When I became the Senior Producer on Star Trek Timelines nearly a year ago, I was incredibly excited to be joining such a cool game at such an early time. Like many of you, and like many of my colleagues at Disruptor Beam, I am a lifelong Star Trek fan. As a child of the 1980s, Star Trek: The Next Generation was maybe the first “adult” show I watched. It not only fostered in me a love of space and of science fiction but it also helped shine a light on formative notions I had of justice, of what was achievable with hard work and a great team, and in characters like Deanna Troi-who guided people with deep personal, moral and spiritual quandaries while continuing to grow on her own-I found strong female role models in science and leadership. To this day, I still watch the entire series every two years.
A few months ago, we made some staffing changes at Disruptor Beam. I took on the role of Product Owner of Star Trek Timelines. What I saw was a game with a passionate, dedicated and growing fan base, a talented and committed team of developers who were wholly committed to bringing new and exciting features to the game, and an unlimited horizon with a lot of work ahead.
However, in our rush to bring new features and stories and crew to the game, we introduced a number of bugs which we had not done a great job of fixing. We developed engaging but unconnected gameplay systems within the game. And we had lost some of the trust of our most committed players by not communicating as clearly, accurately, and swiftly as possible.
Today, not everything is perfect but we’ve made big strides-and have more strides planned. We’ve gone back and fixed most of the outstanding bugs; increased the number of crew slots for all players; added the ability to buy specific crew in faction shops; improved the UI on PvP ship combat; rebalanced ship abilities on a slew of characters to make the Commander division fair and achievable to all; and much more. On the back end we have improved our quality assurance processes, including developing new automation in a number of areas that can introduce certain kinds of bugs. We also committed to communicating key event details earlier in advance, and began keeping that promise ahead of schedule.
So where do we go from here?
Our work is not done on bug fixing and quality-of-life improvements: We continue to work hard to fix what’s not working and improve what is.
Today, we have disparate modes of gameplay which do not integrate: event crew do not carry bonuses beyond their events, for example. In the future, this will be much more intertwined. The crew you level for events may receive new storylines or bonuses for cadet challenges, or for ship battles.
Beyond that, we want to expand the horizons of gameplay in Timelines—making cooperation, collaboration, and competition with other players more and more important as the game evolves. Interactivity will be a fundamental part of the game. A year from now, you might battle another fleet for control of Deep Space Nine, and earn new rewards or face new challenges as you hold the station. Five years from now, the entire galaxy may have been explored, with social-based fleets or groups of fleets working together to claim or defend specific portions of the galaxy, with in-game ramifications for both holding and not holding certain areas.
And all along, we’ll keep working to do a better job communicating with our players and building a game we love even more. I hope you’ll stick around to see how it turns out. We’ve only completed our first year with STAR TREK TIMELINES. Year Two is just the beginning!