The Senate is threatening to pass its version of the Internet censorship bill — the PROTECT IP Act — when it returns from winter break later this month. Will you tweet at Senate leadership to ask them to kill the legislation? Just click here:
Millions of Americans have emailed their own senators to ask them to oppose the legislation — which is a big part of why we’ve been able to hold the bill up this long. (For more info about the bill, you can click here.)
But some members of the Senate are more powerful than others, and we need to let Senate leadership — Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and Mitch McConnell — know how upset we are that this legislation is on their agenda. They have the power to block a vote from happening.
We need to make them understand that hundreds of thousands of us are paying attention and will be looking to this issue when we decide whom to vote for in this year’s elections.
Normally we’d ask you to email them, but Senate offices block emails from people with out-of-state zip codes, so we’re asking you to tweet at them instead.
You can use this link to generate a tweet to those three Senators — you can use the language we’ve included, or modify it:
We have another tough couple of weeks in front of us, and appreciate your continued work on this issue. To win this fight we’re going to need stay active to stick together.
– Demand Progress
- Fight For The Future (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Opposing the Senate’s PROTECT-IP Act (nateshiff.wordpress.com)
- SOPA firefight comes to CES (ces.cnet.com)
- Fight PIPA, SOPA’s Senate cousin, with this Senate scorecard (boingboing.net)
Regarding massive multiplayer online games, I have never played a sci-fi game. No Star Wars Galaxy for me. I didn’t even sign up for the Knights of the Old Republic beta. Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of the Star Wars games, and I’ve played a few in the past with Dark Forces, Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight and even Jedi Knight II. Light saber battles are always awesome.
But I’ve always wanted to fly and command a starship. From the NX class in Star Trek: Enterprise, to the Defiant of Deep Space Nine. Even with all of those games out there about Star Trek, none of them, with the exception of an old Commodore Vic 20 game, allowed you to fly a starship. Not Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force. Not Klingon Honor Guard. Not DS9 The Fallen. Not even Star Trek Elite Force II. Sure, there were Real time strategy games that did, but not like this.
One of the first things to find is the costume creator. You only have access to Starfleet crew, and cannot play Klingons until you reach level 25. Which is fine, because a lot of the Klingon missions involve Player vs Player activities. Most likely not something for someone faint of heart (really, anything Klingons do wouldn’t be for the faint of heart). Your choices for species are vast, including Vulcan, Andorian, Tellerite, Trill, Bajoran, and more (and yes, by buying ingame tokens, you can make a Klingon Starfleet member, along with joined Trill and a cat like race of beings).
The character editor is quite extensive, allowing you to create personal look right down to if they have bumps on their noses. Which means, yes, you aren’t just limited to each alien species, you can make your own and modify it to look however you wish. The character creator does have a large number of outfits, but if you have the Cryptic Points (in game money to use on the in game Cryptic Store) you can buy more. Such as uniforms from the Enterprise Series, TOS Mirror Universe Episode, Enterprise Mirror Universe, Wrath of Khan uniforms, STNG Uniforms, DS9 Uniforms, Dress uniforms, even outfits to use for holosuites.
Once the character is created you are thrust into the action. The action, in this case, being the tutorial which is almost a standard given with any game. But what a tutorial it is! You come phaser banks to phase banks with the Borg.
You enter the game as an ensign, and through a series of unfortunate events (apologies to Lemony Snicket) the command of your vessel is killed and you are the highest ranking officer to take command. Throughout the course of the tutorial you experience ship battles, ground battles, scanning, medicating, transporting and repairing. All simple stuff that gets expanded on in the game proper.
And what a proper it is. The map, or galaxy, really is huge. There are a number of different places to go, some friendly, some not so. Travel time is made easy between systems because each system is in a sector, each sector in a sector block. The sector blocks are not that hard to get across. It’s just a matter of memorizing where each important landmark (or space mark) is.
There are the standard missions, but it’s nice that you can get missions that are either away missions, ship based missions in space, or a combination of both. Such as fighting off Klingons in deep space, then having to beam over to a nearby station to continue the story.
Players can get in on the story building as well, as Cryptic has made the Foundry. The Foundry allows you to create a mission or series of missions that are only limited to the creator’s imagination. Players can access these missions through the interface commbadge used to contact any of the usual mission contacts (see? 24th Century! No need for running back to contacts in this game, they have commbadges!).
The mechanics are quite nice, as the space missions and the away missions do give you a nice variety. Space missions will include scanning anomalies, or fighting off enemy invaders, or chasing down smugglers. The weapon, shield and hull modifications a ship can get are quite vast as well. Ships can have multi target phasers, photon torpedoes, quantum torpedoes, photon mines and much more.
Away missions allow you to assemble a team and head to the planet or space station to continue a story. How your team is made up determines how easy or difficult the mission is. And in away missions, there’s always a chance to get in a phaser fight. That is, of course, on top of scanning for life signs, anomalies and much more. Your interface even allows for assisting teammates (whether NPC or player) if they happen to fall in combat. You even collect quick fix devices like hypo sprays, personal shield units, energy batteries, and different weapon upgrades and personal shield batteries and armour types. There’s even food which can help heal wounds over time. Everything from Starfleet rations to Ferengi Tube Grubs (yum!). The absolute best are the tribbles. Tribbles as devices that you can take out, pet and hold and they help heal you from wounds.
As rank systems go, they have a usual skill set up which you can adjust as you increase in level. You start as an ensign, end the tutorial as a lieutenant, and every few levels after you get a new rank. Level 10, Lieutenant Commander. Level 20, Commander. Level 30, Captain. Level 40, Rear Admiral, Lower Half. Level 45, Rear Admiral, Upper Half. Level 50, Vice Admiral. With each new rank there are new abilities to help in combat or in whatever you choose.
On top of rank, you also have three “classes” to choose from, which you can modify to suit your play style. Tactical, Engineer, Science officers.
The last is the duty officer system. Each ship has a crew, and you being the captain (or at least commander) have to give them all something to do. As you level, you gain new crew members and will eventually gain duty assignments for them to do. These are missions that the only part you as the player see are the assignment and the completion. You have to assign the appropriate crew members in order for the assignment to succeed. So, yes, you can fail (or at least your crew can fail) a duty assignment. Successful completion gives you experience, however, so load up on duty assignments for your crew, go out in the real world (away from your computer) and run some errands, come back and log into game a few hours later and they’re done. You’ve just received experience for it as well.
The game may not appeal to everyone, either by genre, branding, or play style, but the game definitely can be fun. If you do like Star Trek, you might find this a very nice game indeed. Best part, it’s now free to play.
- Star Trek Online F2P: Klingons Galore, Still Few Missions To Play (lezgetreal.com)
- Star Trek Online bringing the Klingons into the free-to-play test realm (massively.joystiq.com)
- STO: De-Borging the Manchester (westkarana.com)