Fan Dance – Star Trek Timelines
I’ve had the unique pleasure of participating in the Star Trek: Timelines Beta for the last several weeks. With the official end of the Beta program and the NDA I signed drawing to a conclusion, I have decided to write down my experiences with the game and encourage everyone to check it out once the game officially launches later this month. I do not think you will regret it.
Star Trek Timelines begins with a time-shattering, universe-breaching anomaly that has garnered the attention of everybody’s favorite omnipotent being, Q. For a being with godlike powers, he is much to busy to deal with the problem that a little old anomaly has wrought upon the multi-verse, but he cannot stand to leave it unattended. Therefore, Q has recruited you to do his dirty work for him. And, with that, the player is tossed into the space-time-universe blender with the hope of saving all of existence from becoming a multi-versal slushy.
I found the premise of the game to be intriguing, and as I delved deeper through the story, I encountered familiar places, faces, and situations with enough twists and turns courtesy of the anomaly to make them new and interesting again.
With the story driving the game forward, every captain needs a good ship to command and Star Trek Timelines delivers. We start off in a Constellation-class, which you may recall was the same class of ship that Jean-Luc Picard commanded as Captain of the USS Stargazer. New ships can be earned and built by collecting a number of schematics for new ships or purchased outright during special sales events, which includes a number of Federation, Klingon, Ferengi, Romulan, Cardassian, and even Borg vessels. During my play time, I spent the most time aboard the Constellation, but I did manage to unlock a Borg Scout ship and a Cardassian Galor Cruiser. These generic ships are not the only ships available for Captains to command. Players can also find named ships such as the USS Enterprise 1701-D, the original Enterprise 1701, the USS Voyager, the HMS Bounty, Defiant, and many others courtesy of the timey-wimey temporal anomaly.
What good is a ship without a good crew? Well, Timelines allows you the ability to assemble your dream team, though they have to earned as you progress through the story and the various missions, unless you decide to purchase random packs from the Guardian of Forever store. You’re randomly assigned four crew in the beginning of the game and are given a choice of Kirk, Sisko, or Picard as your First Officer. I have selected Sisko and Picard during my respective beta tests and enjoyed them immensely. However, the composition of the rest of the initial crew seems to be completely random but still seems to provide a basic selection of all of the basic skills and abilities required to get started.
As mentioned earlier, additional crew can be purchased in the game’s store. Energy credits, which are earned by playing through missions, doesn’t guarantee a crewman, but can yield a piece of equipment that crewmen can use to increase their stats or that can be used to craft items for them to use. During the first build that I participated in, I focused my crew building through this method and ended up with a great selection of characters, some of which could be upgraded to the next tier if dopplegangers are obtained. Also, players can spend real world cash on dilithium, which provides better quality officers than the white and green I obtained from the energy credit pack. During the second build, I tested the dilithium portion of the store and ended up with several higher quality (blue, purple, and gold) officers that contained better stats and a wider variety of skills and abilities.
With ship and crew ready to command, I entered my first campaign. I managed to play bits and pieces of three different campaigns, but only managed to complete one of them before the build was retired and a new build rolled out a few days later and I had to start over from the beginning. The first campaign pitted Klingons and Augments against one another as we tracked down a genetically augmented Alexander Rozhenko. Other campaigns I sampled included a DS9-centric story line that pitted Cardassian, Maquis, and Bajoran factions against one another while dealing with the machinations of the Mirror Universe. I had barely scratched the surface of the Delphic Expanse campaign and don’t know enough about it to comment on it. I’ll discuss the factions in more detail later, but first, let’s talk about the missions.
Each story campaign has a variety of mission types available for the players to progress through with three levels of difficulty for each (with higher tiers unlocking as you complete the previous one) that rewards items, equipment, ship schematics, and sometimes even crew members for completing them. The first type of mission is space battle. Space battles pits your ship and crew against another. You’re given the chance to select crew to use during the battle before it begins. Once it’s underway, you have to use the crew you’ve seated to deal more damage to your opponent than they do. The first one to run out of shields and hull wins. The spoils go to the victor and stars (between 1 and 3) are awarded based on your performance — complete the mission, earn 1 star; complete the mission within a specific amount of time or without taking significant damage and two more stars can be earned.
The second type of mission that you will encounter are away teams. These work differently than the space battles. Players must select three crewman to undertake the mission. There is a small graphic that indicates the path the away team must take to reach the mission’s completion. It also shows which skills are required to complete each stage and where rewards are granted for critical successes. So, pay attention to the graph and plan your missions accordingly. When you’re ready to begin, you will spend a small number of chroniton particles to send your away team on the mission (chroniton particles are also spent on space battles as well and when they run out, you will have to wait for them to recharge before undertaking another mission). Each stage, you’re presented with the amount of skill points required to complete the stage. Select your crew member with that particular skill, and sit back and wait for the outcome. If your crew man has enough points to ensure victory, you will move on to the next and sometimes even be rewarded a prize. If your crewman doesn’t have enough points to guarantee a win, they may still emerge victorious if they are able to earn enough bonus points for the stage. If not, a future penalty will be applied to the final stage of the mission. This process is repeated for each stage until you reach the end. The mission’s final outcome is determined by the last stage. Do well here, and you will receive all of your earned rewards and stars for the mission.
The third type of mission will occasionally occur after either the space battles or away missions are successfully completed. The dispute missions present you with three options to a problem. Make your selection carefully, because these missions can not be replayed since they will grant you points towards the various factions encountered during the campaign and will affect your standing in the overall universe. So, choose wisely, you only get one shot at these.
As mentioned earlier, there are various factions that you will encounter through out the game. These factions include the Federation, the Maquis, the Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, the Ferengi Traditionalists as well as the Ferengi Alliance to name a few. Through the dispute missions and shuttle missions, you earn faction points that will determine your standing with each of them. I don’t recall seeing any negative effects for siding with one faction over another, but there is definitely a benefit for earning favor with the game’s factions, specifically gaining access to their stores, where items, equipment, schematics, and characters can be purchased for energy credits, merits, or dilithium.
Since I mentioned shuttle missions, these are earned by obtaining faction specific transmissions from scans, playing campaign missions, or purchasing through the Guardian of Forever or the faction stores and are only available after reaching a certain point in the game. During these missions, you’ll select a crew member or more to take a shuttle out to investigate the issue. Bonuses are granted if crew with specific skills are selected. These missions will lock out the chosen crew members from further use until their completion. These missions can run for 30 seconds, 3 hours, or a day, so make your choices as to when and who you are willing to send on these missions. Once the mission completes, you’ll receive some experience, some rewards, faction points, and your crew members will be become available again. I’ve sent my crew men out on these shuttle missions only after I’ve run out of Chroniton particles for the day.
But, wait. There’s more.
He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.