Executive Producer Dan Stahl checks in with 30 answers in this month's installment of Ask Cryptic!
Q: martinbrayman: Will we ever get too see the current enterprise?
A: If you are referring to the Enterprise from the most recent movie, then you will see it in game if and when Paramount allows CBS to use their assets in licensed products.
Q: happygolucky: With the Foundry, mission replay and Season 3 overall releasing, Star Trek Online is starting to really become the game quite a lot of fans wished from launch. What do you think the next step forward is for STO?
A: The next step forward is continuing to make the game more "Star Trek." This includes more story, more locations and factions from the universe, and generally more elements that allow the game to feel like the shows. There are a ton of features on our backlog to get to, but in general, the motto is "More Like Trek."
Q: USS-Andromeda: Can you elaborate on the "crew" system you mentioned recently?
A: For Season 4, we want to introduce "Crew" as an important gameplay element of your ship. We would like to see departments within your ship have leaders, such as "Chief Engineer," as well as a staff of individuals who when assigned to "Engineering" provide a specific bonus.
Being able to then see those crew members on your ship interior is an interesting idea, but not directly related to the crew system we are designing, which is more akin to slotting crew members on your ship much like items are slotted now. Once we have the system in place, we can start talking about how it visually impacts the look of your ship interior, but is not a primary goal in Season 4.
Q: Landon_Kent: Any chance we will have more missions threw the wormhole into the gamma quadrant?
A: Possibly. We have been talking a lot about the Delta Quadrant as a possible direction we may go, though.
Q: Treagersama: Is there a fix in the works for Klingon off-duty costume slots? Currently, you can't change any options at all!
A: The issue blocking turning on Klingon Off-Duty costume slots is finishing the work on allowing costume customization (we are currently overhauling the Gorn). Once we have all our customization options in place, we can look into turning this feature on.
Q: Kilawpilath: I'm a really big fan of having Voice overs for Missions..So will there be more voice overs in missions? Either as Mission Briefings, or in the missions themselves?
Q: Fractal_Eye: When can we expect the Sol System (and Rura Penthe) maps to be ready for use? The last we heard, the maps were done a long time ago. I hope you guys have had enough time by now to find uses for them.
A: The current estimate is with the launch of Season 5.
Q: Grox: Cryptic has suggested they would like to find time to expand and improve PvP on several occasions. What does Cryptic have in mind? and when might we start seeing these changes?
A: The last big PvP update was in Season 2 with the addition of private queues, but since then there hasn't been much to talk about on the PvP front. With Season 3, you are going to see some minor bugs fixed. In Season 4 we will be releasing a major update to ground combat, which will help PvP, so that is something on the books to start with. For additional PvP support, we are looking into ways to incorporate PvP into upcoming story updates. There is also a chance we may release an additional PvP map in Season 4, but my estimate is that it will be sometime between Season 5-6 where we will start to see some major PvP features hit Holodeck.
Q: Havraha: The improvements to sector space are monumental, but the realism of the improvements is spoiled for me every time I actually enter a system and see the same garish backgrounds and cartoony lighting that plagued sector space before. Are you guys planning on updating the mission instances to look more real as well?
A: We think that the environment team has done an amazing job at making individual systems look unique and interesting, and while they might not have the "realism" of Sector Space, we feel that they add a necessary change of scenery and do not plan to change them. Some of the system space screenshots are absolutely breathtaking and I'm not exactly sure what you don't like about them, other than the fact that they are much more dramatic than the cold dark sector space.
By the way, most of our system space backgrounds are based on actual public domain space images. We have a vast library of source material that we use when creating the "skies" you see in space.
Q: Curii: When do the Andorian/Vulcan ships arrive, and roughly what tier are we looking at?
A: Vulcan ship arrives in January and the Andorian ship in February. Their tiers are TBD, but I'd guess T3-T4.
Q: FizixMan: Are we going to see any improvements to the space UI in terms of managing powers/abilities in the near future?
A: We would love to give our UI some major love, and at this time we are actively recruiting for software and UI programmers. So if you or someone you know have an interest, check out the Cryptic Studios Job Opportunities page! Also as a side-note, Mr. ThomastheCat (who designed the scan minigame design) started at Cryptic last week and we are hoping to get some UI guidance from him in the near future.
Q: V-Mink: You mentioned once a desire to expand 'Ensign' BOff powersets to include some Ensign-only powers that would make Ensign slots more 'useful,' rather than just a throwaway slot. Has there been any progress on this front?
A: The design team is in discussions over these updates and I'd expect them to either hit in Season 4 or 5.
Q: Dassem_Ultor: Will Terradome be fixed soon? Will 'Into the Hive' be released soon?
A: Yes and Yes. Gozer is working on both now.
Q: axsys: Whats the progress on the changing our crews uniforms
A: We will be taking a closer look at "crew" and ship interiors in Season 4 and Season 5. No ETA yet on when this will be on, but we are actively discussing it.
Q: Doblinian: Is there any chance that a Mirror Universe mission will feature my character's evil twin? (an enemy boss with the look of my char)
A: I'm a big fan of the idea, and I've asked for the mission tech to be able to do something just like this.
Q: anazonda: With the upcoming Enterprise-F contest, there is concern that it will be US only. Can you answer if this is the case or not?
A: I'm not a lawyer, but it sounded as though international tax laws prevent us from running a contest internationally if there are prizes with any sort of monetary value. Kind of a big bummer if you ask me. If only the whole world used Energy Credits!
Q: Direphoenix: Is there any chance we can separate Rank from Skill Level and add in a(n optional) larger-scope "Admiral/General Game" for those that want to be Admirals or Generals?
A: We have discussed and have plans to make Fleet Admiral (level 61) add a special type of gameplay where you can begin to build away teams in space (i.e. other ships that you command). No firm details yet, but we do want to make Fleet Admiral offer new types of gameplay.
Q: HighTek: I've heard that the engine for Champions and STO is similar, if not the same. Would it be possible to add CO's vertical flight movement to space combat, just for flavor?
A: This has been discussed off and on over the last year and when we've played around with it internally it made the ships look really bad when flying around, so we've generally frowned against doing something like this. That's not to say we can't do it, but it would require some serious restrictions as to when you could do it so that it didn't look bad.
Q: captain_quack: The authors of writing missions that other people like, will those people be rewarded some how? Will there be rewards for completeing player made missions? Can you add rewards to your mission when creating it with already in game items?
A: We are absolutely looking into ways to reward popular Foundry missions, as well as give out in-game rewards for completing Foundry missions. However, players cannot give out their own rewards due to exploitation issues. Also - you asked about voice chat and we are looking into possible options but generally feel other programs do a much better job than in game versions.
Q: Tiberion1701: Is there any plans/discussions regarding reworking the tiers so that a ships size determines its abilities (So that you might have light cruisers or frigates at T5 such as the Excelsior, so they won't all be "heavy cruisers/battleships" like the Ships of the Line like the Sovereign and such)
A: There is a very interesting design question going around internally discussing the option of having ships accurately represent how many "crew" they can have aboard as part of the new crew system we are planning for Season 4. This could very well lead to the type of differentiation that you are looking for. Some ships would have more crew (or crew stations) which would allow them to host different crew members with different specialties and bonuses.
Q: Kasensal: A while back, this was posted, and the masses rejoiced: (ability to turn off ship animations) How come this was not in the previous engineering report? What plans do you have regarding these animations? These are a big deal to a lot of people.
A: We have been investigating the issue and have come to a solution for some (but not all) of the animations. We plan to roll out the options once everything has been finalized. No ETA on it yet, though.
Q: lbuckius: Any update on the tholians?
A: We continue to work on the Tholians, but I wouldn't expect to see them until after Season 4 releases. (Read: We want them to get the time they need to make them awesome.)
Q: Elysia_1: With the Foundry coming up and with all the "Cloudyness" of it and what you can really use it for, what exactly or what are some of the "Highlights" of the program that we can expect from it?
A: The Foundry will allow you to play missions authored by the community, manage and create your own Foundry missions using a drag-and-drop flowchart-like editor. You'll be able to use existing maps for missions, or even make your own. You can even create your own NPCs using a much wider array of costume options than characters can use. In all - the Foundry will open up the ability for the community to create some great (and let's be honest - not so great) missions that you'll be able to play just like any other mission in the game. It's a great feature, and I can't wait to see what people come up with.
Q: RamaSeb: Is it possible when we are in a turbo lift to see our toon travelling inside the lift ( like a short movie )?
A: Yes! We are looking into ways to introduce movies to replace loading screens where possible, and you could start to see more cut scenes as early as the next Feature Series!
Q: picardalpha2clearance: Why bind weapons and consoles? that drive up exchange prices? ( i am against exchange tax )
A: We have discussed opening up some items to be not bind-on-equip, but this would be a big change and not something we would do lightly. We generally feel that we need to get a better grip on the economy and work out all the wackiness with the myriad of currencies in the game before we tackle this issue.
Q: DarkArmedDaddy: Is Ker'rat and N'vak getting fixed up were those deadgum ships stop getting stuck and can fire on us when we cant on them?
A: I'm about thiissssss close to nuking Ker'rat permentantly. You can look for some movement on this soon.
Q: MustrumRidcully: Any plans on new bridge officer skills in the near future? There have been a few brainstorm threads in the past on this, and I know snix took note - still, so far, nothing was actually mentioned on the Engineering Reports.
A: We are discussing if the new crew system will have an additional impact on new bridge officer skills - so stay tuned.
Q: deeboboy: What are the plans for the game regarding year 1 birthday and do you feel that this should be the time to announce the arrival of the romulan faction in season 5-6 for a 2011 release
A: Nice leading question! We can't share our plans for the 1 year birthday just yet - because that would spoil it! And as far as a Romulan faction? We can't even start to think about making the Romulan faction until after Season 5 ships (we have a ton of stuff to do between now and then).
Q: lilravegirl: With the addition of the weekly series there have also been some great daily missions, are there currently any plans to add daily missions to areas such as Romulan or Cardassian space? Can we pretty please have the Betazed sector? (perhaps with a new weekly series)
A: Yes and yes!
Q: CoffeeAddictMike: Are the other STF missions being released or that is now shelved in favor of weekly episodes? When will previously visited mission fronts regions be a focal point of weekly episodes (Returning to Romulus or Cardasian space)?
A: Gozer is going to start work again on the Hive very soon, and the next series is going to take place in one of the sectors you mentioned, but I'm not going to tell you which one yet :)Talk about it in the forums!