Star Trek Online Season 4 is scheduled to launch this week, but that hasn't stopped Executive Producer Dan Stahl from answering a whopping 50 questions in the latest Ask Cryptic segment. He covers a wide variety of topics in his answers and discusses some of the upcoming Season 4 content.
Grab some of Captain Picard's hot Earl Grey tea from the replicator and browse through all of Stahl's answers after the jump!
Ask Cryptic: July 2011
Q: KBFLordKrueg Now that we have a beautifully redone Qo’noS, can we hope for more Klingon missions soon as well?
A: With launching Season 4, the entire team is focused on adding new content over the months ahead that will utilize all the new cool features and combat updates in this release. We are currently in development on the following content: Featured Episode Series 4 which will take place around Deep Space 9, Special Task Force updates to improve and balance these missions into something fun and/or challenging to play, Borg Invasion Events which will include a weekly ground assault on a to be announced species homeworld as well as hourly Borg Deep Space incursions into all sectors, new locale flavored neighborhood missions for social zones, OpenPVP Encounters, and four new Fleet Actions (1 exclusive ground and space FA for each faction). So yes. We absolutely plan to release some great new content to show off the new combat updates in Season 4. All of this content is currently scheduled to release at various stages in Season 4 between now and October.
Q: DarthModest When will we be able to craft the new fighters and Horta variants?
A: You can expect an update to the crafting store with these during Season 4. We are waiting on some time to free up from our systems team so we can get these in. The goal is that this will also include a few other additional craftable items as well.
Q: Space_Gunman When we can expect new melee weapons like kligon D'Ktang or human weapons? Also, when can we get parts of new Federation Technology.
A: With our massive overhaul of ranged ground combat and Kits in Season 4, one of the next areas to update is melee combat. We have some talented engineers looking into the issues with melee combat to help us adjust the visuals and feel of melee attacks. Our internal R&D team has made some amazing strides on our other internal projects and I'd really like to see this code make its way into our game before Season 5, along with new weapons of course! We do plan and are working on new 2410 elite technology weapons for both Fed and Klingons.
Q: mx1004 Are there plans on raising the limit of UGC from the current limit of 8? If so, when and to what?
A: We are still evaluating the shard performance impact of UGC (it adds a lot of additional files to the game constantly). Once we have a good grasp on how additional missions will impact the future of the game, we can talk about raising the limit in some way. I don't expect this to be decided until at least October, but is a topic we are following internally.
Q: Cpt.William2 Will we ever see the "Mission Replay" feature complete, with Patrol missions and older versions of the remastered missions? And when? What kind of updates can you give us about earning C-store stuff in game?
A: Now that Season 4 is launching and the content team is busy making new missions, the software team is looking into some very specific issues related to making mission replay easier and more complete, updating and simplifying the mission journal, as well as adding more clarity to what missions are available to you in a more meaningful way. In addition, we are working on a feature that would potentially allow players to trade Emblems for C-points (which also involves making more things available for Emblems as well). This could potentially open up the ability for players to, in effect, trade to obtain the items they are after. I'll give more details on this in upcoming engineering reports as the feature gains more traction internally.
Q: P_Sutherland Do you plan on adding any more sector blocks in the future?
A: Yes, but first we have the core R&D team investigating whether we can collapse all the sector maps into one giant uber galaxy map. If we do that, then it is a matter of adding of expanding and adding more locations to the one sector. This could be a Season 5 feature if the tech works out properly.
Q: MaxSpock Will I ever be able to visit the bridge of my shuttle or Captain's Yacht?
A: Yes. We have added two new bridges (one Fed, one KDF) that are hooked up to shuttles. We will continue to add more bridges and interiors as we have time in our schedules.
Q: Captain_Sonda With the upcoming new episodes that are suppose to take place around DS9, is it possible you can add the defiants pulse cannons from the DS9 series or make it as a tactical console reward for the new DS9 series?
A: Great Idea! I think there is a high possibility that this is going to happen or at least something similar. Defiant with pulse cannons would be amazing. I'd also like to see a replica Defiant interior as well.
Q: Starfish1 What is the long term plan for hair-tech?
A: This has been off and on the Engineering Report for the last two seasons. We have been testing using different types of hair on some of the costumes we've released for the KDF. At some point, once we are happy with how it looks, we will begin the process of adding new hair options and hair styles using this new feature. I don't have a definite date yet (it could happen at any time) so I've kept it off the engineering report for now.
Q: ErisTheVorta Will FED Vice Admirals get their loved DS9 fleet action back when Season 4 goes live?
A: Not when Season 4 goes live, but hopefully by the time our DS9-centric Feature Series goes live, we can get this back onto the Fleet Action Queue. It had some issues and needs some cleanup first.
Q: Pystce Will we ever be able to skip cutscenes?
A: We appreciate that some players who have multiple character may want to skip some of the longer cutscenes in the game. We will take this into account as we make new Feature Episodes and hopefully get time to go back and add skips to older content as well.
Q: kekvin85 Will Perpetual ship designs get added into the game?
A: It is possible. For now I can say that we've been drawing some inspiration from the old Perpetual concept art folder as we move forward with new ship designs. There are several new ship variants coming that have some similarities to Perptual designs. It is also interesting to note that several former Perpetual employees work at Cryptic.
Q: Starfish1 Are there any plans to give us the option to re-trait our characters?
A: We continue to discuss this internally. It does require some changes to how we have the characters setup on the backend. If we do add this sort of feature, it may be a pay service similar to how WOW and other MMOs change your character. Your character may also be offline for a short amount of time while we alter it. The big thing is that many of your costumes and character features are very specific to your species, so once the conversion takes place, your character might look pretty messed up or not capable of looking how you wanted. That is the biggest hurdle we have to tackle before we can offer this.
Q: CiprianP Any word on End game play?
A: Yes. While the Borg Invasion content is intended to be playable by most characters at every level, the primary focus of all the upcoming Borg content is End Game. This is why we are fixing up the STFs as well. This also includes new gear, new special costumes, and new perks at max ranks that will give players new goals and achievements to strive for. End Game is going to get a lot better during Season 4.
Q: Segma Is the UI scheduled for a makeover?
A: Yes. We plan on updating the UI during the course of Season 4 and have already started with the new Ship Acquisition Feature and loading screens. We are also adding new Help and Tooltips. We have updates planned for the HUD as well as a massive overhaul of the Mission Journal. In general, we are ramping up our UI team and trying to get the visual aesthetic of STO UI improved anywhere we can.
Q: USS_Excalibur Will there be more ability consoles like the MVAM console?
A: Yes. The ship design team is working on adding new ship variants at different tiers that will have special ability consoles that can be removed and added to other ships as you progress. Several of these are scheduled for release in September.
Q: billyyank What's the word on Starfleet Academy? Will it be just a place we can visit, or will be more interactive, where we can train a cadet prior to shipping out?
A: Starfleet Academy is slated to go online towards the end of July and will include the ability for players to visit and hook up UGC missions to start. We are also going to be adding targeting dummies for players to test out the new ground combat controls and powers. We also have plans on our schedule to have missions that take place on Starfleet Academy ground including a new Fleet Action. (We are doing the same for KDF academy as well). At some point we also want to go back and redo the Tutorial and have it take place at the respective Academy, but that was moved to a little later down the schedule than previously planned.
Q: Judgeman83 Can you talk about changes to STFs? Into the Hive: What is the current state of the mission?
A: As part of our revamp of End Game and making the Borg more of a threat as part of the Borg Invasion this summer, we have people working on updating the STFs to include new Borg mechanics (such as assimilate and shield modulating). We are also taking the opportunity to properly balance them now that the Ground Combat changes have been made. We plan to release these as the Borg Invasion continues and then ultimately release Into the Hive as an STF where you finally go to a unimatrix complex and confront the new Borg Queen herself (and get some awesome new rewards of course!). My current Schedule shows the STF revamps coming out between August and September and Into the Hive sometime around October.
Q: LloydTwoscoops When do you plan to allow us to create our own ships?
A: Great question! In some ways you can already customize your own starship, but I suspect what you are asking for is the ability to make your own starship from scratch. The answer is that we eventually want to get there but have many steps to go before we can allow it, two of which are CBS approvals and making enough basic parts that you could create effective kitbash ships that have the proper backend functionality for you to be able to fly it as a ship (i.e. it's easy to make a ship cosmetically, but difficult to make sure what you makes uses FX, powers, etc properly). It could be that we start talking about this as a function of Starbase shipyards in the future Season 5.
Q: D.Blackman What happened to the German / French translations?
A: This has been on hold pending the possible sale of Cryptic Studios. Once details of that are available to discuss, this is something we hope to be able to resolve. We miss having the game translated and want to get this resolved for our players.
Q: Diceberg Why can't I as captain have at lest one universal BO station on each ship?
A: Once we get the feature completed, our intention is that you will be able to select one of your experienced Bridge Officers and promote them to First Officer. A First Officer then opens up the universal slot on your ship (that they sit in), opening up the seat that they normally took for another officer. So we plan to do this just, however the "universal" slot is really you deciding which of your officers you want to be "First Officer" and they become the extra slot. We've scheduled this to be functional before Season 5 launch.
Q: farscape-one The new Enterprise class ship - it would be nice to have all universal bridge officers like the Klingond so anyone (class) could fly it.
A: Great suggestion! I'll talk to the ship design team about this to see if they'll consider it. It may be that we could at least offer different "flavors" of the ship to different classes, if not make it universal.
Q: Blasten_Blaster Any chance we could have the Tarmarians and other well known/liked "Aliens of the Week" make an apperance sometime soon?
A: Absolutely. In fact, CBS has requested the very same thing. Expect to see some familiar faces in upcoming Series.
Q: Katic Any update on Armor displaying on Klingon Characters?
A: Sort of. We are discussing removing "armor" as it currently exists for ALL factions (including Feds) and instead putting all of the costume pieces as "unlocks" in the tailor. This means that armor will never display directly on your character when you put it on, but you can go to the Tailor and then select armors for your costume. This will allow Klingon Faction players the ability to have cool and unique armors that are different than Fed armors. The upcoming KDF Cadet Uniform is our first test at doing something similar to this. It is a modular armor set that you customize via the tailor.
Q: naterag Will there be actual Star Trek music placed into the game, basides the generic and optional music player?
A: We have been in discussion with CBS (and parent Viacom) about this as we have wanted to use themes and music from the show in various episodes (we have the fight music in Coliseum for example). There are licensing issues that need to be worked out, but we continue to ask for it. As we get rights, we will do what we can to ensure it gets in game. We really wanted the Doomsday music for example in the new Doomsday mission but haven't received rights yet. Someday hopefully.
Q: kyle_scott Any possibility of a Romulan or Cardassian BOFF?
A: We have discussed this in the past and have thus far held off because it could cause some oddities if and when we eventually get a Romulan or Cardassian faction in game. I'm not saying it is impossible, or that we won't do it, but for now we are on hold with this idea.
Q: (Various) What other missions are you Remastering or considering Remastering?
A: Well I'm considering remastering them ALL but it boils down to time and resources. The next episodes I wanted to remaster were related to the Gorn Augments, although when we did it, I wanted the mission to be playable from a Klingon perspective and have different objectives.
Q: Zarkonis When will we be getting more social clothing options for Fed and KDF?
A: We do still plan to remove the concept of "off-duty" costumes and just have a "costume" slots instead of needing to separate the two. As far as new clothing options, we were looking to add some new social options with our next Feature Episode series and then after that look at adding more options related to the social zones that exist in the game.
Q: Chodak Could you see about eliminating the "Need" option. Just have (2) Options, Want * Don't Want where Want is the lottery. As the "Need" option is a pain especially on lower missions where you are in a PUG team and would cut out the "sponge players" who need on everything.
A: I'm a fan of this suggestion. I prefer having two options as well, but always run into resistance when I mention it to the systems designers. We will discuss it again, and if I can build consensus, there's a chance we can do this.
Q: Saving_J Although I like the idea of the new shooter mode, will we see improvements over time? Specifically speaking, my weapons always hit the enemy's torso when I'm clearly aiming at the target's head. Something like Fallout 3's specific damage on the legs, arms, etc.
A: It is possible, but not for quite some time. The game was not designed with FPS combat in mind and so doesn't have all the code necessary to break damage and hit locations down by location. Our combat is based on traditional MMO combat where you either hit or miss. For now, shooter mode is a fun optional way to target your character, but does not yet offer the ability to shoot specific body parts, and so picks a random part of the body to hit.
Q: Armageddeon Let's say you have a run of bad luck during duty officer missions and they end in disaster (losing your duty officer) numerous times, will there be a way of purchasing Duty Officers for EC?
A: If you ever run out of Duty Officers you will be able to start an assignment (that requires no Duty Officers) that effectively requests replacements from Starfleet/KDF.
Q: dannylee1701 Are we ever going to have the ability to stun NPCs instead of killing them. I would also like the ability to disable NPC ships as well.
A: It is possible and we've discussed this as far back as Beta. It involves rewriting part of the mission event system that listens for when a mob is "killed" for mission credit. We have to create rules and powers that allow you to disable "kill" a mob so that it is effectively a non-combatant but gives you kill credit. If we get all of this sorted out and programmed at some point, then yes we can offer this as a feature. We are currently not working on this feature, so it would be on our long term goals.
Q: VengefulDjinn Will the c store ever offer "real life" merchandise? Star Trek Online mugs, mousepads, t shirts? They could have some of STO's art on them. Maybe, give us the chance to put the name of our ships on them, like " Property of the U.S. S. ..."YOUR SHIP NAME HERE"...STO". Maybe a little desk plaque like a ship plaque that we could request with our ship's name on them. ect. I would LOVE a mini replica of my ship to go on my desk, (yes even the cryptic designs).
A: Believe it or not we have talked to companies that make MMO Avatar Figures to see if they could make replica models of your Starships. The issue we ran into is that Starships are somewhat fragile and not well suited to this sort of modeling as the nacelles are often delicately attached to the hull. In addition, we are looking into other merchandising opportunities such as STO specific custom gear. I don't expect any of this to hit the c-store this year but maybe in 2012.
Q: General_Jumper_One Will we ever be able to go to our bridge while in Sector Space and plot a course from there to a system and have it takes us there while we explore our ship?
A: This question comes up quite a bit. The first step we are taking towards something like this is improving auto-pilot so that you can set a course for a planet in ANY system and have your ship fly there. Once we get that working, then we can decide if there are other things you could be doing while your autopilot is engaged.
Q: Ooiue Starfleet Academy + Kobayashimaru test scenario. Any plans for this?
A: Yes, we plan to have something like this as part of a new tutorial (and then make the mission replayable for anyone at later levels). No eta on exactly when we'll get this done yet. We've started it, but it was pushed back on the schedule as we focus on the Borg Invasion and Feature Episode content.
Q: Fiorra Are there any plans to add TOS Gorn and TOS Gorn clothing?
A: We are updating the look of our Gorn in Season 4 and adding more customization options, including some of the eyes and features of the TOS Gorn. As far as clothing, I'd really like to get that crazy looking tunic the Gorn wore in the Arena episode, but it is on hold until we feature the Gorn in a series or we go to one of their colonies in an upcoming mission.
Q: bos142 Can it be possible to make all clothing options regardless of type or how they were purchased made avaiable to all character and BO's on our accounts? The reason i ask is because i have outfits both off and on duty that are accessible for my main character but i am unable to use them on my BO's.
A: We understand the request here and want to find a solution that works for all players and takes into account IP. There are some species that are not currently setup to use specific options and currently Bridge Officers are not allowed to use "Off-Duty" costumes. Once we remove "Off-Duty" costumes and just have "Costumes", then you'll see these sort of options become available on your Bridge Officers if they are appropriate and approved uses of the outfit.
Q: Yreodred Will the DOFF system allow us to adjust our ships performance, like enhancing their firepower, shield output or maneuverability?
A: Your captain will be able to have a select group of crew members set to "Active Roster" duty. Depending on which Duty Officers you slot in your Active Roster, you will unlock passive bonuses similar to the ones you are describing.
Q: Donailvain Will there ever be any changes to the PUG system?
A: Yes. Software is working on adding a "Group Finder" feature that will allow you to select a mission, STF, fleet action, or event you want to play, and then will try to find other players who want to do that mission and then teleport you there once a group is found. Expect this feature to be functional around September.
Q: keith_darren Are we going to start seeing more "canon" alien (opponent or "bad guy") ships added during the course of season four also, specifically the Sona ships from ST:Insurrection or others? What about different classes of "canon" freighters flying arround sector space?
A: We will be adding new enemy ships as a part of upcoming Feature Episode series. We want to have more species that you know and recognize be part of the missions you play in Star Trek Online, and luckily there are a lot of them to add so look for us to keep adding them for the foreseeable future.
Q: Norikor When will we see new ship designs and just ones from past shows and movies. It is post Voyager after all.
A: Our ship guru, Adam, is working on more updated variants of existing ships to bring them more in line with our timeline. We also have the Enterprise F coming soon which is a new ship design. We also plan to continue introducing new ships and I suspect that once we run out of canon ships, all you will see are new future ships that we design for our timeline.
Q: Captain_Shephard With Starfleet Academy uniforms planned is there any chance there will be a special "Red Squad" variation? Perhaps in the form of specialized 'rank' insignia marking cadets as being in their first through fourth years. And if so, despite lack of canon on the subject, will there be a KDF equivalent?
A: I've asked the character art team to do this for both Fed and KDF, however they will be tied in as mission rewards in the future as we add more "neighborhood" missions around Starfleet/KDF Academy.
Q: CAPTAINJK740 Will we get more rank insignia and combadge variations?
A: Season 4 is adding several new insignia and combadges plus the ability to wear them on nearly any uniform of your choosing. We will continue to add more as the game continues.
Q: AngelSilhouette Will the "Wrath of Khan" uniforms ever have selectable ranks? Will Gorn mouths be animated for bite attacks?
A: Yes and yes. The Khan uniforms should allow more ranks now. The Gorn bite is on our animators plate to get hooked up, otherwise we are changing the power to something else, but I think we can get bit working (if it isn't already).
Q: ScottishTimelord Are we ever going to see BO's with kits like us captain's use?
A: Aesthetically, yes once we move KITs to the costume tailor. TBD on whether they are going to get similar powers yet or not.
Q: V_Silverwings When can we expect some same faction combat? the Undine around we could expect same faction fighting and the Gorn may not be so happy under the Klingons.
A: We have plans on the schedule to include some of this in one of our upcoming Fleet Action additions, so stay tuned!
Q: KnightErrant Can you please explain the justification behind the Caitian BOffs not being delivered in the same manner as every other playable species in the C-Store?
A: Yes. The two existing Bridge Officers (Liberated Borg) were bonus items with purchase first that were then made available in the C-Store as an account unlock because that is the way they were setup in the original offer. We did not have that restriction moving forward with BOFFs. We are moving towards a model of allowing items purchased in the C-Store be tradeable if possible so that players who don't have c-points could get them off the exchange instead. We also plan to introduce other ways to obtain items like this in the future either as mission rewards tied to Assignments, by offering an emblem/c-point exchange, or by simply making these sort of items not BOP. Ultimately, I remain committed to allowing multiple in-game ways for all players to obtain items that appear in the c-store as not everyone has cash they want to spend on these item.
Q: McCooey Any plans to add more starbases in different sectors?
A: Yes, and in fact the next Featured Series will open up a new one for both Fed and KDF players.
Q: Kingdox Does Cryptic track the number of character class or character species users select for their captains? If one class like Science or species like Saurians isn't being rolled that often is Cryptic interested in making the less played classes / species more interesting?
A: Yes we do, but that doesn't mean that we necessarily abandon a species if no one is playing it and doesn't have much bearing on whether or not we want to "improve" any given species. More than likely we always want to improve things we feel are not living up to our expectations for the species design.
Q: Tricksterbro When do you imagine the Gamma and Delta quadrant's will be opened up to explore, what series would you like to see them in?
A: We plan to open up a few missions in the Gamma quadrant during the next Feature Episode series which will take place near Deep Space 9.