We recently got a chance to chat to Cryptic's Craig Zinkievich about the Star Trek Online launch, and future plans for this giant of an MMO license. We're still finding the game pretty compelling - especially with a good group to play with - but it's hard to deny the game has issues.
Here's what he has to say...
Atomic: Now that the game's out, what's the mood on the STO dev team like?
Craig Zinkievich: Everyone's relieved that the game has finally made it to shelves, and we're getting some real, live feedback from people across the globe. We're also very excited for this next chapter of development that is currently underway, where we're working on a live game, making new content, and trying our best to get that feedback from our fans into the game.
A: Has the game shaped up as you wanted it?
CZ: I would say the game has shaped up how we've wanted it so far. This being an MMO and there being so much lore and history in the Star Trek IP that there is still a whole lot we want to add in. We're definitely not done shaping.
A: There's a lot of positive sounding players in in-game chat, but there's also a lot of complaints on the STO forums, especially regarding the quest system and the prevalence of "kill x of Y" type missions. Are there plans to introduce a more varied quest structure?
CZ: Well, bear in mind we have Episode missions, which are quite varied and go beyond the standard "X of Y" missions. We'll definitely be adding more of those to the game as time goes on, as well as more varied missions of all types. That's not to say missions that demand you exercise your tactical abilities will go away, but we do plan on giving players a lot to do as time goes on.
A: Similarly, while players - and I'm one of them - tend to love the starship based stuff, many dislike and avoid ground missions. Will ground-based quests receive an overhaul at any point?
CZ: Yes! We will be working on ground missions to get them up to par with space. We want to take all aspects of gameplay and continually make it better. So, yes that means working on ground missions to make those better and more engaging, but also delivering better improved gameplay across the board.
A: The Klingon element of the game also came under a lot of scrutiny. Are there plans to make Klingon play a richer experience?
CZ: Originally, we designed Klingon gameplay to complement Federation gameplay, but our players have voiced their desire to more fully enjoy the Klingon faction. So we're working in that direction. We'll be adding more Klingon PvE content very soon, and we're opening up endgame Special Task Forces to Klingon players, as well.
A: Where there any elements that simply didn't make it in to the launch version of the game?
CZ: Here and there, sure, but it was mostly little stuff. Obviously, as a game developer you always want more time to do things before the game releases, but in a realistic environment, you plan for the time you have. We're happy that we got most of what we wanted into the game at launch, and then some. We were able to push a bit and get ship bridges in at launch, which originally we hadn't planned.
As for other stuff, the great thing about creating an MMO is that if it's something that you liked but for whatever reason couldn't get it in at launch, you can revisit that idea and implement it later down the road.