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Star Trek Online

Season 7 Dev Blog #43

By PWE_BranFlakes | Mon 08 Apr 2013 12:00:18 PM PDT

Crystalline Catastrophe

Star Trek Online STO MMORPG F2P Sc-Fi MMO game

Acting Captain’s Log, Stardate 86270.81

Nine hours ago, a strike force consisting of the U.S.S. Byzantium, U.S.S. Pollux and U.S.S. Sri Lanka responded to a colony distress call from the Teneebia Sector. After the demise of Captain Gorrus, it falls to me to relay the details of our engagement with a being known as the Crystalline Entity; an attack which claimed two starships with all hands and 73 additional crewmembers aboard this vessel.

Immediately upon leaving warp, our sensors detected the entity using some form of Matter Conversion Beam on a populated M-Class world, rendering huge swaths of its surface devoid of life. Civilians, plants, animals – they were all disintegrated by the being’s attack. We knew we had to defend and rescue whatever population remained alive on the planet’s surface, and that would mean an assault on the entity.

The Pollux took point, leading our strike team into firing range, while the Sri Lanka headed toward the planet to begin evacuation procedures. It was only then that we realized there were other starships in the area - a small fleet of Tholian vessels moving to intercept us!

Captain Gorrus gave the order to regroup, but an Orb Weaver was already engaging us, forcing the Byzantium on the defensive as the Crystalline Entity began leaving the planet’s orbit. Before we could catch our bearings, the Entity suddenly lashed out with its energy beam, tearing at the shields of both the Pollux and the Sri Lanka. The Pollux laid a withering volley of return fire upon the creature, knocking several of its outermost fragments into space.

It was then that our science officer reported that the shattered fragment had altered course and was headed for a collision with the Pollux! Despite their best efforts to evade the incoming shard, it matched their maneuvers and tore the ship completely in half.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka was sustaining additional fire from the entity’s energy beam, reducing their shields to almost nothing. They reported extreme casualties on each deck hit by the weapon, as it vaporized crew members with each destructive burst. A wave of Tholian Mesh Weavers swept in from behind the entity and knocked out the Sri Lanka’s subspace transceiver, cutting our communications with it. Moments later, all that was left of the ship were the remnants of an antimatter warp core explosion.

Still on the retreat, Captain Gorrus ordered us to open a channel with the attacking Orb Weaver, offering our surrender. The following message was their reply:

“Your presence disrupts our efficiency. You will be removed, and the (UNTRANSLATABLE) will feast.”

A blast from the massive Matter Conversion Beam then shattered directly through our bridge, destroying consoles and vaporizing half of our bridge crew, Captain Gorrus included. Our science officer managed to fire a sensor-scrambling probe that bought us enough time to escape the carnage and warp to safety, but the people left behind on that colony are no doubt doomed to the same fate as the brave crews of the Pollux and Sri Lanka.

Long range sensor readings from Starbase Sierra indicate that the Entity is again on the move. No doubt it’s heading to another world to feed its ravenous hunger.

We cannot allow this to happen again.

- - - - -

Star Trek Online STO MMORPG F2P Sc-Fi MMO game

The Crystalline Catastrophe will be returning to Star Trek Online as part of a brand new Event beginning on Thursday, April 11, 2013, around 10 AM PDT. As part of the Crystalline Entity’s grand re-introduction to Holodeck, this re-mastered encounter will part of a special limited-time Event that will run for three weeks, ending on Thursday, May 2, 2013, around 10 AM PDT.

Veterans of STO may be familiar with prior encounters with the Crystalline Entity, which suffered from design and implementation shortcomings that prevented the majority of players from experiencing the joy of defeating this galactic menace. We’re pleased to announce that we have almost completely re-imagined the encounter in anticipation of its reintroduction. The Entity now boasts all new abilities and powers, new costumes and effects, and has been retuned as a 10-person encounter.

In addition to the encounter with the Entity itself (the details of which will be explained later within this Dev Blog), we are introducing the first implementation of our Event Reputation. Once the queue becomes available for Crystalline Catastrophe, Vice Admirals and Brigadier Generals will see a new Reputation appear on their character status screen. Within this new Reputation, we will be periodically introducing new seasonal projects that players will be able to use to track their progress within any individual event. For the time being, only a single Project will be available, which will be focused on the Crystalline Entity, but we fully intend to make use of this Event Reputation as a central location for players to track their progress through all future seasonal events (such as the inevitable return of Q’s Winter Wonderland next holiday season).

The process for completing the project is simple: Each day that you participate in a successful defeat of the Crystalline Entity, you will be granted a single Crystal Shard. You may participate in the event as many times as you like to earn Dilithium Ore, but will only receive this special item once per day. Once the necessary number of Crystal Shards is input into the donation requirement for this project, it will automatically complete, and your reward will be available to be claimed after a few seconds wait. During the 3-week run that this queued Event is available, you will have the opportunity to earn up to 21 of these Crystal Shards, but only 14 will be required to complete the Project.

Star Trek Online STO MMORPG F2P Sc-Fi MMO game

The reward for completing the project will be 50,000 Dilithium Ore, 1,000 Fleet Marks, and a unique Crystal Shard Space Non-Combat Pet. And if you gather more than 14 Crystal Shards, each additional one can be traded in for another 100 Fleet Marks, using another Event Reputation Project that will become available after the main Project is completed.

As for the mechanics of the encounter itself, the newly retuned Crystalline Entity has a number of unique abilities that players will need to learn how to cope with in order to successfully and efficiently stop its invasion of inhabited space. While its innate damage resistance and regeneration rate will require a constant barrage of firepower, there are also ample opportunities for non-damaging abilities to shine during this encounter.

The most significant changes to this encounter from its previous incarnation, is that the Entity will periodically switch from its standard attack mode into an Absorption Phase. During this phase, all incoming damage is reduced to negligible levels. When this phase ends (after approximately 30 seconds), the Entity will expel any absorbed energy in a massive shockwave that becomes more and more powerful based on how much energy it was able to absorb. We recommend that players stop firing on the Entity during this phase, and it may even be advisable to retreat beyond the 10.0 km range of the Shockwave and re-engage after the expulsion of energy has completed.

Another major change with the encounter is the presence of Tholian starships. The exact reason for their presence is not currently known, but their biological similarities to the Entity have raised many interesting theories as to their motivation in defending it. It may be as simple as the fact that the Entity’s appetite for feasting on the plants and animals of a planet does not threaten the enigmatic Tholians due to their preference for harsh environments. Regardless of their motivation for being present, it’s obvious that they’ve formed some sort of alliance with the Entity and will come to its aid with whatever force they can muster.

There have been numerous other improvements to the encounter in regards to allowing more abilities to be useful.

For example, the Entity and its Fragments will no longer pursue targets other than players. This means that Mines, Targetable Torpedoes, Hanger Pets and Summoned Reinforcements can be freely used during the encounter without fearing that they will trigger negative repercussions. These types of entities can still be destroyed by the splash damage caused by nearby Fragment explosions and the Crystalline Entity’s shockwave.

Additionally, early testing indicated that the amount of overall Healing and Regeneration present in the original version of this encounter were one of the primary factors preventing players from completing it. So, while the Entity’s innate Regeneration has been scaled back, we’ve also eliminated the Healing that was being done by Small Crystalline Fragments. Instead, they will apply a stacking damage buff to the Entity when they return to it, which can be removed by using any of the following abilities: Tachyon Beam, Charged Particle Burst, Energy Siphon or Tyken’s Rift.

The Matter Conversion Beam attack used by the Crystalline Entity has also been reworked to perform far better as a constant threat factor that players will need to defend themselves from. The damage that the Entity is able to inflict on many different players simultaneously using this attack will make abilities that promote survivability very important to defeating it in a timely manner. This includes Healing and Resist powers, as well as Control abilities that can be used to keep the Fragments and Tholians at bay while the Entity is brought down.

Star Trek Online STO MMORPG F2P Sc-Fi MMO game

A complete run-down of the Crystalline Entity’s combat capabilities can be read in-game by contacting Admiral Grigori Yanishev while on the Event map. He will also have equipment and ability recommendations for players interested in ensuring that their ship is in the best possible position to defeat the Crystalline Entity.

Our ultimate goal with the reintroduction of the Crystalline Entity is to ensure that all of our endgame players can enjoy the experience of standing toe-to-toe with an impressive and awe-inspiring foe straight from Star Trek canon. After extensive playtesting and tuning, we believe we’ve arrived at an encounter that players will love participating in, and enjoy learning the ins-and-outs of, without the frustration and chaos that previously typified the encounter. And while this Event will only be running for a limited time, the Crystalline Entity will be returning very soon as a more permanent feature.

We hope you enjoy this event and look forward to seeing you take on the Crystalline Entity later this week. See you in-game!

Jeremy "BorticusCryptic" Randall
Systems Designer
Star Trek Online

 

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