Archive for the ‘News’ Category.

Yet more surprises from Cryptic

As surprised as I  was about the release date announcement yesterday, today’s follow up is even more surprising. We’re getting the F2P patch a month before the actual F2P launch.

This is a mixed blessing as I thought it was good for the STO team to get an extra month of changes, fixes, and tuning in without inflicting instability on Holodeck players. However, it will be nice to finally get the Duty Officer system and other changes on the live server. It also helps keep players subscribed for one more month for those who were planning on dropping to silver accounts, and gives Cryptic a month long shakedown cruise before the (supposed) hordes of new players arrive.

If it all goes as planned, Star Trek Online should be able to open its free-to-play doors and be in the best possible shape.

The early stipend is not as much of a surprise to me.  That’s a pretty standard gesture that other studios have done as well,  both as a thank you and a way to keep any subscribers planning to switch account tiers around for one more month.

Star Trek Online announces F2P Launch Date

This announcement came out of left field. I really didn’t expect Cryptic to announce this for another few weeks. One the plus side, I think knowing that the free-to-play launch won’t be until January 17th of 2012 will help assuage some of the forum drama that’s been rampant lately with people worrying that Cryptic and Perfect World were going to try and launch in December.

The more interesting bit from the announcement is this quote from Stephen D’Angelo, Executive Producer on STO and Chief Technical Officer:

We’ve always wanted the game to be free-to-play, in fact we tried to make it free-to-play at the original launch, but our publisher (Atari) didn’t want us doing that so we didn’t do that.

I don’t completely believe that since STO was their second game for Atari and I never heard anyone at Cryptic say Champions was always intended as a F2P game. Then again, with the way sector space is laid out in blocks, maybe there is something to that. Certainly going with a combination of subscription and in-game store shows a muddling of both models.

Minecraft Milestones

There were two really cool Minecraft events over the weekend that I wanted to commemorate.

First was this post on Reddit:

On May 17th 2009 a little known user of the Tigsource forums made a post…

The link is to the first post by Notch about Minecraft Alpha 0.0.11a. I really enjoyed reading through the first dozen pages of the Tigsource forum post. Seeing how much people enjoyed the game way back in its primitive initial state. Looking at screenshots of the first builds and seeing how cool everyone thought they were while knowing the kinds of massive builds that people are doing now.

It’s a weird faux nostalgia. I wasn’t around at that early point in the game’s history, but their excitement about the game was the same as mine when first playing the game months later.

The second milestone was this tweet from Lydia Winters, Mojang’s Director of Fun, also known as MinecraftChick on Youtube:

Wow! Over 4 million sales. Congrats @MojangTeam. I am so proud to be part of such an awesome company! #Mojangstas4Lyfe

That’s amazing for any game, let alone an indy game, and especially for an indy game still in beta (although only for ten more days or so).

Wow, three years.

Today marks three years of blogging!

I have to say, I never expected to still be writing this long. I hoped I would be, but I don’t think I actually believed it. I’ve lost count of the number of abandoned writing project I’ve started over the years and despite my best intentions, a part of me didn’t expect this endeavor to be any different.

Like I did last year, I wanted to mention a few numbers (for my own reference later on if no other reason). I’ve published 309 posts and 1,724 comments (doubling last years numbers for both). My Red Dead Redemption post is still the most popular post on the site by a ridiculous margin (7,674 hits versus 1,170 for a Minecraft post) and I wish I knew why. My final hit count for 2010 was 21,939 (up from the YTD of 12,284 on last year’s anniversary), and 2011 has already busted that at 23,177.

Not bad for someone who vacillates between daily rambles to sporadic rants.

I wanted to send out a special “Thank you!” to the people who stop by regularly an leave comments: MMOGamerchick, Yeebo,  Anjin, Longasc, xXJayDuBXx,  Tesh, and Rowan. While the recognition is nice, it’s the chance to engage in conversations that I really enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Star Trek Online F2P Details

Following up on their promises from last week, Cryptic published their current F2P plans for STO today. There’s the standard feature matrix giving an overview of their F2P model and an FAW page. There’s also a new subforum to handle questions from current subscribers. There’s no mention of a date or timeframe beyond the “this year” in the initial leak.

The features list and FAQ both mention several times that the details of F2P are subject to change depending on testing and feedback. Overall though, I imagine most of what they’ve outlined will be how the change happens.

The C-store is getting an itemization and price review. The FAQ says that ship prices will not go up, but I assume that consumable prices will based on how Champions Online’s store changed. A few of the premium species will become free (Ferengi, Rigelian, Pakled, and Tellarite) and some will become earnable in-game (Liberated Borg, Joined Trill, and Federation Klingon).

Lifetime and monthly subscribers will become gold players and still have access to everything they do now. They’ll start receiving a stipend of 400 C-store points every month, as long as they continue to subscribe.

New players and former subscribers will be silver players. Silver players will have access to all content: sectors, missions, foundry missions, fleet actions, featured episode series, and special task forces. They can join fleets. There are no restrictions on Federation character career paths, and they will be able to roll a Klingon Empire character. Silver players are limited to two characters slots, will not be able to create Foundry missions, and will not qualify for Veteran Rewards. Former subscribers can keep any existing Veteran unlocks. They will have limits on their in-game chat and mail until they’ve played twenty hours total across all characters on the account or bought C-store points. This is one of the limitations that may change depending on how well it handles problems with spammers.

The initial level unlock for the Klingon faction is being changed from level six (pretty sure about that) to level 25. This means the starting level for Klingon Empire characters will be 25 and existing characters under that level will get bumped to 25 (no one will lose low-level characters). Cryptic states this is to improve the Klingon faction experience, and I assume this is a temporary change until Cryptic and Perfect World develop enough Klingon content to make it a full-fledged faction. It’s honestly not a large speed bump as it’s less than a week of effort to hit level 25, but I can imagine this being one change that the community doesn’t like.

Overall, I think Cryptic’s plan is pretty solid. Existing subscribers will see very little change except for whatever happens with C-store pricing, and free players will be able to access all of the content in the game without paying a penny. The limitations all revolve around customization and convenience items.

Personally being a lifetime subscriber, I’m happy to start accruing some free points to spend in the C-store. Were I a monthly subscriber, I’m not sure if I would drop to silver or not. Overall the only benefits to staying subscribed are the stipend and the Veteran rewards, everything else can be unlocked via purchase except the Foundry editor. It really comes down to whether or not I feel that $15 a month is worth it to support further development in the game, and that’s something I’ve always felt strongly about since I bought a lifetime subscription.

PW planning STO F2P by end of year.

I caught a bit of news this evening from a tweet by Altexist. Perfect World just released the transcript of their Q2 2011 earnings call that had several interesting tidbits regarding Cryptic but there’s one quote in particular that’s got the STO forums jumping:

And also Star Trek Online, after the acquisition, in fact Cryptic is working on the free-to-play model for Star Trek Online. This is going to be launched by the end of this year as well.

Unfortunately that’s all the detail we have just now, as Cryptic itself isn’t ready to make any announcements according to Dan Stahl (from forum post):

I can neither confirm nor deny anything (until given approval to).

Update: Except Dan did post again later in the same thread with this:

There are certainly a lot of questions you may have about this news. The team is working on an FAQ and side by side comparison details that will spell out very clearly what this means for Lifetime and Subscription members. Until then, please stay tuned as we confirm all the details.

Update 2: Another follow up post from Dan:

The goal has been to leave subscriptions alone and ensure that you enjoy all the same benefits you have today (if not more). There will be more details on this soon.

Based on Dan’s comment, I assume we’ll see something official fairly soon.

I don’t think anyone’s surprised by the announcement, I’m certainly not. I’ve assumed that Champions successful shift to F2P meant STO would follow. I originally figured six months would be the “wait and see” time before Cryptic decided of the Champions experiment was a success. I’m sure the delay has been because of the Atari to Perfect World transition.

I do feel bad for the STO team that PW leaked the news in an earnings call, I’m sure there’s some scrambling going on in Los Gatos this evening.

Lone Wolf is coming to PC and more.

I found out via Project Aon that Atlantyca, an Italian entertainment company, is developing a Lone Wolf game. Unfortunately that’s about all the detail I have about it besides the fact that it’s intended to release in 2013. I wasn’t sure what to think of it but the interview (see below) with Joe Dever make me hopeful it’ll be good.

Teaser for the game:

Interview with Lone Wolf creator Joe Dever:

Starfleet Academy

Starfleet Academy was up on Tribble yesterday and is now live on Holodeck. Just warp to Earth and then you can beam down to San Francisco.

The map is gorgeous. There’s tailor, exchange, and mail services on the map right now. According to Dan Stahl (here) there are plans to use the map for a ground Fleet Action and as a starting zone for neighborhood missions. Eventually it will also be the starting point for the new tutorial.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7jYazOgSwY’]

 

Part of the fun when I was on Tribble last night was the party happening on the roof of Building Two. There’s a glitch where if you log out while standing on top of the plaque over looking San Francisco, then when you log back in you’re on the other side of the fence and can literally get behind the scenes. It takes a little running, but it’s possible to get around the edge of the map and up onto the roofs of the building.

Enterprise-F Revealed

Cryptic and CBS unveiled the new Odyssey-class Enterprise-F design today on StarTrek.com in a blog post written by STO Executive Producer, Dan Stahl. I still like the design, but I have mixed feelings about how the reveal was done.

I like seeing the ship textured as I finally have an idea of the scale of the ship and it does indeed seem massive. I also like that the ship’s class name references journeys and exploration over combat.

I don’t like the angle chosen for the initial screenshot. It makes the ship look whale-like by over-emphasizing the secondary hull and dish and marginalizing the dual necks. Were this the only image I’d seen of the new ship I wouldn’t event realize how different the overall design if from the Sovereign. Besides the bad angle, the image itself is not very large and I’ve found no links to higher resolution images, or to additional images from other angles.

My guess as to why they did the photo this way is that they want to keep the ship still partially under wraps until it’s revealed in-game for the first time. That’s understandable but it doesn’t give a good first impression. Fortunately we still have this image.

Enterprise-F

I missed posting about the second Dev Diary regarding the new Enterprise, as it came out during my Android obsessive period a few weeks ago. It’s worth reading though if you have any interest in Trek starship design. Part three is out now though and features a beautiful in-game model draft of the ship. She’s going to be a cruiser, as expected, and a Vice Admiral level ship. I now have quite a bit of motivation to get my Engineer Nal working hard for promotion (he’s only Lieutenant Commander now).