Just in time for the release of our next Featured Episode, Star Trek Online Executive Producer Dan Stahl delivers the answers in this month's edition of Ask Cryptic! Read on to see the answers to your questions about our featured episodes!
Q: DLRevan: Is it a requirement to play previous episodes in an arc to play upcoming ones? For example, I didn’t play the first Breen themed episode, does this mean I’m locked out of the next one? AND DodgeHopper: Will we be able to play these episode missions in two weeks? Three weeks? A month? Will these missions only be playable on the week they are released?
DStahl: Once a Featured Episode is released, it is available for play from that point forward and is not expected to ever go away. It is a permanent part of the game from that point forward. Each series contains multiple (5-6) Featured Episodes that must be played in Order. So if you logged in for the first time when Episode 3 of the series goes live, you’d have to go play Episode 1 and 2 before you could play Episode 3.
Q: Jerot: Will there be accolades attached to these episodes?
DStahl: Each Featured Episode Series is expected to have several new accolades related to the missions or story. For the first Series, there are several new accolades related to encounters with the Breen as well as accolades for helping the Deferi with their defensive tasks.
Q: BlueReaper: I am a level 51 Klingon. Can I play with the Federation players together? Or The two factions will be separated from each other like in the Undine and Borg Sectors?
DStahl: In the first series the Federation and Klingon Empire are still at war and not able to team up for these missions, even though they are both appearing in the same sectors. Similar to episodes such as Friday’s Child, both factions are attempting to interact with the Deferi even though they themselves are at odds with one another.
Q: Tryulis: If the Episodes become a HUGE success, will there be more chance of seeing the major STO arcs (i.e. Undine and Iconians) become a part of these series as opposed to being released in the major patches or will it be a mixture of both?
DStahl: The current plan is to use these weekly released Feature Episodes to advance the overall story of Star Trek Online. This doesn’t mean that we won’t add content outside of these series, but we do plan to get various plots and factions into these episodes in the future, very similar to how the television shows did.
Q: Alecto: How many people, or who is involved in writing the scripts and content for the new weekly episodes and where did their inspiration come from?
DStahl: There has been talk of creating episodic content in Star Trek Online since the beginning of the project. The inspiration was that Star Trek could present episodic content in the same format as the television series did. When we launched the game, many of the primary missions in the game were presented as Episodes with multiple acts. This all came from our desire to have the missions feel like Trek.
It wasn’t until mid-way through developing Season 2 that we proposed the current plan for the weekly series. Once we made the decision to start working on the first series, The Breen, the story writer developed the scripts for the episodes. The various teams then meet and review the scripts to determine all the necessary components that need to be created for the episode. The various teams then start building their respective parts to the story. The mission is completed and hooked up in game, and then the team and qa start testing the episodes for feedback and bugs. We go through story revisions, mission revisions, art revisions, combat revisions, and any other thing we think needs to change before the episode goes live. It is really a team effort. Everyone contributes a small chunk to the puzzle.
Q: LordOfPit: Are Cryptic writers and content-designers using the UGC tool-set to produce the weekly episodes?
DStahl: The Featured Episodes are created with our full blown mission editing tools as they have many complex custom environments that are not hooked up or feasible in the User Generated Tool yet. However, the daily patrol missions that have also been released in the Defera sector were created with the original Genesis tools (the original version of the UGC tool that was only for STO internal use) and then given a little bit of manual tweaking to ensure they have everything in just the right place. All of the Deferi Patrol missions were created by yours truly, and I’m not much of a content designer. So while we still have a long way to go with UGC tools, it gives a hint to the future where anyone with an idea for a mission can create story based content for the game.
Q: MalcomZiran: Will new episodes focus solely on the Breen story arc? Or will they be different stories unto themselves? And Ansler: So how many episodes are you looking to get in per season of this weekly series thing?
DStahl: Each Featured Episode series will comprise somewhere around 5 or 6 episodes in a specific story arc. Each series is intended to be playable as an independent chunk of content so that you don’t have to be completely caught up on all the series in order to jump in and experience a new storyline. In addition, each series will give us a chance to focus on a specific species or faction storyline within the game so that we can go back and tell the stories of whatever happened to
Q: Bfelczer: Do we need to complete the daily mission as well to get the Uber Series Reward?
DStahl: The daily missions are not required to receive the Special Series Reward, only completing of the primary named episodes are required. The Special Series Reward is granted upon completion of the last episode in the Series. The daily mission are intended to offer more flavor and side-quests that help flesh out the background of the Deferi and storyline concepts introduced in the series. They also provide a nice reason to return to the area once the series episodes have completed.
Q: Keinar: When will the weekly episodes be in the C-store?
DStahl:There are currently no plans to add the Featured Episodes to the C-Store as they are readily available to anyone with a subscription to Star Trek Online. We have discussed whether or not we will make the limited edition Special Series Reward available in the C-Store later for people who missed out on playing the series while it was live, but we want to see how many people are able to claim the reward first and how many people missed out on it. This is primarily in anticipation of down the road when people will be continually asking, “how do you get that cool thing you’ve got!”
Q: Lucky_13_X: Are these weekly episodes available at a level below Captain or Admiral for those of us with lower tiered characters?
DStahl: All content related to the Featured Episode series may be played by any character who is level 10 or higher of either faction. We set the limit at the first rank up because we wanted to ensure players are familiar with the mission progression in the game and have a solid understanding of where to go next for missions before they start flying around the galaxy looking for the next mission. Also, many of the enemies featured in these series are slightly more difficult than the lower tier enemies.
Q: Ashur1: It was mentioned that completing one series of weekly episodes before the next series starts gives some kind of special reward. Is that account wide or do I have to do the weekly missions nine times?! And, any hint on what those rewards are?
DStahl: The Special Series Reward will be given out as a standard mission reward at the completion of the last episode in the series. This means that each character who wants to receive the special reward will need to complete the missions in order receive the reward. This is no different than any other mission reward in the game. Those who pay close attention (aka read dialog) during the series, you will get a hint of what the possible special reward will be.