Captain's Log, Stardate 64612.7...

Hello, computer (and players)! First things first: My name is Brandon, and I am your new columnist for Captain's Log! I am thrilled to join you each week with the latest Star Trek Online news, gossip, developer interview recaps, and much, much more! As some of you may know (or now know from clicking on my name above), I am a Trekker from mostly sunny Southern California who is actively involved in the STO universe.

Whether I'm doing my weekly podcast, Priority One, administrating our STO social-network site, The Quantum Café, or writing for you guys, I am having an absolute blast and am so proud of where the game has come one year since its launch. So, as a final piece of my "introduction," this column is dedicated to all the Captains out there -- may all your battles be glorious!

Ensign, warp 10! Let's catch these readers up on the latest STO news...

February Engineering Report

Executive Producer Dan Stahl released this month's much anticipated Engineering Report with some pretty interesting updates. Of course, he opened with a "thank you" to all the players for sticking in there over the past year and for joining in on the anniversary celebrations. But there were two main topics he wanted to talk about before the normal report: Weekly Series Three and the long-awaited Foundry update

While he did mention that it was exciting to create the Romulan-focused series and that a lot of time went into its production, he mainly apologized for Cloaked Intentions' having some "intentions" of its own. Not only did the first and second episodes debut the past two Saturdays before last, new server issues made their debut as well. Due to the overwhelming demand to play the new missions, "the servers [were] crushed under the weight of players [logging in]," Dan told us. While Cryptic's engineers worked all week to fix the issue, the servers went down again the following Saturday. All but vowing to give everyone a million Atari Tokens, Dan ensured players that the issue would be fixed -- fortunately for some, and unfortunately for others, no one became Atari millionaires, as Episode Three debuted without a hiccup. Way to go, NetOps!

Dan's second main focus, The Foundry, hinted at some amazing updates that are headed our way. Loved those choose your own ending books from your childhood or your child's childhood? This sort of adventure is coming to a Foundry mission near you(r Journal Log)! The biggest tools that authors have been requesting include cut and paste, branching dialogue, and mission triggers. This should allow for some interesting gameplay, including the ability to create some missions that would rival ones made by STO's devs. In fact, if you have a mission you would like everyone to know about, send it to brandon@massively.com -- you never know where it might end up being featured.

As always, Dan ends with some items that are in testing, under investigation, in development, in design, or long term goals. While you can find the full list here, there are some that just have to be talked about. Melee weapons are coming to a vendor near you. Dueling with a Vulcan Lirpa or Sulu's sword? Check! Already tired of your 400-day veteran reward Captain's Yacht? Don't worry; a 500-day veteran reward is already in the works. Dreaming about more costumes? Re-start that New Year's diet because there are some new digs coming soon that you will want to fit into. Dying for the Prometheus class escort to be more canon-like? Start saving your Atari Tokens for the Multi Vector Assault Mode console. Fleet starbases, more PvP maps, territory control, additional playable factions? Maybe someday soon™ or far.

February Ask Cryptic

As time goes on, these seem to get longer and longer and epicer and epicer ("epicer," is that a new word?). Dan once again reveals some really great information by answering 51 player-submitted questions:
  • Less zoning -- One of Dan's biggest goals for STO is to reduce the number of loading screens and noticeable transitions between sector blocks, interior maps, and ground maps. I foresee the need to split the game into multiple servers to reduce player overload. What do you guys think, though? Comment below!
  • Wormholes to other quadrants -- The STO team would like to expand the universe by allowing us to truly "boldy go where no one has gone before," including unfamiliar areas. While we may see this as an answer to revamp the way exploration works, let's hope that wormhole will be stable enough to bring us back.
  • Money, money, money! It's NOT funny -- Anyone who plays STO knows that there are literally a dozen or so different currencies used within the game. Dan would like to see this simplified and streamlined as early as Season 4 and has a dedicated a systems engineer on the task; thank you, Bajoran prophets!
  • Remastered episodes -- One of the greatest recent additions to the game has been the remastering of missions, including the first, Stranded in Space. This is the first mission that new players complete right out of the tutorial. Playing this mission has made players feel like they are finally in the Trek universe. Dan has committed to the fans that we will be seeing more remastered missions, as well as this level of detail, in all future missions.
  • Romulan faction -- Dan sparked a heated debate in the STO forums by stating that the Romluan faction may split between the Federation and Klingon Empire. While faction discussions are occurring "all the time," I honestly doubt we will see them in 2011. This has upset many of the game's Romulan enthusiasts.
  • STF changes -- STO's current endgame content, the Special Task Forces, are due for some major updates as well. Due up first is enabling the difficulty slider for these 5-man "raids." It is said that their current state will be considered "advanced," while sliding up to "elite" mode will provide better rewards and playing on "normal" will provide faster run times.
February interview roundup
  • Gamereactor's interview with Dan Stahl -- The European gaming site interviewed Dan to find out what is coming for STO in 2011. Check out the written interview here.
  • STOked interviews Gozer -- STO's first video podcast recently interviewed content developer Dan Griffis about his role in the new Romulan series, remastered episodes, and the addition of actual Trek music from the series and movies. Watch the episode here.
  • Priority One visits Cryptic and interviews Stormshade -- OK, this is not a shameless plug! This is great stuff! I got the chance to interview Shaun Brodie directly from his office at Cryptic Studios and get some community questions answered as well as his feedback on some of our listener's great ideas. Listen to it here. Also, I will have a full report for Massively on my visit very soon!
Well, Captains, we have come to the end of this week's log entry. It has been a wild ride, but shields are still holding strong. I hope you continue to tune into these subspace frequencies every week, and if you don't, I will send the Borg after you and your toons! Make sure to comment below with what you all think about the news...

Computer, terminate recording.

Boldly going where no one has gone before, Brandon Felczer transmits Captain's Log through Subspace right to your PADD every Thursday. Join him as he discusses the latest news, gossip, and dev interviews about Star Trek Online. Hailing frequencies are always open to his bridge through brandon@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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