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Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online: Delta Rising exposes androids and isolationist aliens

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Lore, Previews, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries

We're mere weeks away from entering the delta quadrant in Star Trek Online, but there is so much more left to learn about this new space and its inhabitants. Cryptic posted an intelligence briefing today about two additional races that one might encounter in Delta Rising: the Automatic Personnel Units and the Turei.

The APUs are androids built by a long-dead civilization to wage war by proxy. The androids turned on their creators, continued fighting with each other, and searched for a way to reproduce (pro tip: Newegg should have some in stock). In contrast, the Turei are reptilian, isolationist aliens who use the Underspace corridors to traverse the delta quadrant. They're kind of jerks but have been known to engage in trading in their journeys.

Captain's Log Supplemental: Exploring the art design of Star Trek Online's Delta Rising races

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Subscription

It's like the Yamato, only in a series I like.
If you asked me about my favorite antagonistic race through all of Voyager's seven-year run, my answer wouldn't have been any of the regular suspects. It would have been the Vaadwaur, and not just because of their funky appearance; the race really twisted the usual formula of a Star Trek one-off villain, and besides that, they had a culture that hinted at something very unusual in the show. I was kind of sad that they never showed up again after their one episode.

Obviously, I was happy to see one of my favorite races get the upgrade treatment in Star Trek Online. But that poses a problem just the same because it's not as if the producers on the show detailed dozens of ship classes and a huge amount of culture for a race that showed up for 50 minutes. I chatted with art director Brad Stokan about bringing these smaller races of Star Trek into a fully fleshed-out form in Star Trek Online, discussing both the Vaadwaur and the Kobali and how his team took a one-off guest appearance and made a full race out of it.

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Star Trek Online updates Seven of Nine's backstory

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Lore, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

Three decades have been kind.
Seven of Nine, former tertiary adjunct to Unimatrix 01, is being added to Star Trek Online with the launch of the Delta Rising expansion. It was imperative that Cryptic Studios update the character's backstory to explain where the character has been since the conclusion of the Voyager's eponymous television series and the commencement of game services. To that end, the development team has posted a dossier explaining her activities in full as well as what brought her back into active duty.

At the beginning of Star Trek Online's storyline, Seven of Nine was working as a researcher for the Daystrom Institute. She declined to return to Starfleet service after the Borg attacks on the Alpha Quadrant, but following Admiral Tuvok's request for experienced personnel to explore the Delta Quadrant, she accepted a non-commissioned position aboard the USS Callisto as a scientific consultant for the fleet. More details on the character and creating her in-game model may be found in the official entry; you will comply.

Star Trek Online explores new Captain Specializations

Sci-Fi, Classes, Game Mechanics, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

Specialty: Romulan.
There are only three classes for players in Star Trek Online, and they all cover broad fields of potential abilities. That's part of the charm of the game. When Delta Rising launches, however, players will be able to specialize their characters a bit more with the introduction of specializations. Specialization trees allow characters of all disciplines to become a little more focused on a specific area of play, unlocking new traits and abilities for use in various scenarios.

Players can have one primary specialization and one secondary specialization active at any given time; while abilities can be bought for inactive specializations, they cannot be used until that specialization is made active. At launch, the game will have one primary tree (Intelligence) and two secondary trees (Pilot and Commando), all of which provide different functions and can allow a character to focus in on unique areas of play. Take a look at the full rundown for more details on how the new powers will work when the expansion goes live in mid-October.

Star Trek Online details four Delta Rising starships

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Previews, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play

Star Trek Online fans are eagerly -- and anxiously -- awaiting information about the new Tier 6 starships coming with next month's Delta Rising. Cryptic is beginning to roll out ship details and specs by listing four of the Delta starships in a dev diary today.

The Federation will get the new Guardian cruiser, a very durable and flexible ship that can convert enemy fire into a weapons boost, and the Dauntless experimental science vessel, which can project fake copies of the ship to fool enemies. Over on the other side, the Klingons will enjoy the Mat'Ha Raptor, a vessel with an insane amount of firepower. Finally, Romulan characters can snag the Aelahl Warbird Battlecruiser, which can throw out a collapsing singularity for fun and horrible consequences.

These starships will be sold on the C-store and accessible by players level 50 and above.

Star Trek Online explains the Voyager MSD redesign

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Lore, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

With this much attention to detail, you would think that the powers that be could ensure that the same button fires all weapons from one week to the next.
If you're even passingly familiar with the various Star Trek shows, you'll recognize the MSD. It shows up on the bridge of every single Federation ship, offering a detailed breakdown of what is where for eagle-eyed viewers. Star Trek Online's next expansion is bringing the game into the Delta Quadrant, the stomping grounds of the eponymous USS Voyager, so it was only fair that the Intrepid-class MSD could get a nice new redesign to reflect the years of upgrades that the ship has received.

The new MSD represents a much clearer picture of the ship from the series, with several elements improved to more accurately reflect in-show layouts and incorporating modifications made after Voyager's maiden flight such as the airponics bay. Take a look at the full development blog for a closer look at how much work has gone into what seems like a little detail but still forms a vital part of the aesthetics.

Star Trek Online's Delta Rising arrives October 14th

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Crafting, Subscription

Have you tried reversing the polarity though.
Cryptic has just announced that Star Trek Online's Delta Rising expansion will be released on October 14th, 2014. As previously discussed, it will not only raise the level cap but jump into Voyager story space with new territory and famous figures from the franchise.

Developers have also released a new dev blog detailing equipment in the expansion. One of the simple rules of existence is that when Delta Rising goes live, a lot of your old equipment in Star Trek Online is going to be a lot less relevant. There's no way around it. A jump in the level cap that leads to Mark XIV equipment naturally makes Mark XI stuff less potent by comparison. But rather than forcing you to earn a whole new set of loot, the expansion's upgrade system for gear should allow you to take an old favorite and bring it up to par. Players can buy, trade, or craft upgrade kits, which add a certain number of tech points to an item being upgraded. Once enough tech points are acquired, a small dilithium fee is paid and the item can be upgraded to the next rank, possibly increasing in quality along the way. For more details on how to accelerate the procedure, check out the full blog entry; it looks as if you won't have to say farewell to all of your old equipment after all.

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Star Trek Online details the art of the new Intelligence ships

Sci-Fi, Expansions, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

No one seemed to much mind the darker hull finish option back in the day.
The Intelligence ship designs in Star Trek Online are like nothing else in the game, especially for the Federation. They're dark, angular, and aggressive. A new development blog on the official site sees art director Brad Stokan explaining how the new designs went from concept to finished ships and how the art department juggled the tasks of adhering to the design principles that make a ship distinctly Federation while also making something new and unique.

Stokan explains that most of the choices going into the design were weighed against these two rules, such as adding in glowing sensor panels that both highlighted the ships' scanning functionality while providing a distinct silhouette. The design blog also stresses that players can expect extra customization for these ships, including the option to make the hull finish look a bit more typical for Federation craft. Check out the whole process and more bits of concept art in the full blog entry.

[Thanks to Lonegun for the tip!]

Captain's Log Supplemental: A look at Star Trek Online's history with lead designer Al Rivera

Sci-Fi, Culture, Expansions, Patches, News Items, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Subscription

You can amost hear the cries for coffee now.
Star Trek Online is a game that's got some history, not just by virtue of the franchise that's been running for half of forever but because the game itself has a rather madcap development history. Cryptic Studios got the license to develop the game at the eleventh hour, and the caveat was that the game needed to be shipped in the same timeframe as the original developer had promised -- leaving almost no time for development.

I sat down and talked with lead designer Al Rivera about the game's history, its development ethos, and where the game is going with the upcoming release of the second expansion, Delta Rising. It's been a long process, but Rivera shed some light on how the game is designed by its modern team, why things launched the way they did, and what players can expect as the game continues toward its five-year anniversary.

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One Shots: Avian servitude

Screenshots, Culture, Star Trek Online, One Shots, Humor, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Miscellaneous, WildStar

Birds? I don't hate them, but I don't trust them either. Anything that can travel passportless with impunity is something to be wary of, especially if it has access to flight without clearing it with the FAA. And ever since the bird flu scare, I'm quite sure that our feathered "friends" are out to eradicate our entire race.

That said, I'm happy for reader Bill because he's finally putting birds where they belong: under us in full service of their land-masters. "Luck has found me again on RIFT patch day when this 'Lovely Budgie" popped out of a box. I can't help but think there is evil hidden beneath pink feathers and those big black eyes!" Bill wrote.

Oh, but there is evil, Bill. No doubt about it. Hopefully the rest of this week's player-submitted screenshots will not reek of foul intent the way that this cute birdie does.

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Perfect Ten: MMOs that deserve another chance

Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest II, Opinion, Star Trek Online, RuneScape, Marvel Heroes, The Secret World, DC Universe Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter

First impressions matter. First impressions count. First impressions are lasting. These commonly cited maxims are true, but I would like to add one more: "First impressions can be deceiving." Due to our nature of making snap judgments, experiencing something at the wrong time or being impatient, we can rush to a conclusion that could rob us of something we could truly love.

There are few things that frustrate me more than seeing MMO gamers adopt the gospel of the first impressions and refuse to ever return to a game afterward. We keep treating MMOs as disposable, one-shot entertainment that must be plundered quickly right out of the gate instead of seeing them as reusable fun that gets better with time.

So the next time you feel bored waiting for the next MMO to launch so that you can make a two-month first impression and then leave forever, why not give an older title a second try? In this week's countdown, I'm going to make a case for 10 MMOs that deserve another chance even if you wrote them off long ago.

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Star Trek Online's artist explains Tier 6 ship designs

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Lore, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

One of these things is not quite like the others.
The new Federation ship designs in Star Trek Online's upcoming expansion are a pretty big departure from the norm. Sure, the shape of the ships is familiar, but instead of the usual bright Federation white and sweeping curves, they're all hard angles, dark shades, glowing lines, and so forth. They don't look much like the Federation. Concept artist Hector Ortiz took to Reddit recently to explain why the ships look as they do and how the design of the new ships ties into their point of origin despite the departure.

Ortiz explains that with the heavy emphasis on intelligence operations in this expansion, it was only appropriate to design ships that resembled nothing so much as spy planes: angular, stealthy, and dark. That led to the inclusion of the blue lines to help the ship silhouettes stand out against the blackness of space, with the unique nacelle designs also part of an effort to minimize the ship profile. There's no assurance that you'll like the new designs after reading his comments on the rationale, but at least you'll understand why they look the way they do.

Star Trek Online launches the Delta Rising: Operations pack

Sci-Fi, Expansions, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

But why did you make this the cruiser?  Why?  It looks like an escort!
When you head out into the Delta Quadrant in Star Trek Online: Delta Rising, you're going to want to be prepared. You'll want the best possible ship, one capable of making use of everything the quadrant has to offer. That's what the Delta Rising: Operations pack is meant to do. It's the equivalent of the Legacy of Romulus pack from the last expansion, a collection of ships, titles, officers, and bonuses to get you going in the expansion when it goes live.

Eight ships are included in the pack: four Federation ships, two KDF ships, and two Romulan Republic ships. Some of these ships also come equipped with Intelligence Officer bridge stations, the new type of officer being added with the expansion, allowing you to scan for weaknesses in enemy craft and exploit those flaws. It also contains exclusive titles and officers, three ship upgrade modules, and special Talaxian uniforms. The pack is priced at $125 and is available for purchase now if you'd like to be kitted out and ready to go for launch.

Star Trek Online announces more Voyager cast members in Delta Rising

Sci-Fi, Expansions, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

When you're out exploring the Delta Quadrant, you want people around you who have been there before. It's a big, unfriendly place, after all. Star Trek Online players will have a bit more help than they had previously expected, though. In addition to Tim Russ (Tuvok) and Garret Wang (Harry Kim) reprising their roles from Star Trek: Voyager, Ethan Phillips (Neelix), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine), and Robert Picardo (The Doctor) will be making appearances in the game.

No details on these appearances have yet been revealed, although Neelix is likely still in his role as ambassador, and the game's backstory has Seven of Nine working with the Daystrom Institute. It's likely that more lore will be uncovered as the expansion approaches its release this fall.

[Source: Cryptic Studios press release]

Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's expansion and communication

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Subscription

We're hard at work developing stuff, some of which will come off as tone-deaf.
So we finally know what the next expansion is going to be for Star Trek Online, and my speculation regarding the Xindi and points related turned out to be way off. Nope, we're heading into the Delta Quadrant, which is less interesting to me than the Gamma Quadrant, but I suspect the powers that be are exploring all the angles of existing content first. It's coming with a level cap increase, a new tier of ships, a bunch of new tricks, and apparently some bonus communication misses.

Delta Rising is really on track to be a pretty divisive expansion anyway. It was inevitable, really; raising the level cap now was going to lead to problems no matter how it was handled. Unfortunately, Cryptic Studios hasn't done a great job communicating what's in the works for players, nor have the first few things that we've heard exactly countered some early suspicions. It was a minefield that's thus far been navigated largely with a push and a blindfold.

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