Incoming Transmission from Starfleet
Utopia Planitia: Developing Your Fleet in Star Trek Online
Hello Priority One Podcast fans!
In our last edition of Utopia Planitia, we discussed the very foundation of building a strong fleet: The creation and implementation of your own customized fleet structure. We stressed the importance of being well organized as well as using the fleet structure to reflect the various facets of STO gameplay so that your fleet can handle the borg far better than the poor souls we lost at Wolf 359.
Moving forward, we’re going to show you the tools available to you and your crew which will help you build your home away from home…your out-of-game ops deck…your very own Landru….your website and forums.
No need to possess the chops of a Starfleet Engineer, nor the efficient nanites of a liberated Borg officer in order to “Make it so” when it comes to creating your fleet’s very own website. All you need is someone to lend you a subspace beacon, pointing you in the right direction without taking all your gold-pressed latinum like a Ferengi at a flea market!
In the following blog, we hope to show you all these things and more!
DEVELOPING YOUR FLEET
Step two: Website and forums
Communication is the key.
–“Give a man a fish, and he can eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he can eat for a lifetime.”
These words ring true in so many ways. If you were to go on a massive recruiting rampage in-game or on the STO forums, you might actually get quite a few recruits. However, once these new recruits get up and running, they’re going to need a few important staples of Starfleet life. Things such as fleet communications, diplomatic missions, and social outlets are absolutely critical for the long-term activity of most fleets’ member-base. In addition, new potential recruits often evaluate a fleet’s website when shopping for their new home.
But I know absolutely NOTHING about website development!
If the idea of building a website gets you more nervous than a Caitian in a dog kennel, fret not. There are tools which make building your very own Fleet website as easy as making a Tarvokian Pound Cake. In fact, these tools are not only easy to use, but also free of charge (assuming you don’t mind random, but relevant advertising on your site.). These same tools also offer creative ways to raise funds amongst fleet members, in the case that you would like to upgrade your site package, thus providing a better overall service to your fleetmates.
Pass me that hyperspanner.
Today, we’re going to refer you to a few places which can easily provide you with all the tools necessary to build your Fleet’s web-base. It’s very important to note that many free guild-hosting sites exist. In addition, most of these web-hosting sites offer very similar services.
Guild Launch (http://www.guildlaunch.com):
Guild Launch offers a plethora of fantastic tools. First, like many of these guild-hosting sites, Guild Launch offers many pre-made website templates. Though they may not have a specific Star Trek Online template, they DO offer a variety of different vanilla sci-fi templates. Customizing your banner with colors and posting your guild name is as easy as running through the tutorial in any video game. The same is true for all column headings. In addition to cosmetics, Guild Launch also offers many different widgets wich will ultimately serve as great tools for dispensing information, boosting morale, and keeping the interests and amusement of fleet members piqued. These widgets include things such as an event calendar, which is obviously useful for communicating in-game events to members when they are away from their gaming PC. Other fun widgets include a voice server viewer, recent medals and awards display, diplomatic status, etc. The list is quite extensive. In addition to the various widgets available on your homepage, you’ll also have an easily-customizable recruit application template. This is yet another tool which lets you collect as much information as possible for each individual recruit so that you, the fleet leader, can better serve your members. Last, and certainly not least, you are also given access to your very own forums….easily customizable. I’d also like to emphasize that if you or a trusted fleetmate has even limited photoshop skills, this customization process can be even more powerful.
Here’s an example of a well-established Star Trek Online guild who has effectively used Guild Launch!
The TOS Veterans (http://tosfleet.guildlaunch.com/)
Enjin has the distinction of being sponsored by PC Gamer. They also offer all the same functionality of GuildLaunch. Tons of interesting widgets, fully customizable site and forums. The general consensus which I’ve heard has been that Enjin has a much more robust feature list, while Guild Launch may be easier for the novice to handle. Having said that, we also like Enjin’s Teamspeak integration as being a big plus.
Here’s a fantastic example of some great customization using the Enjin tools:
Raven’s Legacy (http://ravenslegacy.enjin.com/)
Both guild hosting sites are fantastic. Here’s a list of some other free guild hosting sites:
Once you’ve decided upon your guild host, the next step is to create your Fleet’s website!
In a mirror, Lightly:
Now that you’ve begun the creation of your Fleet’s website, keep in mind that your site will fall under the scrutiny of new recruits and members alike. The image you want to convey to your members will be communicated largely by the decisions you make here.
In other words, if you want to portray a serious role-playing fleet, I might recommend against making a banner which features Spongbob Squarepants riding naked on top of a Vorcha battlecruiser. Of course, these choices will ultimately come down to personal preference. Just be sure to choose widgets which allow for efficient fleet communication as well as widgets which might also keep the level of fun at a reasonable rate. Some fun options might be a shout box, a daily poll question, or an awards display widget. Interesting communication options may include a diplomatic status widget, event calendar, voice server viewer, etc.
Once you get all that hammered out, it’s time to get to the equivalent of your sites warp core. Quite possible the heart of your operations….. Your Fleet Forums.
But wait…Julius Ceasar never had a forum!(or did he???)
Your fleet’s forums may become the most important part of your intra-fleet communications. This is ultimately where you can communicate fleet directives, fleet events, commendations, starbase tier status, and overall warm and fuzzies.
Equally important, your fleet members will also use these forums to convey battle and farming strategies, share their opinions about fleet activities, and socialize among themselves.
Of course, some may say that ALL of these tasks can be completed while in-game. Well, this is true. However, many people have limited time for which they can actually PLAY Star Trek Online.
Insuring an active forum can really go a long way towards maintaining member activity over an extended period of time. This way, members can remain in-contact with fleetmates while at work, at school, on break, or even on vacation.
Your Forum Prime Directive
Your forum structure will again resemble your personal preferences, but I would recommend taking a strong look at your fleet structure as you proceed with the naming of your various forum headings. In many cases you may actually copy your actual fleet structure into your forum structure.
Here are some general recommendations for your forums:
1.) Keep it relatively simple. Too many forum headings and subforums will, in most cases, lead to a lot of in-active subforums with very few posts.
2.) Use gameplay activities to your advantage. Major parts of STO gameplay such as PvP, STF’s, Starbase development, special events, starship builds, all make relevant subforums
3.) Make sure you have a “Ten Forward”. Give your members a place to chit chat about off-topic subjects
4.) Make sure you have some kind of “Officer’s Lounge”. Although Email can be an effective mode of communication, reserving a special place for fleet leaders/officers only to debate decisions can be vital to the successful leadership of your group
5.) Make room for your guests. Running a fleet is a SOCIAL activity. Invite rival/friendly fleets to stop by and say hello in your diplomatic section of the forums. You never know when you’ll get a good reference for a new recruit, a nice bumb on the recruiting forums on Cryptic’s STO site, or better yet, you may just find that last person needed to complete the 20-man starbase defense mission.
Priority One Fleet
Here at Priority One most of you are already familiar with our website and forums. Of course we are part of the fortunate few, who have experienced web designers on hand with the will, the skill, and the time to make it all happen for us.
Websites and Forums almost always evolve over time in order to meet the needs of the many. As your fleet grows, the various online requirements may change as well. Fortunately, editing these sites and forums is as easy as when you first created them. With your website and forums complete, you now have your very own “Online Starbase”. Your center of operations is ready to be manned by eager recruits. And you, my friends, are FINALLY ready to go to Earth Spacedock and start begging for people to join your group so that you can register your Fleet in-game.
Admirals, the party is about to get started, and the fridge is packed with Romulan ale!!!
A special thank you to the TOS veterans Guild and the Raven’s Legacy Fleet for allowing us to refer to their fantastic work on their guild sites.
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