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    Captain's log Dec 24th 2012

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    Pyriel32
    Director of Intelligence

    Fleet Rank : Fleet Admiral
    Special Operations Rank : SPO Fleet Admiral
    Intel Department Rank : INT Fleet Admiral
    Number of posts : 4650
    Location : Serenity Station
    Ship Name : U.S.S. ACHERON
    Ship Registry Number : NCC-97397-D
    Ship Class : Eclipse Class Intel Cruiser (Special Operations Refit)
    Fleet Division : Intel/Special Ops

    Main RP Character Profile
    Name: Pyriel Danto

    Captain's log Dec 24th 2012

    Post by Pyriel32 on Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:40 am

    Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's PvP community steps up

    by Terilynn Shull on Dec 24th 2012 6:00PM
    Sci-fi, Podcasts, Events, in-game, Game mechanics, Patches, PvP, News items, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-play, Rumors, Captain's Log

    18

    Three weeks away from home and any legitimate connection to the internet can certainly make one feel a bit disjointed. However, I've discovered it can actually be a bit more disconcerting trying to reintegrate into the previous patterns that existed before the break was taken.

    When I left on my vacation, I seriously anticipated that very little news about Star Trek Online would occur. I expected the news about the 2012 Winter Event to come out, sure, but what I didn't expect was all of the other little bits of news that seemed to blindside me when I got back last week. Join me while I go over a few of the more interesting tidbits -- from the grassroots effort to reinvigorate PvP in Star Trek Online to the changes made to Foundry rewards.



    PvPers yell, "We're not quite dead yet!"

    For more than a year (honestly, for more than the past two years), the PvP community in Star Trek Online has more than just dwindled -- it has virtually disappeared due to a lethal mix of a rather apathetic playerbase and a lack of personnel devoted to the creation and maintenance of PvP-devoted material.

    Let's face the truth: PvP doesn't appeal to the majority of gamers. Sure, it may have been a mainstay of the gaming foundation a long time ago, but the influx of the dreaded "casual" players and their unwillingness to be subjected to humiliation by other players laid the foundation for the wasting away of that era.

    Making matters worse, PvP has always seemed more convoluted in STO than in other games. PvPers, for the most part, have always been an integral part of the game's community, and those who participated in the limited choices for play were still some of the nicest in the game; it was just that their numbers were always thin compared to those who preferred to take on an enemy that was far more predictable.


    Enter the new grassroots effort called the PvP Boot Camp. Beginning on December 29th, 2012, players who sign up for the community-based effort will be able to receive some open advice and tips from more experienced PvP players. There will be two sessions offered to players in order to accommodate those who live around the globe. The organizers promise, "No 'noob' is too noobish to participate in Boot Camp. Come with the gear and the ship you have. Regardless of your equipment, you are certain to learn something and grow as a player."

    I'm actually quite happy about this new endeavor. I have avoided PvP for years now as I know for a fact that my characters are not anywhere near capable enough to take on experienced PvP veterans. However, I'm willing to learn, and if a more experienced player is willing to help me spec one of my characters to the point of just being able to compete, I'll be more than happy to perfect my skills in the PvP arenas. Congratulations and many thanks to the PvP community. I'll be signing up for the sessions, and I recommend that anyone who might be remotely interested in becoming a more well-rounded player do the same!


    A new video podcast from PWE

    Also new in the last few weeks is the On Screen video newscast being produced by the community and PR/marketing teams at Perfect World Entertainment. The new videos are currently scheduled to be released on Star Trek Online's YouTube channel on a quarterly basis.

    They feature STO Community Manager Brandon Felczer and Whitney Henderson from PWE's PR/marketing team. The first episode was just under five minutes long and contained an overview of all of the new material that was released over the course of the last month. Some of it was new to me (because I was away for so long), but a lot of it was old news. Be that as it may, it's nice to see a good quality, official video production from PWE and Cryptic pertaining to STO.

    Personally, I think they'd be more useful on a monthly basis as opposed to a quarterly release, especially since the videos are so short. They would be a great conduit of information for the STO community and might very well be a great addendum to Executive Producer Dan Stahl's monthly Ask Cryptic column.


    Ask Cryptic and a plethora of new ships

    The December Ask Cryptic column was released a couple of weeks ago. While most of the information contained in the blog wasn't news to most players, a few choice items stood out for me -- namely, a question about the rewards for completion of Foundry missions. While Stahl answered it by stating that rewards would be altered by the end of the year, that those reward changes have in fact already taken place.

    First of all, the notorious "console clicker" missions (missions that required a player complete only a very mundane and simple task) have essentially been wiped out. It's no longer possible to exploit the game's dilithium economy by making and/or using simple one-task missions to gain the rewards. Secondly, the rewards for completing legitimate Foundry missions have increased.

    Prior to the change, the Investigate Officer Reports "wrapper" would reward 1440 dilithium and 50 fleet marks once a player completed three Foundry missions. That mission could only be undertaken once per day. The new Investigate Officer Reports mission now rewards players 960 dilithium and 50 fleet marks for completing just one Foundry mission, and better still, it has only a 30-minute cool-down time. Playing Foundry missions has now become a great way to earn dilithium in STO! This is great news for Foundry authors and the playerbase in general!


    What's this about a bunch of new ships, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. Earlier this past weekend I tripped across a tweet issued by STO's lead designer, Al Rivera (CaptainGeko); he mentioned that he and four new employees are designing at least nine new ships for release before the end of February, 2013. When I asked him for more info, he told me his team is working on the Andorian escort, the Ambassador, two ships destined for lock box release, a Klingon vessel, and a "type 8 equivalent" for the KDF.

    Then he noted that "some of the nine" would be variants of ships that are already in the game, and some will be fleet variants that will be available via the fleet store. The team is also working on additional ships for release throughout 2013; Rivera intimated that his crew is "thinking" of creating another Andorian vessel as well as possible ships from the Tellarites and the Xindi. Other ships being discussed were a C-Store (ZEN Store) variant of the KDF Negh'Var and possibly a Hirogen vessel.

    In any event, it seems that the teams are quite busy, a fact touched upon by Stahl in the most recent Ask Cryptic. All that I know is a lot actually happened in the three weeks I was away. I'm glad I have the holidays to play a bit and catch up with some of the new changes and the Q Winter Wonderland event, which is set to run through January 14th. Until next week, live long and prosper!

    Pyriel32
    Director of Intelligence

    Fleet Rank : Fleet Admiral
    Special Operations Rank : SPO Fleet Admiral
    Intel Department Rank : INT Fleet Admiral
    Number of posts : 4650
    Location : Serenity Station
    Ship Name : U.S.S. ACHERON
    Ship Registry Number : NCC-97397-D
    Ship Class : Eclipse Class Intel Cruiser (Special Operations Refit)
    Fleet Division : Intel/Special Ops

    Main RP Character Profile
    Name: Pyriel Danto

    Re: Captain's log Dec 24th 2012

    Post by Pyriel32 on Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:04 am

    Captain's Log: Star Trek Online year in review, part one

    by Terilynn Shull on Dec 31st 2012 4:00PM
    Sci-fi, Patches, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-play, Captain's Log

    68

    Here we are again, facing another New Year's Eve and the taking down of the old beat-up calendar and replacing it with a brand-new, pristine one. It's a day to both reflect on the past and celebrate and revel in the exciting unknowns of the future. While we're still a few weeks away from Star Trek Online's third anniversary in February, right now for me it's a time to celebrate two other anniversaries: Last week I celebrated my first anniversary with Massively, and today marks my 18th wedding anniversary!

    So I figured now was the perfect time to review the amazing changes that have taken place in Star Trek Online. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be going over what worked and what didn't work and try to prognosticate on what the past year may foretell for the future of the game.



    Was it really less than a year ago that STO went free-to-play?

    It seemed longer, didn't it? Looking back on my past columns, I realized with some shock that Star Trek Online converted from a subscription-only based game to a free-to-play model less than a year ago! At this time last year, STO had just released the patch titled A Call to Arms. That patch injected much of what became the foundation of STO's F2P model and included the new (supposedly) single-currency called dilithium. This was a big, big change for the playerbase. To say that the change went smoothly would be a lie. It actually took a while for things to settle down, and some aspects still have not.

    To begin with, a new and fluctuating economy was introduced into a game based on a fictional universe where money supposedly had no meaning. Many of the Trek faithful protested; some even left the game. But others found ways to rationalize the changes or just flat ignore them in order to continue playing as a Starfleet captain in the one of the moved beloved sci-fi genres of all time.


    The change to the free-to-play format also seemed to impart a significant delay on actual story advancement in the game. A year later, most players are still clamoring for story. Strangely however, since the game went free-to-play, most of STO's story has actually been fleshed out within the pages of Star Trek Magazine, not the game itself. Will STO ever see consistent story-telling again, or will the next set of Featured Episodes due with the upcoming release of Season Eight be the last?

    One thing is certain: Changes to the game mechanics were necessary, and many are still are needed. Still, the developers at Cryptic shouldn't have to be reminded that the Star Trek television shows survived despite their cheap props and crappy special effects. Why? Because great stories were at the heart of the shows, and no video game can survive without a damned good reason to play. Mechanics don't give people a palpable need to play a game, but a great story can.


    The 2800

    The year did see the temporary return of the beloved Featured Episodes. For those who are unfamiliar with the format, here's the skinny: For most of 2010, Featured Episodes became the way that STO players were fed the advancement of the game's story. Released on a weekly basis in four or five-mission arcs, FEs were very similar to television mini-series and drew large groups of players to play the newest mission and gain unique rewards.

    Only one set of Featured Episodes, The 2800, has been released since the F2P changeover. The 2800 was a breath of fresh air into a game that had been suffering from such significant changes in mechanics that many players were convinced they'd never see an advancement of the tales that had begun with the television shows. However, The 2800 featured a strong story, based on a singular episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and it showed the return of the missing 2800 ships of The Dominion that had been thwarted by The Prophets as they entered the Bajoran worm-hole.


    A new Enterprise and a new Enterprise captain

    The 2800 also revealed the new Enterprise and her crew. The NCC-1701-F, the design of which was based on the winning contest entry by artist Adam Ihle, made her first appearance in the final battle sequence in the last mission in the arc. Her commanding officer, an Andorian male by the name of Va'Kel Shon, had made a brief appearance in earlier episodes as the CO of the U.S.S Belfast. While some players have expressed disappointment in the character's new role, personally I was thrilled. Finally, in the true spirit of IDIC (the Vulcan axiom of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), the CO of the Enterprise isn't a human. It's about time!

    This ship's design also took a critical beating. In a significant change from previous Star Trek designs, the Enterprise-F's saucer section has a dual hull that connects it to the star-drive section. She's vastly different from her earlier counterparts, but in a way, that's also very consistent for the genre. With the exception of the 1701 to the 1701-A, no other Enterprise ever really looked like the ship before it.

    The Odyssey class (the class of ship of the Enterprise-F) can be played in the game by any player who obtains one. Be warned: She's a beast to fly, but the challenge of turning her is measured with the beauty of her interior and her ability to take a beating.


    The Foundry ch-ch-ch-ch changes!

    With a David Bowie earworm firmly in place, I will take on a brief overview of the last year for STO's strangest enigma: The Foundry. The user-generated content tool has seen its fair share of failures, bugs, delays and frustration. After the outright system implosion following the release of Season Four, The Foundry never really has quite recovered. Yet the lessons learned by the QA unit after the aptly named Season Four Fiasco have kept the UGC tool from suffering the same devastating problems when subsequent seasons were released during 2012.

    The Foundry community remains one of the tightest and most creative, not just in the game but also within the greater Star Trek fandom. What some have labeled a clique is, in my experience, actually a group of extremely giving people, all of whom are willing to help players of any experience level improve their skills at creating their own playable STO missions.

    To assist that community, the devs at Cryptic Studios and the community management at Perfect World Entertainment have finally made some changes with respect to how Foundry missions are played. Players receive increased rewards for undertaking the community-made missions. The devs have also created the Foundry Spotlight, a weekly special focus on one mission (alternating between Federation and Klingon factions) created by a player and highlighted on the game's website every Friday.


    Does this mean that all is well with The Foundry? Of course not. Plenty can be done to improve the tool in the game. While much has been done in order to make the tool more user-friendly, many players still find the tool a bit daunting. More experienced users are still begging for old bugs to be addressed and fixed, while others are hoping against hope that more assets will soon be added in order to increase the diversity of missions that can be created.

    Be that as it may, The Foundry community has done wonders with the tool even in its current state, and many of the missions are (at least in my opinion) some of the very best -- not just in STO, mind you, but across the Star Trek genre as a whole.

    I will continue my year in review next week! Until then, live long and prosper!

      Current date/time is Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:53 am