Star Trek Online Q&A - Overview, New Developer, Early Details

We sit down with developer Cryptic Studios to discuss this upcoming massively multiplayer online game based on the classic sci-fi universe.

Massively multiplayer online games typically let you play as some sort of elf who ventures out into some sort of colorful, persistent world to repeatedly beat on some sort of rats in the hopes of looting a handful of some sort of treasure and eventually gaining some sort of experience level, so that you can seek out shinier treasures and beat up larger rats. One new game on the horizon will definitely deviate from this formula, all the way to space...the final frontier. That's right, the Star Trek universe created by TV producer Gene Roddenberry will be coming to life in a massively multiplayer online game brought to you by Cryptic Entertainment, the studio that previously created the online game City of Heroes. However, Star Trek Online was originally in development at an entirely different studio, Perpetual Entertainment, which has since closed its doors. What does that mean for the newly reannounced game? We checked in with Cryptic Studios' executive producer Craig Zinkievich for all the details.

Star Trek Online returns to development with the same studio that created City of Heroes.

GameSpot: To start off, please clear something up for us. What connection will Cryptic's Star Trek Online have to the game that was previously in development at Perpetual Entertainment?

Craig Zinkievich: We took some of the concept art--but the game design, assets, and engine are 100 percent Cryptic. If given the rights to use the Star Trek universe, who could resist the opportunity to design the game from scratch? We've been developing and refining our MMO engine and pipelines here for years and have shipped multiple games on it. Our Cryptic engine technology is so mature now that it's allowed us to take our ideas and vision and quickly get them up and running as a fully functional MMO.

GS: Next, give us some background on Star Trek Online. First off, in which era of Star Trek will the game take place? The original series? The Next Generation? Some other era?

CZ: The game takes place in the year 2409, roughly 30 years after the events of [the most recent motion picture] Star Trek: Nemesis. The galaxy has changed somewhat since then and faces additional challenges.

GS: Which characters and ships from the television series and movies will make special appearances in the game?

CZ: We'll doubtlessly include references to well-known and loved storylines, locations, and famous ships throughout the content within the game, but most of the characters have either retired or passed on. Star Trek Online is about letting players experience being a new member of the Star Trek universe--not reliving specific TV episodes or playing as specific captains.

GS: As captain of either a Federation or Klingon ship, what are some of the customization options you'll be able to use? Will advanced Borg technology like subspace warp drives come into play?

CZ: Cryptic is well known for delivering a high-level customization. As you "rank up" in the military, you'll gain access to larger and more powerful classes of ships. As captain, you'll have the opportunity to outfit your ship with the specific items, systems, and weapons that you want to put there. There are all sorts of different types of photon torpedoes and phaser arrays in the technological mythology of the universe, and you'll be able to put them on your ship. Change out and upgrade your nacelles, medical bays, sensor units...you name it. You'll be able to configure your ship so it plays the way you want.

You'll also be able to customize the look of your starship; put your fleet's emblem on it, change the colors, add decals, and, of course, specify your ship's name and designation.

GS: Which classes of chips will players be able to create? Birds of Prey? Deep space exploration ships? Hybrid warships like the Defiant? Shuttlecraft?

CZ: All of the above. Players will have access to many different classes of starships that let them create the look and feel of many of the famous "ships of the line" but also many new and different ones.

GS: Exploration has always been a major focus in Star Trek. How will the game encourage players to boldly go where no man has gone before?

CZ: The game will be filled with handcrafted Star Trek content that lets players play important parts in storylines active in the game universe. But exploration is key to Star Trek. Players will be able to pick uncharted star clusters of space and "seek out new life and new civilizations." There, they'll find content that will open up new resources, technologies, and even races with special abilities that they can recruit to their ship.

GS: One of the benefits of all that exploration is blowing up hostile new races that you encounter. Could you tell us about the combat system in the game?

CZ: There are two drastically different combat systems in Star Trek Online. The combat on away-team missions will be fast paced "run and gun" combat. As for space, we don't want to fall into the trap of trying to make starship combat into a dogfighter. That's not what Star Trek is about. In the shows and movies, space combat is about positioning, shifting power from weapons to shields, analyzing weaknesses, and having your crew come up with a plan at the last minute that can blast your enemy out of the sky! Space combat in Star Trek Online is a much more measured and tactical experience to reflect the spirit of the franchise.

GS: Will the game have any competitive player-versus-player elements to go with the player-versus-environment gameplay ? How will those work?

CZ: There will be PVP, as well as competitive PVE elements. We're keeping those plans under wraps right now.

GS: We understand that taking an away-team to the surface of new planets will be an important part of the game. Will the away-team be made of other players? Or will there be customizable away-teams featuring computer-controlled characters...or something else entirely?

CZ: Star Trek is not just about the captain and ship--it's about the crew too. One of the elements I'm really excited about is your "bridge crew." Throughout your career, you'll gain access to a number of player-controlled-but-AI-driven characters to name, outfit, customize, and level up. Your bridge crew helps drive the storylines you're on, gives your ship extra capabilities, and goes on away-missions with you.

When you're teamed up with other players, you'll definitely be going down to the surface along with them.

GS: How are you planning to implement combat on the surface using away-teams? Will it be third-person, real-time combat like we've seen in Cryptic's other upcoming project, Champions Online?

CZ: Yes--third-person, real-time, action combat.

GS: We also understand that important Federation and Klingon landmarks will be included in the game. What role will locations like Star Fleet Academy, Star Fleet High Command, and Klingon High Command on Qo'noS play?

CZ: We plan on using many of the famous Trek locales as places where episodes will take place; some as social areas and some as focal points for some of the major storylines in the 25th century.

GS: Aside from technology, what are the major differences between playing as a Federation captain or Klingon captain? Will Federation captains be bound by the prime directive or other Star Fleet registrations?

CZ: The ships, races, abilities, and technologies are all different. The flavor and tenor of the content will also be drastically different--there's a fundamentally different way the Klingon Empire would approach solving an outbreak of a dangerous disease from the way the Federation would!

GS: Finally, living up to the Star Trek name is a tremendous challenge, especially in gaming. How is the team making sure that Star Trek Online will do a good job of representing one of the most beloved franchises in science fiction history?

CZ: For one--we decided early on that Star Trek Online is not about trying to jam as many MMO mechanics together and skin it with a logo and uniform.

The game will let you go boldly go where...well, you know.

[Since we're working with] such a beloved franchise, we decided that the game must "feel like Star Trek." The team is constantly talking about why we love Star Trek and find it so exciting--and then we try to make sure that those elements come alive in the game. For example, when we got the license, the team broke out the DVDs and started to watch the 700-plus hours of content again. We found many of the episodes and movies have a distinct pattern and feel to them. We're trying to replicate that flow in the missions you'll play in the game. Every prop, set, and ship design in the shows and movies has technical reasoning, history, and mythology behind it. We're making sure that the things we develop do too.

What helps a whole lot is that the Star Trek universe has been so well defined, detailed, and is so vast in the amount of content that already exists. It's pretty easy to tell if something "feels like Star Trek."

GS: Thanks, Craig.

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Discussion

138 comments
IceBlad3
IceBlad3

well to tell u all i think dis game will be awsome just i dont know how will they make space combat i hope somting like freelancer...

ohsogood8
ohsogood8

Until more info comes out, i'll be waiting paitently. But if it's as good as I hope my WoW account is going out the window!

golgo28
golgo28

hopefully they dont mess it up.because im tired of bad star trek games.i wont a good one for once.

frost82592
frost82592

I really hope this game can be single player or at least the people who play it are not jerks. that is my biggest problem with MMO'S it seems like everyone is a jerk.

shadoe999
shadoe999

this is the first game i would actually pay a monthly fee for

bjl8624
bjl8624

i don't like the idea of cryptic making it... city of hero's was a success, but also kind of boring (IMHO) furthermore i would rather see multiple people making up a crew of 1 ship, as opposed to everyone being their own captain. maybe you have to work on a human ship first before you can afford to buy your own? and how do they do PVP if they have no rival faction? (Romulans anyone?) ... this could be cool, but i think they'll screw it up. Star Wars: The Old Republic on the other hand...

Dess69
Dess69

yet here are still a lot of issues to resolve before release. regarding wow players entering this world. viperman11, u shouldnt be "harsh" every mmo needs players, lots them. and not all wowsters are childish or (like u said it) idiotic.

eternity-4ever
eternity-4ever

I like the idea of a Star Trek game, but I don't like the way Cryptic described the away missions. I didn't hear anything about how players will interact with other players at all, and that's what MMOs are all about. I don't know why people say that they want the WoW crowd to stay away from this MMO. Think about it before you say that. For Star Trek Online to be a success it needs a lot of subscribers, half of which, if not more, will be non-Trekies. And WoW has something going it, it didn't become that popular just because it got lucky. If Star Trek Online can attract part of the WoW crowd and introduce new people to Star Trek I will be a very happy man... well, that, and I want to hear a LOT more about the interaction between players in the game.

viperman11
viperman11

I hope it's going to be hard to play so the wow idiotic player base will stay away from it. I'm sure they'll jump to it as soon as it launches and expect it to be another wow, they always do that then they go back to their lame aoe-and-loot instances.

gtillmon
gtillmon

I wish was game was not an mmo. I do not like them, but I do like Star Trek.

childofrock11
childofrock11

I think as a Star Trek game this game will be the best, at least it sounds that way (previews can be deceiving). I have extremely high hopes. I doubt it will change the face of MMOs but it will be a must play none the less. Especially for Star Trek fans.

BiGG_SMiGG
BiGG_SMiGG

suppose ill be bankrupt by the time ive got everything for it. lol

BiGG_SMiGG
BiGG_SMiGG

and better broadband for it to run online properly

BiGG_SMiGG
BiGG_SMiGG

i just wish i had a good graphics card, ill need to save for that aswell

BiGG_SMiGG
BiGG_SMiGG

I cant wait for this game, i want it so sos so so so so so so so so so badly, gonna need to do some serious savin up hahaha

evratto
evratto

This year I will need a special budget for so many good games.

lebman69
lebman69

This will KILL WoW! I hope it is a huge success! However there are alot of factors that remain limited. Does anyone really think these guys are going to make an entire galaxy in another year? I hope it all works out

reckeweg
reckeweg

I wasn't sure about this after ST:L, but the paragraph about being able to customize your starship sold me. I can't wait to meet othr Captains out in deep space and see what they come up with ship wise.

wurn
wurn

Bring, bring it now, this game should have been developed long time ago.

madman481
madman481

I just hope that they make a good star trek game out of it and that you can play single player as well as multiplayer

Hazzerz
Hazzerz

It really sounds like they have a good grasp on the series here. I'm feeling pretty confident we won't be playing another lame ass ST game when this hits.

JonnyHomicide
JonnyHomicide

This game looks freaking sweet. I hope they live up to what I read.

prayingmantis74
prayingmantis74

I hope they realize they hold the franchise in their hands. From what I've read, this could be the best Star Trek game ever. I hope they got it right, oh ,and who cares if it's a pay to play?. It will be worth it!!

jedinortd_basic
jedinortd_basic

i just want to be able to command the ship from the bridge, during battles or anything. I also want to be able to fully explore my ship ie be able to walk down every corridor, play in the holodeck, hang out at 10 forward, stuff like that

BloodMist
BloodMist

Well hey, it's sounding good so far.I played City of Heroes/Villains for quite a few months and always found it to be a very enjoyable game.Y'know a more simple, more action based type of MMO that got the combat quite right.And also, definitely has a very comic-book feel to it, even if it's not based on any established comic universe.So i'm sure they could certainly get the feel down.And they seem to be excited about making it very complex and Trek-like, obviously so, bring it on i say.

Desertdback
Desertdback

I have been watching Star Trek since the mid 80's I can't wait for this game to come out, because I have always dreamed of living in that world.

beanofengland
beanofengland

sounds good to me, i don't play MMOs because i'm sick of playing as elves, orks and crap, how many times will people get fun out of just watching two models bash eachother until one runs out of HP due to his stats being lower

Zarcon94
Zarcon94

That's not necessarily true Zee. They said they were making the game from scratch, and trying to follow the star trek layout. And EVE is mostly about mining not fighting. I'm hoping it'll have fighting akin to Legacy.

Zarcon94
Zarcon94

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

carnotrankine
carnotrankine

If this is pay as you go , the royalties that will be payed out are going to make this a very expensive game to play. I find that the people involved in the design may be able to put out a game,but not for the price that is to be asked .With out royalty payments it would be some what cheaper , but for really smooth play top end machines only .

Zee666
Zee666

So it's eve and tabula rasa in one, makh. Eve is aight but tabula rasa sucked, coupled with the the star trek universe this game can go nowhere but down. Graphics look awesome though.

Markush
Markush

If STO menage to make deep and complex gameplay like EvE online, then game will ROCK `couse of such beautiful and great graphic. So, it`s hard to beat EvE online gameplay but please do something like that, and I will play it, like eve...3 years till now

invictuslemming
invictuslemming

So long as it's nothing like City of Heroes, I'm sure I'll like it. I didn't even last the 30 days that came with that game. Dungeon at lvl1 looks like a clone of dungeon at max level. Wheeee. This game could be what SWG should have been, its got the fan base to make it an instant hit, if its done with some thought.

soulfulDAGGER
soulfulDAGGER

Well.....hopefully we won't have to go "collect 37 pieces of the shield generator crystals".... then "go see Spock"...then "go defeat 35 Klingons". If that's the case it ain't happenin'. Ain't no wy no how i''m doing that $%^& again after W.o.w and L.o.t.r.o

CptAlph
CptAlph

This title has the potential to be my favorite MMO of all time. (Aside from the fact that I just visited the traveling Star Trek museum exhibit and it renewed my love for all things Trek.) I've played quite a few online games, but everything starts to lose its sheen after a while. Although I enjoyed WoW, Guild Wars and Dungeon Runners, I couldn't avoid severe burnout on the whole high fantasy / sword-and-sorcery concept. (Age of Conan sounds fun, but I can't imagine staying for long.) Anarchy Online is sadly dated, EVE was a little boring, and all my friends ran screaming from Galaxies. The only other game I've enjoyed so far has been City of Heroes, but after a couple of years in Paragon, the spandex is starting to feel a little itchy. If Star Trek can deliver satisfying gameplay and depth, and can convincingly immerse us in the Trek universe, it could blow everything out of the sky! Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, indeed. I'm counting on you, Cryptic! When can we expect this to be released? I have to assume that the 12/31/08 date on Gamespot's top 10 list is an error.

Almorac
Almorac

I have to say I originally had mild interest in this game, but hearing that Cryptic is making it brings an entirely different story. City of Heroes and City of Villains are my two favorite MMOs, despite the fact that I don't play them much. All things considered, this game will probably be very good... Now if only NCSoft would improve their account services, which I despise.

jedimastermania
jedimastermania

yah slayer i wont disagree but there are already enough MMOs with the classic gameplay. Dont we need some new fresh ideas They can do it if they want Look at Age of Conan's combat system (which i like a lot i must say) it's fresh ideas and not the same thing as button bashing, u actually have to think that time ur attacks :) New and GOOD (ofc) ideas are always a plus/bonus

SlayerX13
SlayerX13

Jedi: Everything PE said was a pipe dream. Why would you want a company that made one failed MMO that never launched then went broke after getting the license for STO. They obviously didn't know what hey where doing. has PE ever even put out a game before.

leem2k1
leem2k1

I'm just going to post this once and save a lot of people a lot of trouble. The game will undoubtedly be pay to play. If you don't like that, then it's not the game for you.

Lokotor
Lokotor

if you have the option of swaping AI with offline crewmen then player run ships would b easy to accomplish (also the ppl with all player manned crews would be like those realy good guilds in WoW (Ex: SK gaming) and other ppl can just have AI run the ship for casual play.

punkdsk8erdude
punkdsk8erdude

too bad this isnt on 360. i wuda gotten it if it was

vaskaville
vaskaville

My guess the fee is going to be $400.00 a month LOL!

Donners22
Donners22

I wonder what sort of charge system they will be using. I would be interested, but don't like the idea of paying fees every month...

Bernie_au
Bernie_au

I just hope is not a shoot'em up like so many others. Star Trek was never that but mostly exploration, diplomacy, racial interaction and fighting ONLY as a last resort. Of course to accommodate mostly "young" people, combat could be customize in a way so they don't get bored. My point is Star Trek online should have the "TRUE" Star Trek flavor that we all love.

broom666
broom666

Please make this work on a Mac, Like WoW does. If they can make COD4 work on the Mac i am sure this can.....PLEASE!

Oni
Oni

How can they possibly make player run crews work, unless it's a special raid or party thing? I mean ... you'd have to wait for all your player controlled crew to log on before you could do any missions. Otherwise if you wanted to solo you'd be one guy controlling an entire bridge and the only person on the away team. lol