MMOBomb spoke with Star Trek Online’s Executive Producer Daniel Stahl about the changes introduced by Season 7. Read the interview to learn all about it.
MMOBomb: Thank you Daniel Stahl for spending some time with us here at MMOBomb. Before we talk about Star Trek and some of the upcoming changes to the game, can you give us a little insight into what you do as the Executive Producer? What’s a day in your work life look like? It can’t all be fun and “games”.
DSTAHL: An Executive Producer at Cryptic Studios is very similar to a Studio General Manager in that the role has overall responsibility of a development team working on a single video game title. As an executive business position, it includes managing both the revenue and cost elements when creating and operating an MMO. My days are a smorgasbord of design, personnel management, financial oversight, and decision making.
While working in the video games industry is a lot of fun, the EP is carries a lot of responsibility for effective plans, delegating, coordinating, staffing, organizing, and decisions to attain the continued financial success of the product, in this case Star Trek Online.
MMOBomb: Before we talk about some of the upcoming Season 7 items, what has it been like working with an IP such as Star Trek? It has to be every fan’s dream, but is it harder actually working with a Universe and lore that people know an awful lot about rather than a totally new Universe?
DSTAHL: As a Star Trek fan, it is tremendously rewarding to be working with such a beloved property. It really does make the job of creating an MMO a lot easier because there is a vast wealth of reference materials that help with design.
It also provides for a great amount of creativity because the story is so vast and unfinished that there is no end to the amount of plots or dialogs that we can develop within Trek.
The biggest challenge is making a video game, with inherent fun combat mechanics, in a property that is beloved for oodles and oodles of dialog and close ups of faces. We’ve had to focus on the action in order to keep the game a traditional MMO. We continue to find ways to introduce non-combat gameplay to represent the diplomacy, exploration, and puzzle solving that was a subtle part of trek.
MMOBomb: STO’s free-to-play model includes options for a monthly subscription and for a lifetime subscription. How do you feel a multi-tiered model like this has helped STO and how does it favor players?
DSTAHL: STO’s business model benefits players most by giving them the freedom of choice. Over the years, the MMORPG market has become increasingly crowded. As a free-to-play title, there’s a much lower barrier to entry. In many ways, a hybrid approach has been great for an existing game like Star Trek Online because it allows those who are invested in the game to retain some great benefits while opening the doors to an entirely new audience where price point is a decision factor.
Personally, this hybrid approach feels very similar to being a fan of a professional sport. Anyone can watch a baseball game on TV for only the cost of your TV and cable connection, but some fans want to have season tickets and be in the front row and wear the jersey of their favorite player. This hybrid approach allows Star Trek fans similar options and has opened up the audience to anyone who wants to play.
MMOBomb: So the Dev blogs for the upcoming Season 7 have touched on the rebuilding of the Romulan homeworld through unlikely allies in Starfleet and in the Klingon Empire. Can you walk us through some of the upcoming changes and additions to STO?
DSTAHL: As the title suggests, much of Season 7’s new content will take place on the new Romulan home world, New Romulus. Located in the new Tau Dewa Sector Block, New Romulus is arguably the largest zone we’ve created for Star Trek Online since the game first launched. It represents a new type of gameplay for us, where players decide how they want to help and proceed.
Shortly after arriving on New Romulus, players will meet with Romulan leader D’Tan – and will be working to assist him and the Romulan refugees as they work towards rebuilding the capital city. In addition, players will encounter strange new life forms on New Romulus and will be introduced to the remnants of an ancient civilization that once dominated the planet before the arrival of the Romulans. The history of this planet and the mystery it holds will prove important as the story progresses in future Seasons.
MMOBomb: Will we be seeing new zones or new group missions in Season 7?
DSTAHL: Certainly! In addition to the new Romulan home world, New Romulus, players can look forward to an array of new five-man and 20-man queued missions. These include new Fleet Actions, Events and Special Task Force Missions.
So there will be plenty to do on the ground as players explore New Romulus and in space as well. If you want to see some of these new mission, Startrekonline.com has a great video overview of all the new events being released with Season 7.
MMOBomb: What does the new Reputation System have to offer players?
DSTAHL: The Reputation system represents an alternate advancement system for level 50 captains. There are many players who have a max level character, but for the first time since launch, we are introducing new powers and captain abilities that can be unlocked through each Reputation group.
In addition to the new ability options at each tier, captains will also unlock special themed reward options that are representative of the effort put forth to gain the specific Reputation. For the New Romulans this means Romulan based rewards and for the Omega Fleet it includes some of the best anti-Borg gear in the game.
MMOBomb: STO seems to pull additions and upgrades from almost all Star Trek lore. We’ve seen things from the multiple TV series’, things from the movies, and even things from the novels. What item or lore additions can we expect in Season 7?
DSTAHL: As always, exploring the many “What if” scenarios is one of the most fun and exciting aspects of creating Star Trek Online. So players can expect to see and experience lots of great call backs to Star Trek lore.
As the title suggests, the “Into the Hive” Special Task Force will find players facing off against the Borg. Fans who have seen the Star Trek: First Contact film will definitely get a kick out of facing off against the Borg Queen. The Salt Vampires from the classic television show will also make an appearance. And we’re also excited to present the “Vesta Class” starship featured in the Destiny novel series designed by Mark Rademaker himself. Of course, these are just a few of the sorts of fan service callbacks we’ve put into Season 7 for Star Trek fans.
What strikes me about Season 7 is the effort made to ensure that the characters, locations, and stories are all familiar to fans and keep the game feeling “Trek”.
Even though Season 7 is designed specifically for high-level players, I’d encourage all of your readers to try it out for free at www.startrekonline.com. We’ve added a ton of improvements and new content to the game for both new and veteran players since the game first launched, so there’s never been a better time to check it out.
MMOBomb: All right, final question, and probably the most important… Federation or Klingon?
DSTAHL: What about Romulan?