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Star Trek Online Developer Blog

The folks from Cryptic Studios' Star Trek Online have started this exciting new developer blog here at MMORPG.com.

Author: Awenyddion

The Anatomy of an STO Play Test - Craig

Posted by Awenyddion Friday June 5 2009 at 8:32PM
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Each week, the entire Star Trek Online team gets together for an internal play test. It’s an incredibly important part of the development cycle, and I think our fans should know more about how we use our experience to shape the game and make it better. We play together every Tuesday for about an hour. Obviously, certain teams play the game quite a bit more than that, but Tuesdays are a special day where everyone on the team – Art, SW, Deign, Audio, Concept Art, Production, QA, OCR – is required to play our game. We get to really focus on key elements we’re adding to the game, and to sit down and have real discussions about what we’re working on.

We assemble a build of the game late Monday, and on Tuesday afternoon we drop what we’re doing and get into a conference room to go over what we’re testing that week. We go over what the major changes and additions over the last week have been to the game, what content we’re going to play and what is the particular focus during the play session.

We spend about an hour playing, and then everybody gets back into the same room. We spend another 15 or 30 minutes gathering as much feedback from the team as possible. What did we like? What didn’t we like? Most importantly - did we have fun? It’s important to talk about the good stuff in addition to the bad, so we can stress the “likes” in future tests.

Running the play tests achieves a number of things:

  1. Improves game stability. It’s so easy when you have a team of 30-plus people adding features and content to a game simultaneously, the stability of a product can drop off a cliff. You come back a couple weeks later and nothing is playable. None of the bugs are really huge, but the more you have, the more they add up to a huge problem. The frequency with which you force people to take a look at a game really helps with its stability. It lets people say, “Oh yeah, I’m making a game. When I put this feature in, I need to make sure it works. QA’s not going to give me a bug, everyone on the team is going to see this crappy bug I put in without testing it.”
  2. Increases focus. It’s really important to see your progress on a constant basis. Anybody can sit in a room and design systems to their heart’s content, design the most complicated game possible. But really, until you get what you design in the game, until you play it and other people see it, you really don’t know what works and what doesn’t. For example, in space combat, there’s a huge list of features that we really want in space combat, and some of the features we imagined were the most important have turned out to be secondary and even tertiary systems. It’s getting stuff out there that keeps you from getting off the rails. It’s right in your face.
  3. Gets the team in sync. If the project is going well, if we’re making good progress, if we’ve got a lot of good content coming down the pipe, the team feels it and morale is up. If we have crappy play tests and they’re unstable and they break and the content isn’t quite that good, the team might get depressed about it. But they realize, “OK, this is the final product, so I’m going to step up and take a little ownership and I’m gonna make this thing better.”

This Week's Focus

These play tests are often the first time a lot of people are getting feedback on whatever they worked on that week. That’s really exciting; you can see people step up and ask questions of the people who had comments about their quest or system. It’s really personal; they’re getting direct feedback.

We focused on a lot of different issues this week. It was a number of little things; we didn’t focus on the content as much as a bunch of tiny changes we’ve made over the past week.

We made some pretty substantial changes to the weapons on the ground, and we added a few new ones. We changed some of the special items on the ground; these are the powers that you end up having that are your career powers, your specialization powers. So if you’re a Tactical officer, you have Aimed Shot and stealth powers. If you’re an Engineer, you have shield buffing powers and some other things like that.

And then there was a brand new ship configuration that some people tried this week.

The gameplay continues to get better and better, and the content that goes in goes in right the first time a lot more often than it doesn’t. As we add new ship configurations and new bridge officers for you to play with, the depth of space and ground combat just continues to astound everybody. We come up with new strategies daily.

Having these weekly play tests have allowed us to have a much more stable game, help us iterate on the features, and really generate a much more fun game on weekly basis. Everyone here at Cryptic Studios loves making games. We all really wanna be in the games industry, and on a weekly basis, these tests get people into the product they're making.

 

j4ack5p4rr0w writes:

*ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ*

Hwha? Is it over? My God, what a snorefest! Theres a saying "a picture is worth a thousand words". Instead of tellng us how good the game is going to be, why dont you SHOW us with some PICS and VIDEOS for a change.

Fri Jun 05 2009 9:03PM Report
silvirel writes:

Ok while I kind of aggree with the pirats of the caribean fan, in game videos and pics are awsome so we get to see what is going on; it is still good the hear what you guys are doing even we can;t see it.

Personally I would rather the money be spent on game development the PR, the better the development the better the game and i am sure when the game is in at least it's open beta thats when we will see the cool trailers.

Sat Jun 06 2009 12:45AM Report
haemorrhoid writes:

 very interesting but come on people when do we get a go! It seems like i have been waiting forever. I took a chance last year and put in for 4 weeks leave on spec that I would be playing the entire time but it looks like I will have to book a holiday or something. Anyway if you guys want some help on a Tuesday afternoon I'm READY ... BTW thanks for the post.

Sat Jun 06 2009 1:04AM Report
Sibanamush writes:

Wow , whats with the negativity? while I agree that this BLOG ( let me emphasize that word again , BLOG ) may not be interesting to every rabbid fan who can't wait to get their hands on the game, Personally I found it to be a very interesting glimpse into the development process. And I would like to applaud the entire Cryptic team for having the BEST pre-release interaction with their potential player base of any gaming development company I've ever seen. I have never seen as much information and so many screenshots updated  as frequently as the cryptic team does.

I mean its worth checking their site EVERY day because whiel it doesnt update quite that often , more often than not there is something new to keep you interested.

Sat Jun 06 2009 8:37AM Report
JonlyBonly writes:

I have to agree with Sib.  Thanks to Cryptic for constantly keeping us informed.  The way you describe your staff and the work they are doing seriously makes me glad I'm majoring in IT.  I can only hope that one day I can work for a company that cares as much about their product and the people who make it as you do. 

Keep up the good work guys, and I look forward to playing STO! =)

Sat Jun 06 2009 11:10AM Report
Calid writes:

 Thanks to Cryptic for an inside look at the development process.  I get the feeling we can all look forward to a solid game at launch.

The first posters to this blog will be the first to complain if something is not working at launch.  

Patience,  you must learn patience.

Sat Jun 06 2009 2:16PM Report
dave2hosford writes:

Thank YOU Awenyddion!

Your post about the tuesday play test was a great read. It gave me a glimpse of whats happening with STO.  I am very happy to know that all you folks at Cryptic are working diligently to create a quality game.

I did recently buy an Intel Core 2 Extreme XPS 630i to be ready to give Star Trek Online a good workout when it is finished and ready.

Patiently Waiting,

  David

Sat Jun 06 2009 4:57PM Report
Xondar123 writes:

Wow, I can't believe the attitude some people have.

If you find this stuff so boring, why read the "blogs" section anyway? Screenshots are over there. --->

Sun Jun 07 2009 1:48AM Report
narkobos writes:

and what do you see in this screenshots?????

we need a video with combat(in space and on planet) and everything

Sun Jun 07 2009 3:58AM Report
Ramistrov writes:

An interesting read, I am very much looking forward to the games release so its interesting for me!

Sun Jun 07 2009 5:44PM Report
blackfalconu writes:

I agree with my esteemed gamers, when can we try it, but again I trust more is being put into the developement than the PR.

I know if we have waited this long then why can't we wait a little longer, well, as good as it looks so far and how much we love the Dev updates, as the saying goes - The proof is in the pudding - and by god I think I could do with some pudding right Now.

Mon Jun 08 2009 4:42PM Report
Stormfire962 writes:

I hope I get selected since I purchased a new gaming system just for this and Champions online.

Mon Jun 08 2009 6:04PM Report
SmurfMagic writes:

an hour a week? thats it? If I remember correctly thats about how long the Star Wars Galaxy Dev team put in and  we all know how SWG turned out.

Mon Jun 08 2009 7:59PM Report
patrikd23 writes:

Thanks for all the info, and I can see most people here dont understand why there is so much play testing and feedback. If you ever need a Tester for the game contact me I would be glad to help out.

Mon Jun 08 2009 10:50PM Report
OddjobXL writes:

I have to admit I'm kinda curious about shield buffing engineers.  Is that on the ground or in space?   On the ground what kind of shields are there?  Does everyone have some kind of personal shield device (and why if so)?  Or is this more like a device you can place, like Traps powers in CoH, and use for defensive positions?  The latter makes some sense.  The former, and the engineer's seeming function in battle, sounds like it might be veering sharply into WoW mode not Star Trek.

Do we really want Engineers to be the healers or buffers?  Shouldn't they be fixing things that break not casting spells?

Tue Jun 09 2009 10:05AM Report
daadamo writes:

Good read! Cryptic does a great job of keeping fans in the loop, with pics, videos as well as blogs and back stories. There will always be the immature impatient gamers who can just never ever seem to be happy with what news and info a company can give. Sad but true. Anyway, thanks to the folks at Cryptic for the blog, i look forward to more info!

Tue Jun 09 2009 6:30PM Report
Misscreant writes:

Thanks, this is an awesome glimpse into how you guys are working towards a pollished and completed game.  Keep up the great work!!

Thu Jun 11 2009 5:14AM Report
wgc01 writes:

I like the inside info, and I can wait for the video and screen shots, one problem allot of people have is getting to hyped up about the release of a game, if what they seen in a video preview is not in game they cry foul.. I have learned over the years with MMO's most do not live up to the hype or how we think they should be..  I am looking forward to STO, doing the old /cross fingers in hopes of a good game..:)

Tue Jun 16 2009 12:20PM Report
Trilith writes:

i fail to see why i should read this.  if the 'devs' were so hardcore about star trek fans, why aren't they released a limited play beta style setup, and charge us for it, it could help get some extra money, and we'd have a chance to play a part of the game. we already konw this is just pre release and everything will be different..

cmon guys, LET US SEE!, it' isn't fair to talk about it if you dont want to let us play, AT LEAST LET US WATCH

ACTUALLY, i'll do you one better

EITHER you LET us watch, or LET us play. or i'm DONE waiting on this game. i'm tired of this crap. talking like oh, yeah we'll have it done soon, but wont let us even look at the game.. its really starting to piss me off.. if you keep it up, theres 100's of mmos out there i can play huxley is in beta.. remember THAT game?   SHOW US SOMETHING OR LOSE MY SUBSCRIPTION.  you have 1 month. (now i know i am just one person.. but i am not the only one who feels this way.)  GET IT TOGETHER!  i wanna see a VIDEO and not some stupid 5 second teaser that barely shows us anything either.  i'm NOT kidding, theres HUNDREDS of mmosyou risk losing hundreds of folks wihtout showing us something REAL.

Wed Jun 17 2009 8:56AM Report
55memo55 writes:

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http://mmoturkiye.org

Sun Dec 13 2009 10:03AM Report
Daily writes: In June of 2010 I requested that my subscription of Star Trek Online be cancelled. I like many was having a hard time in our economy and needed to cut back cost. I went to the website and logged into my account and pressed cancel. It showed canceled. Since I had already been charged for June I figured I would at least get to play one more month. However within 3 days my account would no longer allow me to log into the game. I figure ok and went about my way. Then come to find out Cryptic decided to keep charging me the monthly subscription fee all on their own. They stole money that I need to buy food and pay bills for my family of four. Did they care, NO! They stole food from my wife and sons mouth and they could care less. I CANCELLED MY SUBSCRIPTION! WTF! WHY did they keep charging me for a game I could not even play anymore? I don’t know why either. When contacted about it they refused to refund the wrongly acquired 2 months of fees. So now all I can do is post how horrible they treated another human being in these times, wherever I can. I am sure my family and I will make it because we have each other, but I hope Cryptic and all theirs goes under. I hope that one day they find themselves in the same situation. On top of that the game is par at best. Star Trek had ok playability; the game stagnated by level 20 and the PVP side of the game sucks. All and all the game barely rates. The only reason I played for as long as I did is because of the content being Star Trek. In the end that wasn’t enough. To keep playing and I would not recommend playing it ever. If you do, and decide to stop they will probably just keep charging you anyways. DON’T PLAY CRYPTIC MMO’s Also as far a City of Champions goes you really want to wait for DC UNIVERSE online in November. Wed Aug 04 2010 7:38AM Report

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