Captain's Log: A new Star Trek Online potpourri

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Captain's Log: A new Star Trek Online potpourri
STO Romulan Republic logo header
One thing is certain: Many players have returned to Star Trek Online since the Legacy of Romulus expansion was released. Many new players have also given Star Trek Online their first try and are suitably impressed with the game's improvement. Bug patches are forthcoming, and server crashes have been reduced over the past couple of weeks.

Many players who have started new Romulan Republic characters and have reached level cap (50) are now turning their attention to the endgame material. Still others have decided to start their very first Klingon character. But what about stuff that isn't about Legacy of Romulus? It just so happens there are lots of "little" items to cover, so join me while I go over some of the news and tidbits that have popped up recently.

STO Arc portal logo
New portal platform puts players on guard

Last week STO announced that its parent company and publisher, Perfect World Entertainment, will be introducing a new multiple-game platform program for all of its games including STO. The program, called Arc, will allow players to access and player all PWE games from a single portal, similar to that of Steam and Raptr, but it will have less functionality and will focus only on the PWE-owned properties.

The news has not settled well within the STO community, and many are very wary about the inherent hacking potential. However, from a business standpoint, it's not surprising to see a company trying to market its Asian titles in a more cohesive fashion by packaging that marketing as a service. There's a not-so-subliminal message being put forth here that if you like one PWE game, you'll like them all.

STO Romulan command
Personally, I'm not so sure about the viability of that idea, and what's more concerning is that the company isn't denying that Arc will become the only way to access any of its games. When asked about the potential that PWE will forced players to use of Arc in the future, STO Community Manager Brandon Felczer merely responded with the not-so-subtle, "Nothing is changing at this point. Feel free to continue launching directly from the launcher. If that changes, we'll be sure to communicate it."

With the recent news that Cryptic is creating a separate company in Seattle to polish Champions Online, there is a definite feeling that big things are in the works in the PWE/Cryptic business models, and the Arc portal is but one small cog in a machine that's certainly growing. And in the dog-eat-dog world of MMO development, you definitely want to be a big dog. Now, whether or not PWE and Cryptic are making positive moves for a run at pack leadership remains to be seen, but one thing I have noticed about MMO players is their timidity to change. If PWE intends to make Arc the only way to access Star Trek Online, I can warn them now to expect a lot of feedback from a very passionate community.

STO Morrie
Options are always a good thing

One of the topics that keeps coming up in conversations I have with fellow STO players, as well as fellow STO podcasters, is that STO excels at offering players more options in gameplay. Cryptic Studios' games, especially STO, have some of the best character customization interfaces in the industry. With the launch of Legacy of Romulus, players now have even more options on what species and story they would like to experience. While Foundry authors have lots of choices on the types of missions they can create, there are still many options authors are clamoring for. Yet until recently, there haven't been many alternatives on how a player can obtain certain types of marks.

There are several different types of marks that can be attained in STO: Task Force Omega, Romulan, and Nukara are all types of marks that can be spent in the game's three reputation systems. Fleet marks and Romulan marks (again) can be spent in a player's fleet and embassy construction projects, respectively.

STO Choice of marks list
A player got used to the wide array of options available to gather the marks that he needed. The ground missions on New Romulus and the space missions in the Tau Dewa sector award Romulan Marks. The Borg-themed Strategic Task Force missions and the Deferi Invasion objectives all award Omega marks. Any fleet mission awards Fleet marks. All of those items have been fairly simple for a solo player to obtain because teaming for group efforts can be done using the game's PvE queue. Since the release of the new reputation system for Nukara (Tholian-themed) missions, that has not been the case.

Only a few missions were accessible from the PvE queue, and most of the ground-based efforts on Nukara Prime didn't seem to award enough marks for the effort exerted. However, a new option has been input into the game that I was not even aware of until this week. Five missions in the PvE queue now allow players to choose the type of mark they receive as a reward. The Atmosphere Assault, Azure Nebula Rescue, Defend Rh'Ihho Station, Mine Trap, and The Vault: Ensnared missions now all award a player's choice of the type of reputation mark they need the most. Like I said, options are a very good thing. I can only hope we'll see more of this type of reward selection opportunity in the future.

STO Enterprises
Finally going boldly?

One of the things that Star Trek Online has been missing has been, well, its "Trekkieness": That nebulous Pollyanna ideal that humanity will eventually find a way to pull its collective head out of its primitive sphincter and actually do something besides annihilate itself. The basic premise of the television show was the concept that the members of Starfleet were actually explorers, not war-mongers.

Of course, battle is usually a gimme when it comes to game design, but many players of Trek games have hoped that somehow universe exploration could and would be made a viable part of STO.

In a recent interview with the Ding! Podcast at Godisageek, STO Executive Producer Daniel Stahl has hinted that the teams are dreaming up a way to integrate an exploration-type game into STO. While he wasn't very clear as to exactly how this could be achieved, Stahl hinted that the Gateway system or reputation systems might be utilized. Regardless of how, exactly, exploration might be made a part of STO, I for one would be very happy to see in-game rewards for something other than killing something or someone.

Do you have a suggestion on how exploration could be made a part of STO? I'd love to hear it. Comment below on how you would integrate exploration into the current game. 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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