Ready to Launch - A VIP Star Trek Online Q&A with Cryptic Studios

Updated Mon, Feb 01, 2010 by B. de la Durantaye

Launch is imminent for Star Trek Online. As a close to our interview series we asked our Premium Members to send in their questions for Cryptic Studios and we'd do our best to get them answered. Ten Ton Hammer met up with Daniel Stahl, Producer of Star Trek Online and Daniel was happy to answer our readers' questions. We covered plans after launch, space collisions, the pause feature, and much more in our conclusion interview for pre-launch Star Trek Online.

The premium members whose answers were selected for this article have their names noted after the question. If you'd like to get your questions answered by devs, VIP interviews are a regular feature available only to our Premium Members. So sign up, and ask away!

Ten Ton Hammer: With the franchise getting major coverage this year due to last year's movie and the announcement of this year's movie, has there been any trouble keeping up with the lore? (Anacche)

Daniel Stahl, Producer: No, partly because we get a lot of information from our licensor, which is CBS / Paramount. They have regular meetings and talk about that kind of stuff, and we get briefs and updates. In fact, because our game takes place in the original timeline, and most of these movies take place in an alternate timeline, there's not a whole lot of overlap that we have to worry about.

But we do get regular updates, and we did throughout the making of the J.J. Abrams movie - that's why Romulus is destroyed in our game.

Ten Ton Hammer: So they'll continue to keep you informed after launch, I take it?

Daniel: For certain. We don't want to just be in our own little sandbox. We're part of the Star Trek universe and really want to be, so we're making sure that all of our lore and everything to do with the Star Trek canon - whether it's books or movies or even other projects - that we're in line with everything. We have regular meetings with CBS to review that kind of stuff.

Ten Ton Hammer: Another reader asks - currently there's no collision damage in space. Do you envision someday that this might be included as an attack of last resort, or maybe a self-destruct option? (Darke)

Daniel: When we first started with the game, we actually had collision damage in the game. But what we found out was: it wasn't very much fun. (laughter) There was a lot of examples where you'd run into something you didn't mean to, and you'd get frustrated because you'd blow up. So we played around with it a little bit and, at the end of the day, it just wasn't fun to have that there.

Instead, we made specific powers deal with collision. We have things like Ramming Speed, which is a high-end power that takes into account collision and physics when dealing damage. We went that route instead of just forcing it on everyone, where whenever you hit something your ships going to explode or take a huge amount of damage. It just wasn't fun.

Ten Ton Hammer: So you do get ramming damage if you allot points into that skill?

Daniel: Yea. There's a certain power / skill line that deals with ramming speed and damage. It's pretty lethal, but it deals a lot of damage to you as well. (laughter) But sometimes as a last resort... it does take into account all that collision damage that we're actually calculating on the backend.  

Ten Ton Hammer: Any plans for a self-destruct mechanic?

Daniel: We played around with self-destruct too, but we just felt it was a little bit abusable. The way it is now, we feel it's pretty balanced because everybody knows when it's going to blow up, and we give you a few seconds to get away. Ramming speed sort of handled both of those two things; if you do it right, it's just as good as a self-destruct. (laughter)

Ten Ton Hammer: Other than this being a Star Trek game, what do you think this game offers the player compared to other online games? And what, if any, incentives are you offering to get players to try your game? (Rocqu)

Daniel: If you peel away the Star Trek and just compare it as an MMO with other games, I think one of the big differences is that we are a skill-based game. And also, I was reading on the forums of someone who really enjoys pet classes in other games. I think Star Trek Online sort of takes that concept and runs with it. We have bridge officers and crew that are a part of your character moreso than in any other game I've played. It's very much like a traditional RPG where you have a party that you're with the whole time. You give them equipment and you skill them up. Taking that concept to an MMO, I think, is something that Star Trek Online does very well.

As far as bringing other people on board that may not be necessarily Star Trek fans - just the idea of space and having a starship that you can travel around with, I think that that sort of tactical combat appeals to people that have played other sorts of naval combat games. I think we're doing a lot to broaden the invites that we're sending out for open beta. For the most part, everyone knows what Star Trek is, so we're not too worried about bringing in other people. I think people are going to gravitate to this game.

Ten Ton Hammer: Fair enough. Another premium member asks: are there currently any plans for wormholes in space? (radic202)

Daniel: There are a few wormholes that are in the game right now, and there are a few missions that take place in wormholes. In fact, I can think of three off the top of my head - there's two in Cardassian space, and obviously there's the Bajoran wormhole. But there's also one, I think, in the Romulan sector as well.

Those are things that we've toyed around with, and as far as wormholes as a travel method, that's also something that we look at. We actually have transwarp conduits built, that we may add at certain points in the game to help players get to certain areas. That's something that you're going to see after we go live.


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