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Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's Season 8.5 changes

Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's Season 8.5 changes
Terilynn Shull
Terilynn Shull|@TerilynnS|January 20, 2014 1:00 PM
STO Mogh Class
Last week I wrote about a few of the revamped Federation-Klingon war missions in Star Trek Online's upcoming Season 8.5. This week a few more notable changes and teasers were released, including the news that Star Trek Online has a new Executive Producer and a Star Trek actor's voice will be featured in during the upcoming anniversary event!

Pardon me sir, but haven't we met before?

The game's new (and returning) EP, Stephen D'Angelo, posted a blog last week announcing his return to the command chair, along with the news that former EP, Daniel Stahl, has been reassigned to another top-secret project. Many of us had already heard about the existence of another game in development at Cryptic, so it's not so much of a surprise to hear of personnel shifts in this regard.

STO Researcher rescue
Many players have also been around long enough to recall that a couple of years ago, Stahl left Cryptic for a new gig at Zynga. At that time, D'Angelo came in to head up the team while a replacement could be found. Somewhat surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly), Stahl decided to return to Cryptic after only a couple of months. While he didn't take back the EP position right away, within the next few months he was handed back the STO reins, and D'Angelo took a step back.

It should come as a comfort to many STO players that D'Angelo brings that pre-existing experience with him to his new role. He's a bona fide Trekkie and seems to have an appreciation for the stories that make Star Trek resonate with its fandom. Shortly after his announcement, D'Angelo posted another dev blog that touches on many of the changes that are coming with Season 8.5, which was also given a definitive release date of January 30th, 2014.

STO Dyson Sphere
Anniversary Featured Episode to showcase voice of Star Trek actor

The release of Season 8.5 will also include the publication of STO's Fourth Anniversary Featured Episode. A couple of weeks ago, STO Community Manager Brandon Felczer tweeted that he was on his way to Los Angeles on matters related to the game. Several hours later he tweeted a photo of an empty sound studio booth and sound board. So it didn't come as a complete surprise when D'Angelo stated in his blog that the new FE will spotlight the voice of a Star Trek actor whose character has not yet been seen in the game.

I have to admit I've been caught up in the guessing game as to who the actor might be. I think it's fairly safe to assume the actor is likely from the television series Star Trek: Voyager, primarily because the most recent tales in the game are now staged on fringes of the Delta Quadrant and we just received an announcement that the Undine have been given a brush-up. But as to which actor it might be, I couldn't readily guess. To be honest, any of them would be a fantastic addition to the game!

STO Undine
I would certainly love to hear Robert Picardo bring the EMH online again. And wouldn't it be great to hear Jeri Ryan's Seven of Nine or Tim Russ' Tuvok scold players for their cavalier tactical maneuvers? I'd also be just tickled to hear Garrett Wang breathe life into a Captain Harry Kim! Heck, I'd be thrilled to hear Robert Duncan McNeil or Roxann Dawson or Robert Beltran reprise Tom Paris or B'Ellana Torres or Chakotay. I couldn't dare hope to hear Admiral Janeway voiced by Kate Mulgrew because I think she's been rather busy with her stage career as well as her appearances on Orange is the New Black.

It's also my luck that I'll be completely wrong about everything and it will be someone few of us have thought of yet. (Ooh, what if it's John DeLancie!? Q Jr. is usually involved in the anniversary event, so what if Dad is forced to come calling!?) OK, I'll stop, but isn't it fun to theorize?

STO Mogh Class
New quick swap feature

One of the new features to come with Season 8.5 is the new "quick swap" feature that will allow players to rapidly change out their ships while in sector space or public areas. The new tool also allows players to quickly swap out weapons and consoles on ships as well as on the player's character and his NPC bridge officers.

The new implement for weapon/device swapping for ships, characters, and BOffs is available for testing on Tribble right now. There are still a few bugs that need to be worked out -- namely, the annoying bug that has been around for a year that doesn't place a device or weapon into the same slot on the skill bar that the previous device inhabited. But if that bug finally gets resolved, I can see where the new quick swap feature can be useful. At the time this column was written, the new ship swap feature was not yet available for testing.

STO quick swap ground weapons
Essentially, the quick swap tool allows a player to click on a weapon or device on the character screen, and then a drop-down menu of the available weapons/devices residing in the player's inventory pops up, allowing the player to select the item to be switched out. The downside to this is the fact that all potential weapons, even vendor trash that sits in the inventory, become selectable items. In some cases, it might just be easier to open the inventory and right-click and equip the item directly from the inventory rather than scroll through a list of items that will never be equipped. Also, items in the player's bank will be able to be accessed in this fashion only while a player interacts with his bank.

I have to admit that I am looking forward to trying out the new ship swapping tool. D'Angelo's post stated that "each of [a player's] starships can have multiple pre-made build-outs saved, and [a player] will be able to switch between them quickly and easily." If this ends up being as functional as I think it could be, I'll be really happy about it. But what made me even happier was D'Angelo's statement that read, "In addition, we're going to be increasing the current ship slot limit." I'm not exactly sure, but I think I heard a chorus of seraphim in the distance!

We're expecting the STO team to reveal the secret identity of the Star Trek actor involved in the upcoming Anniversary FE sometime this week! I'm sure more information about Season 8.5 will also be released as well. 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 terilynn@massively.com.
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Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's Season 8.5 changes