Recently we had yet another opportunity to sit down with Craig Zinkievich at the 2010 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco for an exclusive interview, where we ask him questions about the future of Star Trek Online and what's in store for players.
- Got a question you'd like us to ask the developers of Star Trek Online in the future? Drop a line at our Suggestion Box and let us know! This wiki about you, the players, and what you want to know about the game.
- Most definitely. We’ll be releasing new Fleet Actions with Season One: Common Ground, as well as a Lieutenant Commander Klingon Battle Cruiser. We obviously want to make sure our high-rank players continue to have things to do, but we still know the value of keeping things interesting early on, as well.
- In the very near-term, we’ll be opening up more Fleet Actions to Klingon players, as well as making Special Task Force missions available to Klingons who’ve reached the endgame. We’re also adding some more Star Clusters for them to explore. That’s just a beginning, though; we want to greatly extend Klingon PvE options going forward.
- As space opens more, I’m sure players will find new places to congregate. Part of what makes an MMO an MMO is facilitating communication between people. One of the best ways of doing that is giving people a place to meet.
In the subscriber survey on the Star Trek Online web site, many concepts were mentioned that are not yet currently in the game, such as persistent PvE, more starship interiors to explore, and a "diplomacy system". Can you elaborate more on these?
- Well, persistent PvE means more static zones with less instantiation. That’s something that’s very technology-dependent, but if our users find it important, it’s something we’d like to work toward. Starship interiors are the various rooms inside your ship — the Engineering bay, the medical bay, etc. We’ve always wanted to bring that to STO, but we’re focusing on getting bridges really exciting first. Once we’re happy with bridges, we’ll start looking at expanding outward.
- The diplomacy system is a biggie. We’re looking at some really exciting mechanics to make diplomacy more than dialogue options. But it’s a ways away, so we’re not quite ready to talk about it.
We have heard that Cryptic will soon be implementing more of a death penalty for players in the future. How harsh will this death penalty be?
- We’re in the process of determining that. It’s a delicate balancing act to find a way to make death risky but not crippling. Dying shouldn’t be fun, but it also shouldn’t be frustrating to the point that someone wants to stop playing. Many different games tackle this in different ways, and we’re investigating what works well and what doesn’t. It’s not something we’re taking lightly.
Currently, the uniforms available for players are varied and unique. Can we expect to see new uniforms and outfit pieces for character creation in the future?
- For sure. Cryptic has always done customization very well, and we don’t plan on stopping. We’re developing off duty costume options for our big update, Season One: Common Ground, which should be a lot of fun to see. And we’ve also got a bunch of new hairstyles that will make their way into the costume creator, too.
The selection of starships for both factions is great and widely varied in look and feel. Are there plans to add any more starship designs, such as the Excelsior or Ambassador classes, or their variants?
- We’re going to be introducing more ships as we go, definitely. On the Klingon side, we’ll be releasing a new, Lieutenant Commander-level Battle Cruiser. On the Federation side, we’re working on new variants at the top end. As we develop more ships, we like to combine old favorites with new designs, which I think has worked well for us so far.
What is in store for the future as far as updates to the skill trees? Are there plans to introduce more flexibility or more detailed descriptions and explanations as to what each skill does?
- Well, in Season One, we’re adding some new skills for players to tinker with, as well as a respec system for players who want to change something on their characters. As far as explanations and descriptions are concerned, we’re always working on ways to improve our transparency. It’s a constant work in progress in that regard.
Speaking of which, what are the plans for the respec system we keep hearing about? How will players be able to obtain a respec?
- You have a few options: You can spend in-game merit to change your skill selection, or you can utilize the C-Store to purchase a respec that way, as well. And as you rank up, you’ll periodically receive free respec tokens, too. We want changing your skills to be readily vailable, but not something that happens extremely often.
And finally, so far in Star Trek Online there are numerous canon races we've seen from the various TV series that are playable. Which playable races can we expect for both factions in the near future? What kinds of traits will they have?
- With the release of Season One, players will be able to create Federation Tellarites, Pakleds and Rigellians. They’ll have traits reflective of their typical characteristics. For instance, the Tellarites begin with a trait called Pig-Headed, which grants you resistance to holds, slows, and placates. We think that matches up with the Tellarites in the lore.
- As always, we would like to extend our appreciation and thanks to Craig for his time, and to all the developers at Cryptic Studios for a great game.
- Again, if you want to submit a question for consideration in future interviews with the fine folks at Cryptic Studios, drop us a line in the Suggestion Box!