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Interview with Star Trek Online's Design Director 35

Posted by Hemos
from the please-have-a-/khan- dept.
eldavojohn writes "In a brief QJ article about STO, the Glen Dahlgren (Design Director of Star Trek Online) mentions a few details about STO:
Dahlgren insists that it's still too early to reveal the game's specifics and in-depth details, but tells that players will be able to choose whether to group in space or join a crewed ship. Gamers will also be able to fly more powerful ships and vessels and the captain will have some incredible abilities that players will surely look forward to. He also reveals that they are currently working on ensuring that new players will get the help they need when faced with unfamiliar terrain. There won't be auto-leveling of characters but they will provide tools to make off-line time valuable to the online experience.
What makes this interesting is that there have been a lot of indicators that STO will be aiming to achieve 'high-end content' and not just combat content. It's becoming obvious that MMO's new to the scene need to offer consumers more than just combat content. Will STO be able to coax both the Sims Online and World of Warcraft crowds?"
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Interview with Star Trek Online's Design Director

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  • It will almost certainly draw attention from players of http://www.eve-online.com/ [eve-online.com]. From the reading I've done, PVP is going to be holodeck-only (thinkg Battlegrounds), and players will not be able to play as any faction other than the Federation. WoW (and EVE to a lesser extent) has done well in major part because of the tensions between alliance and horde players, and their ability to fight when they run into each other, without the need to queue up or to flag.
    • by aleksiel (678251)
      without the need to queue up or to flag.

      only on pvp servers. on others, the scope of pvp is greatly reduced. players basically have the ability to pick whether they want to have world pvp.
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      In other words: Peace doesn't sell.

      The way that you describe it, STO will be an single-player game with other people. You'll be able to adventure and have fun, but only WITH friends. Not against them. While this appeals to, the market has shown that it alone will not attract most people. There needs to be head-to-head competition. Unless of course they never want to reach WoW's marketshare.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by meglon (1001833)
        While my MMO gaming experience is a bit limited (i didn't jump on every bandwagon to go by); 6 years of EQ, a little CoH, very little DAoC, Guild Wars, Realms, and Eve; it seems that when players are given the option of PvP vs. PvE, the majority will go for PvE.

        At EQ's peak, with almost 50 servers, only 4 servers were PvP, and those 4 servers were consistanly in the bottom 5-8 servers for players online (prior to Sony eliminating the ability to see that distinction). Admittedly, EQ was designed to be Pv
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Actually, Perpetual does plan to offer PvP outside of the holodeck. Details are sparse, but it is a priority.

      From the Gameplay FAQ [perpetual.com]:

      Will there be player vs. player combat?

      Yes. Although PvP is not the primary means of advancement, we are considering several different PvP opportunities. The holodeck will offer a large array of configurable dueling and arena scenarios, and though we're committed to providing PvP gameplay outside the holodeck, we are not yet ready to share specific plans.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      The PvP in Eve is about as far away from the holodeck you could possibly get. You have the chance to lose your ship, some/all of the modules install on the ship (the surviving ones will be dropped in a 'jetcan' next to your ship, so will probably be taken by the person who just killed you). Also if your clone isn't up-to-date you have a chance to lose skill points when/if your capsule (escape pod) gets blown up, which take real time to aquire.

      The only thing you get if your killed, is the insurance for your

  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7&kc,rr,com> on Monday September 11, 2006 @10:37AM (#16080809) Homepage
    If the game is mundane and simplex enough to attract your average SIMs players its going to be too mundane for ST fans. The WOW would be fine but they already have their "communities" so why change? It's kind of funny that the biggest franchises in the movie world seem to create the biggest flops in online ones. Look at Matrix online (which sounded like pure mecca for geeks) or Star Wars galaxies. It just looks like some things are better left to the imagination.

    If you play a borg does one of the other borgs make all the gameplay decisions for you?
    • by grondak (80002)
      If you play a borg does one of the other borgs make all the gameplay decisions for you?

      Welcome to Slashdot, where The Collective won't let you live down a mistake, even in a joke.
    • As cool as it could end up being, there's no way it could draw the majority of such people, simply because I doubt any casual player will be willing to say they play a Star Trek game, and of course the fact that I doubt a Star Trek game will have much to offer casual players. However, since there's already tons of trekkies out there I'm sure getting a decent sized player base from that shouldn't be too difficult as long as they don't screw up as bad as Star Wars Galaxies did.
  • by HugePedlar (900427) on Monday September 11, 2006 @10:51AM (#16080927) Homepage
    Rah! Today is a good day to______

    [ERROR - Connection err.. Timeout--]
  • It's becoming obvious that MMO's new to the scene need to offer consumers more than just combat content. Will STO be able to coax both the Sims Online and World of Warcraft crowds?

    Given that Star Trek is 40 years old, that there hasn't been a decent series on the air in 10 years, that the movies have sucked since ST6 (15 years ago?) and that a lot of young geeks are jerking off to Star Wars instead of Star Trek these days, I'd say the target audience for Star Trek in 2006 is pretty grey. So, why not try

    • Exactly. I'm more identifying with Harry Mudd these days than James T.

      Fembots, bring me some Romulan ale. Kirk, get the FU** OFF MY PLANET and leave me in peace. Beer! Now. And some of them little cheesy horse duvers with the bar-b-que coctail weenies on top, that'd be real nice.
    • In your opinion. I loved Voyager, and after giving Enterprise a chance and watching it all through I thought it was pretty good. Star Trek Online is the ONLY MMORPG I'm at all watching these days - WoW was great but I just got tired of it after 6 months or so. That might well happen again with STO but it might be fun for a while. As long as they get Robert Picardo in to provide the voice for the EMH.
    • by Restil (31903)
      TNG and voyager promoted the concept that you must stick to your ethics and morality, for that is ultimately the only way to win. Many of the episodes, and "First Contact" and "Inssurection" movies specifically delt with that issue. DS9, specifically such episodes of "In the Pale Moonlight", "Blaze of Glory", "Extreme Measures" and all the Section 31 episodes show another side of the issue, where sometimes it's necessary to defy those ethics and morals in order to preserve the environment in which you can
  • I doubt it will pull any appreciable numbers away from WoW.

    For one thing, there's a large number of WoW gamers that aren't traditional geeks, and wouldn't be interested in something as "nerdy" as a Star Trek MMO (I know, I know, but they insist that WoW isn't geeky), and a great percentage that are dorks, but are fantasy dorks.

    Then there's people like me, who just think that the design decisions they've made sound boring.
  • Hopefully, the game will not be too restrictive as to what a player can do. People are going to want to play as Klingons and such, but people must also remember that Star Trek is not WOW. In WoW, Hoard and Alliance are mortal enemies that kill on site. In Star Trek, delicate relationships are kept. One side attacking the other could provoke a war between two sides. I guess it comes down to how the game creators deal with these more delicate natures.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I'll be happy if it doesn't take 8 months for me to get to a high enough level that Starfleet Academy lets me set my phaser on a setting higher than "5 shots to kill a rat^H^H^Htribble".

      • by DG (989) * on Monday September 11, 2006 @12:12PM (#16081643) Homepage Journal
        Oh so many moons ago, myself and my buddies were pretty heavily into FASA's Star Trek Starship Combat Simulator, a boardgame/wargame similar to Star Fleet Battles. (this is paper, dice, and lead figure stuff kids)

        FASA also had a Star Trek RPG that tied into the wargame, so I picked it up to see what it was like. We tried playing it a few times, using mostly FASA's own modules.

        For those used to D&D style hack'n'slash, it was a real adjustment adapting to the Star Trek universe. Combat encounters were invariably quick and *lethal* - a phaser (or similar weapon) set to kill - well, it KILLS. Zap, dead, done. Getting into firefights with the bad guys was a sure road to terminal casulties.

        The FASA module designers were cognisant of this, and their modules tried very hard to provide a myriad of non-combat resoulutions to problems and puzzles. But that placed demands on players to do a lot more thinking, follow the story with much more attention to detail, and role-play very intensely.

        In the end, it was just too much of a commitment to be successful, and we reverted back to pure starship combat.

        While well done and well thought out, it just didn't support casual gameplay very well. Anybody can join in on a dungeon crawl at a moment's notice and with little preparation. Attempting to solve a murder mystery wrapped in a diplomatic puzzle takes a whole lot more work.

        I'm curious to see how the game designers intend to handle this problem - and I sure hope it isn't via "5 shots to kill a tribble".

        DG
    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      You have a point. Actually I was thinking that SG1 would make more sense.
      Small teams so no need to work your way up from assistant transporter washer.
      Lots of races as options.
      Very open ended.
      Would make a good WOW sci-fi competitor.
  • by cliffski (65094) on Monday September 11, 2006 @12:04PM (#16081572) Homepage
    Im fairly high on the trek geek scale. I use a klingon daqh-tagh knife to open letters with. But I doubt I'll play this. Why?

    federation only.

    They offer up excuses, but basically its so they can cash in with race-specific expansion packs.
    I'd love to be a Jem hadar,Ferengi or a klinogn, but federation? yawnsville.
    LucasArts have the right idea, their new lego game covers all 3 original movies in one game, plus its actuaklly fun.
    I cant see trek online lasting long.
  • You know what might be nice? Assinged shifts on the crewed vessels. So say, once a week from 4:30P - 5:30P you should log on for your "shift", or risk an insubordiantion on your record. Of course, with the time-intensive nature of MMORPG's it may not be a healthy feature, (few will want the 'graveyard' shifts) but none the less interesting. IMHO...
  • The problem that I see with Star Trek Online is that it may only attract fans of the series. A lot of people pick up WoW without caring at all about the environment or stories, just wanting a hack and slash game. Star Trek has always been about diplomacy and character interaction before fighting. Unless Star Trek can offer something amazing and new (the big thing is their crew system), it won't be able to expand its user base beyond fans of the series who are drawn to the game for the chance to explore (and
    • On the other hand, this will definitely interest a number of Star Trek fans who aren't into commercial MMOs otherwise. I don't doubt there are many Trek fans who either haven't taken any interest the genre before or, like myself, actively dislike it. Still, as a veteran player of Trek stuff ranging from the linear console and PC games of the past to more involved stuff like tabletop and chat-based RPGing, I'm quite willing to pony up for a chance to play around on a virtual Starfleet vessel. I'll try it
  • by SocialEngineer (673690) <invertedpanda@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday September 11, 2006 @12:08PM (#16081604) Homepage

    I always thought Star Trek would make a great MMO - why? When the ensign dies, he can respawn and nobody will question it, because nobody cares about poor little ensign Ricky.

    ... KHAAAAAAAN!

  • by steveo777 (183629) on Monday September 11, 2006 @12:28PM (#16081776) Homepage Journal
    [Computer]
    You have contracted Wesley Crusher.

    You: Ah crap, evasive action!!!

    [Computer]
    Wesley has screwed up your ship. Please wait one episode for the problem to rectify itself.

    You: Well, needed a bathroom break anyway.
  • by aztektum (170569) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:26PM (#16083464)
    i hope they mean it's still too early to talk gameplay because marketing doesn't want to let anything slip yet. it's been 2 years since they announced the game. if it's still too early because they don't have anything designwise firmly in place, this game won't see the light of day anytime soon.
  • Back to the point of DS9 the trek universe would have been perfect for a MMO game due to the consistency of the series and the strong naval discipline. But as B&B savaged the franchise, incorporating more and more inconsistencies and weak characters the potential for a game dropped.
    An old school pre-B&B game with a lot of exploration options, and some "cold war" level conflict would be excellent. A DS9 style game with lots of interaction in the alpha quadrant and conflict in the gamma quadrant woul
  • Glen Dahlgren was Lead Designer on the sadly under-promoted and underrated FPS game Wheel Of Time (based on the series of the same name by Robert Jordan), which had defensive aspects to the Multiplayer game that are still unparalleled in the genre. He's a really nice guy and an excellent developer (IMNSHO). Only a fraction of his original vision [archive.org] for that game was realized [archive.org], but it foretold many things that would later be integrated into MMO games. If I were an MMO player, I'd certainly be picking this up
  • Michael Okuda was one of the design consultants on this game, and seemed to be pretty heavily into it. Now they've announced that he's also leading the production team on the new CGI versions of the original series. It seems like they are doing those in a fairly compressed timeframe, meaning that most of his time will probably be devoted to TOS rather than this game... and the game's quality, production schedule, or both will end up suffering.

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