Phoenix? Or Zombie?

I never thought I’d use this group of category and related tag again, but….

Some of the plans I’ve had recently got derailed by certain annoying RL events.  Despite this, however, I’d have had to have been living under a rock not to hear about the news about the Secret Server.  Or, to be less clever about it, the secret server that’s been around and running the MMORPG City of Heroes.

It had been an open secret practically from the first day after the game shutdown that someone out there was working to reverse engineer the code for CoH to release once it was done.  But apparently, it’s been a bit more in-depth than that:  someone had the actual game code and ran a secret server for years.  It even supposedly included the characters that were created in the game at a point in time (which point in time, I couldn’t say).  And in the last few days, that code has been released into the wilds of the Internet.

I’ve got mixed feelings on the subject.

I don’t care that I wasn’t one of the “chosen few”.  When the game ended, I walked away.  I did a little bit on the Paragon Chat client, but that was more or less a passing fancy; it didn’t have the main reason I’d stuck around, which was the people I played with.  (Plus, some bugs made it very difficult for things to work out; I imagine it’s more stable now.)  But I moved on, just like I did after Star Wars Galaxies.  I don’t have an emulator account for one of the several emulators for that game either.  And…I don’t really plan to do so for any of the servers that may or may not spring up for CoH.

Leaving aside the legalities of the issue, I just don’t have it in me to start over again, especially when NCSoft-you know, the guys who shuttered the game in the first place-has a history of throwing “Cease and Desist” orders around.  One could argue that once this stuff is on the Internet, keeping control over it is kaput, but I never underestimate the lawyers.  But that’s beside the point.  The point is, I’ve already done my mourning for CoH, and while it’s risen again in this new form, it remains to be seen if it’s like a phoenix or like a zombie.  It’ll be interesting to see if NCSoft acts, and how.  They could choose to come down hard on this sort of thing, like Blizzard did with some private servers; or they could ignore it, like Disney is currently doing with the various SWG emulators.  I can’t rule out that these could be different situations; I don’t know if the SWG emulators are reverse engineered code, or if they are clones of actual server code like the CoH set apparently is.

Either way, I’m not planning any comebacks there.  If I do a new superhero game beyond Champions Online, it’ll be one that hasn’t been released yet, whether it’s City of Titans, Ship of Heroes, or Valiance Online.  (And even on those, it’s a “we’ll see” sort of situation.)  I wish ’em all well; I just hope that the players aren’t setting themselves up for disappointment in the future.  Check with me in a year; if these servers are still going strong at that point, then maybe their future will continue to be bright.

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W&M: You’ve Got the MIDAS Touch

Yeah, I really had to go there with that pun.

Personal Log, Stardate 96857.36.

It’s good to be back on Earth for some shore leave.  The crew deserves it, after the messes we’ve had to deal with lately.  We narrowly avoided a one-way journey to the far end of the galaxy, stopped an invasion of Federation space, and lost a number of brave men and women in our struggle to return.  It’s been hard, but it seems we may finally get a break.  The Lakarian is in for repairs at drydock, and it may be some time before it’s ready to go out again…if ever.  We have some Cardassian engineers from the homeworld giving the SCE a hand, but it was a rough trip, and may require substantial refit time.

So, I expect the crew to be broken up and shuffled to different ships, different parts of the fleet.  Perhaps we will journey together again someday, once more aboard the Lakarian, and truly go where no one has gone before.  Perhaps.

As this journey ends, I prepare for my new beginning.  Wherever that may take me.

Computer, end log.

Welp, my expected plan to do two more posts concerning the Foundry in Star Trek Online is likely to be one post-this one.  Unless I do a post-mortem, of course, which could still happen.  But I chose a heck of a mission arc to finish up the Ways and Means chronicle.  The last mission of the arc, in fact, had not been released until just a few days before the expected end-of-life for the player-generated content tool in STO.  I was prepared, in fact, to have Selak’s story end on a far uglier note as a result of that; so at least Selak’s career will still go on someday…well, as much as any of my non-main characters, at least.

Despite appearances, this is NOT Captain Kayal and his crew….

So, let’s take a look at “In the Shadow of MIDAS” by greendragoon, a story in three parts, which features the use of the MIDAS array that was once used by the Pathfinder project made famous for its work in communicating with the USS Voyager during the back end of its journey in the Delta Quadrant.  (Its first one, that is; the Delta Rising expansion more or less made MIDAS irrelevant for that sort of thing.)  The story kicks off with the news that the array has been used to expand the original micro-wormholes used to communicate with Voyager to one large enough for ships to go through.  It ain’t stable, it ain’t consistent, but it’s consistent enough to send ships through and back.  The problem?  The last couple of ships they sent through…didn’t come back.  So they sent for Starfleet’s best.  (Okay, you got volunteered.  It happens.)

The mystery begins with the discovery of a wrecked starship and decimated world that has seen better days.  The exploration of both reveals a threat that becomes imminent, as a war has been going on in secret in this part of the galaxy, and your crew has just become the latest pawns.  You have to find a way to resist the intrusions, learn who to trust, recapture ships, and find a way to get home before it’s too late!  So, no pressure, right?

This series was extremely well done, and if you get a chance in the next day to play it (tomorrow being doomsday for the Foundry), I’d highly recommend it.  Part two has a nice twist that hasn’t been seen since the Romulan Republic’s story arc (except it happens to everyone…), and there’s a map in part three that just makes me regret the loss of the Foundry more and more each time I look at it.

With this arc, I officially conclude this character chronicle-and likely further major work in STO for some time.  I’ve been unhappy with a number of things lately, between the Foundry being kaput, the poor redesign of the character creator (which I suspect will propagate to the tailor’s screen sooner rather than later), and the constant removal of content at a far faster rate than we get it.  This clearly indicates to me that it’s time for a break from STO, although I’ll certainly return to it for new content releases, but for the most part, it’s time for a chronicle somewhere else.  At some point, maybe I’ll get inspired enough again to do a push in STO, but for now, we’re at a series finale.  We’ll see if a new series kicks off in the future.

Thanks for the memories, Foundry authors. Your work will be missed.

W&M: Peace and Security

We do sometimes wind up on nice planets.

Personal Log, Stardate 96851.66.

We’ve finally returned from the Delta Quadrant after a short tour of duty, and immediately got sucked into a large-scale conflict with the Iconians.  To my surprise, the Lakarian has managed to acquit itself nicely.  Which is to say, it wasn’t blown up.

Things have started to settle down.  I’m not entirely sure how the alliance managed to talk the Iconians into going away, but I’m grateful they did.  Maybe now things can get back to scientific exploration.  I’m almost uncertain as to what that’s like.  Ever since graduation, it’s been one thing after another, and maybe we can finally let this contest of empires finish and get back to important work.

Unfortunately, it seems that the past is going to come calling.  I received a message to report to the Uchagra system…and my old…well, it seems “friend” isn’t really the right term.  Captain Ross is there, and that usually means interesting things are afoot with Starfleet Security.  It will be interesting to see how things have changed since we last met, so long ago it seems now.

Computer, end log.

The clock is ticking, and the end of the Foundry in Star Trek Online is less than two weeks away!  So, let’s take a look at another pair of missions in the Foundry that are going to be lost to time in the sadly near-future.

Firstly, though, a little mea culpa.  My original plan for this week was to do missions related to the Iconian War.  Once upon a time, I was sure there were a number of missions in the Foundry related to the Iconian War, taking place at different fronts.  I could swear there had even been a tag of [ICO] being associated with them, so they’d be easy to find on a search.  Well, either there were never that many missions ever created for them, or they got unpublished and never republished due to some reason or another.  Which makes it for the best that I won’t be doing the Cast List Revival Party plan, since I had been expecting plenty of Iconian missions to mess with in the Foundry.

So, hey, dodged that bullet, right?  It would’ve been sooo embarrassing to have planned that out and found out that it just wasn’t gonna work.

Iffar, on the other hand, has gotten a little more unfriendly.

So instead, I revisited a story arc in the Foundry that began earlier in Selak’s career with the Starfleet Security arc by Gorgonops; “Entropy” is the third mission in that arc, and had to be put off until roughly now due to its requirement for high-level characters, which meant Selak couldn’t go through it for a long time.  But, hey, it’s all good now!  It begins on the world of Ucharga, and it sounds like it’ll be a nice, standard sort of mission to help the colonists there deal with some contaminants.  But the presence of Captain Ross of Starfleet Security sends things going in another direction-specifically, a need to prevent an assassination of a Klingon General, ordered by Section 31; and the assassin is an old friend, met in earlier episodes in the arc.  So not only do you need to stop the assassin (fortunately, she’s just trapped in the moral morass of having to determine if she must obey that order), you also need to uncover the mystery behind the General-and deal with a Klingon who’s got the political connections to be a major annoyance.  All that on top of another discovery of an Iconian artifact on another world.  By the time this mission is over, not only will the fate of the Klingon General be decided…but you’ll also make a discovery that upends the nature of your relationship with the members of this branch of Security.

“Continuity” is the fourth and final episode of that arc, and features a return to Iffar, the planet first encountered at the beginning of this arc.  And it seems that there have been consequences to the events of that mission:  Iffar’s gotten a bit too security conscious, and may be on the verge of a civil war with its own colonies.  It’s into this stew that you and your crew are thrown, and while you may have sympathies for either or both sides, things take a turn for the violent during a trade conference, and you soon have a very personal motivation to see this through to the end.  And while everything may be resolved in the end, the Starfleet Security team will never be the same!

I’ve enjoyed these missions, and there’s a lot of detail in them.  The author does a good job with putting in optional objectives too (even though the Foundry doesn’t support them precisely), and there is the usual banter between NPCs that you can listen in on and learn more about those characters.  I also have to put in kudos for the antagonist of “Continuity”; he was designed so well visually that I recognized him during the final confrontation before even hovering my cursor over him to get his name, or see it during the dialogue pop-ups.  That’s what I call good design!  I do recommend that these missions be done in order; while the missions are designed to stand alone as well as link to one another, the fact is that “Continuity” makes a lot more sense if you’ve done “Entropy” first, and there are some major spoilers for the previous missions if you haven’t done the first pair (“Gemini” and “Polarity”).

If one enjoys these missions, note that there are two more “seasons” of this Starfleet Security set of missions; while I do plan to run through them, I don’t believe I’ll be doing full reviews of them, as I do want to hit some other works before the Foundry finishes up.  I don’t expect more than two more posts before I wrap up my Foundry time and, not by coincidence, this character chronicle.  After that, I expect STO will be put into the rear view mirror for the most part, save for visits when new content rolls out (the roadmap does look intriguing); I think it’s time for new character chronicles in some of my other main games.  Look for more on that later this month.

WoW! Or: A visit to Azeroth

Bet nobody figured I’d be posting on THIS today.

Earlier last week, I’d heard that the folks over at Blizzard were going to offer a free reactivation of all accounts for World of Warcraft for the weekend.  So I thought I’d take some of my valuable time away from Star Trek Online’s Foundry and mess around a bit there.

Full disclosure:  a few years ago, I did take another short visit to WoW, thanks to a friend dumping a Scroll of Resurrection on me, which updated my game to a significantly later expansion than I’d had, gave me a high-level boost to a character, which allowed me to muck around a few days with the heroic Death Knight class.  By “heroic”, I mean to say, it’s a Heroic Class:  similar to the Jem’Hadar in STO, for readers less familiar with WoW, it’s a class that starts out at a high level.  You have to have already gotten a character to a certain high level on the server originally, though; otherwise, no luck.  Well, since then, a new Heroic Class landed:  the Demon Hunter, with the Legion expansion (which was quite some time ago).

Having not-so-very-long-ago messed around in Diablo III, I figured that this would be similar in tone to that game’s Demon Hunter.  Man, did I swing and miss there!

(Did I mention that, thanks to that Scroll, I had a character on a server who was at level 70+, thus allowing access to heroic classes?  I guess that was obvious by the comment about playing a Death Knight.)

So I decided that for my return, instead of hauling out one of my older characters to give them a spin and wind up in horrible straits because I had forgotten everything on how to play the character, I’d roll up a Demon Hunter.  It’s worth noting that, for this free reactivation period, you didn’t actually HAVE to have a level 70 character to roll a Demon Hunter; I guess it’s a way to highlight the class?  That wouldn’t shock me, since I suspect the whole reactivation thing was-in part-likely to have happened to help counterbalance the…shall we say “less than great” reception of the recent expansion, “Battle for Azeroth”.  Well, it’s recent as in, within the last six months or so.

The Demon Hunter can be of either faction, Horde or Alliance, based upon the species chosen for the character.  However, there’s only two available for these guys:  Night Elves and Blood Elves.  I’m not entirely sure about how that works in the lore of the setting; obviously, not having played Warcraft when that game was introduced, much less the assorted WoW books and stuff, I’m pretty clueless on most of that.  It’s tied to a former Big Bad named Illidan, who kind of waffles between evil and less-evil.  In any event, you’re introduced as one of his big guns, a Demon Hunter like himself with abilities akin to his; you gain power by defeating certain demons (aka a clever way to unlock skills for the character; it’s a bit more fun than simply “go to trainer, train up skill”).

With that in mind, I rolled up Malthoras, a Blood Elf Demon Hunter.  I’d always shortchanged the Horde in my past-life in WoW, so to speak.  So it was time to take a walk on the…well, the whole “good/evil” thing has been thrown in the woodchipper long ago in WoW.  To borrow a phrase from a favorite author of mine, this is more of an “us versus them” thing.

Malthoras at the start.

So what was life like as a Demon Hunter?  Well, I will admit that I was sort of “okay, it exists” as far as the storyline goes; like I said, I really don’t have a good handle on WoW’s lore, but the early story seems straightforward enough; you’re with a bunch of other Demon Hunters looking to make a comeback to Azeroth, the main setting of the game, and you have to get through a bunch of the Burning Legion to do so; those would be the “demon” part to be hunted.  Unlike the Diablo 2’s Demon Hunters, you’re not a mortal man, but an elf-Blood or Night-infused with demonic fel power.  Unfortunately, that infusion, plus the fact that Illidan has a pretty bad rap, means the moment you enter the Black Temple, you get curbstomped and imprisoned for an indeterminate length of time.  Then, apparently, Legion happens, and the wardens of the prison under assault decide that you’re the lesser of two evils.

And away you go!

The class itself has a pair of specializations; you can either go Vengeance, which is a tanky sort of build, or Havoc, which is a DPS build.  Having done the WoW tankish thing before (long time readers may recall my main did tanking stuffs, back in the day), I decided I wanted this guy to put the hurtin’ on; I cried “Havoc!” and let slip…yeah, it’s a cliche.  I can’t help it sometimes.  My experience leads me to believe that the Hunter is meant to be a fairly mobile combatant, and relies on a few keys abilities:  like eye beams that do cone damage (and a fair amount of it, too), a build and spend resource attack mechanic, and a transformational skill which helps change up a couple attack skills and heals you as you inflict the pain.  I also figured out later that another ability that increases magical damage taken to opponents goes together with the eye beams like peanut butter and chocolate.

The fact that Demon Hunters start at an obscenely high level also permitted me to see something I hadn’t seen in my previous journeys in Azeroth (which, admittedly, wasn’t there at that time):  a class hall.  Apparently, all the classes have a specialized location to meet at and do an almost duty-officer-ish system (again leaning on my STO experience).  You can get a couple followers and troop units to apply to missions that occur “off-screen”, which can give you a minor reward or two.  One of these followers can also be a “combat ally”, which assists you with an ability at random in a fight.  I didn’t get too far with that system-hey, it was only a few days!  There are other benefits too, as you level up your class hall by doing these missions, but I didn’t really get beyond the first tier.

There’s a certain amusement in a Blood Elf Demon Hunter meeting a Dranei in the Exodar, given how both species landed with the same expansion long ago.

There was, of course, another reason I didn’t get horribly far.  I took a bit of time to check in on a couple of other characters (such as getting one of my characters out of Panda-land)-and made another new one from scratch, because I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done so during a previous return trip:  I rolled a Shaman character.  To be fair, I only did the Shaman because I’d never tried one before.  That wasn’t the reason I rolled him, though.  The class was the lesser aspect.  The real reason is because I didn’t have a Goblin character, and I wanted to see what the early game was like for these crazy, mercantile technologists who remind me of the gnomes-not the WoW gnomes, who are actually decent at tech-the gnomes of Dragonlance fictional fame, who are…interesting.  You haven’t lived until you’re driving a goblin-designed hot-rod through the streets of their home town (and those streets are just as insane) and running down pedestrians.  I’m a bad, bad, bad person sometimes….  Obviously, I didn’t get too far with that character either, but the fun I had playing him almost tempts me to return to WoW just to finish up with any racial questlines.  Almost.

But, we’re a little over two weeks off of the Death of the Foundry in Star Trek Online, and after that, I have other plans, so despite this short visit, WoW will be back in storage for now.  I’m not ruling out someday coming back to run a character chronicle for a character there, but it’s not a priority.  But this taste reminds me of just why WoW has been around so long, and why it’s still the powerhouse of the MMO market.  (I swear, it seems like no other MMOs out there lately can pull off the feeling of scale in a setting; transitions between zones are seamless for the most part, and while there are transition points-they’re on a scale that makes other MMOs cry.  Why can’t anybody else pull this off?  Admittedly, I haven’t hopped to many other games lately, but still.)

W&M: The Cardassian Way

I’ve seen strange things, but this one wins….

Personal Log, Stardate 96797.63.

Much has happened since my last entry.  My crew and I were exonerated, thanks to our work in finding where the real President was and returning him to Earth.  And the Paxtonites are-if not defeated-then driven so far underground that they’ll hopefully take another couple hundred years to try again.  The situation on Megara has been…well, as fixed as it’s going to get.  The Romulan Republic will handle it now, and it’s probably for the best.

The Admiralty was extremely unhappy with my actions during this crisis-particularly in light of the fact that we’d effectively deserted to “join the Cardassian navy”.  I have no doubt that I was heading for a court-martial, except for the intervention of…Councilor Elim Garak.  Who gifted Starfleet with a new, top-of-the-line Damar-class starship…with the proviso that the command of the ship should be given to me.  Between this and the recommendation of the President, the ones in the Admiralty who wanted to bust me so far down the ranks that I’d need warp capability in my boots to get back to “Ensign” had to shut up and accept it.  I think, though, that I can give up any hope of being promoted to Admiral one day.

That’s okay.  This ship is a LOT better than my last one; the USS Lakarian has the bells and whistles that the Galor cruiser didn’t.  It plays to my strengths-sciences-while also leaving no doubt about who is behind all this-there are stations designed for information gathering of a type very different than scientific.  The Starfleet Corps of Engineers went through the ship micron by micron to find any tracking beacons or listening devices, and came up empty.  Well, except for one device that played back a message from Councilor Garak congratulating us on finding the one plant.

I’m not sure how much I can trust him, but I have to admit that I love his sense of humor.

Things are moving fast.  The Klingon Empire and the Federation have declared peace in light of the Undine and Iconian threats, and it’s likely that the Lakarian will be called upon to take its place on the front line of the new conflict-which, as it sounds, is happening even now in the Delta Quadrant.  That one’s a long story.  After all that’s happened, though…I’m ready.

Computer, end log.

We’re short weeks away before the Foundry in Star Trek Online takes its final bows.  Because of this fact, even though I’ve hit my usual stopping point for my STO chronicles by Selak getting to 50 (and thus, able to fly that nice, shiny new tier-6 ship), I plan to continue this chronicle until the Foundry is no more (two posts?  We’ll see); it’s the least I can do to support the authors of some very well done missions.

As noted above, I got Selak in his T-6 ship.  When the “Victory is Life” expansion landed, I knew early on that I would be looking to put a Cardassian character in a Cardassian ship, and the end point would be one of the new big boys there.  As was often the case, there were three ships available, and I went with the science oriented one.  Plus, it’s an Intelligence ship, which means that I might have to hunt down some Intel training manuals for a couple of the bridge officers to take advantage (or make them with my main Starfleet character, who maxed out on his Intel specialization long ago).  Or I may just leave the ship positions as is; there’s no law that requires me to use the Intel abilities.

But really, where’s the fun in that?

This time around, I’ve got three missions to recap and comment on.  Note that, now that I’ve finished the leveling for the character (unless I decide to come back to him one day), I have started ignoring if a Foundry mission gives “mission rewards”.  Now I’m all in for the story.  I’ll mention that detail below, though, in those cases; I know not everyone is as forgiving as I am at this stage in Selak’s career!

Occasional hazards of the Delta Quadrant

First up is “In Silence”, an offering by starfarertheta that was the last spotlighted mission on the STO web site before the announcement of the Foundry sunset.  (Horrible timing, yes?  On the other hand, there are special rewards being given to authors of spotlighted missions, so there’s that.)  After “accidentally” leaving Ambassador Sugihara at Starbase Magellan (I’m dubious as to whether or not it was an accident…), your ship turns around to pick him up.  Well, that’s life in Starfleet for you.  But a distress call draws you to a destroyed structure in space; your crew decides to investigate this.  This mission isn’t heavy on combat-although if you WANT combat, you have an opportunity to indulge near the end of the mission.  It’s mostly about investigation and exploring the structure.  (Note:  it has two levels.  I don’t want to tell you how long it took me to realize this.  Take the appearance of a staircase seriously.)  The map was well done, and this mission gave me a last chance to grab a screenshot of the old Earth Spacedock (aka the Starbase Magellan now).  And looking at it, I can’t believe the devs haven’t repurposed the starbase for another facility somewhere in-game, because it’s still a decent look.  Its only crime was that it wasn’t the ESD we have come to know and love over the years.

Next on my list this time is “Eve of Resolutions” by greendragon, and it represents a turning point for Selak’s timeline by officially putting him into 2410-and what better way than to have it occur on New Year’s Day (well, on the Earth calendar).  You’re standing in for Admiral Tuvok at the New Year’s Eve Gala at Starfleet HQ.  And who do you meet almost right away?  Ambassador Sugihara.  (Hope he wasn’t still ticked off about being left behind on Magellan.  Sometimes I love how serendipitous things work out doing these things.)  The festivities are interrupted by an attack on the gala, where the Romulan Ambassador is kidnapped-leading to a chase to catch up before the kidnappers can get him off-world; it isn’t any better when it’s revealed that it’s a faction of Klingons who want to wreck the peace process being hammered out on the Jenolen Dyson Sphere.  Sounds like Star Trek VI, a bit, eh?  But there’s a little more going on than meets the eye.  I liked the chase, honestly-I mean, there’s only so much you can do for a chase sequence in this game, particularly with Foundry tools, but all the same, it at least gave you the impression of things happening (I particularly enjoyed running into the New Year’s Parade).  I also enjoyed the sewer map work (I may never write a sentence like that again); little waterfalls of sewage from above were a nice touch.

Last on this list today is “The Hundredth”, by NCC-89471.  I advance Selak’s timeline a little further, taking him past the Delta Rising crisis (but prior to the Iconian War…this is not a coincidence).  Your ship is sent into the Delta Quadrant (see rant below) to investigate chatter from packs of Hirogen trying to find “the Gamechanger”, which has apparently gained legendary status for its elusiveness.  This could be considered normal Hirogen obsessiveness with the hunt, but a warfleet had appeared in the Turei Underspace, attacking Hirogen hunting parties.  And the Turei are known to be a little protective of Underspace….  This leads your ship into a nice mess, and your job is to fix it before it leads to another major conflict in the Delta Quadrant.  The identity of the fleet involved (and why they’re here) brings back a couple of individuals who haven’t been seen in a long time (well, as far as the episode chain is concerned; one has come back relatively recently in real time, and one has been erased from existence until now…of course, with the Foundry going away, it’s gonna happen again…).  And just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier, the most dangerous inhabitants of the Delta Quadrant show up….  Now, THIS is a mission that has a heap of combat, with an assortment of foes.  The mission tells you early that you’d best have frequency modulators in your inventory, so you know you’re going to be dealing with Borg at some point.  The identity of the Gamechanger is a bit of a surprise, and the mission addresses the potential discrepancy introduced by that fact by a reasonable possibility.  The mission conclusion also include a surprise appearance that ties everything up in a bow, and gets around certain tricky Foundry rules.

Now, that rant I mentioned.  Doing the Hundredth is a mission that starts in the Delta Quadrant.  Unfortunately, unless you’re in a fleet with the access necessary or have done the actual episodes leading to it, you can’t actually GET to the Delta.  So you either have to go do a bunch of episodes so you unlock it…or skip a bunch of episodes to get to that point.  Except, of course, there are episodes that are considered unskippable.  THAT is really irritating, although now that there’s going to be almost no other way to level except via episodes, I guess that hindrance is going to be less of an issue.  Yeah, you could do a leveling experience doing nothing but queues, but that’s no easy task.  And there are only so many patrol missions you can do.

Missions like the ones above remind me of just what the Foundry was capable of, and just leads to more regret to see it go.  Next time, hopefully sooner rather than later, I’ll go into detail about the next set of missions planned for Selak-and it draws in part from my scrapped “Cast List Revival Party” plans.

W&M: Final Purity

A rescue where it all began.

Personal Log, Stardate 96759.09.

The Hanne has had it.  The crew knows it, even though nobody talks about it.  Ever since we were forced to go on the run-the frame was masterfully done-we’ve had to avoid Starfleet bases and ports of call.  My people are trying to find a way to unravel this web, but the facts are:  we are on our own.  And because we haven’t been able to clear our names, or repair fully damage taken in battle-including against Starfleet ships, which we continue to avoid firing upon, which means escape is the only option-or even get deserved R&R, the ship has deteriorated swiftly.  I imagine that this isn’t much different than the situation that the USS Voyager faced when it was stranded in the Delta Quadrant.

One big difference:  I’m no Captain Janeway.

Going to the Klingons is out.  The war is still ongoing, although I’ve heard rumors before all of this happened that there is a summit at a Dyson Sphere that was discovered, or something like that.  I can’t go to the Romulan Republic, either.  They’ve made agreements with the Federation as well as the Klingons, and those agreements would include turning us over.

I can only see one option left-one that might have been unthinkable when I was born, but its an option that could let us continue working as a crew, yet give us some cover.

We can seek refuge in the Cardassian Union.  I can bring us to my home.

I’ve made a preliminary gesture towards the Detapa Council, and they seem agreeable.  The plan is for our crew to…well, defect isn’t the right word.  But we’ll join up with their fleet, and we’ll serve with them in a semi-independent capacity.  In return, we get a ship-one of their old Galor-class cruisers-and they agree to return the Hanne to Starfleet, without indicating our whereabouts.  This is sort of a win-win situation for them, and it allows us to continue to explore space as best we can-and surreptitiously aid Starfleet without telling them who we really are.

I wish I could take credit for this plan, but it seems that this is the brainchild of Councilor Elim Garak.  He…has a reputation, and it’s said he was once Obsidian Order.  I don’t know if that’s true, but based on this plan, I’m inclined to believe it.

I hope I’m making the right decision.  We have to be free to find a way out of this mess.  To the Federation, we’re all traitors.  We have to prove otherwise, and we can’t do that in a cell.  We’d most likely be murdered before we ever saw trial by the conspirators.

This will be my final log as an official Starfleet Captain.  I hope that the log on this ship will convince someone of our innocence, but I suspect that it will never get out; the conspiracy is too deep now.  I’ll be taking copies with me to the next ship, but I hope that someone hears my words-and starts to ask the right questions.

Computer, end log.

First, a technical note:  I’d failed to mention that the arc I featured in my last post had been written by Rellimtime82; I’ve since updated the post to include that info.  I like to make sure credit is always given to the authors of these missions.

All right-let’s get the show on the road.  Despite the recent announcement that the Foundry is “dead tool walking”, I’m not about to let it stop my work on Selak.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s a race to the finish to get him to a stopping point before it goes away, because without the Foundry missions, I’m extremely uninclined to retread the standard mission arcs to finish him up.  I’ll keep putting up posts here, although the summaries/reviews/comments on each mission are going to be a lot shorter since I’m not going to take as detailed notes for myself.  I considered not bothering to review the missions either, just mentioning that “these exist”, but the way I see it, if I enjoy an arc enough to comment on it, I should at least remark on it so that others can try to play them before the end-and if they want to tip the authors some Dilithium (I pretty much always tip the max if I make it through their mission) as recognition for their work, all the better.

(And just an FYI:  the character chronicles for Jhusui and Jalot’iklar are still considered “open ended”, based on future episodes featuring either the Discovery-related stuff or Dominion-related stuff, respectively.  Beyond that, new content that doesn’t fall into those neat buckets will just be fodder for my mains.)

So:  on to new business.

As of the last post for my latest Star Trek Online character chronicle, Selak was in a bad, bad place:  he was stranded in the middle of a major cliffhanger in a Foundry arc.  Fortunately, I was close enough to level 40 to power my way through the remaining levels via patrol missions and duty officer missions to get there.  That was a key milestone for the next phase of Selak’s personal arc, because the moment I’d made this Cardassian character, I knew I’d be putting him into a Cardassian ship.  This wasn’t exactly how I had planned on it happening, but I kind of liked it the more I thought about it; if nothing else, this put the character in a similar position with Starfleet that my Orion character, Dathiro, had with the Klingon Empire:  no longer really a part of the organization involved, but still affiliated with it in a haphazard way.

Accordingly, I did a revamp for Selak and his bridge crew as far as their uniforms went.  Fortunately, there’s plenty of options out there to make the characters distinct from the Starfleet standards.  While most of the outfit options are all definitively Starfleet, there was enough to work with to make outfits that were anything but Starfleet.  Selak and a science officer got to go Full Cardassian; I’d always had a Cardassian-style outfit for Selak for his “off-duty” look (even if it wasn’t actually an off-duty uniform as far as the game is concerned), but now I wanted to have a more “official” one for his new status.  I took the liberty of using a T’Pol style outfit for my tactical officer, while using the Mercenary outfit for my medic.  The engineer was a rougher one-I didn’t want to go with a Section 31 look (I had honestly considered them when figuring out where Selak goes from here, but it didn’t fit my long term goals; they may yet be involved later), and I’ve gone all-in with the Intel uniforms with other characters.  So I decided to grab one of the armored looks for him.  Adding to the touches on each character-nobody is using a Starfleet insignia or rank insignia anymore, but I did try to preserve the color coding of departments; red for tactical, blues for sciences, and gold for operations.  (Technically, I should have gone red with Selak himself, but I hadn’t done it for his Starfleet outfit, so why do it with this one?)  At some point, I’ll probably replace one of these (the engineer looking likely) for a Jem’Hadar crew member who will make use of one of their species-specific looks.

So I was all set to have the characters engage in the game without Starfleet.  I could start rolling with Foundry missions.  And to my great surprise and pleasure, Purity VI has been republished-so Selak’s exile was destined to be a short one!  (And after I went through all the uniform changes, too-well, at least it’ll be easy to get them back into Starfleet gear….)  So, let’s hit the conclusion!

Ah, the odd juxtaposition between episode title and activity.

The grand finale of the arc is “Purity VI: Of Sacrifice”, and is authored by drogyn1701.  The source of all the troubles that have been heaped upon your captain is an enemy that everyone thought was long gone (as in, “Enterprise-Era”):  the anti-alien Paxtonites.  (Man, they must’ve REALLY hated my Cardassian captain.)  Your captain is at a temporary loss to do after the climactic events of the previous mission; fortunately, a pair of prisoners in the brig offer the possibility of learning more, especially about the one reference found in previous episodes that hasn’t been encountered yet.  That reference leads to a search for answers, and eventually back to where it all began.  With the proof of your innocence at hand, it’s then time to return to Earth and stop a battle between Starfleet ships by apprehending the prime mover of the plot.

Was that vague enough?  I try to tiptoe my way through this sort of thing, especially when I haven’t put up spoiler tags.  I hope it comes through, though, that this is the Big Finish of the Purity arc and it doesn’t pull out stops-taking you into deep space, back to Megara, a battle above Earth and a chase on the planet culminating in the potential destruction of a VERY recognizable landmark.  The story manages to start tidying up the conspiracy, but at the expense of leaving the situation at Megara mostly unsettled.  There’s a reference to a follow up mission being prepped, but that’s another story for another time.  “Of Sacrifice” does a good job on wrapping up the conspiracy plot that was set in motion by-ah, almost spilled those beans.  I felt that it was a satisfying conclusion, although somewhat incomplete.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way:  because there’s a less publicized mission that stands as an epilogue to the full arc!  “Purity Revisited: Of Peace” is the full wrap-up, by Capt.PFDennis, and it begins with an inquiry with your captain and a heap of Federation ambassadors who want to know just what the heck happened.  It fills in some of the blanks that was left over (such as the reason why the Chameleon Stratagem worked so well, despite the technology to detect such things), and indicating that the Megara situation was more or less independent of the conspiracy-it just got co-opted as a convenient thing by the Paxtonites.  The ambassadors don’t show too much happiness at the whole thing, since this was a “humanity-for-humanity” thing, but there it is.

Because of the captain’s experience with Megara, you’re sent back in charge of a task force to relieve the Obani of the Starfleet weaponry that Admiral Fautor had dumped off.  (There are a few hints as to her true fate; nobody found the body….)  You’re accompanied by an ambassador from the Romulan Republic, who has an interesting viewpoint on the affair; his backstory sheds some light on that.  Unfortunately, the Sajan on Megara have taken matters into their own hands since you’ve been gone, and have called for help from the worst possible place; and the help has come in the form of *#shock* advanced weaponry.  Suddenly, you have to deal with the shoe being on the other foot, and only fast talking, careful diplomacy, and an ability to deal with an enemy who is just as happy to see the Federation’s status in the galaxy take a beating can prevent all-out disaster.

“Of Peace” does more-or-less resolve the situation on Megara, or at least puts it in a place where it may be moving in a positive direction.  There is a feeling of deus ex machina here, but it feels somewhat justified given the source of that and the fact that Megara has been gaining attention due to its resources.  The Federation doesn’t come out of this looking very good, but at least the mess made by the Admiral is at least as cleaned up as it can be.  There is a LOT of story here, a lot of dialogue, and while that’s usually something I consider a strength, there’s a couple places where it isn’t-mainly because things start shooting at you before you’ve completed reading the dialogue boxes.  I enjoyed the debrief at the beginning of the mission as it filled in some blanks, and enjoyed the presence of the new characters who had importance here; the Romulan ambassador with the interesting backstory who believes your captain may well be the only honest one in the Fleet, and another Starfleet captain who has a grudge against you for certain actions taken earlier in the arc and is…let’s just say, not really well suited for life after wartime?  The theme of Starfleet more and more preferring military action to diplomatic action definitely is highlighted here.

As far as Selak’s future goes:  well, like I’d said, I had planned on putting him in Cardassian ships, and there should likely be at least some fallout here.  I’m sure his log entry in the next post of this chronicle will go into the new status quo.  (An amusing aside:  I’d forgotten that, as a purchase made of a Tier-5 ship, it also included an automatic free upgrade to T-5U, which adds console slots and Starship Mastery attributes.  I’d been poking on the STOWiki site, and almost missed the note about it.  D’oh!)  I’m glad I got to run the Purity arc again in full, including a chapter I didn’t know existed until recently.  While the arc has its technical flaws, I feel they’re probably limitations of the Foundry; as a story, it holds up to any arc in the game proper.  And given how many cooks were involved in cooking this up, the missions were impressively consistent with each other.  Every author of these missions has good reason to be proud of this arc; there are professional writers who should do as well.

Death of a Foundry

Well, crap.

It seems that the good folks at Cryptic/PWE are sunsetting the Foundry, the tool used for player generated content in Star Trek Online and in Neverwinter (they aren’t technically the same tool, as Neverwinter’s was more advanced, but still).  The staff has apparently lost enough people to maintain the tool, and the decision was made to shutter it.

I’m…not really happy about this.  Particularly as I’ve been using the Foundry to advance characters and keep the game fresh in STO (as readers are more than aware with the last couple of character chronicles).  At this point, the methods of advancing in the game are pitifully limited:  do the in-game, linear episodes, or do the queues to death.  (Or, I suppose, the battlezones, but I believe some are level gated).  And technically, some old patrol missions, but there ain’t nearly enough of those to get more than a handful of levels.

I had also some big plans for my “Cast List” characters with Foundry missions that…well, they’re just not going to happen now.

Did I mention I’m not happy about this?  I’ve never been a fan of removing content, and this bit is the worst of the bunch.

Well, I was beginning to feel I was spending too much time in STO anyway.  Maybe come April 11, the sunset date for the tool, I’ll shelf STO and start spending more time in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I’ve been meaning to do a chronicle there again soon, and this may be the excuse to do it.  Hopefully, I can put Selak in a decent place before that happens.

W&M: Purity Derailed

At last, an end to the conspiracy…or is it?

Captain’s Log, Supplemental.

With the assistance of Captains Shrall and Pallor, the Hanne has managed to survive the ambushes of the Drakka Ta’Vor.  More concerning is how they knew to ambush us-and where to ambush us-in the first place.  There are, as far as I can guess, two possibilities.  First, Captain Shrall’s turnabout is a falsehood, and he sold us out.  With his ship’s cloaking device, any time I might’ve thought he was out of contact could have been spent alerting the mercenaries.  I don’t want to believe that.  He’s told me he is taking responsibility for his actions and will face Federation justice for his actions, and every instinct within me cries that this man is being honest with me.

Unfortunately, the other possibility isn’t good either; that Commander Darrigan at Spacedock is in on Fautor’s conspiracy.  If that’s true, then I told him everything he needed to know to set up the ambush.  But that would mean that the conspiracy has gotten far too close to Starfleet Command, and even Admiral Kardena-the man who put me on this trail-could be under suspicion.  After all, I have kept hearing about a “Chameleon Strategem”, and that implies “shapeshifter” to me.

Either way, we’ll know soon enough.  We’ve set a trap, assuming the Commander is compromised, either by replacement or by treachery.  I spent my youth on Cardassia; I’m familiar with both.  One way or another, I will have the truth.

I was planning this post to be a closer, honestly; I’d been doing the Purity Foundry arc in Star Trek Online with Captain Kayal, and I was ready to wrap it up.  But I ran into a tiny, minor, almost insignificant problem.

Part six is gone.

I searched the Foundry, I looked high and low.  I logged onto a different, higher level character just in case something in it had caused the level requirement to have jump.  No dice.  And from what I’ve found by doing some searching, it’s not the first time it’s vanished.  And this puts me in a bit of a bind, because honestly, where the character is left after part five is…well, not conducive to most Foundry missions.

So, we’ll see where things go from here.  Part six could magically reappear, but I’m not counting on it; who knows if the author’s even still playing the game.  Unlike the old City of Heroes Mission Architect, I’m not aware of any files created on the local computer when building a Foundry mission, so it’s not like the source could be given to another player to publish.  That’s life for you, I guess.  So things are going to be interesting real soon; I’m not at a complete loss here, but making it work may be tricky.  I have faith in my creativity there, though.

In the meantime, we’ve got at least one Purity mission under the belt, so let’s go!

“Purity V: Of Leadership” by Rellimtime82 is the penultimate mission of the Purity arc, and features an attempt to put an end to the conspiracy.  Of course, things aren’t that simple.  First, you need to find a traitor.  Then, you have to stop the conspiracy from succeeding in a plot to kill a very prominent member of the Federation.

So the first step involves a nice bit of a space battle where you can get some of the whys and wherefores of the plot.  Then it transitions to a boarding party where your crew works to take over the enemy ship.  Questioning and a bit of work on the ship’s computer points to the next phase of the conspiracy’s plan, which sends you off to a planet known and loved:  Vulcan.  At the same time, you’re finally able to make a complete report as to everything you’ve learned to the proper authorities.  A run back to Earth is warranted, and the opposition makes a last ditch attempt to stop you.

And at last, Earth.  Seems like things went pretty smoothly, didn’t it?

That should’ve been the first sign.  Things take a sudden tailspin, a final treachery revealed, and…TO BE CONTINUED!  Arg!

If I’m a bit vague, well, I try not to spoil this deep into the plot.  The mission itself holds together well, and it shows the coordination with the other authors of the Purity arc.  There is a minor pathing issue for bridge officers when invading the enemy ship-force fields apparently aren’t as solid as one might think, at least until your people have gone through them once.  You’d think the devs would have programmed better logic for the officers:  solid objects should not be passed through, officers should be aware of the concept of “yes, I can go through this door-it’s open” and such.  I completed “Of Leadership” satisfied with the mission itself, but unsatisfied with the lack of resolution caused by the disappearance of Part Six.

Hopefully, it’ll make a reappearance at some point.  If not…well, I have ideas.  Stay tuned.

W&M: Purity Is What Purity Does

Hint: This isn’t a cafeteria line.

Captain’s Log, Supplemental.

Our mission on Megara III hasn’t gone as well as we had hoped.  Instead of a straightforward investigation, we’ve had a ship blown out from under us, a civil war with one side using Federation supplied weaponry, and I’m recovering from some vision, or visit to an alternate quantum reality, or timeline, or something.  We are currently sitting on the moon Bilos, without any way off, and with the ionization in the atmosphere making calls to the Hanne impossible.  If we’re fortunate, we can salvage some of the ship wreckage to find a way to get a signal through, so that we can get out of this system and alert Admiral Kardena of the serpent in this garden.

This situation almost reminds me of a history lesson from the Academy on the Prime Directive.  I’ve been trying to think of a better solution than the one Captain James Kirk used, but I’m at a loss.  I can’t see a way out of this that won’t further the cycle of violence between Sajan and Obani….

This time, I take a look at the middle section of the Foundry arc “Purity” in Star Trek Online.  We left the Captain in a bad place-stranded on a moon and having gone through something that may or may not have exposed him to a hidden history-or maybe propaganda.  Can you really be certain on an alien world?  Meanwhile, a conspiracy is threatened, and a civil war is continuing (although it’s a fairly one-sided affair, thanks to the aforementioned conspiracy).  The Prime Directive is taking a beating.  Can even a Starfleet captain put things to rights?

Well.  We won’t find out on this one.  But we do find out that things may be bigger than they seem.

Things have gone to hell when Starfleet is fighting Starfleet.

“Purity III: Of Honor” is the contribution of Capt PFDennis.  It picks up after the mind-screw and apparent “death” of you and your crew.  (Hence, the mind-screw.)  After dealing with the immediate aftermath of the previous episode, it puts you more or less where you may have expected to be after the first episode:  stuck on a planet.  There’s some good news and bad news to discovery, though:  there may be a way to communicate with your ship.  The bad news is that Bilos isn’t uninhabited, and it involves a situation that makes the Obani/Sajan war even worse.  Players may have run into a point where they figured “a plague on both their houses”, but it becomes apparent just who the “bad guys” are in this time and place.  Sadistic bastards….

You also get to find out the truth about your excursion in the previous episode; kudos for not having that one linger for an extended period.

The story was a pretty good one, it built on what had come before, and the set pieces were well constructed.  Waypoints were a bit of an issue here; all the maps here are ground maps, and some of the destinations your mission told you to go to didn’t have the standard “green dashed circle” to guide you.  A couple had ground equivalents to the beacons you’d find on a space map, but if you aren’t used to that, it can be a little frustrating.  Fortunately, the maps are not so large and so complex that you can’t work out where to go-you’ll find your way eventually.

The mission closes on a rescue-or perhaps a pressured rescue, because being on the ground as a target of orbital bombardment is never fun.  I guess it’s a truism that blowing up buildings and other structures from orbit is easier than trying to hit man-sized moving targets.  And we do end on a cliffhanger-but since I’m looking over this arc two at a time….

We pick up in “Purity IV: Of Vision”, by Castmodean.  We pick up back on board your ship, and the flagship of the treacherous Admiral gunning for you.  You get to exercise that space combat skill (which, honestly, most people in the game have no problem with; space combat’s always been more popular, from what I keep seeing) and stop the flagship and a few other annoyances.  This gets followed up by a boarding party onto said flagship, where you can learn a lot more (with patience) about the conspiracy-and yes, at this point, it becomes obvious that this is about more than a single world.  There’s similar issues with waypoints here, but as everything is basically hallways, it’s not hard to work out.  I give full props for the part involving getting information from the computer about the conspiracy-for a framework that doesn’t allow the usual minigames to figure out puzzles, the author did a good job an creating a dialogue-based one to get the information you need.  (No worries if you can’t; the info does kind of fall into your lap later.)  There’s also a warning on the usual bridge officer pathing, but remarkably, I didn’t encounter this.  I may have gotten lucky, or maybe the AI has improved for this sort of map.

After that, it’s off to another planet to follow up on this conspiracy and get more information, which adds to our cast of characters with a band of mercenaries and a Starfleet Captain who may have come to see the error of his ways.  However, an event en-route to Earth may place him under suspicion…or worse, someone at Earth Spacedock…!

So far, enjoying the Purity arc.  It helps that I’ve been taking notes in prep to put up these posts, because they help me keep track of where the plot’s been and where it’s going-I seem to recall that I had trouble keeping up the first time I did this.  Then again, I think the episodes weren’t released all at once at the time, so I had plenty of time to forget details.  Much better this time around-I recommend that readers don’t do what I’m doing and only do a couple a week-it’s probably a LOT better when you do them all in one sitting.  (It’ll also probably be faster than it takes me, since I’m taking all these notes so I can comment on the missions properly!)

Next time, we close out the Purity arc, and evaluate where Selak is in his chronicle.

A side note:  I did manage to finish the 9th anniversary event reputation for the Vulcan ship, and since it’s sort of Discovery-era looking, it’s likely to go to the obvious choice:  Jhudsui will be flying it, in that distant future when he finally can fly T6 ships.

JJ: Ninth Anniversary (Or: Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together)

I’m not sure how wise it was to visit a Mirror Universe ship with just my away team.

Personal Log, Stardate 96668.50.  I think I may be finally getting the hang of the Stardate system.

It has been weeks since my arrival in this time frame, and the war against the Klingons here is going about as well as the war was in my time frame.  No, no, that’s not quite true; we haven’t lost Earth Spacedock, and Starfleet is holding its own.  Somewhere in the river of time, Starfleet has learned how to fight wars.  My continuing education of future history speaks of a great conflict against a “dominion”, which drove much in the way of innovation of war technologies and training.  Exploring space has been reduced to a secondary priority, which is a pity.

It has also caused trouble in my search for J’Ula.  Daniels indicated that J’Ula has come here to this time frame as well, but I have not seen her.  This bothers me more than I care to admit; while her ship was obviously advanced for her time, the ships of this time are far stronger.  I had expected to hear that she had joined up with the Klingons of this time frame, but if she has, she’s been quiet about it.  J’Ula was a canny foe in our time frame.  I worry about how she will exploit the events of this one.

For now, though, we have been called away from the front lines to investigate a possible problem in the Pahvo system.  A Vulcan scientist has lost contact with his team on the planet due to an ion storm, and he is concerned about the collateral damage it may cause.  We’ve been ordered to render assistance.  This will be at least a pleasant break from the war-missions of late, and I look forward to, as humans say, “lending a hand”.

For the future.  End Log Entry.  Save.

The Ninth Anniversary of Star Trek Online has landed, and it comes with not one, but two new episodes.  (I had to pause when typing that.  Nine years?)  I’d have made them one episode, but I guess the devs were either going for a feeling of a two-parter like you see on the shows, or they figure that it would take too long for the average gamer to complete as a single episode.  Regardless:  we’re looking at a pair of episodes that draw on not just one, but two of Star Trek’s favorite tropes:  time travel, and the Mirror Universe.  Crazy stuff, right?

But before I go into my thoughts on the episodes, let’s look at the other anniversary related goings on.  First and foremost, there’s a new ship that you can earn by running content daily (specifically, the Omega molecule collection); that hasn’t changed in years, so anyone who’s been around for the last few know the deal by now.  You can get a big jump on the vouchers needed for the ship-a Vulcan scout ship that I suspect hails from the Discovery era, since I sure don’t recall having seen it anywhere-by running both of the new episodes.  Worth noting that, as usual, unlocking this for one character unlocks it for all of your characters, so it’s not like you have to run this with every character you have (for which I am profoundly grateful).  Previous anniversary ships may also be completed with the vouchers from this year, if you had that project slotted from last year and for some reason didn’t finish (like, say, me).

There’s a new lockbox floating around, too.  If you were looking for the new Mirror Universe outfits to show up in the C-store, well…guess again.  As usual, you may or may not have better luck hoping to catch them on the Exchange; I’m not sure how often they drop, so don’t expect cheap sales.  Again, I’ve no great connection to “Star Trek: Discovery”, so it doesn’t really grab me at all.  There have also been flash sales going on this week; today’s a Based-On-The-Discovery-Era T6 ship (because of course there is), for example.  It pays to pay attention to the main site’s home page.  These sales have been generally 24 hour affairs, so if something you like pops up, act fast.

Another update impacts “Personal Endeavors”.  These are sort of mini-missions; in fact, they’re pretty much the same Endeavor system we had up to now, except it comes in three varieties.  Loosely speaking, “Easy”, “Moderate” and “Hard”.  It’s not so much that the Hard ones are hard, granted-fact is, if I’d wanted to hunt down opponents who threw destructible torpedoes at me to shoot down, it would be a fairly easy task to hunt down a Romulan deep-space encounter, as an example.  But it does reflect the general amount of time to finish, and completing them gives you a box of random goodies, which could be anything from energy credits (expect these to be the most common) to dilithium, to captain specialization points.  It’ll also give special experience, which can lead to gaining “perk points”; this allow you to up a random stat for characters by a smidgen.  For every character on your account.  That’s a helpful detail for the altoholics.  (The original Endeavor system, incidentally is not going away; it’s simply being called “Universal Endeavors” now.  Nothing about that has changed, but honestly, I almost never wound up doing those.

As usual, I have a break here to allow those who don’t want the spoilage about the new content a chance to avoid being spoiled by this post.  So if you want to remain completely free of knowledge so you can discover it for yourself, stop here!  Otherwise, read on, and see my thoughts on the new episodes.

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