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Author Topic: February 8th - Hailing Frequency Interview with Craig Zinkievich  (Read 1413 times)

Offline Zach

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[img align=right][/img] This interview was conducted at the New York Comic Con on February 7th.  Interview was conducted by Hailing Frequency's Technical Director and Chief Field Reporter, Ryan White aka Nova.

HF: A lot of Star Trek Online Fans have been putting pennies and spare change to one side for a long time to fund their future STO Addictions Ė but have any decisions about pricing been made yet and can you give us some rough ideas of what subscription prices are going to be?

CZ: Generally this is something that is not decided until launch is imminent. To give you an insight, at this time, we do not even have pricing information for Champions Online.

HF: We know from the Vegas trailer and from discussion on the STO Forums that ship interiors are going to be available, however we still do not have many details on these, so can you tell us how much freedom will players be allowed in their ships Ė are we just going to see key areas like the bridge and engineering available, or will corridors and turbolifts and all of the other locations that are typically on a ship, be available? 

CZ: At launch, we are probably only going to have ship interiors available during mission instances, however we hope to add the ability to players to freely walk around their ship and host gatherings in an expansion pack.

HF: This next question relates to the crafting / content creation system that weíve heard about on the forum and in previous interviews.   How much flexibility are members of the community going to have to design items, ships, technologies, etc and have them become part of the STO universe?

CZ: We want to make sure that crafting is a large part of the game, that there is a robust crafting economy. We are iterating on the depth and where in the game play it will fold in and where you will need to do it and where you donít need to do it, so not many details yet but it is underway right now and we will talk allot more about that in a few months.

HF: What measures are being put in place to ensure that content creation methods in STO do not tailspin into a Free For All Affair Ė will people be able to just create random objects or will there be a pre-defined set of recipes for lack of a better term?

CZ: Thereíll probably end up being a set of pre-defined recipes, but it will be a huge set and probably an algorithmically generated set, so I imagine that it will be a really deep crafting system but people will definitely be using recipes in order to craft items.

HF: We know from previous interviews and released information that users will be able to create their own races of aliens, but will these also be used to populate strange new worlds ?

CZ: We actually havenít said anything about that. Itís a really cool idea to take peoples races and make sure they show up in the game, weíre definitely going to allow you to share your races between friends and make it easy for a whole fleet to end up being from the same planet, but we havenít actually taken it that one step further and made sure we populate the world with stuff people have made.

I think there are pluses and minuses to doing that and we will see where it takes us, itís a really cool idea though.

HF: We know that Star Trek Online is going to have support for the numerous Star Trek Gaming clans and guilds that exist out there in the community, but we havenít really had any details yet.  Can you give us some information on what support options will be available for these fleets?  Specifically are they going to be able to build large capitol ships, shipyards, outposts and star bases or are those items only going to be controlled Starfleet Command and the Klingon High Council?

CZ: Whatever resources a fleet generates, whether it be ships or items, will be under the control of that fleet.  I think guilds in MMOs need that autonomy,  I think fleets within Starfleet during wartime also need that autonomy and i think that the community wants that autonomy too, so fleets will have the ability toe create items, set uniforms, set ranks, have calendars.   

Champions Online have allot of plans to push the envelope on what you can do not only in game with guilds and stuff, but also online and on the web.  We canít give many details at the moment, but we want to make sure that there is allot of stuff in game to allow people to organise and OUTSIDE of the game too,

HF: So we talked about Fleets having their own Starbaseís, but what function will these have and will we be able to walk around in them?

CZ: We are still looking at whether fleets will be able to create starbaseís at launch - We are still iterating on that and how it will work into our horrible schedule, but the sky is the limit with what we want and can do, so weíd love to be able to make sure you can create a starbase and walk around in it and even make sure that people outside of your fleet can walk around in it, but whether that is in at launch is still to be determined.

HF: Can you give us some detail on how STO Economy will work. E.g. Will we see in game Item Auctions or will there be currency exchange for the federations Credit, or will everyone in the game be using some other form of currency despite their factionÖ..In City of Heroes, Super groups had what was called Prestige, will STO Fleets have something similar that can be used to buy items for the Fleet?

CZ: The economy stuff we are really iterating on right now. If there is a game play reason to make sure we have conversion rates and exchange rates between federation credits, gold pressed latinum and klingon currency, we will definitely put it in, but if it comes down to an aesthetic part where there is one underlying credit system and we exchange just to keep the universe feeling right, we will probably decide that after we get it in game and decide what effect it has on the game.  We really donít know at the moment.

Fleets will definitely play a large part in the economy, but whether or not they have a currency is another thing. You try to balance one economy first and then break it down into smaller pieces as we see fit.

HF: Many MMO's limit each guild to a maximum number of members, which in turn causes many large guilds to create offshoots to allow them grow beyond the limit....will STO have such a limit or will guild member numbers be unlimited?

CZ: I donít know what our max technical limit is for the members of the fleets, but we are definitely going to make sure that even if a single fleet has limitations that there will be ways to link fleets together to the point where you have sister fleets or different ranks within the fleets that you can move through.  We really donít know the technical limit at the moment or even if there is one.

HF: We understand that the decision was made to have one player per ship in Star Trek Online mainly due to time and software limitations, however is this something we will be able to look forward to in an expansion pack?

CZ:  One of the reasons why we made the decision was so that we could really focus on the core game play that a whole lot of people really want to see, which is ďI want to be a captain, I want to get in my ship and go to the Klingon frontline and battle, I want to find a brand new star system that no one has seen beforeĒ.

Weíve tried to do our best to make sure in the way we are building the game that our options are open to add that game play later on, so we will see what happens when we launch.

One of the cool things about MMOs is that your dev team doesnít change, you keep developing the game and changing the game and your community is a part of figuring out what you need to do and what you want to do after launch.  Maybe once everyone starts playing the game, there is going to be something totally different that folks want instead.

HF: Will players have any ability to interact with their NPC crews and talk to their crew or are they going to be more like traditional MMO pets?

CZ: I think they are more in the capacity of pets where you will tell them what to do and command them, but one of the cool things that we are trying to do is to integrate them into the story so that allot of the alerts and events that happen within the game donít get communicated to you via the user interface or flashing chat bubble, but instead are communicated through your bridge crew and bridge officers so that they are the ones that are letting you know whatís going on.

Sitting in ten forward and having a conversation with your first officer, probably not going to happen, but trying to make them have a life and be an important part of the ship is what our goal is.

HF: Allot of MMOs have issues trying to balance things out between those people who play 10 or 20 hours a week and those who only play for one or two hours a week.  Have you guys tried to address this and is there any plan of action in terms of how thatís going to be implemented?

CZ: I think that you can look at it as purely numericís or as a math problem, but I take a completely different stance.

Star Trek is completely different things to different people. Some people are going to come in and want to rank up to Admiral and get the biggest ship they can, while other people are going to head out to the Klingon Front line and constantly PVP and try to turn the tide of that conflict and some people are going to want to get in their starship and go to explore a brand new planet, so I donít think itís a sense of mathematically making sure that someone who plays 5 hours a week is as good or as effective as someone who really plays but its more about making sure that we have content that is there for what you feel like doing at the time and that you feel good and are having a fun time and you feel effective while you are doing it.

HF: Will it be possible to have starships which can separate in to different segments (e.g. The Prometheus)?

CZ: We donít expect at launch to have major Prometheus action where you are splitting into 3 or 4 pieces and controlling all four but if we do anything like that then you will probably only control one section and the others will be fairly autonomous.

HF: Can you tell us something new about Star Trek Online that will blow our minds?

CZ: Wow, there is so much right now. Later today (February 7th), we are releasing footage of the race creator and I think its awesome. 

We are playing the game as a team on a constant basis internally now and I have to walk around when we have these play tests and kick people out of the character creator because they are spending 20 or 30 minutes just tweaking their characters, so Iíd have to say that Iím really excited about that system.

HF: Have any celebrities contacted you about making cameos in STO?

CZ: We have talked to a few people. Leonard Nimoy, of course helped us announce it at the Star Trek convention and he was an awesome guy.  We have talked to a couple of other people but we canít go into it right now.

HF: You have a relationship with IBM for Champions and Star Trek. Do you think we could ever see Star Trek Online on Cell Blades like EVE Online...and perhaps BLUE GENE someday?

CZ: Crypticís Engine, our core engine, the graphics engine, the back end, the client server and the database server are proprietary and there is a core technology for all of Crypticís games, so Champions is running on this basic backend and Star Trek Online will as well, so this means that anything we do with IBM will work with both games.

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« Last Edit: 08 February 2009 05:15 PM by Zach »