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Star Trek Online

Ask Cryptic (April 30, 2009)

By admin | Thu 30 Apr 2009 10:46:52 PM PDT

Just in time to wrap up the month is the 10th volume of Ask Cryptic. This is a hodgepodge volume, so the questions span as wide as space itself. Today, we talk about interstellar flight, ground missions and more. Will you be able to delegate ground missions? Will Klingons and Humans work together in harmony? Read on to find out!

It was explained that interstellar flight will basically be a type of "over world" view. Can we get a further clarification on this? Would this mean that gallivanting around the galaxy will be similar to Pirates of the Burning Sea in that when not engaged in combat or other special case scenarios we will be in an over world view that basically is a sped up version of travel time? Will solar systems and planetary orbits be personalized instances or will everyone be able to enter it without an invitation? Will combat with other ships be instanced that others can join in from the "over world" map?

Yes, in some ways it will be similar. We actually have three levels of maps. There’s the sector space map, which you’ll be in when you’re going across the galaxy and traveling from one system to another. It’s not entirely flat, but also not completely 3D. There are dimensions to it. You’ll see sector grids, planets, solar systems, space stations, nebulas, anomalies and all sorts of different points of interest. You’ll see and interact with other players in sector space. You’ll also be doing a lot of your exploration in sector space. For example, you may be traveling across the galaxy when your com officer suddenly says, “Captain, there’s a distress call!” At that point, you get to follow up on that distress call, enter that system and engage in that mission.

That’s the second level of map. When you go into points of interest the game opens up a 3D space map (or system map) where you can engage in combat. Many of these will be instanced just for you. Some of them will be persistent so that you can go in and other people can join you. For example, there will be a persistent Klingon battlefront where the Klingons are fighting the Romulans. Something will always be going on there and anyone can join in. In instances you can go in alone or your team members can join you.

From system space (either persistent or instanced) you can transport to a ground map, like the surface of a planet or the inside of a space station.

Is it possible to leave your captain on the bridge of your ship during a ground mission, making an away team with only your bridge officers?

No. That will not be possible. If you’re on an away team you must go, as your captain. You get to bring four other crewmembers, or players, with you. It could be players, crew members or other player’s crew members (the player must come with you as well – you can’t just kidnap their crew members without them).

Will there be events that will require the Federation and Klingon empire to work together in a common cause? (e.g. a particularly massive Borg invasion.)

Yes. Star Trek is not about black and white. Both in PvE and non PvE, you’ll see a variety of different alliances. There will be times in PvE where you will make alliances with critters because of a particular mission or particular events. There will be plenty of faction-based alliances; for example if you’re Klingon and your friend is Federation and the Borg are attacking, you’re probably going to form an alliance against them. You’re going to see all kinds of weird alliances within the game.

How realistic will collision detection be? Will you be able to use a ramming as a last ditch effort or use a tractor beam to pull an asteroid towards your enemy and damage him? Or will deflectors and shields keep you from running into anything?

All of Cryptic Tech has always had entity into entity collision, which not all MMOs have. So ships will bump into each other, and, on the ground, players will bump into each other. However, that’s not going to cause damage. Ramming speed will cause damage.

You can select ramming speed as one of your skills. In which case, you can execute a ramming speed attack maneuver to ram into a target. Keep in mind, if your ship is already badly damaged, you may not want to ram into a fully intact Borg cube, for example. That would be a bad idea. On the other hand, if you know you’re going to lose, you could ram into them, hit the self destruct and take them out with you.

There are tractor beams and repulsor beams and you can use them on other ships. You can’t use them on asteroids except possibly in some special case missions. There will definitely be destructible asteroids that you’ll need to blow up, but you won’t be able to use tractors or repulsors on them. However, say the warp core of an enemy ship has gone critical and the whole thing is about to explode, you may want to slap a repulsor beam on that ship and push it far enough away that it won’t do any damage to you. Or you can slap a tractor beam on something to lock it down, so you can keep hitting it and it can’t turn or get away.

Compared to a human, a Vulcan is superhumanly strong, extremely intelligent, pretty darn fast (according to Sisko), possesses superior stamina and has telepathy powers to boot. How will the various "superhuman" races be balanced against, well ... humans?

In the early TOS days of Star Trek, Vulcans got all the love. In addition to the bonuses described above, Vulcans had superior vision, hearing, feign death, mind meld, a nictitating eye membrane, resistance to low oxygen and heat, and the list goes on and on.  I don’t think Rodenberry has an MMO in mind when he created Vulcans.  But as the shows evolved, I think you started to see the writers downplay the overwhelming physical superiorities of Vulcans quite a bit.

We’re going to have to tone it down and balance it a bit for Vulcans, and some of the other superhuman races, because we need to make sure that the game is fun and playable. We’re going about that a few different ways.

The different races you’ll be able to play or make will all have access to different racial benefits. Both for you, as a playable character, and for your bridge officers. So a Vulcan bridge officer will come with specific abilities or traits. Like advanced logic, which may translate into faster cool down times for their bridge officer powers. Or they may come with some racial traits like the Vulcan nerve pinch or telepathy or they may come with some more common abilities like a bonus to engineering skills or science skills. As a player, you’ll find that different races have different skills. We’re still working on what humans will have. It will probably be something like versatility: jack of all trades, master of none.

No race will ever be particularly better at any profession, because we want crews to have diversity. Vulcan logic isn’t going to make them better as science officers, but it may shorten their cool down times in general, which makes them valuable bridge officers. Andorians may have battle rage, which may mean that you do bonus damage under specific conditions. And so on. Different races will also have weaknesses, to balance it all out.

Talk about it!

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