Dev Chat Answers Questions on Ship Configurations

The Star Trek Online dev team held an official IRC chat yesterday that focused on ship configurations. In case you missed it, the full transcript has been released on the game's official forums. For Star Trek fans who haven't heard much about ships yet, this Q&A gives a complete overview of them while providing more details at the same time.

There will be three different types of ships at launch: Escort for offense, Cruiser for general purposes, and Science for deflector dish powers. There will be four tiers of ships at launch, and you'll be able to push your starter ship "pretty far" into the next tier, but it won't be able to compete against the highest tiers. There will be 16 different configurations of ships on the Federation side at launch, and each will have a ship or two from Star Trek canon to provide its basic look while still being customizable.

As far as customization is concerned, you'll be able to modify cosmetic material (windows, saucers, escape pods, etc.) at Starbase. You can change functional things, such as weapons and shields, in the field. For more information, read the full transcript below.

Bizarro_Rekhan:<mattmurdocknz> In the Star Trek series' and films, There were very set classes of ships, i.e. Constitution Class / Galaxy Class, and while indervidual ships may have had differences they still looked very similar.

How are you striking a balance between allowing players to customise their ships, while maintaining the particular style or look of a Class? What about limitations to ensure that ships still maintain the style of Starfleet?

CrypticZinc: At launch, we’ll have 16 different configurations of ships on the Federation side. Each of the configurations has different load-outs of Bridge Officers, station consoles, weapons, etc…

For each of the configurations, we’ve picked a ship or two from cannon that represents the basic “look” or silhouette of the ship. A Miranda looks different than an Akira which looks different from the Defiant, etc…

So when we build all the parts you’ll be able to customize with, we really stick to the silhouette and the basic look in order to keep that configuration recognizable.

The general look and feel of all the Federation ships, the materials you can apply - all maintain a solid fed feel.

Bizarro_Rekhan:<Whiskey> What are the different parts of a ship that the players can modify, is it just engines and weapons, or are there sub systems, do these modifications change some weight or part limit?

CrypticZinc: I'll break this into to parts... cosmetic and functional.

The cosmetic things that you can modify include the material on the ship (ToS? Next Gen? Futuristic), general tinting of the material within “acceptable” limits. : ) You can swap out what shaped windows, what the escape pods look like…

(I realizing that I’m being Fed centric – we’ll be talking more about Klingon gameplay later in the PR cycle.)...

Depending on the configuration of the ship – there are different parts that you can swap as well… Constitution configuration obviously has saucer, hull, pylons, nacelles – the Defiant configuration has a different breakdown.

From a functional standpoint – the things that you can modify on your ship include which Bridge Officers are active, what weapons you have equipped, the type of impulse engines, the type of shields, the deflector array. Additionally you can swap out different station consoles that further modify how your ship plays.

CrypticZinc: <DirePhoenix_> oh, that's a ship question I should've asked... why did they put in the Excalibur when it's the same silhouette as the Constitution?

Cryptic Zinc: The "Excalibur" would be a customized class of ship within the "Constitution" configuration.

That's a perfect example of how you can make a ship look different, but maintain the same configuration.

CrypticZinc: <Loekii> what are some examples of 'STATION Console'?

CrypticZinc: Station Consoles (we are still looking for a better name for these, so expect this to change) are typed slots (Eng, Tact, Sci) on the ship that allow you to tweak pretty specific things. Different types of armor – perhaps with extra resistance from disruptor beams, “Bio Beds” – let you heal your crew faster – those would be examples.

Different configurations of ships have different slot permutations. Tactical ships will have more Tact consoles - etc...

CrypticZinc:<marscentral> So is the Oslo a class within the Akira configuration?

CrypticZinc: Yes

Bizarro_Rekhan:<GamerT> Do the parts that you use in your ship configuration for "looks" limit the types of weapons or other functional parts that you can implement on your vessel?

CrypticZinc:No. There's a pretty hard line between the functional and cosmetic. The cosmetic will identify what configuration your ship is - but will not reflect your ship's load-out.

CrypticZinc: Did we break 250 in here? Sweet. : )

Bizarro_Daeke: <Zeroth> What are you doing to help prevent "X ideal build for Y configuration" sort of setups?

CrypticZinc: Heh. All sorts of stuff.

That's REALLY where a lot of the work in most MMOs goes to. You want to make sure that you provide a really varied experience, you want every ship to feel drastically different. At the same time, you have to avoid the “flavor of the week” problem.

We playtest all the time – look at data. When we go beta and live, we’ll look at all sorts of data to see what YOU guys have found and are exploiting. : )

We’ve got some pretty complex formulas and number behind the scenes to try and manage the general effectiveness of the ships – but I’m not going to try to explain that here. (mostly because it would end up being embarrassing for me : )

CrypticZinc:<PattonJ007> Where do you do the actual customiztion of your starship?

CrypticZinc: Starbase.

For cosmetic stuff - you need to be docked at a starbase.

For functional things - weapons, mods, etc... - you can do all of them in the field right now.

CrypticZinc: <Kinneas> Can I upgrade my impulse engines for better speeds and turning?

CrypticZinc: Yes. Changing out your impulse engines modifies your maneuverability, your speed and your ships general inertia.

Bizarro_Rekhan: <NicholasJohn16> Where will we get out ship mods from? Will there be simply a selection gallery or will we have to purchase them off the galactic market? If so, will they be seeded in the markets or will users have to build them in-game first? Thanks!

CrypticZinc:<BannedAccount> this sounds so much like guild wars

CrypticZinc: How so?

Bizarro_Rekhan: <NicholasJohn16> Where will we get out ship mods from? Will there be simply a selection gallery or will we have to purchase them off the galactic market? If so, will they be seeded in the markets or will users have to build them in-game first? Thanks!

CrypticZinc: You'll get the different weapons, shields, station console mods, etc... from all sorts of different places.

You'll be able to go to starfleet and requisition them...

You'll perhaps get some cool alien tech from a colony you just helped defend from the Borg.

I don't want to talk too much about economy - but the market will definitly be seeded.

Bizarro_Rekhan: <nean0901> Will ships have defined purposes (eg Science- Nebula)

CrypticZinc: So - there are three different "types" of ships (at launch) - Escort, Cruiser, Science.

(Just making sure everyone has a good basis - don't go saying I'm rehashing everything again. : )

Escort has the ability to outfit canons. Very high attack rating.

Cruiser a little more general purpose. Lots of crew. Lots of general purpose weapons. Larger ships. (generally speaking)

Science ships really focus on the deflector dish powers - tractor beams, tachyon beams, feedback pulses, etc...

The different configurations have different permutations of what you can slot on them.

Escorts have more tactical Bridge Officer seats (and of higher level)... an early configuration of an escort ship might only have 2 tactical seats, where the higher ones might have 4.

The numbers of weapons, station consoles, bridge officer seats - all these things change based on ship type and configuration.

CrypticZinc:<Fhtagn> If you're still reading here CrypticZinc I think you have canon and cannons swapped around ^^

CrypticZinc:You're right. Too much caffeine. : )

To put it in real straight "game" terms - the inventory paper doll for your ship changes based on type and configuration.

Man - I haven't even mentioned ship classes!

So - within some of the higher end configurations, we plan on having different ship classes that end up having different load-outs as well.

Imagine a ship class be a pretty small variation within the configuration.

Oslo, Akira, Steamrunner - all different "classes" within the Akira-Stype configuration.

Bizzaro_Daeke: <]AoA[Vmann|work> In play testing, have players gravitated to the trinity of MMO roles (healer/tank/DPS), and if so, any plans on how to break up the old and tired group formula for STO ship combat?

(Two minute warning, folks!)

CripticZinc:Yes and no.

Some people gravitate to those roles beacuse they're MMO players. It's a vocabulary that they know and is familiar.

That being said - once people realize in what directions and limits they can customize their load-outs, what Bridge Officers they activate - they end up seeing that there's far more depth and team makeup to be had.

Let's do one more.

CripticZinc:<exracon> i'd say I was about 90% satisfied from all the stuff I heard today

Maybe I _shouldn't_ take another quesiton. : )

CrypticZinc: <Kazzy> You've said that you can outfit your basic ship to make it very competitive with other ships. If you so desire could you get to the highest level in just your starter ship?

CrypticZinc: You can push your starter ship pretty far into the next tier (there will be 4 at launch) - but you will not be able to take your Miranda up against the Prometheus.

BizarroRekhan:All right, folks. That about wraps it up for this week's dev chat. Be sure to check the main page for future announcements about our next chat. Thanks for stopping by!


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