STO Guest Blog: The Fleet Advancement System

By Priority One Podcast - August 25, 2012

On July 12, 2012, players of the Free-to-Play MMO title Star Trek Online warped straight into “Season 6: Under Siege” – the latest major update from the game’s developer, Cryptic Studios. This update introduced players to the Fleet Advancement System – an in-game project management system for Fleets (guilds) and their members. Upon completing these projects, the fleet is rewarded with Starbase upgrades and other unique items only available in a Fleet Starbase.

To help introduce the Fleet Advancement System, not only did we consult with the Priority One staff, but we also spoke to one of our Fleet Officers who is chiefly responsible for the development of the Starfleet Special Operations Group (SSOG) Starbase, @2ID-Dang. He shared his experiences since the launch of Season 6 and offered his insights to players still uncomfortable with the system. Thanks Dang!

Also, we partnered with Cerberus Films to create and produce the wonderful, instructive Fleet Starbase Walkthrough video you can find below. It is hosted by Priority One and features Star Trek Online Game Designer Jesse Heinig.

What is the Fleet Advancement System (FAS), exactly?

The FAS is a new system that enables fleets and their members to work collectively in order to construct and upgrade their own unique Starbase. As fleets complete designated projects, they rank up through tiers that unlock various rewards that add to the Starbase and add to a fleet’s prowess.

More importantly, the FAS provides new endgame content for higher level players. Missions, including “Fleet Actions”, offer max-level characters new content to play with fellow fleet-mates and the ability to earn additional rewards for their completion.

 
So how do I get involved?

Join a fleet! It's that simple. While some fleet content is restricted to high-level characters, anyone in a fleet can contribute the resources needed to construct your fleet’s Starbase.

For a fleet like SSOG, the new system has revitalized the feeling of purpose which, for many games, can begin to drag over time. There is something in the fleet system for everyone and you can only access it if you participate. Thus, more fleets than ever are now flying into action, actively participating and fervently accomplishing the various fleet missions.

OK, thanks for the invite, now how exactly does this work?

Well Buckle up Sally, there is a lot to see here! First let’s take a quick look at the basics:

There are 5 tiers for the Starbase itself. A fleet progresses through these tiers by gaining Starbase XP, which is gained by progressing through sub-tiers in three branches: Military, Engineering, and Science.

A fleet must complete projects in each branch to gain XP in those respective categories. For example, completing a Military project will gain Military XP, and gaining enough Military XP will complete a Military tier.

Upon completing a tier from a specific branch, the fleet will gain Starbase XP. Once enough Starbase XP is attained, a fleet will complete the overarching Starbase Tier, which will unlock rewards, including new Starbase exterior visuals… and the visuals are stunning!  Take a look at the Season 6 trailer for a teaser of what YOUR Fleet Starbase can look like!

 


What’s the catch?

Fleet projects require contributions from all fleet members to fill – this is the part where fleets must pull together. Our own fleet, SSOG, ran into a little trouble with members not being able to contribute early on because the contributions, especially in a large fleet like ours, tend to fill up very quickly and most are on long timers.

This problem of course is temporary as the total amount of resources needed beyond Tier 1 is staggering! With more resources required, more room for everyone's contributions.
Dang had this to say about it:

"We immediately discovered that when we completed Starbase Tier 1, the projects began to require a more substantial amount of contributions. This allowed more members to contribute to the projects. Though at the very beginning this caused a lot of (frustrated) people to complain and even quit (the fleet).”

The reason for the frustration was over Fleet Credits. Fleet Credits are what individual players earn when contributing to Fleet Projects and Fleet Actions. The more you contribute, the more Fleet Credits you earn. The more Fleet Credits you earn, the more Fleet Items you can purchase. Remember, Fleet items are generally better than whatever you can find in game at the moment (items that are not purchasable).

It takes some planning!

This is a big part of the fleet system. It’s not just about the high-flying battles and the edge of your seat mission play. This is where you and your Fleet Officers really earn their pay.

If your fleets’ Officers don't have their priorities in order, it could be a very long time before the right Starbase resources become available. Poor planning can result in Fleet Stores being wiped clean. Your fleet members will then have to wait 20+ hours while a provisioning mission counts down!  Now, why would you want to make them wait?!

So how do you avoid the pitchforks and torches? Again, we consulted @2ID-Dang for his advice.

Fleet leaders can select up to 3 standard projects at one time. These projects give a majority of the XP needed to open up new tiers, typically 1000 XP in whatever tier per project.

As far as we can tell, most of these projects take 20 hours to complete once the contributions are filled. Once a tier is complete in a branch, it will unlock a special construction project for that branch.

"Completing a tier in a branch will unlock a special construction project. Once the project timer begins on that project, the standard projects for that tier will become unavailable. It would be good practice to focus most of your efforts on a single branch until the special construction project for that branch unlocks, then focus most of your efforts on another branch.

"This way you avoid having special construction projects waiting in queue while another special construction project is still waiting to be completed. Plus, since the standard projects for that particular branch is unavailable, you can only work on the standard projects for the other two branches. This will streamline your progress, especially in the earlier tiers when project timers are still relatively short.”

Fleet leaders can also select other special projects for fleet members to contribute in. These projects have generally shorter timers (approximately 30 min) and generate very little XP. However they are intended to be a continuous source of Fleet Credits for fleet members.

This gives members a chance to contribute to these special projects and get the fleet credits they want or need.


 
What is the difference between a Fleet Mark and a Fleet Credit?

Fleet Marks:  These are a new currency that all fleet projects require. They are obtained through the new Season 6 PvE missions, including the Tholian content, Starbase defense missions, “No Win Scenario”, Colony Invasion, etc.

Fleet Credits: These are a new currency that the player gains after contributing to a fleet project. Credits can then be used in various fleet stores to buy gear or ships.

Update DStahl via the STO Forums 7/31!

"We will be making some tweaks to the amount of Fleet Marks several missions reward so that the various PVE Queue Missions reward similarly (this means bumping up some of the missions that reward on the lower side of the scale).

We are meeting regularly to review Fleet Progression and have and will continue to make adjustments to projects. In the near future we expect to drop the Fleet Mark requirements on higher tiers (T4 and T5)”

So what’s the point in running all these Fleet Missions?

As we mentioned earlier, there are the cosmetic benefits to your Fleet Starbase. Beyond that, there are the Fleet Stores where, once the corresponding Tier is unlocked and sufficient provisioning projects have been completed, any member of the fleet with sufficient Fleet Credit can purchase ships, weapons, equipment, and consumables.

Certain fleet projects will generate personal provisions for each branch which allow fleet members to buy ships or gear from the Fleet Stores. When a member buys a ground weapon for instance, a single engineering personal provision will be used. It should be noted that a certain amount of a player’s Dilithium is also factored into the purchase.

Also available through certain fleet projects are unique Science, Engineering, and Tactical provisions. These allow members to use and buy consumable assets, like turrets or Starbase buffs, to defend your Starbase. Some, however, can be used outside of the Fleet System and offer phenomenal character buffs in PvE and PvP.

Most of the consumables are specific to Starbase Defenses, like the Operational Assets which give the purchaser a stack of deployable consumable turrets and defense emplacements. These are extremely helpful and now that we have started using them, we make sure to have them equipped when heading out into a mission.
 


What about the Ships?

If you are a listener to Priority One, you know that we are all ship crazy. So this is one of the most exciting aspects of the Fleet System for us! But like everything else in this update, the Fleet System is not designed with our immediate gratification in mind.

First, the correct branch and tier must be unlocked to even have access to the shipyards. For instance, if you want a Fleet Exploration Cruiser, your fleet will first need to unlock 3 Tiers of the Military branch to have access to the Tier III Shipyards. Also, sufficient provisioning missions will need to be completed to satisfy the demand from your fleet mates. Again, good fleet leaders will poll the membership frequently to determine what sort of provisioning will be necessary before the Fleet Officers open up the stores to the members.

Our Fleet Officer @2ID-Dang commented:

“Also, try to save up provisions before unlocking the ability for the whole fleet to buy from fleet stores. That way you have a large amount in stock to allow your whole fleet to enjoy the fruits of their labor. This is especially a good idea for larger fleets.”

It should be noted that the Starbase shipyards allow fleets to construct Fleet Starships. These unique ships are upgrades of ships already in Star Trek Online. Generally, the have more HP, a 10th console slot, and some have different Bridge Officer configurations.

In addition to the appropriate Fleet unlocks, Tiers and provisions, etc., the individual player will need to have the appropriate amount of Fleet Credit and Fleet Ship Modules (available from the C-Store for 500 ZEN each). We won’t go into great details on these powerful Fleet Ships.

However, you can check out Lead Designer Al Rivera’s Dev Blog to that effect. It is enough to say that everyone I have spoken to since the release of Season 6 already has at least one, if not more, Fleet Ships in their sights!

To help introduce the Fleet Advancement System, Game Designer Jesse Heinig gave us a video tour of a Tier II Starbase. Check out the video for an introductory walkthrough of what you can expect to see in your Fleet Starbase!

This is just a brief overview of what you can expect to find in “Season 6: Under Siege!”  We’d like to give a very special thanks to @2ID-Dang from Starfleet Special Operations Group for his insights and experiences with the new Fleet Advancement System. Thank you, Oliver, of Cerberus Films for putting together an amazing introductory video! Many thanks to Jesse Heinig and the rest of the team at Cryptic Studios for taking the time to answer our questions.

And to the Star Trek Online Community…. Without you, none of this would be possible!

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