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Star Trek Online

Fleet Admiral Report – Designing Vaadwaur

By LaughingTrendy | Fri 24 Oct 2014 12:00:00 PM PDT

Vaadwaur - The Reborn Threat

Close to a thousand years prior to the current events of Star Trek Online, the Empire of the Vaadwaur spanned across most of the Delta Quadrant. Their use of subspace corridors for swift and undetectable troop deployment gave the Vaadwaur an almost-unbeatable edge in their expansion and conquest of this region of space. Eventually, it required an alliance of many Delta Quadrant species to rise up against this oppressive force, before the freedom of the quadrant could finally be wrested from the Vaadwaur conquerors. In the end, even their subspace corridors could not turn the tide back in their favor.

The Vaadwaur survived by placing themselves into stasis units, intent on re-awakening years later to reclaim their legacy. Although they slept far longer than intended, their emergence has been no less impressive than planned. With the acquisition of mysterious and powerful new tools and energy sources, which they’ve used to enhance their otherwise aged and outdated technology, they have rekindled their campaign of warfare and subjugation, and once again threaten to engulf the entire Delta Quadrant.

Foot Soldiers of Another Era

When determining the abilities and weaponry we would place into the hands of the re-vitalized Vaadwaur, we allowed the concept of their status as a “throwback race of soldiers” to inspire us, as well as their utilitarian aesthetics as seen in Voyager. Players will also come to learn, throughout the course of the story of Delta Rising, that the Vaadwaur’s outdated technology has been upgraded and empowered through still-unknown methods, allowing them to be a significant threat to peace in this region of space.

Informed by these aspects of both their existing history, and evolving story, we designed the Vaadwaur as a militarized and efficient force of unflinching and uncompromising soldiers that have come to reclaim what they feel is rightfully theirs by any means necessary. They are experts of sudden, overwhelming force, and relentlessly aggressive.

Vaadwaur weaponry is extremely concussive, resembling kinetic weaponry and artillery strikes, even though they mostly consist of polaron energy. Their weapons focus on powerful bolt attacks and explosive artillery strikes, giving them an impactful and dangerous feeling in combat that is reminiscent of more modern forms of warfare, rather than those typically seen in futuristic science fiction. They even eject what appear to be shell-casings occasionally, again harkening back to more primitive forms of weaponry.

Their long history of warfare has given the Vaadwaur keen insights into the effective use of personal shielding, and how to counteract foes that use it. They employ devastating shield drains and tachyon grenades to strip away the shields of enemies and destroy constructs, while also utilizing impenetrable barriers to sometimes shield their allies. They can create drones to support them in combat by using these same abilities, and rumor has it that they will even deploy enormous tank-like constructs on rare occasions. Watch for the tell-tale light blue shimmer of these shields, or for enemies suddenly becoming immune to your weapon fire, and seek out their source in order to counteract their defenses.

History tells that the Vaadwaur were known to suddenly appear and initiate battle, taking their enemies by surprise. Although unable to utilize subspace corridors to achieve this tactic in ground combat, they still attempt to capitalize on the use of sudden overwhelming force by using drop-pods containing site-to-site transporter beacons. Once in place, these pods allow their ground forces to move quickly between orbiting starships and a designated invasion site, sending wave-upon-wave of reinforcements.

In the course of battling the Vaadwaur, players will inevitably end up facing one or more of their feared Overseers. These mysterious individuals appear to possess strength and reflexes far beyond the range of most bipedal humanoids, and are capable of inflicting mayhem upon players and their allies using little more than their fists. Investigations are still underway as to the source of this immense physical prowess. Approach with extreme caution!

Tactically, all Vaadwaur demonstrate some of the most engaging ground warfare we’ve been able to implement in Star Trek Online. They make good use of Crouching to reduce incoming damage directed at their frontal arc, as well as using Flanking techniques to outmaneuver players that face them. These tactics, combined with some of the abilities mentioned above, are intended to encourage players to stay actively aware of their surroundings and targeting in order to effectively fight the Vaadwaur. Prioritize your targets with precision, lest you be ground beneath their polished bootheels!

Terrors of the Stars

The concepts of relentless, overwhelming force remained in place when designing Vaadwaur starship combat. We leaned heavily upon the tagline of “bristling with cannons” to give Vaadwaur vessels a naval military feel in both their ship design, and weaponry. Extensive use of cannons and heavy artillery barrages, both built to feel just as powerful and concussive as their ground weaponry, maintains the feeling that doing battle with their ships for any extended period of time is a dangerous ordeal. We have also increased the aggressive behavior of all Vaadwaur vessels, allowing them to respond to incoming threats at a higher distance than any other enemy group.

Since we chose to outfit Vaadwaur vessels exclusively with cannon weaponry, we knew we were going to need to overcome certain AI limitations regarding the effective use of firing arcs, which has proven tricky in the past. As it turns out, the solution to many of these limitations came down to mobility, which also went hand-in-hand with the design of Vaadwaur warfare in general. Watching a wing of Vaadwaur Assault Vessels perform strafing runs to make the most of their forward-facing heavy cannons only emphasizes the aggressive posture of the group as a whole, and showcases their reliance on mobility.

Heavy Artillery Vessels are capable of making a choice to sacrifice this trademark mobility in favor of entering a “Siege Mode.” While in this mode, the Heavy Artillery becomes more resistant to damage, and more threatening in combat by enabling additional weapons and abilities, but is almost completely immobile. The only known counter to this tactic is to close the distance with the vessel – doing so causes their commanding officers to cancel Siege Mode in an attempt to get distance from their foes. This maneuver is frequently accompanied by a disruptive burst of energy that plays havoc with sensors, so it is a good idea to have a Science Team ready for action when facing these vessels.

To help Vaadwaur outmaneuver their foes, several of their specialized vessels are outfitted with a unique piece of technology similar to tractor beams that will hold a foe in place while they are pummeled by cannon fire. These Constriction Anchors are known to penetrate many defenses previously designed to offset movement penalties, rendering abilities like Polarize Hull and Attack Pattern: Omega ineffectual for starships caught in their grasp. The only reliable method of escape is to destroy the anchor as quickly as possible.

Constriction Anchors aren’t the only constructs Vaadwaur bring into battle with them. For example, their larger vessels will sometimes launch Distress Beacons to continually summon small groups of reinforcements to their location. It’s also been said that entire armadas have been wiped out by straying into their Tricobalt Mines, and Vaadwaur vessels are also known to launch Tricobalt Torpedoes, Cloak-Disabling Torpedoes and Cluster Torpedoes at their foes. While most of these slow-moving projectiles can be avoided or shot down before impact, failing to do so can result in devastating losses.

Perhaps the most obvious and impressive tool seen used by Vaadwaur vessels is their Cannon Barrage. These massive bursts of artillery can be anticipated by noticing the target reticles that will appear in space a moment before they begin firing. Even though these weapons are imprecise and slow compared to standard cannons, none can deny their impact. Each strike from a barrage is powerful alone, but a ship unfortunate enough to be caught in multiple blasts probably will not live to see another battle. Prepare to stay mobile to outrun these barrages before they hit home!

Above all else, never take the Vaadwaurs’ apparent numbers for granted. They have been shown to make use of subspace corridors to bring in additional reinforcements in the middle of battle, and will frequently show up behind enemy lines in an attempt to take their enemies by surprise. Their reliance upon mobility has also been known to tempt unaware captains into wandering out of position while in combat, either engaging additional unintended targets, or leaving allies unprotected.

Jeremy “BorticusCryptic” Randall
Systems Designer
Star Trek Online

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