Official site updates

March 15, 2010

Last Friday saw a slew of new posts to the Star Trek: Online official site, focussed on coming updates:

  • The second State of the Game since launch discusses the release of the first Special Task Force, the opening of the public test server Tribble, and Season One: Common Ground (previously known as Update 1 or the ’45 day patch’), as well as touching on bugs and communication between the dev team and the players (something which Cryptic has been making a real effort to improve recently)
  • Season One: Common Ground Fact Sheet provides an overview of some of the new content and features that will be coming in Season One
  • STF: The Cure Overview offers some details about the second Special Task Force, which continues the story from Infected and once again pits high level players against the Borg
  • Expanding Universe, Part 1 is a new video preview of some of the new features and content that are on their way in Season One, The Cure and beyond.

To be honest, there’s not much in any of these that will be new to those who pay attention to the Dev Tracker on the official boards, but I appreciate that not everyone is quite as obsessive as checking that as I am, and it’s nice to have the key information gathered together.

Tribble updated

March 11, 2010

The public test server, Tribble, has been updated with a new version of Update 1 for testing – you can find the current release notes on the official forums.

This is still an incomplete version of Update 1, with more features due to be added as the dev and QA teams continue to work on it, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff to check out already.

Information overload

March 6, 2010

Back from my trip and it seems that the moment my back was turned, all kinds of interesting stuff happened. Here’s a quick run-down of what I’m currently catching up on:

Engineering Reports

A new Engineering Reports section has been added to the official forums, and the first Report has been posted to it. What’s an Engineering Report? It’s explained in detail in this post, but basically an Engineering Report is an overview of what the Star Trek: Online dev team is currently working on and hopes to have ready in the near future – generally within the next month or so.

This is a rather brave thing for the dev team to attempt, as MMO players have a disturbing tendency to read even the most nebulous and vague statements as iron-clad promises, but I think that Cryptic is to be applauded for trying it.

There’s certainly some interesting stuff in the first Report, and dstahl has been doing a superb job of answering many of the questions that have come up in the thread and providing further information and clarification on various issues and concerns. I really hope that this degree of feedback and input from the dev team continues, as it bodes well for the future of STO.

Release Calendar

As if the Engineering Reports weren’t daring enough, Cryptic has also added a new Release Calendar to the official site that features a tentative schedule for new content and updates over the next two months. Again, I think Cryptic is to be applauded for trying to give us more insight into what new content we can expect and roughly when we can expect it, and I really hope that they can both hit their target windows and keep updating the Calendar on a regular basis.

Tribble lives!

Tribble, the public test server, is up and running and open to all players this weekend, complete with the ability to copy characters from the live server (Holodeck).

You can find the details of how to access Tribble and copy characters in the new “Tribble” Public Test Server section of the official forums.

Sneak peek at Update 1

Tribble is currently running an early version of the yet-to-be-named Update 1 (the ’45 day update’), the first major update for Star Trek: Online. Only some of the changes and new features are currently activated on Tribble – you can see the details in this post – but there’s some interesting stuff and I’m looking forward to getting to grips with it if I can find the time.

Tribble on the horizon

March 2, 2010

Today’s patch apparently set the stage for the new public test server, Tribble, which is great news for anyone interested in testing new patches before they’re released to the live server, Holodeck.

The ability to copy characters from Holodeck to Tribble should also make it a lot easier to test certain things that I’ve been working on, such as the actual effects of the various ‘Captain’ skills on ship speed, turn rate and hull strength. In fact, I’ve reached the point where I’d decided to wait for the test server before continuing.

So, sorry it’s been a bit quiet here for the last couple of days, but I’ve been busy levelling a test character, ready for when Tribble becomes available.

New State of the Game

February 26, 2010

The first post-launch  ‘State of the Game’ article from Executive Producer Craig “Zinc” Zinkievich was published on the official site last night, and contains an overview of what’s next for Star Trek: Online.

Although there are few surprises for those who pay close attention to the official boards, it’s still a useful summary of what’s in store for the near(ish) future. I’m not going to cover every point as you can read it for yourself, but there are a couple of things that struck me.

The first is the mention that some form of ‘death penalty’ is on the way. Predictably enough, this has already caused something of a stir on the official forums, although without any details it is perhaps a little early to start frothing at the mouth (not that this has stopped anyone, of course).

While it has to be said that shortly after launch would generally be a bad time to introduce a blanket death penalty of any significance to an MMO, my hope is that the upcoming system will be optional, allowing players to accept a death penalty in return for greater rewards (h20rat recently made a few posts in the ***What Kind of Death Penalty Do You Want?*** thread proposing some interesting ideas along these lines, although he was quite clear that these were personal opinions and not ‘official’ plans).

Such a system could tie in quite nicely with the ‘difficulty slider’ that’s also mentioned. Again, we’ll have to wait and see exactly how the difficulty slider works, but my suspicion is that it’ll be something similar to the slider in City of Heroes that allows you to increase the number and/or level of opposition in PvE missions.

In principal, I’m all for anything that increases the challenge of Star Trek: Online. In my opinion, the largely trivial nature of PvE space and ground combat is the single biggest weakness of the game in its current form. Without any challenge there’s little sense of achievement or satisfaction, which can quickly lead to boredom, the antithesis of fun – and fun, after all, is what games are all about.

In practise, however, a CoH-style slider won’t address any of the fundamental issues with the current mission structure and design that contribute to the lack of challenge and excitement, and so I can’t help some mixed feelings at the prospect. Nonetheless, it’s perhaps the best we can expect, given that the game is now live and making the kind of changes I’d really like to see would require an overhaul of almost every mission.

***What Kind of Death Penalty Do You Want?***

Ask Cryptic: Skills

February 20, 2010

The latest instalment of ‘Ask Cryptic’ was posted to the official STO website last night. Following the announcement of the skill point cap and the Al Rivera Talks Skills article three weeks ago, Ask Cryptic: Skills answers a few of the many player questions that had been posted to the sticky thread on the official boards.

As much as it was nice to see that one of my questions had been picked, I have to say that I’m not entirely convinced by the answer, and have some concerns over the changes mentioned in response to another of the questions.

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