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Gates of Sto’vo’kor Q & A With Dan Stahl

For Klingon Awareness Week, Gates of Sto’vo’kor – G’hargh (Roach), Korrath (Soriedem), Hauk (P-A-T-H-F-I-N-D-E-R), and Deyvid (Deyvid) –  recently sat down with Star Trek Online Executive Producer Dan Stahl to talk about the current state of the Klingon Faction within Star Trek Online. The audio interview will be posted soon. Be sure to give it a listen here.

Prior to the interview, we submitted 19 questions to Dan and received answers. Some of these were discussed in the audio interview, but others were not. We are providing the complete list of questions and answers.

Starter / Personal Questions

Gates: Do you have a favorite Klingon character from the shows, books, or movies? Who are they and why? Also, what are some of your thoughts on the Klingons, their culture, lore, and their place in Star Trek canon?

Dan: Having grown up during the start of the movie franchise, I thought all Klingons were pretty dull. It wasn’t until TNG and Michael Dorn’s Worf that I became a fan. However, it took several years of Worf’s development and stories like Sins of the Father to really bring depth to why this character was so great. True Story – At a Star Trek convention in Pasadena, CA in the 90’s, I was in line to get Terry Farrell and Colm Meaney’s autograph. There guy in front of me in that line was holding a script that he was going to have signed. He told me he had written the script for Sins of the Father. His name was Ronald Moore.

Gates: Do you play a KDF character? If so, please tell us about your toon and some of your more memorable (best and worst) experiences playing as a Klingon.

Dan: Only occasionally when I want to test some new content. Like most of our players, I prefer to play my Federation character, “Oaks”. My most memorable experiences playing a Klingon were testing the new First City on the Tribble Shard and having some impromptu PVP sessions with all the Tribble testers.

Gates: As a player, what are your thoughts about the faction in general? Do you think it is similar or different from what the rest of the player base is looking for in the faction?

Dan: It feels like there are two distinct concerns. The first is that as an MMO, there is an expectation that a faction is an entirely separate track through the game with its own objectives similar to the Horde vs. Alliance. The second is that there is a highly devoted group of fans of Klingon fiction who want the distinct story of the Klingons and their culture to be accurately represented and expanded. STO has done a little of both, but obviously not as much as either concerned party would like.

 

Current State of the Empire

Gates: According to Cryptic, what is the current state of the Klingon Empire? How does Perfect World view the KDF faction? Is there common ground between the needs and wants of PWE, Cryptic, and the player base?

Dan: The Klingon Empire is in better shape than it ever has been, considering at launch of the game it was pretty much cut as a feature and relegated to only being monster-play like PVP similar to that in LOTRO. Over two years, while making 4 seasons worth of updates, we’ve also managed to add a solid mission progression path so that there are episodes at nearly every level from level 21 to 51, and more being added this year. So from my perspective, we’ve devoted significant resources to convert what was once PVP monster play over to a viable PVE experience up to max level with the resources on hand. Add in KDF support for new features like the Duty Officer system and Red Alerts, and the only thing the FEDs have that the KDF does not are a specific tutorial and the early content levels up to level 21. This year we will be adding Fleet advancement, new end game challenges, and Starbases for KDF as well. KDF has come a long way.

Unfortunately, that is not how some KDF players see it. They see the KDF as the Horde in WoW and wonder why it is doesn’t have its own zones with an entirely separate content track unto itself. The game was just not made to be that at launch. The only way we’ll ever get there is if we spin up an entirely separate team of content designers to go back and make a few years’ worth of content and release it as an expansion.

From PWE’s perspective, they are most concerned with end game PVP between factions, which actually had we kept to the original plan and just focused on KDF as a PVP only faction, perhaps we would be a lot closer to what they want to see. Finding a balance between all of the desires for the KDF is where the future lies.

Gates: What are some of the current problems facing the KDF faction? Do you have solutions to those issues? Would you consider solutions proposed by the player base? Or even help from the Foundry community? Like Brandon’s Foundry Challenge, with Cryptic providing story and gameplay directives and the “best” mission gets added to the game as “official” KDF content.

Dan: The problems with the KDF is simply manpower and ROI. Since we did not launch the KDF as a PVE faction and have instead added it slowly over time, there is a chicken and egg problem. CBS argued that according to all of their research data, only a set small percentage of Star Trek fans would want to play Klingons. For the most part that data has held up, but then we get the argument that if we just built the game to be focused on the KDF, that it would have more players. But then the argument is that historically, Klingon focused games have not sold as well as Federation focused games, because Star Trek for the most part focused on the Federation, with only Worf being the central tie to the Klingons.

So the best solution so far has been the Foundry. This allows players who want to experience Klingon stories to

 

The KDF Faction

Gates: When we walk around the Academy and First City, we notice a lot of familiar faces. In fact, there is very little to distinguish the individuals within a species. Are there any plans to get more costume options such as hair, clothing, and other options added to the character creator for not only the individual species within the Empire, but also for the Empire as a whole. And what about the Letheans? They have to be the most underutilized race in the game right now.

Dan: Possibly over time, but it is a low priority just like adding new ambience species to Earth Space Dock is a low priority. We have much bigger fish to fry in the game.

Gates: Are we going to be getting new player races for the KDF? Possibly some from the Animated Series, or the novels such as the Children of San-Tarah as described in the IKS Gorkon novels? If so can you please share with us what these are?

Dan: Possibly. You might see something by the time Season 6 rolls around. Unfortunately, very few people play these new KDF species, since most want to play Klingons or Orions.

Gates: Let’s talk ships. There are some interesting variants on CapnLogan’s personal website. What new KDF ships and / or skins might Cryptic be sitting on that will be coming out sometime in the near future? What can you tell us about them? … Especially end game ships. Are any of these +1 variants? And what about the Letheans? We don’t have any ships for them.

Dan: At this point, we are scouring source books and reference manuals for any remaining Klingon IP ships that we haven’t yet made. More than likely in the future we will continue to make up new ship designs for the KDF. What would a Lethean ship look like?

Gates: Consoles are often a hot topic on the forums with some players saying KDF consoles are over powered and others saying that it’s just the difference between the Klingon culture and that of the Federation. What is your take on this?

Dan: I trust my systems design leads, since they designed and balanced the consoles. If they have done their due diligence to test and balance then approve of how they are currently, I trust their decision.

Gates: Are there any plans to introduce Targ breeding similar to the tribble system where KDF players can gain boosts or debuffs by interacting with their pet. Also, what about the ability to breed or “craft” an Attack Targ, similar to the “craftable” attack Hortas.

Dan: It was talked about a while back as something fun to do, but currently there are much more pressing matters in the game to deal with – such as new content.

Gates: Many Klingon players are concerned about the number of KDF specific bugs and Federation bleed through onto the KDF faction, such as tricorders, the Brace For Impact Red Alert klaxon, and the cloak disrupting dialog prompts. Will these issues be addressed any time soon?

Dan: Bugs in general is an issue. The QA team is working on improving their process but we can only fix so many bugs a week. QA is making an effort to escalate the issues you mention so that they get taken care of sooner than later.

 

The Factions

Gates: Factions in other games are handled in different ways. Some games will have an all-powerful enemy that forces all factions to work together or against each other towards a common goal against a common enemy. Others have two distinct factions that are pitted against each other. STO seems to be heading in the direction of a hybrid approach, where we start off as enemies and are later forced to work together against the Borg, the Undine, and the Iconians. (how very Star Trek) What are the plans for our faction? Is it still your intention to flesh us out, leave us the same, or just sweep us under the rug? If we still have a separate faction, how unique will it be?

Dan: TBD. And frankly, if it boils down to being a major plot point, I’m not going to spoil it now.

Gates: What about the Romulans? It’s been said that they won’t be introduced until the KDF is finished? Do you have an idea of what finished means? And, once these factions are in game, how does Cryptic plan to support them in terms of content, time and money?

Dan: See answer to question 4.

 

The War

Gates: The war has been going on for some time, and many feel that it has stagnated. Then, with the recent Borg and Featured episodes, we are seeing more and more collaboration between the two factions. Does this mean the war is drawing to a conclusion? Will it be an uneasy peace?

Dan: Season 6 will see the war become more of a focus again as Feds and KDF Fleets start to establishes Starbases along the war zone.

 

PVE Content

Gates: PVE content is on the minds of most KDF players. Captain Geko mentioned in an interview that there is a standalone KDF mission about ready to launch.  Can you share with us the status of that mission? Will it feature any of the established/canon Klingon characters who have been mentioned in the game or in the Path to 2409, such as Worf’s marriage to Grilka and their son K’Dhan? If not, will we see some of these characters introduced in future KDF missions?

Dan: It comes out in a few weeks. I don’t know, you’d have to interview our writer to get all the details.

Gates: Will we see the stories that represent the species that make up the KDF faction, such as the Orions, Gorn, and especially the Leatheans?

Dan: Possibly, but no more so than you’d see us write specific content about Vulcans or Andorians or Tellarites on the Fed side.

 

The Empire’s Future

Gates: What does the future look like for the KDF faction overall? What would you like to see?

Dan: See answer 4 above.

Gates: What questions do you have for us, players of the KDF faction? … What questions can we answer? … What would you like to know from us the players?

Dan: Have you ever dressed up as  Klingon before in real life?

 

Ideas / Suggestions

Gates: When we think of KDF, we think of melee, but as the faction currently stands, there is little to encourage a player to fight as a true Klingon Warrior with a blade in hand, while looking your opponent in the eye. We would like to see a melee system introduced to the KDF faction complete with new melee-enhancing weapons, armor, and equipment. A system where we can level up our melee prowess, earn accolades (Dahar Master), costumes, passive bonuses, etc.

Dan: Thanks, I’ll pass that along.

Thank you Dan for taking the time out of your busy schedule to not only answer these questions, but also for sitting down with us to talk about the Klingon Faction within Star Trek Online. Qa’Pla!

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About Korrath

I'm also known as Soriedem in Star Trek Online ...
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