Captain's Log: Testing out the future

Star Trek Online wallpaper of a pile of Tribbles
Captain's Log, Stardate 65264.3...

Hello, computer (and players)! As you have must have seen by now, open beta testing of Star Trek Online's new F2P model is well underway; the developers have been posting dev diaries about the impending changes for the last couple of days. Because testers on the Tribble test server were required to start new characters, and because character transfers will not be an option for at least a few weeks, many players have begun a mad dash to level up their test characters in order to test out some of the retooled endgame content.

Since testing, especially in this manner, can be confusing, I have decided to dedicate this week's Captain's Log to those who are willing to take on the challenge. Past the jump, you will find a checklist of sorts that you can use while testing (or, ultimately, playing) the new content and updates. I suggest reading each section and then checking it out in-game. While some recommendations may seem less interesting than others, I suggest you give each a fair shot so you can provide feedback on what can make the game better.

Ensign, warp 10! Let's give our dedicated Tribbleites some structure to their testing time...

Tutorial update

Since you must start a new character, the first big update that you will notice is that most of the tutorial has been overhauled. One of my favorite updates is that depending on which career you choose, you start on a different part of the ship. Make sure to explore these new areas and the bridge you take the turbolift to.

You will also notice that you start out in shooter-mode. The developers made this choice so that new players learn how to use the new mode. As those of us who have been playing since the ground combat update know, this "new for us" mode can be a challenge when you're trying it out for the first time. And yet this mode can make for some of the best experiences in the game -- I think it is great that our new captains will get used to it early on.

Mission journal

The revamp of the mission journal has brought one of the most visually stunning UIs to the game that I have ever seen. The header pictures, the preview images of each mission, and the layout are well-executed, simplified, and elegant, all at the same time. Check it out by pressing "J" or clicking your faction's logo near your minimap.

Aside from this visual overhaul, the changes have made joining PvP or open PvE missions easier than ever before. The new Special Task Force (STF) public and private queues have also been added to this UI; if you are looking to start an STF with a pre-set group of friends or a random pick-up group, you no longer have to fly to the raid's starting system, and instead you'll start it from this menu. The image below shows off what the system looks like.

Star Trek Online screenshot
Event calendar

Tied to the mission journal, a new calendar section allows you to take a look at daily and weekly events that have been pre-set by the devs. While some of these will be surrounding the STFs, others will be events that will occur on an hourly basis. Players will be able to join in on these through the PvE volunteer menu.

While these events are completely optional and do not adversely affect your storyline progression if you do not participate in them, many players will find the rewards generous; they will include special gear, currency, or experience points. The missions will also be unique and offer experiences you won't find in other parts of the game.

Currency update

The economy has been completely overhauled so that many of the badges and marks have been folded into one currency. There are only going to be three forms (down from over a dozen or so): Energy Credits, which will be used to purchase consumables; Gold-Pressed Latinum, which is earned by winning at the Dabo minigame and is used to purchase novelty rewards; and Dilithium, which is earned through completing missions and participating in events and is used to purchase rare gear and new ships.

One of the main reasons Cryptic decided to make everyone start new characters on Tribble is to give the economy a fresh start. The good news is that once this is ported over to Holodeck, everyone's old marks and badges will be converted to Dilithium. Exact details are still being worked out, so keep your eyes peeled for more announcements.

Duty Officer system

One of the most anticipated updates to the game, the Duty Officer System is an optional, highly addictive new UI that allows a captain to manage her crew and send crewmembers out on special assignments. Geoff Tuffli, Senior Game Designer for STO, has been working on the project for months and is ecstatic that we now have the opportunity to test it out and provide feedback on it.

Recently, Geoff wrote a dev blog detailing the system and providing an overview to new and existing players. While I could sum it up for you, it would be even more epic if you read about it in his own words. I suggest you do so as fast as you can click that link. Below is a sneak-peek image to show off what the system looks like.

Star Trek Online screenshot
Deep Space Nine

Most of the art assets of Deep Space Nine have indeed been updated. While you're visiting the station, make sure to take a look at the more-canon-than-ever Ops room, with the new adjacent Captain's Office and the freshly remodeled Quark's Bar. Most of these changes were made due to the next Featured Series, which will take place around the area.

C-Store

The C-Store will be making its way to Tribble shortly (if it hasn't done so already by the time you read this post). While your current C-Store point balance will not be transferring over, Cryptic has decided to provide a test point stipend to testers so they can buy items from the shop. Also, if you happen to purchase points for the Holodeck server during the time that F2P is being tested, you will also receive the same number of test points on Tribble.

While this has been stirring up quite a bit of controversy in the forums, the team has decided to continue on the theme of testing an overhauled economy that has been started from scratch. Interim Executive Producer Stephen D'Angelo recently posted a dev blog about this update. He also made a follow-up post in the forums to clear up some misconceptions.

STF updates

For the past several months, Content Developer Dan "Gozer" Griffis has been working on a complete remastering of all of the STFs. Although Infected is currently the only radisode available for testing at the moment and requires one to re-rank up to level 45, the other two Borg missions are complete and are being prepared for testing.

As I have mentioned in past Captain's Log entries, the STFs are no longer (or should not be, depending on the player) time-consuming missions that have less-than-amazing rewards. Each of them has been broken up into one space and one ground section that should not take longer than 30 minutes apiece. Each also provide unique rewards that allow you to collect some amazing new gear.

Lore missions

Daily lore missions have been added to the game; they allow players to earn rewards and accolades. At this time, only Federation captains can find these at Starfleet Academy. As soon as the KDF faction is opened up for testing, they'll be available in a Klingon variety on Qo'noS.

Well, Captains, we have come to the end of this week's log entry. As you can see, there is quite a bit of new content on its way and a lot to test. Since Tribble's current build is still a long way out from being ported over to Holodeck, we have plenty of time to check it out and submit our feedback to the devs on what we would actually like to see changed or added, so make sure to post your feedback for them in the appropriate forum. Next week, I am going to be livestreaming STO on Tuesday, October 11th, at 7 p.m. EDT. Tune in to our Livestream channel as I team up with a local friend for a LAN party as we continue checking out the F2P test server and the newest build that has been pushed to it.

Until next time, let me know what you think of the incoming updates by commenting below or sending me an email to brandon@massively.com.

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.