It's a short interview, mostly because we kept our questions on topic and well, also because we didn't want to distract Craig from working on his game for very long. Someone's got to work on fulfilling our childhood fantasies!
Massively: What are some of your goals entering beta?
Craig Zinkievich: Because we're built upon Cryptic's proven MMO technology, we're not going into beta with the same "will it run for this many people?" worry that a lot of Closed Betas experience.
We're lucky that we're allowed to focus on getting as much player feedback on the gameplay as possible! Advancement, moment to moment, balance, content flow – we're watching players and getting information on all of those things.
What do you think new beta testers are going to be most surprised by when first experiencing Star Trek Online?
Wow. That's tough.
In order for it to be a fruitful beta, I'm hoping that they're surprised about things I don't even know yet! : )
I think that Space Combat takes people off guard sometimes. They can see video and demos, they can watch someone else play – but as soon as a person takes the helm it feels totally different. I think people will be surprised the first time they knock down an enemy's shield and successfully unload a salvo of photon torpedoes into their hull.
Will you be testing Klingon and Federation separately or both at the same time?
We're currently starting with the Federation, but we expect people to be making Klingons in a few weeks.
What do you see as some of your biggest challenges going into beta?
Since the technical challenges of running an MMO are secondary for us – the "challenges" are going to be making sure that we properly gather and prioritize the feedback that we're getting. By making sure our playtests are focused and directed, having frequent surveys and really going to the Beta forums to get feedback – I think we're doing a good job.
What aspect of the game are you most interested in hearing beta tester feedback on?
Personally - Content. I love hearing people's reactions to the way content flows and is interpreted by the individual. We've put a lot of effort into making the content feel like Star Trek. That the "missions" and "quests" you get make you feel as though you're participating in one of the shows or movies. I love hearing what people think about that.
For the project – I think that the moment to moment feedback on spaceship and ground combat is the thing that is most vital right now. Star Trek Online is a game, and having approachable and enjoyable moment to moment gameplay is vital to any game's success.
Thanks for your time Craig!