Cryptic Studios Speaks On Star Trek Online Season 2
GameZone had the opportunity interview Cryptic Studios in regards to the latest update to Star Trek Online and what to expect in the future for the massively-multiplayer online role-playing game. Without further ado, we present to you our conversation with California-based developer on what Sci-Fi fans can expect for Season 3 and upcoming expansions.
GameZone: How has the general reaction from the community been to the Season 2 update?
Cryptic Studios: The reaction so far from the community has been positive. We’ve seen more people coming back into the game in the last several weeks and we’re even seeing a bump in players signing up for lifetime subscriptions.
And Season 2 is just getting started! The first of our Featured Series starts this week as we will unlock the Defera and Raveh sectors and allow players to encounter the Breen. GZ: Are there any improvements coming to the C-Store, and if so, what do you have planned?
CS: We did recently introduce C-Store 2.0, which streamlined a lot of the C-Store experience. We improved the in-game description of items, added better imagery and so on. Of course, we can always improve what’s there, and our long-term goals include giving players purchasing options on the website, too.
One big effort underway from our internal C-Store team is being able to access and browse items from within the game. For example, they’re working on a feature which will allow you to try out new costumes and ship customization options before making a purchase to see if it is something you want.
GZ: Why hasn’t the Starfleet headquarters been introduced into STO?
CS: We’ve always wanted to make Starfleet Academy in San Francisco and it is on our To Do List. For launch we decided to go with the Earth Space Dock as it allowed us an easier transition coming from the Tutorial. Now that we’re going back and working on some of those old areas again, we are looking to update the flow that a new player takes when they first start the game. This includes updating Earth Space Dock, and if we get time, implementing Starfleet Academy.
GZ: What other races and or classes have you considered for future updates?
CS: One of the joys of working on Star Trek is that there are so many species in the IP that it is often challenging to pick what to make next! Our short list of must have species includes the Aenar, Kzinti, Talaxians, Androids, and Hologram (photonic) species. You’re most likely not going to see any new “classes” introduced until a future Romulan expansion arrives. GZ: How important is it for an MMO to have a diverse set of classes and races to select from?
CS: One thing that we’re finding is that when it comes to classes and races, Star Trek is different than other MMOs. While Star Trek has a small set of classes (Tactical, Science, Engineering), we have an ever expanding set of races that can play those classes. As was often seen in Star Trek, there were only a few different colored shirts, but the species wearing those shirts was as infinite as the galaxies from which they came. This is queue we took when designing the class/race system in Star Trek.
GZ: What are the chances that the boff voices will be brought back?
CS: Any way we can make the game better that’s something we want to do. Voice in a game can definitely add to the experience. We would like bring voices back and add more voiceover work it just depends on level of importance at this time. There is a lot we want to add to the game to keep making it better and better. Voiceover is definitely on that list.
Part of the issue is that despite all of the VO that we’ve recorded, you have such a high level of customization on your bridge officers, that it is challenging to come up with enough “voices” to represent all the different ways they might say something as simple as “Captain, there’s a ship approaching”.
We continue to invest in ways to include VO into our game and we will add it where it makes sense and feels right.
GZ: To newcomers to the MMO, what suggestions do you have to help them settle in and get comfortable with Star Trek Online?
CS: I think our tutorial does a pretty good job of explaining the basic functions of the game. We knew we would have a lot of Star Trek fans playing the game that may have never played a MMO before, so we wanted to make sure it was easy enough to pick up and start playing and work your way into the game to where you get use the feel, but also have the ability once you got comfortable with the to really dive deep into the game.
GZ: What are your thoughts about going the route of turning STO into a free-to-play MMO?
CS: That’s a segment of the industry we’re watching closely. We’re operating under the assumption that STO will continue to be a subscription-based product. That said, we’re always looking at options to make the game experience better. Really, it comes down to making decisions in the best interest of the game. It would be irresponsible not to be as educated as possible about what options customers want. GZ: Cryptic has a history of ignoring the trend of medieval fantasy. Are other developers just trying to leech off the success of WOW?
CS: While I don’t think it’s fair to speculate on what other business developers may be thinking, I can say that when creating Star Trek, we purposely approached developing the game to provide an experience that is unique to Star Trek. So regardless of the setting, this mean big Starships, Away Teams, visiting many different locations in the game, and traveling to places you’d recognize and remember from the shows.
As a fan of MMOs, I think everyone tries any game that’s an MMO so long as it looks fun and interesting. I think that is more interesting than what setting its in.
GZ: What is the team doing to help improve member activity and spur sales?
CS: The biggest discussion we have as a team on a weekly basis revolves around our customers and ensuring that we are doing everything on a day to day basis to make the game better, fix the issues that are reported, and add the new things that the fans want.
Ultimately, this game belongs to the fans and we are custodian developers working to ensure it is continuing in the direction they want it to go. Players have a lot of options where to spend their money each month, and we believe that those paying for subscriptions to Star Trek Online are doing it because they enjoy the game and the fact that it is one of the best ways to experience the Star Trek Universe.
We’ve always had a very aggressive schedule and team continues to work hard every day to ensure that new locations, new species, new stories, new ships, and new experiences are being added to the game continually.
GZ: When should fans expect Season 3 to be released?
CS: You’re going to see several updates over the next several months as we continue to release new feature episodes for Season 2, and then sometimes towards the end of November, you’ll start seeing us talk about the release of Season 3 and the new features you’ll be able to experience this holiday season.