Cryptic Studios


Moving a flagship video game from computer to consoles

Star Trek Online is the first MMORPG set in the Star Trek universe – with over two dozen major updates and a player base numbering in the millions. In 2016 Cryptic Studios expanded the game to Xbox One and Playstation 4. We partnered with them to help build a version of their game that would be embraced

by console players, but which also drew more heavily from the design aesthetic of the Star Trek universe. We were tasked with reimagining the UI/UX for the various systems throughout the game, including character creation/management, mission & fleet management, and the in-game store.

Project Objectives

Our discovery process with Cryptic identified two major goals for our work.

First, we needed to create a more engaging experience by reinforcing the Star Trek look and feel. We felt that players would be better immersed in the world if we tapped more strongly into the Trek visual style.

Second, we needed to rethink and redesign hundreds of game menus and UI components to
make them cleaner and more functional. Console UI/UX is quite distinct from PC, and to
succeed the game needed big changes throughout.

Sci-fi history provides a starting point.

Almost nothing says Star Trek like “LCARS” – a fictional graphical interface created by Michael Okuda for Star Trek: The Next Generation. It came to epitomize how humans interacted with the futuristic technology of their world. LCARS looks great, but has no real functionality. As a UI, it’s an illusion. We began with an extensive discovery process that explored how we could transform the look into a real player UI.

From Fiction to Functioin

Through extensive planning, well-conceived UI/UX layout and smart design, we were able to translate LCARS into a modern UI that has real utiity, is easy to learn and use, and sparks a connection between gamer and the universe within the game.

Focus on Usability

The more technical goal was to port the existing game’s UI/UX to consoles. The existing UI components were unsuitable for consoles because of layout, but they were also outdated, cluttered, and had been patched together from various updates and expansions. We reworked the entire game down to each sub-menu, ensuring the UI would be compatible with modern console play styles.

STO Comes to Consoles

The finished product accomplished our goals – we were able to translate Okuda’s make-believe OS into a usable, modern console UI. This informed a look and feel that resulted in a clean, intuitive UX that was far more functional for players.


Star Trek Online Console Launch

Creative Director's Note

I grew up with Star Trek. I love the Trek universe, and that it is always growing, changing and evolving. It was an amazing opportunity to play a role helping Trek position itself in gaming, and to think about the fans who would play this game and feel the same awe and inspiration I experienced watching Star Trek as a kid.

And a special thanks to the team at Cryptic – you put together an amazing game, and it was a pleasure to work with you.

So what's next?