Monday, June 8, 2015

Beam me up ...

What with all the distractions of the last couple of weeks, and the depression and periodic meltdowns, I didn't get any writing done aside from working on the edits on Chaser. Piled on top of everything else was my work schedule, which sometimes has me doing a late or closing shift, then doubling back and opening the next morning, so fairly often I'd get home very late, play around on the computer to unwind for an hour or so, then go to bed.

One of the games I'm currently playing is Star Trek Online. For me, the main selling point was that it's free to play, though there are certain add-ons you have to pay for, which just isn't going to happen unless my financial situation changes drastically. But if by some unfathomable, reality-twisting development I suddenly get filthy-rich, I'll probably splurge a bit on the TOS-movie era uniforms and a few other things. Maybe even go all-in and pay the $300 for the lifetime subscription, if I ever have that much money to just throw away on something.

Currently I'm at level 16. Started off with an old Miranda-class ship which I named after the MSV Sulaco in my Freelancers story. I've always thought that was a really cool ship design. In fact, the TOS-movie version of the Enterprise is my favorite out of the entire franchise. The Constitution-class refit is just beautiful.

Once I leveled up to Tier 2, I was able to get a new ship. So which class did I choose? The Constitution-refit, of course. Or maybe it's a retro-fit? The best Trek starship design with 25-century systems, including the modern phaser array in the place of the TOS phaser banks.

I named this one after the EIS Mae Jemison in my book Game Over and the story "Mission to Bellatrix."

I'd love it if I could just keep upgrading this ship as I continue to level up, but as far as I know, Tier 3 and above are TNG era-only ships. Which kind of bums me out. I really, really dislike the design aesthetic of the ships in TNG and the other Treks. Not sure if I can pin down why, exactly. I just never cared for the way the ships look. Especially the Enterprise-D. Even when I was a little kid watching the show, it bugged the hell out of me.

But I'm already running into enemy ships that just hand me my ass because the Jemison is woefully underpowered in comparison, even with upgraded weapons and consoles and whatnot. So I'll be forced to get a new ship with a hull design that I just find really off-putting, just to get through battles in one piece.

Anyhoo, here's my current player character, named after a character who appeared in Freelancers (and a slightly different version of her, who appeared in Wrong Place, Right Time).

She's seven feet tall, so the way she towers over most of the other characters is kind of amusing.

For me, the uniforms used in The Wrath of Khan onward are the best in the franchise (after TNG, they just kept getting more bland as the years passed). But having said that, I think this particular uniform looks fucking badass.

As for the game itself ... eh, I like the overall storyline so far, but the dialog and voice acting are, in many cases, terrible. And the graphics ... holy shit. The space scenes and the ships are gorgeous, but the graphics and animation with planetside scenes are kind of wretched. I've played games released in 1999 and earlier that had better graphics, and STO is only, what, five years old?

And what I've experienced of ground combat is absolutely infuriating. The character refuses to move where I direct her, or fire her weapon when I try to shoot at an enemy. Most of the time she doesn't even move at all, while an enemy is stabbing her with a gigantic fucking knife. Last night I ended up rage-quitting one of the Forge [Edit: Forge? Foundry. It's the Foundry. Goddamn it. *headdesk*] missions because I kept getting wasted, respawning on the far end of the ship, and having to run back across the ship to fight the same group of enemies only to immediately get whacked again. It'd be great if the ground combat system could be completely revamped, but that's probably too big a change. But seriously ... it's the only thing about the game I'd straight-up call garbage.

Back to graphics for a moment ... recently I started having another problem. When a character pops up on the screen with a dialog box, the character's face is always covered with blank white pixels. O_o And similar glitches happen when I'm running around on a planet's surface. In the away-team selection screen, all the characters' faces disappear completely. And in the space scenes, if there's a lot of stuff on the screen like a planet and an asteroid field, parts of the ship are blotted out by solid black pixels. I've played around with all the graphics settings and it made no difference at all. I don't know what the hell's going on with that, but it's annoying.

But overall, it's not a bad game, so far at least. The positives outweigh the negatives. I'm not sure I'd be willing to pay for it if it were for sale, but as a free-to-play game, it's pretty good. From what I've heard about where the storyline goes, I'm interested in sticking with it, even though I'm just a casual player. I'd like to see where it goes ....

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