Star Trek Online: 10 Questions with Daniel Stahl, STO’s new Executive Producer
by Ron Keith
Many changes are afoot at Star Trek Online (STO). Since it’s release, the STO team has released regular updates to the game, and Season 2, a significant update to the game, is scheduled for release this month. While STO might have stumbled out of the gate, it’s clear the STO team is working hard to improve the game.
Recently, there was also a change to the STO team. Craig Zinkievich, STO’s original Executive Producer, left the helm of STO. MMOGames was fortunate to have an opportunity to interview Star Trek Online’s new Executive Producer, Daniel Stahl. Enjoy.
Daniel Stahl —œ Executive Producer —œ Star Trek Online
1. What’s your favorite thing about Star Trek: Online (STO)?
The ability to level up, customize, and play as both a Starship in space and a Captain on away missions is something I really find fun. Each episode combines a little bit of both worlds and provides a constant change of pace. Going from a big epic space battle down to exploring a planet gives a sense of scale in gameplay that keeps things changing from moment to moment.
2. What do you think STO does better than any other MMO?
In my opinion, STO does space combat better than any other MMO. There was a lot of time spent on space combat during early development of the game and I feel that the design team did an excellent job at capturing the nuances that make it fun and challenging. It really feels like the Star Trek shows to me. We consciously did not take the simulation approach that other games use, and I think we did it better.
3. What is the one thing about STO you want to improve (e.g. economy, PvP, social tools.)?
As producer it is difficult to name just one thing I’d like to improve, because I take it as a responsibility to constantly be looking for areas for us to improve. As a player, my personal desire is to re-imagine and revamp the way exploration is represented in the game. When I first heard exploration described, I had visions of flying out into the galaxy on a 5 year mission to explore. What we ended up with doesn’t feel like that and instead feels like “what behind door number 3”. I’d like to see us remake the exploration sectors to feel much more open and give players a sense they are venturing out into the unknown —œ far away from known space. Other than that, I’d like to see us to take a look at the end game and provide more compelling types of gameplay at the high end ranks. A Klingon/Federation Territory War is high on the internal team wish list.
4. Season 1: Update 2 has some Fleet improvements. Are other improvements to the Fleet system planned? If so, what are they?
There are some small improvements in Season 2 that will help Fleets. We’re adding in the ability to create your own Fleet Logos and display them on your ships, along with more tools for Fleet administrators such as a Calendar.
Moving forward, we want to give Fleets the ability to do “Fleet Actions” together by starting their own instance of the existing Fleet Actions in the game. We also want to provide more compelling gameplay that require a Fleet level of coordination. The above mentioned Territory War would play into that nicely as well the ability to create Starbases. All of which are being discussed as possibilities after Season 2 launches.
5. Season 2 promises weekly content updates, "an Episode every week". Can you give us an example of what a weekly Episode might be like? (Will they just be new missions, for instance?)
The team has wanted to capture the spirit of the TV shows by having something new to look forward to each week. We all remember when the various series were in full swing and there was the anticipation of tuning in every week to see what happened next. It wasn’t always a continuing story, but it was always Star Trek in some way or another, and over time you became familiar with the characters and plots that developed.
We are curious to see if this can be replicated through the game. Every week we plan to have something new for players to do. Sometimes it could be getting an assignment to resolve a trade dispute between two races. Other weeks it could be making First Contact with a new alien race. Other weeks you might find yourself deep in trouble and have to find a solution to your predicament.
In the end, we hope to make these stories something that players look forward to that everyone can experience together as they are released. We’re very excited to see what players think of the idea, and if it a hit, then our plan is to keep it going.
6. Season 2 will introduce a Diplomatic Core with the ability to gain rank through non-combat missions. What would a typical mission for the Diplomatic Core be like?
When the game released, and continuing on to this day, there is a sentiment from many fans that the Federation has become too embroiled in war and fighting. There have been steady requests for non-combat gameplay and missions that focus less on fighting, and more on the character and morals of the Federation.
The Federation Diplomatic Corps is being introduced as a way to reward players who want to focus on missions that do not involve combat. Examples of non-combat gameplay could be resolving that trade dispute, or bringing much needed supplies to a planet in need, to missions such as gathering scientific research on remote planets. The more non-combat missions a player completes, they will unlock ranks, titles, and unique rewards within the FDC.
Once they are high enough in Diplomatic rank, Starfleet Captains will be offered opportunities to represent the Federation in First Contact missions. While Picard often grumbled that he hated formal occasions, he realized their importance in representing the morals and values of the Federation. First impressions matter. Players who rank up in non-combat missions will have the opportunity to make these first impressions.
7. Are there plans to have regular special events with special rewards?
While there are not any scripted in-game events on the current schedule, we have been hosting “play with the dev” events on the Public Test Server “Tribble” and have given out rewards at various times for this.
We are really looking towards adding more scripted events with unique rewards as part of our desire to improve the End Game and offer some big events for all players to focus around.
8. Is a realm-versus-realm area – an area where the Federation can battle the Klingons for control of resources – under consideration?
This is absolutely under consideration. We talk about it frequently internally and are hoping for the time and resources to be able to bring some sort of Territory War into play for Federation and Klingon players. Our goal would be to include both PVE and PVP components to this and bring more focus to the conflict between these races.
9. What’s the scheduled release date for Season 2?
Season 2 is scheduled to be released around the last week in July.
10. Are additional changes to Memory Alpha under consideration? What sort of changes?
Now that we’ve ironed out some of the problems on the back-end with Memory Alpha, we want to move forward with providing better crafting items and adding higher end incentives for players who have spent the time and resources to level up their skills. While we have considered suggestions such as allowing for players to enhance items, we are leaning towards providing more unique craftables that will make having this knowledge useful for Fleets and the End Game. I’d certainly like to see us get to the point where a good Memory Alpha research score allows players to make unique and specialized ships that can’t be acquired any other way. And then there always Starbases”¦
Thank you for the great questions and we look forward to seeing you online!