This week we sat down with Star Trek Online’s Lead Producer, Steve Ricossa and discussed the new season eight update. Check out the interview after the cut.
Q: Hi Steve! Thanks for taking the time out to answer a few questions. First, let me congratulate you on getting Season Eight of Star Trek Online out. The first question should be a fairly common one anyway. For the readers, can you just tell us who you are as well as your role in Cryptic and with Star Trek Online?
A: My name is Steve Ricossa and I’m the Lead Producer for Star Trek Online. I produce the content, environment, and systems teams while also collaborating on all of our features. Generally, I ensure that everything is getting tracked, reviewed, and shipped for the game.
Q: Could you give us a brief summary of the new season eight update and what it offers to the players?
A: Season 8 is full of exciting new content and rewards that we’re looking forward to the whole community enjoying! Our featured content takes place in a Dyson Sphere overflowing with enemy Voth and dangerous Omega Particles. Players will form a joint task force with their opposing factions in order to explore its advanced technology and to keep the Voth from collecting Omega Particles.
The content varies from general exploration, to assaulting the largest ship in Star Trek history, to combating over Dyson Sphere locations, to engaging in an all out ground war with the Voth! All of this content is great, but what really makes this season sing are the rewards. We have a brand new reputation with an all new, alt friendly way progress. This Dyson Reputation is full of top tier ground and space sets that will really allow players to up their game against the Voth. Players in fleets can create and improve a Dyson Spire that unlocks whole suites of gear, ships, and cosmetic upgrades.
Q: So a Dyson Sphere, a shell around a star, is the setting of the new update and also the object of one of the biggest new features, the Space Adventure Zone. How has this been designed, considering the space limitations a sphere around a star should have, and what activities can we expect to encounter and do in the sphere?
A: It was an immense artistic undertaking to get the Dyson Sphere interior looking the way we liked. Our environment lead Sam Wall spear headed the R&D of this location, and we had multiple art reviews for weeks before it was finally in a place where we really felt that it sold the location. The play space itself is incredibly expansive, roughly three times the size of one of our standard sector maps, which also provided its own unique set of challenges and opportunities.
There are specific regions in each of the two space adventure zones that provide gameplay themed to their unique locations. You’ll be repelling Voth invasions, helping alliance ships, transporting cargo through dangerous locations, and generally learning about the technological marvel that is the Dyson Sphere.
Q: Of course with the inclusion of the space within the sphere, there is the surface itself. What does the surface of the Dyson Sphere offer and, I must ask, can you tell us what the redacted things were in the battlezone update, or would it be better if I jumped in and found out for myself?
A: The surface of the Dyson Sphere plays host to a brand new type of gameplay in STO, the battle zone. This battle zone pits the Voth against the alliance in an all-out territory control ground war, where taking over parts of the map gets everyone that much closer to triggering the final enemy encounter.
The end goal is for the alliance to take control of unstable Omega Particles, the redacted portions of our blogs. These particles are far too dangerous to harness, yet the Voth are attempting to utilize their power. The explanation I can give here really can’t convey how much fun this zone is, you really need to get in there and check it out yourself!
Q: The inclusion of the Voth as a new enemy makes a lot of sense considering the Dyson Sphere. They are one of the more technologically advanced, and technologically inquisitive races in Star Trek, albeit have never been one of the more prominent. Do you have plans for them to take a big role in STO from here on out?
A: The Voth fit into the story we’re building for 2014, and as you said their presence in the Dyson Sphere makes sense. In order for the Voth to be impressed by technology it needs to be incredibly advanced, and this sphere fits the bill. The Voth already have a huge technological advantage, and if they managed to integrate sphere tech with their own their advantage may become insurmountable.
We wanted to take what we saw in Voyager, extrapolate on it and make one of our best enemy groups out of it which I feel we did. The Voth will definitely fit into our plans for the future, though at this point I’ll be keeping them under wraps.
Q: One of the things I am always curious about is if there is anything within a new update to appeal to new players and draw them in?
A: This update features something that will definitely appeal to our newest players. We’ve completely updated and revamped our Federation tutorial, making it faster and easier than ever to get into the game. You begin as a graduating cadet and through skill, nerve, and guile you will prove yourself worthy of the captain’s chair. Once there, you’ll have two new small episodes to complete where you cement your role as a commanding officer and earn your commission and ship in Starfleet.
Along the way you will meet your bridge crew, most importantly Elisa Flores. She’s tough, smart, funny, and has just enough punch to keep things interesting. She’ll be your first bridge officer and will have plenty to say on your adventure through the tutorial. In the end this new tutorial feels more trek, introduces players to the game in a clearer way, and more smoothly transitions players into the flow of the actual game.
Q: Ever since Season Six, a year and a half ago, Fleets have taken a strong focus. This is understandable because your current community is in their fleets and keeping them happy and involved is the best way. Has anything been included in this season to further improved the fleets and being in a fleet?
A: We really want to keep giving our fleets new challenges to meet and new gear to earn, so with this update we’ve added the Spire fleet holding. Fleets will be able to take control of one of the spire mega structures in the Dyson Sphere and reactivate it. As your fleet progresses through the holding different parts of the spire will activate and of course a wide variety of interesting and powerful gear will also become available. All in all this is another great fleet holding that we’re excited for the players to get into.
Q: One last question, Michael Dorn! That wasn’t a question? Okay. You’ve brought Michael Dorn back as Worf in Sphere of Influence, joining legends like Leonard Nimoy that have already voiced themselves. Are there any plans in motion for bringing any of the other old class in?
A: We were really proud and honored to have Michael Dorn reprise his role as Worf. Eveyrone on the team was so excited once the VO was actually hooked up and in the game. We’re all huge Star Trek fans and to be able to deliver that experience to the community as a whole was really thrilling. As for other actors reprising their role, we’re always on the lookout for new actors to get into the game.
Q: “Thanks for answering these few questions on Season Eight. I’m looking forward to giving it a go and hopefully it’ll be as well received as the previous seasons. I do have one last question though, the most important one of all. Kirk or Picard?”
A: Kirk relies on his intangibles, which can get you out of a lot of jams, but are too unreliable in my opinion. If I was signing up for Starfleet today I’d be hoping I drew Picard as my captain when I left the academy.
To find out more about Star Trek Online, visit the game page.Related: Article, Interview, Star Trek Online