Star Trek Online: Call of Valor

A Star Trek Online Fan-fiction.

Controversy, BOff’s and The Great Zink

I was offline for a few days because I was moving and just got back online today. Interestingly enough, it’s 5 days sooner than my ISP said it would be done in, so I’m very happy. While I was gone, a few things happened.

Controversy:

A new episode of STOked was released last Tuesday. They made some interesting points on a few subjects. Of course, as always, I had to share my two cents.

The Galaxy X has had a lot of controversy, before it's even in the game...

There’s been a huge flame-war happening on the forums over the Galaxy-X that was being given as a reward for referrals. Apparently it’s now also being added to the C-Store for 2000 CP. A lot of people are pissed, namely a few who went out and, instead of actually referring people, they bought 5 whole new copies of the game and set up 5 new accounts just to get the ship; now they’re screaming bloody murder because the ship is on the C-Store for way less than they spent on new accounts to get it. .I have to say the whole flame war around the Galaxy-X with regards to the referral program is silly. Cryptic is right, the reward is playing with your friends; frankly I feel Cryptic is being way too nice by giving a free $50 of CP to each of those people that just bought 5 whole new accounts. The Galaxy-X was a great idea as an incentive; having it in the C-store for the high price it’s at makes just as much sense as making it a referral reward. Now people will hopefully be actually referring others instead of wasting almost $300 just for a starship.

That said, I do agree with STOked that Cryptic is walking a fine line with regards to C-Store items and game balance; both the Galaxy-X and the Caitians are great examples of this controversy (I got a Caitian and they have some amazing ground abilities that other races don’t get, and the Galaxy-X is the only fed ship with a cloak, not to mention the power of it’s ‘lance’). Cryptic said it would not be putting anything into the C-Store that would give anyone an unfair gameplay advantage over other players, but it seems that they may be doing that after all; as of this posting, I am not sure if the Galaxy-X is even in the game yet or have had a chance to test out just how good the Caitian’s ground abilities are. It’s an issue I’ve always been keenly watching with other MMOs as well, and will be watching it unfold. I’ve been on both sides of the argument so this will be interesting to see how Cryptic deals with it over time.

The Caitians have some great ground abilities... Too great?

Honestly, I don’t think the abilities of the Caitians are too powerful or unbalancing; the Galaxy-X, on the other hand… The jury is still out on that. I still feel that the Klingon side needs a LOT more content, and is thus-far nowhere NEAR balanced with the Federation faction; I think THAT issue deserves much more attention from the community. There are several options to balance this out; one of which would be to add more factions, and consider the content of all non-federation factions as one side of the game and Federation content the other. I don’t think that’s a bad idea… IF the Klingons AND the other factions get way more ‘fleshing out’ than the Klingons have currently.

Bridge Officers Come To Life:

I really want to see much more content and missions regarding BOffs; the big problem I have with that, though, is the fact that I want to write my BOff back-stories myself; how is Cryptic supposed to make new missions custom tailored to all of everyone’s active BOffs? that’s hundreds of thousands of unique BOffs, which would become millions of missions, and each mission set would have to be tailored to a BOff that Cryptic isn’t writing the story for. And what about all those players that *don’t* write back-storied for their BOffs? How would they get custom missions if there’s no backstory from the player to generate from? If they could do that, they’d be doing it for our main characters first.

Honestly, I think this is where the UGC engine will come in handy the most. We’ll be able to write those missions ourselves, then can even have other people experience the missions as well. They’ll get to see our stories just like we watched TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, and even ENT. We didn’t write those characters, but we enjoyed their stories just as much as if we had. I think the best UGC is going to be people writing stories of their characters and their BOffs that feel like actual episodes, and that we can feel we each made an impact on that story by being part of it.

The Voice packs, IMHO, would be the best option to add to give the BOff’s a much bigger feeling of being real characters, and would be easy to implement since they already had them in beta. All they need is better voice acting; they could even have, say 7 or 8 default and even add more to the C-Store, like extra Caitian voice packs and such! ^_^ I think they should have the voice packs recorded with enough dialog to give a sense of growth over your career; have sets of responses and which response set is dependent on your rank and how long you’ve had them (or how many skill points you’ve spent on them, or both). When you first take command, the tone and inflection is cold and reserved; they’re not sure how to feel about the sudden change of command. As you rise in rank, their tone gets more friendly/trusting and they start using more casual language here and there. When you’re a higher rank and commission a new BOff, their tone is formal and gets more relaxed as you spend skill points on them.

Etc:

There were several other interesting news items from the STO community, and I highly recommend watching last weeks episode of STOked! ^_^

The Great Zink:

This last bit of news came out AFTER last Tuesdays episode of STOked, so I’ll be watching their reaction of it with their next episode. The biggest and so far the saddest news: The big cheese , Mr STO himself, Craig Zinkievich (STOs Executive Producer) is leaving STO and Cryptic.

Craig Zinkievich, now former Executive Producer of STO.

This really sucks… but after thinking about it for a while, I can’t say I’m terribly surprised and this could be the beginning of even better things for STO. It was either a very hard decision for him or there’s things going on in the background that no one wants public. Is he really just taking some time away from the industry to get back in touch with his family, his goat and his bees? Or have the Cryptic Gods decided that, though he was doing a pretty damn good job, it wasn’t quite good enough, and have made him an offer to ‘leave’ that would keep his reputation intact that he could not refuse?

I honestly don’t know much about Mr. Stahl, but rest assured I am already looking into his reputation. So far, I like what I see; he has a passion for the franchise, a passion for Klingons, and may have that tiny bit more ‘oomph’ than Zink had that may be just what is needed right now. Zink did lots of amazing things for the game & will be missed, and I hope he’ll come back after some time away, but this slight shift in command could also become a shift in gears that the game needs; especially with SW-TOR coming along and looking to be solid competition.

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July 2, 2010 - Posted by | Geekgasm

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