There Just Isn’t Enough Time In A Day

It’s been sort of an insane few weeks over in MMO-land for me.

One the one hand:  Star Trek Online has been unleashing its Crystalline Catastrophe event once more.  Basically it’s a queue against the Crystalline Entity from Star Trek: The Next Generation; that’s not new.  But during the event, if you run it for fourteen days (out of whatever amount of days the event is going on), you can receive a bucket load of marks, dilithium, and a special item to commemorate the trip (a special kit module this time around).  Given the recent push my Fed fleet went through to get the starbase to tier 3, there was an awful big missing amount of dilithium and fleet marks.  So I decided to run all of my fleeted characters through the event-10 days and counting.  In previous events, I’d only gone as far as four characters, because this is a painfully mind-numbing experience to do on a bunch of alts.  But the rewards are worth it; there’s a fair shot that I can possibly push the fleet Dilithium mine to tier-1 at the end of all this.  Maybe.

I am running a single Klingon through the event too.  Mainly because he’s in a KDF fleet, and that’ll give him a bit of extra to donate to the fleet or upgrade his ship equipment; that character’s never been as top-line as my primary Starfleet guy, and he deserves upgrades.  He’ll still be behind, granted, because his fleet does not have starbase fleet equipment at this time, but I’m hoping it’ll be better than what it’s got now.

So, that’s one half of the insanity.  The other half is in Star Wars: The Old Republic, where I’m pushing hard to get characters to complete class stories in the alternate advanced classes; which is to say, the eight I haven’t done yet.  Thus far, I’ve got an Imperial Sniper, Powertech Bounty Hunter, Scoundrel Smuggler, Sith Juggernaut, Commando Trooper, and am working on a Sith Sorcerer, which is on Belsavis right now; it’s not outside possibility that I could finish up the week with that character done.  That would leave for me to work on a Jedi Shadow, and a Jedi Guardian to complete all sixteen advanced classes.  I could, conceivably, push those eight through Makeb’s stuff as well to get them to my current ceiling of level 55, and I might yet do so if I wrap all of these characters up before mid October.  It’s around that period where I should have access to the Shadow of Revan stuff thanks to the expansion release, where it’ll be back to my main characters again.

The 12X multiplier to class xp has helped a lot here, allowing me to blow through planets by just doing class quests.  Nothing against the planetary quests-but I’d already done ’em four times on each faction, and if the devs were giving me a way to get the characters through the game faster, I’d take it.  I’m still getting a decent handle on how to play characters even with the reduced workload, and have a fair idea of how they operate.  I admit I’m mostly doing it now so I can say I did do it, but odds are high that once I’ve gotten through them all, I’ll restrict myself to my original eight, and they’ll probably be done in the order in which I did them all to get to this point.

Still, time consuming stuff.  Champions Online is right out (although I’m intrigued by recent announcements involving villain “Become” devices to allow you to rampage through Millennium City for a bit) until I get through some of this crazy period.  I want to say that after I finish my 14 STO rotations for the Crystalline Entity that I can take a break and beat up bad guys in CO, but…there’s a new Season coming out soon, plus at least one more Feature Episode to conclude the Iconian War….

Who said choosing MMOs to play would be easy?

Market Force

One of the things that’s been interesting to follow over the last couple of months has been the interplay between players and developers in Star Wars: The Old Republic concerning the upcoming October expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire.  Some details were given out relatively recently, but those details remained somewhat vague.  Players, being who they are, want more specific information-particularly in fact that it sounds a lot like there’s more to the expansion than story; that we’re looking at substantial changes to the core of the product as well.

With changes to crafting hinted at, the fate of companions, how the time-jump is going to impact pretty much everything…you might see how the player base might have some concerns.  The developers of the initial game, in fact, had done their best to ensure that you couldn’t arbitrarily lose your companions permanently (even if you wanted to; I’m sure players of the game have a few on their list-I certainly have my list.  Looking at you, Quinn!).  And of course, people can get attached to the companions who have been through them throughout the game, particularly if they spent credits on gifts to bump up their affection to get them to max-so that they would have increased chances of criticals on crafting checks.

Bioware/EA has been mostly silent on this issue.  Some people with the right tools have taken to datamining to see if they could ferret out some information.  I’m not going to pretend that those people would be datamining anyway, but there’s a fair amount of attention being paid because of this silence.

I admit to some puzzlement as well.  I can understand not wanting to spoil the story-that’s a given.  But there’s enough going on with the expansion that the developers could certainly talk a bit about how they’re going to deal with your old companions; not necessarily about when they will or will not be back, but more along the lines of “I’m going to lose them all for a period of time, at least.  What happens to the time, effort, and equipment I’ve lavished upon them?  Am I going to have to start building affection again from scratch?”  The crafting system is a question mark too; they’ve said there’s changes coming up for that, and that’s mildly worrisome; the system is a pretty decent one as it stands in concept.  I’ve seen a lot worse.  And you can’t convince me that they’re going to suddenly make items available that are so much better than raid gear, which to some people would be the only reason to craft.  But since the developers are saying nothing, people start gravitating to the worst case scenario.

I can understand the strategic use of silence.  It helps build anticipation, after all.  But silence has its downside too; it has the implication that they are holding off telling about anything because they know that the player base will explode once they get the details.  (Remember the NGE of Star Wars Galaxies?  Less than a month’s lead-time, and just after dropping an expansion, too.  The devs kept that under wraps for a reason, and it still didn’t stop the exodus.)  At some point, keeping quiet about the expansion stops building anticipation and starts building fear.

This is a time for marketing to step up and start wowing us with the good things that are coming with KotFE.  Show the players what’s upcoming with crafting.  Talk about just what the devs are going to do to mitigate the sea change in companions.  Don’t want to talk story?  I get that.  I’d hate to read up spoilers in advance on this sort of thing.  But when you’re talking about making changes to some of the fundamental elements to your MMORPG, you’ve got some obligation to start spelling them out.  Because in the era of the Internet and social media, pissing off the entire player base at the last minute is something you really don’t want to do.

That is, after all, part of the reason why we even have SWTOR to play.

How Long A War?

Sure looks optimistic, doesn’t it?

Star Trek Online announced today that sometime in the not-horribly distant future, they will be releasing Season 11: New Dawn, which is being built up as the aftermath of the Iconian War.  And this has almost immediately started people talking about if this was too soon.

It’s easy to understand why.  The Iconians have been alluded to from pretty much day one of the game, and as the game developed, the Iconian influence became more and more overt.  Over time, they were being built up as the big bads of the game, and with Delta Rising, it got kicked into high gear-and with the Iconian War, it finally exploded into open conflict.  The only war that’s really been seen against an enemy that could challenge the powers of the Alpha/Beta Quadrants in the past was the Dominion War in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which took years to resolve.

The Iconian War, in contrast, looks like it’ll be over in about seven, maybe eight missions.  And a few PvE queues.  Some posters are a bit underwhelmed by that.

I’m not sure I agree, but not for the obvious reasons.  When I look at the Iconian War, I’m not comparing it to the war against the Dominion; I’m comparing it to a different property altogether.

City of Heroes had its own war going on in the later stages of its life.  Specifically, a war against a parallel Earth (its own mirror universe, in a way).  This went on for a number of publishes, over a bunch of Incarnate Trials and a few Task Forces-but something was happening as the devs went along.  The player base was getting Praetorian Fatigue:  they wanted to move on to some of the other slow burning plotlines that were being hinted at (such as the Coming Storm).  The devs did respond to this and brought the Praetorian War to an end with the last publish; they’d planned on dealing with the aftermath in their next publish, but it wasn’t to be.

I suspect the devs at Cryptic/PWE might be looking at that as an example and a warning to not overstay the welcome.  The Iconians are big news, and they deserve a big ending-the episodes have hammered home that the combined efforts of the big powers in the galaxy aren’t up to beating the Iconians.  The player-captains may be winning their battles, but the wider war is stomping all over the galaxy.  Things are being set up for a deus ex machina here, involving time travel-using a method that the television series has shown isn’t exactly the best move.  The war could end up being a very abrupt finish, with unexpected consequences.

Honestly, the whole Iconian War has impressed me, primarily because the devs have done something I didn’t think they’d be able to pull off again:  regular feature episodes.  Instead of trying to pop them off weekly like they did with the original Feature Episodes in the day, we’ve gotten a new episode roughly every month.  And I think this works; if they’d released them all at once, players would’ve probably burned through all of them in about a couple hours, and started complaining that the devs were taking too long to put out anything.  This at least gives the players the illusion of constant activity with regular updates.  Is it better than putting in everything at once less frequently?  That’s for individuals to figure out on their own.  But this sure is a better feeling than what we’d had in our own “Year of Hell” back when Atari was starving the game out.

The New Dawn has little information put out thus far, but it sounds like the Mirror Universe is lurking again, and a hint of exploring a new civilization (which isn’t a nice repeatable exploration system, but hey, at least it’s a plot that isn’t “Waaaugh!” all the time), as well as an “admiralty” system which supposedly will make use of those starships players have been accumulating throughout their career.  The Iconians are about to finally go out of focus; that leaves new possibilities that aren’t all war-related, and maybe-just maybe-we’ll get something that feels like Star Trek, the franchise, instead of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  We’ve done the wars; now let’s see the “explore strange new worlds” and bring that back into focus.

This May Have Odds, and There May Be Ends

Been a little while; things have kept me fairly busy, so let’s see where my thoughts take me today.

I’ve started a new KDF aligned character in Star Trek Online; I’d been looking to leverage the fact that as a lifetime sub, I had access to a lifetimer-exclusive species as a captain, so I took the plunge and made a Talaxian captain.  For those not up on the Trek Lore, this is the species that Neelix of Star Trek: Voyager comes from-the character who was all bubbly and cheerful and acted as a guide/cook/morale officer on the ship.  And in doing so, pretty much sealed the fate of all Talaxians to be seen in a similar manner.

Who would’ve thought a Talaxian could look badass?

Well, screw that!  The Talaxians had themselves a helluva war in their past between planets, and I felt that it was time to redeem the reputation of the Talxians (me and undoubtedly a heap of other lifetimers) and designed me one as a captain.  I made him a Tactical captain, and as mentioned, put him with the Klingons.  This would force me to put him in mind of someone who could gain the respect of warriors.  In part, this also informed the ship type I was looking to use.  I’d used a lot of the KDF ships, but the type I’d mostly avoided was the Birds of Prey raider ships.  This fact is no longer applicable-my Talaxian has taken command!

The appearance of the character-who I named Fralex-needed to stand out to me.  I couldn’t bring myself to put him in the standard KDF uniforms, although the Bortasqu’ outfits were tempting.  But in the end, I splurged on some Zen hoarded over time and bought the Intel uniforms, with Klingon-ish sort of coloring put in.  A Bortasqu’ sash completed the look of the outfit.  Fralex is a bald bearded wonder (no goatee, though; I already have a Coreth-inspired character in the game) and the package looks nothing like a short-order cook like Neelix.

The character has just completed the Devidian story arc, so he’s moving along at the Commander rank.  Goal is to get him to the level 50-ish range, much like the three Delta Recruits I’d had going along.  He’s also joined a small KDF fleet; actually, my main Klingon and my Delta-Klingon have done so as well, and Fralex kind of came along late.  I wasn’t really doing anything with the fleet resources I’d had with the characters, and this at least got me to take a look inside the KDF holdings (albeit at tier 0).

I’ve also done the assorted missions released for the Iconian War that’s going on.  I’ll probably have more to say on that in a future post.

On another front, I’ve been quietly moving forward with my insane dream of a full complement of level 50-ish Star Wars: The Old Republic characters, specifically one of each advanced class.  A little less than three months and counting before the new expansion hits and has me concentrating on advancing further.  I’ve managed to finish class stories for an Imperial Sniper and a Powertech Bounty Hunter, as well as a Republic Scoundrel, and I’m presently working on a Republic Commando who is just about to hit Tatooine.  This mad quest of mine is aided by the fact that subscribers get that 12X multiplier on class missions, which means I can ignore pretty much all the time-consuming planetary quests.  There’s an argument to be made that I’m not getting the full experience that way, but the other hand is that I’ve done ’em eight times already (4 per faction).  If I were TRULY insane, I’d try to extend this push to my current maximum level cap at 55 for all of them, but I can only take so much.  Will I get to the goal before the expansion hits?  Who knows?  But it at least fills the time and keeps me more-or-less familiar with the controls so that I’m not feeling like I’m starting from scratch when I return to my primary characters there.

I keep meaning to get back to a couple Champions Online characters, but I keep getting sidetracked.  Only so much time in a day, after all.

Streamlining

One of the things that amazes me constantly-no matter how often I see it happen-is the tendency of MMOs to chop out content from their games.

The latest game to give me this impression is Star Wars: The Old Republic; in everything I’ve been reading concerning their plans for the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion, I’ve consistently seen references to “streamlining the previous story content”.  A desire to arrange things so that the leveling experience is faster.  All well and good-the dev team wants to show off its new shiny stuff, and that shiny stuff is being applied to the high level experience.

But I can’t help but feel a bit wary on such things.  To me, “streamlining” tends to indicate that content is about to be chopped out.  Star Trek Online is one of the biggest offenders here; every time they decide to streamline things, it usually involves entire episodes being wiped out, or in one notable case, an entire system of play wiped out.  But STO is hardly alone; even World of Warcraft has indulged in removing questlines.  (I’m not sure if they get a net gain, though; in my experience, they replace old quests with new).

So when TOR talks about streamlining things, I have trouble imagining how they can do that without chopping storyline.  I mean, they can up the XP so player can skip planetary quests-but of course, they’re already doing the 12X XP for subscribers on class quests right now.  How else can they streamline things without slashing off game content?  Make the speeder-taxis instant travel?  What would be the point?  The quick-travel shuttles are already at all taxi points, and provide that service with little downtime (especially if you subscribe and have paid for Legacy improvements; I can quick travel with no downtime at all now).  Are they looking to cut out entire planets?  That would certainly cut down the time, but they’d have to seriously further buff XP for that, too.

Story’s been the big thing that helps set TOR apart from most other MMOs; I can applaud Bioware’s move back to that with the upcoming expansion, but I worry that in the process of making the new shiny, they may damage the good stuff that came before.  Maybe I’m worrying over nothing; there still is a lot of unrevealed info concerning KotFE, and maybe the plan to “streamline” will be something more innovative than I can conceive of.  I hope so.  Because a lot of people put a lot of work in developing the stories for each class, for each planet, from the writing to the animation to the art.  And it’s a damned shame when a developer decides that all that work can just be thrown away because “streamlining!”

Tutorial Madness

A few weeks ago, Champions Online announced that it would be updating the game to change its tutorial experience.

I found that interesting for a couple of reasons.  First, CO is a game that doesn’t see a whole lot of updates that don’t involve the creation of lockboxes or store-purchased items.  Second, it’s become the fourth version of the tutorial that’s come out for the game.

I found that somewhat breathtaking.  I understand that developers want to make their game accessible and adapt their tutorial to properly teach new players the game.  I get that.  But CO has had minimal development over recent years.  This isn’t going to be fixed or helped by modifying a tutorial-again.  (Off of memory here, they’ve had the original tutorial, a modified tutorial after the Freemium conversion, yet another one that I can’t recall exactly when it placed, and the current one.  And I’m presuming that I’ve tracked ’em all correctly-I can’t prove there weren’t others.)  The game is long past attracting new players; word of mouth of how much dev time goes into the game has pretty much choked off that flow.  I was amazed that of all the things to focus attention on, THIS was where they felt the priorities should be.

Granted, this was before I actually did the tutorial with a new character just to unlock a shiny.  There wasn’t much new there except heaps of voiceover and a framing sequence around the existing tutorial, making this a training scenario based on the original event.  And I think a couple of the side-quests in the tutorial got removed, too.  So it’s not like there was a heap of effort that went into this change.  (I admit I say this without knowing the intricacies of game-coding, where it could very well require a heap of effort to do-but this is a perception from the outside.)

Okay, there may have been some art changes in Millennium City, too.

Still, this isn’t the first time that Cryptic’s gone back to tutorials; Star Trek Online has had a few different tutorials too; the original, the Freemium version, and the post-Legacy of Romulus version.  One could make the argument that it was necessary in STO’s case for the last one; it effectively had to build two new versions for the Romulans and Klingons, and a little later made a new Federation one to match that sort of experience.  A difference here is that STO is still getting development, and is still getting players; it’s arguably a better game now than it has been in the past, despite my personal issues with content removal.

It seems like I’m banging my head over Cryptic here, but they aren’t alone in tutorial revamps.  City of Heroes revamped their tutorial when they went Freemium (hm, is this a pattern?), which sort of consolidated the hero/villain tutorials into one event instead of two different ones.  Star Wars Galaxies revamped their tutorial (which is to say, they actually put a tutorial in at all) with the advent of the New Game Enhancements; I can’t really argue with that one, given what their devs did to the game.  EVE Online has done a bit with its new user experience as well, which is reasonable given the insane learning curve-which may have flattened at least a little bit over the years.

So at what point does revamping tutorials become an exercise in futility?  Is it reasonable to rebuild it every couple of years?  Or maybe only during significant changes to the game?  Is it worth it to make it shinier at the cost of improving other areas of the game?  For a game like CO, I have to seriously question who put the order out to put in voiceover material and fiddle with the tutorial-because it seems to smack of someone in Sales deciding that they could get more people if they make it prettier and flashier.  (They blew that, if that was the case; it’s not that big of an actual change.)

At some point, CO needs to start taking a hard look at improving their game beyond their tutorials.  The Mechanon additions were a pretty solid bit of work, but that’s way back in the rear-view mirror now.  There are other parts of that game that could use attention (my pet peeve is the Nemesis system, which really needs more love), or-and here’s a wild idea-maybe add new content.  I’ve advocated for a player-generated content system like Neverwinter’s Foundry (or STO’s version, really) for CO, since players can be a highly motivated bunch to build content (some better than others), but that’s just not gonna happen; so players just have to rely on developers to develop content for the game, and that’s just looking like a lost cause most times.

Unless, of course, they feel a need to revamp their tutorial.

Fallen Empires

It’s been a while since I posted something on Star Wars:  The Old Republic, and there’s been a good reason for that.  A couple, actually.  Star Trek Online has been the big thing lately (and yet another feature episode is on deck-I’ve been impressed by this activity recently), plus I’ve sort of been not doing much in TOR since the new content has required the Shadow of Revan expansion-which I did not purchase because of the treatment of the people who bought the Makeb expansion.  I steadfastly chose to wait until it followed suit with Makeb and became free to subscribers.

That moment is coming-but not how I had expected.

Bioware/EA has announced the next expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire.  And based on their announcement page, they mean what they say.  It will have level 61-65 content, which you can’t do without the Revan expansion.  So, when FE hits, that will go free to subscribers.  For that matter, so will KotFE.  The release is in October, which, if I recall, isn’t quite a year since Revan hit, but a lot longer than it had been between release and free for Makeb.

All by itself, that would have been worth posting about.  But some of the details emerging prompted me to put down early thoughts.

For starters, your character, whether Republic or Sith, will wind up locked away in carbonite for 20 years.  In that time, things go bad for both factions.  A new power comes in and beats the tar out of them.  Gee, wasn’t that the last expansion?  This time, though, you come in blind and alone, needing new companions-and some old ones.  Some of whom may not have been YOUR companions during your adventures thus far.  There are a bunch of chapters planned for release, with others for later.  I expect those chapters won’t be quite as in-depth as the preceding ones.  The entire original release was effectively three chapters plus prologue; I seriously doubt these will be on the same scale.

What makes me the most curious about all this is the logistics.  Are you losing all your companions when you take your long nap-with the equipment you have lavished on them?  What about your ship?  What happens with that?  What will they do about existing planets?  Particularly in light of the fact that not everyone will be doing the new content (free for subs, but what about the F2P folks?).  The idea is a bold one, but I can’t help but wonder just how this is going to work out.

This may be the reason why the devs have also included the ability to create a brand new character at level 60.  Try to avoid the crazy.

Well, I’m still a subscriber, and I’m still playing (I’ve quietly taken advantage of the 12X xp to level a couple advanced classes to 50 while I can), so I’ll be getting this expansion-and the little extras that come with it, like a custom chest piece (I’m presuming that part), custom guns, a new companion who is the basis for those previous mentions, and a speeder that hails from the Knights of the Old Republic days.  And while I have concerns, I’m willing to see just how Bioware is going to deal with them before I go into any panic modes.  In the meantime, I better put some extra time in to get my sixteen characters to 50, so I have all the species opened up except for Cathar.  Of course, I’ll still need to get characters to 60 when the expansion hits-but it’s a safe bet that my Agent and Smuggler will be leading the way for me.

Edit:  That 20 year figure might be inaccurate.  I’ve seen enough variation on the time frame involved that I’m not sure that’s an exact figure.  But it’s a question of “years”, not “months” that your character is on ice.

Building Character: The End of the Line for Delta

Dynah and her crew

Dynah and her crew

The Delta Recruitment event in Star Trek Online is over (I’m pretty sure, anyway).  I’d created three new characters to take advantage of that event, and spent some time with the captains Raa’th, Xenon, and Dynah-who finished up her Recruitment arc over the weekend.  Dynah wound up at level 53, just like Xenon did; she took a Command specialization, and commands the tier-5 version of an Excelsior class vessel.  A pretty respectable finish for the event!

So now that the push is done, I can look back and reflect a bit on the whole thing.

The Delta Recruitment event was a good excuse to indulge in creating new alt characters.  It benefited the new characters, but also allowed benefits for pre-existing characters.  New starship traits-particularly ones that aren’t bound to C-store purchases-are always welcome, the temporal devices aren’t game-breaking but still situationally useful, and boxes of marks are always nice when one’s trying to develop reputation, or just getting reputation-items.

Beyond that, though, it was a chance to once again go through the missions of the game, including the early arcs that might not have been seen for a long, long time.  It helped illustrate to me just how STO has changed over the years; I still recall the days when the only method of advancing one’s Klingon was via PvP; now they’ve got a full leveling path via PvE just as the Federation does (granted, a significant chunk of that path is actually repainted Fed missions, but the missions are there).  Plus, I got a chance to appreciate the newer tutorial for the Starfleet characters; I think it’s the third or fourth version of the tutorial I’ve seen, but it feels a lot more natural as far as the story goes.  Whether or not it’s better in terms of actually teaching the game is still an open question, but as a veteran, I’m really not that qualified to determine that.

And hey, the whole thing managed to bring me back to playing the game fairly regularly for a somewhat extended time.  That’s no mean feat by itself.

The fun doesn’t really stop here, though.  Tomorrow (barring surprises), a new feature episode will be advancing the Iconian War plot, and the Summer Event on Risa will be rolling along next week.  I’ve no desire for the special ship being offered (think Ferengi), but I had a desire to get the power-surfboards for at least one or two characters which I never really pushed for last year.  I might want to make the attempt this time around.

I’ve also managed to start working on the Iconian Reputation with Walt, reasoning that his ship is best suited for handling the big fights-at least better than Kelleth’s or Ailar’s.  I may likely have Kelleth, at least, do the Iconian rep, but I’d prefer him to do as little of it as possible-by means of the sponsorship token given out by characters who max out reputation.  So the target is for Walt to max out his Iconian rep, and then give out sponsorships like candy to whichever other characters I feel like pushing through.  For those unaware, the sponsorship gives double reputation points for the projects, which means only half the time is spent to max out the sponsored guy.  (It also means half the resources are required to do those projects, so it’s all win.)  I’ll remark upon the two queues I’ve done to get the Iconian marks for these projects at a future date.

I also expect at some point relatively soon to begin some new work on Star Wars: The Old Republic again.  As a subscriber, I have access to the 12X xp bonus on storyline missions, which allows a character to more or less ignore planetary storylines, and since I still have that ambition to eventually have a character for each advanced class, it would seem that this would be the way to go.  There may be posts on that too-stay tuned.

Building Character: Dynah-Might

(Yes, the title’s somewhat lame, but hey-it was the low hanging fruit.  I hadda use something like that sooner or later.)

My Star Trek Online current project, Captain Dynah, is going along nicely.  She reached level 50, so that allowed me to enable the Command primary specialization, and Piloting secondary.  The reason I made sure to do the Piloting was because even without points spent in it, it gives a small bonus to turn rate-and her endgame ship has indeed turned out to be the tier-5 Excelsior; after all, it’d be a shame if I never actually use a ship I bought, right?

USS Atlantic, now on duty

Storywise, Dynah is presently neck deep in dealing with the Borg arc.  So my figuring is that this week will end her push, as the arc after this one is the Breen one, and the end of that ends the Delta Recruiting arc.  And that will end my own personal arc of Delta Recruitment, as I’ll have pushed a new captain from each faction through that storyline.  I’ll likely put up final thoughts on the whole Delta Recruitment thing as a post-mortem next time.

What comes next, then?  Well, the Fleet is doing what I figured would be impossible-advancing our starbase to a tier 3 level.  Or at least it’s in the process.  It’ll have its last tier-2 structure built later today, and we’re well along on advancing to Military tier 3, which will allow us to build a tier-3 shipyard, which will allow us to build up the base to tier 3.  Of course, those last two steps will be the challenge, as it will require Dilithium in vast quantities.  That said:  I’ve built up a healthy amount of Zen from my stipend over the months, and at the moment, the buying power of Zen versus Dilithium is pretty heavily tilted in Zen’s favor.  If I’m not actually using it for anything else, I may very well decide that our efforts could be greatly assisted by a sudden infusion.  (Given that I have pretty much all the outfits I want, I have no desire for the existing tier-6 ships, and I haven’t used up all my character slots yet, I just tend to sit on the Zen.)

Aside from that, it’s sounding like we could be seeing a new Feature Episode sooner rather than later that will further the Iconian War plot, so I’ll have that to look forward to with my mains.  Speaking of whom, at some point I’ll have to figure if I’m going to bother with the Iconian Reputation stuff, which will require playing the new PvE queue missions; the trick is figuring who to do ’em with.  I’d sort of prefer to use Kelleth in the KDF, as I view him as the primary go-to guy now, but he’s not as kitted out as Walt in Starfleet, and those starbase projects are gonna need a heap of fleet marks as well as Dilithium, so the odds of his getting the call are pretty high up there.  I’m still somewhat undecided.

But for now, Dynah still needs to wrap things up.

Building Character: Dynah Goes to Work

Guess who's leveling up...?

Guess who’s leveling up…?

It’s really not escaped my attention that, despite a significant number of posts bashing actions taken by the developers/producers of Star Trek Online, I’ve spent a great deal of time recently in that MMO, far more than I’ve spent in Champions Online or Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Maybe it’s because of the three, STO’s the one that regularly releases stuff I don’t mind doing.  That may or may not end with the Delta Recruiting thing, but we’ll see how that goes.  For now, I’m enjoying the ride.

Dynah Istori of Starfleet is the character getting the reps now, the last of my three Delta Recruits.  The character is just shy of level 35, and is progressing along the Reman arc (okay, nowadays it’s the back half of “The Romulan Mystery”, but it’ll always be the Reman arc in my head, hailing back to its inception as featured episodes).  Despite my plans, the character has been doing more fabrication than mechanics in her Engineering, but that’s because I’ve had lousy luck with kit frames-more fabrication modules than mechanical.  Of course, I’ve also had equally rotten luck with the modules themselves.  Fortunately, I did get some originality for me with a combat supply crate ability-which took me a bit by surprise.  Back in the day, it just held stuff like power cells and shield packs and the like.  So imagine my surprise when the thing starts popping out the little buff icons similar to what you see in the Solonae battlezone.  That makes it more useful as a combat ability to an extent, but man, it still sets my teeth on edge to see those popping around in an MMO.  (Yes, I’m aware that this is no different than the floating capsules indicating loot.  I never claimed consistency.)  My hope is to eventually get a kit that’s more mechanic than fabrication, and I can mess with some very different abilities…

Now I just need the giant mushrooms.

Now I just need the giant mushrooms.

Space-wise, the progression’s been a bit interesting.  As an Engineer, Dynah’s suited for the cruisers, and that’s the direction I’ve picked up for the most part.  I had the TOS Constitution as her first ship (well, not counting the tutorial ship), and a Constitution as her LCDR ship.  I went heavy on the Vesper parts for that ship, though, refusing to be traditional with the straight Constitution skin.  What I ended up with was…well, it was hideous.  Couldn’t wait to get out of that ship.  At the Commander level, I finally made use of a purchased Excelsior class ship; longtime readers will remember my rants on that subject.  So it only took me a few years to actually USE the ship.  I strongly suspect that the Tier-5 version will end up being Dynah’s endgame ship, too.  At Captain, though, I couldn’t bring myself to inflict the Galaxy-class ship on the character; there are those who will disagree (in fact, I expect that there are MANY who disagree), but I’ve never been a great fan of that ship’s design.  It grew on me to the point where I could watch The Next Generation with it without having adverse reactions to it, but it just didn’t really appeal to me.  So I went with the Intrepid-class science ship; I’d never done an Engineer/Science combination, so I figured, why not?  Hasn’t been too bad, although I’ve had to use my more traditional power settings for the ship (eg. ALL WEAPONS!!!!1!!1!!!).

This is admittedly one of my better shots of that ship.

This is admittedly one of my better shots of that ship.

Looking toward the future-beyond the Delta Recruit event in STO-I figure that once Dynah’s out of the way, I’ll start branching out my game again, so to speak.  There are a number of character concepts in CO that I want to mess with (not the least of which is to FINALLY give my Reawakened Automaton a push), and I’ve still got intents to start messing with the mirror classes in TOR-particularly in light of the 12X XP for story missions for subscribers, which will make leveling them not nearly as horrific as it could be.  (I wonder if that stacks with the xp buffs that tend to roll in with some of these missions; I should check on that.)