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While reading this please note there could be some limitations that I do not know of that could cause this to not be possible. Also please know that although English is my first language, I am not the best at grammar and punctuation.
Originally Posted by dstahl
Finding the RIGHT solution for exploration sectors is on my planning agenda and as we wrap up all the other season 3 stuff, I'm knee deep in season 4 feature write ups. So much to do! but I do need rest now and then.
After reading that dstahl is attempting to brain storm some ideas for new exploration sectors I thought I might share some ideas. I was thinking that using some random events may work. I don't mean random like we have now where you enter the exploration sector and scan an anomaly that takes you to a random mission. What I have in mind would also add something to interiors.
Main exploration could be done from the bridge, this could also if possible help the view-screen get some functionality. While at warp the view-screen could have the standard streaks of stars that we see in the show and movies, this view could be switched on and off. Now when it comes to missions the view-screen could display a 3-D animated image of an NPC you would normally see in the text windows we currently have, but the actual text could appear in a separate little box on the corner of the screen much like the little tool tips we get every so often.
Once you read through the text there would be a "Respond" button on the corner of this text window. When you hit the "Respond" button the text window changes to give you response choices. Depending on what you say the NPC would react in different ways. Now of course when it comes to the reaction of the NPC nobody wants to have it saying the same thing each time you do that type of mission, with that type NPC. Thats where variables come in, each time you receive a hail the variables calculate a personality and the appropriate script for the randomly chosen NPC along with player responses and NPC responses. There are also a few ways to add in some constants, for instance if the NPC you are talking to is a Vulcan when the scripts and responses are generated the variables take into account that Vulcan's are logical and add that to the personality profile for that NPC. If the NPC is Bajoran the variable would take into account that most Bajoran's are spiritual and often friendly, but also can be tough when threatened. Romulan's have lost their home-world and many blame the Federation for it, not all Romulan's feel this way but many do so what they say mayreflect this. Andorian's are often tough but also honest and usually do not fight without reason. Betazoid's are telepathic/empathic. Tellarite's of course enjoy a good argument and love to complain so when you end up talking to one the script and response choices should reflect this.
When an event happens where one of your BOff's needs to tell you something a text window will pop-up much like they do now. When the BOff is asking for orders the text window will appear and orders available give will appear below the text just as they do now.
I have already seen most of the above ideas in action, though I am not sure if they were executed in the way I am thinking. During one of the Breen missions there were multiple choices for what you could say and you could anger the NPC.
Third Person Control and Bridge View Exploration)
Some people may feel that we still need some kind of third person view like we have now. So I figure that if people want a third person view available as well then there could be 2 exploration modes, third person exploration and bridge view exploration. Third person would basically be what we have now for missions and basic layout only the look would be tweaked like how sector space is being changed. Bridge view would be when you are in your ship interiors and are working mainly on your bridge, you could also roam your ship if you have reason to and when an event happens you science officer, tactical officer or helmsman could call you on your communicator. When you enter an exploration sector you are given the choice between these two exploration modes.
-Under attack and Require Assistance
The basic NPC calling for combat assistance. However this might be for space combat or the NPC ship may have been boarded...or both
-Help With Repairs
NPC ship calling for help with repairing damaged systems. Lets say the NPC's warp core is offline and they need help bringing it online, you would beam over, figure out whats wrong by asking the computer and the captain and/or chief engineer of the NPC ship questions. Once you have a solid theory on what is wrong, you talk to the NPC computer, chief engineer and possibly an engineer you bring along with you about a solution. You then implement that solution by using a console in engineering that has different commands you can choose.
An NPC ship crewman has fallen ill to a quite possibly deadly virus or an epidemic has infected the NPC ship and you must stop it. (A mission much like what I am talking about took place as one of the starter diplomatic missions)
Mostly simple missions much like Aid the Planet only its a ship. Another possible circumstance for some of these missions could be that what the NPC is asking for can actually be manufactured by the NPC itself and the player can offer to show them how. Depending on the auto generated personality the NPC could decline the offer for showing them how to manufacture this and just ask for the supplies. Also depending on the personality, if the player refuses to give anything to the NPC in either case, in a way the NPC takes offensively or the NPC just won't take no for an answer, the NPC may attack the player ship.
-Planetary Distress Calls
-Under attack and require assistance
The planet sending out the distress signal may be being bombarded with torpedoes and/or troops have been beamed down to the planet surface and you must stop it. A special Klingon version of this could be that if the people calling for help are not allies of the empire, Klingon's could respond to the call and take the opportunity to conquer.
-Help With Repairs
Basically the same principles as the Starship repair only would have to do with planetary systems.
The planet may be a farming colony and its equipment for watering has broken down and they need help in fixing it (For completion of this mission the player could receive a large quantity of fresh fruit, vegetables and/or livestock which when used gives a hit-point buff to your you or your away team). The planet may be a dilithium mining colony and their mining equipment has broken down and they need your help in fixing it (For completion of this mission the player could receive a large, highly pure quantity of dilithium which when used would grant a power buff to the players ship).
Same principles as the Starship medical assistance only a planet. Along with the circumstances from the Starship version a planetary may have missions such as this. The planet is a farming colony, their livestock has become ill and they need your help (For completion of this mission the player could receive a large quantity of fresh fruit, vegetables and/or livestock which when used gives a hitpoint buff to your you or your away team). If the planet is a dilithium mining colony, they're may be an epidemic and they need you to find a cure (For completion of this mission the player could receive a large, highly pure quantity of dilithium which when used would grant a power buff to the players ship). (A mission much like what I am talking about took place as one of the starter diplomatic missions)
Basically Aid the Planet. If the NPC is speaking on behalf of a colony and is asking for something they can get from the planet or they could manufacture then the player has the choice to show them how to do so (dilithium).
-Environmental Disaster (Quakes(Earth equivalent-Earthquakes-), tornado, hurricane...)
There has been an environmental disaster on the planet and you must help save people from the rubble of damaged structures.
Many of the above sub-types could be mixed together (ex. Environmental disaster: You must help get damaged critical systems back online)
A vessel is approaching the ship at high warp with weapons charged. You do not know what their intentions are. They may only have weapons charged because they were being chased or as just as a precaution.
You can hail them and/or do one of the following. Go to red-alert and bring weapons and shields online but will probably be taken as a hostile act. Go to yellow alert bringing only shields online and protecting your ship will show that you are giving the unidentified vessel that you are giving them the benefit of the doubt, but may also be taken as a hostile act. Leave weapons and shields offline. Go to red-alert, order an intercept course and all hands to battle stations (If ordered to battle stations then you may not hail them). Depending on your actions the outcome can change.
If you do nothing the ship may simply pass you by, but if it is hostile it may attack your ship. If you go to yellow alert the vessel with either pass you by, take you raising shields as hostile and attack you or it was hostile in the first place and will attack you no matter what. Going to red-alert will do anything yellow-alert would except there is a higher chance of it being taken as hostile. Red-alert, ordering an intercept course and all hands to battle-stations will simply pull you and the vessel out of warp and begin combat. Hailing the vessel while following one of the cases except for battle stations can significantly help you determine the best course of action as well as in determining the vessels intentions.
If the vessel responds to your hails then they will come up on the view-screen along with the text window for showing what they are saying and for the player to respond. If the player offends the NPC or becomes hostile with it the NPC may open fire or just leave. If the vessel turns to attack you at any point your tactical officer will inform you and you will be pulled out of warp.
Another circumstance in this type could be that the vessel is warping to you with a device that works like the breen device from DS9 that disrupts shields and when they reach you they force you out of warp, use the device, and board your ship. Being boarded could also be another possibility if you do not raise shields and the vessel is hostile.
Your science officer picks up strange readings coming from a planet. If you decide to investigate you change course. When you get there you find that there is dangerous radiation coming from the surface, and the planet is inhabited. Depending on the stage the inhabitants is at (pre-warp,pre-industrial...) you will need to either find and inhibit the radiation on your own making sure not to disturb the inhabitants or if they are deemed ready for first contact or have already had contact with warp capable species you may go at it alone or warn the inhabitants and offer assistance.
Many of the above missions have a diplomatic solution to them and could give diplomatic XP as a reward as well when the player completes it without violence.
These would only be available to those who earn them, like it is now. This mode of exploration however may allow the merging of first contact missions with other types like you may respond to a planetary distress call from an unknown species which once you help them you can then make proper first contact going through the normal process only it becomes easier then normal because you just saved them.