A Q&A with Star Trek Online’s Executive Producer, Dan Stahl
I recently got in touch with Star Trek Online’s EP Dan “DStahl” Stahl and had the opportunity to ask him some questions regarding STO, Neverwinter’s affect on the game, and it’s future.
RC: There has been a lot of progress on the story over the last few years. The Dominion FE, the Romulan FE and the Devidian FE immediately spring to mind as excellent examples. We also know the Romulan Empire is in shambles in 2409, but what about our Spoon-headed friends, the Cardassians? Will we be seeing anything in the near future helping to resolve some of their story? Or perhaps a Cardassian species that players can purchase for their faction?
DSTAHL: The Cardassians were major players in the galaxy during the Deep Space 9 series and even though they were set back after the Dominion War, there are many things afoot in Cardassian space. Star Trek Online has three full sectors devoted to Cardassian missions and we feel that they have received a decent amount of story up until now. We have a strong drive to get more factions into STO’s the future. Thus, the next time we return to the Cardassian story, it would most likely be to launch a Cardassian faction with a story that players could experience for themselves.
RC: Any plans for more playable races in general? It’s been some time since we’ve seen a new race appear in the storefront, other than the Ferasans which seemed to balance out the Federation having Caitians. Yridians come to mind since we’ve actually seen then lingering around DS9 before. Also, any plans for more race-specific ships? *cough* Lethean *cough*
DSTAHL: With the possibility of more factions on the horizon, we have been holding off on adding new playable species for the time being. We feel there is a good mix of species now, but once we answer the question about future factions, you’ll start to see us adding new playable species. The KDF will be getting more Klingon based ships before we’ll see a Lethean ship.
RC: A while back it was mentioned that some of the Federation player content involving Klingons might be re-engineered into KDF content by letting players enjoy the story from another viewpoint. Is this something still in the works?
DSTAHL: It is still on our to-do list, but there is no estimate to when these missions will be converted. For now, the only KDF content we’re discussing is the upcoming revamp of the Klingon tutorial.
RC: The Federation still has some ships laying around not present in the game, the Constellation being to most obvious one. Others I’ve heard mentioned are the New Orleans as well as some of the soft-canon vertical oriented nacelle ships. What are the odds of seeing more Federation ships like these in the coming year? Will there be more ships made available that won’t have special consoles attached (ie: Ambassador class)?
DSTAHL: There is a good chance you’ll see some of the last remaining Federation ships make their way into the game over the next year. We also do plan to add a variety of ships that are new designs but don’t necessarily come with a unique console. We have several ships like this coming before the end of the year.
RC: When will we start to hear just how much of the Neverwinter Foundry tools can be ported over to STO? What is the first thing (non-Foundry related) you’d like to use these tools for (Customization of Player housing, Ship interiors, etc.)? Something else entirely?
DSTAHL: The earliest we will start looking at this is for the release scheduled later this year, after our big May update. Neverwinter still has some work left to do on the Foundry before they can launch and we won’t be looking to merge those features until they are satisfied with how the Foundry updates are working in Neverwinter.
Some of the cool features that we will be doing feasibility tests on are the interior editor and the 3D object placement. While it is undetermined if these features will ever make it into STO, those are the ones I’d personally like to see the most.
RC: You’ve mentioned before the idea of a Kickstarter-style starship funding program where players could vote with pre-orders/money for ships they want. Is this something seriously being considered and could people vote in-game with Dilithium or Zen? Any ETA on it if so?
DSTAHL: We’ve had serious internal discussions about a feature like this and there is a white-paper design doc that explains how we could implement it with something similar to the Dilithium escrow account used in Dilithium Trading. For now, it is still in a discussion state, so it is a ways off from reality. The team is entirely focused on the new content and missions for the May update, so we will try to revisit these nice to have features later in the year.
RC: Now that we’ve gotten some hands-on time with Neverwinter, players are noticing some interesting systems that might work in STO. One example would be the Companion system with combat helpers that can equip gear and gain levels but require very little management. Is there a chance we could see this move over to STO in the form of Targs for Klingons and Exocomps for the Federation? Or is this more of a case of something similar to the Bridge Officer system being ported over to Neverwinter?
DSTAHL: It is a little bit of both. Bridge Officers in STO may have inspired the design in Neverwinter, but “pets” and companions have been around in MMORPGs for some time. We look at the Duty Officer System as something more analogous to the companions in Neverwinter and would like to expand on and improve this existing system first.
RC: Are there other areas where you’d like to see the DOFF system expanded into? There’s been discussion of a crafting revamp and it’s been said that it’s a long way off still. Is it reasonable to assume that the DOFF system will play a role in this system revamp?
DSTAHL: One of the designs we are considering for the future of crafting does involve Duty Officers. We would also like to see the DOFF UI greatly improved and the missions made to be more visually clear. It feels a little cumbersome and clunky at the moment.
RC: Are there any plans to introduce Racial/Profession Traits that have a more passive effect on activities in the game? There are some missions (Rescue the Azura for example) that have Profession specific optional side missions. Has any thought been put into expanding this into Traits? Perhaps even traits specific to certain professions? Numerous ones come to mind (Techie, Telepathic, Spirit Walk, etc) that could be used to unlock specific items in missions for those possessing these traits.
DSTAHL: We have plans on the schedule to improve how Traits are implemented in the game. We are in early design stages on this now and will share more about how it will work once we have more of the work finished.
Thanks go out to Dan for taking the time to answer my questions!