Hiya, readers! Pull up a barstool and get comfy. This week's Captain's Log, your Thursday fix of Star Trek Online news and views, is all about minigames. With the recent release of Season 2: Ancient Enemies, the folks at Cryptic Studios introduced a pair of minigames to STO, and they say they have more in the works. I thought it might be fun to check out the new diversions and maybe suggest a few of our own for future updates.
As we all know by now, Season 2 brought loads of new stuff to STO. I've devoted the past few weeks to some of the new season's important features, including the diplomacy system and starship interiors. And we'll examine the promised weekly episodes whenever they, y'know, start happening.
But while a new level cap and Klingon story elements are fine and dandy, the developers added a little funsauce for the immersion goose in the form of two new minigames: anomaly-gathering and Dabo. The former is fairly straightforward, while the latter is pounding my wallet to a pulp.
Captain's Log covered crafting a few months ago, shortly after the revamping of Memory Alpha. While the actual crafting process changed considerably (though not enough for most people, including Executive Producer Daniel Stahl), the developers left gathering alone. Finding crafting mats consisted of pressing the 'F' key near anomaly nodes.
Well, not anymore! With the advent of Season 2, anomaly-gathering is decidedly more interactive. The same basic setup remains, in that your Federation starship or captain needs to find and scan an anomaly. But now, instead of automatically granting, say, three pieces of exobiological data, scanning prompts a flash-fast minigame that determines the number of resources you receive.
When the box pops up, you have about five seconds to match the red waveform to the blue waveform. The arrow keys adjust the height and width of the wave. If you successfully match the two waves in time, you'll earn a gold star and slightly more resources than you would have if you'd failed. You still receive mats if you fail or ignore the box entirely.
And that's pretty much it. It's a very small (mini!) effort at interactivity that I think adds some fitting Star Trek flavor to anomaly-gathering. Not everyone likes it, because the box slows you down if you're grabbing mats on the fly, but that's life.
So yeah, Dabo is really the major minigame the developers added in Season 2. Turning up mainly in Deep Space Nine, Dabo is essentially space roulette... in space. As far as I can tell, the Ferengi created it to separate clueless simpletons like myself from our kind-of-hard-earned space money.
To play Dabo, you can hit up the table at the neutral-faction bar in the Drozana System or at Quark's on DS9. It's a big orange table surrounded by NPCs, and often by other players. The Dabo girl is happy to explain all about the game, which consists mainly of hoping to match colors and symbols.
The Dabo wheel features three rings that spin at different speeds. When those rings stop spinning, three symbols -- one from each ring -- line up with each slot on the wheel. You can bet from 10 to 100 energy credits on up to three slots at a time. If you put money on a slot at which matching symbols happen to line up, you win gold-pressed latinum. So, if I bet 10 credits on Slot 15, and two red symbols and another thing happen to line up there, I might win 20 gold-pressed latinum.
I have no idea what the latinum-to-credits exchange rate is -- for all I know, I'm winning pennies on the dollar -- but money is so abundant in STO after a certain point that it hardly matters. Plus, latinum is the only way to buy the (expensive!) holo emitters for sale in Quark's. Also, you can earn accolades, STO's version of achievements, both for playing and winning at the Dabo table.
For the most part, the developers implemented Dabo beautifully. The interface is clear, the atmosphere is lively and Leeta is fabulous. The fully voiced attendant explains how to play Dabo if you ask her, and she cheers and chatters randomly as you play. The developers clearly put some serious effort into getting Dabo right the first time around -- which kind of makes you wish they had put as much effort into every aspect of STO.
What else you got?
The peeps at Cryptic have suggested that more minigames are -- Oh! Hang on, I just won 3,000 latinum on one spin. Yay me! Er, anyway, more games are on the way. So what can we hope for in the future?
Three-dimensional chess -- I know this is a favorite among hopeful players. According to Memory Alpha, 3-D chess has appeared 28 times on various incarnations of the TV series. I imagine the game would be easy enough to implement, but explaining the rules in-game to newcomers might be astronomically challenging.
Poker -- As one commenter, mysecretid, pointed out last week, the developers added a poker table to the starship lounge. So hopes are high that they'll soon add the game itself, which has appeared fairly often in Star Trek episodes. If they could design a fully voiced space Lady Gaga (which seems a little redundant, actually) to act as the dealer, I'd never leave the table.
Darts -- As I played Dabo at Quark's the other day, some fellow insisted that developers are working on a darts minigame. Seems perfectly fitting to me, and I always enjoyed the O'Brien-Bashir darts scenes on DS9.
Dom-jot -- Another perfect bar game, dom-jot is sort of a cross between billiards and pinball. A fellow in Quark's described it as "space snooker," which sounded more like a horrible new Jersey Shore character than an enjoyable pastime. Dom-jot would require more effort to implement than Dabo did, largely because it would involve a lot more interaction than pushing a large "place bet" button. But it would also be a lot more fun, and who doesn't want the chance to get stabbed to death by an angry Nausicaan?
That's it for this week, folks. I'm sure I've left off plenty of possible Star Trek minigames, so feel free to suggest some more. And remember: Always Dabo in moderation!