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An Open Letter to Dan Hamman

by Ross Fertel, Watcher on the Water

10th January 2018

To my dear friend Dan,


On behalf of Paramount Pictures, I apologize.


Back when you were getting into the basic configuration of what Wisdom, now called Cold Front, would be, you asked about the number of Romulans from the 22nd century were available.  You were under the impression that this information was researched and was sitting around in a room somewhere waiting for you.  In a couple days time, it became clear that it was not.


This was very important information for you to have.  If there were tons of them around, you could have another viable affiliation to play around with in that era. If there weren’t that many, you would have a problem, but had enough time to course correct.  Still, without the number, you had no clue as to which direction to proceed in.  It was then that I stepped in to do a rewatch.  After all, I did have some experience with it.


SmolekSee, when Live Long And Prosper was being designed as Project Power, Cristoffer asked how many Vulcans they could reasonably have access to.  Sound familiar?  It would require watching a not insignificant chunk of Enterprise, making notes and giving him a number.


This is probably as good a time as any to say the this preceded my tenure of Brand Manager for the other game.  This was a huge investment of time, and it didn’t detract from my official duties since this was years before my hire.


So it probably seems straightforward to watch the series, make notes and send them in.  I wanted to do a bit of a trial run and choose The Seventh to test it out with.  If you’re not familiar with the episode, don’t worry.  It is largely forgettable, but it did feature a small number of Vulcans.  I got the box set from the library and put it in my DVD player.  Captions were on, just to make things easier.


Minutes in, I ran into a problem.


The opening shot was T’Pol sitting in her quarters reading Vulcan text.  It was absolutely perfect for a verb. And I wanted someone to know that.  That was when I went from a spreadsheet to a spreadsheet and a word document.  The spreadsheet set itself up pretty well, episode number, timestamp if necessary, important notes and things of that nature.  By adding a word document, I could be a little more descriptive, and if you’ve made it this far, you know that I can get fairly verbose.  In fact, it opened up the project to the point that I could get basic descriptions of missions and ships since the team would probably need that at some point.  This helped keep track of things such as matching commanders and gameplay things like that.


If it sounds a little rote, it was at times.  I recall Evan Lorentz mentioning that they got new images from Paramount and he would go through each making notes on things such as tactics, hand weapons and such.  He would have been more than happy to have an intern do it, but it needed to be done by someone who knew what to look for.  And after years of working on creative, I had a good idea of what could and couldn’t work.  It was quite an endeavor as each episode took over an hour to digest and remember that the runtime is generally forty-two minutes.  Yeah, it was a good deal of work.


Offhand, I think I found eighty-seven Vulcans that were workable.  This isn’t including T’Pol and Soval, since those are pretty much gimmes.  On a similar token, mains were omitted since, if you have five humans and a denobulan in your crew, is it really a Vulcas you’re playing?  It also didn’t include things that could work, but would put a strain on Art.  The Expanse featured a Blair Witch Project style video that was workable wit a great deal of effort and The Seventh had a black and white, okay, yellow and white, flashback sequence that could be used in a pinch, but might not be worth the effort.  That’s everyone from featured guest stars that revolve around the episode to a random extra.


DevanhaI was all set to rewatch those handful of episodes featuring the Romulans of that era. In the end, I would send you a spreadsheet, word document and a number for you to work with.  As you know, no such items arrived.  There were thirteen that could be used.  In total.  That was including the random voice we heard in Minefield.  And the ones that were already made in Straight and Steady.  These were Vidiian and Kazon sized numbers and we know how well those turned out.  If it seems small, trust me when I say I was shocked as well.  I figured the trilogy on Romulans would have a bunch of them, but it turns out they hired three extras to randomly walk around the set.


So I sent this to you and it looks like you made the best of it.  You might have wound up ahead in the end, since you didn’t have to add another affiliation from scratch.  There was lots of room for all the extra fun stuff which you otherwise would have had to include some of in the final product.


Personally, I think we’re in a better place because of it.  But sorry you had to do a mad scramble to make up for a lack of source material.





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