Personal Log, Stardate 96295.47.
I suppose that it was inevitable that sooner or later, I would wind up having to deal with Starfleet Security.
As a concept, I have no great objection to them. They are certainly more honest than, for example, the old Obsidian Order back on Cardassia. They operate off of rules and regulations that are known, even if they themselves must operate in a somewhat secretive manner at times. After the mess with this “Section 31” and the Soptillian, it was probably deemed a good idea to have me work with something other than an intelligence operation.
That said, Captain Ross is an…unusual sort of captain. His team is an eclectic bunch, and it makes me wonder if that sort of thing is the norm for Starfleet Security. The mission to Iffar demonstrated, though, that they were at least a competent crew. We were all dead wrong about it being related to the Undine, though….
Things were less certain with the Conclave incident. I still don’t know how they managed to get a working [REDACTED] to use against [REDACTED]; I can’t imagine the scale of death that would have caused. Given the nature of the mission, I find that I can’t blame Ross too much for keeping me in the dark. I hope he doesn’t blame me for my own small act of insubordination when it was all over; as my Academy classmates would have said, he sort of deserved it.
Computer, end log.
Something is becoming apparent with my use of the Foundry missions in Star Trek Online; namely, advancing a character solely through this means is going to be a far slower affair than it has been in the past. I may have to start supplementing the missioning with use of the Duty Officer system if I want to get out of the teens in Selak’s levels. On the other hand, hey, it’s giving me far less repetitive posts because the Foundry means I’m putting up stuff I haven’t done with other characters a dozen times before.
I also did a quick run of another of the queues that became available: the Starbase 24 action. Once upon a time, Starbase 24 was a fleet action sort of deal, where you could fly to the base on the sector map, auto-join with other characters to fight off an attack on the Starbase, then board the Starbase and repel the attackers there. That was a long, long time ago, though. Now, it’s just a queue, and completely space-based as well. As a result, it’s not much more than your standard “go in, blow up Klingons, blow up more Klingons, game over.” Maybe it’s intended to be that way since it is a lower level queue, but still….
This is as good a time as any to remark on some queue related news, as well. Last week, Cryptic/PWE announced that they’re renaming the queue system to “Task Force Operations”. Because that’ll totally make a difference. I guess I can at least save on keystrokes typing TFO, but that’ll just confuse people if I don’t type the whole name early in a post. So don’t expect me to call it other than what it still is: a queue. That said: another thing being introduced in the Age of Discovery publish will be the idea of random TFOs (damn it, I’m actually doing it…well, I already defined it above…). It’s exactly what it says on the tin: you can click for a queue and get assigned to a random queue mission, ground or space-you have as much chance as ending up in a Breach scenario as you do an Infected-Space run. And there will, of course, be rewards for doing so in the form of your choice of marks and Dilithium. This is in addition what you’d get from a “normal” run. Whether this will be enough incentive is an open question: I know some people (like me) tend to stay away from ground queues. That may be a turn-off. On the other hand, there’s no cooldown for using the random button; you can hit it again immediately after exiting. This sounds like a terrific way to grind up marks and Dilithium, and that alone may be the best incentive to do this stuff.
Not all of the queues will be available in this; the 10-man missions are out, the PvPvE queues are out, the shuttle queues are out, and so forth. There’s a post on the official site that has details along with more specific reward details. I’ll leave it to the reader to go check that out.
There’s also news about “streamlining the mission journal”. Which, shockingly, includes references to “removing content until we can improve it”. So, if you’re a fan of the current missions in the Klingon War arc, better do ’em now, because you’ll likely never see them again. My thoughts on content removal are well documented at this point, so I won’t belabor it here.
Onto the good stuff. This time, I’ll put up some thoughts on a pair of missions that focus on Starfleet Security: “Gemini” and “Polarity” by Gorgonops. And there is a lot to like about these missions.
Firstly, the dialogue. You tend to interact with an interesting group of Security officers; if you’re a fan of the deadly serious, you probably will cringe a bit, but most of the quirkiness is optional dialogue, so you can ignore most of it to your heart’s content. And there IS plenty of optional dialogue that you don’t have to go through if you don’t want to-say, if you want to speed run the missions. (I didn’t speed-run. Obviously.) Even more impressive was the fact that the author put time into having dialogue windows that fit your captain’s situation: if you were in 2409 prior to the Iconian War, or after the Iconians revealed themselves; if you were a Federation captain or a Romulan captain aligned with the Federation; and if you’d done the “Gemini” mission before running “Polarity” or not. These are touches I appreciate and give the impression that yes, things happen in the galaxy, and various captains will be doing them. (There’s even a couple that you can select if you are Andorian or Vulcan!) That said: it’s not like the Foundry offers these JUST to captains who qualify; the Foundry isn’t that good-you could chose any of those options even if you don’t qualify. It’s a limit of the tool.
Some of the maps here are terrific too. I don’t know if they’re prebuilt from the Foundry tool or if the author built them all from scratch, but they look great. There’s one instance where a waypoint doesn’t show up correctly, and the author acknowledges that literally at that point in the mission; bugs happen. If I were to make a single recommendation, it would be for a note when you beam into that map that you take note of where you are, because you’ll need to get to it again later. Pity those with poor memory. Could go running around that map for a long time….
The storylines are mostly independent of each other; it’s not a requirement to play “Gemini” before “Polarity”, and they are self-contained stories, which means you don’t have to worry about cliffhangers. There are certainly references to “Gemini” in “Polarity”, but they don’t require you to know them. The first storyline involves a mystery that points to Undine infiltration, while the other storyline…well, Captain Ross is dead set on not telling you anything helpful as you go along-and it gets justified hard when the truth comes out. I won’t spoil it further here; it’s a great “oh crap” moment.
Highly recommend both missions. There are also two other missions in this arc of stories, but they’re level-gated to level 51 or higher, so it will be a while before I can get to them. That’s okay-there are other Foundry missions waiting, with other authors, and it wouldn’t be fair to monopolize, would it?