Changes are an inevitable part of life and business, and Cryptic Studios has seen its fair share of them in the past few years. This week is no different, and Star Trek Online has been the focal point.
Several moves, both positive and negative, have been made by the developer as it continues its merger with Perfect World and prepares Star Trek Online for the initial testing of the new fleet advancement system on the Tribble test server.
Pushing past the departure of a beloved developer, Cryptic is releasing a new duty officer promotion, shuttling parts of Season Six to the test server, and making a few alterations to the current game as well as becoming more integrated into its parent company's growing brood.
Not everything has gone smoothly.
There's no beating around the bush when it comes to covering the recent forum conversion that occurred in the middle of last week. The problem really wasn't the fact that conversion had happened; it was the way in which Perfect World handled both the conversion and the ensuing (and utterly foreseeable) brouhaha that erupted afterward.
Without any advance notice to the playerbase, the STO forums were shut down and were reborn a day later in the Perfect World format. All former Cryptic-only posters were summarily blocked from posting on the new forums until they created a Perfect World account and merged the two. A small token (5000 unrefined dilithium and a level-appropriate weapon) were offered as incentive to those who completed their account mergers.
Unbeknownst to most, Perfect World had actually reserved most Cryptic account holders' names for them, but players could access them only by registering for their accounts using a very specific link and not to the link that was generated by the "register/login" link at the top of the new forums. Only the FAQ contained the appropriate link, and it was on the STO front page for only two days before being relegated to page two by incoming dev blogs.
When people begrudgingly caved and clicked on the "register/login" link on the new forums so they could create their Perfect World accounts, hundreds of people began receiving the message that their user names of choice were already taken and that they would have to create new user names. The kicker was, their names weren't being used by other Perfect World game players at all; they were actually being held for them by Perfect World.
Unfortunately, once the users created their new accounts using new user names and then linked them with their Cryptic accounts, they unwittingly blocked themselves from using their STO names on the new forums. Once the accounts have been merged, changes are impossible.
Company mergers happen. This I'm well aware of. However, Perfect World screwed the pooch with this endeavor, and it reflected poorly on the company and its shoddy implementation of 20-year-old tech. Frankly, I believe the company deserves every ounce of the derision it's receiving from the playerbase for its jaw-droppingly poor handling of what could have been a very positive move for them (reserving players names for the new forum).
It was a lost chance at a great first impression. Instead, Perfect World is now dealing with a playerbase that now sees ill-prepared and -implemented tech and fears that the future may bear nothing but more of the same.
Another respected dev, Senior Systems Designer Geoff "Heretic" Tuffli, has recently tendered his resignation from Cryptic Studios and has decided to move on to other pastures.
This news saddened many of us, as he is the developer who has been at the helm of the implementation of both the beloved duty officer system and the anticipated fleet advancement system, parts of which were pushed to the Tribble test server this past weekend.
Tuffli has not mentioned where he may end up, but we here at Massively wish him the very best.
Whether it was a going-away acknowledgement or not, the newly released duty officer reinforcement packs now have a chance of containing a Tuffli-class freighter vessel.
The ship is specifically designed for use with the DOff system, and although it does have weapon slots (two fore, one aft), it was not designed for combat. The ship has many features, including access to the bank, mail, and exchange as well as portals to crafting and additional duty officer assignments. It will also be possible to purchase commodities at merchant ship rates while using the ship.
The duty officer packs themselves contain newly updated faction-appropriate officers, many of which have newly defined skills that can enhance a captain's ship and ground capabilities. As part of the special promotion, the DOff packs will also contain one of the following:
- A stack of Gamma Quadrant commodities (which developers state will be in high demand with the new Fleet Advancement and Starbase system)
- A stack of Gamma Quadrant consumable devices
- An Alien Artifact (available in both Powered and Unpowered versions)
- A random Mk XII Very Rare Console
- A Tuffli Class Freighter Ship Pack
Finally, there's a bit of good news to end off this week's column! As many of you will recall, we reported that a five-captain mission called The Vault was implemented into the game a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, the mission was time-gated and was made available to players only twice every 24 hours. This made it extremely difficult for many players to undertake as their commitments to real life took precedence over their commitment to a video game.
I have yet to play the mission, which always saddened me because it contains my favorite STO character, Obisek, the leader of a Reman resistance movement.
Today I was provided with this link to the information I've been waiting weeks to hear: The Vault has been made available 24 hours a day. The mission will also remain on the twice-daily event calendar; however, it will now offer bonus rewards for undertaking it during that time period.
This is the news many of us wanted to hear. Time-gating for bonuses is acceptable, but time-gating actual content is restrictive. I'm very glad for the change, and I will be in to hear my favorite Reman's voice as soon as I can.
Finally, just before this column's deadline, we received information that parts of the new starbase system are now up on the Tribble test server. By the time this column posts, testing should be in full force! To test the new content, players must first copy a character over. Further information on how to access the Tribble server can be found here. I look forward to hearing from all of you about your testing experiences!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.