STO SotG 3.12.2010

A few more weeks of furious post-launch development have passed and we've arrived at yet another State of the Game. Does time merely fly, or does it actually warp? I'm not convinced any of us had a chance to notice the days passing between the last State of the Game and now – we've been working that hard.

I suppose we'd best jump right into this State of the Game before somebody blinks and we all find ourselves staring at the next State of the Game!

STF: Infected is Live
We pushed our very first Special Task Force live last week. Huzzah! A terrific number of people have played STF: Infected, many have completed it, and some even took a moment to provide excellent feedback.

A reminder for those who waltzed into Infected and realized their error after being promptly obliterated: Special Task Force content is not meant to serve as an Episode players can jump into and plow through without breaking a sweat. STFs take coordination, talent, game experience and familiarity with the specific STF being attempted. Come in with anything less and ... well, role-playing space debris probably isn't the best use of one's time.

Don't worry, though! After completing an STF once or twice, a like-experienced pick-up group can assemble and take names. In other words, once the content becomes familiar, "Ms. Jet Boots" won't hand your PuG its collective hat.

Of Bugs, Issues and Fixes
We know Star Trek Online has its share of issues. We see support tickets, we see forum reports, and we see issues when we play and enjoy the game in our own time. Please keep the feedback coming. It is extremely valuable.

It's important to reiterate that we are, by no means, only adding content to the game. We continue diligently squashing bugs and making moment-to-moment gameplay better.

In order to keep you informed – so you don’t feel like your reports have fallen into some kind of horrible oblivion – our tireless Producer, Daniel "dStahl" Stahl, has started the "Engineering Report."

The Engineering Report provides detail about what we're working on and where that work falls in the development pipeline. Dan's Engineering Report is regular, so you will see exactly what we're knocking down and you will then see improvements moving through the development pipeline.

Please check out the most recent report right here.

Tribble Live
Tribble, our Public Test Shard (PTS for short), is finally live! Cue a collective sigh of development team relief.

Birthing Tribble took a little longer than predicted, but the Public Test Shard is up and running.

It's such a relief to have Tribble operational; we can now publish in-game changes and new features to a secure testing environment to get hands-on player feedback before releasing said changes and features to Holodeck. The "straight to live" method might be hilarious fun for games developers who enjoy being completely overwhelmed by uncontrollable terror, but publishing to Tribble first is definitely the right practice.

See an issue or feature in the Engineering Report that you want to be absolutely sure we're getting right? Just want to try the latest and greatest before everyone else? Want to feel "teh l33t, lol" and collect more fodder for forum posts? Copy your current Holodeck character to Tribble and play on the PTS right now!

This second, we have a preliminary build for Season One - Common Ground running on Tribble. If new content of this sort is interesting to you, and you would like to better help us improve Star Trek Online, please check this link for more Tribble information.

Season One - Common Ground Coming Soon
Our first major update to Star Trek Online (because the patches, STF content and Gamma Orionis content we already released is just a start) is right around the corner. It's only been about five weeks since launch, and Season One - Common Ground is prepped to launch.

A preliminary build is on Tribble (see above for details). Expect the Common Ground build on the Tribble test environment to be updated many times over the next week as we intend to open up features, polish content and stomp the bugs our coolest users *cough* Try Tribble Now! *cough* are finding.

Respecs, new PvP maps, new Fleet Actions, another STF ... Season One - Common Ground is pretty-pretty-pretty robust.

Transparency Forward!
General advisory: All Cryptic hands are hereby instructed to reconfigure comm. badges to broadcast.

What does that mean? Our devs are on the forums more, we're sharing what we're working on in a variety of ways and we're publishing a calendar. The goal? Be as transparent as possible. We're going to tell you what we're doing as often as we can. We're going to give you the date we're shooting for on the calendar, even if it ends up slipping. We're going to tell you the bug we're squashing, even if it's a resilient bugger. We're going to show you that your subscription to Star Trek Online is a subscription to an ongoing service of tremendous value.

For example, we've recently posted and updated the "Upcoming Events Calendar."

It's improving, too. Soon, each item will link to its own descriptive page. A better style calendar was just published, also.

So, rather than waiting until everything is done, finalized, blasted into sacred stone and prepped for PR and marketing -- the traditional way of operating -- we're going to post what we're planning on doing as soon as we finish planning it. It's risky, yes, but it's definitely the right thing to do.

We believe our customers and co-developers of Star Trek Online - you beautiful people - deserve to know what's in store for the universe. We believe it's more important to let you know what we're striving to accomplish, even if we stumble, than it is to package releases in fancy boxes for easy, last-minute consumption.

Here's the drawback: Some of that information may, ultimately, turn out to be inaccurate. Dates move, items change, content gets revised. Delays, cuts, iterations, early releases ... Oh, my! That's games development for you. We're hoping everyone understands this and still appreciates the rare look at how interstellar sausage gets made.

Some of the items on the coming soon list - Season Two and Season Three, specifically - are a little vague right now. But, we want you to know they're coming and when they're coming. As time goes on, we'll fill out the calendar with more information.

Best I can tell, this is a pretty unique strategy, as far as MMOs go. "Telling the customers what we're working on well beforehand so they know where their game is going." So darn crazy it just ... might ... work!

Your Feedback, Our Job
For your edification, here are the results of the player survey that some 40,000 of you wonderful players graciously filled out for us.

Obviously, more non-combat content and ship interiors are hot items. Rest assured, we are forming our next update around those core concepts.

Expect more polls and surveys in the future. Still plenty of questions to be answered. For example:

"What new playable faction do you want?"
"What current content would you like to see more of?"
Because we intend our fans to directly impact development and we intend to address your concerns and implement your requests, we'll do more surveys, release the results and move in the right direction.

Our entire team continues to look forward to resolving your most important issues and getting the exciting content and systems in that you request.

Until when next we boldly go,