Exclusive interview for the 3rd anniversary of Star Trek Online
In order to celebrate the third addiversary of Star Trek Online, F2p.com offers you an exclusive interview with Daniel Stahl, Executive Producer of the game.
QUESTION: Thanks for giving us the possibility to interview you about the long and rich story of Star Trek Online. First of all, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
[DSTAHL] My name is Daniel Stahl and I am the Executive Producer of Star Trek Online.
QUESTION: Can you give us an overview of the beginnings of the game and its evolution?
[DSTAHL] Star Trek Online began development when Cryptic Studios took over the license for the game from Perpetual Entertainment. Many of the early team members working on the game were huge Star Trek fans and we were all very excited to be working with such a stellar IP.
Due to the pre-existing terms of the licensing agreement we had a very short development cycle in order to hit our release date. Thus, many of the features that we wanted to see in the game had to be prioritized so that we could ship the best possible game within the time allotted.
In order to ship a quality game, we focused development on ship combat ensuring that the core of the game felt like Star Trek. At release, this was the highest rated component but we realized we still had a long way to go.
By working with the community to evaluate and discuss ways to improve the game, we were able to focus on keeping it “Trek”. This is what has allowed us to achieve what some might call a remarkable success over the last three years.
The game, as it is today, is light-years ahead of where it was when we released.
QUESTION: How did you decide to create a game like Star Trek Online?
[DSTAHL] As a developer of persistent world games, we were very eager to see a Star Trek game set in our favorite game genre. When we received news that the game under developed at Perpetual was in jeopardy, we felt compelled to step in and do what we could to ensure that Star Trek Online didn’t end up on the cutting room floor.
Developing MMOs can be a risky business, but thanks to the experience of our leadership team as well as the talent of our studio, we were able to turn the improbable deadlines into a growing success.
QUESTION: Which milestones and achievements of the game make you feel especially proud?
[DSTAHL] Personally, I’m proud of the decisions we made regarding adding a free-to-play option to the game. There has been a well-documented renaissance in game development over the last several years coinciding with the growth of web-based gaming. With so many free options for consumers, the quality of the experience and the joy of the game must take center stage or the product will find it difficult to compete.
This concept has revolutionized development at Cryptic Studios and shifted our focus onto ensuring that we are delivering the most compelling game experience along with a player-friendly attitude towards monetization.
We could have taken a different route, but I’m proud that we have stood by our commitment that players should always have an option to experience everything the game has to offer without a financial commitment or a “pay-gate”. It gives validity to the definition of free-to-play and allows players to focus on experience everything the game has to offer instead of worrying about how much it is going to cost in the long run. We gladly trade a player’s time enjoying the game against a model that requires purchases to progress. Having a vibrant player-driven economy that allows players to trade in game currency for real world currency is a testament to the success of our strategy.
QUESTION: What can you tell us about the future of the game? Are ‘secret’ expansions in development?
[DSTAHL] Due to our desire to continuously expand and evolve the game, I've been prone to speculate in the past up to the point where our passion for that what-if crossed reality with pie in the sky.
These days I’m much more reserved about our future plans and prefer to play my cards closer to the chest.
With that said, it is ok to say that we’re currently at work on the largest update since STO first launched. For players who are expecting another Season, what we have in store for our next update is a fair bit larger than anything we’ve done previously.
This is not only going to be a great year for STO, but a great year for Star Trek in general.
QUESTION: How do you feel now that the game has reached its third anniversary?
[DSTAHL] It feels great to reach our third anniversary with so much momentum. The game has been steadily growing and the amount of development hours we are pouring into each update continues to increase.
Our community is incredibly active and supportive of our efforts. They constantly provide feedback and constructive criticism that not only helps us make the game better but keeps us passionate about what we are building day in and day out.
It can’t be overstated that we also have a growing number of extremely talented writers and content creators in game that are building missions and episodes that rival the efforts of our house staff. Having such a strong fan-driven source of collaboration is a competitive advantage that makes our game better.
From where I’m sitting, it feels like we’re going to have yet another great year in Star Trek Online.
What do you expect of the game during the next years?
[DSTAHL] We are focusing on two distinct development philosophies as we develop for the future.
First we will continue to listen to and collaborate with the avid fans of the game to move end-game and evolving gameplay into new territory. We will resolve outstanding issues and we will prioritize in areas that drive both fan support and fun designs.
Secondly, we will continue to take a good-long-hard look at where we can improve and find ways to capture and re-capture players who either tried the game a while ago and haven’t returned, or have yet to try the game. We will never be satisfied with status quo and we’ll evolve not only STO, but the MMO genre as well.
The next years will show the sincerity of our commitment to this game and to Star Trek.
QUESTION: What is your opinion about the state and direction of the free-to-play games industry?
[DSTAHL] A year ago a consumer may have looked at a free-to-play game and felt that it was somehow lacking or failing.
Now that quality free-to-play games are becoming the norm, the reality is that it all boils down to having stellar gameplay and a wonderful experience. If everyone is free-to-play then that is the level playing field that benefits the consumer. It forces all games to not only open their doors but to have an offering worth a consumer’s time and money. Otherwise, you’re not going to stay in business.
I welcome this future. It is good for games and it is good for gamers.
QUESTION: Send a message to the fans of Star Trek Online.
[DSTAHL] Here we are three years into our journey and in many ways it feels like we’re just getting started. Now that we’ve put the basic game through its paces, we can begin to explore the galaxy together.
The team remains resolved to deliver the updates and features that you want and we realize that we have a long road to get from here to there. We appreciate your constant feedback and the amount of fun that you have in game. It is a joy to log in and see so many players living the Star Trek experience.
The development team has a lot of work to do in order to deliver the game that we all want Star Trek Online to be, but we remain devoted to constantly improving so that one day we can look back and say that this was the best Star Trek game ever made.
We are thankful that you are joining us on this journey.
QUESTION: Thank you for all you answers. Would you add something?
[DSTAHL] Thank you for taking the time to help us celebrate three years of Star Trek Online. Join us in game for a special episode staring Denise Crosby reprising her role as Tasha Yar and you’ll also receive an Ambassador Class starship as a celebration reward.
See you online!