What are Cadet Challenges and how do they bring even more content into Star Trek Timelines? Product lead David Heron shares insights into how the recently added Cadet Challenges add new daily content, new characters and even more Star Trek storytelling.
So, for starters, in Timelines, what are Cadet Challenges?
David Heron: Cadet Challenges are a new way to interact with Star Trek Timelines where we put the spotlight on characters outside of the bridge crew. The Timelines crew roster features characters from all the Star Trek shows, many major characters and also a lot of the support characters. We want to tell stories about those support characters, and Cadet Challenges are that place. So we’ve added a new set of Away Missions with their own story, narrated by Admiral Riker from the Star Trek: The Next Generation series finale, and it’s got restrictions to a very specific set of crew.Why did the Timelines team add a feature like Cadet Challenges?
David: One reason we added Cadet Challenges is wanting a spot for some of the crew that aren’t necessarily the pinnacle of their expertise. It’s really important in Timelines that we feature all the famous and fan-favorite characters at their best. So Worf the Bat’leth Champion is gonna be the greatest duelist in the empire, but that isn’t to say there aren’t other interesting characters and stories to be told with crew who maybe aren’t the galaxy’s greatest duelist.
And there was a time when Worf was just Security Chief Worf.
David: Exactly. Right? One of our favorite episodes internally (and I suspect with many fans) is this episode called “Lower Decks,” and it features four crew who aren’t the bridge crew. It just really tells the story of all those other people in the Star Trek universe. We wanted that kind of space in the game. And then we also wanted just another activity for players that existed outside of the standard, “log into the game, get equipment for the best characters I have, spend my chronitons, and then logout.”
Chronitons are also one of the rewards Captains can earn in Cadet Challenges, but what other rewards has the Timelines team been looking at?
David: Right now, we have one Cadet Challenge that runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and is restricted to Starfleet characters. In addition to rewards you would normally get for doing an Away Mission, as mentioned, you can also get more Chronitons. In addition, the item rewards for each missions are taken from a subset of the items that are required to level-up Cadet Challenge-type characters. So if you play the first level, the normal level, of the Starfleet Cadet Challenge, you’re going to be able to take those same 1- and 2-star crew and bring them up to level 100. As you go back and play the Elite and Epic versions of these Cadet Challenges, the loot tables are an additional source for some of those harder-to-find items for your 3-, 4-, and 5-star characters. For instance, Science Experiments and Medical Experiments: things that we know are rare and required for characters. It’s important, we think, for Timelines to have ways to earn rare items that players want and that they’re getting to make choices. For instance, as a player you have to decide whether or not you’re going to use a rare Science Experiment to level-up your Seven of Nine or your T’pol. But a problem we found was the rate at which players were getting these rare items was a little too random. So we developed Cadet Challenges to allow players to make medium-sized goals that go something like, “I’ve got six attempts on Mon, Wed, Fri — that’s 18 attempts. I know I’ll generally get 10 or 11 Science Experiments. So now I know in a few weeks or so I’ll definitely be able to get my Jadzia Dax or Seven of Nine up to level 100.”
What other kinds of Cadet Challenges are the team considering adding next?
David: There’s this balance of telling interesting stories and being able to have the character base to facilitate players actually being able to do Cadet Challenges. Early on we had a lot of conversations like, “Oh, what if it’s Dominion? What if it’s Cardassian or Romulan or just doctors? Or characters just from The Next Generation?” And as we started looking at these we also started to realize that our character base wasn’t necessarily going to facilitate any of these things. So the ones that we’ve landed on are Starfleet, a more generic “Aliens” or maybe non-humans (we haven’t really come up with the right term yet because it does include characters like Spock, who’s half-Human and half-Vulcan so he counts) and females. We’ve strived to have a representative amount of women in the game, especially the great characters. And this was just a good space to get some in Timelines.To help with Cadet Challenges we’re also adding some new characters. As of release 1.1.0 we sort of sneakily threw in a cadet version of Sita Jaxa, who is actually featured in that episode of The Next Generation’s “Lower Decks”. Actually, she appears earlier-on in another episode and that’s the version we have, where she’s a cadet in the same sort of squadron as Wesley Crusher and they’re under investigation.
We also added a version of Naomi Wildman, who is most known as this child that grows up on Voyager. There’s an episode where it sort of leaps forward in time and we get to see her as a Starfleet officer. We also have two more cadet-focused characters in the works and as we can expand into the lower-rarity crew we’ll be able to facilitate Cadet Challenges about just Klingons or Cardassians, or even TNG.Which will be great. And the Sito Jaxa art came out pretty great.
David: Yeah. She’s under duress, right? In the episode they’re basically lying, trying to do a cover-up, and so being able to get the doubt in that piece of art’s face was really important.What’s the process when thinking about new 1- and 2-star crew for Star Trek Timelines?
David: It’s actually pretty straight-forward. As I mentioned before, we’re planning to do non-human, Starfleet and women of Star Trek. And so, the list started with, “Can we find any Starfleet officers who are women and who are non-human.” Then there’s an element of like, “All right, given the characters we already have, who do we need to add?”
So for instance, back when we first began developing Cadet Challenges, I think we were pretty short on female engineers and maybe commanders? Like 2-stars with command skills. I’d have to double-check but I believe that was the case. So, that was this other layer. And then it always sort of passes through the filter of, “And who’s cool?”
Sito Jaxa was definitely on an earlier list, again because “Lower Decks” is a favorite of ours. Since we can’t put in everyone we want, Jaxa got taken off that earlier list. We also have some in-development art for Ensign Melora Pazlar. She’s in an episode of Deep Space Nine fittingly titled “Melora” and she’s from a low-gravity planet, so she’s floating in this kind of gravity-assistance suit.
Oh yeah. That art where she’s floating.
David: Yeah she’s floating, and that was an instance of like, “I personally like that episode. I think it’s a cool visual and an opportunity to make a character who looks really different.” She’s also female, Starfleet, non-human, and was a scientist? Great, let’s throw that in! And her character has a great story and a great set of traits. She’s just this unique person in the Star Trek universe.
Thanks for chatting, David.
David: Any time
Ex Astris, Scientia
As anyone who’s watched through all the series knows, there’s quite a lot more inspiration to be found for new underappreciated characters in the wide universe of Star Trek. Join us on the official game forums or on the official Facebook page for any first looks at where we’re headed in Star Trek Timelines. You can also follow us on Twitter and the Disruptor Beam YouTube channel.
Available NOW on the App Store and Google Play, Star Trek Timelines merges the characters, stories, and settings from TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT. Gather your favorite heroes and even villains to build your ideal crew, explore the galaxy, and be captain of your own destiny. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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