Mini patch

March 8, 2010

Just a few bug fixes this morning – you can read the full notes on the official site.

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Awesome Ship Status updates

March 6, 2010

Just had my first chance to mess around in-game since last Thursday’s patch, and was extremely happy to notice the updates to your ship’s Status tab in the Character Status window. When scanning through the notes for last Thursday’s patch, it might have been easy to overlook this little gem:

  • Status Window: Improved the ship stats that are displayed on the status window.

But what it means is that a whole range of previously hidden stats are now visible in-game, and update according to your power levels and captain’s skills. Given the amount of time it’s been taking me to work some of these things out the hard way (with stopwatches, copious pages of scribbled notes and endless testing), this should make finishing the article I’ve been working on for a while much, much easier. Hopefully I’ll be able to get it done in the next few days, even with the potential changes in my current situation.


The future’s so bright…

March 6, 2010

Following my recent trip, it seems that big changes may be in store for me in the near future. It’s all very exciting, but it will probably mean that I won’t have a lot of time to dedicate to the The Engines Cannae’ Take It!, at least for a while.

Nothing is currently set in stone, and I should know more in the next week or two. In the meantime, though, if updates and new articles are a little less frequent, please bear with me.


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.


Getting Infected

March 4, 2010

The release notes for today’s patch have been posted, and the big news is the release of the first ‘Special Task Force’ (previously known as ‘raidisodes’) for maximum level players, Infected.

According to the notes, Infected will send you to Starbase 82, a Federation outpost that has been overrun by the resurgent Borg. The mission is designed for five players, and no bridge officers are allowed in the away team sections. The mission can be repeated daily, and as well as special Mark X loot drops, also rewards success with Marks of Valour, which will be used at a new store coming in the 45-day update.

It’ll be interesting to see just how tough Infected is, especially the ground sections, and how well all those players who have neglected their ground skills in favour of space combat builds will fare.

Gauging the difficulty of end-game ground content can’t have been an easy task for the dev team. To judge from most of the skill builds posted to the official boards, many players have decided to ignore their captain’s ground skills in favour of those that affect space combat – which is perfectly understandable, given that the ground combat in most normal PvE missions is, if anything, even less challenging than the space combat and you have your bridge officers to help you out in any case. Likewise, PvP is currently split between space and ground combat. There are no PvP maps or missions that involve both, which only further encourages builds that are specialised in one type or the other.

On the other hand, if they set the difficulty of high level ground combat low enough to suit those players who have neglected it in their builds, we might be forgiven for wondering why we have a ground combat skill group in the first place. Not to mention that those players who have made more balanced builds might find the supposedly ‘epic’ Special Task Force rather on the easy side.

In many ways, it’s a classic no-win situation for the devs (something that’s all too common in MMO design). If the ground sections are too tough, the space-specialised players will be unhappy. If they’re too easy, those that have taken the time and effort to spread their precious skill points around will be unhappy. And with respecs still somewhere in the future, whichever group ends up being upset won’t have any recourse other than to remain unhappy until the respec system arrives.

I’m going to be away for the next couple of days, but I’ll certainly be interested to see what the reactions are to Infected when I get back.


Starship Weapons Overview updated

March 3, 2010

Still waiting for Tribble to become available for more testing, so I took the opportunity to make a couple of minor updates to the Starship Weapons Overview article.

Nothing particularly major, although the Damage Modifiers section should hopefully be a little clearer now.


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.