In this brand-new edition of Ask Cryptic, Executive Producer Dan Stahl delivers answers to player submitted questions.
Q: (psycoticvulcan) It's been a while since we heard from our mutual friend Franklin Drake. What's Section 31 up to these days?
Dstahl: Other than lurking about and testing new recruits, Franklin Drake has been preparing for his appearance in the upcoming 3 Year Anniversary episode.
Q: (captainrevo1) 1) Who is Benedict Cumberbatch playing in Star Trek into Darkness? and more seriously; 2) Any hints or clues as to the theme and arrival date of the next lock box.
Dstahl: 1) John Harrison, and 2) The Dominion; around the time of our 3 Year Anniversary.
Q: (bunansa) When will we see more customizeable UI… ie changing the color schemes. It is the main reason I barely play my KDF. The red makes me feel like a hot poker near my eyeball like in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Dstahl: We are implementing a new UI for Season 8 and one of the major features revolves around the color schemes. We have a stretch goal to add customizable color pallets, but if nothing else, we will be addressing the “Red Hot Poker” issue.
Q: (cousteau1701e) Anything you can say about the upcoming Andorian ship?
Dstahl: It is an escort, has massive guns, is a new model based on an older design, it has a custom bridge, and is not coming out in January as I had originally thought. It will be in the first half of 2013, though.
Q: (drkaczs) Can the Dilithium cost for projects be cut in half and add in EC costs? I have an active Fleet of about 10 people and even with the new ways to earn Dilithium its hard to get enough to finish a lot of the projects.
Dstahl: We implemented some changes this week that have greatly increased the amount of Dilithium earned. This will also allow our smaller fleets to take advantage of the starbase and embassy featured project rerun that started yesterday and lasts until mid-January.
Q: (blastenblaster1) With the addition of the Tau Dewa sector block, is it the intention now (with sector space) to keep adding sectors to make it one big square as far as the galaxy map is concerned to alleviate the auto-pilot problem?
Dstahl: We do want to fill in all the missing space on the Galaxy map and have plans to add several more sectors that will get us closer to the block you are describing. We also may add additional areas to the Galaxy map when we start to venture into the Delta or Gamma Quadrants. While we would like to have one big sector sometime in the future, it will be a great challenge to retrofit the entire game and is unlikely to happen any time soon. We will look into improving auto-pilot features and have continued to add transwarp capabilities to help players get from point A to point B quickly.
Q: (captainsylvester) Is there going to be a Voyager Bundle in the Future?
Dstahl: Most likely yes, but it is not a part of Season 8. We would like to see a Voyager bundle when we get closer to adding in the Delta Quadrant.
Q: (bridgern) Is the Dilithium Exchange with the exchange rate working as Cryptic wants it to work?
Dstahl: Cryptic does not set the prices on the Dilithium exchange. Players determine what they are willing to barter for and establish prices. Our intention is to ensure that players always have a consistent earning rate of Dilithium for a measured amount of normal game play. We monitor how much Dilithium players are earning hourly and adjust Dilithium Ore rewards accordingly. The benefit of a player driven exchange is that players with no Zen are able to trade the Dilithium they are earning so that they and can easily afford items they would not normally be able to. This allows players with no Zen the ability to get many items from the C-Store without ever spending a dime of their own money. This has been a goal of our F2P design to allow players to play and experience everything in the game without ever spending a dime. Compared to other F2P MMOs, we feel this is a very player friendly approach because the amount of Zen you can obtain via trades is only as much as the other player is willing to trade.
Q: (flash525) Are there any plans to include other species to the game in the near future? The Son’a perhaps, or some 25th Century Xindi? I also noticed the Suliban System in the new Tau Dewa sector. Is this a hint toward possibly seeing the Suliban show up at some point?
Dstahl: We have plans for a few previously seen species to make their debut in Season 8. The only one that I’m at liberty to discuss right now is the Yridians. The other species were featured in the Enterprise series but I can neither confirm nor deny that is the Xindi or the Suliban. However, the fact that the Suliban Helix is in the Tau Dewa sector block does mean that we plans to have something take place there (along with all of the other planets in that sector).
Q: (cylon74656) Will the Steamrunner Class be available for those of us who don’t play through Steam? And also, when will we see the Typhoon Class playable in-game?
Dstahl: The Steamrunner Class is a Steam exclusive, so it will not be available in the C-Store. However, you do not need to play through Steam in order to purchase this item. If you have a Steam Account you can purchase the item through Steam and claim it in game without needing to play STO through the Steam client.
The Typhoon Class is a dreadnaught that will most likely not appear as a playable ship until we increase the skill point cap to full Admiral. Even then, we haven’t yet decided if this will be a player ship, but we can be convinced to make it so if there is enough support for it.
Q: (atseearr) Switching between your main starship and shuttle is now much simpler – thanks for that. Are there any plans to improve switching between Starships? Many of us have multiple starships, and would like to purchase more on our main characters, but switching between them is so cumbersome (with the Boff slots / skills taskbar) it's often off-putting. Any improvements there would be great.
Dstahl: We agree and have a design of how we are going to improve this which will either go live with our next major release, the launch of Season 8, or shortly thereafter. It will address a lot of the issues with BOFF reassignment, BOFF Skills, and Power Tray setups.
Q: (vawlkus) Any chance of a repeatable way to get Fleet Marks for Starbase Progression? Right now it’s Fleet Tribble, Duty Officer Daily, DOFF Commendation Reports. The Group Missions aren’t reliable.
Dstahl: Our intention is that the majority of Fleet Marks come from Fleet (group) activities because they represent group gameplay. So we generally do not plan to offer Fleet Marks if the mission doesn’t involve a group. That said, we are looking into other types of Group Gameplay that we can add marks to such as PvP Dailies and Fleet Actions.
Q: (fulleatherjacket) Will we ever see "Federation" and "Klingon Empire" reputation categories where we can earn passive and active abilities that reflect our respective factions, and item sets (i.e two weapon + console) specific to our factions that starbases do not offer?
Dstahl: Most likely yes. We plan to continue adding Reputations that represent the different factions and components of the game such as the player factions, crafting, PvP, other species etc.
Q: (lindaleff) Is the re-species token truly in the works?
Dstahl: This is being discussed, but it is still up in the air. We have yet to announce if re-species tokens are for sure coming because we are evaluating traits with Season 8 and have some pending decisions which may impact our need for the re-species tokens. Once we’ve ironed out how we want traits to function in Season 8, we can either move forward with re-species or announce the trait changes we plan to make.
Q: (ciprianp1) Long long long time ago…. there was a very nice gun: TR-116, that Target gave. But not everyone of us lives in the USA. SO: Is there any plan on ever bring it into the game ( via c-store)?
Dstahl: Probably not in the immediate future. There were problems with this weapon that needed to be addressed and so, until we resolve the design of the weapon and introduce a replacement, we do not want to put more of these into the game.
Q: (tebsu) Can you give us an option to cancel reputation/fleet/embassy projects and can you give us an option to reselect the reputation power reward at each tier?
Dstahl: We plan to implement both a cancel and re-select power feature and will have this released in early 2013.
Q: (pegasussgc) I've seen several Romulan NPC's with the correct Romulan forehead detail and Cardassian NPC's with "Cardassian friendly" hairstyles, can you put these options in the game so we can make are Alien/Romulan or Alien/Cardassian characters more realistic?
Dstahl: These hairstyles and foreheads are specifically reserved for when we offer Romulans and Cardassians as playable species (which will happen) because they are defining characteristics of those species.
Q: (captainwallis84) You hinted at a possible TNG bundle pack that you may add to the game. If so, what is it likely to include, and would you be making a makeover to the Galaxy class to make it on par (graphics/detail wise) to the Vesta?
Dstahl: We are considering a TNG and VOY bundle as our most likely next bundles, but it is TBD if we will be updating these older ships to be on par with the newer Vesta unless they are considered refits or retrofits. We will release details of the ship stats once we get closer to their eventual release.
Q: (ruinsfate) Could you remove the repair injury ui and just make components/regenerators remove an injury of the relevant rank as soon as they are double clicked? The current UI is tedious and irritating.
Dstahl: Agreed and this request is on our Software/UI backlog to be addressed when they get time in their busy schedules.
Q: (fyllis) Any possibility of getting daily mission(s) for Omega Marks, maybe in the Gamma Orionis Block? We have a couple of Dailies for the Romulan Marks and I think creating something for the Omega Marks will help create interest and decrease grind time for players who would like to get Sets and gear utilizing Omega Marks.
Dstahl: While we want the primary source of Omega Marks to be the STFs themselves, most of the missions on the Defera Borg Ground Invasion zone also reward Omega Marks, as well as a bonus during Reputation hour. So if you are looking for a non-STF way to earn Omega Marks, Defera Ground Invasion is a valid, albeit longer, route.
Q: (zalenrose) Can you give us more insight on the possibility for 1st Officers as playable characters and any plans for more depth in the Doff system like specializations or 1st Officer abilities?
Dstahl: The ability to convert your First Officer to a playable captain is something we’ve wanted to do for some time, but is not on any current schedule. We’re planning to revisit this when we eventually increase the level cap to Full Admiral. As far as Duty Officer improvements, we do plan on making some improvements to the system in 2013, including improving the UI and adding more functionality.
Q: (crazyestrobbie) If you were an average STO player, what question would you most want answered, and what’s the answer to that question?
Dstahl: In many ways, I am an average STO player because I casually play regularly. I’ve got a few admiral level characters and I participate in a small private fleet (we are still trying to get to Tier 3). The question I would want answered is, “what does the future hold for STO? Is this a game with many more updates planned, or is this game on maintenance mode?” Or in other words, “what level of updates or effort is being put into the game going forward into year 3?”
The answer is, STO is growing and our schedule for 2013 is the most ambitious schedule we’ve had to date. We have two major Seasons planned for next year (8 and 9) along with more events and promotions. The team size is double what it was a year ago, and since it takes 5-6 months to develop a Season update, we are just now starting to see the benefits from that, and Season 8 will show the effort that our full team can bring to bear on the game.
When I think of a game on maintenance mode, I think of a game that is not introducing new updates or new zones, but is just focused on maintaining the game servers so players can keep playing. STO is far from maintenance mode, and in fact we have been steadily adding to the game year over year. This game is lightyears beyond where it was a launch and we expect many more years of similar growth. By year 8 of STO, we hope to be as polished and solid as any MMO that has made it to that benchmark.
My own personal hope is that we will see a new TV series or some other prime universe effort so that we have Star Trek partnerships we can establish in the future.
Q: (hippiejon) If there was ONE thing you can add to the game. Your personal dream update. Big or Small. What would it be?
Dstahl: Klingon PvE content from 1-50 with a solid PvE and PvP endgame. Plain and simple. Then after that, real Star Trek exploration.
Q: (argent007) What is the ETA on the exchange getting a true overhaul and repair?
Dstahl: The sad truth is that we were hoping to get some of these improvements in for the exchange and fleet UI in Season 7, but the lead engineer on those features left the team. We are transitioning a new engineer in and bringing them up to speed so we can put these features back on the front burner. So no solid ETA yet, but it is on the to-do list.
Q: (werewolf359) You mentioned recently that an upcoming season would be titled "Founders of the Federation" and include the sector between Sirius and Beta Ursae. Does this mean we'll get the missing founding world Tellar as a social zone or at least as a dot on the map?
Dstahl: The comment comes from an interview where I mentioned that one of the sectors we want to do is the area to the galactic left of Sol in the Alpha Quadrant. This area would include Trill, Ferenginar, Tellar, and several other Founders of the Federation. We have not fully fleshed out the concept for this sector, but one idea was to make it a purely Foundry related zone where players could create missions that represent this mostly peaceful part of our galactic map.
Q: (starcommando101) Any news on the Dreadnaught getting a Fleet Version or Saucer Separation?
Dstahl: Animation is working out the kinks in the Saucer Separation for the Dreadnaught and once we have it ironed out, we plan to have an update to promote the new ability. Adding a Fleet variant is a possibility, but hasn’t been confirmed by the ship team as far as I know.
Q: (drogyn1701) How do you respond to some of the recent player criticism of the Foundry. Specifically that the dilithium grind makes the Foundry a “waste of time” (quoting other players here, not my own attitude at all), and that the Foundry is a way to make players do the job the devs should be doing.
Dstahl: Some players may be upset that we recently closed a loophole that allowed players to earn massive amounts of Dilithium from playing Foundry missions that were essentially “click this one thing.” We had hoped that players would police these missions and have them removed (there is functionality in the game for players to do this) but that did not happen and we had to take action. So if the argument is that Foundry missions aren’t an easy source of Dilithium anymore, then that is a valid argument if your entire goal of playing Foundry missions was to exploit the Dilithium economy.
We prefer to believe that Foundry missions are an extension of Star Trek fan’s creativity because it allows anyone with an idea for an episode, to put together a mission in the game without having to learn 3D modeling or scripting languages. If you are looking for great, well designed, fan made stories set in the Star Trek Universe, then the Foundry is the antithesis of a “waste of time.” It is one of the best resources available to Fan Fiction writers.
Should qualified Foundry missions have better rewards? Absolutely, and we are already at work on making that happen. You’ll see some changes to the Foundry Daily mission reward before the end of the year. We also have Spotlight mission rewards inbound as well as a restructuring of how Foundry Missions reward based on qualifying criteria.
Anyone who thinks that the Dev team is trying to get players to do our jobs probably doesn’t understand how the Foundry works under the hood, nor do they appreciate that the Foundry was a fan requested feature. We do not rely on the Foundry to supplement our design schedule and it does not impact our content delivery rate in any way. It simply adds a great creative feature for fans who love to tell stories.
Q: (bandit2338) Will it be possible to give Fleet Holding an individual touch like a Fleet Logo or a Member’s List?
Dstahl: This is one of the features we are planning to introduce in a future update. We want players to see Fleet Logos on their holdings, especially during Starbase events. We are in need of some tech to be able to place the custom texture on the assets, but once we have it, you’ll be able to see this on your Starbase. The member’s list is also a great idea and something we’ll consider in addition to the logos.
Q: (whizzledarkfool) Will there be some kind of balancing system for Fleet Projects depending on the size of the Fleet?
Dstahl: In addition to continuing to drop pricing requirements for projects (we’ve done this several times), we have discussed other options related to Fleet Size scaling, but most of the options turn out being areas of potential abuse if we don’t also include penalties for leaving and joining Fleets. For example, if it is easy for a small fleet to complete a Holding, then what is to stop large Fleets from disbanding to dump all the requirements in and then rejoining once the lesser cost is achieved? So for now we prefer to adjust Fleet Projects globally as well as increase rewards and input drops needed for Starbase Projects, because that can have a similar positive impact for small fleets. At the end of the day, Fleet and Guild housing is a sensitive subject no matter what the MMO, and there isn’t a bullet proof solution out there that makes everyone happy. We want players to form Fleets larger than 3 members, but instead of excluding these small Fleets from the system entirely (which was something we discussed), we instead choose a more balanced approach of allowing Fleets of any size to participate with a median cost.
Q: (testcliry) Will it be possible in the future to design your Fleet bases individually and to have proper wars vs. AI or PvP?
Dstahl: One of our goals with the Fleet Starbases is to include them in PvP and territory control. One of the reasons we included operational assets was so that there were ways to improve the chances of your Starbase of surviving a PvP match, so that is definitely something we want to see in the future. We have also discussed new external Starbase designs that players could construct. Eventually we want players to be able to have custom looking Starbases based on tier and functionality. One of the big requests we get that we’re considering is when can players make their own “DS9” looking station. That may very well happen in the future.
Thank you for all of the great questions. Sorry if your question did not get answered, but you can rest assured that I do read the questions and even questions that don’t get answered to get flagged for the internal team to address. Thank you for continuing to make Ask Cryptic a useful feature for the game team.
See you next month!
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