Screenshot - Star Trek Online
Captain's Log, Stardate 65340.3...

Hello, computer (and players)! Unlike an answer to Shakespeare's original question, the answer to the question in this week's title is probably a no-brainer for most of you: Yes! Choosing a specialization, or "speccing," in MMOs is something that stretches across most titles out there, and Star Trek Online is no different. Whether you wish to resist attacks longer, do more damage, or add strength to your powers, choosing a customized spec can be rewarding and a challenge at the same time. With so many variables and places to spend your points, the possibilities are endless.

While this week's Captain's Log is not here to tell you what you should spec into for your particular class or ship set-up, I would like to go over the space skill point overhaul that STO is about to go through. In the past, one of the biggest complaints from players was that they did not have a clear understanding of which skill tree affected which ability. The devs heard this feedback and have been working on a complete revamp to make these decisions simpler. Hopefully, this will allow you to have a better understanding of where and why to spend your points in a particular skill when you do have to re-spec at the launch of F2P on January 17th, 2012.

Ensign, warp 10! Let's get our readers' bookmark buttons ready...

Just like in the retiring space spec system we have currently on Holodeck, there are still five tiers of skills that skillpoints (sp) can be spent on. The higher the tier, the more "expensive" it is to spec one point (tier 1 = 150sp, tier 5 = 750sp) into the individual skill. This also means that the more effective skills can be found in the higher tiers. The reason for the increased number of skillpoints needed to spec one of the nine points in each skill is that the entire tree has been simplified from five to three sections. Let's explore these in more detail.

Tactical systems
  • Starship weapons training: Speccing into this skill will improve the damage output that starship weapons do.
  • Starship energy weapons: Speccing into this skill will further improve the damage output that your energy weapons (e.g., cannons and beam banks) do.
  • Starship projectile weapons: Speccing into this skill will further improve the damage output that your projectile weapons (e.g., torpedoes and mines) do.
  • Starship maneuvers: Speccing into this skill will improve the defense capabilities of your ship; this includes resistance to kinetic and energy damage.
  • Starship targeting systems: Speccing into this skill will improve the accuracy of your weapons; this will decrease the chance of your weapons missing their target, increasing potential DPS.
  • Starship attack patterns: Speccing into this skill will further improve the effectiveness of pattern abilities (e.g., Attack Pattern Beta and Attack Pattern Delta).
  • Starship stealth: Speccing into this skill will improve the stealth and cloak performance on ships that have these capabilities (e.g., Defiant Refit or ships using the Mask Energy Signature).
  • Starship energy weapon specialization: Speccing into this skill will improve the critical hit and critical severity chances for your energy weapons.
  • Starship projectile weapon specialization: Speccing into this skill will improve the critical hit and critical severity chances for your projectile weapons.
Screenshot - Star Trek Online
Engineering systems
  • Starship batteries: Speccing into this skill will increase the duration of consumable and non-consumable batteries (e.g., Weapons Battery and Engine Battery).
  • Starship hull repair: Speccing into this skill will improve your hull regeneration rate, modified by the amount of crew you have alive, and your hull healing abilities (e.g., Hazard Systems and Auxiliary Power to the Structural Integrity).
  • Structural integrity: Speccing into this skill will add bonus hit points to your ship's hull.
  • Starship subsystem repair: Speccing into this skill will decrease the time it takes to get any disabled subsystem back online, modified by the number of crewmen you have alive.
  • Starship warp core efficiency: Speccing into this skill will increase the power levels by a bonus to the subsystems for which power levels are set to "low."
  • Starship electro-plasma systems: Speccing into this skill will improve the energy transfer rate when adjusting power levels and improve the effectiveness of abilities that grant power boosts (e.g., Emergency Power to Weapons).
  • Starship impulse thrusters: Speccing into this skill will improve your ship's speed and turn rates.
  • Starship warp core potential: Speccing into this skill will grant a bonus in the power levels of all subsystems.
  • Starship engine performance: Speccing into this skill will grant a bonus in the power level of your ship's engine subsystem.
  • Starship hull plating: Speccing into this skill will add energy damage resistance to your ship's stats.
  • Starship shield performance: Speccing into this skill will grant a bonus in the power level of your ship's shield subsystem.
  • Starship armor reinforcements: Speccing into this skill will add kinetic damage resistance to your ship's stats.
  • Starship auxiliary performance: Speccing into this skill will grant a bonus in the power level of your ship's auxiliary subsystem.
  • Starship weapon performance: Speccing into this skill will grant a bonus in the power level of your ship's weapon subsystem.
Screenshot - Star Trek Online
Science and operation systems
  • Starship flow capacitors: Speccing into this skill will improve the effectiveness of all of your shield and energy draining abilities (e.g., Tachyon Beam and Energy Siphon).
  • Starship shield emitters: Speccing into this skill will improve the effectiveness of your shield healing abilities (Transfer Shield Strength and Extend Shields).
  • Starship power insulators: Speccing into this skill will add resistance to your ship against energy and shield drain attacks.
  • Starship shield systems: Speccing into this skill will add bonus hit points to your ship's shields.
  • Starship graviton generators: Speccing into this skill will improve the effectiveness of your knockback/repel and slow abilities (e.g., Tractor Beam and Photonic Shockwave).
  • Starship particle generators: Speccing into this skill will improve all exotic damage that is dealt by specific powers (e.g., Photonic Shockwave and Feedback Pulse) with such damage types.
  • Starship inertial dampeners: Speccing into this skill will help your ship be more resistant to holds, disables, knockback and slowing attacks.
  • Starship sensors: Speccing into this skill will improve your ship's stealth detection stat and will help your ship be more resistant to confuse and placate attacks.
  • Starship countermeasure systems: Speccing into this skill will improve the effectiveness of your confuse and placate abilities (e.g., Scramble Sensors and Jam Targeting Sensors).
  • Starship subspace decompiler: Speccing into this skill will improve the effectiveness of your hold and disable powers (e.g., Target Shields Subsystems).
Screenshot - Star Trek Online
Before we go, I reached out to the Twitterverse to see what people think about the changes. I got several responses:
@ClarkeApps: I'm up for it, the old one was over complex, that said I'm worried at first glance this may be *too* simple. We'll see!

@graham641: I like the new changes, it makes it easier to spec into different kinds of energy weapons and ship types

@cerberusfilms: It completely changes current builds, but from my testing on tribble, it doesn't seem to have changed the game

@PoisonFox: I find the changes to be on the whole good, maybe not quite complete yet but now more weapon types are feasable
Well, Captains, we have come to the end of this week's log entry. As you can see, there are a lot of changes coming to the way we spend our hard-earned skill points, so make sure to bookmark this page so you can return often as a resource to your future re-speccing needs. Also, since all of these changes are subject to further change, make sure to post your feedback in the forum thread about them. If you are interested in learning more about the math behind subject, you can also read a recent post by Lead Designer CaptainGeko. Next week, I am going to be out of town and unable to livestream STO, but I'll be back to my normally scheduled broadcast the following week.

Until next time, let me know your own thoughts on these changes 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.
MindArk announces Planet Calypso land grab