Welcome to the 11th volume of Ask Cryptic, where we put the questions you ask to our development team. In this edition we talk about spontaneous missions, ship classes, cloaking and more. Read on to learn more about Star Trek Online!
BreachAndClear: Will there be any missions that come up spontaneously? For instance, will Starfleet or the Klingon High Council contact me with work that needs to be done that is unrelated to missions I actively seek out?
Absolutely. Star Trek mission development is not like a standard MMO. You’re not going to go to a town and see an admiral with an exclamation point over his head, and when you click on him he tells you to go out and kill 10 Klingons and come back. That doesn’t happen in Star Trek.
Star Trek is about exploration. You’ll be going out to space and exploring the galaxy, and you’ll be going to points of interest. You’ll see nebulas, you’ll see ships in distress, you’ll see planets and other anomalies. You’ll uncover missions and mysteries along the way. And yes, Starfleet will contact you as you traverse space.
You’ll have a communication system, and your science officer can say, “Hey! I got a distress call!” and it’s over in a system you just passed. You have the option of investigating the call further. And Star Fleet can contact you saying, “The Borg are attacking this system. Could you take care of it?” That’s a large part of the way our missions are directed in Star Trek.
iceman22503: I know it was said before that players start out with a small ship and then work their way up to bigger ones. My question is this: regardless of size, will we be able to command older ships such as the connie refit and so forth?
First of all, the Constitution is in-game and playable. It’s an older ship, so it’s no match for a Galaxy class ship, but it’s in there. You’ll be able to command older ships, but as you get access to bigger ships like the Galaxy and the Sovereign classes, the Constitution will be outperformed.
But it’s not like the difference between a level 10 and level 20 player. The disparity isn’t that huge, and that’s specifically because we want players with less advanced skills to be able to compete in fleet actions with people in larger ships.
In general, the higher up you go, the less disparity there is between ships. When you start off, you’ll fly a Miranda or Centaur class ship, and you’ll always be able to go back to that ship, but it’s not especially powerful. As you start advancing into bigger ships and going into different paths, the power difference between ships lessens as you get toward the top tier.
The difference between a Defiant and Prometheus isn’t really that much. You can play either one and be just as effective in the endgame. The difference is some of the higher-end ships give you more options. The Prometheus class ship has access to all different types of items and weapons and technologies that the Defiant doesn’t have access to. That doesn’t necessarily make it better; it just gives you more options to choose from. So if you’re not interested in anti-proton weapons or certain technologies, you’ll be fine staying in the Defiant class ship.
And as we add more ships into the game, we’ll be sticking to this approach. The ships will broaden out rather than get prohibitively deep. We’re trying to do that so people can hold onto their favorite ships.
Leonidus: The Star Trek galaxy is our galaxy. That being said, do you plan to include in the game universe other locations that also exist in the actual "real-life" universe like: the Orion Nebula; the Helix Nebula; the Pleiades; the Eagle Nebula etc...?
It’s an interesting idea, but we’re focused more on making a game map that flows well and is faithful to the Star Trek IP. We’re not building a simulation. Maybe we’ll see real-life celestial bodies, but it’s not on the schedule. We’re more interested in reproducing iconic Star Trek locations like the Briar Patch from Insurrection, or the Badlands from DS9. Crazy things like you’ve seen on the show or always imagined visiting; we’re spending a lot of time trying to capture those. They just seem more interesting from a gameplay point of view.
Whenever we see ideas like this we get excited because we hadn’t really thought about it. So it’s one of those things that may make its way into the game, but we don’t have a plan to add it to the game yet.
Elboulevardo: One thing that can add tactical strategy to space combat will be path based weapons. Will we see this in STO? I'd love to see a situation where a friendly captain can come to the rescue and place his ship in the line of fire so his friend can escape destruction.
You won’t see path-based weapons. Star Trek Online isn’t going to be a twitch-based game, either in space or on the ground. You won’t be able to jump in front of bullets or rockets, like in a first-person shooter. It’s still an MMO – it’s a "click 'Fire' and go" game. But there will be mechanics that emulate the drama of interacting with dangerous objects in the game. For instance, a slow-moving, large plasma torpedo is something you’ll be able to shoot out of the sky. You won’t be able to shoot smaller photon torpedoes; you can’t dodge standard projectiles.
But you’ll be able to rescue your friends in other ways. You will be able to eject your warp plasma and ensnare the people that fly through it, which means people will be able to fly around it to avoid it. You’ll be able to repair friendly ships, transfer shield power to another ship or capture foes in a tractor beam.
Rgoodfel: I have noticed there are some issues about STO that the community has debated to death. Examples being cloaking, PvP and civilian factions. My question is: have these been debated a lot by you all and care to share any of the ideas you have had?
There are no playable civilian factions in the game. You’re not going to be able to be a cargo captain or a colonist. You will be able to make your own teams or guilds, but you’re choosing between Starfleet and the Klingons.
However, if you’re a Klingon, you’ll be able to have houses, and Klingons can squabble between other Klingons.
As far as PvP, we’re still working out details. What we can say is we’ll have Klingon vs. Federation PvP, and within the Klingon Empire, separate houses will fight between themselves. That’s just what Klingons do. In general, there’s more PvP involvement on the Klingon side of the game.
However, PvP will always be consensual. You won’t just be meandering around and get attacked. You can choose to flag yourself for PvP, and traveling into certain areas in the game is in effect choosing to engage in PvP. Most of the PvP takes place in the Neutral Zone; if you’re in the dead center of the Neutral Zone, you’ve consented to PvP.
And in regard to cloaking, the Federation will not have free access to the technology. If we gave the Federation access to cloaking, it’s all anyone would use, and that’s not the type of gameplay we envision when we think of Star Trek. Klingons, of course, will have access to cloaking, and the Federation will have access to cloak detection. Science vessels will be very good at detecting cloaked ships, so if you’re in a PvP situation, you’re probably going to want really good science vessels on your team. You won’t feel like you’re missing out on the Federation side just because you can’t cloak.
That said, there probably will be circumstances where Federation players will receive limited access to a cloaking device. But it’s not going to be something Federation players can hold onto.
And yes, these are things that we also debated a lot internally. : )