Star Trek Online: 5 Years at Warp

Star Trek has had a troubled  past, both on the air and on the internet. A little known fact about Star Trek is that it actually failed the first time Gene Roddenberry attempted to pitch it to the networks. The pilot episode, which later made its way to VHS was rejected for a multitude of reasons. The studio claimed that the captain was unmemorable, Spock looked like a demon straight out of hell, and most importantly, the first officer was a woman, God forbid. The show came back, with a new captain, a new first officer, and the first officer reassigned as a nurse in sickbay. Still, despite these rather misogynistic changes to the script, the show was an overwhelming success, and it has even survived today in the form of two films by JJ Abrams. His movies, of course, dealt with the alternate universe established in the Enterprise series, but for those who are still interested in going where no man has gone before, Star Trek Online has done an outstanding job of continuing the original story in some form or another. With multiple patches dubbed ‘seasons’, Star Trek Online has continued to provide not only entertainment, but thought provoking storylines and content for players all around the world whether they have chosen to become a gold subscriber or remain one of the free to play members.

STO - Sol Space

 

A Rocky Start and a Strange Parallel

What many fans don’t realize is that Star Trek Online started under the development of Perpetual Entertainment. For whatever reason, Perpetual cased production and transferred the assets over to Cryptic Studios who managed to finish and turn Star Trek Online into a successful MMORPG. While the game is amazing at the moment, Perpetual Entertainment had several features planned that would certainly whet the appetites of the serious fans. For example, in the original game, users were not meant to own the larger starships, such as the Galaxy and the Sovereign class. Instead, these were slated to be towns, or hubs for players in space. In addition to that, players would have been given the ability to pilot non-federation ships, which, became part of the released game eventually. Still, it might have been nice to become a cargo ship captain.

Originally, players would have been able to explore larger ships, such as the Sovereign class as part of a 'hub' in space.

Originally, players would have been able to explore larger ships, such as the Sovereign class as part of a ‘hub’ in space.

Another aspect of the game, supposedly, would be its interaction with an accompanying television show. The actions of players in the game would have real consequences on the world of the television show, giving them ample reason to do their best – or worst, as the case may have been. Obviously this idea never did come to fruition, though there is no reason to say that it will not in the future.

There are several components of the original game that made it through to release. For example, players are able to complete missions on the ground as well as in space, though the majority of the game is played out in space. Federation players will have the ability to visit iconic locations such as Earth Starbase in the Sol System, Starfleet Academy itself, and even Vulcan (as it still exists in this universe). Before the game’s release there was much to look forward to. Players would finally have the chance to explore the Star Trek universe in a way that they had never dreamed possible. Sure there had been other Star Trek games before it, from Starfleet Command, to Elite Force, and even DS9: The Fallen. These were all great games, but they were nowhere near the scale suggested by Star Trek Online, and if all was successful, no other game would ever come close. Players would no longer be restricted by linear storylines, nor would they be confined to a single type of gameplay. Whether they wanted to fight on the surface of a planet, or perhaps engage in the exploration of the known universe, it would all be there. Who wouldn’t want to do their share and contribute to Memory Alpha, after all?

ST:O Beta inventory screen

Star Trek Online Beta inventory screen

The Final Countdown

The game had no specific release date as of 2008, buy Cryptic was more than fond of countdown timers. Eventually, many key features and details were released, and finally, Star Trek Online entered Closed Beta on October 22, 2009. The game played host to a number of different people until finally, Cryptic staged a Klingon invasion of Sol which would be interrupted by a Borg attack on Earth in which both sides would be placed in danger. This battle most certainly gained a place in STO history, and was a great way to end the closed beta.

 

The Final Beta Event

When the game was finally released, it flew under the Cryptic/Atari flag for some time, but would eventually be acquired by Perfect World International, a China-based developer. Not only did they acquire the game, they managed to snag the entire development team in August of 2011. Perfect World International has done its share to improve the game, including the addition of new staff, and the addition of new content.

 

STO - Fleet Starbase Interior

At launch, Star Trek Online featured a typical subscription system , starting at $14.99 and dropping to about $12.99 for multi-month subscriptions. The game also promoted a lifetime subscription which cost a hefty sum of $299.99 and allowed users to play for the life of the game. In addition to that, it allowed them to play as a liberated Borg drone – definitely a perk. Later on, the lifetime subscription would go on to include the new Talaxian race introduced with the Delta Rising expansion.

 

Free to Play – Pay to…Brag…or Borg

On September 2, 2011, it was announced that Star Trek Online would be going free to play with the normal restrictions being imposed on those who chose to avoid the subscription fees. Some of the drawbacks for free members included:

  • Smaller Inventory Sizes
  • Fewer Bank Slots
  • Fewer Bridge Officer Slots
  • Restrictions on Chat
  • Mail Restrictions
  • Voice Chat Restrictions
  • Lack of Access to STO Forums

All in all, these restrictions were not horrible crippling to the F2P community, and all story related content would still be available for both tiers, as it still is. PWI did however introduce veteran rewards which would be provided to gold subscribers who remained subbed for certain periods of time, the highest tier being provided at roughly 2.7 years. Some of the higher end perks included access to the Captain’s Table (a luxury area for veterans and lifetime subscribers), and of course, titles and ships of all manner. Perfect World International had done an outstanding job of creating a Free to Play title that still had plenty of perks for the paying players, which is something that many companies are still trying to figure out themselves.

 

Lifetime Subscription Benefit: Be the Borg your mother always said you could be!

Lifetime Subscription Benefit: Be the Borg your mother always said you could be!

STO Today

Today STO is going just as strong as it was in the old days. Fleets still gather in the heavens to take on missions both easy and hard, menial and epic. Far off in space established fleets build their own stations and run their own dilithum mines, ensuring the future security of the Federation, the Klingon, or Romulan Empires, wherever their loyalties happen to lie. With the latest expansions, Romulans have made their way into the game as a playable race, and in the current season, players have finally been introduced to the Delta Quadrant – the subject of Star Trek Voyager.

There are so many things for you to do inside the game, and of course, inside the Star Trek universe. Do you want to explore the surface of Vulcan? Would you like to visit Deep Space Nine and play a few rounds of Dabo at Quarks? Would you fancy a trip to Q’s Winter Wonderland? Maybe you would like to fight off the Undine as they attempt to defend their claim to fluidic space. The most important question of all, is how would you handle yourself if you had the chance to sit in the captain’s chair and pilot one of the behemoth starships under your preferred flagship? How would you handle a confrontation with the Klingons? Would you explore strange new worlds, or would you attempt to crash your newly minted starship into a random planet just because you could? There are so many questions to answer, and those answers can only be found in the world of Star Trek Online. As the game moves into the Delta Quadrant and old friends come out to play, one can only wonder what will be next for the Final Frontier.

STO - Voyager Crew

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About Rissa Trent

Rissa grew up on a farm, playing shareware games like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Operation Comat, Solar Winds, and Kingdom of Kroz. Later she would dabble in Real Time Strategy games, and eventually left home to go on a cross country adventure of self discovery where she found out absolutely nothing. Today she works as a copywriter and games journalist.