It's safe to say that everyone here at Massively is excitedly awaiting Cryptic Studio's forthcoming Star Trek Online. So our very first interview with executive producer Craig Zinkievich was both a great opportunity and an enlightening experience. Beyond the cut, you'll find answers on player-made starships, holodecks, diplomatic encounters and much more.
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.‭

This article was originally published on Massively.
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