Captain's Log: Hailing frequencies were, are, and will be open

Captain's Log, Stardate 65018.1...

Hello, computer (and players)! While we have all been out and about gallivanting across the galaxy, the development team for Star Trek Online has been busy working on getting Season Four: Crossfire from Tribble test server to the Holodeck live sever, and it looks like the mission was a success as it was finally patched into the game this morning. In between all the bug-squashing, feedback-gathering, and sleepless nights, Executive Producer Dan Stahl found time to sit down and answer some of his players' burning questions about the future of STO.

Toward the end of every month, a Cryptic Community Manager creates a new thread in the forums where players can submit questions. While it seems that the policy is "no question is too out there," only a select few are chosen and personally responded to. Whether you are interested in the future of Klingons, wondering when Starfleet Academy will make its debut, or curious to learn if the Romulans will become a playable faction, this month's Ask Cryptic is sure to leave you wanting more. While Dan seems to jump from topic to topic, I thought it would be handy if I put it all together for you in this week's Captain's Log entry.

Ensign, warp 11! Yeah, that's right! This is for all the readers who thought we couldn't even go warp 10...

Ships

One of the most important parts of STO, at least to most players, is the ships. Whether they be queries about what new ships are coming in game, what new powers are going to be introduced, or when they are going to get a visual makeover, many questions on the topic make it into the Ask Cryptic each month. For July, Dan let us know that he plans for more of the C-Store-only ships to become attainable through some sort of in-game currency -- this includes the newly released fighters. There have also been design discussions suggesting that we will be able to craft our own ships to truly create a customized ship complete with different cosmetics, effects and powers.

When Perpetual was developing the game, it created quite a few new classes of ships for the game. While it currently seems that the company's influence has made it in-game only via playable ships, many players have been asking Cryptic to dig up the files and create some of them. Dan let us know that he has pulled out the concept art folder and will be working on getting some of them in-game. In my opinion, I feel that some of the ships Perpetual was working on were "out there," while others would fit perfectly into the 2409 timeline -- it will be interesting to see where the team goes from here.

Another popular request from players has been more customization in ship powers and Bridge Officer seat layout. Dan told us this month that the First Officer system, as discussed in one of my past entries, will provide a universal seat slot; this will allow your specific type of ship to have more career influence. Along with this customization, expect to see more universal consoles placed in game that provide unique abilities to each ship. The first real example of this came in-game with the introduction of the Multi-Vector Assault Mode console with the Prometheus refit.

Klingons

It is often thrown around the forums that Klingons get little to no love with each Season release. While this sentiment has been combated by the devs through listing out each of the updates that have come to the KDF side since launch, I would have to agree that the Klingons are still not up to par with the Federation faction. Luckily, Dan let us in on some classified information that really gets me excited. The Season Four update brought Klingons an entirely redesigned homeworld and "neighborhood." With this, it looks like the team will be adding in more KDF-specific missions that will occur here. Also, in terms of missions, there are going to be new space maps that will allow for open PvP against Feds. And if you aren't in the mood to fight against Starfleet, you may be able to team up with them soon as cross-faction teaming is in the works.

In terms of character customization, expect to see more options for your Klingon toon very soon. Some of these additions are going to include new costume pieces, uniforms and armors. If you have not yet seen the Gorn updates introduced in Season Four, you are in for a treat. If you have seen them and are thinking they need even more, don't worry -- Dan revealed to us that the devs are going to be working on getting more detail in that will continue to make them reminiscent of those from Kirk days.

Early and endgame

If you have rolled a new Federation captain lately, you know that every time you do, you have to run through the tutorial. Not only is the dev team working on allowing you to skip it when making a new toon, but the team is putting in both the Starfleet and Klingon training academies. While the initial launch of the areas will not include the new tutorial, they will allow low-level toons to run new missions and play a new Fleet Action. I can not wait to beam down and visit the historic location on Earth when it goes live later this month.

When it comes to endgame, many players have felt that the dailies and the Special Task Forces (STF) have simply not been enough. This, too, is getting some love in the not too distant future. This summer, as part of the revamp, expect to see a Borg Invasion into Federation and Klingon space that will bring new deep space encounters and daily missions. As a reward for confronting them, you will be able to obtain new gear, costumes and perks. All of this will culminate in the release of the newest STF, Into the Hive, in which players will confront the Borg Queen herself. Expect to get your queen on around October.

Gameplay changes

While we all know the IRL universe to be a giant, vast expanse that seems to be neverending, the same cannot be said for the universe in STO. Not only are maps broken up into sectors, but you must "warp" to different sectors and experience a brief wait while the new area loads. I am happy to pass along that the R&D team is working on collapsing all the different maps into one map, and while it's not necessarily the important change at the moment, it will make the game more Trek-like and provide a better gaming experience.

To help out with the age-old problem of finding a PUG team, Cryptic is working on implementing a "Group Finder" feature that will allow you to queue up for a particular STF, fleet action or mission and join others wanting to complete it at the same time you do. While the devs have quite a bit of design work on how the system will work, plan on seeing the first incarnation of it around September.

The next faction

While information on this is little and far between, it almost always comes up monthly. In the past, we have heard that the team plans on adding in a third faction and that it is only a matter of getting everything else in-game up to par before working on it. This month, it seems that we have moved past "someday" and are now in the "eventually" bucket because the development on this "has been put on hold," according to Dan. To me, this is not good news for those wanting a Romulan or Cardassian faction, and I would honestly put the idea behind you for a year or two.

Well, Captains, we have come to the end of this week's log entry. If you did not already know, the complete Star Trek television franchise (except for Deep Space Nine at this time) is now available for streaming through Netflix. I strongly suggest, if you have not already, going back and watching some of The Original Series -- it will help you understand why some things in STO are the way they are. If you need a little guidance, check out my travels through Star Trek: The Journey. Also, and with great sadness, I will not be livestreaming next week due to a vacation that I am taking; I will announce the next STO livestream in the next Captain's Log entry. Until next time, start thinking about what questions you would like to ask Dan for the August edition of Ask Cryptic.

Computer, terminate recording.


Boldly going where no one has gone before, Brandon Felczer transmits Captain's Log through Subspace right to your PADD every Thursday. Join him as he discusses the latest news, gossip, and dev interviews about Star Trek Online. Hailing frequencies are always open to his bridge through brandon@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.