Real news from the virtual world:
— MAKE IT SO: "Star Trek" fans have been waiting years for an online game that would allow them to roam Federation space from the bridge of their own starship.
Leonard Nimoy — Mr. Spock, of course, from the original "Star Trek" series — probably hasn't been tapping his keyboard in anticipation, however.
"My people on Vulcan have been playing this game for ages," he told a crowd at this year's Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas.
Nimoy was on hand to introduce footage from the massively multiplayer "Star Trek Online," which Trekkers have been craving ever since it was first announced in 2004.
After the original developer, Perpetual Entertainment, went out of business earlier this year, Cryptic Studios — creator of the popular "City of Heroes" online game — has taken command of the project.
Cryptic chief executive officer Jack Emmert said the game will begin in 2409, 30 years after the events of "Star Trek: Nemesis," the most recent film in the series.
You will begin in command of a small ship, then work your way to the helm of a Federation or Klingon vessel.
Emmert showed off footage of some of the game's alien worlds as well as a battle between a Federation ship and a Borg cube.
The original TV series "helped inspire my imagination of what mysteries the universe might in fact hold," he said. "I'd like to think that very same imagination is what fuels my desire and drive as a game designer."
— JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU'RE OUT: The 2006 game based on "The Godfather" wasn't particularly well-received — the film's director, Francis Ford Coppola, hated it — but that isn't stopping Electronic Arts from developing a sequel.
The first "Godfather" game attempted to create an open-world crime game, a la "Grand Theft Auto," in 1940s New York.
The follow-up assumes that you succeeded in becoming Don of New York and are now trying to spread your empire to Florida and Cuba.
Players can still expect plenty of "visceral hand-to-hand brutality," EA says, but "The Godfather II" incorporates a strategy game into the mix.
In The Don's View, you'll build a family, assign tasks and promote your best earners, all while keeping tabs on the activities of rival families.
Executive producer Hunter Smith said The Don's View is all about "laying out a strategy to pick off the competition one by one."
It's certainly a fresh approach to the genre; we'll see how successful it is in February.
— CORE GAMING: Since Apple's App Store opened about a month ago, I've been hearing a lot of chatter about how the iPhone is going to replace the Nintendo DS as the top portable game player.
So far, however, games have only represented a fraction of App sales, and the three games in the sales top 10 — "Texas Hold 'Em," "Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D" and "Touch Pong" — won't win any prizes for originality.
The rest of the App Store's game chart is filled with the sort of casual games that have thrived on other cell phones: solitaire, "Super Monkey Ball," a brain-training game, bowling.
That's plenty for most cell-phone users, but nothing that comes close to the depth of software for dedicated portable game machines.
Don't throw out your DS (or your PlayStation Portable) just yet.
— QUIET KUDOS: The G4 network's "G-Phoria" has come a long way from its origins as a full-blown awards extravaganza, where video-game developers hobnobbed with celebrities like Carmen Electra and Anna Nicole Smith.
It's a humbler affair now, with no rock bands, red carpets or acceptance speeches, just "X-Play" hosts Morgan Webb and Adam Sessler at a podium. It's a lot like this year's strike-crippled Golden Globes ceremony.
But G4 goes through the motions anyway, asking its viewers to pick the year's best games. Because of the weird mid-August scheduling, most of the "G-Phoria" nominees were released in 2007; most big 2008 games still haven't been published.
And the game-of-the-year winner is ... "Halo 3"? Really?
To their credit, G4 viewers did give three prizes each to "Rock Band" and "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots." Isn't democracy awesome?
— NEW IN STORES: The fall video-game season kicks off with "Madden NFL 09" (EA Sports, most systems). ... And a few things for the girls who couldn't care less about football: "Imagine Teacher" (Ubisoft, DS) and "The Cheetah Girls: Passport to Stardom" (Disney, DS).