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Star Trek Online

Path to F2P Dev Blog #3

By admin | Fri 30 Sep 2011 09:27:44 PM PDT

Below Decks: The Duty Officer System

"Excuse me, Captain. Here's tomorrow's duty roster for your approval."
"Lieutenant... uh, Lieutenant–"
"Benjamin Sisko, sir. I've been on temporary assignment here. Before I leave I just want to say... it's been an honor serving with you, sir."
"All right, Lieutenant. Carry on."
     - Sisko and James T. Kirk, just before Sisko returns to the Defiant

When we think of the heroes of Star Trek, we think of the captain, or the chief engineer, or perhaps even the science officer in astrometrics. The massive effort of keeping a starship of the 25th century operational is not the task of one, or even a handful of individuals at the top. It's a combined effort of dozens, or even hundreds of unnamed officers doing their duty.

Star Trek has always been about people coming together in times of stress and crisis to create solutions to problems. Much like the real world, many of the problems in Star Trek can’t be solved by simply charging up one’s phaser banks, and so we wanted to find a way to represent this side of Star Trek in the game.

The Duty Officer System brings these previously unnamed and unsung junior officers to the captain's attention. You can now recruit duty officers, select which will be posted on active duty, and assign others to myriad tasks both mundane and important.

Starting shortly after you are promoted to Lieutenant Commander, you will receive your first set of duty officers. Additional duty officers can be gained in many ways during the game, including spending time at Starfleet Academy or the Klingon Academy. If you get impatient, you can also gain additional random sets of duty officers from the C-Store, or actively trade with other players to improve your crew.

Duty officers can be used in one of two ways:

First, you have a certain number of slots that you can fill with duty officers to enhance the effectiveness of your captain, both in space and on the ground. Duty officers may provide static bonuses or have a chance of providing a more significant bonus under certain circumstances. For example, a duty officer with the Security specialization has a chance of providing you with additional backup whenever you activate Security Escort, or a gravimetric scientist might creating additional gravity wells when your science officer creates a gravitational anomaly in space.

Second, you can place your duty officers on assignments. Different assignment can be found on board your ship and in many sectors. Every assignment has a set of requirements, from necessary specializations (for example, Energy Weapons Officer) to commodities (for example, Astrometric Probes). If you choose to perform an assignment, you allocate the appropriate members of your duty roster to the task and then after a set amount of time (which depends on the assignment and can range from minutes to days), you return to your duty roster to see the results of the assignment.

It is intended to be as simple as it sounds, but getting the most from each assignment requires careful planning. Many assignments reward you for better combinations of duty officers, and the chance of a "normal success" versus a "critical success" is something you can manipulate according to which officers you choose to place on the assignment.

Each duty officer has a species, a quality, a specialization, and a set of traits. All of these can factor into their effectiveness in terms of the tasks and roles you set them to. A duty officer who is poor at one task may be better at another, so it is your job as captain to manage the duty roster by allocating the right junior officer for the right task.

Successfully completed assignments will reward you with skill points, bridge officer points, additional duty officers and bridge officers, common and unique items, and even Dilithium. The best rewards come from the more difficult assignments and from achieving a "critical success."

As you complete assignments, you will gain commendation points in each of eleven categories, such as Diplomacy and Trade. Gain enough commendation points in a category in order to gain unique duty officers and, in some cases, even bridge officers that can’t be earned by other means.

As a bonus, playing on Tribble can earn your character on Holodeck some free random Duty Officers, awarded within the three weeks after free-to-play goes live on Holodeck. Complete any Tier 1 Duty Officer commendation category accolade to receive an unique blue-quality duty officer. Complete any Tier 2 Duty Officer commendation category accolade to receive an unique purple-quality duty officer. Complete any Tier 3 Duty Officer commendation category accolade to receive a unique purple-quality duty officer with an active roster ability not attainable anywhere else in the game.

Our goal with the Duty Officer System has been to make you feel truly like a captain, responsible for the success and well-being of your crew. As we move forward with testing on Tribble, we are looking forward to the opportunity to enlist you all in shaping the evolution of this great new system.

Geoff “Heretic” Tuffli
Senior Systems Designer
Star Trek Online

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