Star Trek Online exploring the F2P frontier

Latest subsciption MMO to test the F2P waters is going to be Star Trek Online; which was announced during an investor call with Cryptic’s new owners. I think a lot of people were expecting this to happen at some point, and we’ll wait to see how the various options will work out and what Cryptic may offer their lifetime sub holders. I think the monthly point-stipend that LOTRO gives out works fairly well for keeping lifetime players sweet.

I also remember commenting during beta that I thought STO would suit a F2P model better than subscription, and this is great news for anyone who wants to try a game with solid spaceship dogfighting without sub fees, especially if you like the Trek trappings. It might also be a fun game to play alongside SWTOR, which isn’t so big on the space battles but is likely to be stronger for storytelling/ roleplayers.

[STO] The Tribble Evolution Flowchart

Tribble breeding may be one of the strangest mini-games to have ever hit any MMO ever. Actually breeding the things is very easy:

  1. Take your tribble.
  2. Put in an enclosed area (such as your inventory) with anything edible and spare space.
  3. Wait one hour.

And that’s pretty much it. Given enough food, tribbles expand to fill the available space. They are also utterly adorable and can be taken out and petted while on ground missions, which provides the owner with either a small self heal or a buff.

The interesting side of tribble breeding is that the little fluff balls also come in different varieties. Some have different markings, some give different buffs. And if you right-click on your tribble to bring up the context menu and select ‘info’ you can find out to which sub-species your pet belongs. And the different varieties of child tribble that a parent will spawn depend strongly on which food item is available.

So if you isolate your tribble in a breeding box (ie. your inventory, containing only the food item you want the tribble to eat), you can breed predictable tribblets.

I mention this because Matt.C on rpg.net found a beautifully rendered guide to tribble breeding and evolution by KappaTau from the official STO boards.

Final 20100217c.2 printer friendly

This is the cut down version, if you go to KappaTau’s thread he also links to a rather gorgeous wallpaper edition, so you can stare at little tribbles all day and … I’m not sure where I’m going with this but it’s an absolutely awesome piece of work.

Thought for the Day: On limited attempts

Latest raid news this week is that Blizzard has scrapped the notion of limited boss attempts in normal mode ICC. Previously, a raid was only allowed a certain number of tries on some bosses before the boss despawned for that week.

From now on, you can wipe as many times as you like and the boss will still be there laughing at you.

Why scrap that now in particular?

Guesswork says that it was failing to work as intended. The more hardcore guilds ran 10 man raids and/ or alt raids to spend more time learning the fights before going in with their main 25 man raid.  I’ve heard of one guild who all switched both server and faction in order to reset their number of attempts for the week. So rather than encouraging progression guilds to raid fewer hours but to raid smarter, it seems to have wound people up into running many more raids than usual.

Limited attempts might have seemed like a good idea in theory, but when they  are too limited and even an unlucky disconnect can screw up an attempt, it puts a lot of extra stress on a raid group.

However, the main issue with the limited attempts on this specific week  is that in order to unlock hard modes for next week, a raid must kill Arthas this week. So any raid who doesn’t do that will be a week behind on progression. For most of us, this is a /shrug issue. Why Blizzard would care about that I can’t imagine, it’s all more competition for the ultra hardcore which is presumably what they want, right?

But there’s always someone who takes it just a bit more seriously.

So imagine you are a raid guild who didn’t manage to kill Arthas within the limited attempts this week. So you are facing the prospect of being a week behind the other ultra hardcore guilds who did kill him. But what if there was a way to get the hard mode lock without actually killing the boss?

Premonition lured a mage from a successful Arthas kill to join them. So they can use his raid lock next week and go for those hard modes.

All these games merge into one

This is the sort of bizarre metagaming strategy that you expect to read about in EVE blogs. It isn’t an exploit – or at least, it may involve some severe rules lawyering about the raid locks but it isn’t technically a cheat. It does involve one player screwing over a raid guild slightly, although in EVE the mage would also have emptied the guild vault on his way out.

And is it bad if I’m thinking, ‘Oh, Premonition bought a higher ranking bridge officer?’ And now I am imagining raiding as a sport-style strategy game where players buy and sell raiders and then set up their weekly raid fights via tactics for each player.