In our latest Q&A with STO executive producer Craig Zinkievich, ZAM explores some of the new features added since "Season One," and we find out what's coming in next month's "Season Two" content update
Last time we chatted with Star Trek Online executive producer Craig Zinkievich, he and Cryptic Studios commemorated the MMO's three-month milestone with "Season One," its first major content update. As promised, the developers "addressed players' concerns" and delivered "new, fresh content in the players' hands," as Zinkievich described it, in our "Season One and Beyond" interview.
The three-month release cycle continues in July with "Season Two," offering more new content and gameplay refinement. In our latest interview with Zinkievich, we talk about some of the significant features and changes that Cryptic has added throughout the past few months, like the Memory Alpha revamp and the new "Accolade System." We also get details about upcoming content in July's "Season Two," which introduces popularly-requested exploration, diplomacy and anthropology-themed missions via the new "Federation Diplomatic Corps." Zinkievich tells us about the future of ship interiors, mini-games like "Dabo" and more. Read the full interview after the jump!
[Note: The following interview took place earlier this month; publishing delayed due to our E3 2010 coverage.]
ZAM: So Craig, last time we spoke, "Season One" was going strong and we recently learned that "Season Two" would be arriving in July. But before we jump into next month's update, let's start with STO's crafting system, Memory Alpha; it's been completely revamped to better implement the use of materials, parts and an advancement system. How would you explain the "new" Memory Alpha to returning STO players?
Craig Zinkievich: We've taken Memory Alpha and spent some time making it a little more transparent as to what's going on. Your crafting level is easily displayed – you can tell how much crafting experience you gain from researching each of the items. We balanced and simplified the crafting costs as well. Overall, the system is more accessible (the previous one was down-right opaque) as well as added a little more replayability.
ZAM: In last week's "State of the Game," you also mentioned a handful of new gameplay features and convenience issues being addressed. These and the "Engineering Reports" suggest the development team is keeping busy…
Zinkievich: The list of "…What We've Been Up To" features that you mention (and point to in your link) aren't fantasy items that the team is toying with in meetings or in prototypes – these are the systems and content that the STO development team has created and launched since the game went live! Everything in that list our players asked for and we've worked hard to get out to them. Tons of stuff to come back and try out if you've left!
ZAM: How popular are the new "Federation vs. Federation" and "Ground Assault" PvP modes? How will these be expanded throughout the next few months?
Zinkievich: Fed vs Fed PvP queue are very popular. The Ground Assault maps are a change of pace if you're interested in a more open ground PvP experience.
PvP is a popular aspect of STO, and we're going to continue to add new PvP scenarios and features in future updates.
ZAM: Can you explain the new "Accolade System"? We understand it tracks player statistics and incorporates a new "Perks and Unlocks" system…
Zinkievich: The Accolade system (just went live a couple of weeks back) is an Achievement system for STO. Players earn badges based on the content they've done, the amount of damage, the amount of healing, how many defeats in PvP, etc…
As you unlock these Accolades, you gain skill points, titles and, for some, passive powers that increase your effectiveness.
ZAM: Will the Accolade System feature any Web and/or social networking integration?
Zinkievich: We're working on getting the badges live on STO's character web pages, accessible from the startrekonline.com website. We're also looking to match them up with Steam achievements in the near future.
ZAM: Let's talk about Season Two. In our last Q&A, we learned that July's update will introduce many of the often-requested "exploration and diplomacy" features that 'Trek fans love, as well as "anthropology"-oriented missions. Since then, we've heard about the upcoming "Federation Diplomatic Corps;" is this the "gateway" or launching pad for all the diplomatic, exploration and anthropology missions we've been hearing about?
Zinkievich: Exactly. We've added a bunch more non-combat Episodes to STO, as well as the much asked for "First Contact" experience. The Federation Diplomatic Corps is the way to track your diplomatic "level" and to earn abilities and rewards based on how much of the non-combat content you've completed.