Last week, Star Trek Online held their second anniversary event. As I did with the previous year’s anniversary event, I was there waiting in line for the events to begin along with what seemed like everyone else on the game. This year, however, with the release of the new Free2Play portion of the game, the crowds to even get onto the server were so large that it took more than a few minutes to actually get to the character select screen. Once you were in, though, you could earn the new class of ship, the Odyssey-class, through a mission pickup right outside of Admiral Quinn’s office, from an NPC. As soon as the NPC popped for the event, the crowd swarmed this guy and suddenly everyone was off running that mission to test out the newest class to hit the game.
… this is not a recommended class for Tactical or Science officers.
My Odyssey-class USS Bonhomme Richard, with full Borg gear (in-game screenshot).
I want to make one thing clear; there are several different “original” classes of ship within Star Trek Online. Most of them are variations on the canonical classes, such as the Thunderchild-class (redress of the Akira-class), the Bellerophon-class (redress of the Intrepid-class), and then there are several truly original classes that have no basis whatsoever, such as the Avenger-class and the Dervish-class. My reactions to the 100% original classes has not been positive. In fact, although I did use the Dervish for my Tactical Admiral for many months, I only used it because of the benefits rather than the design. I personally think the Dervish (and the variants) design is lacking in many ways, and honestly believe that Cryptic needs to hire someone who knows Trek a little better before trying to strike out on their own.
The new Odyssey-class is not a Cryptic design. They opened up a contest a little under a year ago where players like you and me could submit designs for this new class. The winner was Adam Ihle, which was, quite frankly, the best-looking design out of the others that were submitted to Cryptic. If you take a look at the link, you’ll see the ones that came in second, third, and fourth… and all I can say is, if they had gone with any of the others… blech. I think they made the right choice, but Odyssey isn’t without its problems.
The Odyssey class is the largest vessel ever created by Starfleet. Its massive size makes it very resilient, but its turn rate is reduced by the bulk of the vessel. The Odyssey’s unique split saucer pylon reduces subspace turbulence which allows higher warp speeds and increases the duration the ship can maintain Slipstream Drive. The Odyssey is designed as an extreme long-range vessel, and can operate for long periods of time away from support. Because of this, it is the most versatile cruiser ever developed by the Starfleet Corps of Engineers and features a Universal Lieutenant Commander Bridge Offer Station that can by operated by any Bridge Officer class.
— Stephen D’Angelo, Executive Producer, Star Trek Online.
Click for a closer look at the Odyssey-class design...
Again, I want to stress that this is not a Cryptic design. But the explanation for the various design choices are nothing short of bullshit. Okay, granted, Star Trek itself is fictional, but there’s a certain standard of keeping to the established explanations for How Things Work within the universe. Over time, you have a large number of references to pull from, and I often think that Cryptic is either too lazy to use them or just phones in some of the explanations for why a ship looks like that.
The split-saucer pylon, which is more commonly referred to as the “neck,” is a design element borrowed from an earlier design of the Oberth-class frigate. The Oberth-class was shown in the form of the USS Grissom from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. This class also uses the same concept, which is kind of cool since its a stylish departure from the normal solid neck look of the Galaxy, Excelsior, Sovereign, and of course, the original Constitution-class starships.
My problem is with the explanation for why this element is used. I quote from the blog excerpt above, “The Odyssey’s unique[sic] split saucer pylon reduces subspace turbulence which allows higher warp speeds and increases the duration the ship can maintain Slipstream Drive.”
Okay, first of all, what a crock of shit. That’s like saying that the Space Shuttle’s wings make it easier for it to fly in space. It doesn’t. You don’t determine higher warp speeds based on the design of the ship, you base it on the ability of the warp coil to sustain a higher energy output to allow a ship to enter the subspace interfold layer at a higher rate. You could form a subspace field around a brick and as long as the coils generating the field are solid, you can hit higher warp speeds, no problem. I think Cryptic needs a lesson in Trek’s mechanics before they approve drivel like this.
… as my engineering admiral… the ship is a match made in heaven.
Bonhomme Richard packs a punch in combat.
My Trekkie (or Trekker) rant notwithstanding, within the game itself, there are a few hazards I’ve run into with the class during combat. First of all, this is not a recommended class for Tactical or Science officers. Tactical officers need maneuverability and DPS. Science officers get maneuverability from the smaller classes like the Nebula and Intrepid-classes. The Odyssey is the aforementioned brick: it doesn’t turn on a dime, but it has a really tough hull and can tank like no other class on STO right now. It does come with a Universal Lieutenant Commander bridge officer station, which makes it usable by Tactical or Science, but the fact that the only Commander-level station is for Engineering seals the deal for me. I’m only going to use this with my Engineering officer. I can’t justify switching off my other characters to use this class because there’s just too much of a sacrifice to required abilities within combat and flight.
Playing as my engineering admiral, however, the ship is a match made in heaven. Even though the cruiser lacks the swift handling of the Sovereign-class, this is easily corrected with a Rare (blue) or Very Rare (purple) RCS Accelerator console. Double them up, if you need to. Once I installed that console, I found that I could turn as quickly as I could while helming my Sovereign or Galaxy-X vessels. The only drawback to the Odyssey as an engineer is the loss of the extra tactical slot from my Sovereign-class ship. Otherwise, it’s still a four-fore and four-aft weapon ship, four ship devices, and a four/three/two on consoles. It carries +10 to both Shield Power and Aux Power, with a maximum warp of 9.996 (faster than any other ship on the game), and the new Advanced Slipstream Drive will blow past the normal Vice Admiral Slipstream by nearly 30% (Warp 28.00). The duration of the ASD is also increased; you can fly the entire length of a sector without having to cool down, but once you hit the edge, there’s a two minute cooldown period before you can use it again. With the addition of the Borg warp drive, the max warp still hits 14.00, so there’s no advantage there. But for Aegis, MACO, and Omega users, you will see a big increase in warp speed.
Additionally, what makes this class even more of a tank is the additional hull points on top of the standard. A stock Odyssey comes with around forty-five thousand hull points, but when you add on all your bonuses? Well, I’m rolling around in STFs with fifty-six thousand-plus hull points. I’m going toe-to-toe with Tactical Cubes and can hang in a firefight for much longer, especially with all my health buffs and abilities.
I’ve pretty much decided to switch to this class permanently for my engineer. What I’m looking forward to the most is Cryptic’s class variants for Odyssey, because right now, there’s only one skin available. But the size of the class provides a big opportunity for Cryptic to make a little money by selling off more ship costumes for it. I’m very curious to see where they go from here.
And I’m still waiting for my damn Ambassador-class!
“You know, there are some words I’ve known since I was a schoolboy: ‘With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.’ Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie as wisdom and warning. The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged.”
— Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The Drumhead.” Written by Jeri Taylor.
We need to put a stop to SOPA and PIPA. (image lifted from gas2.org)
Wednesday, many freedom-loving and liberty-conscious sites went black. It was a voluntary blackout in protest of Congress putting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) on their domestic legislative agendas. Sites that joined the blackout included Wikipedia, Reddit, and the entire Cheezburger network. Google posted a large, attention-grabbing banner on their front page, and urged visitors to sign a petition that would be sent to Congress on their behalf. Also, this blog went black to stand in solidarity with the other thousands of sites that did the same. Not that anyone missed much; to be honest, this blog is so low-traffic. But if even one person who visited managed to contact their congressional representatives on the issue, then going dark for those twenty-four hours was entirely worth it. Besides, it gave me a chance to use the time to perform upgrades and design changes without the need to down my site. Let’s face it, even in the face of crushing legislation, I’m still always going to be a system administrator at heart.
Should you have been avoiding all news and press yesterday and the day before, and you still don’t know what SOPA and PIPA are, allow me to educate you with this awesome video from AmericanCensorship.org:
By the way, my favorite part of the above video is when they use Justin Bieber as the pawn of evil under the “Entertainment Industry” umbrella. Priceless. Also, I want to post another video, this time The Daily Show, where Jon Stewart manages to deftly present the SOPA/PIPA issue with the usual comedic flair.
I did my part by reaching out to my Congressman and both Senators on Wednesday and Thursday. I called my congressman’s office here in the city, and I emailed both senators and have been posting on their Facebook walls and tweeting in reply to their accounts. Thankfully, my congressman has been against SOPA since Day One. Unfortunately, both my Senators are being asshats and apparently ignoring the outcry of their constituents in continuing to support PIPA. What’s appalling is that in spite of the protests and calls, emails, tweets, and other methods of expressing their displeasure, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) is not only ignoring us, but fast-tracking the bill for a Senate vote. As of this writing, the tally is 41-59 in favor of passing PIPA.
The unfortunate part of this equation is that while I did nothing to lift a finger to help re-elect Senator Dianne “The RIAA/MPAA’s Puppet” Feinstein, I did vote for and contribute money to Senator Barbara Boxer’s campaign. Now, I’ve always disliked Feinstein; her politics and mine have only had a passing familiarity at best. Boxer, on the other hand, up until now, we’ve been in lockstep for the most part, which is why I wanted to do all I could to help her get reelected in 2010. I’m regretting that right now, especially since she’s gone quiet on the issue at a time when we need our legislature to sit up and listen to the people they claim to represent.
I’m not wanting to draw a line in the sand on this one, but it seems to me that this is just another chip away at the freedom of expression that’s supposed to be protected in the Bill of Rights. In fact, I was withholding my precious free time and financial support for the Obama/Biden campaign in 2012 until I read that he was finally coming down on the right side of the issue. I’ve already signed up to volunteer again for his re-elect. If Boxer votes to pass PIPA, I will actively campaign against her in 2016 and push for a primary challenger at the nominating convention in Sacramento. Not that I have any political clout whatsoever, but this is one of those issues that I feel will have lasting and possibly irreparable consequences against what it means to be an American, and more concretely, affects my ability to thrive in this industry as I have been doing so since 1997.
Both bills threaten the way business is conducted in my industry. If a startup begins to remote threaten another, more-established business’ sales, they can sue under PIPA or SOPA to shut down their website… with NO due process. This would not only hinder any new business’ chances, but the entire market will adjust to a point where investing in any startups in the tech industry become riskier than it was before the bill’s passage. This means less startups, less jobs, and should I ever need one… I could possibly be screwed. So, while I want to keep pursuing this as a high-minded issue, there’s a real hit to my bottom line, here. I’ve worked for seven different startups in the last thirteen years; some have failed, some were successful, some were bought-out. These bills could really sink a startup before it even has a chance to let the free market decide what to do with it, and that’s a real shame for everyone.
Imagine if Facebook were sued out of existence by mySpace using PIPA? I know it sounds crazy, but under that bill, it would be easy to make it happen.
This is one of those times where if you don’t care now, you will care very much later, if it becomes law. And then, all that’ll stand between the net you know now and the net the Entertainment Industry wants… is the Supreme Court.
“A man once said this, ‘Decisions are made by those who show up.'”
— The West Wing, “What Kind of Day Has It Been.” Written by Aaron Sorkin.
Yesterday’s prompt was about Guilty Pleasures, and I missed that one, so I’m going to take care of that with tonight’s post.
When I think of what I consider to be a guilty pleasure is something that I like but I’m embarrassed to admit. The problem with that is that I’m unabashed at proclaiming my fandoms.
Have some Karen Gillan.
If I did have a guilty pleasure, I think it might be my inability to pass on anything related to Doctor Who. Most everyone knows about my Trek fandom, but what they might not understand is that I was less vocal about having watched most of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor when I was a kid growing up on PBS stations here in the Bay Area. Tom Baker was MY Doctor. And you never forget the first Doctor you watch on the screen. For a six year old, watching this guy bandy about the screen with a robotic dog was pretty much the beginning of a childhood memory that’s lasted to this day in the form of the Ninth and Tenth, to the current Eleventh Doctor. Also, for the record, I think that I watch Doctor Who more for Amy than I do the Doctor, though I still love the Doctor… but damn, dude. Have you seen Amy (Karen Gillan)? I haven’t had a crush on a companion this hard since Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler (Ninth and Tenth Doctors) and of course, Elizabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith (Third and Fourth Doctors). I need to locate a really good picture of her so I can just show you how awesome she is. Hang on a sec, Google Images has not failed me. Let’s pop that in there, and there. This post has now surpassed awesome for that picture, alone. I could stop writing right now (but I’m not going to).
Badge of Fandom
One of the things that I’m grateful for with my recent resurgence of my Who fandom is the fact that I can actually share one of my fandoms with my wife. Which is something I haven’t really been able to do. She doesn’t like Star Trek or Babylon 5, The West Wing or Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and our tastes in anime make it nigh possible to find any but a handful of series that she and I will both enjoy. Our television watching had dwindled a lot lately, and I think the last time we’d watched anything together was due to the World Series and before that, the National League Championship Series. But we’d really failed to connect lately with something non-sports, so it was really nice to be able to share that with her. When you find a bit of a rift between you and your partner on some of your deeper passions in life, it’s great to find those few things and really hang onto them as much as possible. Though, I doubt she’s has passionate as I am… and she’s more into Matt Smith and David Tennant than Karen Gillan (of course).
Of course, Doctor Who isn’t something I’m ashamed to admit that I love it. I think it’s just been kind of a well-kept secret due to the fact that I had largely ignored the recent revival from the BBC. I had caught the pilot episode with Christopher Eccelston and Billie Piper when the SciFi Channel (not Syfy) premiered it a couple of years ago. Problem was that I kind of watched it and felt like it didn’t really capture me as much as Tom Baker had. If anything, I kind of felt like Ninth Doctor was a bit too Hell’s Angels for me to really like him and so I walked away and never really went back until one day when I was at work this year. I was on instant messenger talking about old Who, and he was raving about Tenth Doctor. He sent me a YouTube link that I will gladly share with you in a moment, but when I saw it, I was more than intrigued. I wanted more. So I found out that on Netflix, they had all four series of Doctor Who, plus the specials.
I devoured the first series and I was actually sad to see the Ninth Doctor go, but after I saw the Christmas special with the Tenth, I was immediately taken with Tennant’s portrayal of my favorite Time Lord. Plus, I was happy that Rose was sticking around for another series, at least. She was a strong character, and I happen to like strong female characters. When she left the show, though, it was a pretty devastating way to go. Even my wife thought it was sad. I will admit to shedding some tears, because I thought it was sad and a little too final for such a great character. But it was far more dramatic than some of the other companions’ departures. The Doctor literally dumped Sarah Jane in the middle of nowhere, and Leela just left. And then even with the Seventh Doctor, Mel just up and decided to go with Glitz and she shoved Ace into the fray (Ace was my last favorite companion before Rose). Anyway, I will digress…
Before I go, I want to leave you with a final video that kind of defines the series for me. It’s a compilation of all the themes and the Doctors, though it’s kind of aged and doesn’t include the Eleventh. Enjoy, and I’ll talk to you more tomorrow!
So, since pitchers and catchers have already reported for spring training, it seems appropriate to talk about death, right? Well, I think it is. I was browsing the ol’ livejournal friends’ list and I stumbled upon a post in the Star Trek community that said for a chunk of change, you could be buried in a replica of the torpedo that Spock was at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Being the Trekker that I am, I wandered over to the page to check out the design, and I happened to notice that they have other properties they do caskets and urns for.
Including Major League Baseball.
This means I could be cremated and kept in a Giants urn, people. FOR ETERNITY. Fuck, yeah. Sign me up. I’m worth eight hundred bucks in death, right? I can’t take it with me anyway…
Although the title of this post refers to the newest fanfic project I’ve been working on, it seems like I’ve been writing at warp speed lately. In the last three weeks, I’ve cobbled together some 80,000 words, which is the equivalent of a full novel. I managed to finish the following projects:
It’s interesting to note that half my output is on fanfic, which won’t really get me very far. As soon as I finish U41, I’ll be plotting its sequel and getting FSA3 written so that the people who keep emailing me about it will let me be 🙂