Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now Complete
In a previous blog post, I have told the story of how I became a member of the Catan GmbH staff: in 1997, almost exactly 15 years ago, I was working on a purely private spare time project named “Space Settlers,” together with Markus, my best friend at the time. The “Space Settlers,” a close adaptation of “The Settlers of Catan,” replaced the mountains, pastures, and fields of the original Catan game with a space scenario. As a result, I met Klaus Teuber – and the rest is history. If that was a dream come true, the recent development regarding “Star Trek Catan” is even more amazing.
After I had talked about my “Space Settlers” in August 2009 here in “The Bloggers of Catan,” some Catan fans asked me to bring my do-it-yourself game along to the Catan Weekend in Bilstein, Germany.
I was happy to comply with this request: many of the Catan players who watched us playing gave “my” game a surprised look – I’m unsure at this point whether Sebastian Rapp from Kosmos Verlag was one of them.
About two years ago – in summer 2010 – Sebastian approached me and told me that Kosmos had entered into license negotiations with Paramount Pictures and CBS, respectively. This kind of contact between game publishers and film production companies is actually nothing unusual, because games that accompany movies or their source material are released all the time. For example, Kosmos carries, or carried, games that accompany “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Pillars of the Earth,” “Discworld,” “Tintenherz” (Inkheart), or “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”
This time, however, Sebastian’s eyes were shining more than usual: he told me in confidence that a Star Trek license was being negotiated – well aware that both of us are dedicated Trekkies, that is, avid Star Trek fans. And so Star Trek Catan immediately became one of my pet projects. After extensive deliberation Klaus, Sebastian, and I as well as the rest of the Catan team agreed that “The Settlers of Catan” is extremely well suited for a Star Trek license edition. To put it in a nutshell: Catan epitomizes constructiveness and cooperation, where often the journey is the destination and, in many cases, you can only win if you make amicable arrangements with the opponents. And that’s extremely compatible with what Star Trek also stands for.
We thought that to allow both Catan fans and Star Trek fans relatively intuitive access to each other’s universes, a complex, stand-alone Catan scenario in the fashion of “The Starfarers of Catan” would be rather unsuitable. The starting point, therefore, was my “Settlers of Catan” adaptation “Space Settlers,” whose unchanged game mechanics also worked well visually. We “only” had to transfer it from its generic, public-domain context I intentionally had given it back then, to the Star Trek universe. Although Sebastian and I were able to accomplish this task in no time, it quickly became clear that the game would have had too little relation to Star Trek had we left it only at that.
Soon Klaus had the great idea to incorporate the recently published mini expansion “Die Helfer von Catan” (The Helpers of Catan). We were able to replace the characters on these very useful additional cards with Star Trek characters, while maintaining the functions of the cards. However, before starting to work on this matter we definitely had to test it on a prototype – without attracting too much attention. Those who participated in the Catan Weekend 2010 may recall that once again I had brought my “Space Settlers” with me. This time, however, I also carried a set of “helper” cards that featured “neutral” images of the alien races from “Starfarers” but already displayed texts that matched the space scenario. How wonderful: My “Space Settlers” had become the “Star Trek Catan” prototype. … Sebastian looked intently over our shoulders while we were playing. The game worked extremely well.
“Space Settlers” helper cards with “Starfarers” motifs
Since Kosmos meanwhile had acquired the Paramount license, we were free to draw on the full spectrum of characters of the classical Enterprise crew, which is why the game contains “support” cards – the former “helper” cards – depicting Jim Kirk, Spock, “Bones” McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, and all the others. Their faces are from the times of “Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country” featuring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, and others.
Star Trek Catan support cards – Click to enlarge
Of course, the real “Star Trek Catan” can’t be played with the generic wooden game pieces of my “Space Settlers.” Beautiful, detailed game pieces were created instead, modeled after the objects that appear in the films. Below, three photos from early prototypes are shown, without colors, fabricated by means of a rapid prototyper machine. By the way, in the game, the robber is represented by the “Klingon Battle Cruiser.”
Prototypes for game pieces – Click to enlarge