Captain's Log: Dining with the devs

Captain's Log, Stardate 65075.4...

Hello, computer (and players)! Ahhh, the good 'ol developers! You follow them on twitter, you read every one of their forum posts, and you even stalk them in-game. But you know what? Developers are just like us, a fellow human being, right? Wrong! Developers are the key to the future, the hands that create our dreams, the molders that shape our gameplay. Okay, okay -- I'm going a bit overboard, but you have to admit, they are pretty dang cool!

Luckily for us Star Trek Online players, the devs that are working on the game, as well as all of the other projects in development at Cryptic, are very transparent. More often that not, they let us know what they are working on and look to the community to see what we think about particular ideas -- we truly get to help influence what makes it into the game. Aside from posting in the forums, many of them also participate with the community by guest starring on podcasts and meeting up with players when they can.

As I broke the news to you all last week, I was privileged to host a Dine with the Devs event that coincided with a visit of some of the STO devs to this year's San Diego Comic-Con. While this was not associated with Massively, I figured all of you would like to know what happened and what was said. So, without further ado, it's time to recap the event and fill you all in on the super-secret meeting minutes!

Ensign, warp 10! Let's boldly go where most of you were not able to go...

The evening started out last Friday when I met up with some players, including the entire membership of Ex-Astris Audentia Fleet, and devs at a local restaurant in San Diego, California. Geoff, aka Heretic, was the first of the devs to arrive; he is a Designer for Cryptic who is currently working on the Duty Officer (DOff) system. Steve, aka Salami_Inferno, was the next dev to arrive; he is one of the Producers for STO. The last dev to arrive was Jesse, aka JHeinig, who is a Systems Designer. As the sun set behind us, we took our seats around a table on the patio and began to talk shop. The following information is presented in the same order that we discussed it.

Starting us off, the trio of devs let us know what they were each working on in more detail. Steve, being a producer, spends a majority of his time working on development schedules, coordinating department meetings, preparing builds to be tested, and overseeing development of the game. Geoff, aside from the DOff system, is working on rebalancing some of the ships in-game, including their special abilities and powers. The biggest delight of job duties came from Jesse who let us know that he is working on loot, powers, the economy, end-game and "some other secret stuff" -- all areas that seem to need a lot of love in the game at the moment.

We had a couple of questions come in through the Priority One Twitter feed about the show-stopper bug with the Foundry -- Steve let us know that the team has been working endlessly to get UGC creation back online and that "we should expect a fix this week." He did mention that, if you have an individual mission that was experiencing some of the bugs out there, you should submit a support ticket and the team would work to republish your mission by hand.

After Jesse compared his job to that of a stripper's, stating "always teasing, but never promising," he let us know that his plans for the economy include combining all of the badge/ mark currency into a universal currency. This will come as great news to many as there are at least a dozen currencies in-game at this time. He also told us to expect some updates to Gold Pressed Latinum, a reward that you receive for winning at the Dabo tables.

Although the launch of Season Four included the Ground Combat 2.0 experience, we were surprised to learn that it has been in development since pre-Season Three and was to originally be included with its launch. The reason for its delay was that the team wanted to make sure it was perfect before releasing it to the players. They are taking a similar approach to everything that will be coming out going forward, including the next Feature Series, which is scheduled for a September release.

Around the same time as the series' release, we also should be seeing the Borg invasion into the Alpha Quadrant. We were told that this invasion is going to be more of a "global event" where Captains will be called from around the galaxy to help defend against the Borg threat. There will be some new Borg incursions, including Deep Space Encounters, which you will want to team up with four other friends for.

While we checked out the newly released Starfleet Academy in my STO livestream this week, I did mention that it is currently just a social map -- during dinner, the devs did reveal that there will be a lot more action here in the near future, including "in the neighborhood" missions, lore/ trivia missions for accolades, and even a Fleet Action. The Klingon version of the academy should be up and running soon, as well. In the further future, expect to see new game tutorials begin in these areas.

One of the highlights of the evening was Geoff going into further detail of the DOff system -- based off what he shared with us, mark these words: this system is going to be the most advanced component of the game to be introduced since launch. He did let us know about a new commodity coming into game called "contraband" -- these items can be collected by DOffs on away missions and turned into Federation Security for special rewards. You'll want to be careful, though -- if your mission comes up as a "disaster," compared to a "success" or a "critical success," your DOff who is turning in the contraband may get mixed up by security and thrown into the brig. We also learned that the ultimate goal for slotting a DOff for the "Chef" position, would be that you would gain food recipes that are unique to that DOffs species (i.e. an Andorian chef will be able to cook an Andorian soufflé).

While the fact that more people tend to play on the Federation side only is often discussed by players, we learned that only 18% of all STO players have made a Klingon -- this number was surprising and disappointing because there have been many updates to the "red" side since launch. While I feel that these warrant one to at least try a KDF toon out, I will admit STO has a long way to go before the KDF can be seen as completely on par with the Feds.

While the idea of fleets being able to "own" their own starbases is a ways off, we did learn about some ideas being thrown around. Energy credits, along with commodities and crafting, are being looked at for "costs" of acquiring and maintaining a base -- we may also see DOffs play a role. One of the most exciting things we could see developed is the implementation of fleet assignments, which would be similar to guild quests found in other games. Personally, I would love to see a fleet required to complete certain objectives to achieve fleet-wide rewards.

Before ending our amazing night with a group photo (featured at the top), everyone took turns sharing his or her gratitude towards the devs for coming out to hang with us and answer our questions. Attendees were excited to learn that I am planning a similar event for the upcoming Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. Some STO devs will also be in attendance there -- more details soon...

Well, Captains, we have come to the end of this week's log entry. As you can see, there were many ideas and conceptual discussions that occurred during the event -- please bear in mind that any of this information is subject to change at any time, be developed in a different matter or become scrapped entirely. If you feel strongly about a certain matter, please make sure to voice your opinion on the STO forums -- the devs really do read them often and would truly like to hear your thoughts. Also, please join me for the next STO livestream on Tuesday, August 2nd, at noon EDT.

Until next time, let me know what you think about some of the subjects that the devs spoke about by commenting below or sending an email to brandon@massively.com.

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.