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Star Trek Online

Captain's Log: Investigating Star Trek Online's Season 8.5 revamped missions

Betas, Sci-Fi, Patches, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, Captain's Log

STO Chimera Class
It's not very often that the devs at Star Trek Online manages to completely surprise the playerbase with something unanticipated. This week Star Trek Online Community Manager Brandon Felczer posted a list of patch notes for the Tribble test server as well as a new screenshot for the Friday gallery, stating that the screenshot was from the upcoming "Season 8.5" patch.

The patch notes contained a lot of changes that none of us was truly expecting, most of which (but not all, of course) are being generally well-received. The biggest shock is that the patch will include the first new PvP arena in years. Also included in the notes was the announcement that the devs have been busy revamping several of the low-level Starfleet missions to improve their look as well as their pacing.

I've had the opportunity to jump on the Tribble test server to check out some of the revamped missions. Of the 12 missions on the list, I've played four: Stranded in Space, Kuvah'Magh, Researcher Rescue, and The Ultimate Klingon. Many of the screenshots are from the updated missions, so beware -- there be spoilers ahead!

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Captain's Log: Can Star Trek Online craft a future for crafting?

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

STO Memory Alpha
This week I'll be dedicating a whole column on the current state of crafting in Star Trek Online. If there's one thing upon which most Star Trek Online players agree, it's that the crafting system in STO needs a complete overhaul. But there's a very real question as to whether or not an overhaul is even feasible.

When it comes to business, it's usually best to save those parts of a business plan that are working so as not to waste the investments already made. In relation to MMOs, the same considerations should (and in the case of publicly-held companies, is legally required to) be granted to all aspects of its product. Since most MMOs have multiple features typical to all games (PvP, crafting, housing, PvE, etc.) each one of these facets' productivity matters.

If a single feature assists in keeping players in-game, then there's more potential for revenue generation to occur. If a feature not only keeps a player in-game but is, in and of itself, a point of revenue generation, then it's all the better for the company and therefore its shareholders.

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Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's year in review

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

STO Ambassador Class
We've reached the end of 2013 and once again it's time to take a look back at the past year in Star Trek Online to see what has been successful and what missed the mark. I have to say that this year has been the most active that the game has seen since its launch almost four years ago. There's a lot to cover, so I'll just get right to it.

A new mission, a new ship, and a familiar voice

The game's third anniversary saw a new featured episode accompany the usual Q-instigated frivolity. The mission called Temporal Ambassador included the familiar voice of actress Denise Crosby, whose character, Tasha Yar from Star Trek: The Next Generation, was brought back along with the long-awaited Ambassador Class ship. The ship became the mission reward, continuing Star Trek Online's tradition of providing players with a new vessel during the game's anniversary event. While many of us had hoped that Crosby might be heard again as her other character, the Romulan Tal Shiar Operative Sela, I don't think many of us were truly expecting what was to come.

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One Shots: Get to da Choppa!

Screenshots, Culture, Warhammer Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Miscellaneous

WAR
"This is the last time I ever got to see my Orc Choppa in game," sent in reader Sean. "Oddly enough, I couldn't get a screenshot of my Order character because even in the final days they didn't take out the faction locking, and so I was locked out for eight hours."

It's also the last time that I'll be able to make that awesome Predator pun that you see in the title of this week's column there. Man, with Warhammer Online gone, how will I be able to make my '80s action movie references? I guess I'll just put on a brave face and soldier on, somehow.

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Jukebox Heroes: MMO holiday tunes

Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes
Last year I celebrated Christmas with y'all by sharing several holiday music tracks from MMOs, and this year I thought I'd keep the tradition alive. It's not always the easiest thing to find holiday-specific music from these games, as not every game bothers to make new tunes for time-limited events. Still, there are a few that have been sitting in my folders for a while that I'd like to share, including one very special piece of music that pretty much nobody's ever heard before.

So as we wind down the year and relax with friends and family, I'm volunteering myself to be the DJ at your abode. Just put these tunes on and mix up a batch of your best egg nog because the two will be a combination that will make your relatives rave about your refined taste.

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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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One Shots: Parking the Enterprise

Screenshots, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, RIFT, Miscellaneous

One Shots
Another week, another gorgeous Star Trek Online screenshot from reader Mark. Mark sent us in this picture of the Enterprise looking for a parking spot around Deep Space Nine, perhaps endlessly circling the lot while the husband's waiting for someone close to the door to pull out and the wife is arguing that they should just park a little further away and hoof it in with EVA suits.

Fun fact: This was just one of dozens of screenshots that Mark sent in February 2013 when we put out the Great One Shots Call for more pictures. A less-fun fact: We're starting to run out of community-submitted screenshots to share with you, and our well might be dry by the end of January. Remember, it's you who keeps One Shots alive!

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Perfect World putting new resources toward console development

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, PvE, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Consoles, MMOFPS, Post-Apocalyptic, Neverwinter, MMORPG

Torchlight II
Perfect World Entertainment, the mega-publisher behind games like Neverwinter, Torchlight II, RaiderZ, and Star Trek Online, has just announced that it is launching a new in-house division dedicated to console development. According to general manager of publishing Andrew Brown, investing in console development offers Perfect World a way to "better connect with players."

The console division will be dedicated to bringing new and existing PWE titles to consoles. Brown seemed optimistic about expanding into the console world, explaining, "You can expect Perfect World to be a major player in the console marketplace." No specific games were named for release.

[Thanks to Paul for the tip!]

Field Journal: The true meaning of MMO holiday events

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Opinion, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, Hands-On, Humor, RIFT, MMORPG, Field Journal

No, this doesn't belong on WoW Insider.
Field Journal is a bold and exciting new take on MMO journalism. Or the meandering ramblings of a chronic game-hopper. I haven't decided yet. Each week I'll be setting for myself a new "adventure" or "field trip" into a game to explore some aspect of it in detail. I'll be sharing my thoughts and experiences, especially on games without a dedicated column. Anything from the most obscure indie to the elephant in the room is up for consideration. There just has to be something in it we think is worth gawking at and talking about!

Given the timing, I wanted to kick things off with a look at seasonal events in MMOs. To make it special, I thought, why not tackle the events of a few games in one go? Oh how naive I was. Let me tell you, there's nothing like seeing the same flavor of holiday cheer over and over again in supposedly different worlds to strip away one's capacity for goodwill to all developers. Fortunately, there were a few bright spots.

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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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Star Trek Online getting another expansion 'late in 2014'

Sci-Fi, Expansions, MMO Industry, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries

Star Trek Online
Star Trek Online fans, you've got a new expansion coming your way in 2014. So says the latest STO dev blog. The entry is basically a year-end recap, and it offers up plenty of thanks for making 2013 "the best year ever for STO." It also says that "your enthusiastic support has put another expansion on the schedule for late in 2014."

Unfortunately there are no other details as of yet, but hey, feel free to give the whole thing a read via the links below.

[Thanks Grand Nagus!]

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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Dorn's Worf the subject of latest Star Trek Online dev blog

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries

Here's Worf
Star Trek Online lead writer Christine "Kestrel" Thompson has authored the 28th dev blog concerning STO's Season 8 content. The blog's subject is actor Michael Dorn, better known in Star Trek circles as Worf.

Thompson details how Dorn was able to perform Worf's voice-overs in a Los Angeles studio while Cryptic devs listened in via Skype and directed the session. Thompson also mentions that KDF players will notice even more voice-overs in early Klingon missions once this week's scheduled update has gone live.

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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Star Trek Online creates a gingerbread colony for the holidays

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Humor

Star Trek Online
Not since Aunt Beru's blue milk has science fiction looked this tasty! Star Trek Online's mischevious Q is creating a gingerbread colony for the game's annual Winter Wonderland event.

As part of the event, players will be shrunk down to defend the colony from snowmen by flinging snowballs and firing snow guns at them (which, if you think about it, is kind of like flinging body parts at the enemy). Toss in ice and yetis, and you have the strangest Star Trek episode ever. And yes, I'm including the one with Data and the masks. What was that about?

Participants in the event can get special prizes and recipes, including a starship. Q's Winter Wonderland will be in the game from December 5th through January 16th of next year.

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