Podcast UGC – Episode 143: Crusher of Foundry Hope

Well, we got word on the future of the Foundry from our new executive producer, and the words aren’t encouraging. This surprises you, if you are either new to the game, or have the IQ of a soap bar.

I apologize to all our soap bars listening.

This week, the ENTIRE PODCAST is practically STO content. So enjoy! Eat up! Don’t eat me though. I taste terrible.

Because I am terrible.

Foundry Dreams Destroyed

  • What do you foresee for the Foundry’s future?

    • At this time, Foundry improvements are being tracked as part of the “fix and improve” strategy.

    • We have a list of highly requested changes and are working to get some of them into each update.

    • I don’t foresee any major new features for Foundry in the coming months, however.

Tim Russ

Solanae Environmental Suits

Upgraded Solanae Environmental Suits

4-Year Anniversary Festive Party Horn

Khan Uniforms

Hirogen Lockbox and Lobi Ships

 

  • Hirogen Hunter Heavy Escort

    • Enhanced Inertial Damper Field Universal Console

      • allows the any Hirogen starship or any standard Escort, Raider or Raptor to perform a tactical maneuver allowing them to rapidly turn 180 degrees. During this maneuver the Hirogen ship is incredibly difficult to hit. After the maneuver has been completed, the Hirogen ship gains a tactical advantage that makes it both difficult to hit and deals more damage for a short period of time.

  • Hirogen Apex Heavy Battlecruiser

    • Photonic Decoy Swarm Universal Console.

      • This ability will baffle enemy sensors by creating a series of Photonic Decoys which create “ghost” energy and hull signatures almost identical to the vessel that deploys them.

All Hirogen Ships possess Long Range Sensor Masking. This passive ability grants the Hirogen ship a small amount of Stealth, which will render the Hirogen craft undetectable at long range.

Secondary Deflectors

  • The first Secondary Deflector available to players is the Solanae Secondary Deflector.

  • Inspiration for this item came from the presence of a Secondary Deflector (sometimes referred to an Auxiliary Deflector) on science ships like the Rhode Island and Intrepid class starships.

  • Q: Why Secondary Deflectors?

  • A: We wanted to give Science ships a little something extra that tied into Science bridge officer abilities and to also allow starship Captains the option of further defining their role in combat. Are they a Control Specialist, a Damage Dealer or Healer/Support Captain?

  • Q: What benefits do Secondary Deflectors provide?

  • A: These special items are designed to enhance a group of Science bridge officer abilities and are intended to give Science vessels a boost in either healing and support or damage when using powers that belong to the group of abilities supported by their Secondary Deflector. In addition, Secondary Deflectors will provide bonuses to various starship science skills.

  • Q: What different types of Secondary Deflectors will there be?

  • A: At the time of writing this there are currently 3 types of Secondary Deflectors. One focuses on healing and support Science bridge officer abilities (e.g. Science Team), the second provides benefits to control powers (e.g. Tractor Beam) and lastly third type enhances debuff and draining powers (e.g. Tachyon Beam).

  • Q: What ships can equip them?

  • A: Science Vessels. In short, if the starship has both Subsystem Targeting and Sensor Analysis it will receive a Secondary Deflector slot even if the ship’s art doesn’t have a Secondary Deflector.

  • Q: How will I get Secondary Deflectors?

  • A: These will likely be proliferated throughout the game much like Warp Cores. They will drop from enemies, come in all types of rarities and be purchasable from the energy credit and Dilithium stores.

Rikturscale Found an example of a Regular DOFF mission with the Crazy Skill math…

  • Personal Weapons Training…

    • All 3 Skills…

      • 24, 76, 0, 0

    • Just 1 Crit Skill…

      • 26, 74, 0, 0

  • Apparently the weird math happens with higher level DOFFs
  • We Review Admiral_Murphy’s The Jem Hadar Alliance 2/6.
  • MAILBAG! Have an email? Send it to us, at mailbag@podcastugc.com!

Remembering Mark Valentine

I’m having a hard time typing this. Long time Podcast UGC listener, Foundry author, Cryptic developer, and friend of mine Mark Valentine (aka h20rat) recently passed away after battling cancer for a year.

On multiple occasions I’ve mentioned on the show that I can literally think of no one nicer than Mark, and none of this was hyperbole. He literally just did everything he could do to help out and bring a smile to people.  He was an advocate for Foundry development and improvement. Many of you know of his amazing trailers for Star Trek Online, but you may not be aware of the impact he had on the Foundry – the ability to edit and manipulate object placement in real time was a Foundry improvement that came to Neverwinter based largely on H20rat’s input. He’s done things like suggesting mob groups and NPC group additions to STO’s Foundry after listening to feedback from this show. He’s produced his own Foundry epic, “The Rising Phoenix – Part One”, which is a spotlighted mission and for good reason. Star Trek Online was a project near to his heart and Foundry development a goal he firmly believed in. This shared belief was perhaps how he and I met, but it’s not the only memories I have of him.

I had many discussions with him on games and game design, and what made a game good. I’d also played Age of Empires II HD with him over Steam. My last conversation with him was in response to a purchase he made for me — he gifted me a copy of Torchlight 2, requesting that he, Bob, and I all play it together. We never got the chance.

The thought that Mark wouldn’t make it out of this never crossed my mind. I believed strongly in the idea that someone as good as he was just couldn’t be taken from us so soon. I was wrong, and the loss I feel is staggering.

Of the little time that I did know him, I can tell you that Mark’s life was one filled with purpose. The pursuit of those purposes affected my life. I cannot dare say that I know what all of those purposes were, but of the few goals and desires he expressed to me about our shared interests, all I know is that I will continue to pursue them.

Our hearts go out to his family, his friends, and his Cryptic coworkers that knew him far better than we ever could have hoped to.

Rest in Peace, Mark.

Where Are the Hosts?

Greetings, Podcast UGC listeners! Many of you may have been wondering what happened to recent hosts on the show. In fact I know this, because a recent email inquiring on the whereabouts of both Terilynn and Deyvid arrived in my mailbox.

I felt this answer should be given in a more thoughtful and permanent medium such as a blog post. It’s come to my attention that my refusal to address many of these open issues on the show has lead to much speculation, and in that way I suppose misunderstandings have been my fault, but I refrained from speaking on these subjects in an effort to avoid misrepresenting different views.

Firstly, Deyvid was a host on Podcast UGC for many excellent reasons, the best being his insight on Klingons in Star Trek and his love of the KDF faction in Star Trek Online. But a very important role he carried for us was the Trek Radio stream. As many of you are aware, we previously aired live on Trek Radio on Tuesday evenings along with our typical stream we’d been using since almost the beginning of the show on justin.tv. It was brought to my attention by management at Trek Radio that Deyvid’s time could be better spent doing things that were not pertaining to streaming our podcast. I thought I had conceived of an amicable solution for everyone: the cancellation of our live stream and moving the show to syndication as many, many other podcasts already did. This would benefit Trek Radio by not only freeing up Deyvid’s time on Tuesday evenings, but by making our production flow of the show simpler and less demanding by no longer being tied to strict start and end times, strict break times, and other things that the technical difficulties of our set up and long run time often prevented.

However, Trek Radio management did not necessarily agree with this solution: they’re preference was for me to change the methodology I used to record, broadcast, and distribute the show in effort to maintain the live stream broadcast. While I can totally understand how this would seem beneficial, it would not only be tremendous new stress and responsibility on my shoulders, but it would have also been for little if any gain — Podcast UGC was simply never a big draw for viewers on Trek Radio. Our live numbers there were very low, and the cost-benefit was simply not there. I decided to stick with my original solution of ending Trek Radio’s live stream of Podcast UGC, although the podcast is still syndicated on the station. For this reason, Deyvid now has new free time, but he is and has always been welcome to return for an episode whenever he feels like it.

Terilynn and I, as our host page has noted, are oil and water and that’s something I’ve always loved about our relationship. The ability to disagree and still get along is a message I think is important to Star Trek and I think we embodied it on the show. Terilynn, however, is an incredibly talented writer and podcaster who’s personal endeavors are growing and for great reasons. With her recent departure, she expressed to me that she had been discontent with both the lack of change and growth of Podcast UGC, and I would imagine the investment of time required for the show. I personally wish this information had been made clear to me sooner, as it certainly seems to be new information to me, but it’s nothing that isn’t surprising. She had a desire to move along and invest herself into bigger and better things, and that’s nothing anyone can hold against her.

So our typical and usual disagreements over things like politics sparked a new disagreement that Terry decided was a good point to move along with her interests and investments elsewhere. I am pained and saddened that this is the case, because of all the hosts I’ve had on the show, I’ve enjoyed her company and talking with her the most. Truth be told, her ability to grasp onto and admire entirely new things for exactly what they were was an inspiration to me in a way – she has interests so vast and deep that I must admit, I had fantasies about showing Terry some new music album that might meet her approval, or some new story that might spark a new fandom in her heart. Nothing about this is new or recent — it’s been apart of how I approached our relationship from the beginning: we sparred with the bad, but we shared the good. And that was what I needed out of the relationship, but it wasn’t what she needed. And I’m sorry I didn’t realize or recognize that sooner.

But, with all of that said, I certainly wish Terilynn all the best in her endeavors, from her amazing blog posts about Star Trek Online on Massively, to her budding and growing podcast The G&T Show which she cohosts with Gettysburg 7, another inspiration to me, and the unstoppable Soriedem, who’s managing and editing capabilities have reached the status of legendary all on their own. They are all extraordinary people with hearts of gold, and they deserve your support, so go check them out.

As for Podcast UGC, we have no plans to go anywhere unless you do. 🙂 Rikturscale is very excited about joining the show and I, myself, am curious about not only the reshuffling of content we’re recently testing, but whether or not you, the listeners, have what it takes to podcast yourself. 😉 If you enjoy the show, drop us a line. We can talk over Skype, and see about having you on for a bit. Podcast UGC is, afterall, a free podcast that exists entirely for the people who want to listen to it, and I want to listen to you. So drop us a line at mailbag@podcastugc.com. 🙂

Thank you for reading.

– Hav

Podcast UGC – Episode 120: Where No Man Has Gone Before, Nor Should He

There’s a few things that will never be good things in my opinion. One is taxes. Another is an argument about Wesley Crusher. I don’t like Wesley Crusher, the character or his actor, and this is definitely a distinction between Terilynn and myself. So ultimately, arguing the pros and cons for Wesley will always be a losing battle for me. When it comes to personal taste, there is no inherent right answer. Unless you’re a host on Podcast UGC, because you’re opinion instantly becomes an undeniable law of the universe … the constant disagreement between Terry and myself, hence, explains why the universe is such a screwed up place.

The C-Store is getting Romulan uniforms from The Next Generation. As much as I love uniforms and love Romulans,  I just don’t like 80s aesthetic. Terry and I continue to find a way to take STO topics and tangent on them by arguing whether or not 80s aesthetics will EVER return, as well as arguing over what makes a hipster … a hipster.

A preacher has concluded that Star Trek: Into Darkness condones beastiality. I dislike Star Trek: Into Darkness, so I agree. *trollface* But more seriously … does he have a point? What is beastiality? How is it defined? Does the theory of evolution actually promote beastiality as he argues? We explore it.

Finally, Terry and Deyvid run through Monolith, the latest mission by … me.

Give it a listen!

Part A
– Terry is NOT an old lady.
– Betty White on Podcast UGC? Heck yeah!
– Terry would make a great voice for the Computer in STO!
– Redoing Old Voice Acting?
– Tovan Khev is Not an Impressive Character
– Veril is a Not-Annoying-Wesley-Crusher?
– Is Wesley Crusher a Good Character, or Just Gene Roddenberry Wishfullfillment?
– For What’s Supposed to Be an “Evolved” Humanity, the Adults in Star Trek are Pretty Damn Idiotic
– Would Starfleet Block People From Entering Based on Age?
– Hav Defends TNG Writers’ Difficulties with Characters, Terry Thinks They Could Have Just Been Better Writers
– Hav Defends Mothers Everywhere!
– Hav and Terry Agree on Sexism in TNG
– Mail Items That Were Lost Are Coming Back!
– Romulans Get The Next Generation Uniforms from TNG!
– Hav Doubts 80s Aesthetics Will Ever Make a Comeback
– Hav Explains Why Hipsters are Repulsive – Here is the Video He References http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3xe-Wxio1o
– Would the Romulan Republic WANT to Wear This Uniform?
– Deyvid and Terry Proposes a Difference Between Romulan Star Empire Versus Tal Shiar, Hav Counters That They’re Indistinguishable Now
– Deyvid Thinks ALL Star Trek Clothing Should Get into STO, Hav TOTALLY Disagrees
– Romulans in the ENT Era Wear Nemesis Uniforms – This Bothers Hav
– Hav is Confused About the Ships Terry’s Article Shows
– Hav is Also Perplexed By How the Romulan Chimera-Equivalent Ship Doesn’t Look Bulbous
– Is the Romulan Flagship Crew Going to be in a Scimitar? Hav Tries to Make Sense of This Idea.
– What Department Will Jhu Be in? Hav and Terry Speculate

Part B
– Hav No Longer Sees a Reason to Keep Foundry Missions from Being Multi-Faction
– Would the Foundry Be Better Off Destroyed and Restarted Anew?
– Hav Talks About Pendra’s Macro Tool for Foundry and Argues for an Official Tool from Cryptic
– Hav Argues How Important it is for the Foundry to Be Coded Properly to Save the Most Out of People’s Mission
– Should You Wait for Something Better to Come Along with the Foundry?
– The Fact That Restarting the Foundry Looks Like the Only Option, Should be a Deterrent to Using It
– Terry Will Wait Before She Starts Foundry
– People REALLY Liked Episode 119
– Right-Wing Preacher Condemns Star Trek: Into Darkness Because it Supports Beastiality – Is it RIGHT? BIG Discussion!
– There’s a New Enterprise Book?

Review
Monolith by Havraha

Mailbag!

Comments!

Have an email? Send it to us! Send it to mailbag@podcastugc.com!

 

Havreview – Man of Steel

Spoilers Yo, Check Yoself Before You Wreck Yoself

Yeah, sure, it doesn’t have much to do with Star Trek, but as the next biggest movie to release next to Into Darkness, I somehow felt compelled to weigh in on what’s turning out to be a very divisive movie.

DNA

Man of Steel is our latest reboot of the Superman movie franchise, and an overarching theme of the movie is DNA. Who is Kal-El? Where does he come from, and does that matter at all when he poses the question of who he is? It’s meaty stuff, and the very juicy material that comes straight from the comic, but I found it was also poetic: it ran parallel to what the writers and producers of the movie worked so hard to discover about their own product. In the end, you could argue Man of Steel has some good genes. The brains behind it are the same guys who tackled The Dark Knight Trilogy, with a few new additions here and there.  The biggest change is Zack Snyder directing as opposed to Christopher Nolan, but as producer, Nolan’s somberness is alive and kicking in Man of Steel, while the soul of super-cgi action movies like 300 are injected by Snyder like creme filling in the center of the familiar deliciousness. Yum.

But  just because The Dark Knight Trilogy was received really well doesn’t inherently mean it would work well for Superman. What I’ve always been confused by is Warner Brother’s apparent difficulty establishing a movie universe for their DC franchises. Batman worked well with Nolan’s take because Batman is, at its core, a thinking-man’s comic book. It’s not about  the super powers as much as it is the psychological battle the Batman has with his vast rogues gallery. That inherent feature fit really well with Nolan’s approach to film making, featuring tied together themes. DC has had recent failures, including the Green Lantern film, but counter to Warner Bros.’ opinion that wasn’t the fault of the movie’s tone — it was the fault of the Smallville TV crew attached to the project that had absolutely zero reverence for the plot or villains of the comics (much like their handle of the Smallville television show which, let’s be frank, did not survive for ten seasons because of good quality but rather because of loyal and easily-amused viewers), which resulted in a butchery that Green Lantern fans didn’t care to see, and didn’t care to bring their family to. When it comes to Superman Returns, casting actors who can’t act and trying to link the film together with an outdated movie franchise from a cheesy golden-age take on the hero fell flat on its face. None of the problems with these movies have been that its style and tone weren’t Nolan-esque: the problem with these movies were that their creators didn’t have a handle on their heroes. Period. They were neither modern nor appropriate to the universe that comic book fans see them in. With Man of Steel, and perhaps Warner Bros. greater goal of launching a Justice League movie, leveraging the style and tone off of Nolan’s take on the Batman-verse could work to some degree but, as so many critics and fans have already noted, also feels like a missed opportunity.

Henry-Cavill-looks-serious-in-new-Man-of-Steel-image

Super Serious, Guys

“He’s not human, but damn he could at least emote!” was one comment posted on the IGN review of the movie. It’s not  unusual. Man of Steel has a pretty poor rating of 57% on Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics feeling the same. But I’ve seen the movie twice, once on opening night and again on Saturday with the rest of my family. I’ve had plenty of time to judge the casting and acting of all involved, and it’s definitely the least problematic point of the film – British actor Henry Cavill’s hair might be a little long (ok, it looks like mine, and I guess that’s what weirds me out), but beside that he’s the perfect Superman. In a age where the bad asses are the hot guys, Cavill can convince you that straight-laced pure hearted lonely guys are the new hunks, and his ability to convince you so strongly that he’s not only an American but also a character who’s gone through a hell of a lot of suffering growing up is pretty astounding. There was no lack of emotion when Johnathan Kent was being sucked up by a tornado, or when General Zod was threatening innocent people with imminent toast-making. So where is this sentiment that Cavill didn’t act in the movie coming from?

The only thing I can gather is that audiences were missing a particular emotion from him – humor. Man of Steel is such a serious take on the Superman mythos that it forgets to allow Clark Kent the opportunity for a laugh here or there. The closest we got throughout the film was triumphant celebration as he apparently takes flight for the first time. We do get a small smile from the character at the end of the movie when he gets one of Lois Lane’s inside jokes, but through a two and a half hour movie we saw Clark Kent tortured and burdened almost for its entirety. Compare that to the kind of levity and fun offered by the competition’s attempts with Iron Man 3 and The Avengers, and you can start to see why audiences might start feeling like all they saw out of the character was a deadpan expression for the whole of the film. And this is directly in result of Man of Steel’s inherited DNA — so much of the movie was influenced and modeled after The Dark Knight Trilogy’s tone that it misses, entirely, that Superman isn’t Batman. Sure, it’s a story about an pained and troubled person trying to discover who he is, and as the creative team has suggested, they did indeed try to make a movie that could imbue the audience with a sense of  hope.  But Superman doesn’t have to brood his way through this entire experience to be convincing. I’m not saying we needed Man of Steel to return to the Christopher Reeve’s golden-age take on the character, informing Lois Lane that he stands for “truth, justice, and the American way!” with a wink and a smile … but the guy can take a moment to realize, as he even does in the comics, that you know … he’s a little awesome! And in some circumstances, it may actually be pretty cool to be Superman.

That being the case, some of my favorite moments of the film were watching Cavill’s serious brows furrow as he fights himself to walk away from jerks or otherwise kill them with a flick of his finger. It goes really far to convince you that this is a character who’s developed a lot of patience and willpower over the years in his own way.

Superman’s Pal! … Jenny?

Jenny

As far as casting goes, Laurence Fishburne shows up and does the job as Editor-in-Chief Perry White, and likelihood is you didn’t bat an eye at the fact that Perry White, in the comic, is well … white. And that’s excellent, that we as audiences have really come to terms with being a bit more colorblind with characters that have been around for 75 years. What we as an audience and as geeks didn’t quite go so quietly with was Rebecca Buller’s Jenny Olsen, a gender-swap of Superman’s pal … oh, and you know, a guy. IMDB lists her character as simply “Jenny” now … perhaps because the last name Olsen was never uttered throughout the movie, but the rumor of the character getting a sex-change started on IMDB itself with the very same cast listing.  Jimmy Olsen’s #1 fan on PodcastUGC.com expressed her own dissatisfaction with the casting by presuming, as so many others did, that the change was occurring to turn the character into hot eye candy … no doubt because Buller’s only other credit is as Rachel Rosen on TV show “The Playboy Club”. But I think fears will be abated when the movie is finally watched — Buller knew the personality of the person she was playing, and although there’s never really an opportunity for Jenny to duplicate the nerdtastic annoyances and cheesiness that typically followed when Jimmy entered a room, you nonetheless get the impression from the little time she’s on screen that the character is … well … a geek girl! An attractive one channeling a bit of Felicia Day’s nerdy beauty, as if she was an ugly duckling in youth who grew into a swan, but nonetheless a nerdy intern who … wait for it … gets saved by Superman. That’s about all you can ask for out of an Olsen, no matter what genitalia they have.

HEY MAXIMUS what are you doing in this movie?

Outside of that, Russel Crowe was casted as Jor-El and unfortunately, much like so many Hollywood actors these days, he comes in and basically plays himself reciting the lines of Jor-El. It wouldn’t be so bad … probably fairly similar to Marlon Brando’s cameo as the character in the original movie … but the problem was … the script called for him a little too much! Russel Crowe actually plays an integral part in the movie, long after his character dies, so the audience is forced to suffer through a Superman movie with a little Russel Crowe injected throughout it. Perhaps this is just my penchant for more unknown faces in big Hollywood films, but after two viewings of the movie I was really sick of seeing Russel Crowe as … basically … Russel Crowe. I mean damnit, the man didn’t even dye his beard or cut his hair for the role! They just stuck him in the suit and got him to read the lines, and at this point I’m calling casting shenanigans.

Can’t let a little thing like aliens get in your way!

angryzod

Michael Shannon breathed a hell of a lot of life into a much, much much more sympathetic take on General Zod. This Zod isn’t self-absorbed – he’s a man who’s desperate to do his job, save his race … do the right thing from his perspective, and what I kept finding myself wondering throughout the movie was “If I was the last hope for the resurrection of humanity, and had an insignificant and technologically inferior alien race standing in my way, could I in good conscience abandon that quest and my own people for aliens I owe nothing to?” It’s a moral quandry Zod’s faced with — genocide, for the continuation of his own kind, and it’s one that Shannon’s Zod has clearly thought long and hard on. By the beginning of his quarrel with Superman he’s been on his quest for 33 years and has clearly made up his mind — he has a patriotic duty to do this, and nothing’s going to stop him. It’s the kind of multi-dimensional character that viewers will continue to talk about long after the movie’s been released. In fact, I’m willing to gamble that many reading this will want to argue with me whether Zod is morally obligated, or not, to be on the genocidal quest he’s on. That’s a hell of a lot more going for it than anything you can say about Star Trek: Into Darkness’ villains, or the mere catchphrase left behind by Terence Stamp’s emotionally-void portrayal of the character.

What is this feeling in my pants? I think it’s terror.

Faora

But as intriguing as Zod was, I have to take a paragraph to gush on Antje Traue’s Faora-Ul, who in all honesty sort of stole the show as the scary villain. It’s true that this depiction, at least visually, of Faora is more of a take on Superman II’s Ursa, but that’s beside the point for me. As an admirer of short hair on women and full body armor in fantasy and sci-fi, I found myself lusting over her design (and, ok fine, her in general), but at the same time being confused by the juxtaposed feelings I got whenever she came on screen. Ok, fine, I’ll admit it — she was a piss-your-pants level villain. Was she hurt over the destruction of Krypton? Quite clearly. But you get the impression she’s Zod’s #2 not because she’s trying to bring back Krypton, but mainly because she’s totally on board with this genocide thing and it’s on like Donkey Kong. She, more than any other character in the movie, makes full use of her Kryptonian powers against the defenseless, fleshly bags-of-mostly-water shooting guns at her, and she loves it. She’s the kind of character that also doesn’t like unfinished business, and seeing her at work was more cringe-worthy (in a good way) than many of the building-breaking fights between Superman and Zod.

I didn’t feel that. Kiss me again. Anything? Yeah me neither. Nevermind.

So what casting did I really have trouble with? Well … Amy Adams. It’s not that she’s a poor actress … in fact she seems like a fine one, and most people online seem to have considered her a fan favorite for the casting of the character. I guess what my ultimate problem is, there was nothing extraordinary about her as Lois Lane. She has spunk in her ability to bark at military personnel, but at the end of the day the movie portrayed her as a pokey reporter who got herself wrapped up into a situation way bigger than she herself, and the fact that the movie was so focused on Clark Kent becoming Superman, she seemed a little forced into the mix. She had nothing to do with Clark’s life before any of this, and to be honest … Clark doesn’t want her in his life! That’s made quite clear by the film, and when the movie puts her in damsel-in-distress situations that require her to be swooped up into the waiting arms of Superman, you can’t help but watch the heavy breathing and huffing and puffing of the two of them without thinking “wow, this is so forced … they don’t even like each other!” Both her and his go-it-alone attitude set it up perfectly for them to be the closests of ALLIES. In fact, I can buy her totally covering his ass at the Daily Planet every time he has to zip off to save the day. But there was absolutely no chemistry going on between the characters. In fact, the chemistry between 13 year old Clark Kent and the young Lana Lang when they did nothing but glance at each other on the bus was more powerful than any face-sucking Lois and Clark had to do. You can tell it was just a job for both of them, and I think I would have admired the movie more if it actually said “NOPE, they’re NOT a couple, they’re the  bestest of friends! Get over it, fanboys!” because the actors themselves were just not getting it.

Problem Time! In this section, we go through all the movie’s faults.

Krypton’s War on Color

One thing the New 52 comics do really well is build the world that is Krypton and not just its people, but its architecture and fashion. The few glimpses we get of it in flashback comics goes a long way when we finally see Kal-El and Kara Zor-El wear their iconic blue and red skin tight outfits — without the frame of reference of what Krypton was, with bright colors, bold metallic finishes and regal fashion styles, it’s kind of hard to believe that their super hero outfits are Kryptonian armor or, in Kara’s case, a graduation uniform.

In contrast, and again going for that brooding realism that it inherited from the Dark Knight, Man of Steel paints Krypton to be a world grown and molded from … brownish dirt that might also be metal. It’s a completely monochrome world. Even the regal outfits they wear are the exact same color as their blah surroundings. I suppose it’s forgivable, and after all, the confusion it gives the audience as to what exactly is simply surface and what is advanced, nearly magically technology, is quite strong when you don’t understand what the hell you’re looking at half the time. But all of it is for naught when Kal is bestowed his iconic blue and red uniform. It looks a bit more civilian than the armor Zod and crew are wearing, but the fact that it’s blue and red … well … it spoils the whole deal for me. NO ONE wore blue and red on Krypton, so I couldn’t help but ask myself “Where did you guys find color!?” when the suit finally came on screen. Again, a missed opportunity to make Kryptonian design more convincing and cohesive, all in the name of a darker alien world to tie to the Dark Knight’s universe.

You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means…

You can go ahead and call me Faora’s number one fan, but I have to call her on her big line. It’s bullshit. Lecturing Superman on how your inherent psychopathy gives you an evolutionary advantage is pretty crap. I won’t argue with you that “evolution always wins”, but … ok, I will. We can evolve a hell of a lot but if we don’t figure out how to detect and stop an asteroid here pretty soon, all life on Earth and the human race is eventually going to be wiped out — evolution will lose to random chance, and often does. But beside that point, psychopathy DOESN’T give you an evolutionary advantage. If it did, the MAJORITY of people would be psychopaths, not 1 out of 100. Psychopathy, a lack of a sense of morality or conscience, threatens your ability to work together for the greater good of society, and as social animals, doing so improves the survival chances of all involved. So no, Faora, your “evolutionary advantage” of a lack of a moral sense will not guarantee your victory.

ALSO, the only reason you ARE a psychopath is not because of evolution but because you were bred to be one — you’re a part of the warrior class of a bio-engineered, vial grown species. That means you need to be chalking up your so called evolutionary advantage to ENGINEERING, not evolution. Sorry. You’re still sexy in that “oh my god don’t kill me!” kind of way.

Black Holes don’t do that. Wait, BLACK HOLES DON’T DO THAT! COME ON PEOPLE AARGH!

It sees to be the cool thing in movies these days to do things with black holes that black holes don’t do. I have to chalk it up to writers supposing that general audiences don’t understand what black holes are yet, or a more likely scenario … the writers themselves don’t know what black holes are. That being the case, Kryptonian space travel is powered by Phantom Drives, which have the capacity to “bend space” according to Superman … much like warp drives I suppose. The difference is, when these drives go wrong, they open a singularity. A black hole.  Ok, so far so good.

But somehow these black holes are the Phantom Zone, the iconic Kryptonian prison realm of comics where Zod and so many other Kryptonian villains are banished to. You can very much come back from the Phantom Zone (hell, Zod does it), so I’m left to beg the question how exactly the Phantom Zone has anything to do with black holes. Because we know you don’t just escape a damn black hole. Not surprisingly the movie is vague, but this troubles me — I would have been more ready and eager to believe that there’s another realm of reality and dimension the Kryptonians discovered and named the “Phantom Zone” than I am to believe that its basicaly just a black hole.

Also, after creating a singularity with the phantom drives, it promptly disappears after finishing with the villains. Singularities don’t do that, yo. They stick around for a while. MICRO-SINGULARITIES do that, because of Hawking Radiation, but this one ate a couple of space ships. It ain’t quantum scale. Which means it should have stayed their and continued consuming the Earth.

So I’m annoyed. Science fiction script writers need to learn how to stick with science fiction and stop trying to meld it into science-farce, because it cheapens the story and insults the intelligence of the audience. Star Trek and Into Darkness were just as guilty of this transgression.

Yo Zod. I don’t think you were hearing Jor-El right. Listen up buddy. He’s saving you a lot of trouble.

Man of Steel is a great movie that suffers one, and only one, really really big plot hole. Zod’s epic quest for genocide to rebuild Krypton is ultimately driven by his desire to save Kryptonians a few extra years of meditation training.

In his final argument with Jor-El, Jor attempts to reason with him by saying that Kryptonians and humans could share Earth. Zod’s answer? “And cause them to suffer for years!?” Strangely, Jor’s counter argument is pretty on target — “You’re talking genocide!” which ought to put things into perspective for him, before Zod answers “I am, and I’m arguing its merits with a ghost.” Ad Hominem attack evades the point, Zod. On Earth, Kryptonians will suffer a couple of years of pain to live the rest of their lives as gods. Yet, when you kill all of humanity to terraform the world into another Krypton, you’ll be reducing your people’s godly powers to a human-level weakly state. And for what? So they could avoid a couple of years of puking and zen class? Zod’s priorities are pretty fucked up, and when you understand the movie in and out, you start to call shenanigans on it. The plot seemed to have gotten too complex for the writers to reason out a NEED for Kryptonians to terraform Earth, and that’s where it ultimately breaks down. I found myself enjoying the movie, and it’s still demonstrably 10 times better than Star Trek: Into Darkness because … well, I mean there’s 1 plot hole to every 10 in Star Trek, but what makes it REALLY unfortunate is that it’s a hole in such an important part of the story.

In Conclusion …

In spite of my thorough break down, Man of Steel had enough good things going for it to outweigh the one or two bad things, and make it a movie worth recommending, and I didn’t even get to touch on Hans Zimmerman’s score which I’m listening to as I type this because it’s freakin rad. The real question everyone has is if this movie is good enough to launch DC’s Justice League movie and the fact of the matter is … that’s beside the point. The Justice League movie is full steam ahead whether you liked this movie or not. But in my opinion, all of the DC Universe cannot fit seamlessly into the Nolan-verse, and if you try it, you may produce epic movies … but movies that lack the heart and fun that you can find elsewhere in DC products.

If I were in charge of the DC movies, I would take the guys working on the New 52 Justice League comic and mine their brain for everything I can. I implore you to go to comixology.com and purchase Justice League #1 – this will allow you to see just how different the real DC Universe of the comics can feel from the dark and dirty Nolanverse the movies so far reside-in. It will give you an opportunity to see how much more real, serious, but also bright, colorful, and alive the Justice League movie could be if it abandoned Nolan and built a new world.

Afterall, it is the one place where all the superheroes do exist, seemlessly, in the same universe. Ignoring how they’re doing it, and the differences each heroes story brings, is the height of ignorance and arrogance.

Havreview – Star Trek: Into Darkness

WARNING: Podcast UGC has almost never steered clear of spoilers because it’s just too hard to try to talk about something while being terrified of every little thing you might say. So with that being the case,

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Man, it’s really hard to follow the huge summer blockbuster smash that was 2009’s Star Trek.

No, you misunderstand me. I don’t mean it’s hard to make a sequel for it. I meant it was literally hard to understand that mess of a plot. Only someone who cared very little for science fiction and science fact could excuse the complete disregard for black hole physics that permeated that film, but short of black holes being used really inappropriately as “magic” for a plot to work (and J.J. Abram’s own excuse for this being “if real science always had to be depicted accurately, the greatest science fiction movies in history wouldn’t have been made”), 2009’s Star Trek had very little wrong going for it. The sets looked nice, the costumes were neat, the casting was good (even if the character depictions weren’t), the redesign of the Romulans was actually my favorite depiction of them ever (no joke) … a lot of good things were going for it. But the very foundation all of it was based on was the sorry scaffolding of a shabby grasp of science fiction and an underestimation of the intellect of the general sci-fi audience, generating an underwhelming and honestly insulting overall experience.

Now that I’ve spent a paragraph reviewing the first reboot film, you can understand my one sentence review of its sequel; How the hell did this one end up being worse?

If I were to go down line by line of everything that was wrong with Star Trek: Into Darkness, you would be here all day reading it. Hell, honestly, it would also bore me to death. So I’ll tackle only the first opening act of the movie line by line, just so you can get a little feel about how much wrong permeates every nook and cranny of the film, and then I’ll just let my ADD-wrecked brain handle the rest of it the way it would prefer: spontaneously and completely without a plan. GO!

enterprisewater

ACT I: Man, If Only Our Spaceship Could Fly in Space…

Star Trek: Into Darkness starts out pretty cheesy, but despite it’s cheesy, it still starts out quite well, or at least … better than the rest of the movie. We see what is clearly an alien world full of red vegetation and cloaked figures running through it, introduced to our heroes, Kirk and McCoy. They run from the local natives that are quite … native, but only barely alien. If it wasn’t for the black eyes and inner-eyelid-blinking, their level of “hey guys, this is an alien!” makeup is pretty pathetic. In fact, I was pretty certain Kirk and McCoy had stumbled upon the Terra Novans.

Hey, at least these guys had a REASON for looking like they were just humans with caked-on mud. They were!

What? At least we HAD a reason to be people covered in mud? SHAAAALE!

Admit it, now you kind of wish they were Novans.

Although Kirk and McCoy are fairly confused as to what Kirk did exactly to piss them off (something about bowing), Kirk drops what is clearly holy text on a tree branch, causing most of the Novans to stop chasing him and bow before it. Well Christ, man! First rule of fucking with indigenous people: don’t swipe their holy text! How’d you not learn this one in the academy?

Oh that’s right. You kind of went from Cadet to Captain in an hour, didn’t you.

I’m not joking here; Spock has tell Kirk what the Prime Directive is about three or four times during this act, and Kirk never goes “Yeah, hey Spock, I kind of know what that is. It’s a directive, and it’s the first one. Ya know.”

There’s also an exchange between Kirk and McCoy about their “disguises”. Which by that I’m assuming they meant their cloaks. Which is really … really bad.

Yo, young Kirk. Lemme school you on a disguise.

This, is you, doing a disguise:

KirkRomulan

This, is an older you, wondering why you think a gray cloak is an adequate “disguise” among a group of naked mud-aliens:

KirkWha

Way to go “blending in” there. Continuing.

You’re running from your pursuers, still, because Chekhov can’t get a lock on you, for either one of two reasons: #1. The imminently erupting volcano is doing some stuff with magnets. And because “fucking magnets, how do they work?”: Chekhov can’t get a lock. OR, what I was gathering while watching the film, #2. Chekhov can’t get a lock on you because you’re running. Nevermind he totally locked onto both you and Sulu while you were falling at terminal velocity toward a planet with wildly changing gravitational forces as a black hole consuming its core. You and McCoy are really whizzing by them bushes at a blazing 8 mph in a straight line!

chekovtransporter

Either case, let’s go jump off this cliff and fall into the ocean. Because that’s where we parked our spaceship.

Well now we have a problem. Spock is trapped in the heart of a volcano because although his thermal protection EV-Suit is the most resilient shit even conceived of by man it can apparently withstand more heat than a duranium metal shuttle hull reinforced with shielding, we decided to try to get to this hot volcano on one of those shuttles. Instead of you know … hiking up to the Volcano, or something.

Ok sure, maybe there was no time to hike to the volcano before it erupted, and because Chekhov has suddenly forgotten how to use the transporter, we have to fly a shuttle there. Ok. Fly your shuttle to the volcano, park it on the hillside, and then walk into the mouth of it in your magic better-than-metal-and-shielding heat suits.

Wait, wait, too simple for you? Lemme be more contrived. Take a bunch of your magic heat-shielding suits, cut em up, make a heat-shielding tarp, wrap your shuttle in your suit-tarp, and then fly it into the volcano.

There. I just came up with three different courses of action that make more sense than flying an inadequate thing into a volcano. Especially when Sulu admits that they pretty much knew it was an inadequate thing and this plan was dumb but Kirk wanted it to happen anyway and everyone just kind of said “Ok!” because being ordered to your death via a plan that is categorically and demonstrably insane with no chance of working is only slightly irksome to you. But I digress.

Spock’s plan is to detonate a cold fusion device in the heart of the volcano to stop the eruption. This reasoning works really well if you’re completely devoid of reasoning.

Cold Fusion is the hypothetical (and highly suspect) theoretical technology of generating a nuclear fusion reaction at relatively cold temperatures. Note my italics. Relatively cold. Like the heating capability of electrical wall outlets as opposed to heat that will melt through stories of concrete, metal, pretty much all of the heavy shielding around it. The pursuit of this mythical technology, as most science fans and science fiction fans know, is driven by the tantalization of ridiculous amounts of ridiculously cheap energy to fuel the world in a green way. Not because cold fusion lets you throw snow balls like Sub-Zero.

This movie vs. my brain: FATALITY!

This movie vs. my brain: FATALITY!

But even if J.J. Abrams is right, and science doesn’t actually have to be accurate at all, in a movie of the science fiction genre, to such a degree that you could write into the plot that your heroes could, I don’t know, breathe rock because … fuck you, science! (which I think is a pretty accurate equivalence to cold fusion being ice magic or black holes being trans-dimensional portals) … freezing a caldera isn’t going to do shit. Volcanoes erupt explosively because of pressure in the magma. You know, that stuff really far below the surface of a planet. Go ahead. Set that magic freeze bomb off at the stuff up top.

VolcanoesHowDoTheyWork

But the really good fun of this scene, and what made it really feel like Star Trek, was all the hub-bub about the Prime Directive. That’s a huge part of Star Trek, after all, and during our epic stand-off with the transporters inconveniently not working right or Chekhov forgetting how to work them or whatever the case might have been, Spock is ready to sacrifice himself so that the naked mud people don’t see the Enterprise, which would expose their society to alien technology and violate the prime directive.

The problem with the conundrum is that Spock’s mentality towards the prime directive reflects later generations’ mentality: dogma. Rigid and unrelenting: any and all breaking of the prime directive is strictly prohibited. However, the original series has a very not-so-rigid way of viewing the prime directive: as a guideline, and not rule of law. The ship’s Captain was, well, Captain & Commander, trusted to make the best decision for the health and safety of his crew and all involved. In fact, Spock himself has sided with Kirk’s decision to weigh against the directive. In “The World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” approximately 14 minutes and 30 seconds in:

Spock: Captain, informing these people that they are on a ship may be in violation of the Prime Directive of Starfleet Command.

Kirk: Well, the people of Yonada may be changed by the knowledge, but that’s better than exterminating them.

Spock: Logical, Captain.

Kirk: And three billion on Deran V.

Spock: Also logical, Captain.

Now it’s not inherently bad that someone in Kirk’s crew takes the rule book a little seriously (Kirk, McCoy, and Uhura certainly don’t), but the inconsistency is something I certainly find bothersome. Especially when the scenario is similar: exposing a handful of them to a glimpse of something they don’t understand, to save Spock and in fact their entire planet from apocalypse. As Kirk asks at the end of the act, “Yeah, so they saw us. So what?” and the camera cuts to our mud-people drawing a surprisingly accurate top-down depiction of the Enterprise (a vantage point they didn’t even have), I find myself somewhat ironically asking the same thing. So what?

So mud-people will pass down stories of a giant saucer with two tubes attached to it that rose out of the water and flew away, probably stopping the volcanoes eruption. If that’s all they gathered from it, not only is it hella accurate but it makes a lot more sense than Zombie Jesus, or Black Stone of Kaaba, or any other mythical thing worshiped based on nothing in our own real society. Ok fine, the Black Stone of Kaaba is a meteorite. Fine. And maybe that’s the dealio: it’s what the Novans “make-up” to explain the event that will be the worst part, but at the end of the day they’re alive and the guy who saved them is also. Sounds like win win to me. But then again my feelings of the Prime Directive have always been a bit irreverent.

I got wordy there because skimming around in the pile of stupid this is can get tiresome, but I guess I’ll wade back into the muck: it’s a completely contrived problem because somebody decided to park in the water.

You know. “Damn! Someone’s going to see us if we rise out of the water! If only our spaceship could stay in … I don’t know … SPACE or something!”

Oh wait.

Seriously, why the Hell was the Enterprise under the water in the first place? Orbit the planet where they can’t see you. Oh, we had to hide the ship because we couldn’t beam you down because of the magneto-sphero-transporter-blocko-volcano? Doesn’t seem like you’re too concerned about them seeing your damn SPACE SHUTTLE flying about, so you could have flown down on that then. There’s no excuse. We’re under water because …. Lindelhof. And because we needed a plot device. What a great story.

But hey, now that we’re out of the water and flying over the volcano, we can get a lock on Spock. Because we have direct line of sight. …. you know. Line of sight with a giant ash cloud that has absolutely zero penetrable visibility. I’m calling bullshit, Chekhov.

But I’m willing to give him a break because the Dumb Line of the Day is taken by Mr. Sulu, who professes that he doesn’t know if the Enterprise can handle that kind of low altitude. Wow. You flew the space ship DOWN, from outer space, submerged it under water at the bottom of the ocean under pound-per-square-inch pressure that would make your squishy little body pop like a pimple, and you’re concerned about flying your gravity and aerodynamics-defying spaceship at low altitude. I think it’s proven it’s durability, dude.

And all of that being said? It really was the BEST PART of the movie, because it was … in spite of all it’s stupidity, Star Trek. An away team being chased on an unexplored planet by aliens-of-the-week with a cerebral prime directive foil and a natural disaster as the only villains our Starfleet officers must face: the actions and repercussions of the decision of the most powerful beings they know … themselves, against the unstoppable forces of life and nature. This act packs literally more Star Trek into it’s 15 minute run-time than J.J. Abrams and Lindelhof had managed to come up with in the rest of the two films. I was sad when it ended. If this opening plot had been fleshed out into a full-length script, I may have been singing a different tune right now: how J.J. Abrams and crew managed to rise above the mediocrity of the Speilberg obsession of their first run and found a way to translate everything that made Star Trek unique on the small screen, to the big screen. But sadly, I can’t. Star Trek: Into Darkness sunk back into the muck of bad story tellers’ minds, perhaps dragged there by the tendrils of plot holes and miscellaneous stupidity pulling on it since the film began.

Help Us, Obi-Wan Khanobi, You’re Our Only Hope!

Benedict Kahnberbatch’s reveal as Khan lands about as surprising as a bag of flaming shit on your front porch. It’s there! It’s a thing! But you’re not exactly all that thrilled about it!

Introductions

… *STOMP STOMP*

This Kahnberbatch is bad, because there’s pretty much absolutely zero reference to him being well … who he is. A 1993 Eugenics Wars Dictator. By all accounts, he isn’t, even. He’s just a super human genetically engineered dude and his 72 brosephs making their best imitation of popcicles. Interesting, but your back story is missing, bra. Also, you’re just … not … Khan.

There’s a funny thing about dictators. They become dictators not because of the power they take, but by the power everyone around them gives. An almost universal trait is their absolutely ridiculous charisma and likability: they can convince you that they are really charming, swell guys, and light up a room full of people by just walking in and smiling, despite being psychopaths. Ricardo Montalban OWNED this aspect of Khan Noonien-Sing. Khanberbatch’s performance, lauded as “cerebral” and “nuanced”, basically amounts to him standing really still, opening his mouth REALLY WIDE, and trying to sound as SINISTER AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE with those buttery dimples. Yeah,  what a great three-dimensional performance, dude.

The most notable thing about it, is that when the going gets tough, the TOUGH GET ZORG.

Zorg

But the stupidity of his existence even being a thing permeates the film so heavily that it almost, well, smells. As much as a movie can smell. The logic is SO BAD that if you weren’t going “Wait, wah?” as he’s explaining it, then you might not have a brain.

Kirk: Why would a Starfleet Admiral ask a three hundred year old frozen man for help?

A perfectly legitimate question, I might add.

Kahnberbatch: Because I am better.

Kirk: At what?

Kahnberbatch: Everything.

… Don’t toot your own horn or nuthin’ …

Khan: Alexander Marcus needed to respond to an uncivilized threat in an uncivilized time and for that, he needed a warrior’s mind. My mind. To design weapons and warships.

Spock: You are suggesting the Admiral violated every regulation he vowed to uphold simply because he wanted to exploit your intellect.

Khan: He wanted to exploit my savagery!

Ok come on people. The Hell is going on here?

Vulcan blows up and all of a sudden the whole damn galactic quadrant has gone stupid? It’s the future, and suddenly it’s a little more violent and unpredictable than it was. We’ve moved past crime, but Khanberbatch will argue that, rather, we’ve all forgotten how war works. Talk softly, carry a big stick, but HALP, how do I swing it? DERP.

Please! We clearly have high powered phasers, if our handheld versions and our entire “fleet in the Laurentian System” doing some kind of military-stuff as per the first film isn’t a fair example. We’ve moved out of the Clinton years and into the Bush years for crying out loud, but we need to thaw out Encino-Man because we can’t “break a bone” as he so mocks of Spock. Yah. Right. Were you watching the first film at all, dude?

NeroMurder

AH, those wittle twoofwess puddy-tats! How will dey ever stand up against da big bad Kwingons?

Now if you’re going to argue Marcus wanted to move Starfleet in a more militaristic direction because he believed war was inevitable and they weren’t ready? Yeah, fine. Makes sense. It’s not exactly anything new, or different, though. Kirk and the Klingons were posturing around each other with the threat of war on their doorstep in just about every appearance the Klingons ever made in the original series. It’s a good storyline, but don’t pretend like it’s new just because Vulcan blew up in this timeline. Starfleet ALWAYS gave the Klingon Empire the stinky eye during the TOS Era, and they were always pissing their pants just a wee bit because the Klingons are unusually good at this war business, but arguing that this is some sort of a new, surprising turn of events because Vulcan blew up is bogus. Yeah, Starfleet may be a bit more antsy without the guiding diplomatic hand of the pointy ones, but antsy doesn’t mean “BLAH WTF DO WE DO WE FORGOT HOW TO STARFLEET QUICK THAW THE 72 SUPER HUMAN HITLERS WE FOUND AND THEN COERCE THEM TO DO OUR BIDDING UNDER THREAT OF MURDERING THEIR FAMILIES, THAT’LL WORK!”

If any part of this plan doesn’t stink of bad writing to you, sniff harder.

Hitler would never admit to anyone that he had a savage mind, by the way. He didn’t. He was a lover of the arts, an investor in science, and COVERTLY … a psychopath hell bent on vicious butchery, dehumanization, eugenics, paranoia, and everything we know him to be. He was an evil mind, but not a savage one. He didn’t run around popping people’s skulls open with his bare hands and giving evil one-liners.

Speaking of Hitler (because that’s what every conversation on the Internet boils down to, although this one has a good reason to get there), I’m constantly annoyed that no one hears the name “Khan” in this series and goes “OH SHIT!” as soon as it’s mentioned.

When he’s a dictator who has single-handedly ruled 25% of your home planet, you’d suspect people would recognize your name. Especially after they’ve seen you in history books! But this isn’t a fault I can blame squarely on the movie: the TOS episode “Space Seed” handled the subject similarly, with Kirk, Spock, and everyone involved completely oblivious to the identity of their “Khan” until they googled him or something, and then all of a sudden even Scotty is admitting “Ya know, this one was my favorite!” Really? And you didn’t recognize him, bro?

OH, and about that “savage mind” Admiral Marcus needed to build new “weapons and warships” to fight the Klingons?

ShipVsShip

Really? This was the best you came up with? “Put a hole in the saucer and make it bigger! I saw this once in an MMO I played! We only need one of them by the way. That’s how war works, right?”

Put the dude back on ice. The skeptics are right about cryogenics: totally kills the brain cells.

Whose plan was what, by the way?

Into Darkness (why the hell is it even called Into Darkness? Because so many people get sucked out of hull breaches?) leads the viewer along on what seems like an incredibly well crafted and intricate thread of … well, not really who-dun-it … but rather … who-doin-it. It seems good until you think about it like … just a bit … and then you realize the whole damn script wasn’t really even given a half decent pass. If it WAS rewritten, fire their asses. It’s dumb. Pure and simple.

-1. Starfleet Happens Across the Botany Bay, Recovers Khan and Kompany Because Everything is Kooler with a K.
0. Marcus Makes Khan Do Secret Agent Man Stuff Kompletely Knowing That’s He’s a War Kriminal … gotta stop this Kapitalization thing. Wasn’t what you were thinking, was it?
0.5 … oh, because Marcus basically IS Starfleet (and no one else apparently, according to him, later on, on Vengeance) and Vulcan blew up and he went stoopid so he got Khan because scientists are now extinct or something.
0.5999  … and we hold the other 72 of them at ransom because THAT’S the Starfleet thing to do, ya know.
1. Khan Saves a Starfleet Guy’s Daughter’s Life
2. For some damn reason the guy now feels like he’s “forced” to do some terrorism. Why? Ya got what you want, bro. Your daughter’s fine. Call the cops.
3. Starfleet guy does terrorism with one of those big fat SPECTRE rings from James Bond films anyway.
4. This causes Marcus to convene so they can kick ass.
5. This is what Khan wants so he can shoot every body and not just Marcus even though it’s really just Marcus he’s after. …. …..
6. Pike gets dead.
7. Marcus sticks 72 warheads filled with Hitlers instead of fuel on the Enterprise and lets the douchebag he doesn’t really like have the ship back because he wants him dead.
7.5 I get that part but the part I don’t get is … if you replace your fuel for your long distance torpedo with … PEOPLE … exactly how is your torpedo gonna fly, dawg? …. anyone? Bueller?
8. Marcus rigs the Enterprise so the warp core breaks, so its stuck behind enemy lines and will get blowed up.
9. According to Khan this works to Marcus’ benefit because Marcus not only thinks war is inevitable but THE SOONER THE BETTER, so … yeah … nuke those boneheads!
10. But he only got one ship made, so … winning strategy this is not.
11. So was this really Marcus’ strategy at all or was Khan just playing Kirk?
12. But then again SOMEONE rigged that warp core so … SCOTTY! … nope. Marcus acted like he was surprised Kirk was still alive. Nope. Wasn’t Scotty …
13. So we need to nuke Khanberbatch with his own dudes in rockets with no fuel so we can start a war we’re not prepared for because we made a mistake waking up this frozen bastard so he could help us prepare for a war we’re not prepared for.

… ….

z05yh

KHAAAAAAAAANN!!!!

star-trek-into-darkness-worried-scotty

The Engine Room is Yours, Mr. Hippie

Mr. Scott is a miracle worker, not a warrior. He has no love lost for Starfleet in general after being basically exiled to Delta Vega. To him, Starfleet is only benevolent when it fully trusts him to do engineering stuff. Even though he totally killed Porthos, which means he really shouldn’t be totally trusted anyway. He’s POed at Starfleet because they confiscated his transwarp theory equation (dude, you live in a socialist society. This surprises you? So naive) but in reality it was never really HIS genius in the first place because Spock gave it to him, from the other him, in another universe. Which is just FURTHER evidence that Starfleet really shouldn’t trust Mr. Scott because he hasn’t exactly lived up to his alternate universe counterpart’s exalted reputation.

That being the case, as much as Mr. Scott doesn’t like to hurt things (well, outside of beagles), I’m pretty certain Mr. Scott should LIKE LIVING. When you’re on a mission to the heart of the Klingon Empire, you think you’d be a bit excite that Starfleet Command is actually giving YOU, of all people, their trust and confidence to carry the prototypes of top secret weaponry to, you know, SURVIVE that whole Qo’nos thing. Instead, Scott throws a hissy fit because “classified” is something he’s apparently never heard in the military before.

Forget weapons of war. Even scientists know what “classified” is, and they’re cool with it. Because, chain of command. Why are you so uppity?

Really? His original reason was sound. If he doesn’t know the fuel capacity, payload, and yield, just firing the thing too close could blow up the ship. Fine. Makes sense. But he didn’t even stick with that. He went straight to “I don’t like Starfleet with guns!”

Yeah, but they’re your guns, dude. Scotty went from a relatively rational explanation as to why he couldn’t sign off on the torps, to a completely irrational, ideologically driven reasoning that seems counter to a Starfleet officer starved of trust and respect from his superiors. The real reason? We needed a reason to get Scott off the ship so he could pick up the phone and get the address of … Jupiter, and go waltz into a top secret Section 31 facility. Mmm. We also needed Scott  to have a sixth sense. “Something ain’t right about them newfangled torpedoes!” Funny how completely irrational paranoia of technology out of the blue always ends up being on the money when delivered by the heroes of the story! Of course that only ever happens in … DUN DUN DUNNNN … bad writing.

_1365459502

I tinks I know how to run da nucleear space wessel, kiptin!

If the opening sequence of the movie (and my play by play of it) hasn’t given you a good idea of Chekhov’s lot in this movie, let me spell it out for you: 2009’s Star Trek rejigged all the characters to just be wrong. Scotty went from brilliant to bone headed and comedic, while Chekhov went from a skirt chaser to a genius capable of incredible feats of mathmatics. Somewhere between then and now, Chekhov got stupid, because not only did he forget how to beam moving targets, but he also forgot how ships work. In his defense, he’s NOT an engineer, but he’s supposedly proficient enough to BE one. That didn’t keep him from spending the entire damn movie trying to find a coolant leak.

Ya know, at the first sign of the coolant leak being sabotage (which there was signs of), you probably should have started checking at the easiest access points for someone to sneak in and unscrew something, Chekhov. Might would have narrowed down a search a little. Just a thought.

Ironically, Chekhov’s only usefulness at this avenue of the movie was being at the right place at the right time so he brawn, as opposed to his brains, saved Kirk and Scotty. Man, we’re really attacking that whole “cerebral” thing, aren’t we J.J.? Not even your boy genius is allowed to be a genius anymore.

Star-Trek-into-darkness-zoe-saldana-as-uhura-33994978-1264-527

We’re Not on Speaking Terms Because STARFLEET WAH!

You know what? Spock was dumb to sacrifice himself for alien mud-people’s society, but even I have to admit that doing so was a sacrifice Spock felt compelled to make in the line of duty. This is a thing Starfleet officers should be able to wrap their heads around, and I understand we’re only a year out of the Academy … but that’s basically college, girl. You can’t have a relationship with your superior officer and pretend like it’s a high school focused anime. You both signed up for this gig knowing that you MAY BE called upon to sacrifice yourself for your mission and ESPECIALLY the Prime Directive. Now I agree, THAT level of self-sacrifice was stupid, but Uhura is marching around her relationship with Spock acting completely oblivious that the two are adults and their devoted to a job that’s bigger than either of them. That’s not exactly an appealing character trait. On top of that, she seems very eager to make the whole relationship a tri-directional: VERY eager to acknowledge Kirk and Spock’s bromance and to get Kirk to back her up on a Spock’s closed-heartedness. Hey, she may be clingy, but at least she’s willing to share!

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-Carol-Marcus

No One Appreciates You, Dr. Marcus. Come Hang Out With Me.

One character change I liked was the addition of Dr. Carol Marcus. THIS is the kind of thing I’m ok with: slight tweaks to people’s places and happenings to the universe. I REALLY liked the fact that there was a nod to the fact that Marcus was basically replacing Christine Chapel’s role as the blonde girl on the ship. I feel like this is an ok thing to do with the retcon in a new universe because I FEEL like if original writers had thought of Marcus earlier, she WOULD have been apart of that original series. It’s nice to have someone else there to pit Kirk up with romantically other than … well … Spock. Hehe.

That being the case, Everybody Hates Carol. Spock didn’t like her, McCoy’s kind of POed that she shut his hand in the car door and almost blew him up … she tagged along and the only person that really was excited about it was … well, Kirk. And only fleetingly. She’s actually a bright spot in JJ Trek — a breath of freshness, something new and unexpected in a movie that rips off so much from others and does everything else new really poorly. It’s a shame that no one respects Marcus and her gorgeous, gorgeous …

… blonde bob haircut, which I LOVED! … what? I have a thing for girls with short blonde hair.

What’d you think I was going to say?

Ok fine. It’s also a shame that there was really no good reason for her to show up other than an underwear scene that served no place. It was a glorified upskirt, except with no skirt. And matching underwear. … creeeepy.

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION

J.J. Trek has always been … lenient on placement of stuff. Now I am certainly no one to talk: I don’t know anything about galactic star charts or any of the stuff that most Trek fans profess to know. But I know one thing — Delta Vega is NOT in moon-distance of Vulcan, and when your warp drive is sabotaged on the border of Klingon space, and your ship is shot out of warp by a big scary evil version of itself after only traveling for like 20 seconds, your caught … stranded … until you happen to blow up the bad guy’s buddies and he shoots you so full of holes that you suddenly start crashing … while in space … INTO EARTH?

WHAT?

SUDDENLY EARTH!?

WHERE? WHEN? WHY?! KRONOS IS NEAR JUPITER AND EARTH!?

IS THIS STAR TREK: INTO SUDDENLY EARTH?

WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN …

Jeebus Christ! They even made a PHONE CALL. To SPOCK. To ask him how to deal with Khan!

THEY WERE IN EARTH ORBIT!

PICK UP THE DAMN PHONE AND PHONE HOME, E.T.! YOU’RE RIGHT THERE!

DEFIANT! YORKTOWN! … the god damn FARIGUT FOR CHRIST’S SAKES! ANYTHING!

… this review is finished. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Wait. Wait.

You laughed when Spock yelled “KHAAAAAAAN!” You know you did. Don’t lie to me.

Also, this week’s Lazarus Award goes to Kirk AND a Tribble. JESUS TRIBBLE IS A THING. It rolls across water. God help us all.

Does Cryptic Studios Hate Fun?

It’s an unusual question to ask. You would imagine that an MMO developer would “like” fun. Fun is good. Fun is what makes your players come back again and again. And when it comes to the classic idea of a massive multiplayer online role playing game, a big idea of what fun is, is in the name. Roleplaying. The capability to do what few console games ever gave the player the freedom to do: to customize a character and play as him.

The math behind this particular brand of fun is quite simple: customization + more customization = more fun. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do. In fact, this was a fact that Cryptic more than any other MMO developer before them understood: a huge selling factor of all of their MMOS, from City of Heroes to Star Trek Online, was putting the power of creativity into the hands of the player.

Just recently a lot of controversy surrounded myself and specifically Podcast UGC as I raked players, Cryptic in general, and Cryptic developers, even, across the coals for the apparent intent to limit alien customization for Romulans and to remove it entirely for silver players (as revealed later, not ‘forever’, but just long enough to get some people to sub before they unlocked it for everyone). A paygate of customization for apparently no reason. I had difficulty reasoning out the various explanations people were giving me, and that’s because the reasoning was bad.

It wasn’t too long before Cryptic made a complete 180 on the entire topic, but I nonetheless had a creeping fear in the back of my mind: is this Star Trek Online’s team taking a very bad play from Neverwinter’s playbook, and limiting character creativity? At the end of the day, I felt that fear was abated. It was simply a bad idea: a lone bad decision in a sea of pretty good ones. But now, I’m starting to have second thoughts.

Ever since Legacy of Romulus’ Foundry was turned back on, the costume import/export button had been mysteriously missing. Despite several inquiries, the only response we got was on the forums by CrypticFrost, stating that it was “intentional at this time”. We didn’t know the reason. Perhaps using the feature would allow us to see Romulan outfits prematurely? Who knew.

But it was today that Star Trek Online’s Community Manager gave us an official response, and the response was not good:

Hi Authors,

Unfortunately, for now, this feature needed to be removed, and will not be re-added to the Legacy of Romulus expansion — as Zero posted about in the past, there were several bugs found with the feature. We’ve seen feedback that the Foundry community found it useful, and are taking your feedback into consideration — the hope is that it will return someday, but there is no ETA we can provide at this time.

The removal of key Foundry functionality that not only improved authors’ workflows by allowing them to copy already-made costumes from one project to another and share them among friends, is absolutely devastating. This particular feature is hailed as my #2 most important improvement to the Foundry, second only to being able to hide NPC Contacts. It’s also at the top of my list for reasons Neverwinter’s Foundry is still inferior to Star Trek Online’s. We dedicated an entire episode to this feature, Episode 101: Green Shaved Cat People!

Sure, the feature was “buggy”. Some costumes didn’t display properly, some costumes didn’t display at all, but nonetheless countless Foundry authors, including myself, were able to do exactly what the Foundry should have allowed us to do from the very beginning: have complete customization of our projects to fully realize our dreams. After all, more customization = more fun. Cryptic’s official statement on the matter (found here: http://t.co/MogzUrMeS9 ) implies that Cryptic was oblivious to the idea that the Foundry community might actually “miss” a feature that opened up countless doors previously closed, and even after admitting this truly inexcusable oversight, reiterated that it was removed with no plan or ETA to improve or replace it.

I believe Green Dragoon stated it quite plainly:

If I may speak candidly, Brandon, if this is the only criteria for this decision, the ENTIRE Foundry needs to be pulled because there isn’t a single feature that isn’t plagued by several bugs.

And Idrona, also known as Nidrona on Twitter, spoke what all authors reading it were feeling:

If I were an author I’d be so frustrated over that answer.

And Erroneoussok lays it on the line, proving the disparity between what Cryptic can produce and what Foundry authors have to put up with:

This is BAD news.

Brandon, please ask your developers how they’d like it if THEIR tools suddenly stopped supporting reusable components. Forcing Foundry authors to repeatedly re-input costumes from scratch is NOT COOL.

I myself commented that I felt it only reiterated Foundry authors’ concerns that the Foundry is indeed in maintenance mode, where improving and adding new features to the product seems abandoned for bug squashing and seam smoothing.

But that wasn’t the end of it all. It was recently brought to my attention via this Tribble thread, http://sto-forum.perfectworld.com/showthread.php?p=9962621&posted=1#post9962621 , which seemed to point out that the Gorn on Tribble have omitted the physique and bulk sliders that were so characteristic of their species.

I’ve done extensive testing with this, and the results of the lack of these two sliders is dramatic, especially the lack of the bulk slider. Without the bulk slider, Gorn can no longer achieve their incredibly skinny sizes, or their incredibly bulky masses. It’s just not an option. In an attempt to see what would happen when characters that already existed with these traits were “imported” into Tribble using the costume import/export function, I created a skinny Gorn using Holodeck, put that costume file into Tribble, and loaded it up. I was presented with a skinny Gorn, but then proceeded to max out all the sliders. I couldn’t make the Gorn even remotely approach “normal” in size, let alone huge. The lack of the bulk slider gimps, traps even, Gorn to look a certain way.

Is this an oversight? It’s possible. The Gorn are the only species to have these two sliders, and lord knows I’ve been highly critical of the new “simpler” character creation implementation on almost all fronts for good reason — there’s a LOT of things, I feel, that are either missing or inferior to the way they were.

But when you take all of the problems and consider them together, and realize that … repeatedly, they seem to continually focus on a limitation of character customization, you start to wonder … does someone at Cryptic not like players having so much freedom in Star Trek Online? That was certainly the case for Neverwinter, as the sliders amount to almost no changes whatsoever to character models in that game: a problem of EXTREME levels of critique during the beta, with which little care to correct was given. Is Cryptic actively trying to stifle the amount of fun that you can achieve in your roleplaying experience?

I don’t know. The sheer level of flexibility I have seen out of my attempts to edit the female Reman boff named Veril on Tribble is QUITE extensive. You have so many customization options with Veril that she can look like a member of two different species, in my opinion. So why the discrepancy?

AGAIN, I just don’t know. I wonder if its a combination of tone deafness from people in charge of different areas at Cryptic. The idea that Cryptic didn’t expect Foundry authors might actually LIKE the import/export costume functionality and all the character customization freedom it opened up, even if buggy, continues to boggle my mind to such a degree that I can’t help but feel like whoever made that call is simply not listening to the people who are actually using the product they’re working on.

Likewise, I also can’t imagine people at Cryptic actually thought, “Hey, if we charge silver players for a limited version of a feature that’s already free for the other factions, they won’t mind much!” Sure, we’ve been told that it was originally PLANNED to be something all new with all new traits and pieces, but I still find it curious that NO one I spoke to, even the Executive Producer, was capable of actually SAYING THAT OUTRIGHT until after they made the decision to change it. In fact, they continued to argue on the same grounds that I did — that it was indeed a limited version of the same alien generator. So is this not just an example of tone deafness, but also Cryptic not knowing what the right hand is doing from the left hand at any moment?

That idea might be better than the alternative: that some of it is an outright fabrication, which some have already pointed out as a possibility (and may I remind people, is not an idea that Podcast UGC originally proposed, nor is the implication that a dev might have said something untruthful necessarily new for us either.)

But to throw a monkey wrench into the entire theory, the extremely valuable Legacy Pack had value ADDED to it by the addition of the Haakona Class Warbird, the TOS Romulan Uniform, and various title additions for FREE. FREE. What’s funner than FREE? I don’t freakin’ know, that’s what! What’s the difference between fun stuff here, and the limitations to other parts of the game threatening it from other directions?

Simple: someone else made the call. Someone else was in charge of it, and their vision for what the game should be and how to treat the customers seems radically different. I often juxtapose Nintendo, a company that treats its customers so well that it refuses to charge for an ounce of DLC even if its so large it could qualify for a brand new game, and Electronic Arts, who treats their customers so bad that they constantly screw them over for no greater reason than “they’ll pay it anyway”. These two companies shouldn’t get along, and appropriately as of late Nintendo and EA literally HAVEN’T been getting along, but imagine if people with such varying ideas of how to treat its customers not only worked at the same studio, but ran different parts of it?

I’d imagine you’d have something looking a lot like Cryptic. Now maybe equating anyone to being remotely similar to the psychopaths in charge of Electronic Arts is a bit overboard and uncalled for, but I don’t want you to take the metaphor literally. What I’m getting at is: Chaos. Great decisions from one angle, absolutely “what the heck are they thinking!?” decisions from another.

That’s the best I can figure. Terry, bless her heart, has called me an “investigator”. I think it’s a nice way of saying “you’re a paranoid cynic” without hurting my feelings, but either way I have a compulsion for all the pieces of anything and everything to fall into place and make sense. When they don’t, something is simply off, whether we’re lacking a piece of the puzzle or one of our pieces is demonstrably wrong. But in the curious case of Cryptic Studios, I’m constantly challenged: torn between evidence that they are, as I always fear anyone after money or power to be, manipulative and deceitful with intent to harm their customers … or on the other hand, evidence that they are desperately loyal fans to not only Star Trek in general, but to society and humanity, trying to do what’s right. Neither piece of evidence seems inherently invalid to me. They’re just a whole bunch of pieces that don’t seem to fit. Perhaps they’re the pieces to two different puzzles entirely?

I know granulation exists within Cryptic. I’ve talked to developers personally who have expressed, to me, their dismay with being lumped into bad decisions they don’t necessarily agree with. How dare I blame “Cryptic” in general, after all, for a decision that I and everyone knows has to come from a high-level developer! Well the reason being: I don’t know, specifically, who it is. Cryptic does a good job at covering all their bases: allowing just enough vagueness and overlap to how their company structure works that, at any given moment, any developer can hand off responsibility for a terrible decision to someone else. “Oh that’s not my area.” We HAVE to critique “Cryptic” on a whole, and hold Cryptic as a whole accountable for things we don’t like, because the company is certainly not transparent enough for the consumer to know who did what, and nor should we expect them to be.

Only one thing can be known for sure: no matter the intent, there’s SEVERAL things coming down the pike that are NOT good for Foundry authors and NOT good for players of Gorn. As of the writing of this incredibly long blog post, it WILL be pushed to Holodeck with the launch of Legacy of Romulus. If you don’t like it, you have precious little time to let that be known.

I’m told repeatedly that Havrage has very little effect. That’s ok: I’ve never wanted a single decision to be made based on my “anger”, which I’m only recently discovering itself might stem from my ADD-addled brain’s inability to enforce emotional impulse control. Rather, I’ve wanted the reasoning and logic of a good decision to stand on its own. It’s why the content of a Havrage is always a point, an argument, a weighing of details so often overlooked by the tone of the speech. But if Havrage has very little effect in any case, then perhaps YOUR arguments will.

That is, of course, if you feel it important enough to fight for.

Taking from Neverwinter

To the adulation of some, and the chagrin of others, Neverwinter from Cryptic has arrived. With it comes the potential for ideas and game play to cross-over into Star Trek Online. Some of the ideas may already be in the works of being introduced into Star Trek Online, but the only indication we’ll have of that will be if they are spoken about by the Development Team. Others I’m sure will be pure dream sequence on my part.

The Controls

The first thought I had about Neverwinter’s method of character control made me think of Shooter Mode from Star Trek Online. Target highlighting is still present where you need to have a specific target highlighted for some of your abilities, combat feels smooth enough to not be concerned with what I would consider clunky implementation that is in Star Trek Online. Much of that could be attributed to Star Trek Online’s ground combat being gunfights instead of Neverwinter’s more martial swordplay.

Your bar of abilities is simplified in Neverwinter, making it easy to engage in the game without having to discern between kits or a huge number of abilities that you’ll be using. The way it’s setup makes me wonder if Al Rivera wants to use this setup when he talks about revamping kits. I would certainly be a fan of doing it this way as opposed to the hotbars that can get crowded in Star Trek Online’s ground game.

I’d like to see shooter mode become the norm of space combat, right down to the simple hotbar that we have in Neverwinter. While it would present new challenges in balance, I think it would go a long way in sorting out certain defense values associated with all of the ships if we have the ability to target our weapons with our mouse cursor instead of with the tab key.

Playing the Foundry

The Foundry has it’s ups and downs in Neverwinter. Limited options for customization of characters, as well as lack of feature translation, being chief among the downs as far as the editor is concerned. It also goes without saying as well that there is great irritation regarding the point of being able to manipulate content within the Foundry in a 3-Dimensional space, specifically that it was said to be an impossibility. Despite this, here we are now with the capacity to do just that. That aside, it’s a feature that’s greatly appreciated and would be welcomed with open arms in Star Trek Online.

My cheer for the Foundry in Neverwinter comes from it’s implementation through Job Boards and some sort of society of Bards that serve as the means to access the Foundry content that is currently available with an option to search for what’s local when you’re away from the Social Hub. Making something like this work for Star Trek Online would certainly be a victory for the Foundry. Just having a contact on the Social Hubs that are Earth Space Dock, Deep Space 9, Defera, Starbase 39, The Romulan Flotilla (coming in the Legacy of Romulus Expansion), The First City, and future ones would help fill the game world. This isn’t a new idea, but more weight can be placed behind it now that we have a working model of it in Neverwinter. Just the number of plays that have been accumulated by the Foundry Content in Neverwinter this past week is truly staggering.

Crafting

If ever there was a time to drum up support for the Duty Officer System and Crafting to be intertwined, now is it. Neverwinter’s Crafting very much feels like you’re managing Duty Officers in various tasks. Assigned tasks take a certain amount of time to complete and yield rewards once completed. You can speed up the process if you desire by using Astral Diamonds, Neverwinter’s version of Dilithium, a function that is appropriate I feel for use in the Crafting Process. They may feature more heavily, but I haven’t explored the system too much to know if they do. My hope is they remain the currency to speed up processes and not feature as a resource necessary to complete projects.

Grouping

So far, there hasn’t been a requirement to group outside of the Skirmishes and Dungeons that are offered in Neverwinter. However, there are certain bundles that lay about the various areas you explore that can be interacted with by possessing a kit of that bundle type, or having the individual that has the skill.

For example, I play a Guardian, which Guardians have the Dungeoneering Skill. This allows me to interact with bundles that require the Dungeoneering Skill. If I come across a bundle of the Thievery type though, I would need a kit to access it. Or, I could bring along a Rogue that has the Thievery Skill.

Another point is that pertaining to traps. While some are outright obvious that they exist and shouldn’t be stepped on, others are hidden well enough. This makes it advantageous to bring along someone that can see traps (as in light up with a big red highlight), and can disable them. I’d probably take it a step further by making the traps that you do fall into hurt you for more than they do now, making the Rogue’s talents that much more in demand. This is a specific case, but should be an implementation across the board for all classes that encourages grouping as much as possible. The MMO space shouldn’t be just a single-player, always online DRM one.

But do I like Neverwinter…

I’m digging what Neverwinter has to offer so far, and imagine it’ll continue to be a game that I’ll play as time marches forward. I recognize certain elements that take me back to the Neverwinter produced by Bioware, and playing this incarnation of the realm has been a fun one.

Some would say it’s no big deal…

dilithium

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we?

There has been a particular exploit that allows players to acquire large amounts of Dilithium very quickly that involves a specific mission type. I’m not going to go into the specifics of how to do it since I’d rather not enable people in this kind of behavior. What I would like to focus on though is the idea of how this curbs Foundry rewards.

The last article I wrote went over doling out Foundry Rewards and what would need to take place in order to see more involvement in the rest of the game with regards to the Foundry. One thing I hadn’t included in that article was the potential of Foundry Exploits. As I understand it, exploits are the thing that’s potentially holding the Foundry back from getting some really cool stuff for players to get as rewards. It’s not an easy position to be in at Cryptic I imagine, having to keep the leash on for fear of the Foundry running away. Al even states that this particular exploit is putting them in the position of perhaps having to bring back the Foundry wrapper, where you pick up the mission and need to do X number of Foundry missions to get the rewards.

I have two topics regarding Foundry exploits that I would like to discuss, the first being more of a question.

Why do you use exploit missions?

Answers I’m sure would include things like Starbase Projects requiring large amounts of Dilithium, how individuals can’t spend actual money but they “need” the Zen to buy the new C-Store shiny, or because they think that we earn Dilithium too slowly. We won’t cover each of these individually, but I would say that most excuses for exploiting come down to the individual not having the patience to earn the Dilithium at a rate that they deem acceptable for the content they are doing. At this time, it’s been stated that the Dilithium earning rate is…

15 minutes of content = 480 Dilithium

It can vary a little bit from that per what Al said, but it should remain close to that. This earning rate could change in the future depending upon what Cryptic has in mind, but that’s the goal that Cryptic has for it’s content at this time. What that means is they’re balancing anything that can receive an input of Dilithium around the idea that 15 minutes of content is netting 480 Dilithium. When things suddenly aren’t sticking to that plan, it fools with their developed model.

The second point is that I would encourage anyone to contact Cryptic with what they think may be an exploit mission. The quicker Cryptic becomes aware of them, we’ll be that much closer to having better Foundry Rewards. Not to mention less headache for Cryptic and fewer banned players.

Cryptic has some stuff in the works to curb exploits, but no system is perfect. I’m toying with the idea of giving incentive for any White Hat Foundry Authors to find these exploits, but we’ll revisit that in the future.