Classic Game Themes: Star Trek Online
MMORPG genre frequently benefits from a robust and charismatic score. It helps greatly in establishing specific races, classes and regions within the game, giving them a unique identity and characteristics. Music can be used to provide the player with audio cues about the environment and the quests they are undertaking. The use of a leitmotif can be invaluable in establishing a games tone as the story progresses. Therefore many games in this genre have sumptuous scores by established composers. As so many are set within a traditional fantasy setting, many soundtracks seem to follow a particular pattern. Star Trek Online however is one of a handful of science fiction based MMOs and as a result its soundtrack is subtly different.
Many fans have had their musical association with Star Trek shaped by such composers as Sol Kaplan, Alexander Courage, Dennis McCarthy and Jay Chattaway, who contributed to the scores of the various TV shows. However it is the movie spinoffs and their iconic themes from the likes of James Horner and Jerry Goldsmith that perhaps have made the most lasting impressions. Naturally when Star Trek Online launched in 2010, players were expecting something inherently in the idiom of the established franchise and suitable epic considering the scope of the game. Thankfully composer Kevin Manthei musically literate score managed to address expectations and remains a very engaging and varied game soundtrack.
Kevin has a strong background in composing for games as well as television. He also studied at the University of Southern California under Jerry Goldsmith, which possibly gives him a further insight into the existing sound of Star Trek. Certainly a lot of his work for STO still retains an inherently nautical theme which both Goldsmith and Horner explored with their movie soundtracks. There is also a healthy dose of tribal percussion to cues associated with the Klingons. But it is in space and through the ambient music that plays whilst exploring that really seems to evoke the heart of Star Trek. Through a diverse selection of themes, the player really gets a sense of the enormity of respective quadrants and the thrill of boldly going where no one has gone before.