Building a Fleet - A Star Trek Online Q&A with Lead Programmer Stephen D'Angelo

Questions by Benjamin J. de la Durantaye, Executive Editor, Ten Ton Hammer
Questions by Benjamin J. de la Durantaye, Executive Editor, Ten Ton Hammer
Answers by Stephen D'Angelo, Programming Lead, Star Trek Online (Cryptic Studios)

and Craig Zinkievich, Execkutive Producer, Star Trek Online (Cryptic Studios)

As Star Trek Online launch gets closer and closer players everywhere are starting to think about guilds, or fleets in STO terms. Whether you're going into the game with a pre-established fleet, or thinking of finding a new home to settle into once playing, fleets are going to play a big part in the STO game.

Ten Ton Hammer: So how does one start their own fleet?

Stephen D’Angelo: You visit a fleet manager at the Star Base. It’s a small fee, and at the moment you have to have a full team, but soon you’ll be able to team with just one other person to start the fleet. Then those members will become the starting members of the fleet.

Ten Ton Hammer: How many ranks are available in fleets?

Stephen: We currently have seven ranks. Each can be renamed. Each can have privileges assigned to them independently. So you can use them any way you want.

Ten Ton Hammer: What are some of the privileges you can assign to members?

Stephen: Privileges range quite a bit. You can allow ranks to invite members or not; the ability to kick members from the fleet; banking privileges. There are also a few privacy settings for how much of the fleet’s internal information you’re allowed to see.

Ten Ton Hammer: Where can fleet members access the fleet banks?

Stephen: They’re accessed from the Star Bases, the central hubs; the same way you access your personal bank.

Ten Ton Hammer: Can the fleet vault be expanded?

Stephen: Not at the moment. In the current beta builds, we do not have a leveling mechanism for fleets. So they are what they are. We do want to add that, but it probably won’t be present at first release.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there a cap on how many players you can have in your fleet?

Stephen: Yes, but it’s not set in stone. It’s currently at 250. We want it to be much larger. We believe the players are going to want huge fleets.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there a minimum amount of players you need to have in a fleet?

Stephen: We currently have a minimum of five people to start a fleet, but you can go down to one after that. We’re probably going to reduce that to two to start a fleet.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will special characters in guild names be allowed, like apostrophes?

Stephen: Yes. Quite a few special characters are allowed, partly because the Star Trek Universe has Klingon names, which have apostrophes in them, and partly because my name has an apostrophe in it, so they have to be allowed everywhere. (laughs)

Ten Ton Hammer: What are some of the other advantages to being a part of a fleet?

Stephen: The only benefit that we give out in the current beta build is that when you join a fleet, you get an extra costume slot to dress your captain, so you can have a fleet costume that’s separate from your normal costume.

We allow fleet leaders with the right privileges to set up costumes that are stored on the fleet uniforms. So you can set up your uniforms on your fleet, whether for officers or formal, and your fleet can then quickly assign the uniforms to their character.

Ten Ton Hammer: Does that include different insignias?

Stephen: It’s the whole deal. You want this kind of pocket on your pants here? An insignia placed there? Anything you can do to customize your character can be set up in a fleet uniform.

Craig Zinkievich: The uniform era, the style of the uniform, as well as the insignia.

Ten Ton Hammer: Can characters create their own insignia, or will they select it and customize it from a list?

Stephen: It’s a large list of the uniform insignias.

Ten Ton Hammer: Can you put it on your ship?

Stephen: Ships have their own customization. We have (not in the current beta build, but soon) fleet logos. They’re a shoulder patch on the uniform, and it can show up on your ship. But those aren’t in the current beta builds.

Craig: So you will have your fleet logos on your ship and your uniform.

Stephen: And that is pretty widely customizable but it is set from a large selection of predefined logos.

Ten Ton Hammer: Are there any plans for fleet leaderboards?

Stephen: We definitely want to do that, but it won’t be present at initial release.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about fleets?

Craig: It’s one of those things that you take another look at after launch. You see what you can add and what people want; you see how they use the tools. We are excited about how Star Trek Online will use fleets and guilds a little differently than some other MMOs, and really be able to go full on with social spaces and such for fleets down the road.

Stephen: We’re still adding features as we go through the beta process. There’s a long list of things people want to do with their fleets and we’re putting them in as we go.

One of the interesting things we’ve recently put in is the ability to see what your fleet members have been doing while you were offline. You can see an activity log of what’s been going on. Major events like boss defeats and leveling up are put in the log that everyone can go look at to see what’s been happening recently. That’s just an example of things we’re adding to make the fleet feel more alive and a participatory event.

Ten Ton Hammer: How many entries does the log retain before it truncates?

Stephen: It keeps up to 500 entries at the moment. For a small guild, that’s a lot; for a large guild, it isn’t very many. So we’re tuning the number.

Ten Ton Hammer: Can you sticky events?

Stephen: That’s one of the items in our queue to consider before release, but we haven’t committed to that one yet.

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