Star Trek Online Previews and Interviews

The onslaught of Star Trek Online coverage continues with three more hands-on previews and a trio of new interviews with the game's development team.

The first preview is up at Strategy Informer:
Cryptic have taken an altogether different approach to levelling, which pretty much eliminates the need for grinding. You get the bulk of your skill points through completing missions, which are scaled so that they don't take too long, and so you can find yourself levelling fast provided you can complete your objectives (it's not as easy as it sounds, trust me). You get minor point rewards for killing enemies, but nothing near the amount you get for missions, and not enough to make a difference. This is a bit of a mixed blessing, because this system only works so long as you don't get stuck. If you get stuck however, there's no other 'way' of earning points. At least with grinding, you could always get kills if you were having trouble with a particular mission.

The second preview is over at MMORPG Center:
Space combat acts and feels like in Star Fleet Command, but more streamlined. You control your ship directly and each part of ship has a shield attached to it for the front, back, left and right. In combat you can avoid receiving damage to the weak shield until it regenerates by turning your ship with the part that has the strongest shield towards the enemy. You can also reinforce the damaged shield by taking energy from other shields increasing the regeneration power of the damaged one. Your bridge officers can help you with their skills by increasing the damage output, the shields' regenerate power and many other things. Also you can redirect the ship's power to whole systems like Shields, Weapons and Engine. Within a standard combat you usually fire you lasers to disable the enemy shields and once you break a part of their shields, you fire torpedoes to inflict massive hull damage and eventually destroy their ship this is the simplified version.

The third preview is online at Ten Ton Hammer:
While there are random battles you can get yourself into, the majority of the game (and your progress in it) takes place through missions, or episodes. Episodes are just what they sound like - a string of missions put together that could make up a television show. They generally have all the elements we know and love from the shows: space combat, ground combat, diplomacy, and exploration. They do a great job with keeping you interested and swapping between various aspects of the game. All in all, they've been a lot of fun so far. There are times when they feel too long, but the development team has stated they'll continue to adjust this as necessary throughout the beta.

While interview #1 can be found at IncGamers:
After all this time being allied with Starfleet, why have the Klingons reverted back to their war-like ways, and what do characters in Star Trek's lore, such as B'Elanna Torres and Worf, do as a result of the renewed hostilities, assuming they are still members of Starfleet?

Bear in mind, the game is set in 2409. A lot has happened since fans were last updated in the Star Trek universe. Empires have fallen, planets have been destroyed and politics have changed. The universe has been in turmoil, so it shouldn't be incredibly surprising to see a warlike race take up arms when there are territories to conquer. Worf is currently on Qo'noS working as a Federation ambassador during this time, but don't expect to bump into him in-game.

Interview #2 comes at us from Bitmob:
Jeff: Will a player be able to design his own ship and how much freedom will he have if he can? For example, is it possible for someone to design the Millennium Falcon or Serenity?

Cryptic: This is where the logical limits come into play. For instance, a player cannot ever un-Star Trek a vessel. Customization is not so important that we'll let a user tarnish the IP by making an oversized carrot into his flagship. It's also important to understand that while we allow users to configure and alter a staggering amount of things (even going so far as encouraging users to create their own unique alien species), we do not allow a user to design a starship from scratch.

There are categories of starships and types within a category and variants of types... Users can customize individual components on each starship (nacelles, saucer, secondary hull, color, deflector, registry, patterning, etc.), but users cannot commandeer the shipyards at Utopia Planitia and start the construction process with a slab of unprocessed ore and some laborers.

And interview #3 is at Ten Ton Hammer:
Ten Ton Hammer: We talked a little bit about cloaking last time, how exactly will cloaking work? How often can cloaking be done, and how can a Federation ship spot a cloaked ship?

Al: Sure, I can tell you a lot more about that. There are two types of cloaking in the game that the Klingon forces have access to, the standard cloak and battle cloak. All Klingon ships have the standard cloak which can't be used in combat. This is typically used when people are sitting in hiding when there are a few decoys nearby. Players will attack the decoy and the larger ships will uncloak and be right on top of them. The Bird of Prey ships for the Klingons also have a battle cloak which can be used in combat. This way they can duck in and out of combat by cloaking. The effective way to deal with cloaking is that when ships cloak their shields drop so it leaves them vulnerable. A smart play against a Bird of Prey would be to hold off on the torpedo salvo until it starts cloaking and then hit it when the shields are down as it goes into to cloaking.

Also, there is a tug-of-war going on between cloaking effectiveness and sensors. Sensors will allow you to see cloaked vessels, so science vessels will have better sensors than other ships. The more power you pump into your auxiliary systems, the more effective your sensors will be and you can increase your sensor range. Cloaking is not perfect, if you get too close to an enemy ship even one with bad sensors, you'll be able to be seen. You're still invisible, kind of transparent, but if you get close enough the enemy will see a wobbly effect and you'll be targetable. As you increase power to your sensors, you'll see that farther away.

On the other side, if a Klingon pumps more power into his axillary systems, he'll improve his cloaking ability which will allow him to get closer without being seen. It really provides an interesting situation, like the Birds of Prey and their strafing runs. The Bird of Prey has guns that are more effective up close but the closer they get the higher the chance they'll be seen before they drop out of cloaking (especially if they are attacking a science vessel). If they want to be more stealthy they have to put more power into axillary but then they'll have less power for the weapons.

There are also a number of powers that will reveal a cloaked vessel. A tractor beam will disable someone's cloak so a science vessel that is really good at both sensors and tractor beams could lock a tractor beam on it or do a sensor scan on the enemy so other players could see it. There is also warp plasma as a defense that if someone flies through it will disable the cloak.

There are a number of counters to cloaking and a number of things Klingons can do to improve cloaks. Skills also improve both of these. If you pump skills into science and sensor scans you'll improve your cloak detection. Likewise if you improve you auxiliary systems, you can improve your cloaking. It should be an interesting balance going between both sides.