Massively: What's been the bigger challenge thus far: ground or space combat?
Craig: They both have challenges. Space combat was something that we haven't done before, and it's very different from the combat in our other games. Positioning is huge in space combat, and that was something we were very concerned about when we started the project.
We know ground combat focuses on parties of five whether they're NPCs or PCs, but what will the group size and dynamics be for space battles?
Our teams have a maximum size of five, and the Episodic content is designed for either 5 player characters or a combination of players and Bridge Crew.
That doesn't mean that there won't be epic space battles with tens or possibly hundreds of starships. We will have events that require groups of players working together to resolve, like a invasion by the Borg.
The recently released character customization video was an impressive display of Cryptic tech. What are some of the things the team plans to do past launch with customization? A lot of people have been asking for non-bipedal aliens.
There are a huge number of things that we can add post launch. We have a lot of ideas already, but we're really going to be looking at what the community has to say during Beta and after launch to help us decide what we'll add to the game.
Feedback from the community is incredibly important to us at Cryptic. We're reading the forums every day, and player requests will help shape what Star Trek Online becomes. Join the forums at startrekonline.com and make your voice heard!
Are there any plans to make use of Holodecks for things such as tactical training or role-playing/social areas?
Wow – holodecks are tricky. They're so powerful and so cool that everyone on the team wants to cram everything possible into them. I'm about ready to say no one on the team is allowed to speak the word "holodeck" for the next three months.
We will have holodecks – they're too "Trek" to leave out. But we're not sure what they'll be used for yet. Maybe you'll be able to go to a holodeck and play Champions Online!
Has the team considered Picard-style diplomatic encounters, where players have to talk their way out of a tight situation?
Diplomatic gameplay is tricky. We want to make sure that the gameplay is fun and doesn't feel contrived. We're constantly trying new things to try to get more non-combat gameplay in.
Obviously you guys want to make sure everyone's favorite starship is added to the game sooner or later, but will Cryptic be able to eventually create their own ship designs to add to the game?
Yes! We're using many of the ship classes that are known and loved by the fans, but we're also adding new ships that haven't been seen before. And whatever ship a player chooses, he or she will be able to customize the appearance, weapons and equipment.
We've seen some impressive player-made designs floating around the official Star Trek Online forums. Is there a possibility that player created ships could be added into the game?
Ship customization will be a big part of Star Trek Online. You've only seen a glimpse of what you'll be able to do with the ship creator. I'm sure that there will be lots of amazing player-created starships.
Since we know collision is in the game, are tactics like ramming into enemy ships going to be viable options?
We're still iterating on collision in space and how important it will be in space combat. We want to make sure that it's fun, but that people aren't constantly blowing up their ships by "accidentally" ramming their friends. :)
How -- if at all -- does the development of other Cryptic games affect Star Trek Online? Does the game benefit from breakthroughs elsewhere, and vice-versa?
The development of Star Trek Online is beneficial to all Cryptic titles, and the development of Cryptic's other games helps Star Trek Online. The upcoming launch of Champions Online, for example, has been a great opportunity to expand our core technology and improve all the behind-the-scenes processes that go into running an MMORPG.
Because the Cryptic Engine and the development and back-end support tools (databases, customer service tools, bug tracking, etc.) are being used by multiple games, we've had a lot of time to work on them and make them better. It's a very mature, stable technology.