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Captain's Log: It always floods after a drought in STO

Terilynn Shull, @TerilynnS
June 11, 2012

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Over the course of the last week, Star Trek Online fans have been swimming in the flood of information that has been released regarding several missions and features of the game that are expected to be released either just before or as part of Season Six.

We still have no formal release date for Season Six, nor have we been given any hint as to when we will see it appear on the STO test server, Tribble. Yet several announcements have been posted by Cryptic on the STO website, some of which have rejuvenated the deflated playerbase.

Fleets were given even more information on the anticipated release of the fleet advancement system; Foundry authors have been celebrating the tool's first significant patch in over a year; endgame players got some good news about two new five-person team missions, and a couple of promotions have made at least a few players smile. Join me as I attempt to analyze all the new information!

Foundry authors, rejoice!

If you don't know what The Foundry is, now's the time to learn. As touched upon several times before in this column, The Foundry in STO is the user-generated content tool that is accessible by all players. Silver players have the ability to play all of the Foundry missions but will have to purchase Foundry mission slots for either C-Store points or dilithium should they wish to create them. In contrast, subscribers are given eight mission slots at the outset.

The Foundry has been going through some changes -- namely, Cryptic has been giving noted Foundry missions a weekly spotlight that features the mission on the game's website and touts the mission in the game's bulletin that's viewable upon login.

The tool has been in dire need of some TLC since its rough bout with a bug infestation that virtually disabled the tool after the Season Four launch. Since it returned, authors have been clamoring for an update that will actually improve mission creation.

This past Thursday, a patch to the Foundry was pushed to the Tribble test server and contains many of the features Foundry authors have been begging for. Yes, there are still some bugs with the new patch, as reported by some regular Foundry authors, but that's why it's on the test server.

Changes to the story editor include:
  • Map transitions
  • Dialogue with object
These sound simple enough, but before this change, authors had to "re-skin" an NPC as a console in order for players to interact with it to solve puzzles or the like. This will now save many frustrating steps.

Changes to the map editor include:
  • A 3- preview of objects
  • A new button that shows mission waypoints as they'll appear on the mini-map
  • Multiple-select functionality (authors will no longer be forced to move or drop objects one-by-one; they'll now not only be able to select a group of objects but be able to rotate the entire group)
  • Objects now "get all the rights" of an NPC contact; this eases the burden on authors who have until recently been forced to find work-around to allow players to do something as simple as to interact with the Star Trek staple the PADD
  • Multiple changes to NPC contacts.
If you're interested in the finer details surrounding the new changes to The Foundry, check out the subject's forum thread.

STO Fleet Ad UI
A bit more news about fleet advancement

Last week we had the opportunity to reveal the initial information about the anticipated fleet advancement system that will be released as the major focus of Season Six. This was immediately followed up with our interview with STO Executive Producer, Daniel Stahl, who shed a little more light on the massive amounts of new tech being pushed into the game.

A few days later, Geoff "Heretic" Tuffli, the Senior Systems Designer for STO, posted a dev blog and a follow-up post on the forums, which includes a lot of answers to some persistent questions, the most common of which is, how will this affect small fleets? Here are the highlights:
"There are two basic types of Fleet Project(s) -- standard and upgrade. Upgrade projects, once started, can take anywhere from days (at the early tiers) to weeks (at the upper tiers) to complete. Only one upgrade project can be undergone at a time. Very large fleets (say, 50+ active player accounts) will tend to fill up their upgrade projects quickly, certainly much more quickly than smaller fleets, but they will still have to do the upgrades one at a time and wait the completion time.

Above a fleet size of about 25 active player accounts playing two to three times a week, the expectation is that these fleets will fill up project requirements quickly but be gated by the time it takes for the upgrade projects to complete.

A smaller fleet of five to ten active player accounts will certainly be able to make progress, even quick progress at the early Starbase tiers, but it will likely take that fleet longer to accumulate the necessary resources for the various fleet projects."

It's obvious that the company sees a "small fleet" as having the minimum five members (the number it takes to actually create a fleet). Some players have stated they are a "fleet of one" and have expressed concern over how this will affect them. From the information gathered, it appears as though it's not impossible to create a starbase as a single person; however, the time and effort required will be vastly more burdensome for one-man fleets than for those who can combine their time, energy, and collected commodities.

STO Colony Invasion
A small bit of very good news

Recently, we covered the news that STO will be releasing two new five-captain missions called The No-Win Scenario and Colony Invasion. These two missions had been released to the Tribble test server, and there was concern that the two events would be relegated to the time-gated "event calendar" in the game. The event calendar has three time-gated events: Deferi Invasion, Mirror Universe, and the most recent addition, the shuttle-based The Vault.

When The Vault was added to the time-gated calendar, there was a loud and very percussive rebound of fury from the playerbase on the forums as well as virtually every STO-related podcast and videocast in production.

Apparently Cryptic got the word because it's been confirmed that when the two new missions launch with Season Six, they will "always [be] available, but if [they are played] during certain hourly events (calendar updates to be announced at a later date), you will earn even more rewards."

This statement makes it clear that both No-Win Scenario and Colony Invasion will be treated like other accessible content such as STFs that are available via the PvE queues. However, unlike the STFs, the two missions will grant extra rewards when played during the special scheduled times in the event calendar.

Promotions before the Season Six launch

Finally this week, two new promotions hit the STO website.

First, Cryptic has once again reduced the price for a lifetime subscription from the regular price of $299.00 (US) to $199.00. The sale is set to continue until June 29th at noon EDT.

Personally, I'm not here to comment on the value of this program in light of the fact the game is currently free-to-play. While subscribers do get a small subsidy of C-Store points on a monthly basis (along with some other minimal benefits), the most recent additional of 10 free slots in the newly released Account Bank (Silver members have to pay for slots) shows that there might be some thought given to enticing people to the subs. Of course, I might be totally over-thinking things.

Secondly, another promotion hit the game this week. Cryptic seems to have surprised many people with the Gamma Quadrant Duty Officer promotion. From now until the morning of June 21st, players who purchase a pack of Gamma Quadrant Duty Officers will also get either a small stack (10) of Lobi crystals or a chance at obtaining the coveted Jem'Hadar Escort, also lovingly referred to as The Bug Ship.

News of this new promotion lit-up the forums with comments from those who were very happy to see a new and different way to obtain rare ships other than the hotly debated lock boxes.

There is no indication that lock boxes will cease to exist in STO; however, if the positive response seen in the forums and by others I've spoken to is any indication, we may just end up seeing both types of promotions in game.

Also, those of you who might be interested in picking up a pack or two of Gamma Quadrant Duty Officers (many of them have the useful trait of "resolve") might want to do so before June 21st, as I understand they'll disappear when the promotion is done and will be removed from the C-Store!

Well folks, it was a big week. Head over to the STO website for more details on everything above plus a few more fun things, including June's Ask Cryptic, which has a lot more information!

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

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