Recently we got a chance to sit down with Stephen Ricossa (Lead Producer on STO) and pick his brain on Star Trek Online’s 5th Anniversary and more besides.
Hello Stephen and thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! Let’s jump in.
MMOGames: What was it like to work with Garrett Wang, Ethan Phillips and the others on bringing their characters back to the fans with Delta Rising?
Stephen: It’s always an incredible experience to work with actors from any Star Trek series, but we’ve never had this many Trek actors record with us in such a short period of time. The team had most of the content completely built and just waiting for VO by the time the recordings took place and the team was excited to see how everything would mesh together. Ethan Phillips, Garrett Wang, Jeri Ryan, Tim Russ, and Robert Picardo fell right back into their character so easily; you could tell they really knew and understood the nuances of their roles. During recording the team was sneaking up to the door of our audio offices to listen to the session and record little snippets on their phones to share with people still at their desks. The excitement of signing the actors, recording them, and then getting them in game was definitely one of the highlights of the Delta Rising development cycle.
MMOGames: The U.S.S. Voyager can easily be said to have ruffled some feathers in its trek across the Delta Quadrant. Was it hard picking which stories and fallouts to feature first?
Stephen: It really was! We had known we wanted to use the Vaadwaur as our main foe since the story of their people so clearly mirrored the story we’ve been telling about the Iconians, so that choice was simple. But when it came to picking the species and stories we’d touch on or wrap up in the patrols and the adventure zone, those decisions were much more difficult. Everyone had a favorite episode or species or moment they wanted to see brought up, and even though we shipped with 11 new Delta Quadrant species there are still more we want to get to.
MMOGames: The new ships are gorgeous and sneaky, but what do they say about the Federation of the future?
Stephen: The Federation has proven in the past that when the going gets tough they’re willing to do what it takes to meet any challenge. The Defiant was built as a warship specifically designed to fight the Borg, and the combined threats of the Delta Quadrant required a new class of ship to give the Federation a tactical advantage. I feel the Federation of the future is working on the same principles as the Federation of the past, simply dealing with threats of a larger scope.
MMOGames: With the Automated Personnel Units featuring in Delta Rising and Exocomps (you have no idea how much I love them) around as bridge officers, STO is doing more to show artificial life than the shows have gotten to in a long time. How do you feel about your contribution to Star Trek there?
Stephen: Artificial life forms were thrust to the forefront with the introduction of Data, and pushed yet again with the growth of The Doctor as a sentient being. Introducing artificial characters not only allows us to bring yet another IP element to the game, but it brings along the story elements of some species not recognizing them as living beings. Having them in the game gives us so many interesting options we are always looking for interesting ways to integrate them into the game.
MMOGames: In the backyard of the Borg, the Hirogen, the place where species 8472 found out about this realm. The Delta Quadrant is a dangerous place. Will we ever see the Gamma Quadrant being considered as dangerous?
Stephen: Personally, DS9 is my favorite series and we definitely want to bring the Gamma Quadrant to life in the game at some point. It’s a place that was actually visited very little in the show and is ripe for us to tell some really exciting stories.
MMOGames: One of my favourite Voyager plots dealt with Captain Braxton and the timeships in Starfleet’s future. Any chance of them coming along to interfere in events?
Stephen: Before Captain Braxton’s arrest he was a quality officer, so if the Relativity makes another appearance in the game it may not be for the purposes of interference. There are all sorts of temporal threats and allies that we can introduce to the STO universe. We love the time travel aspect of Star Trek stories and look to incorporate it as often as we reasonably can.
MMOGames: Moving off topic for a moment, just for the Star Trek geek cred, any comments on Simon Pegg writing the next Star Trek movie?
Stephen: I’m a huge fan of all of Simon Pegg’s movies and the general tone he sets in all of them. He’s proven himself as a writer with each of his films, so I see no reason why the next Star Trek movie wouldn’t be as expertly written as any of his other scripts.
MMOGames: Back into the Delta Quadrant and all things STO, was the decision to raise the cap to 60 a hard one? Is another cap raising something we might expect in future expansions?
Stephen: Raising the level cap is a serious undertaking, and one that we knew we wanted to tackle for Delta Rising. It took a lot of planning and experimentation on the development side to get the feature to a point where we were ready to start implementing it across the game. We feel the end result was an excellent change and additional level cap changes are something the community can expect in the future.
MMOGames: Delta Rising has been with us now for a few months. What can we expect from future seasons?
Stephen: We feel that STO has grown a lot as a game, and we want to continue to push the envelope in order to continue to grow. We have some really fun plans for 2015 and beyond that we’ll be discussing in more detail as they get closer to release.
Thank you again Stephen for taking the time to answer us. For fans and interested parties, what do you have on your mind about Star Trek Onlines 5th Anniversary? Leave a comment below!Related: Anniversary, Developer, Interview, Star Trek Online