Welcome to the 15th installment of Ask Cryptic, where where we put the questions you ask to our development team. In this issue we discuss player progression. Read more to learn about Star Trek Online!
Sklarz: Are we limited to one branch? say I'm Engineering and I go down maintenance and then later I decide I also want to do some in Modification. Are we limited to one branch or can we go all out and get them all?
You’re not limited to any branch; you can acquire all the skills within your profession. You can start going down the Maintenance branch, but it’s not really a branch in the traditional sense. You can pick and choose any skills you want. But different tiers of skills become available as you rank up. The skill system isn’t technically a skill tree – lower-rank skills affect higher-rank skills, but there aren’t any prerequisites for the most part (more on that later).
For example, if you’re a Tactical officer, you can take Starship Energy Weapons training, or Starship Projectile Weapons training. You gain access to both of those skills as a Lieutenant. When you become a Lieutenant Commander, Beam Weapons, Cannon Weapons, Torpedo Weapons and Mines become available. At that point, if you put all your points into Starship Energy Weapons, you can go back and put points into Projectile Weapons training, or you can put it into Torpedoes.
At the next rank, Commander, there’s Phaser, Disruptor, Photon and Quantum skills. What you’re getting is more specialized skills. So if you put all your points into Energy Weapons, then Beam Weapons, then Phasers, you’ll be really good at phaser beams, generally good at all beams and OK at all types of energy weapons. You’d be not so great at disruptor cannons at that point, because you didn’t put anything into Cannons or into Disruptors, but you did put some points into Energy Weapons.
There is one true skill tree in the game, and that is the ship trees. Some of your skills govern your ability to captain certain types of vessels. You start off in a light cruiser based on the Miranda class, but from there your decisions will affect what ships become available to you. For instance, the tier 1 Escort is based on the Saber class. In order to fly the tier 2 Escort, you’ll need to have spent points to learn how to fly the Saber. You can put points you want into Science, Cruiser or Escort, but you can’t fly a tier 4 Cruiser just because you can fly a tier 4 Escort. You’ll need to learn how to pilot the previous Cruisers first. But you can fly every ship in the game on one character, if you invest the points.
Mach789: By the time I reach Admiral, will my skills be locked or will I be able to max out every skill eventually?
You can max out every skill eventually. We plan to keep adding skills to keep ahead of people, and by the time you’ve progressed through the endgame content, you’ll only have about half of the total skills you can acquire anyway.
We do need to clarify one thing, which is in regard to this question and the previous one: The profession you choose – say, Engineer – will limit the ground skills available to you, but not the space skills. So as an Engineer, you can still buy Photon skills (Tactical) or Sensor skills (Science) in space, but on the ground you only get access to Engineering skills. The ground game is more traditionally class-based, whereas in space you’re more limited by the type of ship you fly. We want you to be able to go into different ships and mix up your skills as much as possible.
Liquidblaino: if I'm a Lt Cmdr and I need to spend X skill points to be offered a promotion, does it count if I spend those points on Lt skills or just Lt Cmdr skills? Can I even go back and spend points on skills in the lower ranks?
You can go back and spend skills in lower ranks. You don’t need to spend X skills in a particular rank to be promoted; it’s just X skills total. For the sake of discussion, let’s say as a Lieutenant you need to spend 100 skill points (this is not the real number) anywhere to become a Liuetenant Commander. When you’re a Lieutenant Commander, it’ll take 300 skill points (again, not the real number) to rank up to Commander. It doesn’t matter where you spend those points; you can spend them on the ground, in space, in Lieutenant skills, in Lieutenant Commander skills.
That formula is true for you and your Bridge Officers. Bridge Officers follow the same path as you. They have much smaller skill sets, but their progression works the same.
Liquidblaino: What is the primary mechanism for earning skill points? Will these be awarded by Episodes and kills like experience in CO? Or will these be awarded for acting in a fashion in accordance with my faction?
They’re primarily rewarded by mission completion and kills, but there are other ways you can gain skills, too. There are “missions” like “Protect the Ambassador” or “Explore this Sector” or “Discover this many systems/special anomalies,” which don’t feel like a traditional MMO mission. So it’s missions, but the missions aren’t just “go here and kill 10 guys” or “go here and clean out this dungeon.” Star Trek missions are about exploration and doing things. You go out and look for things and go on Tours of Duty, which require you to go out and discover things, or explore sectors of space.
Numerous: Will there be a respec option?
It doesn’t exist yet, but we’re figuring out how to do it.
Numerous: Will PvP award experience?
Yes! You can rank up entirely just by participating in PvP.