The Star Trek series is like a fine wine. You have to really give it a few years before it begins maturing into something exquisite. This applies to any lore intensive universe, but Star Trek is especially notable due to its already established story-lines and devoted fanbase. So as we come up on Star Trek Online’s three-year anniversary we take a moment to reflect on the MMO’s journey with STO’s Executive Producer Daniel Stahl. Read on as we discuss some of his favorite STO moments and find out what’s next for the MMO that boldly goes where no one has gone before.
MMOBomb: Hi Daniel and welcome back! For those viewers that may not have read our previous interview can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you do for Star Trek Online (STO)? I think people see the title Executive Producer and think “total office job” but tell us what the day to day is REALLY like.
Thank you and glad to be back talking with MMOBomb. The role of Executive Producer at Cryptic Studios involves the ultimate oversight of everything related to a specific title. As EP on STO, this means that the buck stops here for all decisions related to the game and our continued success.
My days are spent working with my very talented leadership team to manage the day to day development of the game as well as hold the vision for where there game is headed. There are many days spent pouring over data, contributing to design discussions, and collaborating with our publishing arm. However, the days that I enjoy the most is when we get down to the nitty gritty about what we are building next. As Star Trek fans ourselves, this is when the team really gets the chance to dive deep, looking at how we can expand on the universe we all love so much.
Also, I get the pleasure of conducting interviews.
MMOBomb: So Star Trek Online turns 3 years old soon. What’s that like from your perspective? Does it make you feel like a “proud papa”?
It has been a great journey thus far, even though we’re just getting started. Much like any of the TV shows, it took the first few seasons to get our footing and establish our story and characters.
After three years, it feels that things are starting to gel. We’re finally able to dive deep and begin escalating the game with the features and stories that we’ve wanted to do since we first started.
Personally, it feels as though this game has huge potential and we are just now leaving space dock.
MMOBomb: STO has obviously had ups and downs like any other game, what’s been your favorite STO change or moment from the last three years?
There are two big decisions that stick out in my mind. Opening up the game for free-to-play and focusing on end-game over the last few seasons.
Our philosophy and strategy around free-to-play has been a great strength. We believe that Captains should be able to experience everything in the game without getting stuck behind “pay-gates.” If you want to reach maximum level with your Captain, command all the best starships in the game, and run every mission there is, you can do so by simply playing the game and using the in-game economy to acquire what you need.
We also feel that the community and especially our guilds of Fleets are an excellent group of Captains that contribute heavily to the game by organizing Fleet Actions, building Starbases, and contributing to the overall fun of the game. The last half of 2012 saw the number of Fleets nearly double, and STO is healthier and growing because of it.
MMOBomb: Two months ago we chatted about the then upcoming Season 7 content. How has that season progressed so far?
We are thrilled at the response we’ve received over our first adventure zone, New Romulus. Many have stated that having large planetary zones like this, provide a sense of exploration that feels very Trek.
Add in the Reputation system, the unfolding story of D’Tan and the New Romulans, the exciting new events in the Tau Dewa sector and it is easy to see why Season 7 has been our most successful release yet. The amount of hours being logged across all the starships in game is testimony to that. If anything, it sets the stakes higher as we look forward towards our next update.
MMOBomb: With seven seasons you have now officially tied Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. What plans does STO have to continue their number of seasons?
What a great question! Even though our Seasons don’t match up to years as the shows did, we certainly do feel that sense of excitement that we are crossing over into new territory. As we move forward, we are confident that STO will be going strong for many more seasons to come.
MMOBomb: What do you see as STO’s biggest challenge in the future? What roadblocks will you have to overcome to continue to grow?
The single biggest challenge we will face is the ever shifting landscape of the game industry. Over the last several years we’ve seen huge changes in how games are delivered, what devices they are played on, and the quality bar has been set higher in many arenas.
Cryptic Studios along with Perfect World are investing in technology that will allow Star Trek Online to move forward as the landscape evolves. We’ve recently started integration with the web via our Gateway technology allowing players to be logged into the game simultaneously on a mobile device and on a PC client. We expect that in the year to come, we’ll see some amazing opportunities and Star Trek Online will be ready to explore them when they get here.
MMOBomb: Ok… Last time you stopped by I asked you “Federation or Klingon?” and you replied “What about Romulan?” So NOW I ask, Klingon, Federation, or Romulan?
If I had my choice between those three, I’d roll a Romulan because there is something compelling about their current tragedy and it would be great fun to explore what you would do as a species if your home world were destroyed.
However, looking at the number of ALTs on my account, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll play anything related to Star Trek.
Thank you again for joining us to celebrate three years of Star Trek Online. Don’t forget to join us for the event to receive the Ambassador Class (aka the Enterprise-C) as a thank you gift. Live Long and Prosper!