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Captain's Log

Captain's Log: A Star Trek Online 2014 wish list

Betas, Sci-Fi, Expansions, Patches, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Rumors, Captain's Log, Neverwinter

STO Odyssey
We're coming up on 2014 and staring Star Trek Online's fourth anniversary right in the face. It's an anniversary that many naysayers said would never come. Next week I plan on taking a look back at the past year in Star Trek Online, so this week I thought it would be fun to prognosticate on what we might see in the year to come.

A few days ago, STO Community Manager Brandon Felczer wrote a blog post on the game's site, and buried within that post was the announcement that Cryptic and Perfect World Entertainment have slated another expansion for the game in 2014. The news was actually a bit surprising, and although there were no additional facts about what the expansion might entail, there has been a lot of speculation by the players. I am no exception to the speculation frenzy, so here's my own personal wish list for what I'd like to see in the upcoming expansion and other releases in 2014.

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Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's reputation systems for the new player

Sci-Fi, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Industry, Patches, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Guides

STO Tholian EV
One thing new MMO players will learn is that games that have levels inevitably also have a level cap, meaning that when a character reaches the highest level, there's not often much left to do other than to wait for a new expansion. This conundrum has left many developers trying to find ways to keep players in the game while they worked on new, larger content pushes. Many accomplish the task by creating repeatable quests or missions.

Some games, Star Trek Online included, have integrated what are known as reputation systems into their games. Reputation systems are meant to keep players participating in repeatable content, allowing them to apply the currency received from that play to obtain select items and unique rewards.

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Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's wacky Winter Event

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Patches, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log

STO Winter Event
Ah, the holiday season! I've learned over the past few years that MMO developers must really look forward to working on their respective games' winter events because they're allowed to break free from the rigidity of individual franchises and create things that are a bit more avant garde.

OK, maybe not every developer, but one thing's for sure: The team over at Cryptic certainly uses the Winter Event in Star Trek Online to allow its silly flag to fly. The Star Trek Online Winter Event has incrementally grown bigger and wackier since it first began, and this year's festivities are no exception.

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Captain's Log: Fleets for new players in Star Trek Online

Sci-Fi, Guilds, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Guides

STO Fleet Starbase area
Once again it's time to delve into tips and tricks for new players in this week's Captain's Log. I'm quite happy to say that many of these previous columns are still very popular and generate a lot of feedback. This week I will endeavor to help new Star Trek Online (and MMO) players with questions I've received via email about the pros and cons of joining a fleet.

All MMOs have social groups, most called guilds. In Star Trek Online these groups are appropriately referred to as fleets due to the naval structure of the factional militaries. These social groups are extremely diverse, as diverse as the people who play the game. The trick is finding the right fit.

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Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's new Starfleet tutorial

Sci-Fi, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Captain's Log

STO Earth Spacedock Interface
Star Trek Online recently revealed a freshly revamped tutorial for players who create new Starfleet characters. This week I had the opportunity to check the new material out for myself, so I rolled a new toon and experienced what it is like to have greatness thrust upon me!

What? You don't believe me? It's true! My character went from academy graduate to captain of a Starfleet vessel in a matter of minutes! Oh wait, I guess that's not so surprising; even Captain James T. Kirk did it in an alternate universe.

The fact of the matter is there's no easy way, story-wise, to get a new player's character into the command chair in a completely convincing manner. I'll be explaining how it all happens, so if you want to remain surprised about anything in the new Star Trek Online Starfleet tutorial, avert your eyes for the remaining portion of this away mission. But do me a favor and scroll down anyway, look at the pictures, and pretend to read it. It'll make me feel better. The rest of you are with me. Engage.

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Captain's Log: Arc Q&A with Perfect World's Noel Holmes

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

Arc Header Proportionate
A week or two ago, I came across a dev blog about the new portal called Arc on the Star Trek Online website that seemed to raise more questions than provide answers. Not unlike most passionate gamers, I reacted emotionally and admittedly with some unfounded anger. I realized very quickly that if I was having that kind of reaction, then there were likely many others who were having similar reactions.

So I did the only thing that I could: I contacted the representatives of Perfect World to gain some clarification to the blog and hopefully ease my concerns. Instead of a shoving a palm to my face, Perfect World made available Noel Holmes in the hopes he would be able to clarify not only my concerns but also concerns borne by other Star Trek Online players as well.

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Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's Season Eight Preview

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

STO Voth Fortress Ship Header
It's almost here: Season Eight in Star Trek Online releases tomorrow, November 12th! There is a lot of new material that will be implemented into the game when the season goes live, so much that there really hasn't been a single list of everything that's to come. So in today's Captain's Log, allow me to do a breakdown of all of the new content that Star Trek Online players can expect to see when they finish patching.

You can also catch a quick glimpse of Season Eight's material by watching the official Season Eight trailer that Massively revealed last week. As you can imagine, this column will be chock-full of spoilers!

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Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's Sphere of Influence, Season Eight, and reruns

Betas, Sci-Fi, Lore, Patches, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log

STO Sphere of Influence Header
Just ask the Massively writers and they'll agree that writing about a specific game is a lot like chasing the tide; information about a game comes and goes in waves. It's been no different with Star Trek Online, but now the tide is rolling in. A lot is happening in Star Trek Online: release dates have been announced, a new beta Mac platform is coming, the new featured episode is live, old featured episodes have a rerun promotion, and a lot more is on the way, so let's just jump in because the water's fine!

New featured episode

Let's start with the most recent featured episode introduced into the game. Called Sphere of Influence, the mission involves the player being invited back to New Romulus to witness the power-up of the Iconian gate that he helped discover. Upon arriving, the player is informed that Klingon Ambassador Worf is also there to act as a consultant. Worf has had prior dealings with Iconian gates, and sure enough, when the player is introduced to the Ambassador, he will hear actor Michael Dorn's voice.

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Captain's Log: Solonae space zone in Star Trek Online

Sci-Fi, Patches, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Captain's Log, Guides

STO Dyson Space Zone
It's been another great week of new information about Star Trek Online's upcoming new Featured Episode and Season Eight. We've learned that the new FE, which is set to be released on Thursday, October 31st, will be called Sphere of Influence. The title isn't a much of a surprise as most of us have been expecting that the new FE will carry Star Trek Online's story from the Iconian gate on New Romulus to the new content featuring a Dyson Sphere in Season Eight.

A new sponsorship system will be added to STO's reputation system, which should benefit those of us who like to play multiple alts. I've also had a chance to peruse the new Voth Command reputation faction on the Tribble test server and learn it contains some interesting new passive skills.

Finally, a lot more content has been released onto Tribble, including the new Solonae space adventure zone. There's also some great news for those who don't subscribe to STO but still want to test the new content: Tribble has been opened up to all players, not just subscribers! If you don't want to know anything about the new content, be warned: This column will have a few spoilers!

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Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's Dyson Sphere ground battle zone

Sci-Fi, Patches, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Captain's Log

STO Dyson Sphere Robot
Finally! We finally have some news to report involving Star Trek Online's upcoming new content! Some of the new Season Eight material is up on the Tribble test server, and the new Featured Episode will be released on October 31st!

We still aren't exactly sure when Season Eight will be released, but it's now easier to see what's in store for us, including a new set of space missions and new ground missions that feature territory control. I've had a chance to jump onto Star Trek Online's Tribble server to try a few things out and to see these "dinosaurs with frikkin' lasers on their heads" for myself. So let's get to it.

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Captain's Log: New-user tips on Star Trek Online's duty officer system

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

STO Avenger class
Let me first wish all of our readers in Canada a very happy Thanksgiving Day! This week I will continue my informal series for new Star Trek Online players with a brief primer on the game's duty officer system. More commonly referred to as DOffs, Star Trek Online's duty officers provide a player with an additional means to obtain XP, dilithium, and other rewards without his having to shoot a single thing.

Many people have likened the DOff system to that of a trading card game, and to an extent they are right. The duty officers have also become a commodity that can be used in other ways outside of the assignment system itself. So join me past the jump as I delve into the very basics of the STO duty officer system.

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Captain's Log: More Star Trek Online new user tips - bridge officers

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

STO Dyson Sphere Spire
Before I dive into the next installment of my new player tips, I'd like to let everyone know that the Star Trek Online site has issued a few new dev blogs hinting at some of the cool news about the upcoming Season Eight: The Sphere. There are some great new blogs featuring the concept art of the new Dyson Sphere space adventure zone, too.

But back to the original topic. Last week's column that provided a basic outline to the Star Trek Online user interface proved to be surprisingly popular and generated far more emails from readers than I had anticipated. Many of the readers have asked that I continue on with the new user tips and I think it's a great idea. So if you've always wondered about the very basics of STO Bridge Officers, join me past the jump to learn more!

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Captain's Log: More Star Trek Online help for the new player

Sci-Fi, News Items, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Guides

STO Fleet starbase conf table
The news is out! Lobi are now accessible account-wide! They're no longer bound to a single character! While I would love to be able to write an entire column about how happy the change has made me, I won't make our readers endure it, but it sure was a fun way to start off this week's Captain's Log.

The good news for some is that this week's column will be dedicated to the brand new players of Star Trek Online. This decision was triggered by an email I received from a reader who wanted to know how he could change his character's outfit without having to go to the tailor all the time. He was a very new player and was embarrassed to ask anyone else, and trusted I wouldn't make him feel a fool.

It was then I realized that there are lots of little things in Star Trek Online that aren't obvious to new players. While many of those things are second nature to me now, I recall with bitter clarity what it was like to be so new that asking a stranger for help was akin to playing Russian roulette. So join me past the break as I touch on what all those tiny little icons on the HUD mean.

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Captain's Log: It's speculation time in Star Trek Online

Sci-Fi, Patches, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Rumors, Captain's Log

STO Caspian FSB
It's that time again, folks: that time when the Star Trek Online playerbase begins to get edgy as we wait for new stuff. It's that "quiet time," although it's never truly quiet at Star Trek Online -- not in the forums, not in the game, and most definitely not at Cryptic Studios.

However, we're also at that crucial point in the cycle of content releases when the dearth of real information is all too obvious. So what's a player to do until the next Featured Episode is released? Well, dwell on the teasers, of course! So join me past the jump and we can speculate together on what we will and won't be seeing in the upcoming FE and Season Eight.

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Captain's Log: An interview with Star Trek Online's artists

Sci-Fi, Interviews, Patches, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log

STO TS destroyer
This week I will be (yes I know, finally) finishing up with my series of interviews with the developers of Star Trek Online. I traveled to Cryptic Studios last July and had the opportunity to meet with several of the people responsible for the game, especially the new expansion, The Legacy of Romulus.

In this column I'll be outlining my conversation with three Star Trek Online artists: Environment Artist Nick (Tumerboy) Duguid, User Interface Artist Thomas (TheCrypticCat) Marrone, and Ship Artist Ian (JamJamz) Richards. So join us past the jump to see what it took to bring the look of Legacy of Romulus to life.

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