and we've added more creative people to the process in the last month than we ever did in the last year.

Currently we are prepping for our first release (the HPE/Ship editor) that is currently right on target.

Hope you like it ;)

+2 votes   reply to comment
darth252 Jun 11 2015 replied:

I hope I do but I'm mostly expecting to be disappointed over all. This has been in maybe development for too long at this point.

I'm not interested in the editing stuff I just want to blow up ships at this point, I dont even care about the story at this point I just want to see how it plays first.

I am harsh but thats because I am a huge fan of star trek and been wanting something like this for well a decade now and it at first sounded like this was indeed that game I been waiting for, if this was what you originally claimed I'd gladly pay at least 50 bucks if this is more game than bridge commander with added mods.

It just doesn't sound like this is going to happen though do you really expect people to wait another two years to actually be blowing stuff up? Granted no one has to wait and you are doing it for free on your own time but then so did all the other mods and at least they got delivered at a far more reasonable time.

I just feel you guys made way too big of a promise a game that any full retail game has never come close to doing it just doesn't sound realistic.

0 votes     reply to comment
darth252 Jun 20 2015 replied:

I also note that they didn't build an engine from scratch but I think thats a good thing at least we could enjoy those mods yours not likely gonna get to enjoy doubt I will care if you do finally get it working if it even works.

Too many great games coming out last half of this year alone.

0 votes     reply to comment
darth252 Jun 6 2015 says:

Just checked the latest news on this game...it's pretty much on it's death bed. Their main guys have left, quick battle no longer going to happen they cant out right say it's cancelled forever but thats the gist of it...shame however I already knew this was gonna happen no game that is in some form of development for a decade without any proof ever survives or is relevant.

The tech they are talking about is like...5 years old now this isn't gonna be that impressive by the time they do let people fire torpedos at a klingon ship or whatever you choose if you can.

They should have just stuck with the bridge commander mod version and just worked up to this point.

I suggest people just find a new game to follow this isn't worth your time.

0 votes     reply to comment
darth252 Jun 2 2015 says:

After checking the official site it looks promising but guess the project has gone on too long its not even close to being playable by the sounds of it, and short on staff. Obviously has not been actually in serious development due to people leaving the project.

sad but it does sound like a "too good to be true kind of thing"

i imagine at some point they will just say sorry it couldn't be done but here is a semi playable version of the game.

thanks for trying though.

-3 votes     reply to comment
darth252 May 25 2015 says:

Sounds interesting but without any proof of progress like a video showing off the game not seeing myself donating to this.

Now if this turns out to be a huge success and fully delivered awesome damage modeling that we have yet to see in a star trek game besides some mods from bridge commander and klingon academy I'm a bit hesitant of supporting a game that is taking as long as this is taking apparently without showing anyone new features in game.

-2 votes     reply to comment
joshdf May 28 2015 replied:

Simply put, you cannot "donate" to this. There is no crowd funding attached to the project in any way, and we do not accept monetary contributions. All project developers and staff work on their own time, freely and voluntarily...literally "for the love of the game" (and Star Trek, in general).

And as for the "slow" rate of feature PR updates...building a game as complex as ST:E without a company's worth of devs working full time equates to far longer development cycles than could be expected of a commercial product.

I guarantee that this unavoidable fact is as frustrating for all Excalibur devs as it is for our prospective audience, if not more so.

+3 votes     reply to comment
darth252 May 30 2015 replied:

Perhaps they should release a quick battle and just leave the story part out for now at least then people could see what the hype is about. For me I want to see what kind of effects are in the game if the damage modeling is the same as bridge commnader then not interested for me thats the main thing I like about a space sim game is whether the damage effects look really cool.

If they dont even have the ability to put in quick battle after this long...then this is nothing just a pretty title.

Free it may be but this is still just a hobby and shouldn't be going for something so ambitious if they cant really deliver on it. If no one is ever gonna see this then I fail to see why spend 10 years of your life on something no one has really seen. Doesn't look like there are many people even looking at star trek gaming anymore.

-2 votes     reply to comment
darth252 May 30 2015 replied:

I understand that but...cmon 10 years? I'm not seeing this getting released after this long.

Right now though I'm loving the klingon academy tng mod at least it's somethign I can play that in my opinion is much more satisfying than bridge commander the damage modeling though scripted looks better in my opinion and tons of ships to choose from.

-2 votes     reply to comment
darth252 Jun 1 2015 replied:

Though I will say the ai for ka sucks hard all they typically do is ram you over and over doesn't always feel like a fun dog fight in space but sometimes they actually seem to attack like they should except for cloak able ships they abuse that stuff.

-2 votes     reply to comment
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Star Trek Excalibur
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Avalon Studios
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