Join me as I finish up my year in review and then touch on some of Executive Producer Daniel Stahl's answers to player questions in this month's Ask Cryptic post.
Oh yes, Season Six and ships. That leads us directly into the last big thing that happened in 2012: the release of Season Seven and the new personal reputation system. Much of the new system's foundation had already been constructed during the Season Six implementation of the fleet starbase system. In the new Romulan and Task Force Omega reputation systems, players were given access to new user interface panels, which allowed them to pick a few personal projects and then fulfill the project requirements by earning reputation marks from Strategic Task Force missions as well as from missions that became available in a huge new sector of space.
The Tau Dewa sector is by far the largest single playable expansion the game has seen since its launch in 2010. It includes 17 new star systems, 13 of which have playable space missions that reward Romulan marks. The main attraction is the new ground social map found on New Romulus, which can be found toward the center of the sector. That map contains several zones where players can undertake a selection of short, menial tasks to earn additional marks.
All of the new material In Tau Dewa is easily playable on a daily basis, much like the daily missions the playerbase was accustomed to in the Breen/Deferi-based Orellius sector. It's just that there is now more reason to replay the material in Tau Dewa, as there are multiple rewards for achieving successive reputation tiers. We have to wonder whether we will see such an expansion of missions and possible conversion to a reputation system in the Orellius sector in the future. To borrow a phrase from Spock, I'd say it seems only logical.
The past year has been one of enormous change in STO, and yet there is still a lot that needs to be addressed. Issues that have plagued the game since before its free-to-play conversion have been set aside and virtually ignored while the teams at Cryptic expanded and began to focus on providing the endgame material discussed above.
As the game forges into 2013 and is staring its third anniversary in the face, Cryptic will be expected by many players to finally pick up some of the pieces that were left hanging when the F2P conversion took place. Chief among those is the fleshing-out of the game's second faction, the Klingon Defense Force.
And the Klingon faithful sit back with a heavy sigh and renew their perpetual look of what the heck does that actually mean? Does this mean the KDF will actually get some structure on which to hang some targ hides, or is this just another way of saying that the team is really nowhere near to being able to give the KDF the content it deserves, that the team is just hoping that we'll be ever more patient while it decides what to do with the mess it created? Either way, it looks as if we'll all be forced to wait until Season Eight to find out just what he means by "positive release for the KDF."
Another Ask Cryptic query highlighted a recent trend in cooperative PvE missions where some players have taken to entering a zone and then going AFK, thus obtaining the mission rewards and credit without ever having to put in any effort. While the question attempted to rationalize that such immature behavior was somehow as a result of to the increased need for commodities in the game, Stahl did say that the Cryptic team is discussing possible technical solutions so that players will be rewarded based on their actual participation in missions.
Stahl stated that the devs have "poured significant resources into creating procedurally generated random space encounters" and still the game "never quite feel like the Trek [players] are talking about." He stated that said realization was the reason Cryptic created the Foundry -- "so that players could author missions that are much more genuine and offer something new." Fortunately, he revealed that there is a plan to "marry the Foundry to a solid Exploration concept where [players] can be rewarded for exploring new sectors of randomly (but player created) strange new worlds." In fact, he says, "That is the basis of what [the team] want[s] to do with Exploration in the future." (Emphasis mine.)
Stahl answered a lot more questions too, so be sure to read the article linked above. All in all, in 2013, it looks as if we're going to see two more really "BIG releases." I have no idea what Stahl means by that, so it looks as if we're going to find out together! Until next week, live long and prosper!
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