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'Weekly Episodes' Coming To Star Trek Online 62

As Star Trek Online ramps up for its Season 2 patch, the game's executive producer, Daniel Stahl, spoke in an interview about an interesting new feature: weekly episodes. Quoting: "The team has wanted to capture the spirit of the TV shows by having something new to look forward to each week. We all remember when the various series were in full swing and there was the anticipation of tuning in every week to see what happened next. It wasn't always a continuing story, but it was always Star Trek in some way or another, and over time you became familiar with the characters and plots that developed. We are curious to see if this can be replicated through the game. Every week we plan to have something new for players to do. Sometimes it could be getting an assignment to resolve a trade dispute between two races. Other weeks it could be making First Contact with a new alien race. Other weeks you might find yourself deep in trouble and have to find a solution to your predicament."
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'Weekly Episodes' Coming To Star Trek Online

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm still waiting to walk down the corridors and crawl through the Jefferies Tubes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ifandbut ( 1328775 )

      I am not 100% up to date on STO development but I believe some corridors and a few mini-games are suposed to be in for season 2.

  • by Merls the Sneaky ( 1031058 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @02:31AM (#32910214)

    Space game was great but the ground game was shallow, boring and not fun (it was like playing CoH without the superpowers). Too bad I had such high hopes for it. If they can fix the ground game up I would probably purchase a lifetime sub.

    Maybe if a game studio other than cryptic had made it it would have been awesome.

    Disclaimer: I know some people like all aspects, I personally could not get into the away mission part of the game. I absolutely loved the space part though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Couldn't agree more. The space battles were ridiculously fun -- even though after a few weeks it just felt a bit grindy (but still kinda fun). Away missions, not so much. Instead of just proceeding to the next Objective To Kill Badguys, it would've been more entertaining if it was more like a branching quest where your actions determined the outcome based on that mission's story, rather than just being more or less on rails with a predetermined ending each time.

      It seems as if the devs mean well, and r
      • by nura78 ( 757740 )
        A mass effect type dialog tree might be in order perhaps. I don't know how they could implement something the way the game engine currently stands.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I would totally settle for a few dialogue trees between fights in an away mission if it meant that your choices affect the outcome of that mission's story. (And I highly doubt that such a simple thing is beyond the capabilities of the game engine.) It'd be a damn sight better than the linear missions they have now. Sure, you can choose what order to kill stuff, but the end result is always the same; keep fighting to the next point, respawning as needed (respawning? wtf...).
          • by smcn ( 87571 )

            I really hope BioWare implementing Mass Effect-like multi-player dialogue in TOR will start a trend. One of the first quests I did in WoW's Cataclysm beta even has a morality choice, though I doubt it has much of an impact on the outcome of the questline.

            • It's been leaked that City of Heroes is doing dialogue trees in the next major release, so it's coming. If Warcraft does it, everyone will.

      • I Joined up 3 days ago, created a science officer and have been dissapointed that EVERY mission has me as a soldier, no exploration, no boldly going where no toon has gone before just travel to here, beam down, fight a 1 man war then rinse lather repeat. When i do get a mission thats not combat based it usually takes all of 5 mins for it to degenerate into a frag fest. Its a shame too as theres a lot of things it does well, but for me it completly misses the point that star trek is not star wars. Ive got 2

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ifandbut ( 1328775 )

      I enjoyed the time I spent with the game. I got one character to max level and did a few raids all in my first free month. I tried to level a second character but I was doing the exact same missions in mostly the exact same way as my first character (I did not touch Klink cause I hate pvp).

      I still plan on coming back for season two and enjoy all the cool additions (ready rooms for one).

      I enjoy the time I spend with STO but it does not have the staying power that WoW or Final Fantasy for me.

    • The game has been changing drastically since launched, season 2 it is gonna be a huge change again for the better, like 10x better then season 1 patch.
    • Dunno, I actually liked the ground game too. Charging in with a bat'leth was a nice adrenaline rush. Granted, it wasn't something deep or complicated or with tremendous lasting power either, but sometimes playing slice-a-mole with the Romulans is good fun anyway :P

    • Glad you're enjoying it.

      I found PvE space combat to be ridiculously boring. Fly forward, hold D to start circling my target, and let phaser turrets and photo torpedoes auto-fire until it's dead. Select next target. Hold A this time so the enemy wears down a different shield facing. Repeat. Occasionally press F to scan something. PvP combat at least had enough "oh crap I'm being primaried aaaaaaand I'm dead" excitement to keep me somewhat interested.

      Ground combat wasn't any better: walk forward, fire a
    • I agree, but for a different reason -- I literally can't play the ground game when there are more than about 5 people around (It takes me about 45 minutes just to switch ships at spacedock)!. I mean seriously, Cryptic, is it that much harder to render 5 or 6 people walking around than it is to render massive spacefights flawlessly? Even twenty-man fleet actions seem to work fairly good.
    • I didn't like the space part myself. Not high level, but it felt that most of the time I was flying around trying to get to the next place where something happened. When combat happened it was slow as well. Ground based was pretty silly for the most part, either run to a set of locations and scan them (or at least click on them), or else quick combat of the "kill everything that moves" variety. Ie, take an hour of a tv episode, strip out all plot and characterization and end up with 5 minutes of gamepla
    • The ground game sucked on the "random" encounters. They were completely dull and boring. The big scripted ground events were absurdly fun--for example, the one where you rescue diplomats at the beachfront starbase. It felt like a movie.

    • by Eudial ( 590661 )

      I feel much the same. Besides being very repetitive, ground combat does -not- deal with high-ping connections well (which means that it's going to suck unless you live in the US). It requires you to quickly respond to combat events . Except, the quickest you could possibly hope to respond is in 150ms, and that is if you guessed what was going to happen and responded before you saw it on screen.

  • by mykos ( 1627575 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @02:32AM (#32910218)
    There haven't been very many worldwide events in the current leading MMORPG. The gates of Ahn Quiraj was probably the coolest (and laggiest!) event I ever experienced before I quit.

    I don't play STO, but I approve of any developer effort to keep a sense of wonder in the world.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 )

      AQ opening, the undead invasion when Naxx 40 launched, the undead invasion for Lich King, the Sunwell event are big ones.

      Now the holiday events are big - Christmas, Lunar New Year, Children's Week, Love Fest, Halloween, Brewfest, Nobelgarden, Pilgrim's Week

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        there's going to be drives to free the currently occupied fourth capitals of both factions--the troll home islands and the gnome city--sometime this fall as part of the ramp up to cataclysm. sort of like the materials drive that led up to AQ.

    • The most memorable events for me were from Asheron's Call. The whole PK Baelzharon event was fantastic. Devs would log in as the characters and play out their parts, and the players had an effect on what was going on.

  • Cosmic Retribution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rollgunner ( 630808 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @02:39AM (#32910244)
    For every Balance of Terror, the universe demands a Spock's Brain...

    Seriously... I wonder how long they'll be able to keep it up until all that's left is... well... Spock's Brain 'episodes'.
  • by boundary ( 1226600 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @02:47AM (#32910284)
    Too short to base a reliable release-to-live cycle around, at least, especially when dealing with the complexity of MMOs and the legendary lack of forgiveness of MMO players. So unless they have a bucketload of these weekly releases already saved up, and fully integration tested, I'm betting that these will soon start to slip to weekly-and-a-day, then weekly-and-2-days, then they'll move them to fortnightly. Then scrap the idea entirely.
    • A week is short even to make TV Soaps. How do they do it? Typically, the soaps are shot continuously for an entire season and delivered piece meal over several weeks. I suspect the model will be quite similar here too.
      • Yes I agree that they'll have a bunch of stuff lined up, but software's much more difficult to produce *well* than teevee will ever be. And a week's still too short a schedule to *reliably* release new content. With a release schedule this frequent, we'll see speed wobbles at Warp 9.
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I don't know about that, the guy is vague enough that he could satisfy his goals through the introduction of a chain of 5 quests (or whatever the STO equiv is).

          Sometimes it could be getting an assignment to resolve a trade dispute between two races. Other weeks it could be making First Contact with a new alien race. Other weeks you might find yourself deep in trouble and have to find a solution to your predicament.

          He didn't elaborate any further in the article so there doesn't seem to be any reason to assume it would be something complex.

      • They could take a leaf from a Japanese anime show called "Naruto". It's been airing new episodes [i]every week[/i] since [i]2002[/i]. In that time there have [i]also[/i] been 6 movies, with a 7th due shortly.

        Just to show that it can be done.

        • Bullcrap. Pressed the wrong button on the preview after I realised which site I was on.
          Should have looked like this:

          They could take a leaf from a Japanese anime show called "Naruto". It's been airing new episodes every week since 2002. In that time there have also been 6 movies, with a 7th due shortly.

          Just to show that it can be done.

        • Well, they do make horrendously massive use of recaps, footage recycling and fillers. If you removed all the fillers and recaps then barely half the show would remain.

    • Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maroberts ( 15852 )

      Assuming the budget is big enough, you have a set of development teams working on a cycle of independent episodes.

      e.g if you have 4 or 5 teams, each team only has to release one episode per month.

      I would also presume that the MMO already has the generalised rules for handling quests built in, so its a matter of generating a scenario within the MMO, not coding the MMO itself

    • by zwei2stein ( 782480 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @04:41AM (#32910740) Homepage

      Chances are, it would be content and not code. If they have good tools and people experienced at using them, it really can be that fast (week is ample time to create modest quest chain in Bethesda engine for example, and i do not expect moroe than modest half an hour mission for each weekly episode).

      It is differece between adding new feature to CMS and writing new article.

      Furthemore, chances are that they have several team working on different episodes and alternating in releasing. They could as well have two-three-month release cycle.

    • Patch monthly, turn the NPC on for the next quest stage weekly. Done! AC has been doing it for a while and it seems to work well for them. The problem is it means monthly patching, which from all reports out of classic AC is really really rough on the dev team and burns them out quickly. They seem to have cut back the amount of content each month just a little, which seems like enough to let the team handle it nowdays, so STO could maybe make it work.

      Then again how much new content do you need to entertain

  • I really hope they pull this off, one of the things I really liked about Asherons Call from Turbine was the monthly updates and I played that for years thanks to the constant "hit" of new stuff.

    From what I've seen of the engine (In both Cryptic games), I think they have some very good tools and can add stuff very quickly, so I think they may actually do it

  • by Robotron23 ( 832528 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @04:57AM (#32910792)

    All I've heard about this MMORPG is its mediocrity. Whether it be its mixed reviews, low scores from players across all the review sites - or simply the fact that Star Trek Online does little to actually expand the frontiers of MMOGs; the glaring fact is that STO is just a forgettable game that is too entrenched in tried-and-tested formula to merit excitement. The grinding crutch that most games of the genre rely upon to retain players is very much intact in STO. I guess for diehard fans who make up much of the game's audience it can provide a great experience in the Trek universe, and there were clearly some competant artists employed to recreate Trek in this fashion.

    However whereas EVE which is unique among MMOGs int that actually carving out an adventure or saga of one's own which can (albeit rarely) become something significant for many and even 'make history' as it were...STO just doesn't offer that. A friend of mine who partook in the beta lamented the lack of ease in gathering people together for activity, and as you'd expect from something so generic the philosophical and wondrous elements of finer episodes of Trek are mostly absent too.

    If one is looking to experience life in the Trek universe then - as is true with many well-established franchises - one can look to past consoles and eras for Trek themed games: I don't mean pedestrian FPSs like Voyager Elite Force, but earlier with consoles such as the Amiga or early Windows titles: Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Final Unity and the 25th Anneversary edition (for fans of the original 1960s show). Oh yeah, more recent is Bridge Commander which I personally enjoyed for a good long while back in 2003.

    Primarily it's these two that stood out in the 1990s era, but there are more worth playing: This page [] is a good point of reference. Acquiring the titles on PC whether emulated or not is not too much trouble in many cases with the titles mentioned.

    • What to say about this game? It is not as bad as the reviewers are saying.

      * It have a lot of bugs. It still feels like it should have been a beta.
      * It has the most non-combat missions i've ever seen in an MMO. A lot (relatively) of missions is just "beam down, talk to a person, go to another person, scan something, done!".
      * The most fun aspect of the game is ship combat, both PvP and PvE. If you liked Pirates of the Burning Sea for its ship combat (and didn't care much for the pirate theme) then you wil
      • Bridge Commander felt like playing an above-average plot arc during one of the later TNG or DS9 seasons; the staff on board for the writing fits with this concept. A notable exception was that you as the commander never went on away missions - navigating an area on a planet was never implemented.

        The gaming did become repititive; hitting the underside of a few Cardassian Galors with torpedos became less a novel strategy and more routine humdrum. I did get about 30-40 hours out of it which isn't bad for a gam

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      EvE is unique among MMOs in that your actions can really affect the game world. It's not a gear grind where the whole purpose of everything you do is to obtain the latest uber gear which will be obsolete in the next patch. A newbie can hop in a frigate and make as much of a difference in PvP as a 5 year player in a titan. It's really about the player corporations that carve out their own chunks of space and how well they manage to hold it. The people who are playing make their own story.
    • I can't disagree with any of those criticisms, but it's not a terrible game. A number of the missions, I thought, were well-done and interesting (though as another poster noted, for every episode, there's a Spock's Brain). There just wasn't enough stuff. After I played through all of the episodes, it became a boring grind.

      I quit the game, but I'll go back when I feel they've added enough content to justify paying for another month.

  • I'm not interested in the "spirit of the TV show". I loved the show because of what it represented, it someplace I wanted to be. The whole weekly episode thing was just an artifact of the medium, and with an MMO, you don't need structure it like a TV series.

  • I love Star Trek. I am also a roleplayer. The Trek universe offers an amazing opportunity for Roleplay. Brave new worlds, things that spark the imagination. I'm not sure that's possible to capture in an MMO setting. Its /too/ large. It has to many players. I, personally, get my Trek Roleplay Fix on the various Mush games that still exist out there. Good Ole' Telnet. Sure, it birthed the often awful monstrosities that MMOs have become- but the base is still there, still roleplaying and generally still using
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      When I started in STO, I was looking forward to the role playing element almost as much as the world(s) they have built up around the IP. But I found that most of the players have been more interested in power-leveling than in playing in the sandbox.

      My hope is that after the initial wave of type-A players gets bored, the hardcore Star Trek fans will remain. Then maybe I'll get to play Star Trek, like I used to at recess in grade school. (I was always Captain Kirk--guess I was a bossy kid.)

      In the meantime, i

  • ... features a group of exploration ships discovering a new form of life, just before Starfleet Dental (aka Goonswarm) crashes into them for fun and starts both a war with the creatures and a monolithic threadnaught on the forums...

  • Point your telnet machine to, port 1701. Now -that's- Star Trek RPG'ing. :) Seriously, the best RPGs were the text based, MUD/MUSH games where (most) people had to think about their actions, write out a nice action, etc. Not this point and click MMOPRGclickclick stuff. ;) -Bitter and Old
  • Haven't ever played the game, but the weekly episode concept sounds intriguing enough to make me think about trying it out.

    A good idea seems rarer and rarer these days.

  • the future of MMOs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @02:01PM (#32916572) Journal

    Personally, I think this is a foretaste of the future of MMO's.
    Certainly, they may or may not be able to successfully implement, but I've always wondered at how STATIC MMO's are.

    Certainly, for those of us who used to buy a computer game, you were pretty much stuck with whatever the designer(s) envisioned was possible when the game went gold. Occasionally a content patch would be released that might add some little thing (now they sell these as "DLC").

    Strangely, MMO's - despite their dynamic foundation and constant-connection to the source servers - have mimicked this pattern. AFAIK the only game that ever tried to really let content change over time was Ultima Online where players could impact (in fact, drove) the economy, and perhaps today EVE, where the player-sourced economy dwarfs whatever is hard-coded by the game.

    I'm talking about something less economics and more "world". Certainly the complexities of balance, loot, xp gain mean that it would be a hellish effort to try to add significant BALANCED content on a weekly basis. But would it be so impossible to have NPCs change their clothes over time? Maybe quit jobs and be replaced? Have a merchant vessel arrive on infrequent occasions into a port city, offering rare or unique items for sale? I think WoW has discovered that, between meaningless achievement points and holiday celebrations that players really ENJOY things that add depth to a world without necessarily increasing their dps. The WoW world-events are fun (of course there's some bitching, because change is scary) and memorable.

    Now if they just didn't seem quite so "bolted on", discrete, and above all, repetitive we'd be getting somewhere.

  • My personal quote: "If you cannot suprise the developer (yourself), then you will never suprise the player" Emergent and procedural content is necessary for MMOs to continue. YOu can only do so many "pumpkin quests" regardless of the genre or theme of the game. The key is to have solid, developed rules for missions\quests\content and have a systematic way to deploy that content for players to explore. No where in the rules of MMOs, RPGs, etc that ever fight need be winnable, rather that the payoff is acc

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.