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Star Trek Online Previews: Bridges & Bridge Officers Preview

By Dana Massey on December 02, 2009

The bridge is one of the most iconic locations in any Star Trek series or film. It’s where the bulk of the action takes place and an inherent part of the starship captain fantasy. A couple weeks ago, the Associated Press broke the news that Cryptic had listened to fan demands and will launch with in-game 3D bridges. Executive Producer Craig Zinkievich gave us all the details on them and the crews that will populate them during a recent trip to Cryptic HQ.

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At launch, the Bridge is going to be pretty simple. Each time the player earns a new ship, they get to select from a group of prefabricated bridge areas. The team is close to launch and they didn’t want to bite off more than they could chew.

Over time, the plan is to add far more customization for players to really tailor their bridge. They also want to expand out into other iconic interior starship rooms, such as the Captain’s Quarters; an area that could theoretically house trophies and more personal achievements.


A Captain on his bridge.

 

“You work with the players,” Zinkievich noted. Where exactly they expand first after launch will in large part be determined both by what players tell them and what they actually do in the game. If there’s a demand, of course more interiors will be added. It’s what got them on the launch feature list in the first place, after all.

The Bridges of STO will be larger than those of the show, which Zinkievich described as a necessity of a 3D video game. The fact is, they want people to be able to bring their friends in. The limit on the exact number of characters in a bridge will be based mostly off “what looks good.” Those they showed me seemed to strike a balance between that necessary size without losing the feeling of what made Bridges cool.

Naturally, the bridge serves as a control hub for the ship. UI elements from the general game will be accessible from within the bridge at logical locations. However, at least to begin, they have no plans to let people fight or actually pilot their ship from the inside. It’s far more akin to player housing than a different way to play the game.

Aside from other players, the bridge will of course be fully be populated by the NPC crew people have earned throughout the game.

The crew members have become an integral part of every aspect of the game. In space, they provide access to special abilities that could make the difference between victory and defeat. On land, their phasers are there with you in every scenario.


Proper discipline in evidence.

 

The team has gone to great lengths to make them apparent to the players from day one. They won’t have full blown personalities like side-kicks in single-player RPGs like Dragon Age, but they won’t be anonymous peons either.

“Captains never hail and never scan anything,” Zinkievich pointed out. When you use the replicator, it’s your engineer who gives you feedback and whose face you see beside the console. The premise is that no matter what action you pick on board a ship, you’re likely asking someone to do it and they show you that. These little touches didn’t seem like much at first, but over a couple hours of playing the game organically (from character creation through the tutorial and first few missions) I got to know the people with me in some strange way.

Bridge Officers fall into three general categories. Like most other elements of the game, they’re either Science, Tactical or Engineering. Each officer has four ranks to progress through with access to two skills (one for space and one for the avatar) per level. Each of these skills has nine levels within it for players to work on. These skills can vary widely form crew-member to crew-member, even within a single class. Players earn merit that can be used to train up their officers.

These officers can also be customized completely by the player. Their names, faces and races can be totally transformed so that each person develops a unique group of characters to carry out their orders.

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