Executive Producer Dan Stahl beams aboard a massive 51 answers to your questions in this month's Ask Cryptic!
Q: AaronJArcher621: Will a feature be added to change the uniform of your ship interior crew members?
A: This is on our stretch goals for Season 4, but may not be ready until we hit Season 5 when we start to talk about the Foundry as a way for you to customize your own ship interior. At that point you'll be able to populate your own interior with uniforms you select.
Q: Bohort: Why are off-duty costumes not avalable for Klingons?
A:The Klingon faction has more diverse species than the Federation and when we put the off-duty uniforms on say, a Gorn, it didn't look appropriate. We instead decided that instead of trying to make "neutral" casual looks that all species could wear (a challenging design task), we would intead focus on creating species specific clothing options. This is why we have been working on unique garments for Orions, and a complete overhaul of the Gorn. Ultimately, we want to remove the concept of "off-duty" uniforms and just have "outfits" that are appropriate to your faction and species.
Q: Jas-: Will transphasic torpedoes be getting an overhaul or adjustment? Many players feel they are severly underpowered.
A:Balancing a complex combat system is tricky, and we agree that many torpedo powers could use adjustment. Before we can effectively do that, we need to address some bigger balance issues in the game such as healing. You can look forward to us making a big pass on all torpedoes once we get some of our bigger combat balance changes into the game.
Q: billyyank: Is an Ambassador class starship in the works?
A: We have plans to answer some questions about what happened to the Enterprise-C, and when we do, you can expect an Ambassador class starship to make it into ship requisitions.
Q: teralkaar: Do you plan to improve the game so that it has less zoning?
A: This is one of my biggest gripes about STO is that there are too many loading screens as you are traveling around the galaxy. We have already started to make changes where we can by removing small transfers such as the door to Admiral Quinn's office which now just opens to his office instead of sending you through a loading screen to get there. I dream of the day when we can get the entire existing galaxy into one big map. And if we can improve loading screen times and transitions before then, we'll do it.
Q: kekvin85: Any plans to use ships or characters from previous Star Trek Games like Legacy, Armada, Starfleet Command, New worlds etc?
A: While we don't have any deliberate plans on the table to use ships or characters from other Star Trek games, it is an interesting question of whether we can include soft canon references in Star Trek Online. In some cases we want to include something new in the game that hasn't been referenced specifically in a TV show or Movie.
Q: Boreaz: Can we expect Kirk's green wrap-around in C-Store some day?
A: Yes. I'm looking at a work in progress screenshot of it right now. This is scheduled to release towards the end of March.
Q: SapphicZoid: Its been nearly 5 months since the Bonnie Kin episode (Oct to Feb) Will most content now take 5 months to release?
A: Maybe. It depends on what else is on the schedule. Obviously, we would like release Feature Episode Series nonstop, but so far there have been scheduling reasons why they aren't hitting one right after another. Our goal for Feature Episodes in 2011 is to get out at least 5 series while still working on other parts of the game. If we can do more, we absolutely will.
Q: Computer.Ed: Is there any chance we will soon see the wormhole opened for exploration missions? By this time Gamma Quadrent exploration should be in full swing. Plus it would give us the Dominion to deal with :D
A: This is one of the ideas on the table for the next exploration sector. However, before we can go there, we need to revamp Exploration into something compelling and more interesting than the current grind.
Q: temerson3: Can we please have less types of in-game currency. It is getting annoying trying to remember where you go to spend what. Latinum, ECs, Marks, Badges...please stop the insanity!
A: I'm in agreement with you. This will happen slowly over time. While I think we'll always have a few different currencies to represent various game mechanics (such as the difference between merit and energy credits), we can collapse many of the Marks and Emblems into a single scaling currency that would go a long way towards simplifying the economy. We have a system designer looking into this as a possible Season 4 update.
Q: SkeeterUK: Will there be anything added to the captains table area to make it worth going to, some mini games would help alot maybe a big stakes dabo or something?
A: The content leads are discussing this via email right now and coming up with options to make the Captain's table more interesting than just an instanced bar.
Q: f1restarter: Will we be able to buy C-Store points as "vouchers", as a gift for ingame friends?
A: The webstore team has gift giving on their schedule for sometime first half of 2011. It’ll be nice to be able to send a gift to my favorite Foundry creators and see if I can bribe them to make that V’Ger mission I’ve always dreamed of!
Q: KyotoCarl: I love Star Trek for the stories and the mysteries not so much for the combat. Will we be seeing more story-based and dialogue driven episodes in the future? The new Stranded in Space remastered episode is a great way to go in my mind. Show more dialogue and really flesh out the characters more, add a mystery, and you will have the ability to create great non-combat missions.
A: Glad you've noticed the changes KyotoCarl! This is one of the goals of episode remastering - focusing on the story and bringing characters to life. You can expect us to continue this effort not only by remastering more episodes, but by emphasizing the storyline in Feature Episodes and any other content we add to the game.
Q: Calcova: Will there ever be a fix to the ice cube grenades to stop people from randomly freezing players that are trying to do meaning full stuff?
A: The designer has reviewed the comments after the Anniversary Event, and we pushed an update to address concerns. It should cut down on the player griefing now.
Q: picardalpha2clearance: Is there a chance we could have a Bridge Officer only Transfer/Exchange?
A: Yes. We are discussing adding a officer requisition "exchange" that would allow players to list officers they would like to put up for trade to other starship captains. The goal being that this list would also show what skills they've learned and make it much easier to trade Bridge Officers. This may be incorporated into the new Duty Officer system, or it may be its own system. That is still TBD, but on the table. Look for this as early as Season 4 release, but it might be Season 5. (and sorry that I can't answer every question you might have.)
Q: astraz: Is there any chance we can hope in more localisations other than frech and german? Ever thinked about looking for volunteers to offer their language skills to set up new localisations like (let's say) spanish, italian, dutch or any other language out there?
A: The publishing team has been scrambling to fix the localizations in game as they've been horribly inconsistent for months now. I have assurances from them that they are getting caught up and that we can expect a localization drop before the end of February. As far as other languages and allowing volunteers, one of the features we have focused on in the Foundry is the ability for players to write missions in multiple langauges. We have also added filters that will allow players to search player created missions by language. We hope this will encourage non-English language content to flourish.
Q: m.parsons: Can you tell us what discussions or plans there might be concerning when the Romulans become a playable faction what we can maybe expect?
A: The leads on the project discuss playable Romulans all the time. The biggest concerns that I've pointed out in previous interviews is that it would be very difficult to introduce a new Faction until we feel the Klingon Empire has an improved Faction experience. That said, we still discuss how and when we would introduce the Romulan faction. Obviously, with their homeworld destroyed, it would be interesting where they call "home". The latest Feature Episode series is starting to delve into their story and show just how fractured their people are at the moment. Perhaps the Romulan Empire will split into multiple factions where one will join the Federation and the other the Klingon Empire... That's an interesting idea.
Q: Case_Wintermute: Will there ever be a revamp of the skill system regarding ship skills? Specially for Vice Admirals there are just too many specific ship skills. What if someone wants to fly more than one type of ship or even shipclass? It just costs too much points to fly 2 or 3 or more ships effectively.
A: We are discussing both simple and radical changes that could be made to the skillpoint system, and we are still deliberating on exactly how we want to resolve the issue you point out. One popular idea is to break up skillpoints between ground and space so that you don't have to decide which region to focus on. Another radical idea is to restrict the ship classes you can fly to your captain's class until later levels. This would mean that if your captain was a Tactical officer, she could only fly escorts up until admiral ranks. This along with a restructuring of the space skillpoint tree could lead to some clearer skillpoint choices later on in ranks. Just an idea, nothing confirmed yet. I'm interested what you all would think of this.
Q: mancom: Do you intend to do anything to prevent certain players from ruining the pvp experience for all others? I'm talking about players who, by their own admission, are only there for the emblems and either just sit and never respawn or even actively sabotage the fight by suiciding without shields.
A: We have started to address this by changing the emblem rewards for failing a PVP mission. We understand that players throwing PVP matches can be frustrating and that is why we will be implementing futher restrictions and penalties for players who exhibit this behavior and if all else fails, we will discuss more drastic measures such as restructuring marks and emblems in PVP entirely.
Q: hevach: A developer mentioned wanting to get STFs working with the difficulty slider, with the current form being elite. Particularly since I see this fixing more STF related complaints than the endless chain of tweaks, has any more consideration been given to this?
A: Yes. The software team is making a change to our reward functionality so that we can start to scale in game STF rewards based on difficulty. Once this tech is in place, we can start to retrofit the STFs to use it.
Q: Heartvenom: Will we see a change in the "amount of damage" that a crew takes? For example, the "brace for impact" buff is around 45 seconds or so. However, more than half the time your fighting a ship longer than that, and expereicing one torpedo hit wipes out 200+ crew (even with full shields up) on cruisers. Can we expect this aspect of the game to change, and if so, how is the team approaching it?
A: While not directly related to the upcoming Duty Officer system, your "crew" bar is something we are investigating at the same time. The original goal of crew was to represent shipwide effeciency based on the fact that as you take damage, your effeciency will go down. Unfortunately, by calling it "crew" it doesn't make a lot of sense because you begin to imagine tons of personnel dieing then coming back to life. More than likely we will keep the concept but rebrand it into something that feels better and makes more sense.
Q: Mirror-Master: Are you planning on designing some additional KDF-only Episodes soon?
A: The KDF will continue to get some love in Season 4. Let met give you a few hints as to what is coming: First, we must allow new players to create a Klingon character as soon as they log into the game for the first time. Forcing players to play through 6 levels of Federation play first was only done because we didn't have time to make a Klingon Tutorial. Next, we need to give Qo'noS the same kind of revamp that we gave ESD - improving the flow and social spaces in the Qo'noS interior. Next, we need to then update all the missions that use the Qo'noS interior. Then we can start to look at the PVE level progression for the KDF and find out where there are big holes and were new episodes should go. So, we have lots of plans for the KDF. We have to start by allowing new players to create Klingons from day 1.
Q: MelineAaele: Currently in Pi Canis, KDF players can join the DSEs, and heal the allied ships. Will Romulan DSEs feature a "race" between UFP and KDF players, or is such a thing planned?
A: Deep Space Encounters are fun but extremely annoying at times. As part of Season 4, we will be revamping DSEs to get rid of silly issues like the one you mention and making them more like the daily missions in the Defera Sectors (for starters).
Q: tryulis: I left STO for a month to play DCUO and I see the announcement of a Romulan series, shuttles, shuttle specific missions, the remastering of Stranded in Space and thefantastic update to Space Dock. My question is, Star Trek Online, why do you torture me so? :p
A: We enjoy giving you something to look forward to when you come back! As a side note, a lot of internal folks have been playing DCUO and say its great. We wish them the best of luck in this crazy MMO market.
Q: UFP-Magnis: What happened to Cpt. Logan? I do not sense he is with you any longer.
A: CaptainLogan may not be posting as often as he likes because is a very busy designer at the moment! If you've recently played the "The Vault" Feature Episode you can see some of his latest work. CapLogan created the amazing exterior model for the base which was inspired from the Countdown comic series. If you're following me on Twitter @Cryptic_dStahl - I recently posted a picture of what he is currently working on - the Multi-Vector Assault Prometheus!
Q: Slong: Will we see more animals in ground combat? I loved the spiders u guys made that were pretty cool.
A: Yes! The Cloaked Intentions series will feature more "beasts" than anything we've done to date. If you recently joined us for our One Year Anniversary Event, you will have seen many of these beast models in action. Thanks a lot Q for spoiling things!
Q: Acceleron: What are the odds of a dabo app?
A: My Magic 8 Ball says, "Maybe. Try again later." We have certainly talked about it. Boils down to our web team's schedule, and they are super busy at the moment.
Q: RedShirtJohnson: Now that the team is a year older, and endlessly wiser, what are three things you would want to see happen in STO in the next year?
A: The three things at the top of my wishlist are: Healthy Klingon Faction, Awesome Exploration, Awesome Endgame. And if I could add a 4th it would be Romulan Faction.
Q: Triela_Hilshire: Will we be able to set the races, genders and standard uniforms of the NPC crewmen wandering the interiors of our ships?
A: My goal for ship interiors is to see the Foundry used as a tool that will allow you to customize your own ship. This includes creating your own ship layout, all the way down to selecting the crew uniforms, and individually customizing all of your random crew members if you want. So I'm a big fan of making this happen someday. The sooner the better.
Q: Admiral Dr. Leonard McCoy: When are we going to start seeing actions that impact the game world? So far everything I've done was to level me up but had no impact on the game world.
A: There are several areas of the game where I feel we need to introduce decisions that matter. One is in dealing with your crew. You should have to make decisions that impact your crew and your officers. Secondly, I think that Exploration should offer the chance for factions to explore the galaxy and have lasting impressions on the places they visit. Third, I'd like to see an endgame where the conflict between the factions is persisted to the point where we could introduce a territory control mechanic that would allow the missions you run to have an impact on the war.
Q: slackrguy: How goes the development of new melee weapons? Are boxing gloves/fists/cestus/katar in the works that would allow us to use the awesome unarmed at a higher damage rate on the table?
A: The melee weapon improvements being discussed at the moment are related to lirpas, ushan knives, and batleths. We want to see these items added to the game by way of special weaponsmiths, and then we want to get the open PVP arenas working on Andor, Qo'noS, and Vulcan so you can fight (where you are restricted to melee weapons only).
Q: 647379: (Paraphrasing) Why haven't you fixed the graphical issue with ATI Graphic Cards yet?
A: We have a dedicated development team as well as a compatibility lab that is continuously looking into these issues. Earlier this week they posted this reply in the Graphical Issues forum on our site. We understand that some players continue to have graphical problems and the best I can do is encourage you to continue working with our compatibility lab testers to find solutions. Sometimes these issues can be extremely tricky to the point that ATI, Cryptic, and individual consumers have to work together to investigate an issue that is only impacting .001% of the player base. We know it sucks and I feel for you - which is why I'm answering your question as best I can. I can only assure you that Cryptic is working on the issue, but it is not as cut and dry as you'd hope it would be.
Q: Kieshdor: Will we ever have a chance to obtain Atari Tokens in game?
A: We have discussed several options related to this, and the one that I'm in favor of is ensuring that anything you could buy externally for Atari Tokens can be found or obtained in game through in game currency. This will allow people who have limited funds to pick up costumes, species and other unlocks. I'm hopeful that by the time Season 4 rolls out, you'll see more items available for in game currency than ever before.
Q: JCSWW: Are we ever going to see some Section 31 gear like Sloan's trenchcoat?
A: Yes, this is on the schedule for 2011.
Q: fourbearsstanding: Will we ever see a universal ship class in game that levels with you at each tier?
A: Yes! Shuttles are this way. All shuttles can be played at any rank by any class. The items and slots on the shuttles scale as you level. We have yet to decide if we would ever allow a standard starship like this, but its a start.
Q: greatwazoo42: Will we ever see career-centric quest lines? Engineers, Tactical, and Sciences?
A: The original design for Tour of Duty missions was that they were class specific mission chains. I'm a fan of resurrecting this idea and it may become a solid replacement for exploration dailies.
Q: Powerhelm: Will Uncommon, Rare, etc, items be capable of being broken down with a chance to receive a rare particle and/or crafting supplies?
A: During the last memory alpha update, I mentioned that we were looking into a salvage/deconstruction option for items. Right now the data does not exist on our items to allow this, but it is something I could see us doing in the future. It would certainly be better for some players than replicating the item into energy credits.
Q: Wolfpack-NZ: For those of us that have pet Targs or Sehlat cubs, are there discussions in the works to improve them into more than aesthetic?
A: Our lead designer is smiling with glee at this question. Yes. He is working on a Targ breeding game that *may* eventually allow you to have Targs as members of your away team. No promises though. Who knows, maybe he'll come in on the weekend and finish this.
Q: HotStuff_ST: When will we be able to have Caitain Bridge Officers?
A: I'd like to see this release at the same time as the Duty Officer system. If you happened to catch the dev team running about as Caitains, that was a bit of tease.
Q: Voyager235: Any chance we'll see more rooms added to ship interiors?
A: Yes. Some rooms that were on our schedule that didn't make the initial release for ship interiors included a Holodeck, Botanical Garden, and Shuttlebay. I'm really excited about getting Shuttlebays into the interiors.
Q: Razoreye2005: When are we going to see some new mini-games?
A: The scanning mini-game was designed by Thomas Marrone who is now an employee at Cryptic Studios. He has been working directly with our designers on some new mini-game concepts related to exploration. That is all I can say at the moment.
Q: Thunder Child: What's the word on the ground combat revamp?
Q: Malvegil: What's the chance of adding a Transwarp skill to go to Memory Alpha?
A: I've got one better for you. How about we put a crafting station on your ship so that you rarely need to go to Memory Alpha? That seems like a direction we may be headed very soon.
Q: John_pain: Will we ever see the Children of Khan as an STF or a Feature Episode series?
A: We wanted to get this in for Season 2, but it has been postponed since then. So yes, we want to see the Children of Khan in game at some point, and you may see them in a Feature Episode series in the near future.
Q: MGDawson: Are you hiring more staff?
A: Yes! We are always on the look out for the next Star Trek Online team member. Check out the Cryptic Studios Career Page for details on open positions.
Q: J-Lau: Could there be a way in which First Contact and other Diplomacy missions effect the kind of missions you do in Exploration Clusters?
A: One of my desires for revamped Exploration is to make it more about specific species and less about randomness. If you look at the Deferi as an example, I would like exploration be about meeting new cultures and having to learn about their needs and desires as well as what might be plaguing them in the hopes that they would one day join your faction.
Q: Salamandus: When will we finally get the Gorn Updates?
A: Most likely in Season 4 release. The team continues to work on them, and in order to make sure they are up to par with what we want, I'm giving the character team extra time to finish these.
Q: scharms13: Have you thought about allowing players to "pilot" the ship from their bridge, or see the star field move outside the windows when warping to other star systems?
A: More than you can possibly imagine. Doesn't mean we'll do it though. One of my favorite questions of all time :)
Q: HyenaZERO: Are there any plans to revisit and perhaps adjust the effectiveness of the Galaxy-X BFG?
A: Al and I were talking about this the other day. When the Galaxy Dreadnaught was released, it was the big boy on the block, but now that a lot of other ships have come out, it is not as special as it used to be. We are investigating options and you could see us make a change as we understand the concerns.
Q: Fractal_Eye: I know I've asked it before, but I still want to know: When will Andoria finally have Ushaan?
A: As soon as we get the Ushaan weaponsmith in game and setup the open PVP arena on Andoria. This could happen as soon as the release of Season 4.
Q: LilRaveGirl: Any updates on Tholians?
A: Most likely the baddies of Feature Series 5 or 6.
Q: Russell-KV4S: What are the first expected changes to PVP and when can we expect to see them?
A: The next PVP map will be related to a zone we are making for an upcoming Feature Episode series. No firm date on when that map will be converted to a PVP map yet, but its on the table for our next schedule update.Talk about it in the forums!