Star Trek: Tirpitz

Exploring the Afehirr Nebula

We were recently contacted by Lieutenant Anek with a potentially dangerous assignment.  The Afehirr Nebula is a sector of space with natural properties that prevent us from performing long-range scans of the space it occupies.  It is also deep within Romulan territory.  In the past, its location prevented us from sending ships to explore and document the region.  In light of recent events, Starfleet Command believes that sending a few vessels to explore the region would be in the Federation’s best interest.  I believe our orders came from equal parts of a desire to expand our scientific knowledge of the nebula and wanting to make sure the Romulans weren’t massing a fleet for another assault into Federation space.   

Searching for Tkon artifacts


We managed to avoid any run ins with the Romulan Empire or its allies on our way to the nebula.  Once we reached the nebula, our first destination was system Delta 542-J.  Scientists working on the Tkon artifacts we discovered in the Tepheri system had found a partial map of the ancient empire.  They believe that Delta 542-J was once home to a Tkon outpost.  We performed an extensive scan of the system, and detected several unusual energy sources, but we didn’t find any identifiable pieces of Tkon technology.  We compiled our findings to send to Starfleet at the next opportunity.  Hopefully our information will point Federation Scientists in the right direction to find the missing outpost.   

A non-corporal life form


As we were traveling to the next system we had been assigned to explore, we picked up a distress call from a nearby planet.  Knowing full well that it could be a trap, I gave orders to set a course for the planet.  Once we established orbit over the planet, we were able to contact a colony on the surface that belonged to a people known as the Mokia.  They had settled on the planet not more than two months prior to our arrival, and during that time there had been a series of murders.  Among those killed was the colony’s chief of security, so they had found themselves without anyone capable of carrying out an investigation into the deaths.  I had Mr. Scharf lead an away team to the surface to see if we could help solve the murders.  He soon reported that the investigation may be more difficult than we had originally expected.  There was very little in the way of physical evidence and no real witnesses.  The only thing the victims seemed to have in common was the fact that they had all had children, who had somehow survived the murders that killed the rest of their families.  T’Lol tried her best to interview the children, but none of them had actually been witnesses to their parent’s deaths.  As much as I was glad to hear that, it left our investigation at square one.  T’Lol did note that the children all mentioned encounters with some sort of ghost.  The colonists had originally written off the ghost stories as part of a the stress of losing their families.  Playing a hunch, I had Dr. Franklin and Mr. Toran join the away team, with orders to perform a highly detailed scan of the colony.  It wasn’t long before they were able to identify the children’s ghosts as a non-corporal life form.  Upon further investigation, they were able to identify the life forms as Gorgans.  Starfleet records showed only one previous encounter with the Gorgan life form.  A Gorgan had been responsible for the deaths of all adult personnel of the Federation outpost on Triacus in 2268.  It had only been the actions of Captain Kirk and his crew that prevented the Gorgan from escaping the planet.  We delivered our findings to the colony’s leaders along with information on how to combat the children’s ghost.  The away team remained on the surface until scans determined that the Gorgan threat had been dealt with.   

Scanning the system


After we retrieved our away team, we continued on to our next assigned system.  Our initial scans of system Arae HC only detected a vast asteroid field.  Further scans of the system revealed a number of spatial anomalies.  We needed to carefully maneuver through the asteroid field to reach the anomalies for our highest intensity scans.  Our investigation didn’t turn up any apparent cause for the anomalies.  While near one of the anomalies, we picked detected an unexpected object with turned out to be a genetic sequencer.  I had the nagging suspicion that we had arrived too late to find out who or what had caused the phenomena we were studying.    

With our assignment completed, we exited the nebula and sent our findings back to Starfleet Command.   

Out of Character

In my vain attempts to complete a planetary aid mission over this past weekend, a random through had crossed my mind.  Maybe I was having so much trouble finding an aid mission in the Delta Volanis Cluster because my captain was a much higher rank than the exploration system needed.  Maybe I’d have better luck in a commander level exploration zone.  Unfortunately for me, that hasn’t been the case yet.  The Gorgan mission got my hopes up.  It starts off as a planet requesting general assistance.  They don’t tell you that they don’t need any supplies and just want you to investigate some dead people until you reach orbit.   

The mission to explore the Afehirr Nebula is a little weird to me.  Basically the player is told that because the Romulan Empire is falling apart at the seams, the Federation can get away crossing into enemy space for a scientific mission.  It didn’t feel like something the Federation would approve.  I know at this point the only reason the Federation and the Romulans aren’t at war is because neither side has actually declared war yet.  In my opinion, sending any number of ships across the border is just begging for trouble.   

While I enjoyed the planet visit, I was a little disappointed by it.  It started with a nice story element, and it tied itself in with an episode of the original series.  And it gave me an opprotunity to write an away mission for my non-ground combat bridge officers.  A small part of me wonders how well T’Lol would manage to deal with situation of interviewing emotionally scarred children.  But in the end it fell flat.  The episode it’s based on established that the Gorgan drew energy from children in order to survive.  Deny a Gorgan that energy and they dissolve into nothing.  However in the 140 plus years since their one and only encounter with the Gorgan, Starfleet seems to have found a simple and easy way to kill them just by waving a tricorder at them.  It also didn’t help that the Gorgan appeared as giant glowing walls of light.  Since they’re called ghosts by the children, I was expecting something at least vaguely humanoid.


The Daily Grind

It’s feels like a year since the events of the Vendor system that we played a role in.  There was an inquiry into the incident.  In the end, I think it was our service record that prevented me and my officers from being assigned to make transport runs between San Francisco and Tycho City for the rest of our careers.  We remain as the command staff onboard the Tirpitz, assigned under Admiral T’nae for the time being.  

Scanning for decalithium

What changed was our assignments.  We’ve spent most of the last few weeks working under Lieutenant Anek as part of the Federation’s continued exploration of the Khazan Cluster.  It almost felt as if our superiors at Starfleet Command wanted to evaluate our performance before they trusted us with any important missions again.  Or maybe they just wanted to sweep us under the rug for a time while the Federation recovered from the black eye we gave it.   I can understand wanting to keep us out of sight and out of mind of the Romulan empire while our diplomats tried to smooth things over.  Searching for new sources of decalithium to mine and recovering parts from crashed stellar probes on pre-industrialized worlds provided us a way to remain useful to Starfleet without drawing attention to ourselves.  

Romulan revenge

The only problem with this plan was that it didn’t work.  After we liberated an unalligned space station from a Reman occupation force, with Starfleet Command’s permission to do so, everyone knew where to find us.  It wasn’t long before we found ourselves the target of attacks by the various different groups that call this sector of space home.  The Romulans, the Remans, the Hirogen all engaged us in battle at some point or another.  Even small organizations such as the region’s Kibo Cri’Box raiders, a small pirate group that the Federation had never encountered before, got in on the act.  We made repeated reports to Starfleet Command regarding these attacks, and all we received were orders to explore new unknown systems.  

The Battle of K7

All that changed a few days ago.  Several listening posts long the Federation/Klingon border had picked up evidence of a massive cloaked fleet entering Federation space.  Given the enemy fleet’s course and speed, Starfleet Command believed they were heading to assault Deep Space Station K7.  We received orders to report to the system to help defend it from the assault fleet.   When we arrived, we were assigned to guard a spacedock on the edge of the system.  It didn’t appear to have any strategic value to the battle we were expecting.  That did not prove to be the case.  While the majority of the two fleets engaged each other near K7 itself, our sensors did pick up several Klingon ships that attempted to circle around the Federation forces and come in from behind.  We ended up facing several powerful Klingon ships at the same time.  Thanks to some skilled maneuvers, as well as some well-timed boosts to our shield power, we were able to hold the position long enough to be reinforced by several ships from the main fleet.  In the end, we were able to turn back the Klingon fleet.  

With the battle over, we received orders to report to the Earth spacedock.  

Out of Character

My posts here so far have been a fairly accurate description of how I’ve been playing the game.  I would get a mission from one of the various different Starfleet officers that would hand them out.  After finishing the mission I would do a write-up here and then repeat the process.  Because of this, I had been skipping over a number of repeatable missions that the game offers.  To me, it was a question of how many times could I write something about the daily missions.  If I do an exploration mission, and I keep being sent to scan five objects in an asteroid field, how many times can I write a new log entry about doing the exact same mission?  And it’s the same for the other repeatable missions.  How many times can I write about battling a random fleet or taking part in the Klingon war before I keep telling the exact same story?  So for the most part, I’ve been trying to keep to the main story missions, and only do a repeatable mission the first time they appear in my log.  

This practice got me to about half way through Lieutenant Commander level 9 before I ran out of main story missions.  After finishing Divide et Impera, the next story mission I had in my log was listed for the lowest Commander rank.  Somehow I had to come up with a level and a half’s worth of experience.  I don’t want to say that there’s a mission gap around that level advance.  I think it was something that I created by the way I was playing.  I think the design of the game is that the player is supposed to be mixing the repeatable quests in with the story missions.  And because I had only been focusing on the story advancement, I ended up needing to grind the repeatable missions in the end to get to the right level to continue.  

This gave me a chance to look over and evaluate the repeatable missions the player has access to.  Probably the worst option right now, in my opinion, is the pvp.  Now don’t go and assume that my dislike of STO’s pvp is because I don’t like pvp in general.  I bought the Orange Box collection just to play Team Fortress 2.  Also, my main character in World of Warcraft has the kill 100,000 players achievement.  So I consider myself a pvp player, and I look forward to trying it in most of the MMOs I’ve play.  And it’s also not a factor of being on the losing team.  I’ve been very fortunate in that I would say seventy-five percent of the time I’ve done STO pvp, I’ve been on the winning team.  So it’s not discouragement because I keep losing.  It’s just that there’s a lot of refinements that I’ve seen in the pvp systems of other games that need to be added to STO.  Things like automatically being placed on a team together with the other players on your side and having a countdown before the match starts so the game doesn’t begin as soon as the first player enters.  Add that to the fact that I still can’t complete the first two pvp missions I received way back as a Lieutenant (I keep winning war zones, but they never seem to register), and the pvp just feels pointless to try to do.  

Now when I ran into my level gap problem, I made some comment about needing to grind out a level in fleet chat.  And a few people pointed out that there isn’t any grinding in STO.  And to some extent they are correct.  In other MMOs, if the player just wants to kill things to gain the XP to level up, they can just wander off into the wilderness and do so.  There isn’t really that option in STO.  The closest we get is the Sector Defense missions.  All the player has to do is find the randomly generated enemy ships in sector space, and then get to blasting enemies.  It’s not a bad way to try to do it.  I’m sure every player occasionally has one of those days where they just want to get online and get to killing ships.  It just feels like it’s not a good a time investment for the rewards offered.  It doesn’t feel like you get very much experience for finishing each of the three waves needed to complete a sector defense mission.   

Exploration, in my opinion, is the best of the repeatable options the player can currently do.  It offers a variety of missions.  You get a chance at space combat, ground combat, and non-combat missions.  When you complete one of the three missions needed to complete the exploration, you get a noticeable increase in experience.  And finishing the exploration missions gives the players tokens they can spend on some really nice equipment upgrades.  From here out, I’m probably going to be doing much more exploration than I had previously been doing.  

Of course, I’ll probably do most of that “off-screen”, and only continue to write posts about repeatable missions when I first get them.

Exploring the Khazan Cluster
April 16, 2010, 9:20 am
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Among the Starfleet officers I met when the Tirpitz first arrived at Starbase 39-Sierra was a Saurian scientist named Anek.  Lieutenant Anek had been assigned to monitor and collect data from the Federation’s exploration efforts near the starbase, much in the same way Lieutenant Grall does from Earth spacedock.  It would seem that the two Lieutenants communicate fairly frequently, as Anek appeared to know more about our exploration efforts for Lieutenant Grall than I had expected.  Anek used our track record of exploration to convince Admiral T’nae to let us assist him in charting the Khazan cluster, an unexplored region of space near the Federation’s border with the Romulans.  

Detecting an unknown alloy

Our first assignment was to the Lambda Sculptoris N-NYT system.  When we arrived, our sensors picked up several unusual energy readings.  We spent a few days performing extensive scans of the system, collecting numerous samples of various materials.  Most noticeably, we collected an unknown alloy sample which I’m sure will keep the researchers at Memory Alpha busy for quite a while.  We forwarded our preliminary findings on to Lieutenant Anek, notifying him of the samples we would be bringing back the next time we returned to the starbase.  

surveying the system

Our survey of the Gamma Majoris LH-178 system was somewhat less eventful.  While the nebulas did provide quite an impressive sight, our scans turned up fairly average data on the system.  We did collect several radiation samples for study, but they weren’t out of the ordinary for the stellar phenomena that would occur naturally in a similar system.  

The Adelko home world

When we entered the Upsilon Crateris 4124 Omega system, we were surprised to pick up a subspace signal from one of the planets.  It was a low band signal that the Federation had not used in years.  The technology required to produce the signal suggested an early warp age culture.  We entered orbit of the planet and attempted to establish contact with the source of the signal.  We had the pleasure of establishing first contact with an alien race that calls itself the Adelko.  The Adelko had only recently been able to break the warp barrier, and had started exploring the planets within their own solar system.  Unfortunately for them, their exploration had exposed them to an unusual pathogen which was now spreading through their population.  I requested that they send a transmission with all the data they had available on the illness to us for Dr. Franklin to look over.  After cross referencing the Adelko’s information with our own records, Dr. Franklin was able to determine that the disease in question was something that Starfleet Medical had encountered before.  We contacted Starfleet Command to appraise them of the situation, and a science vessel with the appropriate medical supplies, as well as a diplomatic team, was being sent to assist the Adelko.  

Out of Character

The only race the Borg didn't want

Khazan Cluster.  Not Kazon Cluster.  Back to the depths of the delta quadrant with you.  

For someone who doesn’t do all that much crafting on Memory Alpha, getting two missions to collect data samples is a little frustrating.  Looking at the update release calendar for the game, it looks like there’s a fair chance that we’ll receive a patch that does something to Memory Alpha before the end of the month.  It feels to me like it’s still a little too close to game’s launch to expect a complete overhaul of the game’s crafting system.  Still, I’m hoping there will be something in the update that will make carrying around three rows worth of materials in my ship’s inventory worth while.  

Starbase 39-Sierra's provisions vendor

The Adelko encounter was a fairly standard provision delivery mission.  But they were asking for an item, Antigens, that took me a while to find.  As expected, the exploration sector didn’t have any cargo ships to trade with, just like all the other exploration missions that have come before.  But the Alpha Centauri sector didn’t seem to have any flying around either when I was looking for them.  So I headed back to the vendor on Earth spacedock to pick up what I needed.  Except he didn’t have any Antigens.  It took me a while to figure out that the provisions vendor on Starbase 39-Sierra had what I was looking for.  The interface for this vendor was a little strange at first.  He had two entries for the Antigens I needed.  One looked like a trade in, where I could purchase Antigens by giving him any left over Medical supplies I may have had in my inventory.  I like the idea here, but it could use better implementation.  From the way it works, you need to trade in four Medical supplies to get one Antigen.  I don’t think I’ve ever collected enough medical supplies to even purchase one Antigen this way.  I guess it’s a good way to clean house if you’re one of the few people who has several stacks of supplies ready on the off-chance you need them while exploring.  Otherwise, you’ll just end up clicking on the other Antigen entry.  An entry which doesn’t have a listed price.  An entry that when you click the buy button, asks if you want 50 Antigens.  The price for one Antigen seems to be 400 energy credits, at least at the time this was written.  The only other place I could find them was on the exchange, and I wouldn’t be surprised if people are taking advantage of how hard they are to find and the unknown cost to buy Antigens to sell them at a much inflated price.  So, buyer beware and all that.

Exploring the Hromi Cluster

The Federation has little data on the Hromi Cluster.  It is an unexplored sector of space near the Klingon/Federation border.  Lieutenant Grall had been pushing for the Federation to explore the region since the early days of the current conflict with the Klingons.  Due to concerns that the Klingons may be using the Hromi Cluster as a possible staging area for attacks against the Federation outposts, Starfleet Command finally gave approval to send ships to explore the region.  And since the Tirpitz was ending its required time as part of Task Force Hippocrates and was in the area, we were assigned to assist in the exploration efforts.  

Scanning the D'Arsay ruins.


We were first sent to System Beta 157.  When we arrived, our scans detected a class-m planet, which Starfleet recorded as Planet Pi 279.  We approached the planet to perform a series of scans.  Our sensors picked up no life forms on the planet surface, but they did detect a series of structures.  An away team was sent down to investigate the structures, and they found a series of ruins belonging to an unidentified civilization which the away team described as being almost crypt like.  After comparing the writing on the ruins with language samples in the Tirpitz’s library, the away team believed that the ruins belonged to the D’Arsay civilization.  This was a fairly impressive find.  To my knowledge, the only other evidence of the D’Arsay civilization found on a planet’s surface was the ruins the Tirpitz had discovered in the Delta Volanis Cluster.  The number of  light years there are between the two finds would seem to indicate that the D’Arsay were a much larger spacefaring civilization than we had previously believed.  

Scanning for cloaked ships


We were next sent to investigate the Sigma Borealis Sigma 252-Q system.  When we arrived in the system, Mr. Toran detected several unusual anomalies in one of the system’s asteroid fields.  We altered course to further investigate the anomalies.  Given the proximity to the Klingon border, I half expected the anomalies to turn out to be cloaked Klingon ships.  But if there were any cloaked ships in the field, we didn’t encounter them.  The anomalies turned out to be several unusual radiation sources.  We collected several samples for future study by Federation scientists.  

Rushing to assist a planetary crisis


The Tirpitz then traveled to the Sigma Hydri EG-785 system, where we were fortunate to make contact with a new civilization.  Unfortunately, they were experiencing a severe outbreak of an unknown disease.  Working with the local health departments, Dr. Franklin was able to help them identify the outbreak.  Our standard Federation medical supplies would be able to treat the outbreak.  However, the Tirpitz was not carrying enough supplies to treat the entire infected population of the planet.  We appraised Starfleet Command of the situation, and we received permission to acquire enough medical supplies from the nearest starbase to help end the planet’s outbreak.  

Out of Character

This would be the third exploration mission I’ve done.  Before this, I visited the Delta Volanis Cluster and the Arucanis Arm.  Each exploration mission has the player complete three system specific assignments in order to complete the exploration.  So at this point, I’ve done nine total exploration systems.  And I’ve already had to repeat two system missions.  This does not bode well for the game having a wide variety of missions to play through in the exploration areas.  Which, okay, I wasn’t expecting there to be hundreds of different system exploration missions.  But I was sort of expecting that if there were two or three sector blocks between exploration regions, that I wouldn’t be finding ancient ruins from the same culture.  If the game is just randomly picking pre-generated missions without regard to location, I imagine that at some point I’ll run into a third outpost of the civilization somewhere in the middle of the Delta quadrant when that area opens up in the game.  

The Earth spacedock provisions vendor


The one new mission I received today was the delivery mission.  I’ve seen a lot of players complain about this mission type before, and I can see where they come from.  When the player contacts the planet, they will be told that the people on the planet need ten items of a specific provision (medical supplies, shield generators, communications arrays and the like).  Now there’s a chance the player has looted some of the needed provision from random space battles, but I have yet to see a player have all of the required provision when they’ve gotten one of these missions.  So the player has to go all the way out of the exploration region to find a trader with the needed provisions or to visit Earth spacedock.  But the reason that I’ve heard for why players don’t like his mission type is because the player needs to buy the items needed to complete the mission.  It’s like paying out-of-pocket for supplies for a corporate job, but without the chance to be reimbursed for the expense.  Personally, I have more energy credits than I know what to do with right now (no you can’t have any), so I’m not that upset with needing to spend some to complete a mission.  What I’m not fond of is the run around to get the needed supplies.  We’ve seen repeatedly in the television shows that the Enterprise didn’t always have to run off to get the supplies for a planetary emergency.  We’ve seen Dr. Crusher growing vaccines and Geordi planing to replicate replacements for damaged parts and equipment before.  I just don’t see why we need to run around to get the supplies to complete the mission, when it would be an easy thing to use the ship’s replicator to buy the needed items while we’re still in orbit of the planet.  On the up side, the devs seem to have fixed the bug where if you left the exploration zone, you could never find the system again upon returning with the needed supplies.

Acting Captain’s Log, Exploring the Arucanis Arm

Exploring the Arucanis Arm

With so many of Starfleet’s resources going into our current war with the Klingon empire, our efforts to catalogue the many unexplored sectors of space have been reduced.  To get our research efforts back on track, Lieutenant Grall was given special dispensation to select a number of ships to increase the Federation’s exploration efforts.  The Tirpitz was one of the ships Grall selected, most likely due to our efforts to help chart the Delta Volanis Cluster.  The Tirpitz was assigned to a number of systems in the Arucanis Arm, a region of space near the Romulan neutral zone.  And I’m sure the many science teams onboard the Tirpitz were looking forward to this assignment.

Scanning for Alien Artifacts

Our first destination was System 1395-B.  Initial surveys had detected unusual energy readings in space around the fifth planet in the system.  Using the ship’s sensor array, we were able to track down a number of alien artifacts that were emitting the energy.  Our scientists were able to determine that the energy out put from the artifacts would not pose a threat to the ship or the crew.  I made it very clear that the research teams assigned to study the artifacts were to follow our highest safety procedures before allowing them to beam the artifacts on board.


Our next stop was 6301-Chi, a planet in the IG-652 system.  As we entered the system, our scans picked up some unusual life form readings coming from the planet’s surface.  We established an orbit around the planet and were able to perform a more detailed scan.  The life form readings we had picked up appeared to be some strange form of plant life.  Dr. Franklin expressed an interest in leading an away team to further study the plant life.  On the planet’s surface, Franklin’s team took samples from several different locations where they had found the flora.  The plants seemed to exhibit the ability to spin a cocoon for itself, much like several known species of insect.  Dr. Franklin requested permission to collect a few cocoons for our exobiologists to study further.  Once the good doctor was able to convince me that the cocoons posed no potential threat to the crew of the Tirpitz, I allowed him to collect one cocoon for further study.

Scanning a Spatial anomaly

The Tirpitz then proceeded to System 7345-U.  Probes left in the region had detected several spatial anomalies scattered through the system.  Our scans of the system picked up several unusual radiation emissions.  Because there was no pattern to the radiation, we suspect that it may be naturally occurring in the system.  We collected several samples to transport to Memory Alpha for further study.

Out of Character

“Oh, fascinating. Twenty particles of space dust per cubic meter, 52 ultraviolet radiation spikes, and a class-2 comet. Well, this is certainly worthy of our attention.” – Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: First Contact.

When the player picks up an exploration mission, they have to complete three missions that are randomly given to the player.  And somehow, this time, the random assortment I received was all non-combat scanning missions.  They were fairly quick and easy.  There’s a little button on the mini-map that when pressed will direct the player towards objects that they can scan.  In most missions, that’s just the randomly generated anomalies that the player collects to use for the crafting found at Memory Alpha.  In the space missions above, those anomalies fill in for the items the player needs to scan to complete the mission objective.  On the ground mission, there are mission specific items the player needs to find and scan, but the scanner system will still work to point the player in the right direction to find them. 

Playing this exploration mission, I had the feeling that I was a red shirt ship.  If I remember the episodes of  Star Trek I’ve watched correctly, any time any ship that isn’t named Enterprise takes on board any random scientific samples, the crew soon ends up either all dead, all insane, or a mixture of the two.  Even Data’s not immune to some funky artifact screwing around with his programing.  If these missions were actually parts of a Star Trek episode, I would imagine the crew of the Tirpitz would have to prevent the artifacts from taking over the ship, before having to battle body snatchers trying to replace the crew, and then having to return the radiation samples they collected because the samples were an alien life form of some sort.

The writing for the ground mission seemed a little off.  On the ship in orbit of the planet, scans detected plant life.  On the ground, my science officer kept calling them cocoons.  And when it was finally time to beam back to the ship, the dialogue was back to calling them plants again.  I don’t know if they intended to do that.  When I read it, it felt like the writer had either gotten confused or had failed biology.

Before the game came out, there was a lot of discussion about how much combat should be in a Star Trek game.  Websites looked at how much violence was in each one of the different series.  Some people did polls during open beta to see if a fan’s preference of one series over another had an influence on if they liked the balance of combat to non-combat missions in the game.  And currently, there are still a number of people who want to see more non-combat missions added to the game.

For me, I’ve been enjoying the game the way it is right now.  I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing more non-combat missions in the game.  When they do pop up, they are a nice break from blowing up ships from alien A, then from Alien B, then from Alien A again.  What I would hope though, is that when they start to include more non-combat missions, they also include more to do in them.  Right now, the player ends up talking to a series of people or scanning a number of objects.  All the player has to do is find the thing they’re looking for and press the right button to advance.  As an example, maybe in the future if we get a mission to deliver vaccines to a planet in need, we have to do a mini-game in sick bay to actually create the vaccines.  Doing so would probably involve a lot of work adding in code for the new functionality, but they really need to advance non-combat game play past “go here, press button to talk to X”.

Acting Captain’s log, To Boldly Go

With Starfleet Intelligence still working to decipher the Klingon data we retrieved, Admiral Quinn sent us new orders.  The Tirpitz was to report to the Delta Volanis Cluster, an unexplored sector of space, to assist a Lieutenant Grall in exploring the region. 

The Delta Volanis Cluster

When we arrived in the cluster, we were hailed by Grall.  He explained that while the Federation’s study of the region had been slowed due to recent events, Starfleet had remembered that part of its mandate was to explore strange new worlds.  Our assignment was to explore for those worlds, and to report back frequently with our findings.  The other reason he wanted us to remain in constant contact was so that in the event of another emergency we could be notified as soon as possible.

A D'Arsay Grave Marker

The first system we explored had been labeled Pi Phoenicis 5022-F.  We discovered an M class planet that had ruins from an ancient civilization.  An away team was sent to the surface to document the ruins.  Among the ruins were a number of ornate grave markers.  The pictograms on the ruins match those recorded by the Enterprise D when it encountered the D’Arsay cultural archive in 2370.  Given the size of the find, this planet was likely an outpost of the D’Arsay, and not their home world.

The crystal formations of H-644 X

Our next destination was H-644 X.  While in orbit above the planet, we discovered several large crystalline deposits on the planet’s surface.  An away team was sent to study the crystals to determine if they should be mined as a potential energy source for the Federation.  After conducting their initial survey, an Orion ship also entered the system and transported  crew to the planet’s surface.  We were able to alert the away team to the presence of the Orion patrols on the planet’s surface, and they were able to avoid any major conflict with the Orions while finishing their studies.  While the crystal formations did contain traces of dilithium, they did not contain a high enough concentration of dilithium to make establishing a mining outpost on the planet worth while. 

Approaching Theta Columbae Xi 524-V

Our third stop was Theta Columbae Xi 524-V.  The Tirpitz was contacted by the owner of a trade outpost.  He requested our assistance in determining what had happened to a freighter of his.  He had lost contact with the ship when it had entered the system, and he was concerned that it had been attacked by Orion raiders.  We set course for the last known coordinates of the freighter, and it wasn’t long before we discovered what had happened.  The Tirpitz found itself under attack by several Talarian vessels.  We were able to successfully defend the Tirpitz from their assault, but unfortunately we had been too late to save the freighter.  Sensors scans indicated that it had likely lost life support in the initial assault by the Talarian vessels.  Scans of the Talarian vessels during the battle did detect one Orion life sign, but the species make up aboard the ships seemed to indicate that they were pirate ships, and not part of an offenseive action by the Orion Syndicate.  We returned to the trade outpost and reported our findings.  The owner thanked us for our efforts, even though we were unable to save his crew.

After reporting our encounter with the pirates back to Lieutenant Grall, we received word from Starfleet regarding a distress call in the Pico system.  We have left the Delta Volanis Cluster, and are currently en route to investigate.

Out of Character

In the same way that the “Scientific Mandate” mission sets up an introduction to the game’s crafting system, “To Boldly Go” introduces players to the exploration aspect of Star Trek Online.  The player is sent to a sector of space with no set missions or locations.  The game will randomly generate anomalies in the sector that the players investigate.  Occasionally these anomalies will reward the player with items needed for the game’s crafting system.  More frequently, the player discovers a system with a randomly generated mission.  These missions can be anything from delivering needed supplies to a planet to retaking a space station from a Klingon occupation.  I honestly have no idea what the chances are of encountering the same mission twice, but it’s highly likely that no two players will have the exact same experience in doing a set of exploration missions.

It feels like exploration missions are where Cryptic is going to throwing out a large amount of random references to the Star Trek universe.  My first mission had a reference to the D’Arsay civilization that took over Lt. Commander Data and altered sections of the Enterprise D in the episode “Masks”.  My final mission had me fighting Talarian warships.  While the Talarian civilization was only encountered in one episode of the Next Generation, “Suddenly Human” , their ships seemed to be used by several different cultures as cheap transports and starships.  Maybe I got lucky with the missions I received that two of them referenced events from the TV show.  But I find myself curious to see what other references I may end up getting in future exploration missions.

The one thing I’m worried about is how these missions are created.  There was a lot of talk before the game came out about the Genesis system.  The impression I got was that not only was the game going to select random missions for the players doing exploration, but that the missions themselves would be randomly built to some extent.  I’m hoping this isn’t the case.  If everything about the exploration missions is completely random, then a roll of the dice could be the difference between a mission working correctly, and one that the player can’t finish because it’s broken in some unexpected way.