Star Trek Online
|Star Trek Online|
Original game box cover art for Star Trek Online
|Publisher(s)||Perfect World Entertainment|
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows
|Genre(s)||Massively multiplayer online role-playing, third-person shooter|
Star Trek Online, often abbreviated as STO, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by Cryptic Studios based on the popular Star Trek series created by Gene Roddenberry. The game is set in the 25th century, 30 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis. Star Trek Online is the first massively multiplayer online role-playing game within the Star Trek franchise and was released for the Microsoft Windows platform on February 2, 2010. At launch, the game required a game purchase and a recurring monthly fee. On January 17, 2012, it relaunched with a tier of free-to-play access available. After a public beta testing period, a completed version of the game was released for the Apple Macintosh platform on March 11, 2014. The game can be downloaded for Windows from the Perfect World Entertainment platform Arc Games or from Steam, or from Perfect World Entertainment as a standalone launcher for Mac. As of January 30, 2014, the game had 3.2 million players.
- 1 Setting
- 2 Gameplay
- 3 Updates
- 4 Development
- 5 Release and operations
- 6 Reception
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Star Trek Online is set in the years 2409/2410, thirty years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis. The alliance between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire has collapsed, and both sides are once again at war. The Romulan Star Empire continues to deal with the fallout of the loss of their homeworld twenty-two years earlier (as shown in J. J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot), while the Dominion rebuilds its forces. The Borg Collective has re-emerged as a major threat.
Each player is the captain of his own individual ship, utilizing any and all officers who have access to a ship, including the player's character. In keeping with naval tradition, anyone who commands a ship, regardless of his or her actual rank, is considered a de facto "captain". Currently, there are three factions available: Federation; Klingon; and Romulan, and players can create characters from any of these factions at level 1. Previously, Klingon characters could only be unlocked at and after level 25, and Romulan characters were not available. Bridge officers have a separate progression, including the purchase of skills and equipment, and can be promoted to higher ranks by their ships' captains.
The game features references to several famous storylines, ships, and characters from various Star Trek television series. The story unfolds in the standard timeline established within the televised Star Trek series, mostly ignoring the events presented in Abrams' Star Trek reboot, which is set in an alternate timeline. However, it does follow the plot from the reboot - the destruction of Romulus - that is within the "prime" Star Trek timeline. One confirmed reference to Abrams' film was revealed when Zachary Quinto announced at the 2009 Spike TV Video Game Awards that he will be voicing dialogue during the game's tutorial. Leonard Nimoy is heard for all of the gameplay and exploration voice-over samples. Chase Masterson joined the game as "Holo-Leeta" in 2010.
Other Star Trek alumni have also returned to provide voicing for their earlier roles. Starting with the Legacy of Romulus expansion in 2013, Denise Crosby has voiced both the characters of Tasha Yar and Sela. Michael Dorn reprised his role as Worf later in the year. In February 2014, Tim Russ returned to the role of Tuvok. With the launch of the game's second expansion, Delta Rising, in October, Star Trek: Voyager actors Ethan Phillips, Robert Picardo, Jeri Ryan and Garrett Wang returned to voice their roles of Neelix, The Doctor, Seven of Nine and Harry Kim, respectively, for the game. In 2015, Aron Eisenberg, Robert Duncan McNeill, Lisa LoCicero and Kim Rhodes joined the game. In addition, Chase Masterson returned (this time as "Mirror Leeta"), and Kipleigh Brown appeared as "Administrator Kuumaarke" (a different character from that which she portrayed in the television series).
In Star Trek Online, each player acts as the captain of his own ship. Players are able to play as a starship, controlling the ship's engineering, tactical, and science systems by keyboard/mouse or using an on-screen console. Players can also "beam down" and move around as a player character in various settings with access to weapons and specific support and combat skills relating to their own characters' classes. The two combat systems are intertwined throughout the game: away-team missions feature fast-paced "run-and-gun" combat, while space combat stresses the long-term tactical aspect of combat between capital ships. Both are offered in concert with the Star Trek storyline and emphasize ship positioning to efficiently utilize shields during space combat, as well as the player's away team's positioning in consideration of flanking damage and finding various weaknesses to exploit during ground combat.
The game features a variety of ship classes which can be used by all players. Playable ship classes utilize one of three templates for appearance (additional ones can be unlocked/purchased in Z-Store and using alternate methods) and can be "kitbashed" together or recolored to make a unique ship. Ship classes are not restricted based on a player's specialty; any class of starship is available using only the player's rank as a prerequisite, however, a player's earned skills often correspond with one or more ship classes and must be considered carefully before choosing. Respecialization (Captain Retraining) is available to aid in selecting different abilities or to change ship classes by spending points on another class. A player can also switch between any of his ships (purchased in-game or earned) at starbases and can even choose older ships the player no longer uses.
Uniforms can either be created in the character creation phase or via the tailor found on various starbases. New styles can be used, or, depending on which retail copy or Z-Store Pack has been purchased, access to uniforms seen on the various television series are available. Costume parts are broadly available across all characters, but certain parts have restrictions based on factions played or gender.
During character creation, players may select a canonical race from the Star Trek universe, each with its own inherent racial traits, or choose to customize his own unique species. The majority of playable races are exclusive to either the United Federation of Planets, the Klingon Empire, or the Romulan Republic. However, a few exceptions are playable by more than one faction. While the majority of races come standard, additional races may be purchased from Cryptic's online Z-store.
|Federation Races||Federation Purchasable||Klingon Empire Races||Klingon Purchasable||Romulan Races||Romulan Purchasable|
|Alien*||Borg (Liberated)||Alien*||Borg (Liberated)||Alien*||Borg (Liberated)|
* "Alien" means the player has full access to the character creator to make anything they want without preselected features.
Players will find new officers as they level up with various special abilities who can be recruited to the player's crew, or used to train their existing crew members with a new ability that the player's character may not have to offer. New Bridge Officers can be recruited in this manner, or hired/released at an appropriate starbase. Individual combat successes offer Skill Points and Expertise (formerly called Bridge Officer Skill Points) as the main reward. Skill Points are the main "Experience Points", which are spent in a skill tree. Skill Points are also used to level up the player's captain, with each rank requiring a fixed number of points spent on their skill tree to receive a promotion. Expertise points are spent separate of Skill Points, affecting only Bridge Officers. A captain needs to spend a certain amount of Expertise as well as Energy Credits to promote a Bridge Officer to a higher rank, but progression of a Bridge Officer is always limited to one rank beneath the player's captain up to the Commander rank. Increased Bridge Officer ranks add new abilities and functionality to ships that a player can trigger on command while in space, as well as added automatic skills for Bridge Officers to use in ground combat missions (Unlike Space Skills, Ground Skills are used by the Bridge Officers automatically as NPC characters, although a captain can direct the Bridge Officers to attack or defend with simple team commands). Captain and Bridge Officer skills are organized between both systems, with each skill improvement applying to either space combat or ground combat only.
Star Trek Online offers a skill-based crafting system that differs from the more conventional item generation features found in most MMORPGs. By collecting various particles or data samples throughout the universe, players are able to craft items of varying degrees of level to help them in their missions. As a player's crafting skill level increases, they gain access to a wider array of more powerful items. Players may craft different types of weapons, shields, or engines for their ships, along with equipment, and weapons for ground missions. All come in degrees from common to ultra-rare. The introduction of the Gear Upgrade System shortly before Season 10 allows most items in the game to be upgraded in level and rarity, while also allowing for Epic grade items to be made. Previously, Epic items were restricted to special event and Z-store items.
Currently, a player may raise an attack Horta from hatchling status through the crafting system.
Note: Crafting system has been changed in Season 9.5 and it is now referred as R&D (Research and Development) under Duty Officer menu.
Player economy and rewards
Upon completing missions, players gain Skill Points, Expertise, various credits like; Fleet Credits, Fleet Marks (Both released in Season 6), Dilithium (replacement for the old marks system released in Season 5), Energy Credits, and Gold-Pressed Latinum (currency used in the Dabo mini-game). The paid currencies are ZEN (the microtransaction currency of Perfect World Entertainment titles) and Lobi Crystals (as an indirect purchase in the Z-Store, or through Lock Box reveals) using real world money. On most assigned missions, players can choose a single prize from a multitude of reward items related to one of the above-mentioned ship or personal equipment categories. Equipment is organized in a similar arrangement to skills, applying to either ground equipment (kits, weapons, personal shields, and body armor) or spaceship parts (consoles, weapons, shields, deflector dishes, ship devices, engines and hangar pets). Equipment can be purchased from various NPC's at starbases, or through the Exchange (a silent-buy player market) utilizing only Energy Credits, or directly from Equipment Dealers at Earth Space Dock using only Dilithium. Advanced equipment for both space and ground is available through projects requiring Marks - Fleet Marks for Fleet (guild) projects, or Omega/Romulan Marks for the personal Reputation system (introduced in Season 7).
Equipment that is rare or uncommon in value may bind to a single character or to that player's account (allowing the item to be used by any character on that account via the Account Bank, or in-game mail system) on purchase. This limits resale value once used; if a player equips a character-bound or account-bound item, they lose the ability to sell it later without heavy restrictions on the value of the item. Equipment not bound to a player can be resold on the Exchange for Energy Credits to other players without restriction. If bound, equipment can be resold to any vendor for 40 to 50% of the item's value depending on vendor and location, given to another character via mail or Account Bank (only if account bound), or simply be discarded in the ship's replicator (this game's version of a recycler) for a third of the item's value. Locked items cannot be sold and include pre-order bonuses, mission-specific items, and unlocked veteran reward items.
There are also "Requisitions", or a single point toward a specific type of free item for the current character's class. For example, as a part of normal advancement, a player can receive a ship requisition from their current mentor contact for a particular class of starship at any Starbase after a major rank change (Ensign to Lieutenant, Lieutenant to Commander, etc.) This requisition is redeemable only once, and only allows purchase of a ship that matches the rank ability of the character (once becoming a Lieutenant-Commander, Lieutenant ships are no longer available to requisition: getting another Lieutenant class ship costs Dilithium or Zen.) Requisitions are also issued through the Duty Officer system to purchase uncommon, rare, or very rare duty officers.
It is possible for players to pool resources in a number of ways. Missions are issued from Starfleet Command for Federation characters and The Klingon Defense Force (KDF) for Klingon Empire characters. Players can then join together on the ground or in space to complete these missions. Gameplay is fully cooperative and dynamic events serve as one part of the game. Teaming can be done using "Open Teaming" (which automatically joins up with a team running the same mission), or through traditional ad-hoc or search methods used in other MMOs. A fleet is the term for guilds in Star Trek Online, and is formed among a group of players. Fleets allow access to a central fleet bank, a chat channel, a Fleet Starbase as well as other fleet 'holdings' that can be upgraded and advanced by completing projects (Introduced in Season 6), and allow a fleet insignia to replace their faction logo on their starship as well as on their uniforms. Also in Season 6, special raids and 'fleet actions' have been released which are only accessible to players if they are currently in a fleet.
Special Missions are available that require teamwork as a prerequisite to accomplish a larger task. Fleet Actions are available in-game that require the cooperation of a number of players to complete a ground mission together. Special Task Forces are considered 'End Game' content and allow max level characters of multiple factions to unite to defeat a common enemy, currently only the Borg Collective, but plans are in the works for Tholian Assembly as well as Iconian Special Task Force missions in future seasons. Deep Space Encounters are spread across all maps in what is known as 'Sector Space', and allow players to team up to clear a field of a number of combatants or space mobs in open-space battle. A neutral zone exists between Federation and Klingon space that allows Player vs. Player combat between factions. Combatants queue up on a match map in space or through the PvP queues (currently as of Season 6 accessible from the drop down menu under the mini map) and fight the opposing faction to meet a single objective (defeat all, timed match, capture the flag, etc.).
Genesis System (Exploration missions)
There is a capability to explore new star systems in the game. Players will be able to explore inside of uncharted star systems, and might find anomalies that open new resources and technologies, or uncharted planets offering random diplomatic or combat missions. In Season 2, a variety of missions in the Genesis system were added to the Diplomatic XP system, which over time grants non-combat missions, additional titles, and special items.
The exploration clusters were removed in Season 9.5. The Duty Officer Assignments regarding the exploration clusters are unchanged and can still be accessed via a location near the previous enter/exit points before the removal of the clusters.
Similar to raids in other MMORPGs, Fleet Actions are special missions in which up to 20 players must cooperate to achieve a common goal. These missions can take place both in space as well as on the ground. Contrary to the name, players do not have to be members of a fleet (Star Trek Online's guilds) to participate in some of these maps. However, in Season 6: Under Siege special 'fleet action' maps and queues were released that do require a player to be currently in a fleet to participate. As such these special fleet actions reward a currency known as Fleet Marks in addition to Skill Points and Expertise that can be spent on projects through the fleet's holdings section via the fleet menu accessible from under the mini map to be used to help advance the fleet's starbase and other 'holdings' and projects.
In the Starbase 24 mission, the earliest accessible Fleet Action, players must work together to destroy 50 Klingon ships to protect the titular facility. Additionally, players can choose to beam down to the surface of Starbase 24 to complete various objectives.
Players who contribute the most in these battles are ranked upon completion and the highest-ranking contributors are awarded with powerful items ranging from green (uncommon), blue (rare), to in some instances purple (very rare) qualities.
The Foundry (User Generated Missions)
On December 2, 2010, The Foundry went in open beta on Tribble, the test server.
The Foundry allows players to create their own missions and story-arcs that other players can play and then rate and comment upon. It was initially scheduled to be released on Holodeck, the live server, on February 24, 2011. The February 24 date was again pushed back due to the active Reman Featured Episodes and has been released to the Holodeck as of March 29, 2011
In August 2012, the Foundry received a major upgrade and overhaul which added more customization options, easier access to maps and generating story content, as well as adding additional maps and objects that can be used by players to craft more advanced and higher quality missions more easily. It is to be noted that despite these major upgrades, the Foundry is still very much under constant development with new features and bug fixes added a few times each major game update or Season.
Whereas originally Foundry missions were only available if a user searched for them in a separate tab, the "Foundry Top 3 System" introduced in 2015 now shows 3 random missions out of the top 100 for a certain planet's "door" in sector space in-game.
Duty Officer System (Offline progression)
Introduced with Season 5, the Duty Officer System allows players to assign NPC characters called duty officers to tasks both on and off the player's ship. Once the duty officer is assigned to a task, no further input is needed from the player to ensure its completion. This method of game play is optional, and players earn in-game rewards for utilizing it. This system equates to essentially offline character progression, as missions occur in real time (whether the player is signed in or not) and one of the rewards for completed Duty Officer missions include XP as well as points in Expertise that can be used to advance Bridge Officer NPC's on your ship. Another reward is points towards various Duty Officer XP ranks in Diplomacy, Science, Exploration, etc., with higher ranks leading to character prestige abilities (Transwarp to DS9, etc.) and new player titles as well as free Rare/Very Rare Duty Officers. Limits to offline progress involve the number of Duty Officers available, Assignment slots available (current maximum is 20, upgradeable to 23 in a high-level fleet), and the types of Duty Officers and consumable inventory owned, as certain missions have prerequisites. Mission durations range from as short as 15 minutes to as long as 48 hours; duty officers used for a mission are unavailable for other missions until that time expires.
The Duty Officer system and menu underwent two significant updates in Seasons 6 and 9.5 to make the menu easier to navigate as well as make projects easier to understand and clarify the rewards that will be granted if the assignment is successful. Lastly, the listing of the assignment's rarity in which the more rare an assignment is, the more the rewards are multiplied if the assignment has a 'Critical Success' or superior outcome.
Cryptic has talked about future plans to release an App for mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, as well as other smartphones and tablet computers that will allow players to manage their Duty Officers even when away from their main computer, however no specific time table has been released for when this feature will be available.
Seasons (Free updates)
Updates to the game are called "Seasons" and are issued to current subscribers free of charge. Season releases are versioned, with major releases offering broad changes, and minor versions that add simpler features, "Quality of Life" changes, and bug fixes.
|Season & Title||Release Date||Description|
|Season 1: Common Ground||March 25, 2010||Season 1 added high-level content known as Special Task Forces, new ships, additional captain skills and re-specialization, an achievement-based accolade system that grants additional experience points and titles, the first crafting system revamp, and UI improvements. Two smaller related updates: Season 1.1 on April 29 and Season 1.2 on June 3.|
|Season 2: Ancient Enemies||July 27, 2010||Season 2 included new factions and sectors, a level-equity system, a level cap increase (to level 50), diplomacy XP and ranks issued for non-combat missions, first contact and diplomacy missions, scanner and Dabo mini-games, retrofit ships for tier five vessels, and ship interiors. The Feature Episodes also started, arranged in series' with five episodes each. A single episode is released each Saturday with a break between each series.|
|Season 3: Genesis||December 9, 2010||Season 3 focused primarily on bug fixes and UI improvements. Sector Space was completely redone, Pi Canis sector block opened to Klingons, new Klingon quests were added, NPC vendors were merged and organized, second crafting revamp was done, and new elite loot sets were added. (This was the final season released with Atari Corporation as the publisher.)|
|Season 4: Crossfire||July 7, 2011||At launch, Season 4 contained the new Ground Combat 'Shooter Mode' and a completely revamped Qo'noS|
|Season 5: Call to Arms||December 1, 2011
January 17, 2012
Season 5 focused primarily on the conversion of Star Trek Online to a free-to-play model. Players who pay for a subscription are now referred to as "Gold" members and those who play for free are "Silver" members. Additionally, the in-game economy was overhauled; emblems, marks, and badges have now been condensed into a single currency, dilithium. Other major changes include a complete revamp of the skill system, faster leveling, the addition of an event calendar and mission journal, a "duty officer" system, and a new ground event. Major changes were also made to the Klingon faction. Klingon play is now unlocked when a Federation character reaches level 25, and the Klingon character will begin at level 21.
|Season 6: Under Siege||July 12, 2012||
Season 6 brings new content and game mechanics for fleets. Fleets become more central part of Star Trek Online, they can develop their own starbases, which they improve and advance with the earning of Fleet Marks. The new game mechanics include Colony Invasion, in which you defend a colony against an invading force and No Win Scenario, in which you defend a defenseless transport against increasing enemy attacks.
|Season 7: New Romulus||November 13, 2012||
Season 7 primarily focused on the expansion of the Romulan storyline after the 2009 Star Trek reboot. A new area in the game, the Tau Dewa Sector Block, was added to the Romulan region of space. The new Romulan homeworld was added to the game along with several new missions and a Fleet Embassy that can be leveled up in the same manner as the Fleet Starbase introduced in Season 6. Season 7 also introduced a "reputation system" intended to expand the advancement of endgame characters. Lastly the season marked the release the final Borg Collective based Special Task Force endgame mission "Into the Hive" and a complete rework of the endgame Special Task force reward system.
|Season 8: The Sphere||November 12, 2013||
Season 8 takes place in a Dyson sphere in the Delta Quadrant. There, allied Federation, Klingon, and Romulan forces battle for control of the sphere against the Voth, who are a new enemy faction. It includes the first space adventure zone, a ground battlezone, a revamped reputation system with a new faction (the Dyson Joint Command) and a Fleet Spire, which is a large structure in the sphere controlled by the player's fleet. It also includes a new Federation Tutorial. The Feature Episode "Sphere of Influence", released October 30, 2013, serves as a prologue for Season 8.
|Season 8.5||January 30, 2014||
Season 8.5 expanded the content from Season 8, alongside several new updates. It contained revamped Federation Story missions, revamped Undine space combat and a revamped Ship Management and Loadout system.
|Season 9: A New Accord||April 22, 2014||
Season 9 continued the story in the Solanae Dyson Sphere, and will focus on the Undine. It included a new Earth Spacedock, a revamped Reputation System with a new faction (8472 Counter-Command), a revamped Undine faction, a Space Battle Zone, a revamped Kit system, a revamped Character Creator, upgrades to raider - type ships, and new and revamped endgame story missions.
|Season 9.5||July 17, 2014||
Season 9.5 expanded upon the content of season 9. It included a completely new and revamped crafting system (R&D), changes to Duty Officers UI, removal of exploration clusters along with Memory Alpha (Old R&D center), and new uniforms for Federation and Klingon characters.
|Season 10: The Iconian War||April 21, 2015||
Season 10 marked the beginning of the Iconian War, which was build up since early in the story. It included a revamped sector space, a new Reputation faction, the "Iconian Resistance", a new ship type; "Pilot Ships", and new enemies, the Iconian Heralds.
|Season 10.5||July 16, 2015|
|Season 11: A New Dawn||October 27, 2015||
Season 11 will begin an entirely new story after the end of the Iconian war, focused upon "rebuilding and hope". It will include a new Admiralty System, which will allow players to send out their inactive ships on assignments, revamped "Cardassian Struggle" story missions, a new Reputation faction, the "Terran Task Force", a new Space Battlezone, and a "Dry Docking" feature, which will allow players to store their unused ships for prolonged periods of time.
Expansion pack: Legacy of Romulus
Legacy of Romulus is Star Trek Online's first expansion pack, announced on March 21, 2013. A third playable faction, the Romulan Republic, will be added, with the choice of Romulans or Remans (at present) as player characters, as they battle a mysterious new enemy and try to discover the secrets behind the destruction of Romulus two decades earlier. Denise Crosby, who reprised her role of Tasha Yar during STO's third anniversary, reprised her role of Tasha's daughter Sela, the Romulan Empress. Also featured is a complete leveling experience from level 1 to 50 (the current level cap) for the Romulans and for the Klingons, a Tholian reputation faction, a customizable UI, and an overhauled "traits" system.
Legacy of Romulus was released on May 21, 2013, between the Season 7 and Season 8 releases.
Expansion pack: Delta Rising
Delta Rising is Star Trek Online's second expansion, announced at the Official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas on August 2, 2014. Cryptic had hinted of a new expansion in December 2013, with a release "late in 2014". The expansion will be set in the Delta Quadrant, the main setting of Star Trek: Voyager. Tim Russ will reprise his role as Admiral Tuvok (who appeared in two feature episodes in Season 9), and he will be joined by Garrett Wang as Captain Harry Kim of the USS Rhode Island (established in the Voyager series finale "Endgame"), Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine, Robert Picardo as the Doctor, and Ethan Phillips as Neelix. Lead Designer Al Rivera said that "several" Voyager cast members would appear in Delta Rising. The level cap will be raised from 50 to 60, adding two new ranks for each faction: Admiral and Fleet Admiral for the Federation and the Romulan Republic, and General and Dahar Master for the Klingons. Several Delta Quadrant races that appeared in Voyager will also be included in the new content, as well as a new tier of ships for the higher levels. As well a Delta Reputation tree for players to progress though.
Two subscription plans were originally available: Monthly Subscription was available for $14.95 a month with price breaks available for 3, 6 or 12-month payments. Lifetime Subscription was offered during the beta release as a promotion for $249.99 which waived the monthly fee as long as the account was not cancelled. Lifetime Subscriptions were also allowed two free character slots and unlocked 'Liberated Borg' as a playable species, both of which were not offered to players buying Lifetime Subscriptions after the Beta Test and Head Start access ended. After launch the Lifetime Subscription price rose to $299.99. In Season 1, a number of perks were added to all Lifetime players (pre- and post-launch) including primarily access to "The Captain's Table", a private joint-faction starbase exclusive to lifetime and veteran subscribers.
After Star Trek Online adopted a hybrid Free-to-Play model, a third, no-fee tier was added. Silver Class users have no monthly fee, but limited access to certain features. Gold Class users pay the subscription fee in exchange for perks not offered to the Silver Players and a monthly allotment of ZEN included. Lifetime players have the same perks as Gold Class players, including the monthly ZEN allowance and all of the veteran rewards issued immediately, without the monthly fee. All three tiers have access to the Z-Store. (See below.)
Additional content for Star Trek Online is available through the ZEN currency via the Z-Store, which are purchased at the game website in fixed amounts of $10, $20, $50 and $100, with a price break at $100 (300 additional ZEN for free). They are also usable in other Cryptic games including Champions Online, but once ZEN is assigned to a game, it cannot be moved to another title under Perfect World Entertainment. Additional items available for purchase include added television and movie costumes, additional ship designs, new player and bridge officer races, pre-order bonus items, temporary boosts, master keys (which unlock in-game Lock Box items that contain a random reward), and account services. Limited items purchased in the Z-Store can be resold on the Exchange.
Dilithium and ZEN
Added to the Season 5 Free-to-Play launch, an Exchange Store was added to the game where dilithium can be exchanged for ZEN (and vice versa) through an in-game player exchange (blind sale with the lowest 5 transactions visible, usually 1 ZEN equalling approximately 180 dilithium, varying according to player involvement in the exchange sending the price up or down). This allows free-to-play players to participate in Z-Store purchases, as well as allowing players with ZEN to exchange their unused points towards dilithium, which can be used by itself to purchase uncommon, rare, and very rare in-game items as well.
Dilithium is given throughout the game in small amounts for mission completion and during player advancement as unrefined dilithium. Refining it makes the dilithium available to spend or trade, although a limit on how much dilithium can be refined per day exists according to the subscription tier your player is under: the limit for Gold/Lifetime players is 8,000 refined dilithium generated per day per character.
ZEN cannot be earned through any method except by participating in the Exchange using dilithium, or purchasing it online. ZEN is available through the use of prepaid cards at many brick-and-mortar retailers including Target, Walmart, and Best Buy in $10 (1000 ZEN) and $20 (2000 ZEN) increments.
On September 1, 2011, Cryptic Studios announced that Star Trek Online would switch to free-to-play, but without full access to all the items. Later, it was announced that free-to-play would be starting Tuesday January 17, 2012. F2P for existing, but cancelled, customers began Thursday January 5.
In April, 2010, Cryptic Studios launched a program known as Veteran Rewards which grants players additional perks, titles and items based on their total paid subscription time. Disbursements occur in 100-day increments and do not count days in which an account is inactive. In the case of Lifetime Players, time accrues for the Loyalty Program as long as the account is not cancelled. A similar system was implemented in one of Cryptic's previous games, Champions Online. As of October 10, 2012 all lifetime subscribers to the game (including new lifetime subscribers) receive all the veteran rewards through 1000 Day issued immediately, regardless how long that the player has participated.
Initially, Perpetual Entertainment developed the game from 2004 to 2008 until its bankruptcy in January 2008. The license to develop the game and art assets were transferred to Cryptic Studios; however, the code remained with Perpetual Entertainment and its Perpetual Game Engine.
Cryptic Studios officially announced the development of Star Trek Online on July 28, 2008, as a countdown timer on Cryptic's web site reached zero and the new official site was launched. A letter was sent out from Jack Emmert, the game's online producer, detailing some aspects of Cryptic's approach.
Cryptic originally announced (and since released) a Windows version of STO. During the Las Vegas conference in August 2008, Cryptic announced that there would be neither Linux nor Mac versions for the original launch, though they did not rule out the possibility of later port releases. As of 11/11/13, the STO Mac version was in open Beta, and by 3/18/14, it was released, though highly problematic. Console versions were announced several months before the release, with no specific console platform specified, but Cryptic has since announced that all console versions of their games are on indefinite hold due to difficulties "on the business side of things," largely referring to the fees assessed by Microsoft for their Xbox Gold premium online gaming service and the difficulty in asking a player to pay both that and the Cryptic subscription fee to play a single game.
Star Trek Online was released in North America on February 2, 2010, in Europe on February 5, 2010, and in Australia on February 11, 2010. Customers who ordered the game in advance were able to gain access to the game on January 29, 2010 (before the official release date), via a bonus 'head-start' which was included with pre-order packages.
Las Vegas Star Trek Convention 2008
On August 10, 2008, the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention was held at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Leonard Nimoy and Cryptic Studios Chief Creative Officer Jack Emmert together revealed the first gameplay trailer, featuring various Federation and Klingon starships in combat with each other and Borg vessels, as well as footage of a Klingon squad boarding a Federation ship's bridge. The release date was not publicly revealed except that it would be less than three years.
Star Trek Online's closed beta test officially began when it was announced on October 22, 2009. Cryptic Studios offered guaranteed beta access to users who bought 6-month and lifetime subscriptions to Champions Online. However, the offer did not explicitly state how early in the beta process the access would be granted. Some pre-order packages included access to the 'open beta' running from January 12–26, 2010.
Release and operations
Cryptic Studios partnered with several retailers for distribution of pre-order copies. Each retailer had a version with unique and exclusive content, such as a Borg Bridge Officer (Amazon), a classic Constitution-class starship (Gamestop), Sniper Rifle (Target), Chromodynamic armor (Steam), 500 bonus skill points (WalMart), Neodymium deflector dish (SyFy), or a Tribble/Targ pet (Best Buy). All versions of the game came with access to the Open Beta and Head Start launch date. These are on a limited basis, but may still be found after launch, depending on stock. At launch, Cryptic allowed single accounts to apply multiple retail keys, adding multiple pre-order benefits to their current account (without the free month of play that came with the title). Most of the pre-order benefits are now available through the Cryptic Points store without purchasing a retail box or adding time to an account.
In addition, the code for a "Wrath of Khan" Admiral's uniform is included in the DVD release of "The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation Volume 2" and the Blu-ray release of "Star Trek: The Original Series -- Season 3."
Also, Cryptic partnered with Del Taco to offer codes with collectible cups (Macho size drinks) that come with a Type 8 Shuttlecraft non-combat "pet", as well as two days of trial time per code that allow a total of 10 days of trial play time when a player uses all four available codes.
On February 25, 2010, Atari announced that they would be reducing the cost of Star Trek Online on their online store by $10 and including an extra sixty days of free game time, as a limited time offer that expired on March 3, 2010.
The game has adopted a hybrid free-to-play model as of January 17, 2012; the free-to-play tier ended the sale of the Star Trek Online retail box at stores as well as unused retail codes. Players on a subscription can continue as a Gold Class player, receiving a monthly allowance of ZEN, a higher cap of Energy Credits, and other perks not offered to Free-To-Play users in the Silver Class. Non-payment of the subscription fee changes the account to Silver Class until the subscription resumes. Lifetime Players can receive Gold Class benefits (including the monthly allotment of ZEN) without paying the monthly subscription fee.
Upon launch, Star Trek Online was owned by Cryptic Studios and published by Atari Interactive, along with sister title Champions Online. On May 17, 2011, Atari indicating they no longer wanted to pursue MMORPG gaming, and that they planned to sell Cryptic Studios off. Later in that same month, Perfect World Entertainment purchased Cryptic Studios for $50.3 million and continued their operations.
The in-game real-world currency has had repeated name changes due to the shifting ownership of publishers: initially Cryptic Points, they became Atari Points shortly after the Star Trek Online launch, then reverted to Cryptic Points after Atari sold STO to Perfect World Entertainment and stripped Atari's logos and assets from the client. After securing the publishing rights to Cryptic's games from the Atari sale, Perfect World has changed the currency name to "ZEN" (which matches the real-world currency in all of their other titles.)
Due to a business agreement with their international partners in certain regions, Perfect World Entertainment blocks Star Trek Online from certain regions, including China, Taiwan, Russia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Macau, Vietnam and Egypt and will apply this block both to players wanting to start as well as existing accounts that travel to these regions.
Star Trek Online has received mixed reviews, garnering a 66 on Metacritic. GameSpot praised the game's space combat as entertaining, but found the other aspects of the game to be "bland and shallow". MMOify's reviewer reviewed the game favorably but criticized many aspects of gameplay, including "poor voice acting" and repetitive quests. An IGN reviewer described the game experience as feeling like "two games" which did not mesh together well, and although visually it was "quite a gorgeous game", found much of the gameplay to be repetitive in nature.
On January 4, 2011, Massive Online Gamer announced that Star Trek Online won Best New MMO of 2010 in its Reader Choice Awards 2010.
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