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Al Rivera Talks Star Trek Online

With the closed beta finally live, we thought it was time to ask some questions about the way Star Trek Online was evolving and changing before release. We tracked down lead designer Al Rivera and grilled him about Klingons, crafting, future races, and more. Read on.We’re just starting to see more about the Klingon side of Star Trek Online – up until now the story has been pretty much told from the Federation point of view. What can we expect to learn about playing the game from the Klingon side in the upcoming months?Klingon gameplay revolves more around PvP – both within themselves, but primarily with Starfleet along the Neutral Zone. There are planets and points of interest to encounter, raids, and some special missions, but for launch, Klingon play is more about social gameplay than story driven content.There are almost 40 Federation vessels for players to choose from. Will there be a similar number of Klingon ships?First, let me be clear, there are 16 Federation ship configurations. Each configuration allows the player to customise from the parts of three different ships – for instance, the first ship you get is a Lt. Cruiser, and you can customise it from the parts of a Miranda, a Centaur, and a ShiKahr (something new we introduced to the IP). So technically, there are 48 Starfleet ship models in the game, but there are 16 playable configurations (five Escorts, five Cruisers, five Science Vessels, and one starting Lt. Cruiser).Klingon ship progression is slightly different. You can advance through five different Birds of Prey: four Raptors, three Battle Cruisers (like the Vor’cha and the Negh’Var) and one Carrier. You start in a Bird of Prey. When you gain a new rank, you can choose to advance into the next tier Bird of Prey, or instead choose a Raptor. At the next rank, you can choose from the next Bird of Prey, next Raptor, or choose the Battle Cruiser… and so on. Altogether, there are 13 Klingon ship configurations.  There is slightly less overall configuration than Starfleet, but there are more high-end ships to choose from.We haven’t heard much about crafting in STO. What can you tell us about it?There are two forms of crafting in STO, but they are a little less traditional. Throughout the game you are crafting Bridge Officers. You will acquire new Bridge Officers, skill them up, and train them in new skills. You can train them in several ways, including training skill, finding other Bridge Officers to train them, or acquiring data resources to train them at planet Memory Alpha. You can then trade Bridge Officers to other players, or transfer them back to Starfleet for reputation.There is also a harvesting feature in STO where you collect a number of different resources throughout the universe (both in space and on planet surfaces).  These resources can be used to unlock special recipes for new items at Memory Alpha.How much of the game would you say is spent in your ship and how much as your actual character on away missions or in star bases?For missions, it’s probably around 60% space, 40% ground.  This changes a lot depending upon what kind of missions you are pursuing.{PAGE TITLE=Al Rivera Talks Star Trek Online Page 2}Do you intend for there to be other playable factions added at a later date or will there always just be two? The Borg would be an awesome faction to play…There is no shortage of ideas from the IP.  Certainly, we have considered Romulan, Borg, Dominion and more. We are not committed to anything specific at this time – we’re just focusing on Federation and Klingons right now.What actually happens to your ship when you are defeated in battle?You will suffer a death penalty – we are iterating on that now, but it will likely involve loss of some crewmen, and damage to some of your items. However, you don’t lose your ship.  You can respawn at the last unlocked respawn point.What can players look forward to at end game once the levelling portion has been done? Assuming you already have a pretty good ship, what else will there be to do?STO is a skill based system, so you can continue to advance your character’s skills, as well as your Bridge Officers Skills. Your Bridge Officers and their skills can vary greatly, so training them and giving them new seating assignments in new ships really changes your gameplay. You can basically re-invent yourself just by changing ships and Bridge Officer skills. You will be able to acquire the resources you need to accomplish this by playing end-game PvP, raids, and endless procedurally-generated exploration of Star Cluster content.The game is based 30 years after ‘Star Trek Nemesis’, so many characters from the films or TV series will still be alive. Who can we expect to bump into, if any, and will any original actors lend their voices to the game?You’ll see a few – friend and foe alike – but more often you will interact with many of their children and other relatives.Champions Online launched recently and, after a couple of early hiccups, the game seems to be doing very well. Did you learn anything from the launch?Since we share the same code base, we have been able to benefit from all the performance enhancements and stability that has been put into the core engine. This has really given us a head start. Cryptic also feels very strongly about listening to its community, so the feedback Champions players are given are considered for all our titles.The latest Star Trek film created an alternate timeline so we assume that future films, possibly TV series too, will be based in that timeline. Do you think STO marks the end of story-telling in the ‘Prime’ universe?I don’t believe that. Comics and Novels continue to come out about the Prime Universe. Events in STO take place in the Prime Universe, but our back history starts from the events in the last movie and the Star Trek Countdown comic. The fiction of STO in the Prime Universe is rich and deep and anything can happen. I don’t think it was an accident that the last movie left both timelines separate and intact, but if you are asking me if we will ever see the Prime Universe on screen or on TV, you’ll have to ask CBS.

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