Star Trek Online: Donny Versiga Developer Interview

MMORPG.COM obtained an opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes have a look at how the starships of Star Trek Online come to life and the way an artist adopted his ardour for Star Trek. Donny Versiga designs starships and environments for Star Trek On-line. His love for Star Trek started at a really younger age, as he watched the collection together with his dad and sometimes paused the present to sketch out the ships. Now he’s chargeable for producing the mannequin, textures, and supplies to both recreate the ships from the IP’s hottest collection or create his personal designs which is able to reside on by canon. It’s a well timed look behind the scenes because the posting of this text coincides with Star Trek Online: House Divided season 23 which launches this week!

MMORPG: In your bio it says you started creating digital 3D Star Trek fashions, units, and ships as a pastime whenever you have been 15 years previous. What would you think about to be your “nexus occasion” that began this pastime and your ardour for Star Trek as a complete?

Donny Versiga: Nicely, I’d been a Star Trek fan all my life. However after I was 15 years previous, I took an curiosity in making customized user-made ranges for the previous 3D Star Wars sport Darkish Forces. I keep in mind bringing a bunch of floppy disks to the varsity library and downloaded the software program I wanted and began studying the ins and outs of primary 3D modeling. I created and launched just a few Star Wars ranges for Darkish Forces, earlier than transferring onto utilizing the engine of the follow-up sport Jedi Knight. I created a Cloud Metropolis-based stage for that sport earlier than I out of the blue realized, “Hey, I can use this engine to convey to life some Star Trek interiors in 3D.” I started fiddling round with {that a} bit, however the business launch of Star Trek Voyager: Elite Pressure actually motivated my efforts. I switched to the Quake III engine and commenced making extra Star Trek mods for that sport, albeit none that have been ever launched. Nevertheless it was all good apply and expertise for later after I’d ultimately discover myself within the trade with out a diploma.

MMORPG: What “instruments” did you utilize whenever you have been 15 years previous and in distinction what instruments do you utilize these days?

DV: Oh wow. I don’t suppose I ever used a correct 3D modeling bundle till I used to be in my late twenties. Again after I simply began out, it was a course of of creating very primary geometry throughout the sport engine itself. For the Jedi Knight engine, I used a program known as JED, and for the Quake III engine, I used a program known as Radiant. The instruments have been cumbersome and really underpowered in comparison with the skilled modeling software program of even that point however allowed making customized ranges and geometry that have been on par with different video games of that period. It wasn’t till the discharge of Unreal 4 and my subsequent buying of applications like Autodesk 3ds Max and Substance Painter that I actually understood the ability {of professional} software program and used that as a justification for funding. My work actually took off then, as I used to be in a position to then craft extra detailed {and professional} property like ones, we have been all starting to see in additional trendy video games.

MMORPG: How did you handle to get employed to the STO improvement workforce?

DV: My work began getting seen because of my uptick in ability stage from utilizing the aforementioned skilled instruments. Most, if not all, of my work at the moment was all Star Trek and Star Wars fan artwork, and I used to be critically anxious that having such a restricted portfolio would forestall me from getting a job within the trade. However, I created a web based portfolio anyway and began making use of for jobs. I additionally went to my first Star Trek conference in Las Vegas and handed out enterprise playing cards, promoting myself as a 3D modeler specializing in Star Trek. I figured it couldn’t damage to get my title on the market. I’m not utterly certain how Thomas Marrone of Star Trek On-line grew to become conscious of my work, however I met somebody who knew him, and I imagine they informed him about me on the conference. A couple of month after attending my second conference in 2015, I obtained a Fb message from Thomas urging me to use to the open spot on STO’s workforce. I used to be delightfully shocked; I defined to him I didn’t have any trade expertise or formal coaching, however he assured me that my work and my ardour for the franchise spoke for itself. After just a few interviews, I used to be provided a job and the remaining, as they are saying, is historical past.

MMORPG: What assets does your workforce use to get an IP starship into the sport? Is all of it based mostly off simply the TV exhibits?

DV: For newer stuff that’s at present in manufacturing, CBS will typically give us what they will, starting from idea artwork, to schematics, to even their 3D manufacturing fashions. That actually helps with crafting the newer ships, as they aren’t as nicely documented on-line by followers at this level. For the older stuff, there’s a plethora of behind-the-scenes photos in addition to the aforementioned schematics and art work on-line already. So typically, it’s a combination of what we’re given and what we will discover. I personally wish to undergo ship-specific scenes of episodes or motion pictures frame-by-frame to take reference screencaps, however typically it’s as much as the person artist to gather as a lot reference materials as they suppose they’ll want.

MMORPG: Stroll us by the standard means of getting a starship into the sport.

DV: If it’s a canon ship, first there’s reference gathering. I normally spend a day or so doing as a lot analysis as I can for the ship I’m tasked to create. For the older ships, I’ll additionally spend a while researching the behind-the-scenes information of the ship, who designed it, who constructed the bodily mannequin, what number of bodily fashions have been constructed and what are the variations between them, if any. For ships we design ourselves, this step normally isn’t required, however it’s as a substitute changed by the precise design course of. An artist will then start modeling the ship, maintaining our tech limitations and budgets in thoughts. As an example, because of our sport operating on a variety of older PC and console {hardware}, now we have limits for polygon budgets and texture reminiscence limitations that have to be adhered to. We additionally, at this level, resolve which particulars will really be modeled, and which is able to reside solely throughout the element of the textures ultimately utilized to the ship. As soon as the mannequin is completed, we then craft a brand new texture set for the ship in applications like Photoshop and Substance Designer. These textures are then compiled into a cloth in our sport; extra generally generally known as “skins” by our participant base. These supplies observe the identical primary design format as all different ship supplies, to allow them to more-or-less be used on some other ship in our sport. We then interact in “UV Mapping,” which is a course of the place the fabric is then utilized to the mannequin. As soon as the art work is full, we spend time doing information setup, which consists of all kinds of duties, like establishing the factors during which weapons/impulse trials/and many others. emit from the ship, creating LODs (level-of-detail fashions), importing the geometry and textures into the sport, after which making a framework for the ship to really work in our sport, with non-compulsory issues like home windows and “skins” being programmed for the participant to pick. After that, the ship is handed off to our Animation, FX, and Methods Design groups to complete off, if wanted. It’s fairly an concerned course of, typically dealt with by one artist till it’s handed off to the opposite groups.

Figure 1 Shran Class

MMORPG: Inform us just a few of the present in-game starships which can be your individual designs.

DV: Nicely, to be sincere, there is just one ship within the sport during which I’ve designed, the Shran class, which itself was a extra “trendy” model of the Magee class seen in Star Trek: Discovery. I really don’t do quite a lot of designing myself, and I’ll be the primary to confess I’m rather more a craftsman than a designer. There’s a distinction there that not quite a lot of these exterior the trade appear to grasp. Design is a wholly totally different self-discipline than say, modeling/texturing a sport asset. And one which I’m not well-trained in. Nonetheless, there’s one other ship I designed that’s on its means; I simply can’t say something about that one but 🙂

MMORPG: How do your individual designs get authorised? Do they should undergo a Paramount/CBS approval board, and many others.?

DV: We work fairly intently with Paramount/CBS on ship designs and the workforce typically doesn’t have any points with any of our personal designs that we add to the sport. We as Star Trek followers additionally know what works and what doesn’t within the framework of the fictional universe. The Star Trek workforce does, nevertheless, wish to assessment our storylines and examine our art work associated to the newer exhibits to verify all of it aligns with their present priorities and imaginative and prescient as a complete.

MMORPG: I’m assuming there have been a few of your individual designs that simply didn’t make it into the sport (perhaps not but). Have been there any that stick out as being actually disappointing to not get in?

DV: Not likely! Like I discussed, I’ve solely designed two ships – one is already in-game, and the opposite is on its means 😉

MMORPG: What’s concerned with your individual designs changing into canon? Is it simply the truth that they’re within the sport or is there extra to it?

DV: Nicely, Star Trek On-line is taken into account delicate canon. It typically isn’t acknowledged as a part of the official Star Trek lore. It will take one in all our designs or any component of our sport being utilized in one of many tv exhibits or motion pictures for it to change into official canon.

Figure 2 Galaxy Class

MMORPG: Which starship(s) are you most happy with and why?

DV: I’m actually happy with my rebuild of the Galaxy class (Enterprise-D). Modeling the Galaxy class for a sport was a spotlight of my skilled profession, and one I’m undecided I’ll ever prime. An in depth second was my rebuild of the Klingon D7/Okay’t’tinga lessons (Klingon Battle Cruiser). I like updating or in any other case rebuilding our older fashions to be each extra correct and of a better constancy. With PC/Console energy and the time we’re allotted for making ships being better than they have been when our sport was initially launched, we’re in a position to now craft extra extremely detailed and correct variations of a few of our older current ships. It’s so satisfying to have the ability to lastly give a number of the extra canon ships the justice they deserve.

MMORPG: Are there any starships that made it into the sport that you simply at all times felt such as you’d like one other try at or simply didn’t fairly “hit the mark” for you?

DV: My first ship as soon as formally transferring to the ship workforce from the setting workforce was the Vulcan Scout Ship from Discovery. Whereas I’m nonetheless happy with the mannequin, I really feel I may revisit the fabric/textures I made for that ship and enhance them vastly. I used to be nonetheless getting used to materials creation for ships again then and have discovered a lot since that I’d like one other crack at it.

MMORPG: You additionally work on environments? What does this contain and the way did you get into this space of the event stage?

DV: My first job on STO was really on the setting workforce! Since my background was creating ship interiors, I felt it was a greater match for me on the time than crafting the ship exteriors. Atmosphere work on STO is definitely a broad self-discipline: it folds asset creation, world-building, lighting, and stage design into one function. I actually loved the work, nevertheless it was a bit intense so when a job opened up on the ship workforce, I made a decision to offer it a shot. I’m fairly completely satisfied and cozy now as a full-time ship artist, however I do an occasional stint on the setting workforce to assist out when wanted. It serves as a pleasant break now and again.

MMORPG: How do you fulfill your ardour for Star Trek exterior of STO? Do you learn books, play Star Trek board video games, and many others.?

DV: I really do my very own private Star Trek modeling exterior of STO utilizing the Unreal sport engine! It helps hold my abilities recent and updated understanding easy methods to use trendy sport engines and newer modeling/texturing processes. You may see this art work on my Artstation web page ( As well as, I am going to Star Trek conventions after I can gown up in cosplay, learn books, play Trek video video games from the 90s/early 00s, and usually simply immerse myself within the franchise.

MMORPG: Your bio mentions you’re into cosplay. What are a few of your favourite “private cosplay moments”? And do you restrict your cosplay strictly to Star Trek?

DV: My favourite cosplay is my “Monster Maroon” captain’s uniform from the TOS motion pictures. It was a dream of mine as a child to at some point personal a type of uniforms, and after I obtained an opportunity to buy an expert grade model, I plopped down my cash so quick it was laughable. As to the second query, most of my cosplay is Trek, however I’ve a Star Wars TIE Fighter Pilot cosplay I acquired/assembled final summer season and am at present contemplating sourcing an Indiana Jones outfit. Additionally understanding on the gymnasium/maintaining a healthy diet to achieve that Harrison Ford physique circa Temple of Doom 😉

Figure 3 Section 1 Stealth Class

MMORPG: You’re additionally into gaming. What are your favourite video games exterior of STO?

DV: I actually get pleasure from immersive first-person video games; something that simply utterly transports you to a different place and time or fictional universe. Presently, I’m going by my second playthrough of Cyberpunk 2077, however I additionally love the collection of Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein, Deus Ex, Dishonored, Mafia, Far Cry and Murderer’s Creed. I additionally love house flight sims and have been pumping limitless hours into Elite: Harmful, full with a VR headset and HOTAS (joystick/throttle) setup!

MMORPG: You’re additionally an advocate for self-growth and psychological well being consciousness. Are these crusades one thing you’ve taken an energetic function in?

DV: Completely. First off, I’m a 9-year recovered alcoholic/addict. My journey of self-growth started the day I grew to become sober. I additionally struggled with anxiousness and melancholy for many of my childhood and grownup life and have made a lot progress in overcoming these issues as nicely. I see a therapist weekly, take anti-depressants, meditate each day, and apply gratitude and mindfulness all through my day. I make some extent to overtly speak about my experiences, particularly involving alcoholism/dependancy and remedy as a result of there’s such a stigma surrounding these subjects. I speak about this stuff, not simply when somebody reaches out to me for assist, however in on a regular basis dialog. This stuff are a part of my life, so I speak about them as in the event that they’re regular, as a result of for almost all of individuals they’re. I would like individuals round me to really feel snug speaking about this stuff as nicely, or on the very least perceive that no matter they’re going by, is nothing to be ashamed of. Along with teaching those who have reached out for assist with quitting consuming or medication, I’ve really had individuals at Cryptic strategy me and ask for assist in discovering a therapist; one thing that in all probability wouldn’t have occurred if I didn’t overtly speak about my continued participation in weekly remedy periods. Understanding that my tales assist others means the world to me; If I can actually assist others reside lengthy and prosper, I’ll think about my time on this earth nicely spent.

MMORPG: That is all I had except you wished so as to add something, Donny.

DV: I believe that covers it. Thanks for the chance!

About Donny Versiga:


Workers Starship Artist

Cryptic Studios

Donny Versiga is a Workers Starship Artist and occasional Atmosphere Artist for Star Trek On-line, Cryptic Studios’ free-to-play massively multiplayer roleplaying sport.  A life-long hard-core Star Trek fan, he started creating digital 3D Star Trek fashions, units, and ships as a pastime when he was 15 years previous.  His dedication and fervour for his craft ultimately lead him to discovering a house and profession at Cryptic Studios.  Along with his work on Star Trek On-line, Donny typically spends nights and weekends creating extra 3D sci-fi artwork for enjoyable with the Unreal sport engine.  Donny additionally enjoys cosplay, gaming, and is an advocate for self-growth and psychological well being consciousness. | Star Trek On-line: Donny Versiga Developer Interview


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