Feature Episode – Butterfly

ButterflyThe latest Iconian War episode “Butterfly” rolled out last night, where the Krenim timeship is finally completed and the Alliance takes a stab at using it. If you haven’t played it yet, then SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

“Butterfly” of course refers to the Butterfly Effect, a key concept in Chaos Theory. It is so named by Edward Lorenz for the metaphorical question: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? Referring to the behavior of dynamic systems that are highly sensitive — and dependent — on initial conditions that even a minor change can cause massive changes in the outcome. When it comes to mucking with the timeline, this is certainly applicable.

I can’t even begin to imagine how you would run simulations on something like that, as the possible outcomes are literally endless. The episode goes through three such possibilities on the Holodeck:

  • The first simulation shows the Dominion War is still going on in 2410, where the death toll is staggering. Intriguing but definitely not a great vacation spot.
  • The second simulation shows that the Delta Alliance fails to form, presumably because there’s no Iconian influence to catapult the Vaadwaur into a major threat in the Delta Quadrant, which in turn removes any rallying point for the Delta species to band together. To be honest, this one didn’t seem so bad.
  • The third simulation shows a timeline where Romulus is not destroyed. And one where the Separatist movement led by D’Tan is still blooming, hinting that a breakaway Romulan Republic is still a viable outcome.

Now I have to admit, that last one was a bit of a WHOA moment for me: what if this works? That is quite literally a GAME-CHANGER for Star Trek Online. It implies a full Romulan faction. Complete overhaul of many of the episodes and storylines. Surely Cryptic isn’t prepared to go back and make such sweeping changes to the game, right? Of course not, but for a few minutes I had to sit up and pay attention.

Then we’re off to rewrite history. Yes, we got Romulus back… not the one we all hope to see, but one that is completely assimilated by the Borg. Chilling, and it’s nice to be reminded that the Borg continues to be a primary galactic threat.

Of course we have to fix this: we get into a couple of obligatory space and ground battles to retrieve Borg records of this new timeline, so we know how to revert things. Except… something changed. The Tuterians are no more — honestly I don’t know what that means and how that is significant, and it sounds like the research team doesn’t either. They’ll need to delve into the shielded datacore and do more research, which hopefully will lead to revelations in the next feature episode.

This episode is a fun ride, and it feels very much like a TV episode exploring an alternate reality. There’s more here to think and contemplate about than the normal pew-pew, which is quite refreshing. At the end of the day though this episode doesn’t feel like it pushes the war story ahead, instead focusing on a side-story which is still very much in the spirit of Star Trek TV shows.

KrenimConsoleJust for fun, let’s talk a little bit about the rewards. This is a new set called Krenim Temporal Manipulation, with a new warp core, an antichroniton tetryon turret or omindirectional beam and a science console. None of my toons use tetryon energy, so the weapon is pointless for me. But this science core…. wow, Heidy drools for this! Since she runs Auxiliary Power at maximum at all times, this console really benefits her. Since my original post, I have further tweaked the USS Inquest (which now sports a gravimetric torpedo launcher along with the accompanying protonic console), so console slots are quickly becoming a rare commodity. I had to switch out the last Elite Fleet-grade Neutronium Alloy console to make room for this new Krenim one; the Inquest is getting more and more fragile, but its exotic damage output and shield rating are going up.

The really odd thing is that after slotting in the new Krenim console, I noticed what I think is a glitch: The Inquest’s crit chance went up to 71%! I know this isn’t possible, so I removed the console to check but the crit chance only came down to 69%. Like I said, I’m sure it’s a glitch but I should test it out and see if I’m actually scoring critical hits that often, or if it’s just a wrong number being displayed in the stats.

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6 thoughts on “Feature Episode – Butterfly

  1. I played this new episode last night after I got home from work. Very interesting, and yes, it was quite refreshing to do a bit more thinking and less pointless pew-pew and explosions.

    I’m having some mixed feelings on how it was written, but overall I think it was all right. It was a bit of a brain-teaser and it definitely made you stop and think, which I liked because it was more in the spirit of Trek (e.g. TOS & TNG).

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    1. Which parts specifically did you not like?

      I mean, other than the typical “gotta cut the episode length down 46 minutes, excluding commercial time” TV concern, that is. For something as drastic as changing history, I would insist on running the simulation like a million times to try to identify all the variables and hopefully arrive at a more likely prediction, rather than “Oh that one simulation looks the best of the three. Good enough, let’s go!” XD

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      1. Parts of it just seemed a bit rushed, disjointed, and hard to follow, I felt. I’ll elaborate on it further once I have some more time to write you a proper answer. Maybe I’ll play thru it again when I get home so I can analyze it some more and get a better feel for it.

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      2. Getting back to my earlier comment, I think you summed it up pretty well right there, about the whole “this simulation looks the best (or at least the “least bad”) out of the three; let’s give it a go.” It just seemed a bit rushed to me.

        That plus they didn’t really explain how the Borg were able to so quickly conquer and assimilate the Romulan Star Empire in that one alternate timeline.

        I might’ve missed something there, but I would’ve liked a little more info on how that happened and why none of their simulations were able to predict that possible outcome.

        And Clauda… They introduced her and her whole species, just to have her and her entire people somehow wiped out toward the end. That really bugged me and that whole episode just felt kinda hastily slapped together. Tho I did like the fact that they at least took the time to carefully weigh the pros and cons of all their possible courses of action. At the end it left me wondering if maybe it’s best for them to just not mess with the timeline at all, lest they cause far worse problems than they would solve.

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  2. Did you read a fan-theory about Clauda and her people the Tuterians? It’s actually an intriguing one… that the Tuterians are none other than the Big Bad Sphere Builders from Enterprise. They have the same general appearance (in the game and on the show). The Tuterians are said to be using Solanae technology… who were the original builders of the Dyson Spheres. And the Sphere Builders are actively engaged in the Temporal Cold War… we’re definitely mucking around the timeline in this episode! Players have been speculating that maybe after this misadventure, we turned the Tuterians into the Evil Sphere Builders who hid in the timestream.

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    1. Ooh, that’s a fascinating theory (and really tragic) if true. I hope that’s not the case and I was a little saddened when Clauda (one of the few decent and likable characters in there) just vanished and I was a bit upset when the Tuterians vanished too with no real explanation being given. Looks like we’d be better off NOT messing with the timeline at all after that fiasco. This is the sort of thing that the Dept. of Temporal Investigations gets headaches and nightmares about.

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