Click here to view the 2015 Awards Ceremony on our wiki.
The awards this year recognize some of the most talented people in the history of the organization — and as SB118 turned 21 this year, that’s quite a bit of history! Among this year’s notables with respect to duty post awards includes the first time a nurse has been recognized with the Prantares Ribbon (the medical officer of the year), recognition of the standout intelligence and diplomatic officers of the fleet with duty post awards, and the recognition of a civilian with a duty post award. Our finest simmers continue to show that they can take unusual positions, posts outside the traditional rank structure, and more, and create memorable, award-winning characters when they do so!
The special and staff awards also recognize a talented group of simmers, including with a new staff award, the Chief’s Citation, that recognizes staff members (commanders and above) whose primary service to the group is via OOC work and not in service aboard a starship. We also recognize the outstanding new COs this year with the James T. Kirk Cross and the Rising Star Award, both of which go this year to COs who the community has recognized as present and future leaders.
The member service awards continue to grow, recognizing membership lengths of one, three, five, and ten years! A remarkable number of simmers have been around for such extended periods, and we invite you to continue on to that list below the staff awards to view this impressive collection of simmers.
Finally, we finish off with recognition of the Top Sim of 2015. This year, we recognize a pair of writers who I have had the pleasure of knowing jointly for a decade or so — and the “jointly” is particularly appropriate because the sim that was named 2015’s top sim was a joint collaboration. Scroll down for more!
Congratulations to everyone recognized in this ceremony, and many thanks to all our members who submitted nominations and assisted with the awards process.
Now, without further delay, I present to you the 2015 awards! Click here to view the entire ceremony on our wiki.
The USS Invicta, NCC-81407, is a state-of-the-art diplomatic courier vessel of the Cardiff class assigned to the Menthar Corridor. The Invicta succeeds the USS Garuda and the USS Mercury as the primary vessel assigned to the region, but unlike either of its predecessors, it is not an isolated explorer but is supported by the experimental diplomatic installation Astrofori One.
So begins the exciting adventures of the newest starship in the 118 fleet, the USS Invicta! The Invicta is the fleet’s first ship of the Cardiff class, a noncanon, fan-made design courtesy of the digital artist Paul Lloyd, who has kindly given his permission for the usage. The Invicta‘s most striking visual aspect is most likely its nontraditional warp drive. Like the Vulcan ships of Enterprise, Invicta doesn’t use the standard Starfleet nacelles but employs a ring-shaped, annual drive. The two nacelle-shaped components are in fact large sensors pods, full of equipment, laboratories, and personnel that allow the Invicta to be one of the most advanced science and diplomatic ships operating in the Star Trek universe.
In addition to the advanced scientific exploration Invicta can perform, the ship is also well-placed to become a diplomatic mainstay. The Vulcan warp drive is just one aspect of many that reflects the cooperative nature of her design, and you’ll find a strong contingent of visiting diplomats, civilian personnel, and unique aliens aboard Invicta. The final frontier awaits!
The Invicta has already launched, and you should be sure to follow her adventures, check out her stats, and join her crew for some informal discussion on the forums!
Did you know that we have a rank-by-rank guide to promotions? This helpful walk-through makes clear the steps required to move toward their next promotion, all the way up through captain!
Unsurprisingly, the pages with the most views are the ones that address promotion through the rank of lieutenant commander — and it’s that set of promotion guidelines that has recently seen a change. Specifically, the guidelines for promotion to lieutenant and lieutenant commander have seen the additional of an extra, crucial line:
Demonstrate that your writing abilities are among the best in your simming group and that your written English is proficient such that spelling and grammatical mistakes in sims are uncommon or rare.
This important addition, certified by the Captains Council, reflects the value placed by the fleet as a whole on good writing. Command staff, as well as those who wish to become command staff, are expected to be role models for their crews with respect to their writing, both style and content. This new guideline helps to serve as a reminder, for those interested in promotion, that their writing is very important — and it should be a helpful reminder for COs, too, that looking out for strong writers, in addition to being mindful of the other promotion criteria, is an important thing to do.
As always, remember that promotions up through the rank of lieutenant commander are at the discretion of your ship’s commanding officer.
Last month, we saw one of the strangest trends in fleet post totals: Though several ships had higher totals for May, the overall total was a little lower than April — but the average number of posts actually increased. How is this possible? The unfortunate decommissioning of the Excalibur prompted the lower fleet total, but increases in individual ships’ posting rates — Columbia, Constitution (which was also Apollo during this month), Darwin, Victory, and Starbase 118 Ops all saw increases, and those were enough to boost the average posting rate so that, even with the lower overall total, May beat out April. Well done, everyone!
As for individual ships, the general trend was for increases — the five installations mentioned above all posted obvious gains, and Gemini finished off just slightly higher than it had been in April. Atlantis saw a final very similar to its total in April, and Garuda posted a lower total in part because of an ongoing experiment into PNPC usage among its crew. Still, the overall increases even in the face of the Excalibur‘s decommissioning seem to be a good sign of things to come, and we look forward to seeing what June will bring!
Last time, we discussed a couple of the benefits of using Google Drive for writing collaboratively with others and keeping a “sim bank” of your characters’ background sims and long-term joint posts (JPs) with other characters. This time, I’d like to expand a little more on what makes Drive such a useful, versatile tool.
First is its sheer volume! If you’re like me, you’ll probably find there are times when you are working on a few different JPs (especially during shore leave) with a few different people at the same time. One of the biggest pluses to writing in Drive with someone is that it’s much easier to keep track of all your documents as opposed to tracking emails bouncing back and forth. Then, too, you can keep all the JPs you’ve ever written in Drive so that they’re easily accessible — and one of the most useful parts of Drive to me is the ability to check in a moment what I may have written in a JP several months (or years!) before. It’s a great way to keep track of ongoing character arcs, especially if those arcs are difficult to work on outside of shore leave.
There are certainly plenty of ways to write JPs — sending emails back and forth, writing in real time via a chat client. The real benefit of Drive over either is that allows you all the tools of a word processing program with the immediacy of real time chat. In fact, one of my favorite tools of Drive is that it has a built-in chat client — so, even when you’re writing your sim with a friend or two, you can also chat with those friends, deciding what should happen next and chatting about what you’re doing.
Finally, the word processing part of drive is only one of the tools it offers. From the administrative side of things, the spreadsheets that Drive offers are an invaluable tool for sharing tracking information with other folks. While these spreadsheets are primarily used to track members across the fleet, I’ve found spreadsheets to be quite useful in keeping track of ship-specific things like mentors and mentees, promotions, multiple email addresses, and more. If you’re a CO or part of your ship’s staff and you haven’t yet tried using Drive spreadsheets to simplify your information tracking, I’d strongly encourage it.
Drive is a multipurpose, extremely useful tool for the types of writing that we do — so if you haven’t yet, be sure to check it out and see how it could help you out!
April brought some strong increases to the majority of the ships in the Starbase 118 fleet: Six of the fleet’s 11 ships posted gains over March’s numbers, including the Doyle (previously the Constitution) and 118 Ops, both of which increased by more than 50 sims from March into April! Apollo and Garuda both improved by a couple dozen sims, and Columbia and the Embassy also improved. Overall, it was a month of strong differences, as there was a difference of about 100 sims between the highest- and lowest-simming ships — and this in strong contrast to March’s comfortably stable numbers, save for the Gemini‘s impressive gains.
As in March, April 2015’s simming numbers matched exactly the numbers of a previous April — in this case, 2013, which then saw an increase as it headed into May. Something similar is no doubt in store for 2015, as the improved numbers across the fleet suggest that most ships are experiencing an uptick in activity. The decommissioning of the Excalibur is definitely unfortunate, but there’s every possibility that her former crew, most of whom were able to transfer in pairs, will help encourage and be encouraged by their new crews and make May a great month for everyone.
Stay tuned, and be sure to keep up with those sims as they come with our fleet archive!
UFOP: StarBase 118’s Graphics Contest and command staff of the USS Garuda are pleased to announce a new graphics challenge: Design Astrofori One!
This contest is looking for talented creators and graphics wizards among our membership to come up with a wholly unique station design for the Garuda‘s new base of operations, Astrofori One. A-One is, however, much more than a simple base. It’s a political and diplomatic experiment in the Menthar Corridor, and its mission is to bring together the major and minor powers in the Corridor under the banner of peaceful cooperation and collaboration.. In-character, the station was built by a coalition of races and powers, including the Federation, the Cardassian Union, the Breen, and the Kubarey. It’s definitely not your standard Starfleet station, and any winning design will surely have some fun with creating something that we’ve never seen before!
This challenge will be open through the end of April, at which time judges from the Garuda and the Graphics Contest will decide upon a winner. We look forward to seeing your entry, so please head over to the contest on the Graphics Contest forums to learn more!
March 2015 saw most of the ships of the fleet settle into a comfortable groove. Sim numbers across the fleet were some of the most stable, ship to ship, that we’ve ever seen, which is perhaps in part a consequence of the beginning of the fleetwide plot arc — crews may be finding it easier to post at the same rate as some of their fellows. There are a couple of exceptions, as always, the most notable being the Gemini crew, who broke all records and turned in their best month ever and the highest ship sim count for the month. Well done, Gemini crew!
As you see above, eight of the eleven ships in the fleet were within about twenty or twenty-five sims of each other for March — quite stable indeed! The overall count did represent a bit of a dip from February, but this was the first full month since the double relaunch of the Darwin and the Excalibur; in addition to plenty of other extenuating circumstances, it’s likely that those new crews are getting to know each other and that other ships were adjusting to fewer players.
Interestingly, this March gave us an average post count almost identical to that of March 2010! Otherwise, though, it’s been well established in previous years that there’s no clear indication where March’s post averages are likely to go: In 2013, 2010, and 2009, March increased over February’s total, but 2014, 2012, 2011, and now 2015 saw a dip from February. However, you’ll also notice that post counts tend to seesaw back and forth from month to month, so it’s likely that decreases in February and in March mean that we’ll see some good gains in April. Stay tuned, and be sure to keep up with those sims as they come with our fleet archive!
After experiencing an unprecedented amount of growth in our fleet in the last few months, we’ve responded with a series of launches and relaunches: Commander Leo Handley-Page aboard Starbase 118, Commander Renos on the Darwin, and Fleet Captain Kali Nicholotti with the Excalibur. In this interview, James, the writer behind Renos and an experienced former CO (he previously wrote for Greir Reinard), explains much about the relaunch of the Darwin and the adventures he has planned for his crew.
Q: When you were asked to become a CO again, what made you choose to relaunch the Darwin into the Zeta Gelis region?
A: The Horizon class USS Darwin NCC 99312-A was always a ship I felt passionately about, particularly as I designed and created it based off the ship as seen in Star Trek Online (STO). It always felt like I had unfinished business with the ship and region because there were so many things I wanted to do with both. It also helped that I’ve simmed in the region for something like 2 years now, so I have a lot of familiarity with the resident species and the stories that have been told in the region which I like to build upon.
The Darwin might not be the best armed ship but the containment sphere is something else no other ship has and it presents us with a number of unique opportunities. We’ve already used the containment sphere to cleanse the atmosphere of a planet poisoned with Trilithium resin and faced with the total annihilation and extinction of all life. We also have the possibility of sheltering small ships such as shuttles inside the containment sphere, or collecting huge samples from nebulas or conducting large scale experiments within it. There is also the fact that the ship is built like a tank and can take quite a considerable pounding, making any ship to ship combat frustrating to assailants, even if it takes some clever thinking on our part to compensate for the weaker offensive capabilities.
The Zeta Gelis Region is near Romulan space, which alone gives us a lot to explore post Hobus but it’s also home to a few other interesting species:
* The Zakdorn – a strategically masterful race on the edge of Federation space
* Zalkonians – a Xenophobic, isolationist species of which a handful are hunted due to an evolutionary process that seems them transform in non-corporeal beings.
* Asavii – A reptilian, underwater dwelling species of my own creation in the early stages of exploring space and intergalactic relations.
There are still stories I wanted to explore with them and I had a shuttle race planned for our home station Deep Space 6 as well as a few other surprises. Looking to the future, once I have explored that which I had in mind in the Zeta Gelis Region it is my hope to move the Darwin into a new campaign region.
Good news from February, everyone!
February, as it’s both firmly in the new year and three days shorter than January, tends to see falling simming trends from all ships — but that wasn’t the case in February 2015! Apollo posted a respectable gain for the month, and Garuda and Victory both had small gains over January, as well. Starbase 118 showed a sim count that held it steady from January, and while other ships did have some losses, we’re roaring onward to March! It’s interesting to note, though, that while the Embassy continues to be a simming powerhouse, there’s some strong similarities among the numbers of Apollo, Atlantis, Constitution, Garuda, and Victory — all of those ships ended up around 200-220 sims for February, averaging an impressive 7 or 8 sims per day. Well done, everyone!
Likewise, the fleetwide total for February was remarkably similar to the total from previous years. If the trends of past years continues, and there’s every indication that it will, then March will end up being a much stronger month for many ships — though, again, it’s notable that three of the fleet’s ships actually posted improvements in February! With two new ships — the relaunched Excalibur and Darwin — March should be an impressive month indeed!