Star Trek book reviews

Since I’ve now reached the point that I’m reading new Star Trek books as fast as they are being made, as well as slowly picking up older ones here and there, I figured I should start sharing the knowledge I have gained.

The first review I wrote is now available here (I actually wrote this several years ago – I just updated the formatting) and I intend to write more.

Of course, I’ve generally intended to write more before…

Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock

This was originally posted on 2011-05-20 at 10:22, but has been reposted because of cool layout updates. Also, as part of my plan to post more reviews of Star Trek novels.

I recently started buying and reading a lot of Kindle Star Trek novels (on my Nexus One Nexus 4 incidentally – I don’t have a Kindle). Although a part of me is mildly worried and annoyed at the closed DRM’d nature of Kindle eBooks (and often the price) the ease and convenience has won out.

Star Trek novels have a improved a lot since I read them previously many years ago. Not necessarily the stories themselves but that there seems to a serious concerted effort to maintain continuity between, but without requiring too much knowledge of other books to read any given book (although there are more series now which obviously do require you to read them all for it to make sense).

With that in mind, before reading DTI: Watching the Clock you should definitely read the Destiny series and possibly the Typhon Pact series and the Titan series. Everything you need to know about them is explained in the book but it does spoil them a little if you do intend to read them at some point.

Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock

★★★★★

Oliver Brown

2011-05-20

product

If you ever thought time travel in Star Trek didn’t make sense (and would like it to) then this book is for you. Truly awesome.

Time travel in Star Trek has always been a slightly problematic topic. Featured as the primary plot device in many episodes (and several movies), it was always handled differently and never followed any discernible rules. This book tries to straighten this all out (or as Douglas Adams once said make it, at least, firmly crooked) and on the whole, succeeds.

The book feels like a collection of short stories about time travel, tied together with an over-reaching story arc (complete with seemingly insignificant events in one “story” that become important later). Many of them are about how the DTI dealt with the aftermath of different time travel events in the show. In fact practically every Star Trek episode that dealt with time travel is mentioned (except for new Star Trek movie) and explained to some extent. A couple of the big ones (specifically Star Trek: First Contact, the Temporal Cold War and the whole of Voyager) are more central to the story.

Aside from the technical aspects of time travel, the book also devotes time to expanding the main characters, Dulmur* and Lucsly, who were introduced to us in the Deep Space 9 episode, “Trials and Tribulations”. As the blurb says: “There’s likely no more of a thankless job in the Federation than temporal investigation”. Considering how interesting the time travel elements are, I expected to find these parts more boring than I did. In fact after seeing how they deal with some of the Starfleet officers (and more specifically how the Starfleet officers deal with them) I thought about Sisko’s reaction to them and found him downright annoying.

So the bottom line is, the only reason I can think for a Star Trek fan not to read this would be that you want to read some of prerequisite books first (Destiny, Typhon Pact, Titan).

*Dulmur or Dulmer? I always thought Dulmer since their names were supposed to be anagrams of Mulder and Scully. The author however uses Dulmur consistently and there is a point in the story where the spelling confusion is referenced explicitly.

Amazon UK Amazon US
DTI: Watching the Clock DTI: Watching the Clock
Destiny #1: Gods of Night Destiny #1: Gods of Night
Typhon Pact #1: Zero Sum Game Typhon Pact #1: Zero Sum Game

It’s alive

After languishing on a badly maintained Amazon EC2 instance for so long, I’ve finally made an effort to resurrect this blog and moved to WordPress.com.

Indiepocalypse Giveaway

You can win a free copy of Gravitas as well as 31 other games by entering the INDIE-POCALYPSE GIVEAWAY. All you need to do is download some Xbox Live Indie Games (or a few other things).

Gravitas Trailer

Remember to visit Gravitas on Google+.

Gravitas has been released!

Gravitas
Gravitas is now available on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 80 MS points.

An artillery game, somewhat akin to scorched earth, but in 2D, set in space and featuring different planets with gravity you have to slingshot your shots around. Primarily a multiplayer game supporting four local players it’s excellent for parties and an absolute bargain for $1. Although I may have a slightly biased opinion.

Cardassian Galor class cruiser

Star Trek Online recently gained a new loot drop that has been generating strong opinions, a Cardassian Lock Box. Inside each lock box is a random item. Possible items include a special tribble, some special team commodities, some cross faction consoles, a DS9 uniform set, or a few others. On the whole people aren’t interested in those, the only item they actually want is the Cardassian Galor class cruiser.

The actual odds of getting a cruiser are unpublished but assumed to be very low, possibly in the 0.5% range. This wouldn’t be very interesting in itself without one final piece to the puzzle: you require a “Master Key” to open the box and the keys have to be bought on the C-Store for real money. They cost 100 c-points each, or 10 for 900, making them £0.72 each (I think).

Many people have complained about this, and with some justification. My post isn’t really going to touch on that. Instead I’m going to reveal that I got one, and without spending any money on keys. You see, the ship is tradable via the exchange for normal in game energy credits. When it first launched prices were around 500 million. In three days they were down to 100 million. I snagged one for 82 million.

This amount of in game cash is not a small amount by any means. In fact when I bought it, 82 million wass the most I’ve ever had at once, but at level cap there is very little else to spend energy credits on. There are also a couple of ways to earn a lot quickly. The first is Ker’rat. It’s a space warzone in Eta Eridani that features the Federation fighting the Klingons while simultaneously trying to complete some Borg related objectives. If you can win the warzone you get a very rare drop. If you’re second or third you get a rare drop. If you’re at max level the drop will be at least mk X, sometimes even mk XII. Also, all the ships you destroy drop loot in the mk X to XII range. The second way is STFs. Most STF runs on normal succeed with the optional these days. They also drop quite a bit of loot now (especially Cure). Between those two methods you should be able to amass your millions with relative ease (I had 40 million when the Galor was first released and reached 82 million in a week). Also, as an extra bonus, Ker’rat has a wrapper mission that gives you 1440 dilithium for every three completions (and is not a daily so you can just keep running it).

So with all that information asside, here’s a couple of pictures of the Galor in an STF:

Gravitas in final review

It’s been a while since I reported that Gravitas was in final play testing. To be honest the process didn’t actually take that long, I just became busy in the meantime. But I have now finally submitted Gravitas for peer review and it’s currently marked as “60% complete”. Based on what I’ve seen of other games as a reviewer that means it should be a few days before it’s eligible for release.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been some work not related to the release. Firstly, the game now runs successfully on a Mac thanks to MonoGame which I hope will lead to a Mac App Store release. Secondly, I’ve been cleaning up the code (mainly separating out anything that isn’t Gravitas specific in preparation for beginning my second game, which for the moment I’m going to keep quite about.

To keep up to date on that and any other Gravitas news, visit Gravitas on Google+.

Gravitas in final playtesting

I’ve submitted Gravitas for what will hopefully be a final playtest.

Here are some screenshots:

https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

DUST 514 will be a Playstation 3 exclusive

CCP have just announced DUST514 will be exclusive to the Playstation 3. Which is a shame (check out the EVE Online forums for some stronger opinions). Unfortunately it makes sense for a few reasons (well making it exclusive to one console makes sense – whether the 360 or the PS3 was the better choice is more debatable).

Developing for a single console is quicker and easier – especially important for a game that will probably have more updates than the average game.

There are suggestions that one or both of Sony and Microsoft aren’t happy about cross-platform multiplayer games.

Since the idea of the game (a console FPS interacting with a PC MMO) is quite revolutionary they could get a lot of support (both financially and in terms of marketing and other benefits) from the console manufacturer, but only if it’s exclusive.

That being said, it may not be the end for the Xbox 360 and DUST.  Sony have suffered recently and definitely have lower consumer confidence (will players have to give Sony any personal information to play DUST?) and this decision will have been made long before Sony’s hacking problems. If sales are lower than CCP hope they may rethink the plan. And remember, “exclusive” in the games industry can be a vague and rarely lasts for ever.

The game is scheduled for a Spring release so at least 360-only owners have a while to decided if they want to get a PS3 just for this game…

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