After listening to podcasts and reading transcripts and such, I am beginning to suspect that we may be faced with another major code merge, possibly in the form of "Season 6".
Please note that nobody directly said a major code merge was in the works. This is speculation only.
For those who weren't around for the last one, a code merge happens when Cryptic takes core features developed for their core engine across all of their games and merges that code back into each game (in some form). That's how I remember Dan Stahl explaining it back then.
In some ways this is good. For example, a lot of Foundry enhancements will probably come out of code developed for Neverwinter and some of that will be portable into STO. At the same time we will probably get new features and content specifically designed for STO.
But if it's anything like the last major code merge that hit STO in Season 4, I will be finding another game to play until the dust settles. I admit, once things stabilized we had better ground combat among other things. It sets the stage for better things to come. I understand why they do it. But I hope that they spend more time on stability and bug-squashing than last time, and that they stabilize the game faster post-merge. It was not one of the STO team's shining moments.
What about it? Will Season 6 be a "Code Red" season? Or will the code merge come sooner? Later? Will Cryptic be able to staff up and ramp up for a smoother merge this time around? Will they be able to provide us with solid mission content between now and then? They have a lot of new staff (relatively speaking), but it's the programmers who will make or break this.
What is Cryptic/PW doing to pave the way for this?
It's really important that Cryptic gets this right and I really hope they do because I really like this game.
That;s what I "heard" as soon as they mentioned Season 6 (mostly Foundry stuff) while launching Season 5. Season 6 would be a Foundry update that was purely incidental, not focused STO development. We will be getting merged with an older (though new to us) code branch that has many features from Neverwinter.
Don't look for any new assets that are not already some how in the game.
Season 6: Incidental Foundry Update (thanks to Neverwinter)