Captain's Log: Star Trek Online potpourri

STO Galor Header
It's that time again, folks -- the time when we peruse the little tidbits of news and gossip circulating around Star Trek Online! This month, let's highlight info posted to the October 2012 Ask Cryptic blog, plus new goodies about the upcoming reputation system coming in STO's Season Seven and a few little items pertaining to Season Eight and beyond.

STO KDF Temporal Bridge
Reputation system

Written by STO's Executive Producer Daniel Stahl, the blog post includes minor details about the upcoming reputation system, which is being released in the Season Seven patch this November. He describes the new system as being very similar to the recently introduced Fleet Advancement system; in fact, the systems were designed at the same time. Consequently, anyone familiar with the user interface of the Fleet Advancement system will already know the basics of the new reputation system.

Stahl told fans that the reputation system will require players to complete particular projects in order to gain reputation with certain factions within the game. For example, in the upcoming Season Seven, there will be two factions for which a player will be able to earn Reputation: the Omega Fleet and the Romulans. In order to increase his Reputation with either group, a player will be required to contribute certain items he has earned in the game toward the completion of projects on that group's behalf. In the case of the Omega Fleet, the required items are rewards and drops obtained through Strategic Task Forces missions, including the new Borg-related STF titled Into the Hive.

Like other MMOs' reputation systems, the STO system will also allow a player to rank up, thereby earning rewards as he achieves those tiers. Stahl stated that those rewards might include new Captain "powers" or equipment or officers. However, he also noted that unlike the Fleet Advancement system, the reputation system will not require "provisioning," and once a project is finished, an individual reward can be claimed. He also verified that Cryptic Studios plans to add more Star Trek factions and political groups to the Reputation system in the future.

STO Wells Class temporal ship
Going boldly

One of the things that any hard-core Trekkie has always wanted to experience in any Star Trek-themed game is the feeling that he can go where no one has gone before -- to be the commanding officer of a ship on the edge of a frontier and encounter new life forms and unknown civilizations. In the words of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, a player wants to "see what's out there."

Unfortunately, exploration has never been easy to integrate into any Trek video game, not when those games must be commercially viable to mainstream gamers who might not be hard-core Trekkies. It's just usually not a good business plan to produce a game that makes you think before you shoot. Yes, I agree that the format spits in the face of what Star Trek "means," but I also completely understand that I would never be able to see any type of game set in a Star Trek universe at all if battle weren't a major focus of the game.

STO suffers from that inevitable problem. In order to be commercially viable, it needs to be able to compete with the other games in the MMO market, most of which have a focus on enemies and battle. However, Stahl gave us a little hope for exploration-based gameplay; while he admits there is nothing set in stone yet, the team has been discussing exactly how to integrate an exploration element to the game. From the looks of it, any system will likely include the Duty Officer system, Bridge Officers, and maybe even the Fleet Advancement system and reputation system.

I personally see a lot of potential in an exploration system and can testify that I would definitely play any system that lets me earn rewards and reputation merely by being assigned to a sector of space and being allowed to chart a system (e.g., scanning anomalies, retrieving data for the scientists back at UFP headquarters, monitoring potential tactical threats and reporting to Starfleet Intelligence, and yes, encountering new species and attempting to keep them from becoming a new enemy) without feeling like the same enemy battles are being fought and re-fought ad nauseam.

Ferengi D'Kora
Those darned Ferengi

Anyone who has seen a majority of Star Trek episodes in the last 25 years can tell you about the galactic traders known as the Ferengi. They are devious capitalists whose civilization evolved into a misogynistic, selfish, anything-for-profit species.

In STO, they've become the species that operates the Lobi Crystal Consortium, an in-game store that sells items and consumables that cannot be obtained by any other means in the game. The only way a player can obtain a useful quantity of the store's only accepted currency, Lobi crystals, is to open a one of the game's controversial lockboxes. While it is true that Lobi crystals can be obtained during special Featured Episode re-run events, a player can obtain only five crystals at most from the events, and that is nowhere near the hundreds the store requires to purchase some of its high-end merchandise.

In response to player concerns about these items' availability, Stahl suggested that there are plans to make Lobi crystals available in upcoming events. We can only hope that the number of crystals made obtainable will actually be useful to a player. Yet, I must acknowledge that some prices of consumable items have been adjusted in the Lobi Store recently, and a new announcement verified that items will no longer be removed from the store, which will allow a player to save up enough crystals to purchase an item that he might desire without potentially losing the opportunity to ill-conceived time-restraints on availability.

A lot of tweaking to the store is still needed before it will be appealing to the playerbase, but I am glad for the strides that have been made. It seems to be headed in a better direction.

STO KDF temporal ship
Little bits of info for Season Seven, Eight, and beyond

Stahl made mention of several tidbits that have now been confirmed for release in the near future. Season Seven will see the launch of the anticipated Vesta-class ship. While never seen in the television shows or films, the Vesta became popular following the release of the trilogy of novels penned by David Mack titled Destiny. The first ship of the Vesta class was commanded by Captain Ezri Dax and is equipped with a stable quantum slipstream drive. The design by Mark Rademaker has been a rather popular one, and the call to see it in STO has been pretty steady since the game's debut.

Stahl also confirmed that the playerbase will see the return of the beloved Featured Episode format in Season Eight. He stated that story arcs involving the Romulans (as well as new characters and plot points) will be introduced in Season Seven in order to advance the game's overall story arc, which should be good news to all of us who've been hoping that any focus on story might return to the game. Stahl also stated that customizable kits might be implemented "shortly after" the release of Season Eight.

Until next week, live long and prosper!

Incoming communique from Starfleet Headquarters: Captain's Log is now transmitting direct from Terilynn Shull every Monday, providing news, rumors, and dev interviews about Star Trek Online. Beam communications to
This article was originally published on Massively.