Of course, events aren't the only way to spend your STO time during this content drought, and this New Year's Eve edition of the Captain's Log has a few other ideas for you...
It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about me that I am extremely fond of fan-made productions. Whether it be fan-fiction, fan-produced films, animation, machinima, art, audio-dramas or even lovingly detailed paper models, I do my best to support it all. Why, you ask? Because Star Trek has been around for 45 years due in no small part to the loyalty of its fans, especially those who created something out of star Trek during the long, dry, empty periods when there was no Star Trek on the television or in the theaters -- a situation not unlike what the playerbase is currently experiencing in STO.
Yes, you read that correctly: There has been a virtual dearth of real content to come to STO since March, 2012, when the last featured episodes, the Reman-focused Cloaked Intentions missions, were released. Since that time, Cryptic Studios was put up on the blocks and several weeks later was purchased by Perfect World Entertainment, and it's been apparent that the release of any new story-based content was put on the back-burner while the companies' focus has turned to pushing STO free-to-play as soon as possible.
Due to this dry spell, some players have left due to the lack of formal content, some have turned their own focus to testing the F2P model, and still others still have turned to the only new content to come out in the game: the Foundry.
The Foundry tool
The Foundry is the unique user-generated content (UGC) tool that can be used by any player to create playable Star Trek Online missions. There are currently hundreds of missions from which to choose, and they can vary widely in length and in difficulty. Some are focused on battle and the more pew-pew aspects of the game, while others are devoid of any conflict and test a player's diplomatic patience.
The tool itself can be rather daunting to a new user as there is no in-game tutorial on how to interact with it. However, many supportive players can be found in the STO forums under the Foundry headings as well as on websites that are strictly devoted to the Foundry, including StarbaseUGC.com and FoundryMissions.com. Players can access actual tutorial videos and wiki information as well as view trailers for other players' missions. There is even a 24-hour Foundry TV where you can watch mission trailers as well as other videos created by Foundry users.
Currently, all subscribing players have an initial eight slots with which to create and publish their own missions. Free-to-play players are granted one mission slot, but they are allowed to play all the missions that have been created by others. Additional mission slots can be purchased using C-Store points.
As outlined above, STO has a daily Foundry event, and players can earn a dilithium reward for undertaking a Foundry mission during the scheduled time period. To date, some of the best Star Trek missions in the game have come from the playerbase, so I highly recommend that if you are an STO player and are tired of grinding the same missions day after day, there really is new content out there for you -- you just have to look in the right place.
Under the Hail Starfleet function on the Available Missions tab, click on the Community Authored tab on the left. The list that appears are the highest-rated missions in the game as voted by the people who have played them.
I would also personally recommend a few of the following missions; they range from serious and canon-centric to silly and absurd:
- Chronotons and Klingons by CaptPFDennis
- Conjoined by DenizenVI
- Inner, Outer, Another and Away by DevorahQuinn
- The Longing by RachelGarrett
- Second to the Last Outpost by OldLordSkull (Warning, this is a 3+ hr mission, but worth it!)
- Infinitesimal Frontier by dixonium
- Return to Terra Nova by Kirkfat
- Spirits of Ramok Nor by alimac30
- Haunted Scarefest by Hbomb420
- Starfleet Expirimentation by Bazag
Tall Trek tales
Finally, it needs to be pointed out that the Literary Challenges are back up and running on the STO forums. Many players, whether they be hardcore Trekkies or not, are quite adept at telling a good tale. Every two weeks, Cryptic posts the outline of a challenge in the Ten Forward forums. What comes from those challenges ranges from the sublime and beautiful to the jovial and outrageous, but it's almost always entertaining. If you ever feel up to a series of fun, short reads, head over to the STO forums and support the story-writers. There are no tangible rewards for completing these challenges; they are done just for the love of the game and come from the hearts of the individual writers. So if you have a hankering to tell the tale of your STO captain, get into the forums and share it with the other writers!
It's been a very, very long year for the loyal STO player, made longer still by uncertainty and lack of any new story-based content from Cryptic. All of these difficulties, when combined with a rough season four launch and company turmoil, have tried the playerbase to its core. Yet we still hold out hope that after the game launches its free-to-play model on January 17th, 2012, we will start to see the new featured episodes that have been discussed for the past nine months.
Trek is, after all, really about story and characters, and we as Trekkies will always crave more.
Next week, we'll be addressing the new skill tree once more, either right before or right after it's pushed to the live server. Happy New Year to everyone! Stay safe, celebrate well and leave a little room to play. Live long and prosper!
Incoming communique from Starfleet Headquarters: Captain's Log is now transmitting direct from Terilynn Shull every Saturday, providing news, rumors, and dev interviews about Star Trek Online. Beam communications to firstname.lastname@example.org.