Borg War : F.A.Q.

 

 

S t o r y C a s t S h i p s F. A. Q. L i n k s C o n t a c t D o w n l o a d s  

Starbase 28

 

PLOT QUESTIONS

What is the Borg War movie about?

Didn’t Janeway destroy the Borg?

Why did a freighter attack a cube?

Don’t the Borg usually assimilate species rather than destroy them?

How did that klingon drop on the ground the thaser missed?

Since when is Tuvok a Captain of his own ship?

Does the Romulan female want to have sex with Tuvok?

Barclay is the CEO? What bet did Picard lose?

Wouldn’t the Dallas be destroyed if its warp core overloaded?

How did the Romulan female transport a giant piece of equipment off the ship?

How did all those people on the bridge come back? Didn’t they die?

Won’t the same thing happen all over again if the Borg try to assimilate the same species?

Why does the Archeopendra leave the planet?

Why did Jureth’s younger brother abandon the Dallas?

How did a lieutenant take command of the Scimitar?

Didn’t the Tal-Shiar get destroyed some years earlier?

Why is the Romulan lieutenant sabotaging the Dallas’s mission to disable the Borg Planet?

How could a Federation warp drive create a singularity?

What is Stripperella doing on the bridge of the Enterprise?

Is this meant to actually take place during the storyline for SFC3?

How could the Klingon captain have survived being blasted to bits by the Borg?

How did the Borg get blown up by a relatively small volley?

 

PRODUCTION QUESTIONS

Isn't Borg War just scripted EF2 character motions with the original dialogue playing in different sequences?

Why didn’t you use a real animation program rather than machinima?

Did you write this all by yourself?

Who designed Seven of Nine's daughters' outfit?

Why isn’t Borg War high resolution?

Is there going to be a sequel?

How did you make this movie?

How many people worked on this movie?

I want to do machinima.  Can you give me more detail?

Can you tell me more about how you did the special effects and video editing?

 

PERSONAL AND LEGAL QUESTIONS

Is this a game mod or just a movie?

Are you worried about copyright violation?

Aren't you stealing the work of the actors?

What is Starbase 28?

Are you, like, a gigantic Star Trek fan?

Why are you doing this?

What does Borg War have to do with Ethiopian orphans?  

How do you know how many clips have been downloaded?

 

PLOT QUESTIONS

Q: What is the Borg War movie about?

A: Borg War depicts the conflict between the Federation, Klingons, Romulans, and a strain of Borg infected with a mind-controlling, flesh-mutating virus. The incursion of these diseased Borg throws the Alpha quadrant's finely balanced power structures into chaos. As Picard marshals the free races to oppose the Borg, the Klingons and Romulans use the turmoil as an excuse for interracial war. Meanwhile, the Borg themselves struggle against the infection, which is using them as a source for food.

 

Q. Didn’t Janeway destroy the Borg?

A: She certainly crippled them, but they’d naturally recover due to their adaptability. I don’t know whether there is still a Queen. Probably. In any case, the Archeopendra took over that function for the Borg colony in this movie.

 

Q: Why did a freighter attack a cube?

A: It didn’t. The cube attacked the freighter. The freighter, in trying to escape, fired its single photon torpedo – more an act of defiance than a real attempt to destroy the cube. When the freighter captain saw that there was no way he could outrun the cube, he hoped that ramming the cube might destroy it. It was a good idea, but wasn’t enough to destroy the cube – only enough to damage it seriously. That’s why the cube immediately moves to the asteroid to convert it – the Archeopendra (who has the knowledge of the on-board Borg at his claw-tips) knew that he needed a better craft. And he had the mega-replicator technology required to build a ship out of the asteroid. That process was almost complete when the warbird stumbled onto the scene.

 

Q: Don’t the Borg usually assimilate species rather than destroy them?

A: Yup. But the Archeopendra has his own agenda. He’s perfectly happy with his own genetics, which he considers perfect. What he wants is alien technology to increase his power – and then he wants to wipe out everything else. That’s why, after the infection, the “Overborg” (as they call themselves) only want to assimilate “technological” diversity. The “biological” diversity is dropped from their request. Essentially, they only see humanoids as temporary hosts that allow them to breed their own “perfect” species.

 

Q: How did that klingon drop on the ground the thaser miss ed?

A: It was a partial ricochet, deflected by his armor.

 

Q: Since when is Tuvok a Captain of his own ship?

A: Since he got promoted after the return of Voyager. This is 17 years later.

 

Q: Does the Romulan female want to have sex with Tuvok?

A: Actually, she’s taunting him. Romulans think Vulcans are a bit, well stuffy. In fact, Tuvok is married with 3 children. His expression is more one of exasperation than anticipation.

 

Q: Barclay is the CEO? What bet did Picard lose?

A: Evidently a pretty bad one. Actually, when the events take place, the Enterprise isn’t fully crewed. Picard has it “parked” at Unity Starbase, but he’s pretty much tied up at the Starbase launching the anti-Borg preparations.

 

Q: Wouldn’t the Dallas be destroyed if its warp core overloaded?

A: The core was set to explode the moment that the ship came out of warp. The trick here was ejecting the warp core the second before it came out of warp. That way, the core continued move for a second, leaving the ship behind (and throwing it suddenly out of warp). It was a small miracle that the Dallas survived this, but it was the only logical alternative to certain destruction. Tuvok is no dummy.

 

Q: How did the Romulan female transport a giant piece of equipment off t he ship?

A: That particular shuttle has a transporter bay, which Aria used to transfer the holocloak off the Dallas and then onto the Scimitar. In fact, she could have used the Scimatar’s transporters for the second transport, but the pattern was already in the shuttle’s buffer, so she did what was quickest and most convenient.

 

Q: How did all those people on the bridge come back? Didn’t they die?

A: The people on the bridge were just stunned in preparation for future infection.

 

Q: Won’t the same thing happen all over again if the Borg try to assimilate the same species?

A: Yes, the potential for a repeat incident is there, but the federation has the "converted" enterprise to study -- thereby giving the federation access to the latest Borg technology (like the mega-replicator used to convert entire planets) as well as the Exomorph biological information. That's why Picard is so confident that any future invasion will be futile.

 

Q: Why does the Archeopendra leave the planet?

A: Because it’s about to get sucked into the singularity created by the explosion of the Dallas’s hybrid warp core.

 

Q: Why did Jureth’s younger brother abandon the Dallas?

A: He figured it was lost cause trying to keep the Dallas out of the black hole with a Borg dreadnaught approach and saw a way to defeat the enemy by sacrificing the Dallas, which was a goner anyway.

 

Q: How did  a lieutenant take command of the Scimitar?

A: She’s only disguised as a lieutenant. When she got herself assigned to the holocloak project she didn’t want the Federation to realize that she was actually an Admiral and a high ranking member of the revived Tal-Shiar.

 

Q: Didn’t the Tal-Shiar get destroyed some years earlier?

A: You can’t keep a good secret police down.

 

Q: Why is the Romulan lieutenant sabotaging the Dallas’s mission to disable the Borg Planet?

A: Let’s look at what she did. She manipulated the Mi’Qoch clan to take control of the Dallas and then aimed the Dallas directly at the Borg Planet, setting the Dallas’s warp core to overload a few moments before it strikes the planet. Then she stole the holocloak. By doing these things:

 

  1. She ensures that there will be a war between the Federation (which will naturally conclude that the Mi’Qoch clan pirated the Dallas to get the holocloak technology for the Klingons) and the Klingons (who will naturally conclude that the Mi’Qoch clan was eliminated because they represented a threat to the Federation/Romulan collaboration).

  2. She simultaneously destroys the Borg Planet, removing the threat to the Alpha Quadrant (including the Romulan Star Empire, of course). Then she can claim credit for the victory by claiming that the Scimitar (the Romulan ship that was at Unity Starbase) was actually responsible for the destruction of the Borg Planet.

  3. She also takes control of the only existing holocloak, which can then be secretly replicated and incorporated into future Romulan ship designs, ensuring that the Romulans will have tactical superiority over both the Klingons and the Federation, whose fleets will be weakened by their internal conflict.

 

In other words, she is simply thinking like a Romulan. Of course, she still has the Enterprise to contend with but, not surprising, she’s got that problem covered, too, as you shall see.

 

Q: How could a Federation warp drive create a singularity?

A: The holocloak is real power gobbler and if far more expensive to run, in terms of resources, than a typical cloak. In order to power the Dallas’s holocloak, the Federation and the Romulans, working together, have given the ship a hybrid engine that incorporates both Romulan and Federation technology.

 

Q: What is Stripperella doing on the bridge of the Enterprise?

A: Despite her healthy good looks, Kleeya is a highly-trained scientist, a specialist in man-machine interfaces in general, and the Borg in particular. Her mother was Seven Of Nine, who appears to have bequeathed her, along with a deep understanding of cybernetics, a sense of fashion that, shall we say, is oblivious of the impact that it has upon non-Vulcans.

 

Q: Is this meant to actually take place during the storyline for SFC3?

A: No, Borg War takes place in a slightly different (e.g. non-canon) timeline. In that timeline, the events that take place in SFC3 never took place, and Jureth of the house of Mi'Qoch continued in his pro-federation sympathies, while his brother (who in the SFC3 universe is played by the player) becomes associated with the younger Klingons who chafe at the continuing peace. So essentially, you can watch "Borg War" without worrying about the SFC storyline (although if you're familiar with the game, you might get a chuckle at how I reused some of the dialog.)

 

Q: How could the Klingon captain have survived being blasted to bits by the Borg?

A: If we’re going to get into “could so-and-so really have survived” discussions, we could be here for weeks. But, OK, OK… Young Mi’Qoch survived because 1) Klingons are wicked hard to kill and 2) His ship had an extended life support system on the bridge that would continue to work marginally – and seal off minor hull breaches – allowing him to stay alive. Or perhaps he was saved by a special, but highly secret type of instrumentation that’s present on every starship in the Alpha Quadrant, known as a “plot device.” When activated it ensures that no continuing character gets killed.

 

Q: How did the Borg get blown up by a relatively small volley?

A: The Noc’jedge is not a classic “Bird of Prey” (which would be about one tenth the size) but a battleship of a similar design, but comparable in overall size to the Enterprise D. Since Borg War takes place 17 years after the return of Voyager, the Klingons have developed two new weapons: a delayed blast armor-penetrating photon torpedo which explodes from inside the penetrated ship. If you notice, the first volley is preceded by concentrated disruptor fire – this is to help puncture any shielding or armor. The second volley from the Noc’jedge is targeted in exactly the same place on the cube, in order to take advantage of the earlier penetration. Even so, it seems unrealistic for a single battleship to destroy a Borg cube, right? There are three reasons that was possible. First, this is not a full-sized Borg Cube like the one that took on an entire fleet at Wolf 359; it’s a much smaller version, as can be seen by comparing it to the Noc’jedge. Second, this particular cube is only a shell of what it was originally, since the Borg have transferred overall control elsewhere, as seen in Episode 2. Third, this cube is further weakened by problems in its control systems, as explained in subsequent episodes.

 

Q: Is Borg War ever going to be canon?

A: No, not even canon-fodder.

 

PRODUCTION QUESTIONS

Q: Isn't Borg War just scripted EF2 character motions with the original dialogue playing in different sequences?

A: Well, sort of. The raw footage of Borg War was made using two games, EF2 and SFC3. What the two games supplied were textures, animations, sound clips (including voiceovers) and models. The production of the raw footage involved the creation of all new sets, about 200 additional textures, modding of all character model configuration files, extensive editing of voiceover clips (about 50 percent are combined from 2 or more clips), a lot of camera work (placement, pan, zoom, etc.) and about 35,000 lines of EF2 script, which are posted HERE. The hundreds of hours of raw footage was then extensively edited to create the final film and many new SFX were added using the video editor. The entire process of making Borg War, start to finish, took approximately 1620 hours or about 202 eight hour workdays. The final product may not have justified all that work, but that's a different issue entirely.

 

Q: Why didn’t you use a real animation program rather than machinima?

A: Development time.  This is the quickest way to make a movie.  Doing it with today's animation packages as a single individual with a single computer would have been impossible.

 

Q: Did you write this all by yourself?

A: Yes. The writing was a fairly involved process. I had an idea of what I wanted to have happen, but I wanted to re-use the sound clips from the two games so that the voice acting would sound professional and so I could use the voices of Stewart and Russ. Writing the script required more or less memorizing the contents of several thousand voice clips files and then rearranging them (or segments of them) into an entirely new plot. In some cases I was able to use the clips verbatim, but in other cases I did a fair amount of audio editing. The trick was sometimes finding a clip, or editable portions of clips, that were appropriate to the plot. I was also bound, to a certain extent, by the contents of the clips themselves, which is why the plot has some elements in common with the plots of the SFC3 and EF2 games (e.g. holocloaks and exomorphs, respectively.)

 

Q: Who designed Seven of Nine's daughters' outfit?

A: An EF2 modding guru named James Brophy designed the outfit and posted it at Ef2files.com. The original outfit for the Kleeya character in EF2 was essentially lingerie, so the jumpsuit is actually conservative by comparison. If anyone is offended, try to remember that it’s just a cartoon. Incidentally, there’s a transsexual Borg War fan out there who insists that Kleeya, being part Borg, should have interchangeable parts. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I thought I’d put it out there for people to ponder.

 

Q: Why isn’t Borg War high resolution ?

A: Because Borg War is machinima, which means that it’s filmed in real-time, 29.9 frames per second. While it’s true that if somebody were starting a Star Trek machinima project now, it would make sense to wait for the Star Trek Legacy engine for the space sequences and perhaps a customization of the Half-Life 2 engine for the inside shots. However, Borg War was begun in 2004 and, as a one-person project, took two years. So it’s based on 2004 technology. Short of warping time, space and reality, I’m not sure how I could have made Borg War more state-of-the-art.

 

Q: Is there going to be a sequel?

A: No.

 

Q: Any chance of working the bug out so the lips and words are in sync or is it just me?

A: It's just you. Seriously, the way that the lipsyncing is done is limited by the game engine and the tools that were provided with it. EF2 has two methods for lipsyncing. The first (which they supported in the modding environment) was relatively simplistic -- the louder the tone, the more open the mouth is. It works reasonably well, compared to, say, the original dubbing of Godzilla. The other method (which they didn't make available) actually moves the lips, teeth and tongue separately. Only voice files that are used verbatim from the EF2 game have this capability, so I used these wherever I could (mostly with Picard and Tuvok). Newer game engines, like Half-Life 2, have much better facilities for lipsyncing. Unfortunately, Borg War was started in 2004 (this stuff can take a long time) so it uses the game engines that were available at the time.

 

Q: How did you make this movie?

A: This is a machinima project -- a movie created by manipulating the customization features of two game engines.  

 

For Starfleet Command 3, I make changes to the setup files for the ships to make them act in ways that are unnatural to the game, but necessary to get a particular shot (e.g. a disabled Enterprise that will stay in one place, rather than move to attack.)  I then "play" the game. The game engine records the activities, with a camera angle that's always centered on the "players" ship, but which can can zoom and rotate during playback, which I record as described below.  For special shots, I use a special ship that is only a black dot, which can fly in between and around other ships.  This effectively gives me additional camera angles. For a few of the more complex special effects, I set up multiple computers with multiple "players" and manipulate them simultaneously.

Elite Files 2 has a much more sophisticated customization engine which served not just to play the game, but to create the cinematics for the game.  I use an editing program (provided free from the game developers) to layout the sets, place pre-created objects and characters, define locations for characters to walk, and so forth.  I then execute the game in "development" mode and record the actions of the characters and objects, based upon a script.  The scripting language is, for you techies out there, a multi-threaded C variant, which allow me to define the pre-formed animations that the characters will execute.  These animations, combined with dialog (see below), are combined to build each raw scene.  Essentially, every single action, from a character raising an eyebrow, to a massive explosion of everything in the room, is under my direct control.

The original source of the dialog is the sound files for the two games.  To build the dialog for the movie, I take snippets and sections of the dialog and recombine them into new dialog that conforms to my plotline, using an inexpensive sound editor named Audacity.  The resulting sound clips are run through a program that makes the mouths of the characters move in sync to the words.  However, in many cases the dialog is added to the movie during the editing phase and "lipsynced" to the movements of the character's mouths.

I create raw footage using a Dazzle 150 capture device.  The output from the screen and sound card are "recorded" onto a separate machine.  This output, while stored digital, has gone through a analog phase, which is why the images are not as crisp as in the computer game itself.  However, rather than seeing this as disadvantage, I've noted that the analog phase makes the final animation look more realistic, by softening edges.  The raw footage is then combined and mixed using the Pinnacle Studio 9 video editor.

  

Some of this editing is quite elaborate, involving "greenscreen" overlays, multiple editing passes, and so forth.  The result is an uncompressed video file that contains all the dialog and sound effects.  That file is then run through another pass to add ambient sounds (like the dull thrum of a starship engine).  The final file is then combined with other final files into a file that makes up a "part" of the film.  It is at this final stage that I add the background music. The resulting files are then compressed slightly degrades quality, but I don't think that anyone is likely to want to download files that are almost three gigabytes in size.

Q: How many people worked on this movie?

A: This project was entirely built, filmed and edited by one person, in his spare time, over the period of about 18 months.  I use my three best friends, all of whom are Star Trek fans, as consultants.  The four of us appear in the movie several times, as our computer animated avatars, of course. We can be identified by the "28" on our communicator badges.  Of course, several dozen people worked on the original video games, which were both major productions from major game studios.  They created all the basic animations that went into the two games.  The developers have been very supportive of my efforts, even though the two games that I am using are no longer being officially distributed. 

 

Q: I want to do machinima.  Can you give me more detail?

A: First, if you're interested in knowing more about the mechanics of machinima, go to machinima.com -- that's the center of the machinima community.  As for Borg War, while there is a somewhat detailed technical description above, it probably makes sense to provide a more detailed description to my fellow machinimists, especially since it's not always clear what's part of the "game" and what's pure programming and video editing on my part. As you know, there are essentially two types of machinima. The first are projects where the actual point of the machinima is that you're watching the video of a particular game being played. The most famous example of this is "Red vs. Blue," whose title emphasizes the dependence of the project upon the premises inherent in the game. The second type of machinima is where the game itself is irrelevant, except as a vehicle or engine for creating the animation. Borg War falls into this category and never uses the game AI and never shows actual game play. To make it clear what's involved, I'll explain how I did the "Jureth Blows Out The War Drive" scene in part five. Here were the steps:

  1. I created an engine room set. The game provided the textures for the walls and one complex object, the warp drive. The game engine has a built-in animation that allows you to move walls in order to make them doors. I used that function to create a hatchway into the engine room, massive blast-doors that descended from the ceiling, and a set of 16 movable panels that burst out the engine casing, in order to simulate emergency controls. In order to make the warp engine vibrate prior to explosion, I created multiple instances of the engine, slightly offset and an animation script that cycled through the different instances, showing and hiding them, while simultaneously activating several sources of smoke to simulate the friction of an engine about to fly out of its casing. To make the warp engine explode and fly out of the engine room, I created multiple, trigger-able invisible "exploders" (like the exploding barrels so popular in first person shooters), and some 20 more instances of the engine and fired the exploders from the script, while hiding and showing the different instances of the engine as it flew out the front wall. I simultaneously made that wall invisible and triggered a shower of sparks. All of that had to be done by hand and programmed as subroutines in the programming script.

  2. I scripted the main character. The game gave me the basic appearance of the character and about 100 basic animations, which range from "idle" (stand and do nothing) to "wtf" (raise your hands over your head in an exasperated manner a couple of times) to "ent-mainchair-gesture1" (scratch your knee while sitting). In order to animate the character, I wrote a programming script (in a multi-threaded) C++ variant that chains those animations into a successive series of actions that make sense. In order to do this, I have to turn off the game AI. (This means that, if there's a fight, I don't just film the game play but block out every position where a character stands, every movement to get to those positions and every movement that every character makes) But that's not all. I also have to put together the dialog. This entails listening to dozens, perhaps hundreds, of sound clips from the game, remembering their content, taking them apart and putting them together in order to create dialog that makes sense in the context of the movie. But that's not all, either. I also have to decide on the expressions of each character. In this case, the one character has a limited number of facial animations, so I use head positions in order to create an extra sense of drama. (Yes, I'm even controlling where each character is looking at every moment of time.) Note that the script had to control both the character and what was happening inside the room. What the game provided was an engine to make all this work, and the primitive animations that were strung together to form the scene.

  3. Build and script the bridge scene. I also had to do all of the above for the bridge set, controlling half a dozen other characters, as well as setting up an explosion that could be seen through the viewpane windows. The Dallas bridge set had to be built from scratch (albeit using some pre-defined objects, like the consoles and the chairs) and the animations for the environment (shaking, screens blowing up, etc) set up and scripted. I also had to do some pretty complex animation tricks to make the main view screen change in accordance to what was going on in the scene. In total, the scripts for the engine room and bridge scenes combines runs to well over a thousand lines of programming code and the sets themselves involve about a hundred "entities" (walls, objects, triggerable animations, etc.)

  4. Build the outside-the-ship scenes. These were equally complex as the inside scenes because they depended even less upon the gaming engine. All I took from the SFC3 game engine was the Dallas flying out of warp as seen from the front of the ship. That was a pretty basic animation, so I used video editing to create an "in-warp" effect and a dramatic "coming out of warp" sequence, with a flash and rays of light, none of which was in the original game. To show the engine flying out of the Dallas, I created a green "room" with the engine inside of it, set up a steady cam sequence that rotated around the engine, filmed it, used pan and zoom to cause it to grow bigger, thus giving the impression of a rotating object moving forward. I then added the flames in the video editor and stuck the resulting animation over top a screen shot of the Dallas. To show the Dallas drifting in space, I took a screen shot of the Dallas from SFC3, modified it in Paint Shop Pro so that the front of the ship looked broken, converted the screenshot into a EF2 texture, created a set with that texture as the backdrop, added some plasma smoke SFX and a couple of floating bodies (using a "dead in space" animation), and then zoomed the camera slowly forward, rotating slightly so that it gave the impression of viewing something "broken".

  5. Mix all of the above into a dramatic sequence. After I had all the raw footage described above, the entire sequence had to be put together, clip by clip, in order to create a dramatic sequence that made sense. That entailed the basic video editing, adding several layers of sound effects, and then adding the music. When complete, the entire scene runs around 2 minutes, but involved at least 40 hours of hard work, including writing, set design, programming, sound editing, video-post processing and video editing.  I find that video editing is like speaking a different language, one that you've been hearing all your life, but never really understood.  There's a vocabulary that allows you to tell a story. 

 

Now, one could argue that I'm just being stupid because I could have gotten something just as good simply by filming the game play. But that's not the case. Game play may be fun, but it's inherently repetitive, stupid and plot-less; which is why (incidentally) that it's so ridiculously easy to lampoon. By contrast, if you're starting from the idea that you have a story that you want to tell that has nothing to do with the GAME (as opposed to the subject matter of the game, like Sci Fi or medieval warfare), the GAME itself is basically irrelevant and (if anything) is simply an impediment to that story that you want to tell.

 

Q: Can you tell me more about how you did the special effects and video editing?

A: A detailed description of this aspect of the work is contained in the "For Machinimists Only" post on Borg War forum at Machinima.com.

 

 

PERSONAL AND LEGAL QUESTIONS

Q: Is this a game mod or just a movie?

A: It is a game mod.  The Borg War movie is a "cinematic" for a game mod that includes many of the sets used in the production.  Thus is it impossible to get the full 100% value of Borg War without purchasing the two games and running the mod.  

Q: Are you worried about copyright violation?

A: This website provides new game materials created according to permissions and restrictions specified in the software licenses for the Activision games Starfleet Command 3 and Star Trek Elite Force 2. Star Trek and related marks are trademarks of Paramount Pictures.  This effort qualifies as a "new game material," and is thus specifically allowed under the user license of the two games, provided that the materials are identified as such and not distributed for profit. 

 

Q: Aren't you stealing the work of the actors?

A: Let me try to explain, using my limited knowledge of contract law, why this isn't stealing.

 

Creative work is often called "intellectual property" or IP for short. The term is meant literally; IP can be bought, sold or rented. Creatives (meaning actors, writers, singers, etc.) generate IP. When they are paid for doing so, the rights to "do things" with that IP (e.g. distribute it in the form of a CD) are typically sold to a media company, which takes responsibility for selling an eventual product, like a CD or a computer game.

 

The contracts governing arrangements between media companies and creatives can be very complex.  These contracts stipulate, often in excruxiating detail, how and when the creatives will be paid for various usages of the IP. Voiceover work for computer games is typically sold outright, without royalties. That means that when a voice artist (this includes an actor, even a famous one, performing that function) contributes his or her voice to a computer gaming project, they are paid a lump sum for their participation. That fee compensates them for any and all use of the IP that they created. The purchased IP (e.g. the voice tracks) is then the property of the company that hired them, in this case Activision. As the owner of the IP, Activision can grant other people (like you and me) the right to use that IP.

 

When you buy a game, during the install, in most cases you (digitally) sign an agreement saying what you can and cannot do with the IP. For example, you can typically resell your install CD but can't sell pirated copies on Ebay. Game companies consider modding to be free advertising; they are aware that modders create addiitonal demand for their games. Because of this, they generally allow buyers of the game to create what are often called "new game materials" using the IP that's distributed with the game. These can range from new "skins" to new levels to new cinematics (e.g. Machinima like Borg War.)

 

My usage of the IP from the two Activision-owned games is thus specifically allowed by the contract that I "signed" when I installed the game. Activision's contract with the creatives (Peters, Stewart, etc.) specifically allows Activision to grant me those rights. When the actors' agents negotiated that contract, they presumably charged extra in anticipation for that usage. So, to sum it up, the voiceover actors (Peters, Stewart, etc.) have already been paid for my usage of their voiceovers, so nobody is getting ripped off. 

 

When Activision returned the right to make Star Trek themed games back to Paramount, all the intellectual property in Activision's games reverted to Paramount (now CBS/Paramount). So Paramount owns all the IP and Activision is no longer involved.

Q: What is Starbase 28?

Starbase 28 was my first long-format attempt at machinima.  My friends and I used to have a regular gaming party every Friday night where we would play, among other things, Starfleet Command 3.  When we discovered "movie" mode in the program, I decided that it would be fun to make a movie.  I literally had never heard of fan films and did not know that serious ones actually existed.  I had also never heard of machinima, for that matter.  Anyway, Starbase 28 was, in a way, the prototype for Borg War and four of the characters in the Bridge crew of the Enterprise represent people in Starbase 28.  (Their comm badges have a "28" on them.)  Click here to see Starbase 28!

 

Q: Are you a gigantic Star Trek fan?

I think "respectful of the tradition" would summarize my viewpoint.  I enjoy watching it with my friends, who are the main reason I started doing this.  (They wanted more Star Trek.)  Over the years I've seen all the TOS and STNG episodes, perhaps 10 DS9 episodes, a couple of Voyagers and Enterprise, and all the movies.  I rely upon my friends to make sure that I don't tread on the Canon. 

Q: Why are you doing this?

A: I'm trying to do a better movie than Nemesis, given the restrictions of the medium.  Beyond this, I have been interested in computer animation since playing with MovieMaker on the Atari 800 in the mid-1980s.  Machinima gives me the opportunity to make a feature-length animated film without the necessity of collaboration. Let me put it another way. I think of my project as successful when viewers tell me "Hey, Borg War is a good animated movie; you did some nice things within the context of the Star Trek genre." 

 

Q: What does Borg War have to do with Ethiopian orphans?

A: The first 250,000 downloads of Borg War spawned a donation of $2,500 to help Ethiopian orphans.  Some of this money was used to help HIV+ orphans and some was used to sponsor children who are not likely to be adopted.  

 

Q: How do you know how many clips have been downloaded?

A: I regularly track Borg War downloads on various video sharing sites as well on this site.  As of this writing (8/17/2007), there are around 90,000 downloads at machinima.com and around 200,000 on YouTube. I've got around 100,000 full movies downloaded on borgwarmovie.org, which I count as 10 clips per download (because that matches the original distribution method). Another 400,000 or so have been clocked up on a couple of dozen other sites that I track, and there are at least a dozen others that I don't track. Note that these numbers include downloads of the trailers and bloopers, which account for about 5 percent of the total..

 

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This website provides new game materials created according to permissions and restrictions specified in the software licenses for the Activision games Starfleet Command 3 and Star Trek Elite Force 2.  Borg War is not endorsed, sponsored or affiliated with CBS Studios Inc.. Activision or the "Star Trek" franchise. STAR TREK® and its various marks are trademarks and copyrights of CBS Studios Inc All commercial use prohibited.  For more information:  Contact me.  Last updated: August 21, 2007 .

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