If you're an MMO enthusiast -- which you likely are considering your current choice of reading material, chances are you've heard of a game in development called "Star Trek Online". Though the game has changed hands a few times over the years, it certainly looks that it's on the right track and in the right place. We had the chance to find that out first hand when we spoke to Executive Producer, Craig Zinkievich.
During the interview we manged to get Craig to divulge information about Tricorders, The Prime Directive and we even got his "solution" for the Kobayashi Maru. If you're a Star Trek fan or looking forward to the game, our Interview is a MUST read.
Tamat: Thank you for agreeing to talk with us about Star Trek Online Craig! Let's start with a question that the community would really like to know. Are there any plans to include the Borg as a playable faction in future expansions?
Craig : We’ve thought about it. There are some daunting design problems, one of which would be how to deal with Borg PCs being part of the Collective. That being said, we’ve had some creative and cool conversations about what it might be like to play as the Borg – so maybe there will be something in the future!
Tamat: Most MMO's include a "loot reward" system in which the player upgrades their character with currency and items obtained from defeated monsters. However, Federation captains aren't known for their graverobbing, so how does STO handle this?
Craig : We’re not going to have Federation captains looting corpses for gear. Much of your currency will come either through rewards or trading. You will be able to get new technology from races you meet as you explore, or you can create new items with resources you gather or trade for and information you learn as you complete missions.
That being said, there is a chance that you will discover technology or a resource in a salvaged ship or on a planet. If you’re a Starfleet captain who finds a new Klingon weapon, for example, it would make sense that you might try to adapt the technology for yourself or return it to the Federation for analysis.
Tamat: Since time travel has always been a staple of the Star Trek universe, are there any plans to incorporate it in some way within STO?
Craig : Not only does time travel play a big part in the Trek Universe, but it’s also really cool! We already have content in development that will send players through time.
Tamat: For fans of the original series, will we get to see any older model starships in the game, e.g. Constitution class?
Craig : Many of the ship classes that you’re familiar with will show up in the game. We already talked about time travel, right?
As far as player ships go, the ship configurations and styles are based on well-known ships in the Trek Universe. You’ll be able to customize your ship with materials and pieces inspired by the different eras (TOS, TNG, VOY and the Future).
Star Trek Online begins in the year 2409, about 30 years after Star Trek Nemesis. Because of advances in technology, ship design has changed. So while you may not be able to create an exact replica of a Miranda Class, you will be able to create a starship that is very much like it but still uniquely yours.
Tamat: We've seen in-game movies displaying phaser combat, but what about hand-to-hand combat? Can we use a bat'leth?
Craig : Definitely! There will be hand-to-hand combat options for both factions in the game. You’ve got to be able to use the Vulcan nerve pinch or a lirpa, and Klingons wouldn’t be Klingons without bat’leths and d’k taghs.
Tamat: So, is there anything a Tricorder can't do? Within the confines of the game, of course...
Craig : There will be several different tricorders, and various classes will use them in different ways. A medical officer will be able to do things with a tricorder that an engineer can’t, and vice versa. Your skills, and those of your Bridge Crew, will determine what you can do with a tricorder.
Tamat: Sci-fi MMO's as a whole have, so far, not fared so well in comparison to their fantasy-themed counterparts. Why do you think that might be, and in what ways do you feel STO can overcome this?
Craig : First of all, we’ve got the strength of the Trek Universe and forty years of fantastic stories to draw upon. That alone gives Star Trek Online an edge. But as a whole, MMOs are a difficult genre in which to thrive – there are many more failed MMOs, fantasy or otherwise, than there are successful ones.
Cryptic has proven that we can make fun, successful MMOs outside of the fantasy genre. We’re committed to breaking the sword-and-sorcery fantasy mold, and we’re confident that we can succeed with STO.
Tamat: Any plans to let players speak other languages within the game, like Klingon or Cardassian?
Craig : Universal translator technology is prevalent throughout the Trek Universe, and it solves most communication problems. We are looking into options to allow factions to communicate privately.
Tamat: Discovery and exploration play huge roles within the Star Trek universe. How does the game handle the creation of enough new content that everyone who plays gets the chance to seek out new life and new civilizations?
Craig : We’ve developed some really cool technology that will allow us to generate exploration content. Exploration in Star Trek Online is really compelling, complex content - I don’t know of a game that has taken it to this level.
I really think that when all is said and done, the player will be hard pressed to identify which content in STO was handcrafted versus the content that software helped us make
Tamat: While we're on the subject, how much of a factor will The Prime Directive play in this aspect of gameplay?
Craig : That's a great question. We'll be revealing more about this when we discuss in more detail the explorations aspects of Star Trek Online later on. Stay tuned!
Tamat: What was your solution to the Kobayashi Maru?
Craig : I’m a sucker - I’d have to go in and save the ship no matter what. As the simulation proceeds, I’d probably end up shouting “ramming speed” at some point in time.
Tamat: Fair enough, I didn't expect your solution to be perfect! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us Craig.
Andrew "Tamat" Beegle