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Episode 1

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Star Trek Online is one of my favourite online games. While it may not be hewing very closely to what you might think of as Trek, it is still one of the best video implementations of it that has come out; because let’s be real here, most of what you would consider “Trek” is things that would be hard to make a game around anyway.

Star Trek Online was made by Cryptic Studios, and uses the same engine as their other title, Champions Online. It also has a similar character editor, though for obvious reasons some options are not quite as fully featured. Cryptic’s strength has always been in it’s high degree of customization, and while Star Trek Online is less-so of that then Champions, it still has way more then you would have expected from any MMO, let alone this kind.

Star Trek Online is currently Free-to-play, so anyone who wishes to join in in certainly welcome to!

In this series I plan to record a video of every mission in the game, which means that as special events come up I may deviate from the storyline I was following, or may switch characters if it’s an event that, well. I would be more benefited from if I did it on my main instead of this character. But first, this is the part where you, the viewers, come in!

As mentioned in the video, there’s a number of default races as well as an alien generator available when you choose to make a new character. What I’m looking for from you is four things:

1) What class do you want me to play as? In terms of what a player can do, there’s not much that’s limited by your class, though some missions have optional side objectives that people of specific classes are able to complete, and there’s also the various unique abilities, which you can view at the STO Wiki.

2) What race do you want me to play as? The races available to the Federation, as well as their special abilities, can be found at the STO Wiki. For the most part, the choice of race isn’t important, as they are designed to impart small bonuses

3) What ship category do you want me to focus on? This question is less important, though. Over the course of this series, I will attempt to show off as many of STO’s ships as I can, as I do happen to own… quite a lot of them. But what ship type I would focus on also affects what skills I should put points into as I level, be it focusing on the “exotic” powers or on weapons or on defenses. Like with the other 2 questions, details about the kinds of ships I can fly can be found on the STO Wiki. There’s 3 major ship categories in Star Trek Online, that I cover briefly in the video: Cruisers, Science Vessels, and Escorts.

Cruisers are the workhorses of the Federation. They’re large, carry lots of people and equipment, and have the best defenses. They can fulfill any role, but are masters of none. Since Cruisers are generally so large, they tend to have poor maneuverability. This generally results in combat tactics for a Cruiser to be “circle-strafing” the enemy, allowing all of your beams to fire in a massive fussilade.  For an in-series example of a Cruiser, every starship to bear the name Enterprise in Star Trek (minus one) is considered a Cruiser in STO.

Science Vessels are where the science happens. These ships were generally built for research, exploration, and to be incredibly ugly. In STO, these ships tend to have strong shields, but weak armour. Good maneuverability, but few weapons. They’re very much the idea of a support ship. All Science Vessels have 2 inherent abilities: The first is Sensor Analysis, which gives  a stacking buff to damage against a target the longer you have them selected, but is lost when you change targets. The second is that they inherently get all the subsystem targeting powers as a ship ability, when other ships need to get these powers from somewhere else. An in-series example of a Science Vessel is the USS Voyager.

Escorts are the fighters of the Federation. These ships are built primarily for combat, and are good at it. They tend to be small, and have relatively weaker hulls and shields, but are fast and maneuverable, while also able to equip beam cannons which can deal more damage then regular beams. Generally, an Escort would be doing fly-by attacks on an enemy, as the cannon weapons have a very thin arc of fire. An in-series example of an Escort is the USS Defiant and the USS Prometheus, though the Akira-class is also considered one.

A sub-type of the Science Vessel is the Carrier. Carriers are more common on the Klingon side, but the Federation has a few of their own that they got access to recently. Carriers are capable of having hangar bays that they can use to deploy small ships which can be used to attack enemies. As a result, Carriers tend to act more like a mix of Cruisers and Science Vessels: They have the reduced weapons and abilities of a Science Vessel, but they have the speed and maneuverability of a Cruiser. Carriers themselves are split into 2 main types: Carriers and Escort Carriers. Escort Carriers are a funny one, in that they tend to be much more aggressive ships in both weapons and maneuverability, in exchange for reduced hangar capability. In this sense, they’re more like an Escort mixed with a Science Vessel instead, but they don’t have the Sensor Analysis or subsystem targeting powers. As Carriers are fairly uncommon in Star Trek, there aren’t really many canon ones, however the Akira-class was originally designed to be a sort of carrier, so Cryptic has made a variant of the Akira as an Escort Carrier.

4) A name! STO allows for a first, middle, last, and nickname. The nickname being what is generally used to refer to you by. Due to the way Cryptic handles character names, these don’t have to be unique from other players, though it does have to be unique from my other characters. And I believe that it only looks at the nickname for that, and doesn’t  care if you happened to give all your characters the same full name.

That’s it for my introduction. Next time, I’ll actually build my character, and start the tutorial. Until then, please feel free to comment or ask questions. For those reading this update on my blog, you can join in on the conversation at Talking Time!

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