Strategy Informer talks with Star Trek Online producer Craig Zinkievich.
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Strategy Informer: So, supposedly we’re now less than 6 months till release providing you guys meet the “early” 2010 deadline. How does it feel to be this far along?
Craig Zinkievich: It feels great to be this far along. It’s a lot of fun when you see a game that you have been working on for awhile start to take shape and come into its own.
Strategy Informer: Were you surprised when this project was given to you back in 2008? Had you ever felt a desire before hand to develop a Star Trek MMO?
Craig Zinkievich: We were thrilled to get the Star Trek license. Here at Cryptic we try to make games that we want would want to play, so when the opportunity came to do a Star Trek MMO it was a no brainer. Obviously this franchise is a big undertaking but it’s one that we’re very excited about.
Strategy Informer: So you’ve begun the closed Beta – what are you planning to get out of it, and what feedback have you received already?
Craig Zinkievich: Well you want to get the bugs out of the way but you really want to get feedback on what the players like and what they don’t like. What parts were confusing? What they would like to see more of? Originally we said at launch we weren’t going to do ship interiors but fans really wanted those and looking at it so did we. So we decided to put the bridge interiors in the game at launch.
Strategy Informer: How long are you setting aside for Beta testing, both open and closed?
Craig Zinkievich: Right now we’ve set aside two and a half months of closed beta testing and two weeks for open beta testing.
Strategy Informer: There are several areas of the game you’re not commenting on or have stated are still being “worked on”, like the Economy, will you be using this period to test those out?
Craig Zinkievich: We're looking to develop an economy that is deep but very much in the Trek genre. Gathering resources, inventing technology and understanding alien technology – and then trading those items and knowledge – will be the basis of the economy. These are being tested internally and eventually will be in the beta as well.
Strategy Informer: Player progression seems a bit limited at the moment in terms of ranks – do you plan on adding more in post-launch? Or will the skills within those ranks and your careers be the main focus of progression?
Craig Zinkievich: The best part about MMOs is they’re never done – we can always add more. We plan on adding more stuff to do and more skills to gain as time goes on. We’re investigating what we can do at the top end, for sure. But we wanted to provide a complete experience at launch that we could then make even better as time went on, rather than leaving things incredibly open-ended. Now we can do more cool stuff as we go.
Strategy Informer: You’ve mentioned before that you might like to take STO onto the Home Console – provided you do, it would be the most serious attempt since FFXI – what are your thoughts about this genre and consoles?
Craig Zinkievich: We definitely would like to see Star Trek Online on the console. We think that games being on multiple platforms including MMO’s are the future of gaming.
Strategy Informer: STO will be one of the first MMO's that has players operating in two completely separate environments, in this case space and on the ground – How will you ensure that the two halves run smoothly together, and how much will you be able to “do” whilst away from your ship?
Craig Zinkievich: One of the features that set Star Trek Online apart is its Episodic Content. We don’t want players to be stuck in the same environment for three hours hunting tribbles until they level. None of the Star Trek TV episodes take place on one set – neither should STO’s content.
Our Episodic Content is designed to take you to a number of widely differing environments during a single gameplay session.
Start with an attack on your starship in space – beam down to the planet to rescue some civilian caught in the crossfire. Beam back to a space station to recover stolen intelligence and end it with a climatic space battle for your escape.
That’s what Episodic Content in STO is like.
Strategy Informer: Regarding the recent release of your “Future Past: Part Two” Video... will these mysterious shape-shifting aliens be back to stir up more trouble? And isn’t a previously unknown race trying to infiltrate governments and control everything just a little clichéd?
Craig Zinkievich: If we told you, everyone would find out and that would ruin the surprise, wouldn’t it?