STO interview with Executive Producer Craig Zinkievich

We had an opportunity to get an interview with STO Executive Producer Craig Zinkievich.

Released date : 2010.03.10

JOL: What is the current state of the game? Can we have your first evaluation and differences between the initial project and reality of the game at launch? What is the number of the first subscribers?

Craig: We’re in a pretty good place right now. We’re a month after launch and about to release our first major update, Season One: Common Ground. It’s going to feature some new ships, new content and all sorts of fixes for the game. I can’t tell you the exact number of subscribers, but we’re very happy on that front.

JOL: In the same idea, what went right and wrong with launch? Any big surprises? or big disappointments?

Craig: We were definitely surprised by the number of people who were interested in the game, especially during open beta. We had to do some emergency infrastructure upgrades to ensure people could play smoothly. Since then, things have been very stable, but like any MMO launch, the servers got hammered pretty hard.

JOL: What new content players can expect in the coming months?

Craig: Right now, we’re focusing a lot on our upcoming major update, Season One: Common Ground. That’s going to include new Special Task Force missions, a new Klingon ship, some new cosmetic stuff in the C-Store, off duty uniforms, new Star Clusters to explore and more. From there, we want to continually roll out content as weeks and months go by, as well as prepare for Season Two, which will come later this year.

JOL: About the subscriber survey, we can say that all choices are relevant for the future of the game. Does the main purpose of that survey is to give priorities on their development, or just to eliminate some of them that have not enough votes?

Craig: It was both to determine exactly who our fans are, as well as get a barometer on what they think about different parts of the game, as well as their priorities in-game. We found on a number of questions, people’s opinions were spread out evenly, but on some, there was a pretty big majority opinion. For example, 59% of the people who responded said their favorite part of the game was space combat. That’s good news! However, 34% of people said they weren’t happy with how Memory Alpha works right now. That lets us know we’ve got something to look at there.

JOL: A great work has been done on the background of the game and the Star Trek Universe, but for the most part of missions and episodes, many players feel just like being "soldiers"... Do you have plans to include more diplomacy to solve conflicts?

Craig: We’re moving more in that direction. The thing to remember is in 2409, the galaxy is in open conflict, so much of what worked years before when there was relative peace between the major factions in the Alpha Quadrant won’t work now. The Klingons, specifically, aren’t very interested in talking. But our users do want more non-combat missions and gameplay options, so it’s something we’re looking into. We want to make it something that’s as interesting and engaging as combat, which is something few MMOs have accomplished, so we’re blazing some trails here. It’s not going to be an immediate thing, but it should be very exciting.

JOL: What is coming next at the C-Store?

Craig: We’ll be adding some new Federation and Klingon bridge layouts, as well as a respec option for players who want to change their character’s skills around. Later on we’ll be adding some cosmetic ship variants for players to enjoy, too.

JOL: Visiting our bridge is not really exciting at the moment... What is the plan to develop this important feature in a persistent game?

Craig: We’re internally tinkering with ways to make the bridge more than a social area, as we mentioned before launch. We wanted to get bridges in for players, and then work on making them a gameplay element further down the line. We’re exploring that now.

JOL: If there are new factions in game, will they appear like Klingons, with a new slot for the character and, with a PvP mode?

Craig: We consider PvP to be a very important gameplay option, so any new faction we include will likely have a PvP component, just like the Federation and Klingons do now. But right now, we’re focused on Starfleet and the KDF and not talking about new factions just yet.

JOL: Can we say that STO is not for the "crafters" and that there is no way to introduce some sort of crafting system in those future times?

Craig: I think there’s always ways to implement new features into any game. It’s just a matter of finding something that works with the game, with the IP and is fun. If you look at the series, there’s always someone in Engineering working improving something or creating a new piece of technology, so it definitely fits into the future. As I mentioned before, Memory Alpha is something we’re looking at presently, too.

JOL: Do you always want to work on possible holodeck feature such as player made missions or other specific activity in game?

Craig: User generated content is something we’re interested in exploring, but we’re not the only group involved in that. CBS, who controls the Star Trek IP, would have to sign off on anything that goes into the game. When it’s stuff we submit to them, it’s one thing, but dropping thousands of user-created missions on them would create quite a backlog to say the least. But we’re brainstorming things we can do with a holodeck that players will get a lot out of.

JOL: Many thanks Craig!

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