On the heels of my recent efforts to take a look at STO from a new player's perspective, I had the opportunity to ask Stahl what he feels are the best resources for a new player of the game. Stahl replied that a new player's best resource is the game's community itself. He understands that "STO can be tough on new players because there is a lot to learn between space and ground based combat, so the most important thing is to have fun and don't be afraid to ask questions in chat or on the forums as there are plenty of players willing to help [and] joining a Fleet can also provide a lot of guidance to new players."
New players can shop for fleets by reviewing posts in the Fleet section of the game's official forums. Fleet personalities run the gamut, so don't hesitate to shop around and find the right fit. Since earned fleet credits stay with the player even if she moves to a different group, there's no reason for a player to feel trapped with a group she's not comfortable with.
Hidden in the midst of the enormous thread, Stahl announced that Cryptic anticipates releasing Season Seven in November of this year, "preferably as soon as possible."
A community member by the name of Xyphus asked Stahl whether the game might see Tholian or Iconian-based STFs in the future. Stahl told us that STFs are "getting a makeover" in Season Seven as part of a new Reputation system that will be introduced. Stahl said the system will be similar to the current Fleet Advancement system but geared for individuals.
It sounds a little like the reputation system I've experienced in Lord of the Rings Online, in which a player can earn reputation marks from an in-game division (Stahl used STO's Omega Fleet as an example) by undertaking mission objectives issued by the group. Earning certain levels of reputation will unlock rewards. He further stated that once the system is put in place, Cryptic Studios "intend[s] to add new Reputations and associated missions that provide inputs [drops] for that new Rep."
This could prove to be a very significant change in the game, especially if the reputation system allows for an expansion of task-like missions in the game. I can easily see how patrols might end up having more meaning if they become associated with Reputation.
Stahl also answered a question about the lack of diplomacy missions by stating that Season Seven will also see the addition of a "Fleet Embassy [that] will focus on Diplomacy and Recruiting tracks and will require some Diplomatic efforts in exchange for some cool new rewards [...] The Embassy will be on the new Romulan colony."
Community member Phazerbank posted a lengthy question asking Stahl to address the general fears expressed by many over Perfect World's reputation for making "money sinkholes" that force players to kill "anything that moves." He asked Stahl to reassure the playerbase that "the game will move closer to canon Star Trek" with content that would reflect the "exhilaration of combat and exploration and not be manipulated by PWEs goals for achieving a profit?" Stahl replied:
"Thus far, PWE has been awesome for Cryptic and specifically for STO. You have to keep in mind that the division that we are owned by is the North American/EU subsidiary and so most of the games you are referring to are ports they've brought to this region from China. One of the reasons they purchased Cryptic was so that the local subsidiary could work more closely with a local developer to build games that are more in tune with local audiences. As such, we have a great collaboration going over STO because STO was going F2P whether we were owned by PW or not. While we will continue to have multiple offerings in our stores that help us generate revenue (the only reason F2P games don't go bust), STO is about Star Trek and as such [we] never lose sight of the fact that the people who will be playing this game in 5 years are Star Trek fans. Season Seven will be introducing our largest ground zone to date focused on exploration and advancing Story."
As anticipated, there were several questions from the community about the lack of Klingon faction content. Many people asked the same question -- namely, will we ever see a fleshing-out of content to bring the KDF faction in line with the Federation and allow ground-up (as opposed to the current level 24 unlock) play?
Stahl answered the question in several different ways, but all answers seemed to revolve around his expressed desire to keep two factions in the game. He even turned a question back to the community about ideas he has brainstormed, stating, "We strongly believe that STO needs both factions and we would rather see the KDF come in line with the Federation faction. One of the options we are considering to make this happen is to add other key races and species to the KDF faction, so I'm curious what you might think of that solution if it say meant more content for the KDF, even if that content is specific to a species such as the Gorn or Orions?"
Stahl noted that as expected, KDF players will have access to all of the new material being created for Season Seven, but any new KDF-"only" material is still a ways off. While these statements should put KDF fans at ease since their faction will not be assimilated by the Federation, it still stings because the content needed to make the faction as rich as the Federation appears to be a long way off.
Even before STO launched, there were calls for a playable Romulan faction. I can understand why; the idea of playing a Romulan has always held my interest more than playing a Klingon.
Several players asked for exactly that during the Raptr Q&A. Stahl acknowledged the lack of Klingon content and mentioned that the team has been in discussions about how to bring Romulans to the forefront. In one answer to community member Suavek, Stahl replied:
"The idea that I like best is one where Romulans can be a playable race that can ultimately side with either the Federation or KDF, but not necessitate having numerous factions at end game. This allows existing fleets and factions to all benefit from having new playable races that are somewhat like their own faction, but not necessarily a third faction in the grand scheme of things. There are a lot of questions that plan would bring up, but this is the idea that resonates the most and would allow us the most flexibility to add new 'factions' in the future while not shafting the KDF. In any case, Romulans would need their own starting story before they integrated into Federation or KDF mission flows. Again, don't hold me to this design as it could easily change, but this is where the most possibilities exist for actually getting it into the game in a reasonable way."Stahl covered even more ground in the most recent Ask Cryptic, which was posted late last week. And he answered dozens more question in the Raptr discussion threads regarding subjects that range from The Foundry to costumes to emotes and lots of other little bits of information about upcoming releases for Star Trek Online. (The Raptr Q&A can be accessed via the link provided in the comments section below.)
Until next week, live long and prosper!
Incoming communique from Starfleet Headquarters: Captain's Log is now transmitting direct from Terilynn Shull every Monday, providing news, rumors, and dev interviews about Star Trek Online. Beam communications to firstname.lastname@example.org.