In this brand-new edition of Ask Cryptic, Executive Producer Dan Stahl delivers answers to player submitted questions. But, before we share the answers, a quick note from Dan himself:
Greetings Everyone –
Q: (Maxxina) When can we expect Season 6 on the TRIBBLE public test server?
Thank you for posting submitting your questions. For those who might not be aware, all of these questions come from posts made by forums users at forums.startrekonline.com. Every month, questions are selected by myself by starting at the beginning of the thread and random selecting a variety of questions, even if they’ve been asked before (from my perspective, nearly all these questions have been asked before, but since players come and go, it doesn’t hurt to answer a question someone new may have asked, even if it has been asked before.)
If you would like to submit new questions, please be on the lookout for the “ASK CRYPTIC – SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION” Thread which shows up in the STO Federation News Network forum at the end of each month.
Now on to 31 questions… one for each day in May…
QA is currently running through the new Season 6 baseline code and verifying that all previous features are working. We expect them to wrap that up within the first half of May and then start posting updates to the TRIBBLE test server. By early June, most of Season 6 will be available for testing, unless of course we withhold some features as surprises.
Q: (Akalayus) Is there any solid date or timeframe for when we can expect to see more STFs such as Children of Khan
For those that are unaware, STFs are Special Task Forces are repeatable 5-captain missions that you can queue for anytime. These missions offer unique challenges that can provide drops for high end rewards. For Season 6, we will be adding new Space and Ground 5-captain repeatable missions similar to STFs, however they will be accessed differently than the current queues. Two of them will be accessed through slots on the event timer, and another two will be accessed similar to Red Alerts that can pop up at random times. As far as the specific STF “Children of Khan”, it is not on our current schedule and has been postponed until a future, yet to be determined, update.
Q: (Iminded76) Any chance of bringing back the AIR GUITAR emote so I can rock out with my Subspace Radio buddies when they party?
Last I checked, there was talk of adding these older emotes to the GPL store. Keep your eyes out for that update and then you’ll see if it made it back for that or not.
Q: (HyperLimited) Do you have any details you can share about Episode Reruns in May and how the acquisition of Lobi Crystals will be tied-in to this and future events?
Hmm, by the time I write this and it gets sent over to Community and posted to the web, there should be a post on the website and forums that explains all the details about the Episode Rerun series and highlights that Lobi have been hidden in each episode that can be earned while the replay of that episode series is running. (Update! You can find that post here
Q: (Commadore_Bob) Have you considered adding tier-based STFs or Fleet Actions? For example, a TOS version of Sacrifice of Angels where 20 Tier-2 ships take on a fleet of period specific enemies?
Not exactly, but we are making a new challenges for Season 6 that do require players to be at Max level to take on challenging objectives. It brings up a good point that we need a way to limit the types of ships that are allowed in a specific mission. Once we get that tech implemented, we could do something like you describe, as well as make it easier to swap in and out of your shuttle by designating “this is my default small craft”, “this is my default T2 ship”, etc…
Q: (Tucana) Will Perfect World being doing any advertising to promote Season 6?
Yes of course. Now that Cryptic Studios can focus on development and Perfect World can act as publisher -- all Marketing, Community and promotions come from their offices. We have weekly meetings as well as visit one another’s offices for development discussions frequently to stay in sync. Look for Season 6 promotions to start sometime between late -May and mid-June.
Q: (cjseven) Are there any plans to create more hair styles for players?
Typically new hair styles are added when new species are created for the game. For example, there is a new species being added this month which are allowing us to provide some new hairstyles for other species. If you have a hairstyle suggestion, the character art team regularly reads the Art of Star Trek Online subforum, so post them there for them to see.
Q: (Zoya) When are you going to stop with this periodic small content and flesh the game out:? It's been 2 years and barely any new significant content has been released. At this point it seems that the Klingon side should have its own starting area and at least on more playable race should have been added. Then there is endgame content which is almost nonexistent. When is real progression, and raiding going to be added?
Well, while these are challenging arguments, the fact is that the game just underwent a massive transformation from a subscription game to a free-to-play game (something I wouldn’t consider insignificant). Even with all of those major changes, this team has continued to deliver monthly events and C-Store updates all the while working on our next major release (Season 6) which will include a new Fleet Advancement system focused around building a Fleet Starbase, as well as several new max level only challenges in both space and ground, along with tons of new rewards. WoW style raiding is not something planned for STO, although we do intend to continue to make 20-man Fleet Actions, the first of which is launching with Season 6.
Q: (dontdrunkimshoot) Are we ever going to see more missions that continue the main story line? Not even FE, just an installment of episodes that picks up where the last undine mission left off?
Yes of course, but not until sometime after our next major update (Season 6).
Q: (MattMiracle) Is there a chance that we can get a playable Ferasan Captain? I would love to add that to my KDF lineup, and are the engineering reports coming down the pike?
More than a chance. They are pretty badass looking. I suspect you’ll see them sooner than you think! Also, the return of the Engineering Reports is scheduled for later this month (May).
Q: (Alastor_Forthright) With the Vault out, and Alpha out, and the last FE in regular progression, can you give us a hint towards what’s next in the way of new missions outside the upcoming FE Replay?
Most of the new missions coming in Season 6 are slated for groups of max level Captains where you will face difficult challenges. Some of the names of these missions are “No Win Scenario”, “Colony Rescue”, and “3v3 PvP”. As far as story specific missions, you can look forward more progress on the storyline sometime after this next major release.
Q: (Colione) Are there any plans to give Fleet Admirals the ability to remove events (even if they weren’t the original poster?)
There is a major update happening for the Fleet UI and permissions in Season 6 which will fix many long standing Fleet management issues, such as the removal of events.
Q: (Nitrous82) Due to the changes to the cooldowns (death timers) for STFs, is there any plan to maybe nerf the damage output of the Borg NPCs in them? Elite STFs (in particular Cure Space) are almost impossible.
While we want the STFs to remain challenging, we did recently update all of the enemies in the STFs to reduce their damage output -- the higher rank the enemy was, the more we nerfed their DPS. We also removed the ability for the bosses to crit. This leaves the STFs challenging, but greatly reduces the odds of getting “one-shotted” by a single mob.
Q: (Captain Conrad) It feels like this game has entered a dark period with the lack of fun and enjoyable content and lack of endgame and lack of exploration. When will this game come out of the “Dark Ages”?
The “Dark Ages” you speak of is related to the fact that as a live team, the majority of the last year was spent converting the game to F2P -- most of our resources were locked into back end code and content conversion as part of the process. Looking through our release notes, you can see that we’ve clearly released a lot of updates, but nothing specifically targeted to end game or exploration missions. Our next two updates are focused on adding new content for End Game. Whether or not that also includes exploration is TBD. Will you see something as big as a “WoW paid expansion”? Probably not, but you will see our team continue to add as many new features and missions as our schedule allows.
Q: (CaptainPenrod) As many Vice Admirals have played through the entire game and have maxed out ship and character abilities, what are things we can look forward to?
First up you’ll have the new Fleet Advancement System along with challenging new group missions balanced for max level characters. After that, you can look forward to the fact that our team has been staffing up and is currently twice the size it was all of last year -- we plan on continuing to add new missions and features through 2012 and beyond. While I can’t share the details beyond what is in Season 6, we do have a grand vision for where we want the game to go next and have the resources to start delivering bigger updates than we have in the past.
Q: (J-Lau) Are we going to see more missions involving environment suits?
Yes. There is one in the works now that puts your Captain on a hostile planet that requires an EV suit in order to face off against a challenging new foe.
Q: (Barry110) Now that Lobi Crystals have been introduced, will there be a way to exchange GPL and or Dilithium for Lobi Crystals and will we be able to sell our unwanted lock box items to the Lobi Vendor for crystals.
Lobi is a monetized currency (meaning that for most cases, Lobi can only be obtain through spending real money) -- to avoid exploits, we cannot allow for the exchange of a monetized currency with another unlimited game currency. Similarly, we do not allow you to obtain Lobi from trading in an unlocked lock box, since the way you obtain Lobi is to open a lock box. That said, we are adding in some new accolades that allow you to earn a limited amount of Lobi by playing missions.
Q: (NVS5191) Now that Gozer has become the King of PvP, what kind of additions/changes are in the pipeline? When can we expect to see them?
PvP is in pretty sad shape in STO, and as such, we have put one of our senior designers to the task of revitalizing it. Gozer is currently tasked with importing some new PvP tech that was created for another unannounced Cryptic game and creating some new maps as a test bed. We plan to get the first of these new PvP missions onto our Test Server in May to start collecting feedback from the loyal following of players who are still playing STO PvP. From there, we plan to focus efforts on making some new maps that should drive in more interest in PvP. Once we get to that point and determine if PvP is getting better, we will decide what to do next.
Q: (Robeasom) Is Utopia Planetia Shipyards going to make another appearance as I believe that could be a good social meeting place.
Currently UPS is slated to appear during First Contact Day every year. We have also provided Foundry authors with access to this map so that they can create user generated missions that take place at that location. As far as turning it into a new social map, we feel that there are already a lot of social maps in the game. We’d rather focus players in the existing social maps rather than spreading more people out amongst additional new ones.
Q: (NahariKajal) Now that we have met some of the new Enterprise F Crew Members, do you plan to include them into more missions in the future? Like in some kind of stand alone missions where the player has to help them or at least deal with them.
That is the plan. We specifically created a new crew so that we could tell their story in our game. If you are interested in learning more about the crew, the official Star Trek Magazine will be featuring information about them in upcoming issues. There could also be a chance for the KDF to interact with their new flagship in the future as well.
Q: (Wilv) With the fate of the Romulan Faction up in the air, is there a chance we could at least see playable Romulans for KDF and Fed players, or at the very least Romulan ridges in the tailor?
We have not given up on having a playable Romulan faction. Discussion about this comes up constantly and while we aren’t prepared to share any details or plans regarding their future yet, I can say that they are still very high on my radar.
Q: (Science_Officer_Brooks) Why no more story driven STFs? I’m quoting Gozer from his recent STOked interview for that question. What exactly are the plans for this focus on endgame?
To correct Gozer’s statement, there aren’t any story STFs in Season 6. For the next major update we will be introducing new challenging 5 and 20 max level captain sorties that are designed to be challenging space and ground combat missions. These mission will be similar to the Borg Red Alerts or the Mirror Universe events that are currently in game. To say that we will never make another story driven STF in the future is false.
Q: (bluegeek) A Crafting system revamp was previously mentioned. Is there any chance this will be in development prior to Season 7 (release)?
A crafting system revamp is coming, but we have yet to announce which update it will be in, only that it is not in Season 6. You’ll have to stay tuned for future news on this.
Q: (Mikemckeon007) Mr. Stahl I was wondering when will you and the rest of the dev team be doing another in game PvP event with the players? I ask because on the website for the fleet I’m in we have awards for in game stuff and one of them requires being killed by you.
Once the new PvP maps hit the TRIBBLE test server (later this month), you can expect me to be on TRIBBLE to test these and you will have an opportunity to be killed by me. Also, just this week, BranFlakes held a Community PvP event that everyone seemed to have a lot of fun at.
Q: (Cuatela) Over the years, it seems like Cryptic has pushed patches through even when bugs are known or seem obvious to players. Are there any plans to allow more time for QA with future patches to improve the “polish” of the game?
Yes. This is one of my personal goals for the year and something that has been a challenge at Cryptic that requires changing the way we do little things here and there. Efforts are underway and I’ve been meeting with both the production and QA leads to help drive this effort. It remains to be seen if you can teach an old horse new tricks, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying.
Q: (Blasten_Blaster) Do you still want “one giant sector space to rule them all”? if so, how ill auto-pilot work? Will player ships fly a straight line from say Iota Pavonis to Deep Space Nine going throught “Deep Space”, or will the ships take paths similar to how we do it now?
The one sector idea is still around, but the challenges you bring up are part of the reason why this is no small undertaking and will require a significant effort to make happen. That is why for now we are sticking with the existing sectors.
Q: (Sean2448) Account Wide Bank? It would be nice to have a bank that made it easier to trade stuff between accounts.
We are currently working on an Account Shared Bank system and hashing out the details as to what types of items will be allowed for trade between characters on your account. This feature is intended to release with Season 6, if not sooner.
Q: (njsjedi) Do you think that taking away the Calendar from the home page (something that has been there from day one) will make people think that you aren’t going to be releasing new content as often or hiding what little if anything will be added to the game?
The removal of the Calendar from the home page was for logistical reasons. Now that the website is being merged over to the Perfect World Platform and managed by a team in a different office, it is challenging to keep it accurate and up to date. That said, the Community team has been doing an excellent job of writing weekly blog posts about everything coming out in a given week. Add in the fact that you’re going to see a return of the Engineering Reports, and I don’t think you’ll really miss the often inaccurate Calendar list on the home page that seemed to only focus on some things and not all the things that appear in our often hefty release notes.
Q: (Tricksterbro) Are the Feature Episodes a thing of the past never to return, or will they be back?
There has been some debate about this and the relative cost of making this specific type of content versus other story related mission content. Each series has been excessively more expensive to make than the last and so there is an evaluation going on to determine the relative development scope of adding new single player story missions to the game. You’ll see us start to answer this question in earnest after the release of Season 6 which is focused on Fleets and group based Fleet Gameplay.
Q: (keith_darren) There are a number of really well designed ships at the rear admiral level. Are we going to see +1 versions of these ships in the near future?
The intention is that we will continue to expand the number of Admiral level ships and you may very well see us do as you suggest. While I can’t share any details about which ships are coming in the Fleet Advancement update, there is a chance you will see some new variants of rear-admiral ships. That said, Rear-Admiral and Vice-Admiral ships are specifically intended to both be viable at max level play, so internally we do not consider RA ships as vessels that would not hold their own against FA ships.
Q: (OtakuboyT) Can we have a service to remake our captains with gender and species options?
The ability to “re-species” or “re-trait” is high on our upcoming feature list. This feature is coming, I just can’t share which update it will be in yet.
Link to the forum post