Stahl Answers 50 Questions in May's Ask Cryptic

Star Trek Online Executive Producer Dan Stahl has answered 50 questions from players for his latest Ask Cryptic segment. Fifty! You can read the full Q&A after the jump.

Ask Cryptic: May 2011

Q: Darren_Kitlor Could you describe the Qo'noS neighborhood system in greater detail - what it involves for KDF players and also for Foundry use too?

A: We are completely remaking the Qo'noS planetary zone where Klingon players currently start the game. Previously this was an interior map, and now it is the courtyard and neighborhood around the Great Hall. This makes Qo'noS feel much more like a bustling city complete with back alley ways, a new shipyard, and the ability to walk from the primary exterior to various interior areas (such as the Great Hall).
We expect to have a number of mission givers in these neighborhoods that provide some flavor (I'm sure there's someone in one of those back alleys who owes someone money). We will eventually add Foundry mission doors throughout the various neighborhoods on Qo'noS so that players can hook up their own Klingon city missions.

Q: Firix In your interview with 12th Fleet, we asked about increasing fleet size. Your answer was that the question should be about fleet alliances. So...Are there any plans for fleet alliances, and what are those plans?

A: No solid plans yet, only discussions about where we want to take Fleets in Season 5 and beyond. The suggestion of Alliances is in response to players wanting larger Fleet Sizes. While we don't anticipate increasing the Fleet size cap, we do foresee a future where we can allow Fleets to both ally and declare war against one another as part of a larger Fleet Advancement system. These discussions are very early on and we don't have any big details to share yet.

Q: pdidy What is the current status of the Andorian Kumari and Ambassador-Class ships?

A: Both of these ships are on our long term radar. I'd really like to see both incorporated into future Feature Episode series so that they can release when they do. Currently neither of these ships will be in game until after Season 4 releases, but we absolutely plan to have them in game in 2012.

Q: LtEliz Will there ever be a way to purchase Bridge officers that's better quality than those for merits ?

A: While I'm not sure about purchasing a rare Officer, one of the Duty Officer System Assignments will allow you to recruit rare Bridge Officers and eventually the Duty Officer System will allow you to create First Officers and Department Chiefs which will add additional bonuses to the selected Bridge Officer.

Q: BluerockBeing04 What kind of changes will be made to tetryon, polaron, and transphasic torpedoes to make them all more effective?

A: In a previous Ask Cryptic I talked about how we recognize that some skill trees aren't as desirable as others due to various damage types like the ones you listed. Our first task is cleaning up the skill tree so that putting points into these powers makes sense. Once we tackle that hurdle, we can start to talk about ways to differentiate power types more than we have. The new ground combat system is introducing some of the changes to power types that point in the direction we want to go.

Q: ConstitutionRefit When can we expect the rest of the Pre-Order items to hit the C-Store?

A: This depends on whether the length of terms with the individual retailers. Once we have clearance from the contract to put the items in game, we'll find a way to get them to you via alternate means.

Q: Commadore_Bob Is there any chance we can have you revamp the Borg like you did with the Romulans and get rid of the "Night of the Living Dead" Borg and replace them with the Borg we remember from the shows? Will the Borg be used in any upcoming feature series?

A: Heck Yes! But we are doing both. We are revamping both the TNG Borg so that they have adaptive shielding and are more badass like I remember them being, and the newer Borg are also getting a revamp similar to what we did with the Romulans. As far as when will we see more of them? Very soon; and in big ways.

Q: Killer8472 With the addition of the TOS interior and the TOS dressed crew, does this open up the possibility of allowing us to customize the uniforms of NPC's in other interiors?

A: Yes, it is a step towards that. It is on our 2012 goal list to allow players to select a "ship crew" uniform that crewmen on your ship interiors will wear.

Q: dorko1 I know that the refit is still a touchy subject, but could you guys shed any light on what might happen? I understand that there should be obvious misgivings about the idea of the Constitution class outmatching a vessel 200 yrs new and twice its size, but a replica that's really more of an Excalibur class vessel might be able to add something to the mix.

A: You are correct that it is a touchy subject amongst the community and based on the discussions we've had with CBS about ships, I don't think we're going to put a high-end Constitution Class refit into the game. You can still have a lower tier TOS Connie use the Squad Leader feature to bring their stats up to a higher level, but the odds of an end game Connie refit is a long shot.

Q: CaptMattSchwab Given the amount of requests for ship upgrades in some form or another, be it crafting or a point based system, what is Cryptic's view on allowing people to upgrade their ships, and is there a chance we might see something implemented in the next 6 months?

A: In many ways, your active Duty Officer roster is exactly that - a way to upgrade your ship that you control. With the ability to add up to 20 Duty Officers to active duty, each officer can bring its own abilities to improve your starship performance the way you want it to be. Once that feature releases with Season 4, we can start looking at additional ways to tune that system to provide various types of customization that players are asking for.

Q: red_shirt_ The team took a tremendous amount of time to develop planetary systems for missions. I can understand why they are locked until we are able to access the missions attached to them. However, I cannot understand why we are not allowed to re-enter them after the mission(s) are complete (replay aside). It was mentioned more random events will be introduced into the game. What better places than the systems that are already here to generate possible random events and missions for us to play and allow to visit these beautiful planetary systems.

A: I hear you loud and clear on this one. It is one of my pet peeves with STO. I should be able to go to any planet at any time. It is a long term goal to make this happen and just as you suggested, use existing locations for new events and missions (which we have slowly been doing btw via some of our Feature Episodes).

Q: Body_Surfer Will the Rare Particle Traces ever get icons different from each other?

A: Yes. We have an artist lined up to make new icons for these shortly after Season 4 ships.

Q: maximus92 Love the Bajoran Militia uniforms. However, I would like to know if there are any plans to add the missing uniforms like the medical/science uniform, the general's uniform, and Major Kira's later seasons uniform and dress uniform? Also, would these be added to the current pack instead of an separate uniform pack?

A: Great idea. It is possible we could do this, but it is not on our short term schedule. I'll bring it up with the costume team and see what they can do.

Q: Salamdnus Klingons are getting Attack Targs. Are there any plans to have other "attack" creatures (ie. Attack Saurs for Gorn?)

A: When we eventually add the Targ breeding game, we expect to allow players to train other types of "away team" pets as well. Attack Saurs would be included in that. (Although internally we refer to them as GornDogs)

Q: CaptainSterling When will we see new species Boffs (ie: Holographic, Talaxian, Android, etc.) get moved up on the Engineering Report and implemented into the game?

A: We have been discussing different ways we could allow players to have these rare species lately and some of the ideas range from Veteran Rewards, to Special Duty Officer Recruiting Assignments, to High-End Craftables. I'd look for us to do a variety of these ideas over the next 6 months.

Q: TOSLover While I absolutely love the Foundry and am very amazed at all we can do with it, might there be an easier way that we could place our items, objects, ships, etc.? Maybe like an actual 3-D representation similar to how "The Sims" does it? I guess the question I'm asking is a change to Foundry object placement somewhere on the horizon?

A: Your suggestion is right on the money and I wish the team had the time to implement this immediately. Unfortunately it is going to take us quite a bit of time to get there. The first step might come later this year when we start to talk about a revamp to ship interiors and player starbases that would allow you to place objects as props.

Q: Unit757 With the ability to convert a First Officer to a playable captain on the table, theoretically that would mean that any player with a Breen or Reman bridge officer, can indeed create a playable Reman or Breen, or even one of the ambassador reward officers. Are there plans to allow this, or will it be restricted to playable races.

A: Absolutely on the table and one of the goals of the First Officer to playable captain feature. We have been wanting to do this for a while, but there are a lot of details we have to iron out before we can allow this (for example, Breen aren't setup to use all the Fed costume options etc). Once we get all the details squared away, we fully expect you to be able to take those rare bridge officers you find and convert them to even rarer playable captain species.

Q: Idlewind Everyone knows that Cryptic plans to bring out a new Enterprise, but what will become of the former Enterprise E? Will we witness it's destruction? will it simply be retired? Does cryptic have any ships coming down the pipe that are original cryptic designs?

A: I'm not at liberty to discuss the fate of the Enterprise E, but I can say that we absolutely have some original cryptic ship designs slated for 2012.

Q: Cpt.Clango On TOS Movie era, and TNG era, the Klingons had these gloves. Is this going to ever appear for Klingon customization?

A: I'm going to talk to the costume team about making more Klingon gloves in general.

Q: Felderburg When will Klingons get Orion, Nausicaan, Gorn, etc. ships at lower levels?

A: Our goal in 2012 is to add more variety to the KDF ship lineup so that there are viable ships in each class at each tier. Over the next several months you will see us release new Klingon ship variants at the lower tiers. Few of these will be non-Klingon ships. It is TBD if you will ever see low tier ships that are Orion, Gorn, or Nausicaan, based on whether or not the KDF faction increases population over the next year.

Q: Jexsam What, if anything, is currently planned as the centerpiece of Season 5?

A: End Game and Fleet features.

Q: matteo716 Why is space PvP so seemingly cared so little for? I mean it's the only mode of play in the game that has actually lost content since its release but yet is one of the most vocal (at least when they're angry) community sections.

A: Admittedly, there has been a lack of PVP support in STO since Season 1, and many would say that PVP is not STO's strong point. Over the last seasons we have been slowly working towards improving the system by way implementing a new PVP queue and the ability to create private PVP challenges. As we move forward, the goal is to work in PVP versions of maps as we do Feature Episode series. So look for something new towards the end of the next series.

Q: Nitros When will the ship interior Transporter Room become a functional option for beaming down to a station or planet surface?

A: We have been discussing ways to improve ship interiors and add more functionality such as this. The way we have mission transitions setup, there are some tricks and updates we need to do on the back-end in order for your interior to recognize where you are and what mission you are beaming down for. Once we iron out those issues then we can consider what you describe.

Q: Mailman653 Will Klingons be getting new clothing options in the future?

A: Yes. Season 4 has several new clothing options for the KDF faction and we will continue to add more as time goes on.

Q: Inquizitor Will we ever see the Xindi races as a playable race and/or featured episode species? Are the Sphere builders coming as a possible enemy faction for a weekly?

A: While I don't know if you'll see a playable Xindi, both they and the Sphere Builders are on our list of possible topics for a future episode series in 2012.

Q: scorpiobe After season 4 ground revamp, will we Finally see "Children of Khan" and even more STF's & especially "In to the Hive" to complete the Borg endgame story arc?

A: We still need to decide about the Children of Khan, but a resounding Yes for "Into the Hive". The new Borg Queen will make her entrance soon after Season 4 releases.

Q: Kasensal There is an idea floating around to separate ground SP from space SP. Will the current total SP be split down the middle or otherwise have some kind of arbitrary split?

A: We've been discussing completely different skillpoint totals and rewards for each region. This would allow us to offer a decent amount of skillpoints for both space and ground without allowing players to dump all into one or the other (which is part of the current problem). We want players to put a healthy amount of points in both.

Q: Neptune-A Will we ever see cross-faction teaming for STFs?

A: Yes! This is a feature that is slated to be part of the PVE Queue for STFs that both Feds and KDF have access to.

Q: Jas- Might we see player-chooseable transporter effects in the future to add further customization abilities to our ships?

A: Player selected transporter FX are an excellent idea. It is not out of the realm of possibility, but will require some time and FX software support before we can hook something like this up. I've put it on our long term goals list.

Q: JAM062307 Are there any plans or discussions about being able to craft lower tiered ships to higher tiers, such as crafting the Excalibur or Akira to T-5?

A: There have been many discussions about ship crafting internally, however whether or not that ties specifically into being able to refit specific ships up to T5 remains to be seen. In general, lower tier refits at end game are a heated debate both on the forums and internally.

Q: The.Grand.Nagus Which month is Featured Episodes Series 4 scheduled to go live, and will there be no more than 2 weeks between Series 4 and 5(and all futures series) as previously mentioned?

A: As much as I wish I could give you a date, I'm going to say that the next Feature Episode series will come after Season 4 releases. Adding new content to the game is absolutely something we are working on hitting as soon as we can get this monstrous Season 4 software update live. The next "content" release may not be a feature episode, but something bigger. Our goal still remains to have as little downtime between feature episode series as possible when we start back up. No more than two weeks in between is our goal.

Q: Zoberraz When are we going to be able to choose the rank/title our characters get addressed as, for us RP people who'd rather be called "Captain" in NPC text dialogue rather than "Rear Admiral, Lower Half"?

A: We have been painstakingly going back through episodes as we can to remove references like this since we have yet to come up with a programmatic solution. It is on our list of things that must get fixed at some point, so it is not forgotten.

Q: Roka Will it ever be possible to put Fed clothes on a Diplomatic received officer? And will the KDF one day be able to gain a form of "Diplomatic officer" from the Fed side?

A: Yes to both - with an ETA of Season 5 release.

Q: Cheysuli I think a great mission for the FEDS and KDF too have a mission arc around bringing both sides to the negotiation table too try to end this war or too bring a cease fire. Even though we are at war there should be at least a try at peace.

A: Hold that thought and stay tuned!

Q: P_Sutherland Any spoilers about series 4? Story wise, Will we get any more encounters with the Undine? Any spoilers regarding the Tholians yet?

A: Series 4 will be near DS9. You'll see more Undine as soon as the Borg make their move (which could be before FE series 4). Tholians are on our short-list of antagonists and will be in an upcoming Feature Episode series, but we shall see exactly when.

Q: Captain-MD With the creation of a 1st officer somewhere in the near future, will we be able to train that first officer in a unique power for that officer type?

A: Once the Duty Officer system releases in Season 4, we will begin scoping out the First Officer/Dept Lead system which ties into your entire Active Ship Roster. It is absolutely a goal of that system to allow you to train up your officers to have additional bonuses that are given by the Duty Officers. The theory being that a Dept. Lead's staff adds to her overall capabilities.

Q: LilRaveGirl How soon can we expect the Gorn Rebellion to start kicking up?

A: It all depends on whether or not their homeworld gets assimilated.

Q: Keppoch What is in store for Klingon carriers in Season 4?

A: While I don't anticipate anything specific to carriers, we are releasing a playable KDF fighter soon that will allow players to fly fighter support alongside a carrier. We are brainstorming possible (balanced) ways that a carrier could support player flown fighters.

Q: RevRaven Are there any plans for live in-game events, such as a Borg invasion of player space..or a Klingon invasion of a system and Starfleet blockades it..or something similar?

A: While they will not be "live" as in GM controlled NPCs (which doesn't really work in such an instanced game) - there will absolutely be events coming up soon :) So stay tuned.

Q: Nack Will we ever see any changes to the "Long Term" items on the engineering reports, or is that just a euphemism for "its dead jim, the corpse is just here to placate the masses".

A: Long Term items do make it into the game. Many of the long term items from the engineering reports a year ago are now in game, so it is not a place where features go to die. It is my way of communicating the realistic time it takes for us to move on some of these features. We have basic schedules that go up through March of next year, and in some cases features are already assigned to future Seasonal releases. You can bet that if an item is on the long term list, it is on our to-do list somewhere down the line. I do try to communicate realistically about things that have a very little chance of happening (such as flying missions from your bridge or full 3d space movement).

Q: Stromgold Will there ever be a faster/instant leveling option? For example: If you have already leveled 2 or more characters up to max level, why not give us the option to start a new character at Captain level?

A: We have been considering this option. We recently discussed the possibility of allowing players that achieve a specific criteria the ability to create a high level character, so it is not out of the realm of possibility.

Q: AngelSilhouette Some of the lower level Starfleet missions involve break-away Romulan colonies expressing desires to join the United Federation of Planets, will that ever come to fruition via character selection? (Selectable Romulan race in Starfleet?)

A: This heavily hinges on how we will eventually introduce the Romulan faction. We have been considering the possibility of additional Fed playable species, but we want to be careful to ensure that the Romulans are portrayed properly and that we can still have a viable Romulan faction if we did something like you suggest.

Q: Shadow_mane2001 Would you consider adding an Item upgrade system to STO?

A: Yes. One of our goals is to use systems such as duty officer assignments to allow your staff to upgrade items and systems on your ship. You'll begin to see something like this closer to Season 5.

Q: neotom52345 What are some new options Foundry authors can look forward to in the immediate future as well as down the line?

A: In the short term, our plan is to start porting over more assets and locations from our Feature Episode series as we move forward. We are also planning on hooking up Foundry mission doors and NPCs on the new Qo'noS and Starfleet Academy (when it is released). In the long term, the core Foundry software team is currently working directly with Neverwinter to incorporate all of their feature ideas. Once that tech gets finished, all the games that use the Foundry will benefit from those new features. I'm not at liberty to share the feature list just yet.

Q: kirkbot Is there any plan to release a way to get the tos bridge in game?

A: Not in the short term, but one of my bigger goals is to find a way to alternatively earn most anything in the c-store.

Q: PhyrexianHero Will there be any changes to Dabo so that we can bet more than 100 energy credits per slot at a time?

A: We have been discussing adding a "high-stakes" Dabo night to the game sometime during Season 4 which will up the limits and add new high end rewards. I'd really like the ability to win a Ferengi ship for a boatload of Gold Pressed Latinum, so maybe that will happen too.

Q: RA-Morris With the upcoming release of the player designed Enterprise, will we have a mission that either destroys the Enterprise-E or will it simply be added? Creating a mission (or Episode) that adds the player to something as important as the mission where the Enterprise-E was lost would be fun.

A: While I'm not at liberty to discuss the fate of the Enterprise-E, we are working on a fun way to introduce and showcase the new fan designed Enterprise.

Q: Wes_Janson Any word on Space Dock player docking/undocking sequences and/or custscenes?

A: Someday! Every time you get a new ship, you should have a badass cutscene showing your new ship leaving spacedock. Must get this in the game!

Q: LittleTerribleRomulan I want to know since customization options are coming to the KDF for the Gorn if we shall have costume customizations for the Klingons.

A: Most of the customization options are for the new Gorn, however we are working on a small update which is scheduled to be part of the 500 day veteran reward package that will add a little something for Klingon players. Also note, we've done some NX normal mapping improvements to all our characters in Season 4, so you'll see some great new details to characters with this release.

Q: mondo80 Could you add some more shuttle mission and shuttle specific consoles, extra colors and patterns (flames) for both sides? Can the KDF get an espionage (diplomacy) system with access (stolen transwarp gate codes) to other sectors?

A: More shuttle missions are coming. The KDF are not going to get a diplomacy system, but something different entirely that is more in line with their ideals.


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