Star Trek Online: Call of Valor

A Star Trek Online Fan-fiction.

Invasion!! and F2P?

On Thursday this week, 2 major things happened in STO.

We are the Borg. Our d*cks are bigger, and here's one to prove it. Just give up; you know you're gonna get f*cked by us. Just make things easy on yourselves; bend over and take it. Come on, we know you want to.

First, the Borg began their all-out invasion of the Alpha Quadrant. This invasion will be coming in stages. Stage one is the new Red Alert DSEs; they will be randomly happening in every sector at set cooldown intervals. When they appear, there are 2 ways to get into them.

A, find the huge Borg cube ship flying around the sector, and engage it the same as other DSEs. It’s frikkin huge and hard to miss.

B, there will be a flashing “Red Alert” button that will appear in the UI. Trust me, you can’t miss it ūüėõ It’s huge and flashy and bright red.

Gotta say that the one thing that made me squee with geekgasm delight over and over has to have been the epic voiceover work. I mean seriously epic. They nailed it. They frikkin nailed it. I’m not going to try to describe it, just go play and squee for yourself.

I’ve done a few of them now, both on my VA (maxed out level 51) Main character, and once on my Lt. (lowest rank after the tutorial) alt character. There’s two daily missions you can get in these; one gives you an item that grants a 15 minute increase to skill point gain, the other offers a choice of a level appropriate badge or a level appropriate item.

Now, what is interesting is anyone can join in, but they’re all no lower than level 45. What does that mean for all the low level players who want to participate? GOOD NEWS!!!¬†You guys not only get a temporary 15% XP boost, but you ALSO get¬†temporarily¬†raised to level 45! No, not your ship class or ability selectiona, your base stats and the damage/effectiveness¬†of the weapons/skills you have are just multiplied to be stronger and equal to a level 45 character. Honestly, though, even with this, as a lowbie, unless you’re going in with at least a couple high-level players to watch your back, expect to get your @$$ handed to you every few minutes, especially at the end (I’ll go into the end boss in a bit).

The other good news (as far as I believe, it’s good news) is that when entering these DSEs, they are not like other DSEs or FAs in that it’s not got a player cap of 20 to 25; the player cap is 5. You heard me, 5. I really like this. That’s enough for an average 5-man team to group together and hunt down invading Borg. That also works for PUGs who are smart, group together once inside, and co-ordinate via in-game voice chat (but since when are PUGs ever smart).

As a high-level player, I will say that these battles can be either extremely easy, or extremely hard, depending on the group you find yourself with once in the system. The Borg ships are not pushovers. They co-ordinate with each other, with scout vessels, and with spheres. They combine abilities to devastating effects. They’re weapons are beefier. Do not underestimate them. At some point, the command ship will transwarp in, and the test of the ships will transwarp out, leaving you to face the giant Borg space penis¬†Borg Command Ship. This mofo is huge. Really huge. And it looks like a giant d*ck. Sorry, Cryptic, but it does. And, I must say, some of the design is rather ¬†reminiscent¬†of VGER…

I'ma firin' mah layzaarr!!

The front of the ship is a giant cannon, shooting some kind of slow-moving plasma torpedoes bigger than my ship was. Not talking the energy glow effect, I mean the torpedo at the center itself seemed almost as big as my ship. And unlike other plasma torps, this one took several hits to get rid of, & often flew back and forth between a couple ships at a time. I don’t know if that is a glitch or intentional, but it got me irritated. The ship itself is also equipped with multiple tractor beams, plasma cutting beams, tractor probes, and other¬†assorted goodies of destruction.¬†Be prepared to deal with tractor beams. In all honesty, watching one of these things go down after a struggle of a fight with it is a beautiful site.¬†These can be either way too hard & frustrating, way too easy and not as satisfying, or they can offer a decent challenge.

Also, I’ve heard some concern raised that they are going to get old after a few weeks to few months. They probably will if left as they are; good thing Cryptic already said they were only the initial stage of a big, long series of events; this tells me they won’t be staying forever, so I really think we won’t get too bored with them before they are removed. If you get bored with these, remember that STO only just finished getting bought by PWI and resources are still being shifted, and new staff is still in the hiring process.

Actually, this brings me to the next big announcement: STO is going F2P. Woo hoo. We totally didn’t see this coming. </sarcasm> Seriously, I’m very excited; I have several friends that wouldn’t try it simply because it wasn’t F2P, so now they¬†have¬†no excuse to come play

Honestly, I think this is a good thing much more than a bad thing. There’s been a lot of doom & gloom, a lot of nay-saying, and a lot of bitching, especially by a lot of people who bought lifetime¬†subscriptions. The biggest complaint is people insist that the game going F2P makes their investment a waste and they will not be getting their dollars worth because the game will be free. This is complete and utter bullshit. This argument is moaned by idiots who have ignorantly neglected to actually investigate what a free to play model really is, and why it’s becoming adopted by so many games. It’s just proof that they have not used their brains and are not worth paying any attention to. The F2P scheme STO is adopting is going to be very similar to the Champions Online F2P that has been working very well for going on a year now. It’s not completely free. The majority is free, but there’s a lot that is for sale for real money in the C-Store; almost all of it is cosmetic, though there are also some balanced power sets, archtypes and mission packs as well as XP boosting items. Premium and lifetime subscribers will be the only ones to get some items for free as they’re released, and they are being given a few hundred c-points every month. As in they are giving you free c-store swag that everyone else must buy with cash!!¬†That sounds to me like lifers are getting even more awesomesauce than ever before. In the case of STO, as it is now they are getting the game for “free” but need to buy stuff in the C-Store like everyone else. Going F2P means instead of having to buy C-Points like everyone else, they are getting them given to them, so they’re saving even more money than they were before. That alone, to me, more than makes the Lifetime Subscriptions worthwhile. So STOP YOUR POINTLESS BITCHING!!!

I am really hoping I can afford to get myself a lifetime subscription before the year is out, or before they go F2P, whichever happens first. I will post updates about the F2P as they are released.

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September 4, 2011 Posted by | Geekgasm, Nit-picker's Guide | Comments Off on Invasion!! and F2P?

STO Creativity – Pet Peeves of Player Backstories

So Season 4 has just rolled out, and I have one thing to say about that¬†Juggernaut¬†of changes: AWESOMESAUCE! So much goodness in it, I don’t know where to start ūüėÄ

So I just won’t. ūüėõ¬†There’s blogs all over the net reviewing all the new changes to Star Trek Online with their new Season 4 release that I don’t feel I need to bog people down with yet another blog raving or fuming over the changes in excruciating detail.

Instead, I’m going to Continue reading

July 9, 2011 Posted by | Nit-picker's Guide | Comments Off on STO Creativity – Pet Peeves of Player Backstories

Atari, Foundry, and the future of STO: The Plot Thickens

Today,¬†Perfect World and Atari issued a press release that announced an agreement for the acquisition of Cryptic Studios. The press release is somewhat long, so I’ll try to break it down into non-l33t-bizman speak, as well as give some shared thoughts on the matter and how it could¬†affect STO. As I mentioned in my last post on this topic, Atari (formerly known as Infogrames) made the decision this month to sell Cryptic Studios – the makers of Star Trek Online, Champions Online, the original developers of City of Heroes, and the studio currently developing the new Neverwinter.

Now, I have to say, before this happened I had a pretty biased opinion about Continue reading

June 1, 2011 Posted by | Ideas for expanding, Nit-picker's Guide | Comments Off on Atari, Foundry, and the future of STO: The Plot Thickens

Atari, Foundry, and the future of STO

This past week, Atari announced that it is dropping Cryptic studios. This is a huge thing for any fan of the game. For those that don’t know how it works, Atari is a publisher. They have the huge amounts of money that are needed by developers to make & launch a game. Cryptic Studios is a developer; they make the games. Cryptic makes STO. Atari pays the bills for Cryptic to make STO.

So what does this mean for STO, that Atari is dropping Cryptic? Continue reading

May 23, 2011 Posted by | Nit-picker's Guide | 2 Comments

STO Crafting: Single-playing a multi-player game… WTF?!

Fleets... WTF does this have to do with crafting?

There’s been a lot of heated debate over Fleet Starbases being able to craft starships etc. in various threads on the forums. Some people think anyone insisting on playing solo should be able to craft anything that anyone else does, with Fleets simply having more people to gather the resources than solo players. Others are of the opinion that Fleets with Starbases should be able to craft unique ships & items not available to solo players. I’ve heard rant after rant about solo players should be given everything fleets are, and fleets should have nothing special. One guy said, “I think that everyone should have his own starbase and not only fleets.¬†Fleets could have sth more advanced and bigger than the players that like to go solo.That way everyone is happy” I gotta say… WTF?! A single player with a whole starbase? that’s just bad mechanics, period. I would not be happy with that at all as a Fleet Leader. Continue reading

February 10, 2011 Posted by | For Fleet & Federation, Nit-picker's Guide | Comments Off on STO Crafting: Single-playing a multi-player game… WTF?!

“Socializing” sucks(?)

Massively.com - "Captain's Log: Socializing and the quiet of space in STO"

Not long ago I mentioned an article on Massively.com by Ryan Greene about the problems with in-game socializing in STO. I wanna go into that topic more in depth, and I’m hoping to get some feedback comments on this one. Honestly, I think that article hit the nail on the head when he said, “Socializing doesn’t rank super high on the¬†STO priority list, it seems.” Frankly, I find that issue in almost every MMO, and STO is far from an exception. Continue reading

February 6, 2011 Posted by | For Fleet & Federation, Nit-picker's Guide | Comments Off on “Socializing” sucks(?)

STO: Cloaked Intentions Ep. 1 ‚Äď The Vault (continued)

The Vault

"That's no moon! ..."

I finally got into the Vault, and thankfully continued right from where I’d left off – entering the station. The station interior is HUUUGE!! And beautiful ^_^ I was very pleased with all the eye candy they put into it. The little diplomatic side mission just after getting in there was a nice touch, too. ¬†It was a little confusing at first, especially when my engineer told me I’d “ave to think 3 dimensionally” even though the exit to the next section was basically right across from me, but I found where I was supposed to go.

BE WARNED: this mission will be a LOT easier with a Continue reading

February 5, 2011 Posted by | Geekgasm, Nit-picker's Guide | 2 Comments

STO: Cloaked Intentions Ep. 1 – The Vault

Well, the new Featured Episode series, Cloaked Intentions, is finally upon us…

 

My first Shuttle; a Type 8

Looks awesome, doesn’t it? ¬†I was playing it today; I’ll not give too many details about it as there’s a lot of awesomesauce in just the first couple of minutes. I got my first shuttlecraft (a type 8) and she’s a beauty ^_^ Small, sleek, maneuverable… Has very little in the way of consoles or weapons, but she’ll do the job of sneaking into tight places.

So I get my shuttle and head to the Vault; and DAAAAYYYUUUMMM is that sucker huge! The bloody thing is bigger than some small moons. And it’s well guarded; ship patrols, communications relays, tachyon detection grids… They do NOT want anyone coming uninvited… anyone like me ūüėČ

Well, getting past the tachyon detection grid was a lot simpler than I had thought, so I went to sneak my way onto the station… and got¬†disconnected. No big, I’ll just log in and go again. And got disconnected. This repeated about 6 more times, some just getting DCed before I could load into sector space just outside the mission, other times it wouldn’t even get that far. According to the official forums, I’m far from the only one with this issue. I have to say, I’m not entirely surprised; from what I can tell, STO is doing rather well financially, just not well enough to afford additional devs for the teams or to afford a lot of voice-overs; that we’ve had any decent voice-overs at all in the last few months is impressive, considering the lack of $ for some really good ones.

So I’ll have to give a deeper review later on in the next few days, when time, school & servers allow.

February 5, 2011 Posted by | Geekgasm, Nit-picker's Guide | Comments Off on STO: Cloaked Intentions Ep. 1 – The Vault

The Future of STO: Matters of Opinion

Today I read an interesting artical on Massively.com

Personally, I think it was fairly well written, though a few things could be taken out of context. STO going F2P would not be such a bad thing, IF they follow Turbine’s example rather than other games. I agree that the C-Store is not done well at all as it is right now, but guess what: that’s Atari, not Cryptic. Atari owns much of the control of the C-Store & what goes in it, as they’re the publisher that’s paying the bills. Cryptic and the STO team is doing the best they can, and Stahl is constantly fighting with Atari to have things in the store made available in-game through gameplay to balance everything out better.The C-Store is far from perfect, Stahl would likely scrap it entirely if it were up to him, but the STO team is doing damn good with what they have, just the same. Continue reading

January 30, 2011 Posted by | Nit-picker's Guide | Comments Off on The Future of STO: Matters of Opinion

STO F2P – Fact or fiction? The plot thickens…

I was reading through the most recent Engineering Report made by STO’s EP, dstahl, on the official forums. All in all, great stuff coming… though a couple of things got my “conspiracy theorist” juices going.

“In the meantime, there is a lot of other great things happening around the office. Champions Online has set a date of when they will open the doors for Free to Play – starting January 25th. We will be watching closely to see how the public responds to this offer and evaluate whether or not it is something that would make sense for Star Trek Online.”

Watching closely? What for, unless the guys who pay the STO bills are thinking it’s a direction worth investigating. At first I let it pass; it’s gotta be just them being curious about the way “competing games”, even ones owned by the same publisher, are doing their thing… Then I saw this listed in the “Under Development” section:

“Ways to boost XP gain while leveling up (new type of consumables)”

Huh… as in similar to the DDO scrolls that you buy on the Turbine store?

Wait, whut? O.o

The game is already easy to play as it is, why would you need to make it easier? That makes absolutely no sense. Why is this even necessary… unless they plan to sell them in the C-Store after the game goes “freemium” or F2P. Despite Stahl’s¬†insistence¬†that the¬†likelihood¬†the game going F2P was slim to none, it’s looking more and more like an inevitability. There’s been a lot of¬†controversy¬†over this for months, since dstahl made a few comments about his opinion that F2P was not a sign of the end of any game that chose to switch to it. LotRO was actually holding it’s own as a P2P, but made the switch to F2P like DDO had already done, and has seen a huge increase in customers & revenue. So, if F2P is so successful financially, why wouldn’t STO consider the option?

Does that spell the end of STO? Many people think so. Myself, though I’m not specifically for STO going F2P; I say far from it. I think it would be very Star Trek to go F2P, actually. There’s been people all over the forums saying “if STO goes F2P I’m never touching it again”. I think there’s going to be a lot MORE people who would play STO if it had no monthly fees, though I would probably recommend a set-up closer to Global Agenda or Guild Wars where people buy the game/expansions but have no monthly subscription fees. If they had it, would I pay the monthly subscription for “VIP” membership? Probably, though frankly I plan to buy a Lifetime Subscription well before they go F2P.

This is all conjecture, opinion, and¬†suspicion at this point; we’ll see where it leads. Come, Watson; the game’s afoot!

January 13, 2011 Posted by | Nit-picker's Guide | Comments Off on STO F2P – Fact or fiction? The plot thickens…

To expand, or not to expand? That’s a good question O.o

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. STO is an awesome game, and pretty much my favorite. I gotta say, though, there’s just not enough by itself just yet, so I’m thinking of re-vamping this Blog to be about gaming in general. Of course, being accepted into the DCUO Beta helped inspire that idea.

Anyone think that’s a bad idea?

December 17, 2010 Posted by | Nit-picker's Guide | Comments Off on To expand, or not to expand? That’s a good question O.o

My psycho-dimensional rift

I’ve come to some conclusions lately:

1) University life is detrimental to STO playing.

Since I started at TRU last September, the amount of time I’ve had to playing the game and running a fleet has been practically none. I’ve made it into playing the Featured Episodes, and pretty much nothing else. Pledging with the Fraternity, studying for exams, being invited to parties, moving out from my old place, getting in a fist-fight with my brother, and now getting a part in the next play being put on by the theatre dept… The lack of time for STO really sucks. Or, it would, if not for my next point…

2) The current STO end-game content is too limited and boring as shit when attempting it solo.

So far, there’s a couple of interesting dailies from the Breen series, though I haven’t tried the daily from the Devidians yet. Other than that, it’s PvP and Exploration missions over and over and¬†over and¬†over and¬†over and over. I’m not good at PvP, and the exploration missions are just way too easy and/or¬†repetitive. It’s the same few mission scenarios with just randomly generated but overly similar areas and sector-specific baddies to slaughter. Going trough all the missions again with a new character is kinda dull when done solo. On top of all that, STFs can only be done in a group, which is a problem because…

3) I absolutely suck at meeting new people to play with regularly and at building a fleet.

Let’s face it; PUGs suck. The most common way to do missions and most PvPs in a group when you aren’t in a fleet is via PUG. When I joined Canadian Federation, I found them not through in-game, but through the official forums.I checked out their site and I was welcomed in immediately. I rose up the ranks (I feel) not so much because I was skilled and the best for the job, but because I gave a shit and put some effort in. The problem I have with most STO players is I’ve yet to meet any that are as dedicated as I am (especially that aren’t already in a fleet). My problem is I’m not good at introducing myself to people; not IRL, not in-game. I might try recruiting a bit just by standing in ESD and shouting an open invitation, or even for PvP matches, but I don’t like the idea of doing that; the chances of finding like-minded players is slim. When I was doing Open Grouping in missions, people rarely spoke to me let alone RPed back, and I get bored of soloing pretty quickly these days. The Featured Episodes for The Breen were a break in my lonely,¬†repetitive¬†existence, but…

4) The “The Devidians” Featured Episodes series wasn’t really to my liking, not nearly as much as “The Breen” was.

STOked raved about the episode with Bones and bashed the episode with Scotty. I feel that’s backwards. Personally, I found the majority of this episode series had a lot of gameplay and story that just felt either half-assed or overly wordy. The¬†Halloween¬†episode was beautifully done, and I really enjoyed it; However, the first one felt short and the last 2 were just aweful in¬†comparison.¬†¬†The “Bones” episode I found annoying and confusing, especially with the Jefrey’s Tube. Trying to lock the security team in a side room just didn’t seem to work as they kept hounding me too closely and their phasers are hella stronger than the “newer” ones. Then the encounter with McCoy was irritating because he gives you the info at the start, then you gotta scan the others anyways, and the dialog was pretty dry in my opinion. The last episode was pretty good in it’s dialog; I fond the puzzle with Scotty funny and entertaining. The battles with the Devidians on the station at the beginning f the mission were a bit confusing when I first landed as to who I was supposed to be attacking, but I felt they weren’t bad. The final space battle pissed me off royally, though. I don’t think there’s a single person that tried it that didn’t die multiple times. The Klingon weapons were massively overpowered and even the guys over at STOked got pissed off about it.

So in short, I guess I won’t be posting as often as I wanted to for a while, at least until after the play gets out. Season 3 should be released soon, though, and believe me, I’m MAKING time for THAT. ūüėČ As much as I bitch, I love this game, and s0me of the season 3 changes I’ve gotten to try on the Tribble test server are awesome. Just might be enough to get me to make more time for STO again.

November 17, 2010 Posted by | Nit-picker's Guide | Comments Off on My psycho-dimensional rift

Conspiracy Theory

Well, another high-level Cryptic employee is leaving the company. This has been how many now since STOs launch? Come, Watson! The game’s afoot!

I’ve heard of high turn-over at a video game company, and I know I’m not that familiar with the internal workings of a game developer company for an MMO, but this much in the top ranks over such a short period after launch, and for what seems all the same kind of reasons, seems a bit off; “I’ve had a blast but it’s time for me to find something new/spend time with my family”. Even Zinc’s departure felt odd; No offense intended, but “going to spend more time feeding his goat” sounded almost like he’s being “put out to pasture”, doesn’t it?

Why do I get the impression that Cryptic is actually pushing these people to leave? Are they being given the option of “either you resign peacefully or we fire you outright & destroy your reputation in the industry”? Are so many of the fans posting such amazingly good ideas on the forums that the paid employees (that are supposed to be getting paid to be coming up with those ideas) are shown to be more like idiots rather than innovators (again no offense intended to anyone)? Is Cryptic management doing a steady and complete revamp of ALL their “command staff'”?

Few can deny that since Stahl took over as EP, the game has gone from ok to overdrive. Zinc had a great start, but did Stahl show, one way or another, to have not only his finger on the pulse of the fans but a purer understanding of how to get them what they wanted and not only retain customers but draw more in? (BTW, Stahl, if you ever read this, PLEEEEASE sing “The Ultimate Klingon on STOked!) He did more to retain players that Zinc had in his whole time. Not for lack of trying, mind you, but Stahl still had better results. is that because Stahl is just plain better at the job of EP for STO, regardless of what effort they both put into doing said job?

Zinc was trying to push more STFs and more new content; Stahl is pushing for improving or finishing what content is already there. Neither approach can be considered “wrong” per say, but Stahl’s approach was what fans were hungry for more, and so has gotten much more results. Is Zinc crappy at his job? NO! He’s an awesome EP and worked hard for STO; it’s just his direction was not where STO needed to go and so he left. Is this a trend that seems to be permeating the whole Cryptic and STO infrastructure and are these people really leaving “for new opportunities” or are they being quietly told to leave or else? THAT is the real question.

Every time someone from the upper end leaves, the game has another surge of awesome come out of it. EVERY time. Is this because Cryptic is realizing that the people they had are nowhere near what they need and those people are being replaced with others who really can get the job done? I’d love to be a fly on their walls, even if just to find out what’s really going on behind the scenes…

This is all speculation and theory, and I don’t expect anyone outside of Cryptic to know how close I am to the truth or if I’m waaaay off base. I felt these questions were worth asking, just the same.

August 16, 2010 Posted by | Nit-picker's Guide | Comments Off on Conspiracy Theory

Musical Computers (chairs)

I’ve been playing STO on a computer that I was forced to rent from the local Rent-A-Center. Now, it’s been treating me really well. I had upped the RAM from the 2Gigs that came with it to 3, and added a Geforce 210 HD 512MB video card. Considering it had only a 250W power supply, it ran STO amazingly well.

Problem is that it has been costing me $160.00 a month and, as I still have no job, it’s $160 I can’t really afford. I’ve already had to cut back on my cell plan and am now having to slowly pay off the data-plan¬†cancellation¬†fees. So, after talking to my room mate (who also happens to be my mother; pityable but also makes things easier), we agreed it would be better to just buy me a whole new computer this month and wipe out that monthly expense.

So I found a nice tower at Future Shop; an Acer micro-system. Had 4Gigs RAM, a 640 Gig HDD, and a Geforce 9600 video chipset. Seemed like a great deal for less than $500. Took it home, set it up, and went to put in my wireless card.

There’s no slot for the wireless card.

WTF!? No internet!? I got this thing SPECIFICALLY to play STO; what good is it if I can’t get on the internet? It had ethernet, sure; I had no way to get an ethernet connection to my bedroom where I was needing to set up the computer. So, it had to go back.

The next day I went and did some brousing for something new again. I came across a few good systems, but decided on a nice little laptop. Not only does this baby run STO beautifully at mid-settings, it’s a frikkin LAPTOP!

I’m all *squee* today as I finish the last of the setup and gonna spend the day relaxing and enjoying the last of the Tribble test weekend.

July 25, 2010 Posted by | Geekgasm, Nit-picker's Guide, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Musical Computers (chairs)

C-Store whiners: Shut the hell up.

A lot of people have complained about STO having a store for additional content that costs money on top of the monthly fee to use. Frankly, I’m sick of it. These people aren’t seeing the big picture and aren’t using their brains.

I’ve seen several people with Lifetime Subscriptions that have been complaining as well. To them especially, I say: SHUT THE HELL UP! You want to know why there’s a C-Store? Look no further than your lifetime subscription. Yes, it’s expensive for a Life Sub; but running an MMO is also expensive. These guys are busting their butts and putting out an amazing game; they are NOT doing this for free, though. They have mouths to feed, and they have to think of not just the bills now, but the bills that will need to be paid in 6 months, a year, two years.¬†Everyone that’s bought a lifetime sub is NO LONGER putting subscription money into their account, so that money has to come from somewhere.

Here’s where the C-Store comes in.

This¬†allows¬†people the¬†privilege¬†of being able to buy a Life Sub and yet still keep the game alive. There’s a lot of people working hard to make STO an amazing game, and keep it an amazing game. Those people all have families to feed, rent/mortgage to pay, cars to keep on the road… ALL of that is part and parcel of making and sustaining a great MMO game like STO. Are you really so arrogant as to think that they’re doing it all for the hell of it? This is a passion for them, but it’s first & foremost a job. If the money wasn’t coming in, the game would close and they’d all move on to other games that DID pay.

So if you’re gonna gripe about the C-Store even existing, just shut the hell up.

July 20, 2010 Posted by | Nit-picker's Guide | Comments Off on C-Store whiners: Shut the hell up.