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Interview with Star Trek Online's Design Director

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the please-have-a-/khan- dept.

35

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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PVP and other MMOs (1)

Digitus1337 (671442) | more than 7 years ago | (#16080785)

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.

Re:PVP and other MMOs (1)

aleksiel (678251) | more than 7 years ago | (#16080843)

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.

Re:PVP and other MMOs (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16080903)

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:PVP and other MMOs (2, Insightful)

meglon (1001833) | more than 7 years ago | (#16084671)

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 PvE, and it's PvP was, at best, a dreamland for gankers.

I haven't tried WoW, although I can count. They have more PvE servers than PvP. I'd assume, they running the servers at a certain capacity, as opposed to having far more people on far fewer PvP servers... so it'd follow that there's more PvE players.

With Eve, the only option for non-pvp content is to stay in high-sec(security) space. One of the most common complaints from the pvpers is: there's so few people in low-sec space; the reason given by high-sec's: gankers. If CCP would come out with an alternate server cluster that was PvE only, I'd guess that CCP would find itself with well more than double it's current player base. When you cancel Eve, one of the specific choices of "reasons" is: pvp. Obviously it's a downside for a significant number of people who trial the game.

Any PvE game could be describe to be "You'll be able to adventure and have fun, but only WITH friends. Not against them." and they sell fine. If you can do both in one game, and do them well, you'll have a hit.. but that's extreemly difficult because of the differing mindsets of the two groups.

It's hard to fathom a game that will come close to WoW's marketshare, although it was hard to fathom a game that could come close to EQ's marketshare when they had 500k subscribers. I don't think being PvP will be the defining requirement for any game to come to that, i think it'll simple have to be a good, solid, well developed game and a vast game world.

Peace does sell... it just has to be good peace.

Re:PVP and other MMOs (2, Informative)

The Night Watchman (170430) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081401)

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:PVP and other MMOs (2, Informative)

elFarto the 2nd (709099) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081414)

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 ship, if you insured it and it hasn't run out.

Regards
elFarto

Re:PVP and other MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16086526)

Incorrect.

Eve has either no PVE or very little to speak of. Thats why they rely on PVP to keep customers. TBH with ya, even Guild Wars has better PVE than Eve and GW doesnt even charge a monthly fee nor does it advertise itself as a PVE game. tbh.

I'm interested to see how much PVP and PVE exists in Star Trek Online. Sounds like it'll have far more content than Eve already.

Attracting the WOW and SIMS crowd (2, Insightful)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#16080809)

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?

Re:Attracting the WOW and SIMS crowd (1)

grondak (80002) | more than 7 years ago | (#16080897)

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.

Re:Attracting the WOW and SIMS crowd (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16082182)

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.

TP!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16080849)

Third post.
 
Or, if not, Toilet Paper

Klingon Faction (4, Funny)

HugePedlar (900427) | more than 7 years ago | (#16080927)

Rah! Today is a good day to______

[ERROR - Connection err.. Timeout--]

Coax the Majhong/Solitaire crowd instead (0, Flamebait)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081039)

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 coaxing the Majhong/Solitaire crowd instead?

Re:Coax the Majhong/Solitaire crowd instead (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081247)

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.

Re:Coax the Majhong/Solitaire crowd instead (1)

Kazzahdrane (882423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081761)

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.

Restil (1)

Restil (31903) | more than 7 years ago | (#16086384)

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 practice them. Nothing in life is Black and White. You have to have a ethical foundation to stand on, or society will collapse into chaos, but it's probably unrealistic to expect that society as a whole will always exclusively stand by those same ideals.

I liked the darker themes presented by the later shows. We've been shown the best The Federation and Starfleet has to offer. We see how peachy the future is going to be. But there IS an underworld, and there are lots of shades of grey. There exist those who would sell out their entire race to obtain a little more power. This theme has been demonstrated over and over in the history of our world, and it proves to continue to exist in the future as well.

-Restil

Doubtful. (1)

shinma (106792) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081043)

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.

flexiblity (1)

treak007 (985345) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081123)

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:flexiblity (2, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081309)

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".

Saw this problem before (4, Interesting)

DG (989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081643)

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

Re:flexiblity (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081714)

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.

Only federation means its a dead duck (3, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081572)

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.

LEGO Star Wars Online!!! (1)

Criceratops (981909) | more than 7 years ago | (#16082352)

... would be so much more cool than Star Wars Online, yano. I'd sure play it. My most favorite LEGO minifig (besides classic space spacemen) is their rendition of Darth Vader...

Feature idea: On a crewed ship? Play a 'shift'. (2, Interesting)

lunchlady55 (471982) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081593)

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...

Will it attract only fans? (1)

Pancake Bandit (987571) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081597)

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 maybe roleplay) in the Star Trek universe.

Star Wars' MMO had it easier because almost everyone is familiar with the movies, and it doesn't have such a "geek" stigma associated with it.

Re:Will it attract only fans? (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081725)

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 out even though I'll probably get sick of it after the trial period, but other Trek nuts may find themselves converted.

Ensign down! (2, Funny)

SocialEngineer (673690) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081604)

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!

Oh the HORROR!!! (3, Funny)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#16081776)

[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.

Blog spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16082056)

Great, of all the things /. could be importing from digg, its blog spam.

How about a link to the original article [firingsquad.com] ?

Still too early? its been 2 years! (2, Insightful)

aztektum (170569) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Far too late (1)

monopole (44023) | more than 7 years ago | (#16083593)

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 would be great. DS9 also has the advantage of fielding runabouts that many players would be capable of flying without rising to the rank of captian.
Of course my ultimate trek game is still a multiple lan party online game. Each lan party is a ship, forming bridge and engineering etc. (Imagine a lan party with everybody sporting dual screens arranged in a bridge layout with a projector for the main screen.) The online component would manage interaction of separate ships. This would be perfect, in that most ship to ship interaction would be either communications between ships or renders of the ships and sensor data. For non-landing party stories this would be perfect.

Re:Far too late (1)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16086529)

That would be cool... ...

Of course that means it will never occur to them to do it.

The Dahlgren's the Man (1)

TheGreatGraySkwid (553871) | more than 7 years ago | (#16083985)

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 on his credentials alone.

Okuda working on TOS "remastering" (1)

istewart (463887) | more than 7 years ago | (#16085867)

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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