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Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive Technical Manual

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Cover image
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Author(s): Michael Okuda and Rick Sternbach
Released: February 1994
Platform(s): Windows MacOS
System Requirements: 386/33 MHz or better, 8 MB of RAM, VGA card with 256 colors and 640×480 resolution, color monitor, 2X speed CD-ROM drive, MPC compliant sound card and mouse
Reference: ISBN 067131629X
A view of CONN

The Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive Technical Manual is an in-depth description of the technology and equipment used aboard the USS Enterprise-D in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The CD-ROM also featured interactive tours of certain areas of the Enterprise. For the most part, the information is the same information contained in the paper version of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual.

However, the use of Apple's then-new Quicktime VR software allows a fully interactive exploration of many areas of the ship. Various sets from the TV show were photographed thousands of times, at various angles. These photographs were then stitched together to allow 360 degree viewing at a number of points in each location. It is possible to zoom into many control panels, and to closely examine a number of objects. Some control panels are interactive and can trigger sequences, such as transporting or firing phasers.

Movement within the ship is performed either by a simple jump from location to location, or by a animated trip through the corridor and turbolift sets. Ship ambiance is as on the TV show, with background sounds, control panel audio, and computer narration by Majel Barrett. The interactive tour option gives the user a introduction to every ship area, and is narrated by Jonathan Frakes.

Available locations

Program compatibility

It is very difficult to get the Interactive Technical Manual to work in operating systems newer than Microsoft Windows 3.1, for which it was designed. It is possible to get it working on Windows 9x, but one must seek out the 16-bit version of QuickTime 2.1.2. The included QuickTime does not work correctly with Windows 9x. QuickTime 2.1.2 16-bit can have problems with various video card drivers. These can be remedied by changing video display options within QuickTime's applet inside the Windows control panel.

On Windows NT-based operating systems, such as Windows 2000, XP, and Vista, it is not possible to operate the program natively. However, it can be run inside a Microsoft Virtual PC-emulated Windows 9x system. This software is available as a free download from Microsoft, but the user must own Windows 95 or 98.

The program runs at 640×480 resolution and will be letterboxed if the system is running at a higher resolution. The program documentation recommends 8-bit color depth, probably due to performance concerns, but it does look better if 32-bit color is used.

A version 2.0 of this program was released and distributed as a bonus disc with one of The Next Generation DVD season box sets at Best Buy. The upgrade replaced the 16-bit program with a new 32-bit version that uses QuickTime 4.0 or above. Windows NT-based users could move the program files and main font to the appropriate folders manually to bypass any issues with the installer not running correctly. The 32-bit upgrade also allowed the program to run on 64-bit architectures.

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