Posts tagged ‘star trek’

Kobali Primed

Blaugust 2015 Day 26

Last night I got back on track with my multitasking experiment and logged into Star Trek Online. I loaded the game in the middle of a fire fight which made for an exciting start to things. I had forgotten I was in the middle of the Kobali ground combat zone when I was disconnected because of a Comcast outage. So once my away party had dealt with the immediate threats, I set about finishing the remaining missions.

I had four or five left but I did finish the Kobali ground missions finally. I’m a little late the the party on completing those as they finished with a teaser for the featured episode, Dust to Dust, that came out back in February. Still it was quite fun, although I don’t think my Captain, technically Admiral, and officers were well geared for Vaadwaur combat. They died quite a bit, which doesn’t normally happen.

Between finishing up some missions and the steady stream of XP coming in from duty officer assignments, Bryn is nearly level 59. I imagine he’ll be maxed out before hitting the end of the Delta Quadrant content. I hope to have everything finished before the next major release, Season 11, comes out. There’s been no official date announced yet, but I’m expecting sometime in October. I’m excited to see a more hopeful story line emerge.

Outage Hiccup

Blaugust 2015 Day 19

The second evening of my multitasking experiment started well enough, I launched Star Trek Online and hopped into the game. After handling my usual duty officer scheduling, I headed to the Delta Quadrant to finish a long pending mission to help out the Kobali. I think the Kobali ground zones have gotten tougher as I died several times trying to get to my goal. I ended up succeeding by making a run across the map so that I respawned on the other side after dying, it’s kind of cheap but I was feeling more goal oriented than exploratory. In the end it didn’t matter because shortly after that my game disconnected, which happens when your cable modem has an outage.

So that was the end of my gaming for the night. It was near midnight anyway, so I headed to bed early (for me). I briefly considered KSP or Champions but I wasn’t in a good jumping in point in either one. In KSP I’m at the point where I need to start planning a new mission, and that will take a while to do, and in Champions I want to roll a new hero to relearn the game. I could and have spent multiple hours in the costume creator trying to put together a name, costume, powers combination.

That puts me in an odd spot for tonight’s gaming. Do I pick STO back up since my time was cut short? Or roll on to one of the other games in the experiment. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, maybe I’ll roll a 1d4 to decide.

Multitasking

Blaugust 2015 Day 17

I’ve been thinking more since my post on reconnecting about trying to get back to juggling multiple MMOs. I definitely don’t want to drop Star Trek Online, but my nostalgia for both LotR and Champions has stayed with me the last couple of days. That surprises me as I usually have an urge to catch up on a game and often don’t get more than five minutes into the game after updating the patcher. My problem though is how to actually switch between games. I’ve found two ways that work for me when I want to get something done. Either I have to do it everyday, like with Blaugust, or I have to focus on one thing until it’s done, which is how I completed all three Mass Effect games.

Since MMOs never finish so unless I want to pick concrete goals out that won’t work.  I also can’t try to rotate through all three MMOs on a daily basis, that seems like a good way to get nothing done in any of them. I could make a schedule and rotate through games, but that is probably will do a better job of sucking the fun out of playing than anything else. Instead I’ll leave myself open to playing whatever sounds good on a given night but limit myself to picking from the games that I haven’t play in the last 24 hours, until I’ve spent long enough in one game to finish a quest or level. So that way as I progress through Champions or LotRO, I can still pick up dailies in STO if I want to, but only if I’m actually playing other games.

And since there’s no time like the present, I’m going to pay a visit to Brynulf on Landroval and get my hunter ready to go adventuring.

Background Noise

Blaugust 2015 Day 14

Background Noise

I am orders of magnitude more productive at work if I’m listening to music or podcasts. It provides a consistent distraction that I can then ignore while focusing on whatever programming issue I’m trying to solve, instead of all of the sporadic background conversations going on in the office. I can’t stand having music or anything else on when I’m reading though. It’s the same for TV and movies, I don’t do the whole second screen thing of live tweeting shows or looking up things. When I’m watching a show, I’m focused solely on that. Video games vary depending on what I’m doing. If I’m playing Kerbal Space Program or Minecraft, I generally always have something playing on my second monitor, often it will be a Let’s Play of the same game. With Star Trek Online, I like to watch old episodes on Netflix, but only if I’m playing combat heavy missions like patrols or queues. If I’m playing a featured episode or Foundry mission that’s story heavy, then it’s like reading or TV for me and I can’t have anything else going on.

Back in the Command Chair

Speaking of Star Trek Online, I’m coming back from a sort of break from the game. I say sort of, since I’ve still been logging in fairly regularly, but usually only for a few minutes which is long enough to complete some Duty Officer missions and queue up some new ones. But with Season 10.5 out now, regular monthly Featured Episodes being released, and Season 11 on the horizon, it felt like now was a good time to get back in. Coming back to any MMO after an absence is tough, especially if a lot of changes have been taking place in the game, so I wanted to give myself some time to get back up to speed. Hopefully the other members of my fleet will start showing up more regularly over the next few weeks as well.

 

GenCon 2015 Part 3

Blaugust 2015 Day 04

2015-08-01 09.17.27On Saturday, started out back in the Golem Arcana area of the play hall. Enough of the east and west coast regional players hadn’t been able to come to GenCon, that most of the midwest regional players got into the national tournament, including me. So I got to play far more than I expected.

2015-08-01 11.23.22My first round was against the ten year old son of one of the other players, Alex76. The game started off badly for me but I managed to tie it up, and then we ended up going back and forth both trying to get the last point we needed to win. In the end it came down to our last two golems, each down to their few hitpoints when I managed to get a successful attack and win the game. While I like to win, I’m not a super competitive person. Most of my favorite games of Golem Arcana were super close ones like this one, some of which I’ve lost and some I’ve one. This one has some great close calls one both sides.

The other thing I really enjoy about this game is the community that’s building up around it. Likely because the game is so new and the player community is small, but everyone is very friendly. Case in point being in this match, where partway through I noticed Alex was having trouble thinking through all of the moves in a turn and I told Alex’s dad he could help him out. I didn’t want to do it myself because I didn’t want to accidentally give him bad advice. There were a lot of instances like this of players helping each other out, and while I hope that the game continues to grow, I really want this friendliness in the community to continue.

Unfortunately for me the next round in the tournament wasn’t nearly that close and I lost about four turns in. As it would turn out on Sunday though, I lost to the play who ended up winning the entire tournament.

Fleet Captains MeetupBesides the Golem Arcana tournament, the other big thing I had planned for Saturday was a meetup with Wininoid, Todd, and Greendragoon, fellow Star Trek Online player and Foundry fanatic, for a game of Star Trek Fleet Captains.

We had a lot of fun and what turned out to be nearly a four hour game flew by. This was the first time I’d gotten a chance to actually get the game out and really play aside from a brief solo attempt to learn the rules. I was really impressed by how well the game captured the different feels of the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans, something Todd commented on as well. I’m already hoping to get a chance to play this again with them next year.

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up my GenCon recap. If you’re curious about this Blaugust craziness go check out the Blaugust Initiate Page.

Cryptic Layoffs

I was dismayed yesterday morning when I popped into the STO Reddit  while taking a work break and the top link was to a rumor about layoffs at PWE and Cryptic. I immediately checked Smirk’s Twitter to confirm it and then looked at the feeds for Laughing Trendy, Thomas the Cat, Tacofangs, and ZeroniusRex to see if they were affected too. According to Massively OP later in the day 18 people at Cryptic were laid off in total, PWE’s offices were apparently hit much harder.

Of course the arm chair developers came out of the wood work in the comments on most of the sites I looked at. I saw a great Tweet from Elijah, one of the hosts of Priority One Podcast, that summed up my response perfectly:

There were way too many people spouting off with opinions completely divorced from reality. I read several comments from people saying that Cryptic should never have let PWE buy them which shows complete ignorance of the history of the company. Atari sold Cryptic to PWE, Cryptic didn’t sell themselves. Regardless, if PWE hadn’t bought Cryptic then, they likely wouldn’t be around at all now.

I do understand the impulse to try and rationalize a reason though.  Layoffs suck. Change is difficult, all the more so when the change is caused by an outside force. I known as I’ve experienced them myself twice and I’m a corporate software developer which is a much more stable industry than games development.

Regardless of the reasons, assigning blame doesn’t help people find jobs, and in my experience doesn’t make those who were let go or those who survived the cuts feel any better.

So I wanted to wish the vest of luck to Smirk, Positron and others now having to find new jobs, I hope they all land at places that they enjoy as much or more than their old one. Good luck also to those still at Cryptic, I hope that they’re not getting squeezed with more work to make up the difference.

Salami Inferno Bringing Down the Walls

In what feels like an annual event, Star Trek Online is getting a new Executive Producer. Stephen Ricossa, aka Salami Inferno, is taking over command from Stephen D’Angelo. Who took over after Daniel Stahl left, both times, who took over when Craig Zinkievich, the original EP, changed rolls within the company. From interviews I’ve heard Ricossa is a huge Trekkie, something he also mentions in his first EP post, and I’ve been a fan of the way he communicates with the player community in his former Lead Producer role. Hopefully that doesn’t change now that he’s in the big chair.

A good sign of that is he finished with a big teaser for the next big update:

With the launch of Season 10 Sector Space will be comprised of only three maps, with each one representing a quadrant that exists in STO.

Woot! This is something I’ve been wanting since the game launched. I’m a little apprehensive about the details as this will have to have a big impact on the chat and duty officer systems, but it will be so nice to be able to set a course and not have to worry about getting stopped at arbitrary walls within sector space. I’m also curious to see how exactly they split the sectors up into the three quadrants. Alpha and Beta quadrants have always been treated as one in Trek books/TV/movies.

Star Trek Online 5 Year Anniversary

Five Year AnniversaryWhile the anniversary event started in-game last week, today is the day it actually launched five years ago (at least according to my calendar and STO Academy). The event includes a new episode Dust to Dust that does one of my favorite things: expands on plot lines from the television series. This one revisits Harry Kim’s complicated relationship with Jhet’leya/Lyndsay Ballad from the episode Ashes to Ashes. I won’t spoil anything about it, but it’s one of the best episodes that Cryptic has done yet and includes some great voice work by Garrett Wang and Kim Rhodes.

The anniversary event has also finally gotten me out of my Kerbal Space Program rut and started me finally playing the Delta Rising expansion content. I think I am about half way through it, but I try not to look at the episode list to see since the mission titles might provide spoiler for me. The story episodes have been excellent, it’s been a real treat to hear Tuvok, Kim, Seven, Neelix, and the Doctor again. The patrol missions are fun although they pale in comparison to the story episodes. On their own though, they are fun, and a few notches higher in quality than the original patrols that were in the game the first few years. I’m particularly enjoying that the new enemies use more powers, really makes the fights more engaging.

Speaking of engaging, I’ve only stopped playing through the missions for now because I hit a level gate, something that’s not happened to me since the first year I played the game. I probably would’ve hit one earlier had I not been messing around with Duty Officer assignments the last several months and so only started the DR content once I was about level 52. My next mission requires level 55 and I’m just a few hundred points shy of that now, so I’ll get back into the story line soon.

I’m still trying to figure out my plans for remaining ships to upgrade to tier 5U using the free upgrade tokens I got, my current ship is a Vesta-class so that one was an easy decision to make. I also need to look at my equipment and decide what items I want to invest tech upgrades in. I usually get a serious case of analysis paralysis when making permanent decisions like that. So far though I haven’t felt a need to upgrade anything in order to complete the content.

Onwards to 2015

I always get excited for the start of a new year. It’s a good opportunity to take stock and attempt to get back on track.

The first for me that’s meant for me this year has been getting back into my wood shop where I haven’t been in months and working on getting things cleaned up and ready for a project that I’ve been procrastinating on for about two years. I’m in dire need of more shelf space in my home office for all of the books and other stuff that I collect. When I originally started the project I got hung up on getting my plans drawn out and trying to make sure I had all of the cuts and raw materials figured out. This year I finally spent an evening learning Sketchup and finally managed to come up with good plans. If it’s the only thing I do all year, I’ll be happy if I finally have my office shelving project finished this year.

I’m keeping the lists I made in last year’s resolutions and going to keep plugging away at them. The thing I learned from last year is I’m not good at rotating from one thing to the next. Instead I would read several books, then stop and read a ton of comics, and then stop and go back to video or board games. My goal this year is to stay more cognizant of what I’m spending my time on and not focus so obsessively on one thing at a time.

One of the big things I regret not continuing was Fleet Nights in Star Trek Online. I really want to get those started back up, which means I need to get through some of the Delta Rising content to unlock some of the new events since that’s been the easiest thing to get a group together to do.

Really the only thing I’m not looking forward to is new games. I couldn’t tell you what new MMOs are scheduled for release this year. There are a few non-MMO games that I’m looking forward to like Massive Chalice and Star Crawlers, but those are games I backed on Kickstarter and I’ve already be able to play early versions, so I don’t quite count those. Honestly, it feels pretty good as maybe I’ll finally get around to finishing a few games from my list-of-shame like the DLCs and extended ending for Mass Effect 3 that I still haven’t played.

Delta Rising Debrief

Several dev blogs have come out in the last two weeks that I’m just now catching up on. My favorite new feature has to be Grapple Guns! While I would love to be able to use these anywhere, I really doubt that will be the case. None of the existing maps will have been developed with the idea that players can move in three dimensions. I actually wonder too if even for maps where grappling is intended to be used if it will be something where it can be used on any surface or only against specific attachment points. The latter case would be much safer from a development standpoint, but I really hope it’s not that limited.

More details are out on Intelligence Specialist Bridge Officers.  In space combat Specialists can go into a regular bridge seat that matches their profession or a universal one, but they can’t use their specialist abilities. There’s no restrictions for ground combat, which means even if you’re not in a Tier 6 with specialist seating, these new officers will still be valuable for away teams. Intelligence abilities will be thematically focused on debuffs, stealth, and crowd control. Some ground examples:

  • Feign disintegration and get a short term stealth effect, speed bonus, and ambush bonus.
  • Spawn a photonic decoy to draw enemy fire.
  • Tag an enemy at distance and initiate a site-to-site transport to bring them to you and disorient them briefly.

Space combat examples:

  • Fire an EM pulse probe that will travel towards a target disabling any intervening enemies and then explode damaging the target and any nearby enemies.
  • Evade target locks to give a massive accuracy debuff against an enemy and become untargetable by enemy torpedoes and mines.
  • Transport warhead will allow you to beam a torpedo directly onto an enemies bridge, bypassing shields and possibly knocking a system offline.

These are just a few that I liked, there are eleven ground and eleven space abilities described in the blog. As primarily a Science Captain, these look especially fun to me.

The new Kobali Adventure Zone is for players level 54 and higher. Similar to the Voth ground battlezone, for Kobali you beam down with two bridge officers. You can also team with other Captains without having to send your officers back to the ship, which you can actually do for the Voth mission as well if you wait until you’re in the battlezone before teaming up. Cryptic is promising that Kobali will be as scalable and team-friendly as the Voth ground zone while also allowing for a rich personal story-line. That sounds perfect if it works as advertised. While I enjoy the Voth ground map on occasion it does get repetitive quickly, despite how much dilithium you can earn doing it

Of course reputations are a given with any expansion or major update to the game now, and Delta Rising is no different.  The Delta Alliance Reputation will be added with the expansion and bring Delta Marks as the basic reputation currency along with Ancient Power Cells for equipment unlocks (or getting bonus dilithium ore). The reputation offers a four piece space set called Delta Alliance Assault (engines, shields, deflector, and warp/singularity core), a three piece space set called Delta Alliance Ordnance (console, polaron beam array or heavy cannon), and neutronic torpedo), and a three piece ground set called Delta Alliance Elite (combat armor, unimatrix shield, compression phaser rifle). All gear is listed as Mark XII, which seems odd given that the new maximum gear level is Mark XIV. Possible typo?

Nope. not a typo and there’s also a new Gear Upgrade System. So items will now have a leveling system called Tech Points. Once an item has enough to qualify for an upgrade a Basic, Improved, or Superior Tech Upgrade item can be used to upgrade it to the next Mark level. Basic Tech Upgrades will be available from vendors (or crafteD), while Improved and Superiors upgrades will be crafted only. Crafting recipes unlock at 5, 10, and 15 respectively, and the recipes won’t require dilithium. This seems to be intended to promote crafters putting them on the Exchange. The dilithium cost comes in when an upgrade is applied. Upgrades will use a similar slotting system to the revamped R&D system, so you’ll be limited to how many items you can upgrade at a time. Also the upgrade process will take a certain amount of real time to completed. It’s not mentioned but I assume you’ll be able to pay additional dilithium to speed that up just like you can with R&D projects.

There’s also a Research Point track for items, which I wasn’t so clear about from the blog that allows bumping up an item’s quality (common to uncommon, etc.). That doesn’t seem quite as important as bumping the Mark level up, and seems like it over complicates things. Of course until it’s in the game we won’t really know.

We’re finally starting to get some solid details about the expansion now. I expect Cryptic’s dev and PR arms to continue to get busier as we near the October release date.