Welcome to the latest installment of Ask Cryptic, where we put your questions to the devs. This edition Star Trek Online's Executive Producer, Dan Stahl, answers questions about UGC, Bridge Officer VO and the future of Star Trek Online.
Q: Captain_Revo: What is the current situation with new Klingon ships? What new ones are planned and when will we see them, please?
A: We recognize that there is a lack of Klingon ships compared to what Starfleet has available. That is why we are shifting the focus of the Ship building team to creating more Klingon Faction ships. This includes high end versions of the Vor’cha, D7, B’rel, and Raptor as well as Orion, Gorn and Nausicaan ships. In addition, when they have time, the ship team will also be adding more customization options to these ships as well.
Q: cookieimp: What are the latest plans for User Generated Content?
A: There is an internal development team working directly with the Star Trek team to launch a Beta of our User Generated Content Tools for Season 3. We aren’t discussing our specific plans just yet, but we do want the tools to be easy to use so that players can begin to create their own missions and episodes. This may or may not be the big secret project we are working on.
Q: cmdrshran: Is there an ETA on when the sector space overhaul is coming?
A: We have several team members working specifically on creating a new Sector Space demo with the realization that Sector Space is one of part of the game that could really use not just a graphical overhaul, but a functional one as well. We are still in the early design and iteration phase, but I’m hopeful that you’ll see a huge improvement in Sector Space in the near future. This could also be the big secret project we are working on. But rest assured that we don’t plan to release this until we think it is awesome. So if that takes it past Season 3, then so be it. We will certainly put it up on the Test Shard before then for feedback.
Q: Armsman: How is the work on re-tooling the 'ship interior' mini-games?
A: We really enjoyed working on developing the scanner mini-game and Dabo and want to incorporate more designs like these into our missions and gameplay. Multiplayer Poker is still in the works to be added to the player ship interior lounges. We are also working on the concepts for a “Tricorder” type of mini-game that could be used in missions for multiple functions. So we expect to see more mini-games work their way to the game over time.
Q: Roche_Furman: Will we be able to create Very Rare items at Memory Alpha?
A: As part of our loot overhaul, we will be adding very rare items to Memory Alpha as well as developing some unique items that can only be made via memory alpha. As part of those changes, we are also looking into adding a way for Klingon players to get those items as well – whether that is their own crafting game or something similar.
Q: V-Mink: What are some of your long-term goals for STO? What do you see the state of the game in a year or two?
A: This is an important question because in order for someone to want to play the same game for years to come they have to love the game they are playing and love the direction the game is headed. I see us focusing on ensuring the game stays true to the world of Star Trek. Our long term goal is to focus on developing stories, features, and content that brings more of the Star Trek Universe into the game. Four years from now the people who will be playing this game are those that love this game and love Star Trek.
Q: lancemikemack: Will we be able to customize our interiors more?
A: It is a long term goal (aka not Season 3) of the User Generated Content team to allow players to completely customize their interiors and perhaps even allow Fleets to construct their own Starbases that exist in game. All of that will take time and we need to get the tools functional and working first to create very basic missions before we can attempt this.
Q: Creovex: When will we see more PvP maps out there rather than playing the same old ones?
A: There is a strike-team working directly on fixing the issues with PVP maps and the PVP-Queues. We’ve been promising fixes forever and we just need to get it done and make it work right. We have gone back to the drawing board in some places and completely rewritten parts of the queues in order to address concerns and add functionality. As part of that we will be focusing on ensuring that we have several awesome PVP maps for players to play and then retire maps that players don’t like. There’s no definite timeframe on when you’ll see new PVP maps, but the entire PVP system is actively being worked on.
Q: XA_DeadHorse: When is cryptic going to budget time to polish up some of the game aspects, clean it up and make it feel more like a finished game?
A: Recognizing the issues we’ve had in the last six months with shipping features that aren’t entirely complete or have bugs in them, our entire philosophy for Season 3 is to polish up the game and start addressing existing issues before creating a bunch of new things that will add to the problem. We aren’t giving the team a deadline – and instead we are saying things like improve Sector Space, improve Ground Combat, improve mission variety, improve Exploration without a definite due date. We want the team focused on quality and making it right. When we are happy with how those features are shaping up, we’ll put them on the Test Server and work with you to iterate on the designs. If this means that some features stay on Tribble for months without going to Holodeck – so be it. We are committed to making the game feel more “finished”.
Q: Sonaos: Are we ever going to see a system that can up-grade our commissioned bridge officers from standard traits to superior?
A: While we are still debating the design of a possible respect trait feature – one thing we are definitely moving forward with is the concept of promoting your Bridge Officers to higher stations within the ships. This could be a First Officer or a Chief Engineer, or a Chief Medical Officer. There would be requirements and benefits for bridge officers that get promoted. We look at this as one additional way to take those officers you found early in your career and have them advance with you. At some point you will also be able to rank up a bridge officer to the point where they can become their own Captain and you can convert them to a new character slot and play them as if they were a new character.
Q: Treksplorer: Is there work being done towards allowing lower-tiered ships to be upgraded as we go if we'd like to stick to a particular class?
A: The ship design team is actively working to make more refit and retrofit ships available at later ranks. Some of the ships we want to see available for play later on include the Saber, Olympic, Nova, Akira, Constellation, Raptor, Vor’Cha, and Be’Rel. While there are not details yet on a way for you to retrofit your own existing ship, we do want to give you more options to play classic ships at Admiral ranks.
Q: stagemonkey02: What's being done to improve the mechanics of Fleet Actions?
A: The biggest feature I’ve been asking for is the ability for Fleets to run their own Fleet Actions which requires some new tech because currently there is no private queuing, but that is about to change. The PVP team that is working on the queues is also working on a new challenge system that allows you to set up your own matches where you can pick the map and variables to play then launch the game yourself. We expect Fleets to be able to take advantage of this tech and invite members of their fleet into their own Fleet Actions.
Q: Gnume: I understand that Trading already Commissioned Bridge Officers is coming in the next update (or very soon) but that it will be a "person to person" trade only. Does this mean I will not be able to trade the item with another character on my account?
A: We have some very interesting long term plans for how to trade commissioned officers that we hope to get into the game sooner than later. We are discussing designs that involve a “personnel exchange” where you can go to a computer and see all officers that players have up for trade. You could search and look for unique species, traits, skills, etc and then make a trade with that Captain for the officer. This would also allow us to seed that system with unique and rare bridge officers that players could snatch up as recruits and develop them into superstar captains. Once this feature is fully developed you would be able to trade your crew with another captain on your account through this exchange system.
Q: Kahn: When will crafting be coming to the Klingon Faction?
A: We are evaluating how to bring a similar system to the KDF so that Klingon players will have access to any new and interesting items that get added to Memory Alpha. While we have decided if this involves the same “scan for anomaly” game the Federation has – perhaps it is similar enough that you still get the data and then convert it into items. Maybe instead of scanning anomalies, you steal the data from somewhere else… there are a lot of interesting ideas on the table.
Q: Brodie0854: When do you plan on giving us access to the rest of the Sol System? - I know you said that its most done,, but that your hold off releasing it until you can give us something to do there. Any current ETA on when that is likely and can you hint at what the current plans are for it?
A: As part of our commitment to cleaning up and polishing the game, we are taking a very close look at the big hub zones in the game and both improving flow and performance as well as “fun” in those zones. We really want to rework the Sol System to be more than just earth and rework Earth Space Dock to be more functional and easier to navigate. Both are on the schedule, but there is no definite time on when we’ll have this all put together.
Q: Aeidan: Will players eventually be able to play as a holographic entity (hologram) captain?
A: Photonic Species is on the schedule to be developed sometime between Season 3 and 4. We don’t have a solid release date, but the design team really wants to see this species in game.
Q: Alecto: Would it be possible for you to allow players to hail other players in STO via Starship communications or personal combadges using VOIP sometime in the future?
A: We feel that Crytpic’s core competency is in making MMOs in our game engine and we leave VOIP technology to other software developers who specialize in it. We have no plans to add our own unique Voice Chat to the game. However, we do have plans to improve the way you communicate with other players 1:1 in game. We have some concepts drawn up and want it to be more “Trek” when you hail another ship. Even something as simple as seeing the other captain sitting in his chair when you talk to him would be a huge win.
Q: Liandras: Is there any serious interest from the devs into the role playing aspect of this game?
A: While that is a very general question, I can say that we are committed to focusing on Star Trek versus say any given feature. The long term life of the game is in direct relation to how true we can stay to Trek. So you are going to see more content, more stories, and more locations that allow players to roleplay their lives in Star Trek before you are going to see one off features that have little or nothing to do with Trek and only please a very small minority of MMO players. I also believe that allowing players to write and create their own Star Trek stories using a User Generated Content Tool that they can then submit for everyone to play will provide endless opportunities to roleplay within this game.
Q: mikew75: I like to asked will there be Caitain & Benzite Bridge officers for Season 2 comes out, really interested to know because my Benzite & Caitian toons need more of the race on their ship.
A: We recognize that there are several species not available as bridge officers at this time. We do have plans to fix this in the future and ensure that all races are represented in the related factions. Our decision to withhold some bridge officer species for now will change once we have worked out final details on how related features such as the personnel exchange and First Officers will work.
Q: Verjigorm: Will 1on1 (Space and Ground, related to Andoria) be coming with the next patches? Maybe even true 1on1 PvP, which will be counted towards daily missions?
A: We have a small group of developers actively working on implementing a new challenge queue system. This includes allow players to launch their own PVP challenges 2 v 2 , 3 v 3 etc.. For now we want to get the queue tech working and functional so that it can get to the Tribble Test Shard. Once it is in a state where we like it, then we can consider hooking it up to missions.
Q: Nishka: I was wondering when we can expect the Bridge Officer voices back in the game?
A: We do have a lot of bridge officer VO statements that were created during development and are not hooked up in the game right now. This is mostly due to some concerns about how they would get hooked up and how the system felt in general. We have ongoing meetings internally to discuss how to get this VO into the game, but it is going to be a while as we work on a solution that fits within our engine properly and is consistent across all our games. I’d expect this to come well after Season 3, but we will start using different VO concepts and perhaps experimenting with this in upcoming missions.
Q: TOSLover: The "Sit in Chairs" option was, if I remember right, supposed to be implemented back in May. Have you any idea when we'll be able to actually sit down in our chairs?
A: This is still being developed internally and is currently sitting on the plate of one of our best core programmers who expects to have it tackled within the month. Once we get the tech to do it, we can start retrofitting locations where we want you to be able to click/sit. This will be time consuming but we do want to get it into the game in as many places possible. We are just waiting for the tech and the time to implement it.