Star Trek Online: Call of Valor

A Star Trek Online Fan-fiction.

Happy 1-Year Anniversary, STO!!

Subspace Radio STO Anniversary Dance Party

The DJs of Subspace Radio threw an awesome dance party!

Talk about awesome! The 1-year anniversary party was a blast, Subspace Radio was on ESD #8 They totally rocked the house! I was dancing it up & chatting for a few hours. Earth Space Dock has undergone some MASSIVE changes, too, and they are totally worth the wait. ESD finally LOOKS like the ESD from the movies, complete with docking doors that you can (sort of) dock through!

Earth Space Dock

Entering ESD (the NEW ESD, that is!)

The bank/mail section was re-vamped, Club 47 was re-vamped, the Personel/Medbay was re-vamped, Quinns office was re-vamped, and even the starship requisition center was revamped (and the door was moved down a floor). I’m glad the server didn’t crash on that day, it would have really sucked 😛

Q was there visiting; apparently the remodeling was his doing.  Frankly, I’m normally opposed to anything Q has in his twisted head, but the remodeling is really quite awesome, and the daily he offers that has you playing in the fountain like a fool just for free swag is cute 🙂 The release of the new Featured Episode series right on the tail of the anniversary events which was practically right on the tail of season 3 is almost too much awesome to cope with 😀 Keep up the awesome work, Cryptic!

There’ve been some updates to the “Stranded in Space” mission as well, the one where you have to rescue the crew of the SS Azura; I hope ALL the episodes in the game get this treatment! Combine that with the voice overs of “The Vault” or the Devidian series, and you have the best Star Trek experience ever made ^_^

There were some bugs in there, though. There was one day where I went to do the daily and an awesome Covariant Shield MkXI came up in the rewards windo, but no matter what I did the “take” and “take all” buttons just would not do their jobs; they beeped and acted like I;d clicked, but other than that they just sat there & the window only closed when I canceled it. I tried leaving the fountain & going back, leaving the map & going back, leaving to sector space & going back, even closing the game & going back. Nothing worked. So I lost out on my shields 😦

Overall, I give this stuff (bugs excluded of course) two excitedly enthusiastic thumbs up ^_^

February 6, 2011 Posted by | Geekgasm | Comments Off on Happy 1-Year Anniversary, STO!!

STO: Cloaked Intentions Ep. 1 – 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 😉

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

The only constant in the universe is change…

STOked Ep. 67 - Aegis VS Borg

Well, the guys over at STOked released another great episode today. Lots of Tribble server goodness & another kick-ass Mathed segment from Jeremy, as usual. The new changes to ESD coming down the pipe in the next couple weeks look absolutely amazing; I was drooling onto my keyboard… and ok I admit got a few little geekgasms by it all. I’m updating my tribble client right now (it’s been a bit since I played on Tribble so lots of updates to do 😛 ). Continue reading

January 27, 2011 Posted by | Geekgasm | Comments Off on The only constant in the universe is change…

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…

Ship interiors – making them more useful.

So after reading the latest Ask Cryptic for January, watching this weeks episode of STOked, and chatting with my roomie, I had an inspiration for “Ship Interior class-specific emergency situations” that could spawn after combat ends in any Exploration mission. The fact is, YOU are the Captain because you’re damn good in your field AND good at command; so why would your crew NOT defer to you in extreme circumstances when the problem is in your field of experience? And why not make these “mini-missions” class-based? We’ve seen through the Featured Episodes that they can create class-specific options for missions, so that part is easy.

Here’s a basic gist of my ideas:

Engineering – Prevent a Warp Core Breech

EG: “Captain! That last shot we took hit us pretty hard; it knocked out (random number between 3 and 6) of  the primary and secondary EPS transfer nodes! The deuterium tank restriction couplings are beginning to fail! We need you in Main Engineering! We’re looking at a warp core breech in a few minutes!”

  • Mini-game of bypassing and re-routing systems & energy flows to prevent Warp Core overload.
  • in Main Engineering of ship interior
  • Utilizes various engineering consoles to activate or deactivate various systems.

Tactical – Boarding Party in Ships Lounge

EG: “Captain, sensors picked up some kind of energy surge from the enemy vessel as that last shot hit our shields; the weapons fire disrupted sensors for a few seconds, I’m having trouble determining what it… Intruder alert! We have boarding parties in the main lounge!”

  • Boarding party with enemy captain was able to sneak through the shields & beam aboard; defeat boarding party.
  • in Main Lounge of ship interior
  • Ground combat

Science – Radiation hazard from damaged systems (med OR sci solution, varies)

EG: “Captain, that last hit caused a rupture in some of the EPS cooling manifolds on deck 7; we’ve got a plasma fire on that deck! Suppression systems are offline, environmental controls are locked on manual in the science lab! Sickbay reports (between 3 & 6) crew injured with severe plasma burns and radiation poisoning!”

  • Mini-games of either adjusting environmental systems to counteract the  plasma fire or treating radiation poisoning of random NPC crew members.
  • Done in either Science Lab or Main Sickbay of ship interior, respectively
  • Utilizes various consoles to adjust various chemical compounds in the air circulation or different background energy levels to negate radiation, or various medical hypo-sprays to heal radiation damage to specific injured crew in sickbay.

I had some more elaborate ideas and puzzles, but none that can be easily implemented without additional mini-games like the ones that Cryptic had bought the images/concepts for from ThomasTheCat. Honestly, I’d love having these kinds of mini-missions as random extras thrown into the Exploration missions, just to spice things up sometimes. Too often would get dull, unless they were able to come up with several different scenarios for each class. This would also make ship interiors feel more useful, and help players feel more attached to their ships, I think. For people that don’t want to do them, I’d say give them an option to tell the crew to take care of it, then give the ship an “injury” instead (depending on the games difficulty setting, of course).

January 12, 2011 Posted by | Ideas for expanding | Comments Off on Ship interiors – making them more useful.

And Merry Christmas, everyone!

I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season because, by the Gods of Sha Ka Ree, I sure am ^_^

A buddy of mine hand-built himself a powerhouse gaming computer earlier this year. I’ve seen it in action, it’s a gorgeous monster. He went away for a few months, working as primary first aid at a couple logging camps, and came home with a good chunk of money. So, after some thought, he decided to build himself an even more powerful beast of a machine. And sell me his first one ^_^ I was also given some awesome games; Global Agenda, Left 4 Dead 2, another month of EVE Online… and of course I still have STO at the beginning of the row of game shortcuts on my desktop.

Ooh... Shiney...

I am now running STO with nearly all my graphics settings maxed… and it’s breathtaking ^_^ The Call of Valor has never looked sleeker, and the new updates to Sector Space make me drool. I mean, look at that picture! The detail! The shine off the hull! The glow of the nacels!  And they finally got sitting in chairs working, but just on your Captain’s chair. Seriously, is this such a bad thing? Did anyone else actually give a shit about sitting ANYWHERE else? Me neither.

I finally put the crafting system to a more serious test, too, and I gotta say that, ya, it’s a little slow to max out your crafting XP, but when you compare to games like WoW? I now find STO’s crafting much more enjoyable, I gotta say. Sure, gathering the anomalies from the explore missions can become a bit tedious, but now I have even more excuse to go do dailies. I also think it’s high time I started learning the fine art of recruiting.

Anyone have any Fleet recruiting suggestions?

Now that Season 3 has hit, there’s some things that should be coming somewhere around seasons 4 through 8 that I’m eager for as well, namely the ground combat changes that sound like they’ll turn it into an FPS-like game and the territorial PVP battles. I think they should take a look at some of the things in Global Agenda’s Conquest play for some inspiration; I’ve not had a chance to try it out first-hand yet, but if I find anything in there that might help STO, I’ll gladly post it on the forums (if no one else has yet, of course). And I mean, come on: FPS ground combat missions? How sweet would that be!  I was a huge fan of Elite Force and Elite Force 2; having something even a little like that in STO would just give me geekgasms.

January 2, 2011 Posted by | Geekgasm | Comments Off on And Merry Christmas, everyone!

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 Christmas Wish Granted – Season 3 and the Foundry

A look at the Foundry resulted in a puddle of drool on my keyboard...

Christmas is just around the corner, Season 3 & the Foundry Beta have been released. Well, ok, the Foundry is still only on Tribble in it’s Beta format, but I’ve been fooling around with it the last couple days and have to say it’s AWESOME! For those that don’t know, the Foundry is STOs new User Generated Content Toolset.

The ease of the mission scripting is amazing, yet the detail that can be done is impressive. There are some flaws I’d like to see improved, and I’ve not published any missions as it’s still under construction – I’m wanting it to span 3 star systems and I’ve yet to figure out how to link them together through Sector Space.

Praise for the Foundry is easy; the “God Mode” and “Kill Target” buttons when testing your mission are a godsend. Making new costumes for both people and ships is fast and easy. Stringing encounters and objectives together is smooth and fast, and map transition points are so simple it’s almost embarrassing how nervous I was about it. It’s much simpler to navigate and use than the NWN2 Aurora toolset was.

That said, there’s some flaws and missing things. Being able to create VERY detailed NPCs is not there; you don’t get the same sliders for the body & face shapes. The difference between Costumes and Contacts is still unclear to me, and there’s little in the way of UI tooltips to explain functions.My first attempt at a mission had a major bug, and I’m not sure why. Stringing locations together through Sector Space is something I haven’t figured out, and I can’t seem to even beam out of a completed mission afterwards; it gives the dialog, and the option to beam out, but nothing happens when you click it. I don’t know if this is supposed to be like this because it’s just testing for the Foundry, or if this is an actual error; I’ll find out sooner or later. I had huge issues linking custom maps to the sector space doorways in the Eta Eridani sector block. I also found that when I WAS able to link the  doorway to the custom map, when I went to test the mission it started the mission with the first 3 objectives completed when they hadn’t even been started. What was worse was the one that it was stuck on was beaming from the planet back to the ship; impossible to complete because I was already in the ship in sector space.  So I started from scratch and the new one works fine. ^_^ Expect to see the first installment of the “Dragon’s Teeth” series of UCG episodes on Tribble in the coming weeks.

The USS Call of Valor, flying through the new Sector Space

The new look of Sector Space is OMGGEEKGASM impressive. The stars flying past, the lack of the stellar cartography grid, the distant plane of the galaxy… Makes me wanna do the oh-so-dull explore missions. Combined with the re-vamp to crafting, I’m actually eager to grind now. Crafting recieved an almost complete overhaul. For those that don’t know, crafting before was a pain in the neck as in order to craft a MKVIII Phaser Beam Array with the bonuses you want, you needed a butload of anomaly data samples that was random how much of which you needed for each item, a ton of crafting XP from grinding out low-end stuff, AND you needed to get your hands on a common MKVIII Phaser beam Array as well. Heck, in order to make a large Hypo, on top of the anomaly data samples you needed medium Hypos, and those weren’t available from vendors at the beginning. With such a small list of craftable items, and few that were that desirable, crafting was practically a joke.

Not anymore.

Now, they’ve done away with needing any of the “baseline” items; instead, you can use the anomaly data to craft “Schematics” that are consumed when making the item. On top of that, the amount of anomaly data samples has been balanced to be uniform and even across the board. And, on top of THAT, the recipes are separated into tabs that MAKE SENSE: Personnel Equipment, Ship Weapons, Ship Equipment, and Schematics.

Is it perfect? Nope. Not even close. is it a hugely massive step forward and fun? I think it damn well is ^_^ I’m gettin’ my craft on. >:)

So, long story short, Season 3 is awesome and I’ll be in-game a lot over the holidays, starting the end of this week. Expect to see an increase in how often I post over the holidays. My next post in particular I’ll be talking about a couple things mentioned in past posts that have been on my mind of late.

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Geekgasm | Comments Off on My Christmas Wish Granted – Season 3 and the Foundry

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. 😉 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

Captain’s Log: “Out In The Cold – Aftermath”

The doors swished open, and Jase entered his cabin; as the doors closed tight behind him, his posture slouched much more.

“Computer: lock cabin.” Jase’s voice was quieter, the pain creeping into his inflection. The computer chirped it’s acknowledgement and the sounds of servos in the walls whirred into action, sealing the door into a closed position.

His head drooped noticeably as he shuffled to the nearest chair; his shoulders already beginning to shudder with silent sobs. He had been successful in rescuing the Deferi prisoners; declared a hero. But now, in the quiet of his private quarters, he finally let out the sobs of pain and fear that had assaulted him and threatened to incapacitate him on the Breen mining station.

He opened his uniform jacket, the freedom now letting him breath deep as he sobbed into his hands. Flashes of memories from a painful childhood flooded back. Why is it he can never escape from those horrible memories? Of tolling in the mines beside his brother and his father, of those Naussican thugs beating on his family… of the grizzly images of his fathers torture and death…

The door chimed. The doors internal communicator activated. “Captain? Captain, are you alright? It’s me… Please, Jase, let me in…” T’Pahl’s voice was unmistakable. Despite her strict Vulcan training and reserve, he could hear the concern in her voice.

Jase dried his eyes on his sleeve. “One moment…” he called, heading towards his lavatory. Once in the bedroom, he spoke orders to the soulless machine that protected him in his sanctuary. “Computer, allow entrance to Commander T’Pahl and seal my cabin once she has entered.” Again, it chirped it’s acknowledgement as he entered the lavatory and washed his face, pulling off his uniform jacket entirely. Face rinsed and wearing just a comfortable t-shirt and loose vest, he felt a bit better and made his way to the living area, where T’Pahl was sitting patiently in a chair, leaning forward on her knees, her hands clasped together thoughtfully.

“That was harder for you than you can admit, wasn’t it?” She said as he sat across from her.

“Don’t tell me my strong masks are finally cracking, old friend… The last thing I need is for my crew to see me weak and vulnerable like that. Yes, that was harder than I had thought it would be; did it really show that easily?”

“Only to me, and not outwardly. You know we share a bond; I could feel the turmoil inside you.”

He shifted uncomfortably. He hated sharing his feelings; even to T’Pahl, after all they’d been through together. Yes… it was very hard. For a moment, it was as if I was back at the colony again, with my family… I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see forced slavery and not feel that all over again…” he covered his face in his hands, trying to hide his tears. He knew there was no point, though; she could see better than anyone the pain he was feeling.

She moved beside him and wrapped her arms around him, gently stroking his hair the way his mother used to when he was a child… He sobbed again, and this time broke down and let it all out. She sat there with him, comforting him, telling him it was all right. For that short time, he wasn’t Vice Admiral Jase of the starship Sword of Truth; he was just Jase….

They sat there a long time; he lost track of how long, falling asleep resting in her arms. He awoke on his couch, his uniform jacket over him like a blanket and the computer chiming that it was time for his duty shift on the bridge.

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Captain's Log | Comments Off on Captain’s Log: “Out In The Cold – Aftermath”

Weekly Episodes: “Cold Call” – Brief Review

"..every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man..." *guitar solo*

The first of the new Weekly Episodes was released today. I hit VA just last night, so was really stoked about getting to play the Episode in my new Admiral Uniform. Looks smashing, if I do say so myself…

So the VA bonuses are awesome, though I do wish the cooldown on the Quantum Slipstream ability was shorter and that it lasted longer. That’s not what I’m eager to drool over today, though.

I loved the new Episode.  Especially the opening sequence with the Breen ship that was jamming sensors. The planet is beautiful, and the revamped look of Sector Space just looks right to me. I also loved how they tied the episode to one of the Diplomatic missions from earlier; your main contact for the Defari is the Ambassador from the negotiations you helped with on Starbase 39.

Defara is just a beautiful planet, if a bit smaller than I’d originally expected. There are a few recycled textures, but to be honest I didn’t care; the architecture is unique and very well done. The map was really well thought up, and though the colors are vibrant and it might seem a bit :loud: visually, it’s actually nicely simple in layout.

The Defari Homeworld: Still gorgeous at low settings.

But, despite all this, I gotta say I had 2 VERY minor let-downs. First, the episode felt shorter than I’d hoped it would be. I finished it in about 30 minutes solo, on Normal difficulty. I’m hope the next few episodes are longer and have a bit more interaction outside of combat. Second, I found the ground combat way too easy; I have 3 tac BOffs maxed and set for melee skills with Bat’leths, with 1 healer BOff using dual Tertyon pistols and me as ranged tac with a Compression Polaron pistol. Even with the AWESOME new freeze skills used by the Breen, I only died once, and that was when I wasn’t paying attention as I went to get a drink during the final ground boss. Ship combat was a bit refreshing, considering the tactics used by the Breen, though I was apparently already well prepared with my skills (fluke, I think) and the battles ended fairly quickly.

All in all, I have to say that the new Weekly Episodes are a HUGE success! I can hardly wait for next weeks!

August 28, 2010 Posted by | Geekgasm | 1 Comment

Updated Bio – Jase

Well, STOked is having a “contest” for character bios; I’ve expanded Jase’s bio and submitted it. Here’s what I sent:

Born on an outlying mining colony world that had long before been abandoned and forgotten by the federation, Jase’s childhood was harsh and often full of hardships. His family worked hard, but often barely had food to eat. Being one of the few human families, Jase’s early friends were all non-human and often bullied him, as he was weaker in comparison, though he showed a high intelligence at an eatly age. His father was a former Starfleet Lt. Commander that had retired for a more peaceful life after the Dominion War, his mother a human with 1/8th Betazoid ancestry. This heritage gave Jase his uncanny intelligence and the ability to shield his inner thoughts and inner mind from others, even Betazoids.

His father, Johnathan, was killed when Jase was 8 years old in what was “officially” listed as a mining accident; the truth is much darker. A group of Naussican thugs working with the Orion Syndicate had been roughing up the miners for several months, demanding ‘protection money’; Jase’s father was among several of the local indipendant miners that were refusing to pay. He had even gotten into a fight one night with a couple of the enforcers, but they had underestimated johnathan’s fighting skill or former Starfleet training. He beat the thugs enough to send them running back to the gang leader. After a few threatening words from the gang leader and an attempted arson on their home, Jase’s father thought it would end. Instead, he was invited to a private meeting to ‘discuss a cease of hostility’ by the gang boss. Jase followed, hiding in the shadows of the ruined buildings, and was witness to his fathers murder. The Naussican leader tied up Jase’s father and cut him apart piece by piece while still alive, then left the mess as a warning to the other minors; Jase was unfortunate enough to see the whole thing. The boy was mentally scarred, but was able to hide this from everyone who cared about him (and later from the Starfleet Academy Psych Evaluators), fearing that if anyone found out he would end up sharing his fathers fate. He burned the memory of that Naussican’s face, and it’s unique tattoo over it’s left eye, deep into his mind, vowing to find a way to become strong and smart enough to avenge his father.

His fathers death left Jase, his 3-year-younger brother, Cael, and mother to beg off others or perform very menial tasks bordering on servitude for survival. A small cartel of Ferengi bought the planet when Jase was 14, quickly putting the settlers and miners to work, almost like slaves. Shortly afterward, Jase displayed an uncanny intelligence, as well as strong diplomatic and negotiation skills, that highly impressed the new Ferengi task-masters. Through cunning and intelligence, he was able to help his family survive a littl better. The Naussican thugs, lead by the man who killed his father, were kept on as a private “security force”. They proceded to extort and pillage the populace even more frequently than before; Jase’s mother fell victim to their appitites on more than one occasion. Jase suspected that they chose his mother to further the example they had left with his fathers death; though disgusted by the depravity, a part of him had to respect the brilliance of the psychological conditioning of the miners these “petty thugs” had masterminded.

When Jase was 17, the War with the Klingons began spreading and Starfleet began expanding into forgotten sectors, needing additional resources. Starfleet finally took action in the sector, quickly removing the Ferengi ‘owners’ and setting up massive relief efforts. Jase was among several young men offered a chance to enter Starfleet Academy, an offer he reluctantly accepted only after guarantees that his mother and brother would be allowed to come and would be cared for. Though at first Jase was skeptical (he’d never known anyone to be honest about such stories in the past), those guarantees were kept, and his brother also entered the Academy, 3 years behind Jase.

When the boys entered the Academy, Jase registered using his mothers maiden name, which she reverted to a couple years after her husbands death, while Jase’s brother, Cael, took their fathers name instead; each honoring their parents in their own ways. Jase met T’Pahl during the end of his second year where she tutored him and a few other students in a few of the science requirements. Jase and T’Pahl became good friends; Jase reminded T’Pahl often of her former husband in many ways. After the years of squalor on the mining colony, Earth seemed like a dream come true. Though his training at the Academy was rigorous, he was more than up to the task. He nearly didn’t graduate, however, when his mother was killed during his last year at the Academy, when a group of Naussicans attacked the small vacation colony she was visiting at the time, not far from the system they once called home. Though there was little evidence recovered from the scene, Jase knew in his heart who was responsible.

Jase immediately fell into a deep depression. He got into several fights at the campus pubs. T’Pahl tried to council him through this time, with little initial success. Finally, he packed his bags and left the academy, without explanation to anyone, leaving a simple request for a leave of absence.  Where he went and what he did, few people know; he has only confided the story to his brother and T’Pahl. Traveling via various cargo ships, trading his skills for passage, he made his way back to the sector where he had spent his youth and using the skills he had learned at Starfleet Academy to track down the leader of the Naussican gang that had killed his father. He spent weeks preparing and spreading rumors through the local underground, enough to lure the Naussican into a private meeting. What he did to the Naussican, he refuses to say, though he insists to the few he’s confided in that the Naussican was still alive when he left the room; all anyone really knows is all that was found by his men the following day was a severed hand and the skin from his face that held the tattoo. The report by the investigating authorities stated that it was hard to determin if it had been methodical or an animal attack, and there had been rumors of a wild animal roaming the city over the weeks that followed.

Jase returned to the academy, emotionally broken and seeming to be bordering on suicidal. His friendship with T’Pahl helped him find strength again, and thanks to a fery detailed letter of reccomendation along with a positive psych evaluation from T’pahl, he was able to complete his studies. He graduated in the top 10% of his class. After graduating, he had a tattoo placed over his right eye; Only he and T’Pahl know it is a mirror image of the one worn by the Naussican that killed his father. Many people speculate where it’s from and what it means, but few have tried to pry that far into his personal life or his past. Though he had choice of several starships of renown, he requested assignment to the USS Valor’s Call. His assignment to the Valor’s Call was approved easily. Why he chose it, he’s not even sure; all he knows is something inside him knew that he’d be needed there. When the Borg attacked, he knew his hunch had been the right one, feeling his not being there would surely have meant the loss of the ship. One man, by chance, in the right place at the right time can make all the difference.

He is one of the few humans that still believes in a surviving form of Christianity, though the religion has seen a huge decline since the late 21st century; some remnants of the precepts and doctrines have survived. He believes there are gods for every race, and an afterlife for every species in the galaxy; Christianity is simply the worship of one of the gods of Earth. His religious view is much more open-minded than many of the previous sects of Christianity, and much more tolerant of the beliefs of others. He has a high respect for the religious & political opinions of others, and prefers to be diplomatic whenever possible; he knows full well, however, that the only diplomacy some people in the galaxy understand or respect is “aggressive negotiations”, as he likes to call it, or “Diplomacy with a torpedo”.

His romantic relationships are few; he trys to avoid romantic tied when he can, knowing he has a weakness and longing for a spouce that could become a complication to his work safeguarding the Federation borders. He has made mistakes with women that he dearly regrets, but cannot undo. He hopes his mother is able to see him from their afterlife, and that she is proud of the man he has grown into, despite some of the dark choices he has made in the name of Federation Safety.

He strives to be peaceful, but follows the IDIC creed to justify some of his choices as a Starfleet Captain in war-time. He follows a quote by one of his personal heroes, Zephram Chochrane: “Don’t try to be a ‘Great Man’; just be a man, and let history make it’s own judgement.” He is tollerant and accepting of all races but one; He has a deep distrust of Naussicans and Ferengi in general, and will be wary of them at the least. He shows respect to any that he meets, but keeps a phaser or dagger ready when dealing with Naussicans, just the same. He has no love for the Orion Syndicate, and will arrest or kill any members of that organization he comes across, depending on the legal precedent and his orders.

He has recently been following up on an investigation on his own time, following leads of a suspected Gorn underground resistance in the KDF. The work has been slow as it seems to be simply in the initial planning stages; he hopes this movement will grow, and between the groundwork laid by Picard and the Enterprise-E (see comic “The Gorn Crisis”) and his efforts now, the Gorn may be able to re-take their indipendance and possibly become a Federation ally, tipping the balance of the war and hopefully bringing it to an eventual end.

August 17, 2010 Posted by | Geekgasm, Ten Forward | 1 Comment

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