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MPC: What type of loot will you be able to collect from missions and random exploration?
CZ: With bridge officers, they all have a paper doll that needs to be equipped with armor, personal shields, weapons, and other tools, which you’ll find on your missions. The same goes with your own character avatar. There are plenty of items and loot that you’ll find within the game, which you can sell or trade at spaceports. You can even find potential bridge officers.
MPC: Like an alien that you meet on a random world.
CZ: Yes. Another one of the loot items that is very important on the ground missions is your kit, which is a career-limited loot item. The kit gives you really cool powers on the ground, like Security Escort, which lets you beam in extra NPC characters for this mission.
MPC: A bunch of red shirts?
CZ: Exactly! They should have a much higher aggressiveness factor. These kits end up defining your role. Medical science players can deploy stasis fields with their medical tricorders. And over time, as you level them up, each kit can have up to four powers.
MPC: Will you be allowed to team up with friends who are at a much higher or lower level than your character?
CZ: The missions themselves are set level, and you can bring in a range of levels to play in them. Like City of Heroes, we have a sidekick system that lets your team scale to one level, with the experience rewards scaled along the same line as well.
MPC: What will be the level cap for the game?
CZ: We don’t have levels, per se. We have five ranks in the game, ranging from Lieutenant to Admiral. Each of those has 10 sub-ranks, so that ends up being 50 “levels.” And that’s indicated by the pins on your uniform, just like on the show.
MPC: You mentioned spaceports. Do you mean space stations like Deep Space Nine?
CZ: There are several large social hubs within the game. Earth Space Dock is probably the largest one for the Federation. That’s where you go to repair your ship, visit the auction house, and get access to new ships. There are major ones like Deep Space Nine, and minor ones like Memory Alpha, which have similar amenities.
MPC: Sounds like you’re including a lot of details from the shows.
CZ: In almost all of the content that we’ve made, there are Star Trek references, like a familiar character’s grandson or something that was alluded to once in an episode. We have pretty hardcore writers who end up getting all of those references in.
MPC: In terms of art assets and content creation, how much of that is crafted by designers and how much is randomly generated?
CZ: If you’re going to make a Star Trek MMO, you’ve to let players boldly go where no one has gone before, right? So we needed to make hundreds and thousands of planetary systems that you could explore. We did that by creating a Genesis game engine that could procedurally generate maps and systems.
Not all of the content is automatically generated. A good deal is first procedurally generated, and then given to our artists to hand-craft to coincide with story-driven missions. The pure procedurally generated content is more for exploration, when you want to make contact with someone who’s never heard of the Federation before. Genesis has been a really powerful toolset that allows us to create the foundation for our artists and designers to add the really cool content, as opposed to spending their time on the more boring tasks.
MPC: Do players then experience the same content or see different worlds when completing mission on their own?
CZ: The main episodic story content will be the same for all players. There are also Patrol missions, which will also be the same for everyone. But the exploration content, when you go to star cluster, for example, will be different for each player. There may be some similarities, but you’ll end up seeing different stuff.
MPC: How much of the Star Trek universe can you explore?
CZ: The game is split into four hubs – Federation/Klingon (where you start), Romulan, Cardassian, and finally Borg at the end. We liken each of these hubs to a season of Star Trek, each season with a set number of episode missions based there. Each will have major and minor story arcs, as well as one-off episodes. There’s an overarching story arc for the whole game, so that always shows up in each hub, story-wise.
Each hub is split in sectors, where are high-level maps that you’ll use to fly between planets and spaceports. This is one of the persistent areas where you’ll see hundreds of ships flying around, in addition to the large fleet action zones.