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Star Trek Online

Making of Command Ships

By LaughingTrendy | Tue 17 Feb 2015 12:00:00 PM PST

There’s always certain amount of brainstorming that occurs when we start planning on making a new ship or bundle of ships. This time around was no exception. When we sat down to start discussing these ships, each of us had ideas of what a Command ship meant to us. Some of it overlapped, some of it didn’t. Through the various stages of development of these starships we focused on common threads of what a Command ship should be able to do and the result is the new Command Battlecruisers!

Inspiration Mechanic


As soon as I saw Command ships on my schedule, I knew that these ships needed their own mechanic. I wanted to do something different from the Intel starships’ Gather Intel mechanic in both functionality and feel. Since their primary purpose is team support, it made sense to have a number of team buffs that they could use. I also thought it would be great to allow team mates to contribute to the rate at which Command ships would be able to build their special Inspiration resource and ultimately affect the rate at which players can use their Inspiration abilities.

Art & Design


Sometimes our starship designs are put together long before art is scheduled. In these cases, our design often heavily influences the art. This wasn’t one of those times. Art had begun concepting out what these starships would end up looking long before any design work had begun. It was a pleasant change of pace to be inspired by the impressive visuals of these ships that were nearly complete by the time I got to start on them. This gave me all sorts of ideas on what their consoles and starship traits would do.

Faction Differences


Once we started on the design work, we came to the conclusion that we wanted the cross faction similarities between the Command ship variants to be along the lines of the Dyson Science Destroyers. Meaning, we wanted minor variations in their hull and shield strengths:

  • Starfleet has average hull, but stronger shields
  • Klingons have higher hull, average shields and Cloak Device
  • Romulans have average hull and shields and have Romulan Battle Cloak
     

Aside, from this we wanted the 3 variants for each faction to have the same bridge officer seating and console configurations and be nearly identical outside of the minor variations outlined above. Lastly, we knew that we wanted these ships to have the same ship category that way they could have the same kind of gear (outside of Warp Cores).

Another one of our goals was to keep the ship classes to be the same across each faction. So, that’s where we ended up choosing to go with a base class of Battlecruiser for these ships. That way, they can all equip cannons and ultimately be fairly similar outside of their standard faction differences.

We feel that players would appreciate knowing that each faction is on relative equal footing when it comes to comparing these ships against one another while at the same time delivering ships that have features that are expected by each faction (i.e.: Klingons have Cloak, Romulans have Singularity abilities, etc.)

Variants


One of my personal goals for the three Command Battlecruiser variants was to provide more variety between each ship than we have in many 3 ship bundles in the past. The end result is three variants available to each faction that have fairly different Bridge Officer seating configurations and console slot layouts. This makes this ship bundle more like the Andorian Escorts in that each variant is substantially different from one another in terms of bridge officer seating configurations. Our hope is that each variant can truly allow for different gameplay options.

Hangar Bay


In the early stages of development, these ships didn’t have a hangar bay. However, as we continued development of the Command Ships we were inspired by the imagery of screens of fighters defending command starships against enemy small craft and projectiles. It just seemed to fit, since the ship models had shuttle bays, it just made sense to add them.

The end result is a class of starships that should be somewhat familiar to players, but also bring something new to the table with access to Command Bridge Officers and a new Inspiration mechanic. We hope you enjoy flying them as much as we did making them!

 

Phil “Gorngonzolla” Zeleski
Lead Systems Designer
Star Trek Online

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