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There was recently a request for an updated description of how the duty officer and assignment systems will work, and as this dovetails in with some documentation I have been putting together for exactly that reason, this may suffice as a preview while I procrastinate figuring out some new Science assignment templates I would like to get to later today.
As always, all of the below may (and probably will) change over the course of internal development, observation on Tribble, and live. Much of this is reformatted and gleaned from previous responses in an attempt to put everything back in one place.
It should be emphasized that Department Heads and First Officers are still planned for deployment after the main part of the duty officer and assignment systems go live. There is a vast amount of technical user interface and design work that will have to be undergone to integrate the bridge officer and duty officer systems.
I will try to keep up with modifying these posts as more information becomes available to keep this as "real" as possible.
The Duty Officer and Assignment system is an optional mini-game themed around the logistics of managing the full crew complement of your ship.
We have several goals for the system:
Provide significant non-combat gameplay that fills the desire for less overtly aggressive styles of gameplay.
Create an engaging logistical mini-game.
Provide a supplementary or even alternative character advancement mechanic - this will be useful for both factions, but in particular should somewhat ease advancement issues in the KDF.
Establish a new set of parallel achievement goals and rewards in the form of the Commendation part of the system to give more goals for players who have hit cap.
Provide alternative and supplementary mechanics and support to an array of frustrations apparent in existing systems such as the process for gathering anomalies, gaining high quality bridge officers, the Diplomacy grind, the lack of a parallel Diplomacy system on the KDF side, lack of usage for commodities, need for more Energy Credit sinks, and so on.
When you finally get your hands on your first set of duty officers, don't sweat all the layers of complexity and options.
First, scan through your duty officers, in particular paying attention to which ones are Green or Blue quality in their crew portraits. Some of those will have "passive skills" - these are the ones that you can drop in your active roster. You probably won't actually have enough duty officers at the beginning to fill your active roster, so flip over to the active roster screen and just load in whomever you can, assuming you use the skills they modify. When the time comes that you do have to choose which ones to put in and which ones to leave out, just consider their passive skills and figure if any of them are skills you either use a lot or don't use at all. It's as simple as that. Remember, too, that you can frequently stack more than one duty officer of the same type in your active roster.
Second, every time you move to a new sector (note, sector, not just sector block) or every four hours, you will get an updated list of assignments. If you return to a sector - don't worry - as long as it hasn't been a few hours since your last visit, the assignments that were there before should still be there. Different assignments will be available depending on the sector, but you will learn that in time - no need to worry about it now. See an assignment that looks interesting and you have all the required commodities and duty officers for? Open it up, slot in who you can, and start it up. For common assignments, your chances of success are pretty good even if you don't min-max it, so at this point, there's no need to worry too much about it.
Some assignments with some special behaviors:
Military - Many of these can put your officers in Sick Bay or kill off some of your White quality duty officers even if successful. War is rough. They do, however, reward handsomely, so if you have duty officers to spare, this can be a good choice. Oh, and you can get prisoners-of-war of the opposite faction as duty officers too, which can then be interrogated or used in prisoner exchanges.
Espionage - These are rare, and almost all of them are very risky. Meaning, if you try them, you will want to put in high quality officers, and even then your chances won't be as good as you may be used to. They're worth it if you can pull it off, though.
Colonial - Most of these only appear in star clusters, and as you complete different assignments in a particular star cluster, more assignments will open up - but only in that star cluster.
Engineering - Some of these have "Experimental" in the title - these can give items, sometimes VERY good items. Put high quality officers on these if you can afford to.
Recruitment - Want more duty officers, or even bridge officers? Keep an eye on these. They're set up fairly logically too, meaning if you want more Andorian duty officers, expect to have to go to the sector of space the Andorian homeworld is in.
STATUS UPDATE Updated October 17, 2011 at 3:07pm PST
Removed release dates since they were either past or not officially announced.
Added clarification to release dates that Holodeck date is earliest possible date.
Updated Duty Officer section with newly posted information deeper in the thread.
Added more screenshots.
Added assignment outcome difficulty versus reward from deeper in thread into "Assignments" section at head of thread.
Added estimated dates.
Updated Duty Officer section to take into account revised KDF ranking scheme.
Added note in Duty Officer section about tradeability of duty officers (answer, vast majority will be tradeable.)
Added example ranking, species rarities and specializations.
Added "Quickstart" guide to first post.
Moved some info deeper in the thread into the Assignments section about how to tackle the depth of the choices offered for assignments.
I totaled up the number of duty officers built so far (over 6000) as well as the number of assignments currently built (a bit shy of 1000), and for both we are on target for the numbers of each we needed. For assignments, the final number will be substantially more than the minimum originally estimated.
The bulk of the technical work is done, however there remains a few minor and one critical piece that we are still working on that needs to be done before the system is sufficiently functional that we can push this to Tribble.
The expectation is that this will need to be on Tribble for about a month, possibly longer depending on the types of issues we run into.
Players will be able to collect a roster of junior "duty officers" (Doffs) that may either be slotted into the Active Roster of your crew complement, or alternatively sent out on assignments in return for rewards including skill points, bridge officer points, items, duty officer and bridge officer candidates, commendation points, energy, Merit/Honor among other types of rewards.
Duty officers will include both active-duty Starfleet and KDF personnel as well as some few civilians. Most duty officers will be able to both be slotted into your active roster or to be sent on assignment, meaning you will have to judge carefully the pros and cons of each allocation. There are planned to be set bonuses of similar (or diverse) selections of duty officers, though the full extent of this remains to be determined.
Duty officers that can be assigned to your crew's active roster will have a special passive ability based on the officer's specialization. For example, a tractor beam engineer specialist might provide a chance to proc an additional effect whenever you use a tractor beam. There are be separate Space and Ground active rosters. The number of active roster slots you have will vary depending upon your captain's rank.
It is possible to stack different duty officers of the same type, though there are some stack limits. For example, it is possible to fill your entire active roster with Science branch duty officers, though you might only be able to put a maximum of three Warp Theorists in your active roster at any one time.
In addition to specialization, duty officers are also distinguished by species (which sometimes have associated traits), quality (usually expressed as rank), rarity (loosely tied to quality) and gender.
Rarity is: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Very Rare
Quality is: White, Green, Blue, Purple
In the Federation, Humans are Common while Andorians, Tellarites and Vulcans are Uncommon. All other Federation species are Rare or Very Rare (the latter only currently used for Federation Klingons, I believe).
In the Klingon Empire, Klingons are Common while Orions, Nausicaans and Gorn are Uncommon. Letheans are Rare.
Rarity affects the likelihood of that particular duty officer becoming available through one of the various random mechanics for gaining duty officers - note, however, that not all mechanics are random, and even the "random" mechanics have rules. For example, you might be presented with an "Andorian Cultural Exchange" assignment that has a reward of one or more Andorian duty officers. Rarity is currently 1 Very Rare to 10 Rares to 100 Uncommons or 400 Commons, but this will almost certainly be tweaked once we see how it plays out on Tribble.
Quality affects the chance of success and critical success when that duty officer is put on an assignment, and also the duty officer's passive ability effects when put on your active roster.
Rarity and quality are correlated, but not rigidly linked - rarity is Common, Uncommon, Rare, Very Rare. Quality is White, Green, Blue, Purple. For the Federation, a Human of White quality is Common, while an Andorian of White quality is Uncommon. For the Klingons, a Klingon of White quality is Common, while an Orion of White quality is Uncommon. For assignments, quality and rarity is, however, linked, with Common always correlating to White quality, Uncommon with Green, and so on.
Human White: Common
Human Green: Uncommon
Human Blue: Rare
Human Purple: Very Rare
Vulcan White: Uncommon
Vulcan Green: Rare
Vulcan Blue: Very Rare
Vulcan Purple: Very Rare
Saurian White: Rare
Saurian Green: Very Rare
Saurian Blue: Very Rare
Saurian Purple: Very Rare
Species Traits include things like: Teamwork, Founders of the Federation, Stubborn, Honorable, Congenial, Telepathic, Spiritual, Seductive, Aggressive, Resilient, Peaceful, Logical, Emotional, Efficient, Eidetic Memory, Unscrupulous.
Despite common names, these traits work differently on duty officers than similarly named traits on players or bridge officers.
Duty officers can be acquired via:
Initial set based on character rank
Assignment rewards (most commonly Recruitment category, but not exclusively)
Commendation achievement rewards
Trading and the Exchange
C-Store purchase of packs
We are also planning on making sure they are available directly or indirectly through PvP.
Duty officers do not currently exist outside your duty officer interface; long-term we would like to have them appear on the inside of your ship.
Duty officers cannot be customized, nor can they directly gain experience. Assignments duty officers are put on can, however, award bridge officer points and commendation category experience points.
The vast majority of duty officers will be tradeable and available on the Exchange. This latter functionality may or may not be immediately available at release of the initial system - depends on timing for some things.
For every one of the standard species it is possible to get a duty officer for every specialization and quality. There also exist special unique duty officers with bonus or different traits and/or active roster abilities.
The standard C-Store pack has been revised several times and will probably be revised several more times before it even goes to Tribble. Currently, it consists of four guaranteed Commons, two Uncommons or better and one Rare or better. Note that rarity does not necessarily imply quality, although there is a loose correlation; some rare species are rare regardless of that particular duty officer's quality.
Effective value is not simply a matter of having the highest quality duty officers, but also the appropriate selection. For example, it does me little good to have four Purple quality Doctors if I have no interest in running Medical assignments and really want to run Colonial assignments, for which I need Quartermasters. Moreover, number matter as well - if I want to run multiple simultaneous Colonial assignments in an effort to maximize my advancement on the Colonial track, it isn't enough that I have one Blue or Purple Quartermaster, I might actually statistically be better off with three White quality Quartermasters.
Characters, whether existing or new characters who haven't bothered to open the system, will be given a stock set of duty officers based on your character's rank. The stock set is intended to allow you to start playing with the system and to start filling out your active roster, but will be basic.
Assignments represent both on-board and off-board appointments of personnel (usually) and commodities (sometimes) or other resources. All assignments take differing amounts of time before they are completed; the time can range from as little as a few minutes to as long as a week - rewards scale, but shorter completion times are weighted more heavily, since they require more player management time.
Assignments complete in the background; set your duty officers to work on them, go shoot things, consider another assignment, or go offline and read a book and the assignment will continue to plug away. When the assignment is complete, you will check the roster and view the results.
Assignments may have requirements (e.g., these two slots on the assignment may only be filled by engineers) and may also have modifiers (e.g., this slot gives you a better chance of success if it is filled by an Andorian or a duty officer with the Trader trait).
A player may only have a limited number of assignments going simultaneously. This number has changed several times during development of the feature, but is currently 10. It is very possible this may change again before the system goes live.
Previous mission or assignment completion will also be a prerequisite to having certain assignments available. For example, you might have to complete the "Establish Colony in the T'Ong Nebula" assignment before you are offered the "Provide Security against T'Ong Nebula Raiders" assignment.
Which assignments are available will change every few hours, and may also be gated by your captain's rank, what sector you are in, and other achievements.
Inputs may also include commodities such as medical supplies or provisions.
Rewards almost always will include skill points and bridge officer points and energy credits. Depending on the assignment, other rewards may also be available including DXP, merits/honor, badges/marks, energy units, commodities, items, additional assignments and new duty officers.
Each assignment has a rarity ranging from Common, Uncommon, Rare, Very Rare. There are also a few custom rarities as well.
Difficulty versus Reward
The rarer the assignment, the less frequently it will be available, but the more rewarding it will be.
Assignments are built to be leveless, meaning that wherever appropriate numerics (skill points, energy units, bridge officer points, merit/honor, etc.) will scale to what is appropriate for your level.
Commendation points are not scaled, as they are independent of the standard ranking system. You could have hit Tier 4 in Military or Trade and still be a Lieutenant Commander, in theory.
(In practice, since you get skill points for the vast majority of assignments, even if you did nothing but assignments and never went into a mission, you'd probably level up a few ranks by the time you hit Tier 4 in a commendation category.)
Some assignments do have a minimum level requirement, but these are generally not "better", they're just locked to higher level for thematic or practical reasons - for example, you don't get Undine and Borg assignments until you can access the appropriate sectors. We may make certain accolades that require some of these level-required assignments; for example, we have been considering accolades for things like successfully raiding every planet in the Sol system as a Klingon, or completing archaelogical expeditions in every sector.
An assignment's degree of reward is based on several factors:
Rarer assignments have better rewards
Longer assignments have higher absolute rewards, but lower per capita/per second rewards (i.e., they are less efficient)
Assignments that have a higher chance of injury or death will have higher rewards
Assignments that have higher inputs (commodities, anomalies, energy units, etc.) will have higher rewards
Assignments that have no chance of disaster or failure will have lower rewards
Assignments that have a lower chance of success will have higher rewards; most assignments start at around 75% chance of success, but some are closer to 50%, meaning you need to put better duty officers into them for a more reliable chance of success
Assignments with more specific requirements will have higher rewards; for example, a requirement of "Projectile Weapons Specialist" will generally reward more than one that will take any Tactical officer
Assignments with tougher trait modifiers will tend to have higher rewards
Most situations where an assignment is qualitatively or quantitatively better are due to either rarity or due to qualifying for them due to having achieved a higher tier in certain commendation categories. For example, early on you can get a fairly rare assignment to get a bridge officer, and your degree of success will determine what quality level that bridge officer is. Later on, meaning once you've ranked up one of several commendation categories, you can encounter rare assignments that you simply need a basic success to get a blue or purple bridge officer.
Each assignment as one or more "outcomes". The standard outcomes are:
1. Critical Success
Not every assignment has all of these; some simply have Success, some have all but Disaster, and so on.
Duty officer traits - which may be species specific, specialization specific, or other - on an assignment by assignment basis may weight one or more of these outcomes more heavily either positively or negatively. A duty officer's Quality will also always positively affect the assignment's Success or Critical Success outcomes.
The current plan is that before accepting an assignment you will be told which traits will be good or bad for that assignment (and yep, a trait that is good for one assignment may be bad for another), although you probably won't be told the difference, say, between a trait positively affecting Critical Success and one positively affecting plain Success. Currently, a large majority of assignments affect Critical Success/Success equally and Failure/Disaster equally, though there are exceptions that are left for you to discover - for example, there is one where the Seduction trait increases your chance of both Critical Success and Disaster, but not Success or Failure.
Generally (and there are many exceptions), a critical success outcome currently will give you about ten times whatever numerical rewards there are, and in the case where the reward also includes a duty officer or item, a bump in quality level as well. There are lots of exceptions to this, and many special cases, however.
Similarly, a disaster outcome usually results in the deaths of any white quality duty officers put on the assignment and a chance for each higher quality duty officer to spend some R&R time in Sick Bay. Sick Bay and death results for white quality duty officers do sometimes occur outside of disaster outcomes, note - you can see crewmen die even on the successful completion of a ground action.
Any inputs to the assignment, such as commodities or energy units, are lost regardless of the outcome type.
In general, the chance of success is highest, followed by failure, critical success, then disaster as the most rare. Dangerous, risky or simply very uncertain assignments - and it should be pretty obvious which these are, so things like espionage infiltrations, ground military actions, or even commodities trading - tend to have roughly equal chances of success and failure, meaning you are highly motivated to put your best duty officers on those tasks. On the other hand some assignments like transport runs may not even have any chance of failure at all.
Rewards are scaled based on time (although longer assignments are per capita not as rewarding, since they require less micromanagement on the part of the player), assignment rarity, success versus critical success determination, amount of inputs (so if you have to put commodities or another type of item to do it, it will generally be more rewarding), danger to the assigned crew, chance of success, and existence of non-numerical rewards.
We are experimenting on integrating special assignments directly into missions. It should be emphasized, however, that this is an experiment.
OMG this sounds complicated...
Putting random guys onto assignments will honestly work just fine for most Common assignments, so just start with that and as you use the system more, hopefully the subtleties should start to make more sense.
The truth is, while you won't maximize your return on the system and you may have trouble with some of the rarer assignments, if you just throw a random Science duty officer on that anomaly-gathering assignment that requires any scientist, you'll still do just fine.
For purposes of sending duty officers on assignments or on your active roster, just ignore rarity. Rarity is only really relevant for collectors or if you want to figure, for example, how hard it might be to randomly pick up, say, a Blue Saurian as opposed to a Blue Vulcan.
For assignment, rarity/quality does matter, insofar if you see a Purple assignment you know it may be a long time before you see it again, and you also know it will be very well worth doing if you can complete it successfully.
When considering what duty officer to put on an assignment, first consider the mandatory requirements, then see if you have some of the preferred requirements - for example, Ferengi have the Trader trait, so while it isn't mandatory for a Trade assignment, it will be much more likely to succeed on it. Then put the highest quality (color) duty officer that you can afford to put on it if you want to increase your chances of success.
Subsequent to the duty roster system going live we will be rolling out the next component of the system: Department Heads and your First Officer.
Bridge officers will be able to "eat" duty officers of their own branch to learn those duty officer's passive abilities. (Fictionally, think of it as the duty officers are joining that bridge officer's staff.)
With the appropriate expenditures of Merit/Honor and for bridge officers with adequate training, a player can appoint a bridge officer to head up one of six departments - Tactical, Security, Science, Medical, Engineering, Operations. Once heading up a department, those "eaten" duty officer skills will become active.
(For the record, the term "eaten" is used in this description to make sure it is clear that the duty officer goes away.)
Slotting between stations (the current "Assignment" tab), away team and department head slots are independent; if you slot a bridge officer into the Tactical Department Head slot, their passive powers will be in effect. That exact same bridge officer could also be slotted into a bridge station or away team, but whether that bridge officer is or isn't his or her department passives will be in effect.
From department heads, a bridge officer can be promoted to a First Officer once you acquire special "trainer" duty officers. The skill imparted to a First Officer, however, will be an active, clickable skill that you can slot on your power bar and use in space.
When you appoint a first officer, another BO can replace them as department head. Your first officer's passive duty officer skills will however still be active as a first officer - so this means you can effectively double up on the passives in one department.
First Officers may be demoted, but there will be an associated cost, probably in Merit/Honor. The former first officer's skills will be retained, although inert unless reinstated. This is also true of department heads who are removed from their position - the passives they ate from their duty officers will still be there, they just will be inert and inactive until they are reinstated. The first officer skills have not been designed yet, but they are currently envisioned as being new skills, probably similar to your captain skills.
Department head and first officer skills for bridge officers will be in addition to their existing skills - getting them to play nicely with the bridge officers' existing skills is one of the reasons why that part of the system will be rolled out after the duty officer part of the system.
Department head skills are taken from duty officers in their own branch, so the passive skills they gain will in fact be associated with their branch of service. First officer active powers will probably also fall into this pattern as well, but there is still a lot of design that has to be done in this area so I can't promise anything.
Integral to the introduction of department heads and your First Officer we will be revisiting the entire crew user interface in an effort to streamline and integrate it, all with an eye to allowing us to build even more deeply upon that to provide even more functionality and depth to your crew.