Star Trek Online is 2010's first big MMO launch (February 5 is the date) and yet, we haven't had a chance to lock the development team in a room and go nerd mental. Until now.
While he was probably too afraid to actually speak to us in a real, physical manor, lead designer, Al Rivera did agree to answer some of our obsessive queries via electronic mail.
Get the shower going, because after reading these fanatical words you're going to feel dirty.
Why have we had to wait so long for a Star Trek MMO? Star Wars has had Galaxies for years.
As a fan I could not agree with you more on the question. I am not sure I can speculate on the details of the license before Cryptic Studios started working on the project. What I can tell you is that when we heard the license was available, we knew it had huge potential and we couldn't wait to get work on it.
A LOT of research must have gone into the game. Have you worked with the license-holder at all to ensure the game's authenticity?
We have a very close working relationship with the license holder - CBS. They review everything from story, to character and ship models, and everything in-between. But honestly, CBS has rejected very little. Once in a while they will comment that a ship's nacelles are too low, or we can't use a certain character for some reason. The simple fact is we have some huge Star Trek fans working here that are relentless at research and fact checking, so it's never been an issue. With the vastness of Trek lore, the real problem is deciding what not to represent in the game.
In the very first 'Ask Cryptic' posted a year ago, Craig Zinkevich mentioned that the universe in STO will be 'dynamic' and not static, but we have not had any information released on that aspect of the game. Can you describe a little more in detail how the universe will be dynamic?
There is both static and dynamic content in the STO. The static content is what you might expect - including instanced content and open zones and raids. But we also have what we call Star Clusters. Star Clusters are a part of the exploration content of STO. They provide endless procedurally generated combat and non-combat missions for both ground and space.
Assuming this game will receive expansions and level cap extensions, why did Cryptic opt to include the rank of 'Admiral' at launch? What comes after 'Admiral' (which is basically seen in Star Trek as being a desk job) in future expansions, and why not include Commodore or have 'Captain' be level cap at launch?
In STO, Admiral is certainly not a desk job. But to answer the question, there are 5 ranks of Admiral, from Rear Admiral to Fleet Admiral, so there is plenty of room for progression.
Is there a 'reputation' system in place that either grants you bonuses with specific NPC factions, or even a 'global reputation' system that dictates whether you are law abiding or a criminal?
Yes, but only with your own faction. Federation earn Merit, and Klingons earn Honor. It's a reputation currency you earn and you can redeem for things like new Bridge Officers. Note, this is not the primary economy of the game.
The Federation is made up of many 'member' races each with their own separate naval police forces. Will players ever get a chance to acquire some of these member race-specific ships? The question also applies to the Klingon Faction, will Klingon players get to play Gorn, Orion, or Nausican ships in addition to the traditional Klingon bottomnal?