Posts tagged ‘star trek’

Starships and Capes

Astrometrics Report

Cryptic released a little more background on the Delta Rising expansion. It looks like the content will focus on the volume of space from the Nekrit Expanse towards the Alpha Quadrant. Very few of the species in Voyager are ones I’m interested in except for the Voth which we’ve already seen. But the article touches on the Borg Cooperative, which is from the Voyager episode Unity, which I’d totally forgotten about. I’ll definitely be interested in seeing how they’ve gotten on in the last 30-something years.

Silver Hunter Returns?

I was surprised to see a big article on Champions Online on Massively today. It looks like they’re making a big content update in September. The new areas sound interesting. The new mission arc I’m curious about but in the past their arcs have always seemed to have frustrating vertical difficulty curves near the tail end (at least for a non-min/maxed hero playing solo).

Cryptic’s Champions team is also taking a page from their old City of Heroes incarnation with a new archetype that only unlocks once a player gets a max level character, just like the Kheldian Peacebringer and Warshade classes from CoH. I’m pretty skeptical of how well that will go over. The strength of Champions, to me anyway, over City of Heroes was that I wasn’t limited to a specific set of powers. Or at least not as long as I was subscribing, and I bought a lifetime sub way back so for me that’s a permanent feature of the game.

Regardless of how well the new archetype goes over, I hope the new content gives the game a boost. I’d love an excuse to dust of the Silver Hunter and return to Millennium City for a while.

Day 12 of Blaugust

Delta Quadrant Bound

05311098887bcda9712b9209e89c445d1407361503Cryptic and Perfect World formally announced the second expansion for Star Trek Online today, Delta Rising. I say formally because the initial announcement was made at the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas last weekend, a video of which is linked in the announcement.

Voyager is not my favorite series, I found several of the characters either bland or annoying. That said, I was very impressed with Tim Russ’ reprising Tuvok for the Season 9 update so I was pleased that Garrett Wang is being brought on to voice Ensign Kim. Except he’s finally been promoted to Captain. Even cooler is Garrett only the first Voyager cast member to be announced, there’ll be  more in the coming weeks. I’m really hope that Robert Picardo is figuratively waiting in the wings.

Game-wise the biggest feature, in my opinion, is the level cap increase from 50 to 60. I don’t think I’ve played any MMO that’s gone four years without a level cap bump. A new level cap means new story content which is sorely needed.

Cryptic is also adding a new post 50 infinite progression system as well as a new tier of starships. I’m skeptical about how infinite this new progression system will be. I imagine that either means it will be a massive grind to achieve anything or it will offer diminishing returns on improvement. The new tier of starships sound interesting as there’ll be something new with bridge officers among other hinted at features. Unfortunately with so little real information yet the forum warriors have already begun beating their war drums over concern that their current min/maxed Tier 5 ships suddenly won’t be as godlike as they are now.

Personally, I’m looking forward to more content regardless of any other changes. In the absence of a regular TV show, this is the Star Trek franchise for me.

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations Day 7 of Blaugust

Looking Back at 2013

What a weird year 2013 has been. I started the year looking forward to several MMOs none of which lasted. City of Stream imploded, Defiance and Neverwinter both fizzled for me, and Elder Scrolls Online didn’t release. Defiance turned out to be the least social MMO I’ve ever played, and add to that the bugginess of the interface after launch, and I lost interest after the first month or two. I’m still not sure why Neverwinter didn’t click for me, I was very excited for the game and really enjoyed the demo I played, but somehow I shifted from mostly playing to mostly doing offline crafting to not doing anything. This year was also the first time I didn’t buy the Lord of the Rings Online expansion, and even now I’ve not logged in to try out the class changes that came along with Helm’s Deep. I just didn’t have that moment of nostalgia this time around like I did when Isengard was being released.

Star Trek Online was the only MMO I played regularly this year, and I think that this past year was probably STO’s best year to date. Romulans have always been one of my least favorite non-Federation factions, so when Cryptic announced their expansion plan at the beginning of the year I was ambivalent. I did get excited though after I got a change to try some of the new Romulan content on Tribble. Cryptic really hit a home run with the mission content for Romulan characters and the upgraded tutorial missions for the Klingons, so much so that updating the Federation tutorial became a priority. I was very surprised that Cryptic had decided to add a new faction but allowing them to ally with either the Federation of Empire allowed people to play as Romulans without further splintering the PvP community, as well as fitting with existing canon. Then in the second half of the year with the Season 8 update and the incredible visuals of getting to fly my ship inside a Dyson Sphere. I’ve enjoyed the space adventure zone much more than the ground zone of New Romulus, and I’ve especially enjoyed the more streamlined and far grindy Dyson reputation. I’m hoping that Season 9 includes a redesign of the other reputations along the same lines.

Besides STO my other main game this year has been modded Minecraft. I started with the Direwolf20 pack from Feed the Beast but eventually moved on to making my own mod pack in order to stay on the most current releases of Minecraft and mods as possible. I haven’t tried yet, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to enjoy playing standard Minecraft again. I enjoy designing and building automated systems too much, and exploring the different magic systems, alternate dimensions, and building with a wider array of cosmetic blocks than vanilla Minecraft provides. Minecraft has always been a favorite game of mine, but generally I’d always get to a point where I was bored with a map and move on to something else. Having mods available changes that. Minecraft is always changing now as mods add new features or new mods become available, there’s always something to try, and starting over in a new world also means a chance to make big changes to which mods I’m using.

This year I’ve also added board/card gaming to my collection of hobbies. After going to GenCon and picking up Firefly, I realized that there were board games out there that would play well solo as well as in a group. Since October I’ve been spending a lot of time on BoardGameGeek and started collecting some games. Ironically, I’m playing board games now much the way I play MMOs. Solo. So far, in addition to Firefly I’ve picked up Space Hulk Death Angel, Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, Thunderstone, Marvel Legendary, and Pathfinder the Adventure Card Game.

My proudest achievement this year though has to be finally winning National Novel Writing Month. Not only has it motivated me to spend March doing a first revision but it’s heavily influenced my plans and resolutions for 2014.

Feature Episode series comes to the STO Foundry

Authors from Starbase UGC have teamed up to make a six part series on the level of Cryptic’s Featured Episode series. I can’t wait to check the first one out come October 1st, while I really enjoyed the Romulan expansion my favorite character will always be my first Federation one, Bryn, and I’m looking forward to have some appointment playtime like in the first years of STO when Cryptic was doing their features.

Check out their teaser trailer.

h20rat

I’ve been on an extended MMO break, but I still check in once a week or so on a few sites to keep an eye on things, which is how I found out that Cryptic’s Mark Valentine, h20rat, lost his battle with cancer. Mark did all of the marketing videos for the Cryptic games. He was very involved with the community and even had a spotlighted Foundry mission, The Rising Phoenix – Part One.

My thoughts and best wishes go out to both his Cryptic and personal family.

Fuck cancer.

2012

What a year! In the past I’ve done an annual review of what I played and how well my expectations from January matched up with reality in December, and I’ve been working on exactly that for this year but feels too long and hasn’t been very interesting to write so I can imagine how much fun it would be to read. None. Instead, I wanted to cover some of the highs and lows for the year on the blog.

Not Games

For my non-gaming life, the birth of my second son, Thing Two, was definitely the high point of the year, more specifically the fact that he’s a good sleeper was regularly sleeping three to four hours a night from the second night he came home. Thing One didn’t sleep like that until he could roll over which he didn’t do until he was nine months old. That was a long nine months for both my wife and I and I’m so grateful that we got an easier baby for the second time through the newborn experience.

The biggest non-game disappointment to me for the year has been my blog. I’ve hit dry patches before but this year was the first time that I had a lull where I actually considered quitting  I got to December and realized I hadn’t posted in two months and had stopped reading probably three quarters of the MMO blogs in my RSS. Reading some year ends posts though has motivated me to work on my own, which has re-energized me to keep up with the blog for another year.

New Games

My favorite new games for the year in no particular order were:

  • Mass Effect 3
  • Dishonored
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Knights of Pen and Paper
  • A Game of Dwarves

Mass Effect 3 was surprisingly controversial for it’s ending, even though I liked it personally I seem to be in the minority. Instead I expected the multiplayer to be the thing everyone hated, yet I’m still spending time in it. I absolutely never expected to be playing ME3 multiplayer once I’d finished the story let alone months later.

Dishonored was a fun combination of branching-linear story with sandbox stealth and combat. I’d never played any of the Thief or Hitman games, so this was really my first exposure to the stealth genre. I really enjoyed the steam-punk style world as well as the the story, characters, and voice acting. The combat and stealth mechanics were tons of fun too, and I’m hoping to see a sequel or some more weighty DLC announced this year.

Guild Wars 2 turned out to be more fun than I hoped. The original Guild Wars never enticed me to explore in the world, not because of a lack of jumping but because of all of the invisible walls in the game. GW2 enthusiastically promotes exploring with all of the hidden vistas and puzzles. I generally dislike platformers, yet I’ve spend several hours on jumping puzzles in GW2.

Knights of Pen and Paper is one of the first mobile games I’ve spent a lot of time playing on my phone. In fact this year has seen a bit of an explosion in good games. In 2011 I maybe had five or six games on my phone that I would kill some time on occasionally, wheres in 2012 I had more than twenty games installed on my phone and fix or six I was spending a few hours a week on.

A Game of Dwarves didn’t get reviewed well on the few critic sites I read, but I’ve still enjoyed it a lot. The quests and dialog are full of puns and twists on fantasy tropes. The game mechanics are a fun combination of Minecraft and Dunegon Keeper. It’s not an open sandbox like Minecraft but it does scratch some of the same itches in having your dwarves explore a level and build a base.

Old Games

I had originally figured on going back and finishing a lot of the games I’d started in 2011 but gotten distracted from, Skyrim being the chief one on the list. That was when I expected to be on an enforced MMO fast. So since I was mostly able to spend my nights how I wanted, I ended up playing whatever my current obsession was. Initially that was SWTOR, then it was STO, then GW2, then STO again. Rift, Champions, and LotRO spent all year on my to-play list but I never found the motivation to spend more than an hour or two in any of them. Of everything I’ve played this year that was released pre-2012, STO’s been my favorite.

Star Trek Online had a really rough 2011. The acquisition by Perfect World, F2P transition, lots and lots and lots of drama, and nearly no content. Really things could only get better in 2012, and happily I think they did. Dan Stahl returned as the Executive Producer, Cryptic’s STO team doubled in size, and they had two very well received Season releases. It wasn’t a perfect year of course, I’d like to have seen more than one new Featured Episode series for instance, and there was still quite a bit of drama, but it was definitely not the year of hell that 2011 was.

Star Trek Online’s September State of the Game

Despite Guild Wars 2 dominating my gaming time lately, I have been popping into STO every couple of days to check in on the fleet and setup some duty officer assignments. I’ve also been keeping track of updates and news including the recent September State of the Game.

Aside from the usual talk about the successes of Season 6 and plans moving forward, the following quote was what stuck with me the most.

We’ve been very lucky to land some great talent from 38 Studios and Paragon Studios.

I know a lot of people haven’t been happy with Perfect World and STO’s move to free-to-play, which I think can be summed up with the word lockboxes, but it does seem to be working for Cryptic. Their team has grown quite a bit this year, it’s actually doubled if I remember right from an interview I listened to, and seeing that Cryptic’s been able to pick up some developers who unfortunately lost their jobs when other studios were shutdown seems like a good thing all around.

I guess I wasn’t too far off in February after all.

Making an Enterprise display stand.

Even though I finished the A and B models in April, I only just now got around to writing it up. This was because the kit didn’t come with a stand, and while I knew what I wanted to do for a display, I couldn’t figure out how to build it. So the models ended up going back in their box and sitting on a bookself and I didn’t have the interest needed to go through all of the photos I took to write the posts.

Recently though I got an idea from my dad. He’s been making remote controlled model airplanes from foam and was using the wires from yard stakes for wheel and wing struts. These happened to be exactly what I was missing in order to make the stand I wanted.

Clip the flag off the end, easily bendable, mall enough to work with the Original Series model, strong enough to hold their shape. I also spray painted them with silver appliance enamel to pretty them up a bit.

One of the clipped wires also made a good drill bit so that the holes I put in the bottom of each model was an exact fit.

For the actual base I found a black and white Starfleet emblem online, printed it out, and glued it to a piece of pine with rubber cement. I used a jigsaw freehand to cut out the symbol and then sanded the curves and the pattern off the top.

  

I really couldn’t be happier with how it turned out, especially since that’s the first time I’ve cut a pattern like that. All of the woodworking I’ve done before now has been cabinets and picture frames.

The next step was to get a wire bent and mount one of the models to see if it would work.

I drilled two more holes in the base to check out all three ships, then it was time for painting. I may have over done it a little bit, but in the end I used two coats of white primer, three coats of grey paint, and two coats of clear lacquer.

 

I made a lot of mistakes on the first model, a few less on the second, and a few less on the third. But seeing them all together like this and sitting on my desk, I don’t notice any of them.

  

Finishing the Enterprise-A

After the Excelsior, the Enterprise-A was much easier. Smaller model and less decals.

 

There were still some tricky parts, specifically the nacelles again, but having a smaller model actually made them easier to get applied and aligned without any tears.

 

The finished ship, my only regret is the mess I made of the black around the Bussard collectors (which the decals didn’t cover at all). I bought a second kit to make eventually, I think when I do that I’ll not worry about painting that part or I’ll try taping it.

 

And here’s the trio of Enterprises, I love seeing the scale differences.

Finishing the Enterprise-B

After finishing the Original Series Enterprise, I realized that I needed some proper tools before tackling the Enterprise-B. I also got an excellent tip from PoisonFox about setting solution.

 

Applying the decals to the B was quite a bit more challenging than the Original. First there were just a lot more decals. The Original had thirty-six (Clerks!) where the B had sixty-three, and I just realized that those numbers are the transposed versions of one another. Weird.

Besides just the amount, the Excelsior also had some really large decals. The saucer section’s top is three pieces that have to line up together:

  

The nacelles’ each had two, one inside and one outside, that had to match up across the top and wrapped around both ends:

   

There were also some sections where decals are applied as multiple layers. For instance the bottom of the saucer had the base decals with phaser strips and ship name layered over the top.

  

The biggest lesson learned from doing decals on this model was to pace myself more. I ended up doing all the decals over two marathon sessions of about three hours each, and I made most of my mistakes during the tail end of each one. All in all, I’m very happy with how the ship turned out, and any mistakes I notice now I consider good lessons for the next model.

One last cool thing about doing these models, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the increase in scale from one incarnation of the Enterprise to the next.