Star Trek Online won’t take no for an answer. Reactivates account and bills me.

I cancelled Star Trek Online during my free month, mostly because I thought the game was not very good.

Imagine my surprise when leafing through this month’s bank statement, I saw that I was still being billed.

In fact, I was billed twice. On the 5th of March they initially billed me 30 dollars. Then they billed me another 15 dollars, just for fun. Then they refunded the thirty dollars. Of course, they didn’t refund the international transaction fees I paid on any of them. Given that my account was still active when I logged in today to cancel AGAIN, they will have billed me for April too.

This is ironic timing, considering Mythic’s billing woes this week. At least I didn’t get billed for a thousand bucks. Probably.

I want my money back. I am entirely certain that I cancelled my subscription to STO, and have obviously not logged in since my free month was due to lapse. I would write a ticket to their billing department, but “create new ticket” button on their website does not appear to actually work with any browser at my disposal. I’m not going to do it from ingame, as that would give them ammunition to say that I had been playing.

The events of this week are a lesson to us all. Watch your bank statement carefully, as I doubt I am the only one affected by Cryptic’s carelessness with OUR money. What’s worse is the thought that they might have considered my subscription to be a vote of approval for their game.

It appears others have had a similar experience, though Cryptic is denying that there is a problem.

Just in the interests of reducing FUD, I checked the records and without mentioning any specifics there has been no billing error. All is well in the state of Denmark.

– Coderanger, 4th of April.

Which I take to mean that he’s saying that the people complaining are making it up. Because it couldn’t possibly be their pathetic excuse for an account website. Apparently I need to start taking screenshots when I cancel games. Either STO reactivated my account, or it never registered my cancellation properly in the first place. Neither are unacceptable to me. I am very angry.

Star Trek Online: PvP Skill-Loss Issues Plague the Galaxy

There is an issue with this morning’s Star Trek Online patch. Certain PvP maps are causing players to lose all their skill and bridge officer points, and become level -39. Needless to say, this is not a good thing to have happen to you, and the afflicted are finding themselves unable to get any missions.

Maps that are confirmed to be causing this include Cracked Planetoids, and Shanty Town, but my advice would be to avoid all PvP until it is fixed. With a number of developers at PAX, it might take a little while to be resolved. It is unclear at this point as to whether there will be a server-wide rollback, or a fix targeted at affected players.

How bugs like this slip past the test server and the QA department is one of the great mysteries of the universe.

You can keep track of this issue in this forum thread.

Update: Here are the patch notes for the morning update which brought in this issue:

Fixed an issue where the Tribble Of Borg was unable to be claimed again from the C-Store if it had been discarded
Fixed the /stuck command in space so it no longer sends players back to the map’s respawn point inappropriately
Characters created before the release of Season One will now be able to be deleted properly
Commodities transactions will now appropriately complete for the value displayed in the UI

Missions and Locations
Fixed a condition in the mission that sometimes kept the Borg Tactical Cube from spawning by the gate in the first space map of Special Task Force: Infected
Lowered the required amount of satellite debris necessary to advance the mission for some Klingon Star Cluster missions
PvP: Klingon vs Klingon Space area control map now has the correct text
Fixed an issue where defense turrets were not present in certain PvP maps

The Tribble of Borg buff power will now properly reapply instead of stack when used before the buff expires

Fixed an issue that prevented Bridge Officers from equiping weapons that have the “[Borg]” enhancement

Costumes and Customization
Admiral rank pips now appear on all uniform options
Admiral rank pips now appear properly textured on all uniform options
Fixed an issue that caused an error message to appear inappropriately when attempting to create a Fleet Uniform

UI and Controls
Fixed a bug that prevented players from continuing to respec once they’d pressed the “Accept” button unless they pressed the “Reset” button
Clarified the /Stuck UI which would previously lead users into an an infinite UI loop with the /killme command
Stacked Item counts will now display appropriately in the exchange
Fixed typos in the description of the Tribble of Borg item

On designing MMOs for both PCs and Consoles.

Last year, the reports from interviews with Jack “Jackalope” Emmert were that the Xbox version of Champions Online was “ready to go”, just waiting for some Microsoft red tape to get sorted out.

Jackalope, on the Champions Online forum yesterday:

100% of our focus is on making the current PC product the best it can be. There are no current plans for a console version of Champions.

Some guy, a couple of months back, talking about Star Trek Online:

1. Stop designing MMO to be released on both PCs and consoles. You end up removing half the depth, the game fails, and then it never ends up coming out on a console in the end anyway. See: Champions Online, Age of Conan.

I agree with that guy. Seriously, stop doing that. Unless you’re Square Enix, in which case you can probably get away with it, in spite of the grotesque UI you’ll inflict on your PC users, because we Final Fantasy fans will pretty much take what we’re given.

You’re probably not Square Enix. Planning for your game to work on a console with a gamepad, and on a television, is just going to lead to game design compromises that mean that PC gamers do not get the experience they deserve.

Star Trek Online – I am altering the deal. Pray I do not alter it further.

Strange things have been afoot at Cryptic, and they bode somewhat ill.

For a time, displayed a new offer. Star Trek Online’s price was dropped by 10 dollars, and it came with an additional 60 days of playtime, adding to the 30 days you’d normally get, for a full quarter of a year of playtime.

It was an excellent idea, in my opinion. 90 days would give Cryptic long enough to prove that they intend to do great things with STO. It would have let folks like myself pop in from time to time to see if things had improved. Unfortunately, this great deal was only for people who had not bought the game yet. As many pointed out, it punished anyone who pre-ordered, or bought the game at launch.

You don’t do that. You don’t punish loyalty. Certainly not if you want that loyalty to continue.

After the storm of annoyed players hit, Cryptic quickly realised their mistake, and the deal was pulled from Apparently anyone who signed up for the awesome new deal will now not be receiving the additional 60 days they were promised.

You don’t do that either. You don’t unilaterally change the conditions of a contract after it is signed. Customer Service in action.

There is only one honourable way to deal with this problem. 60 days should be given to every account, whether it signed up under the short-lived new deal, or one of the older deals. That is the only way you don’t either breach a contract, or anger your existing players. Aye, it’d be an expensive proposition, but they should have thought about that before offering it to new players.

It is clear that such a deal would not be put on the table unless Cryptic, or Atari, were seeing poor retention. A month ago, they were charging 300 dollars (on top of box price) for a lifetime membership. Now they’re willing to throw in 90 days with the box. The number of people, myself included, who have decided not to subscribe is obviously sending ripples of panic through the accounts department. When you throw your own game into the bargain bin within the first month, it is an admission that all is not proceeding according to plan.

Was the new deal the work of Cryptic, or their publisher, Atari?

Later, this pseudo-apology was posted on the Star Trek Online forums:

Hi everyone,
First, we respect the time, energy and passion the community has put into their opinions regarding the promotion that ran this weekend on, offering 60-days of free play.

Like many companies, we are actively trying to sell games we are very proud of in an extremely competitive marketplace and we are always testing new ways to get more people using our products. The weekend promotion at was one of those experiments. In the case of a game like Star Trek, we believe a larger number of players is a benefit to the entire community.

We will continue to look at the best ways to add new users to our game in a competitive marketplace while keeping our current players happy. Your feedback – good, bad and ugly – is extremely helpful and appreciated.

We won’t always get it right, but we’re always trying to do the right thing by you.

We do apologize and we appreciate your patience as we continue to do our best to make Star Trek Online the best game possible.

Thank you.

Philip Dean
Director of Customer Support

Star Trek Online ST.0.20100217c.4 patch notes, 18th February 2010

Star Trek Online Klingon Space 450x265

Klingon Sector Space

The great STO meme is “Where’s Sulu?”. New players would often not be able to find him, even though he was standing in the same room as Admiral Quinn, the man who told you to speak to him. This was tackled by adding random NPC comments down in the starbase stating exactly where he was. Apparently this was still not enough, as from today he will be added to your contact list at level 2, meaning you never have to ever find him, or speak to him in person. Is the Explorer Bartle-type dying?

Another solid bugfixing update for Star Trek Online. I have to confess that I’ve not really played this week, being busy with other games, but it’s encouraging to see work continuing apace.

Continue reading Star Trek Online ST.0.20100217c.4 patch notes, 18th February 2010

Star Trek Online ST.0.20100208b.4 patch notes, 11th February 2010

A content patch! The Borg missions have arrived have, and Admirals now also have Daily missions to attend to. In addition, the Borg should be cropping up in exploration missions now. Vital, because quite a lot of folks have made it to Admiral now, and have not had terribly much to do.

My favourite change is that the annoying wait after completing an exploration mission should be gone too, making it much easier to build up a decent stack of badges of exploration.

Good stuff. Keep it up, Cryptic.


* The pre-order bonus Borg Bridge Officers should now display their traits. They were always there, but they were not visible.
* You no longer receive an error message when clicking the “Call for Help” button after dying when you are not on a team.
* Added the ability to filter the types of PVP Queues displayed when looking up what Queus are available.
* Updated instructions given during game play on how to assign Bridge Officers
* Closing the mail window no longer prevent you from interacting with objects and contacts until you walk away from the mailbox.
* We’ve improved framerate when viewing the Skills window and reduced the lag when decreasing the rank of a skill.
* The Character Rename button should now work properly


* Borg missions are now available to Fed players when they arrive in the Borg Sector
* New Daily missions are available for level 43+ players that offer Marks as rewards which can be used in special stores in the Staging Fleet, K7 and Ganalda. To to your remote contacts for details.
* Added repeatable Star Cluster and Deepspace hunting missions versus the Borg for both Fed and Klingon players
* Updated the Klingon Player introductory mission progression to help get players to Ganalda
* Federation PvP missions have been added
* Updated Miral Paris’ following/combat AI on Regulus IV ground to be more robust
* Fixed some bugs in the Klingon daily PVP missions – players with ground objectives (kill X captains on ground) might not have seen this complete if they were in an indoor PvP map
* Fixed some text bugs with the Klingon daily PvP missions
* Fixed the number of Klingon PvP missions required at each rank to be 3 per rank
* Made all repeatable Star Cluster missions have a 30 minute cooldown from start of mission instead of from turn in.
* Made all repeatable Deep Space Encounter missions have a 30 minute cooldown from start of mission.

Powers and Skills

* The ability to skill up captaining the Negh’Var is now available in Klingon skill trees. Some space weapons tooltips were reporting 5% chance, when the chance was actually 2.5%. Disruptor damage resistance proc now works correctly
* Tri-cobalt mines dropped correctly now
* Mines only slot in aft weapon slots as design intended
* The primary explosion from abandon ship no longer affects friendly targets. The resulting delayed warp core breach will still affect friendly targets.
* Field Logistics is now correctly listed as an Admiral skill
* The Engineering ability Aceton Field had a bug that caused it to appear as a ground power on Bridge Officers even though it’s a space power.


* Added a missin icon for the Anesthesine gas applied power.
* Corrected a bad description on one of the Tribbles.
* Corrected a bad display name on the Pre-order Automated Defense Turret.
* Added the missing icon for Vulcan “Logical” trait.
* Updated message text when renaming characters to be clearer
* Added a Crew button to the inventory window that opens your status assignment window
* Updated the the Cancel and OK buttons
* Rearranged elements of the Ship customization window to match the layout of the character customization window.
* Updated the headshot displayed for a saved costume
* Added proper indentation to objectives displayed in the mission journal.
* Spending skillpoints on your captain, then attempting to spend skillpoints on a bridge officer without first hitting accept will no longer trigger an error message to be displayed.
* Upon deleting a Klingon character, if the next character in character selection was a FED, the UI no longer remains in the red-Klingon scheme.
* Updated the power tray sensitivity so that you must drag an element completely off the tray in order to remove an item. This prevents losing an item when trying to move it to another slot and dropping it accidentally.
* Add lots of additional information to the character selection screen.
* Purchase and Cancel buttons are now always available when customizing a costume.

Visual and Sound FX

* Hooked up correct beam up fx for some critter groups
* Fixed Plasma sniper rifles so that the laser sight no longer comes out of the player’s foot
* Adjusted shields on Borg ships that were sticking out strangely

Star Trek Online : Ramming Speed

Just a quick post to illustrate why the skill, “Ramming Speed”, a skill all classes get at level 23, is seriously out of whack in Star Trek Online. The damage ramming speed does depends upon the speed you are going. Combining a few skills together, you get the result below.

Star Trek Online Ramming Speed 450x265

Ramming Speed!

The Crystalline Entity fleet action, found in the level 15-19 Alpha Centauri sector block, is similar to a simple public quest in Warhammer Online. The table on the right of the picture is more or less based on the damage you’ve dealt the entity over the course of the battle.

Under normal conditions, it takes twenty of you to take the Entity down, over several minutes. However, Ramming Speed allows you to bypass all that. In the chat window you can see that someone has used Ramming Speed to deal 295,126 points of damage with a single attack. The rest of us had managed to whittle the entity down to about 40 percent health, doing I suppose maybe 3% of the damage each. Then a single Ramming Speed obliterates the Entity, and easily takes the top spot. The higher you are on the chart, the better your reward.

Sounds wonderful fun, right? The problem is, you now have goldfarmers and greedy players rapidly switching from instance to instance of the Crystalline Entity fleet action, looking for one that is active (As there is 5 minute wait for it to start again after killing it), and vapourising it, thus getting bags of blue and purple gear at the expense of everyone else. The only hope for the folks that are of the intended level of the Fleet Action is to somehow kill the Entity before one of these farmers finds your instance.

Not ideal. Ramming speed is ridiculous, doing the same amount of damage it would take 20 players several minutes to do, instantly. The justification for it being so powerful is supposed to be that you die as well, but as there is no death penalty and you respawn within seconds, that is not very much of a drawback.

At the least, the Crystalline Entity should be made immune to such a cheap tactic, but really, bringing ramming speed’s damage right down is the only sensible long term solution. As it stands it is a goldfarmer’s favourite tool.