Monday, January 20, 2014


The first time we get to see Andoria is in Enterprise.

...And I'll admit that the original developers who designed this planet weren't far off.

Sadly, the moon itself is little more than pretty to look at. Take a look at these landscape shots I took.

The beam-in point is filled with Andorians stretching and looking like they're about to start fighting. There are park rangers, literally everywhere, warning of Ushaan, and how anyone can be challenged to one:

There are even vendors set up to sell battle-related items (many of which have blue icons, presumably in honor of the Andorians' blue blood):

It even goes so far as to have a commodity broker there for some reason:

What I'm not getting, though, is that all this buildup leads to nothing. There is NO Ushaan anywhere. There are circles of Andorians cheering, but nothing going on inside. It's usually 2 competitors standing there looking at each other. There is no way to interact with them, nor can they be engaged in battle. The UI shows that they have one another in their focus, but without explanation. None of these combatants are tethered together, nor do they have the hand armor that accompanies the tether:

The circle, with both fighters standing perpetually idle

There's no response to my approach

Other times, the circles are empty entirely, making me wonder what the hell everyone is cheering about:

They have GOT to hook me up with whatever they're smoking.

When I enter the circle, thinking I'm just inviting some random Blue Guy to come over and kill me for violating his sacred space (something about not preforming the Right of Substitution), nothing happens:

It's like I'm not even really here.

And what of the caves? Supposedly Andoria was filled with them, right? And they were filled with twists and turns and ice bores and icicles that can penetrate even the Bluest of bones:

Shran in one of those icy corridors

Details of the ice caves

Ice Bores

They're supposed to go on forever

Icicles can cause near-critical injuries, in Star Trek and in real life.

In game, however, the only cave we get is one that is not explorable. There are a few vendors (all with the same loot listed above) and a commodity broker (which really doesn't belong on a battle ground), but nothing else:

Cave entrance

Map of cave innards -- no tunnels or cave worms in sight.

Cave exit

And a map of the planet shows a different concern:

Notice how there are NO buildings. Yes, they say this is a public park, and it's cordoned off for Ushaan. But come on--NO buildings anywhere? No memorial to those who died there (who may not necessarily be honored warriors)? No wall of plaques with the names of people who earned their Ushaan? What about an area where potential fighters can buy ice picks, ritual tethers and ushaan-tors? The closest thing they have is this half-assed rest area. There are bound to be others around, but this is the only one I came across:

It actually makes me think of the ones on New Romulus, minus the transporter pads.

So what can be done to fix this place?

Well, first and foremost, it seems like it was never actually finished. I get the feeling this was supposed to be a mini-game of some sort. Maybe a bonus fight? 

I think there could be some nifty rewards from mini-combat type events. Take these arguing Andorians, for instance:

They could potentially be the trigger for the Ushaan mission. Think about it -- you go to Andoria and find these guys bickering about nothing important to you. It turns out that there was supposed to be a substitution but the other guy backed out (or was killed, or some other cop out). One of the guys asks you if you would do it in his place. Answering "No" declines the mission. Answering "Yes" starts it. 

Upon starting the mission, you have to get the instruments of the challenge -- the Ushaan-tor and the armored tether. These can be found, earned or crafted. Any of these methods would work, as they would incorporate some of the park rangers spread around.

Upon assembling the necessary gear, you have to fight the guy from before. I would make it a rez-until-he-dies deal. This could either left as is (one-time mission), or used to start as a chain of mini-missions. 

Upon completing this mission, the battleground becomes a mini game to fight and win something like consumable purple Andorian ale with a cold resist and knockback bonus. Maybe even a personal Ushaan-tor that can be used as a cosmetic weapon much as the Ferengi Energy Whip is.

In the case of the mini-mission chain, I would do it similarly to this:
  • Once the initial battle is won, the other guy (who you were subbing for) tells you he was a great warrior and you have to take his blood to the Wall of Heroes
  • Upon placing the vial into the wall, someone there asks if you can find them some ice bores. The would just be a typical gather mission set in a cave. Once you have all the ice bores, you give them back and get a reward. This could be made into a repeatable mission for expertise and energy credits.
  • Another person could share a rumor about the so-called "Aenars," who have never been proven to exist, and they send you on a mission to find that proof. It could also be designed as a first contact type mission where you have to make friendly contact with the Aenars. Of course, one of the rewards would be diplomacy.
Part of me finds it odd that it's implied that the Ushaan can be done at random. I was under the impression that it is a challenge designed to settle scores, and to honor the dead. It has a certain Klingon quality to it, but it doesn't strike me as arbitrary. With that in mind, I think these missions should involve the player actually settling a dispute with, or between, Andorians. When the dialog boxes say anyone can fight, it should specify anyone actually involved in the Right can use the grounds. The Ushaan is not done on a whim, like Klingons settling scores with their bat'leths. It's an ancient Andorian tradition, and this battleground really doesn't treat it like one.

*It has also been mentioned that this would make a great ground PvP map. I would agree with this, so long as the main map is still accessible without PvP as a requirement. This is a canon planet -- we should be able to visit (semi) peacefully.

Another worth mentioning tidbit is Q's Winter Wonderland.The weather and layout are basically the same as Andoria, after all. But, not to be a killjoy, I just don't like the idea. The last Wonderland had gingerbread houses and people and whatnot...putting that stuff here would be an insult. Even the Epohh dealer wouldn't fit, as Epohhs themselves are primarily associated with New Romulus.*

Random afterthoughts

It would be nice if one of the buildings whose non-existence I complained about was the Andorian Academy. I really don't know what purpose it would serve, outside of looking cool. Maybe DOff missions? Still would be nice.

What if we had a consumable weapon -- one made of ice that melts upon use? It would be bound to character, of course. Used only on this planet...worth taking a look at.


TIMELORDS1701 said...

You are exactly spot on, i have been saying very similar things for the last 3 years of playing and im not the only 1 as many of us with andorian alts would love the chance to do so much more on this planet, yet cryptic seem hell bent on never finishing it off properly, perhaps one day but by then it may just be too late for many of us.. i still love visiting andoria, but continually shake my head that its still the same after all this time...

Sol Morek said...

Thanx. To be honest, I try to avoid Andoria...for reasons listed here. At best, it's a place to RP. And even then it's lacking.

Unknown said...

I disagree with you on the Winter Wonderland, in large part because the concept of moving it to Andoria actually opens the opportunity to make the event more Star Trek and less Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special. Get rid of the silly gingerbread men and really cartoonish stuff and make the Winter celebration more a cool holiday destination like a ski resort with Federation technology and Andorian culture. Give us powered snowboards, ice cave explorations with holographic ice monsters to fight, a snowball pvp battlezone, and Andorian ships to earn.