Two of the new PvE group content (No Win Scenario, a space combat survival mode, and the ground-based Colony Invasion) has been on the Tribble Test Shard for a couple weeks now, but yesterday the first update to what will be the real meat of Season 6 was pushed to Tribble: Fleet Starbases!
Here are the full patch notes for ST.20.20120617b.6 at Google Docs. As far as I know, they are not officially posted in forum or non-Google Docs format yet and probably won’t be until at least Monday when the Cryptic folk come back to work.
The update covers three things: New Group Content (both Public and Fleet-only), several new UI changes, then of course the Starbases themselves along with the starbase advancement system.
This post will be a huge wall of text and image-intensive, so I’ll put a break here to make it easier on the folk who don’t want to render the whole thing.
Unfortunately, I haven’t played much of the new group content yet, so I will be unable to elaborate for this post. I did manage to get into a Starbase Blockade from the PvE Queue so that was public content, and it was quite fun! That’s the only thing I’ve been able to do yet, though. I queued for another one called Starbase Fleet Defense but there’s a bug in the system where Federation players are being pulled into the KDF player’s queues! In some cases, such as mine, I was unable to target anything whatsoever except the Klingon starbase itself. Meanwhile, I got to watch Federation and KDF players duke it out. Keep in mind, this is all from the PvE Queue so I don’t think anyone was expecting PvP to be present! Although it’s a good idea for a new PvP map, so maybe it was intentional? No one seems to know. Finally, I’ve tried multiple times to queue up to defend my fleet starbase but it keeps kicking us out once the timer counts down. Needless to say, I expect a patch for this stuff next week, because it’s glitchy as hell right now. But that’s why it’s on the test server, right?
[Update] I finally managed to get into a Starbase Fleet Defense. It’s a 20-person event, with everyone auto-grouped into four standard 5-person groups. There are multiple objectives and at least three “waves” so to speak with voiceovers between each wave indicating when you should return to the center starbase to protect it or fly out to defend one of the other points. That was a lot of fun being in a larger-scale PvE space battles! I’m looking forward to doing these on Holodeck with my real character.
One of the first things players will notice is the minimap / radar has been updated again. First things’ first: remember the account linking drama I mentioned? Well, here we go: the C-Store is now the Zen Store.
Gentlemen, start your bitching! So far the update is graphical only, the prices have not been converted from C-Point values into their new Zen values yet. But still, the whole Zen thing is ugly and, let’s face it, doesn’t sound like something you expect in a Western game no matter who publishes it. I just think this is being handled very poorly on Perfect World Entertainment’s part, and I’m not alone in that. But I digress.
Ok, back to the minimap or radar:
The C-Store button is now the Zen Store (or I suppose, the Z-Store?). The Dilithium Store and Duty Officer buttons are the same, but then we see the PvP Queue button has been replaced with the PvE Queue which is utilized much more often by the players. The PvP Queue is now in the drop down menu. Finally, the brand-new button brings up the new Fleet UI, which I will get to later.
Part of the new Fleet Starbase system and fleet-only content are Federation Fleet Alerts which will pop up randomly during normal game play.
When an alert appears, clicking will let you join the queue. Assuming the queue would actually work… /cough The event also appears in the normal PvE Queue UI so you can join from there, and I’ve heard of players having more success today joining that way than from the Alert UI. Go figure.
The “paper doll” on your character sheet has also been updated with buttons to toggle visuals on or off easier. Nothing for your ship yet, you still have to do it the old-fashioned way for now.
The Duty Officer and Commendation UI has all-new icons, presenting a cleaner (though somewhat more “boxy”) appearance. The icons for assignments are updated, and commendation are now in color rather than the monochromatic light-blue.
Finally, the Assets tab from your inventory has been updated to show your Fleet Credits and Marks.
Ok, before you guys hunt me down and beat me senseless, let’s finally show off the Fleet Starbases!
Federation Fleet Starbases
[Apologies to the awesome KDF player base, I only have the one Federation character on Tribble, which was not copied from Holodeck but leveled on Tribble many moons ago.]
In keeping with the previous category, first the new Fleet UI:
This is the Overview which shows at a glance your fleet’s advancement status. Clicking the Holdings tab is where you get to all the advancement tiers and the available projects you may be able to contribute to.
As you can see, I joined the official Cryptic Tribble fleet, so our base is named Heretic Base One, after former Senior Systems Designer Geoff “Heretic” Tuffli who designed the Duty Officer system and the Fleet Starbase system. At the time this screenshot was taken, we had 960 Fleet XP (FXP) and as the UI shows, Starbase Tier 1 unlocks at 1,000 FXP. I’m writing this a couple hours later and we are well over 1,000 FXP now but the Cryptic developers do not work weekends, so no one is around to handle the advancement to Tier 1. So, there’s your first lesson: advancement is not automatic, an officer must be online to do it!
Here’s an example of one of the projects. The fleet had already taken care of the other requirements, which in this case were various commodities and five Trader duty officers but we haven’t quite earned enough Fleet Marks to finish it. I earned 15 Fleet Marks in the Starbase Blockade event I mentioned at the beginning of the post, so I contributed 10 of them to the cause.
The current conversion rate is 50 Fleet Credits per Fleet Mark, so contributing 10 Fleet Marks to this assignment earned me 500 Fleet Credits which can be used for other things.
As for what type of things we have to spend on these projects, so far all the Tier 0 ones I’ve seen used commodities. Some required various R&D data samples, some required dilithium, some required bridge officer skill points, some required duty officers (it also specifies which type or department of duty officer, and which rarity (color) must be used), and I even saw one that required nine Peregrin fighters. So this is going to take a bit more effort for the long-haul than simply clicking away like we can often get away with in the Duty Officer system.
Starbase Projects are divided into the three main departments: Military (instead of Tactical for some reason), Operations, and Science. Completing projects in each of these will earn large amounts (each of the Tier 0 projects rewarded 1,000) of Fleet XP for that department. In other words, a Military project will award Military FXP and so on. What we have not been able to verify yet is whether or not FXP from the departments all count toward the generic “FXP the fleet uses to advance the starbase itself toward the next tier or not. I suspect so, however.
Below the departmental projects you may have some available Special Projects, such as the one I contributed to above. These reward much smaller amounts of FXP but contribute towards each department’s FXP. The one above awarded 80 FXP to each department, for example.
How Do I Get There?
For now, the Federation Fleet Starbases are located in the Eta Eridani sector to the “southwest” of Deep Space K-7. On the sector map is a new waypoint, Federation Fleet System which looks like this in sector space:
Interacting with the waypoint will load you into your own fleet’s starbase system. Currently, I am unaware if there is any mechanism to allow a fleet to invite non-fleet members to visit their starbase. Loading into the Cryptic Tribbles system, here is Heretic Base One at Tier 0:
At Tier 0 the starbase is a mere skeleton of metal and scaffolding. No finished interior can be seen and one certainly would not expect life support to be enabled yet, but… it’s all a lie! The interior is present and can be explored despite the appearance at Tier 0. Achieving each new Starbase Tier will upgrade the appearance while in system space.
I have a habit of recording demos so I’ve already noticed that the actual Starbase interior is located on top of the station. Yet from the Tier 0 skeleton, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a place for it, much less the way the actual interior map has been created. Allow me to demonstrate:
Here’s a closer view of the top of the Tier 0 starbase skeleton. A huge towering antenna and what looks to be a rather narrow top. The actual top when completed will be a large domed station very similar to Earth Spacedock, however, so don’t let this early version fool you.
Here is an outside view of the Starbase interior, though. As you can see it’s located at the very top of the station but in a completely different layout than any of the Starbase designs. But there’s no way to get this view without recording a demo and going free camera with it, so most players may not put two and two together that the picture we’re seeing inside may not match the outside, and vice-versa.
Let’s take a peek inside, shall we?
Just like Earth Spacedock, we arrive in the transporter room. From there, we are in the Starbase main room on the Ops deck.
Starbases have pretty much every feature anyone could ask for except the Exchange and R&D. You can check your mail and bank here in the main Ops room. There are two ramps leading down to other rooms, one of which is Requisitions where visit the Tailor, select and customize your starship, or browse the fleet vendors. The other room has a Bridge Officer Skill Trainer and other Services.
This could potentially be a concern. Remember how Turbine was (and still is) reluctant to allow most services in the Housing instances of Lord of the Rings Online for fear of causing the social hubs to be deserted? Earth Spacedock was once the busiest social hub in Star Trek Online, and is still very busy though Deep Space 9 is now the busiest simply because the STF Vendors are there, plus all the role-players in Quark’s bar. Now we can do nearly everything except the Exchange (and STF Vendors) in our own Starbases, so it’s possible Cryptic – and more importantly, we the players – just might put Turbine’s fears to the test. It will be an interesting experiment to see if players end up still flocking to the main social starbases for local chat and to see other players or if people start hiding away in the fleet starbases.
Near (too near, in my opinion) the mail terminal is a turbolift where you can visit the other three departments. Similar to Earth Spacedock, the turbolift door does not open from the main room, but does from inside the smaller departments. /fistshake The carpeting in each department is the same as the uniform colors for that profession, so you’ll always know which deck you are visiting. I did notice that despite using the term Military Department for your Starbase, the turbolift takes you to Tactical. We’ll see if that gets changed.
This is the main room in Operations. Not sure what the big glowy thing is but hey, big glowy things are always cool in video games…
This is the main “war room?” of the
Military Tactical Department. Someone on the forums suspected this room was re-used from one the missions but I don’t know. There is also a ready room off the left side of this room, which looks fairly similar to the Captain’s ready room on a ship interior.
See? There’s even a Medical Treatment Officer in Sick Bay!
Each department is more than the main rooms I showed here but these are the highlights. There are also NPCs that will offer Duty Officer assignments but at Tier 0 all those are locked out, unfortunately.
All in all, I’m really liking Fleet Starbases and the little bit of the new group content I’ve had the chance to participate in. Starbase advancement is a long-term project, much like the Duty Officer system, and that is no coincidence since both were the brainchild of Geoff “Heretic” Tuffli, who resigned as Senior System Designer from Cryptic a few days ago to pursue another position he was offered. Tribble has accelerated advancement and right now we are guesstimating 8 days and change from Tier 0 to Tier 1. Developers have stated once Season 6 goes live to the Holodeck shard they expect an active fleet to take 3 to 4 weeks to reach Tier 1, and much longer for each additional tier.
We’ve already found some glitches or exploits that need to be addressed, such as spending Bridge Officer Skill Points awarding the player with 20 Fleet Credits per skill point spent on a Starbase Project, which drastically throws off the leaderboard. Plus the problems queuing for the Fleet Defense alerts, accidentally putting players in cross-faction PvE, and other things. This is a real beta test for Season 6!