Comments on Storytelling in the 2800
Okay, this will all sound harsh, but I am trying to be constructive in my criticisms. I should note I played the last 4 episodes in the previous 4 days (and repeated the first about a week before that).
Death is (often) cheap, and drama based on cheap death is cheap drama. Why would I care much about the death of Andrews? One episode isn't enough to make you care, even if the character has a bunch of dialog. All she really does is send you on some fedex mini-quests, hardly inspiring any sort of attachment. Yet its attempted to make her death part of some dramatic finale to the episode, which fails on several levels (see more on cutscenes and dialog near the end of post). If you want to build up to such a conclusion, you really do have to *build up* to it.
Also, the conference scene is rather flat. Other than 2 "Free Passes" to get through the dialog with the various species, all four conversations are carbon copies of each other, with <insert species dominate cultural trait here> with the same basic dialog tree structure. I think it would have worked better to exclude your own side's captain (ie you fill that role) and tailor the solutions to each of the other three as a mix of your faction's philosophy and theirs - which would come across as more Trek imo. As it is, you mainly just play a gotcha wordgame with them (even your own faction's rep).
Not much to say, this episode is basically a hodge-podge of what are normally filler side-quests in other MMOs. It has no coherency. If you want those side-quests (a terrible mechanic, imo), then make them true side-quests. Have the actual episode more focused. Expand out the part interacting with Hadron (and make something more interesting than sequentially running thru all frequencies...) and maybe even tie Hadron in to the plot longer term. Otherwise its just a throwaway.
Also, this episode suffers from a disconnect of player knowledge vs character knowledge. You as a player learn nothing you couldn't reasonably have inferred from announcement of this new feature series. Its really hard to create a suspension of disbelief. You need to have the character figure out what the player already knows quickly, and then spend time trying to flesh things out.
I'll just go on a tangent to storytelling for a moment and say, this episode sucked mechanistically. The shuttle vs super zippy little creatures/fighters is a poor use of how the space mechanics of this game work. Sure, if there was a fighter/joystick style of game play to access, it might have been fun.
Back to storywise - there are plot holes in this episode a planet could fit through. What's the point of sneaking up to DS9 in a shuttle if you're going to have several big fire-fighters with dominion fighters? What's the point of blinding the sensors at that point? Might as well have full-impulsed my Luna class thru the gauntlet after the Fed fleet creates a distraction. Also doesn't make much sense to send a small craft on what is possible a long range mission into the Gamma Quadrant.
The storyline with the Ferengi merchant was flat. Especially at the end - kill her or not? Oh, I can do the right thing and Eraun will just shrug it off... Here might have been a point to integrate Hadron further into the story (not that I particularly like him, just given his earlier appearance, this storyline might have been advanced partly by his "contacts" in the Gamma Quandrant). And what's with the random redshirt assigned to me? Was that merely to save on voice acting instead of recording dialog for both a female and male BO? He didn't add much anyway, better just to have text from one of my own officers. Just another throwaway character.
Another huge plot hole. How does it make sense for a facility to shutdown its primary personnel (ie holograms) in the even of a catastrophic release of prisoners? Sure, you can reset the system, just once you've basically fixed the situation. Given that non-holographic personnel are usually not at the station, how does this make any sense?
Boldy they Rode:
Flat overall. I think it suffers more from game mechanics than story telling. Though, in an attempt to make mindless jumping from one post to another interesting, plot oddities are introduced. Like, no one's going to be suspicious the stations defenses activated and blew up a Jem'Hadar ship? I was fully expecting that side bit to involve me tricking its sensors or something sneaky. No, I'll just blow it up, right above me...nothing suspicious in that. Or why jumping up right before the Klingon wreckage explodes somehow saves me? Shouldn't it expose me more to the explosion, and fling me off into space?
The arrival of the Enterprise was, underwhelming. Maybe if the Odyssey class hadn't yet been revealed it might have had more impact. Tho, it probably mostly suffers from the cutscene mechanics (again, see below).
Andrews had the best voice acting, Loriss the worst - sounded like an 18 year old drama queen - which I suppose is scary to think of such a person in charge of the Dominion fleet, but that sort of humorous scary is probably not what was intended.
Now, I'm one of those that actually will read long quest text, so long as its moderately interesting. This, however, does not translate well to long monologues. In nearly every case, it sounded like the actors were just straight reading from the script just handed to them, with the occasional forced intonation. They were monotonous. Andrews had a bit of this as well, but the cadence of the scottish accent did a better job of hiding it. When it comes to spoken dialog, less is usually more.
If you have a hammer with a lose head, probably better to use a wrench to hit the nail. Ie, if a tool isn't working well, best not to use it. The cutscenes come across as so artificial, and completely break up any flow to the story. This is mostly due to technica issues and glitches. Jem'Hadar ships just appearing in front of the wormhole, wait for a second, reorient, then kinda fly. Ships that are fighting either obviously standing still, or flying in plain old straight lines. The standard emotes, while they might be decent for the perspective players normally see them, translate poorly into cutscenes. They are so over-exagerated and cartoonish its hard to take the scene seriously even if the dialog was good. When something isn't working well, and its detracting, take it out and focus on other aspects that your tools do let you do well.
While I agree that the above commentary regarding some holes in the story are in many ways accurate, I was willing to overlook some of these flaws, because I was playing a game. I appreciate that the developers are trying to produce entertainment on a budget, and therefore understand that expecting a story-line equivilant to that provided to us in the Star Trek series or movie, in a video game, likely isn't realistic.
I've played many other MMOs, and have rarely experienced any that are successful at providing any sort of meaningful story-arc, as STO has done.
I've maintained in my other posts that I found the story in this features series weaker than the previous ones, but was generally satisfied with the experience, and personally didn't find it as catastrophic to my enjoyment of the game as the original poster seemingly did. I guess our expectations of the game are different, allowing for different levels of enjoyment.
My intent wasn't to bash the series too much, and some of the ambition of the series is laudable. But execution is important - there's a certain amount I can fill in/overlook myself - obviously the threshold varies from person to person. I may have high standards and don't lower them, but I hope to elevate things with the criticism rather than it be "lol, noobsauce devs" type of stuff.
Good ideas are great, but execution - consistency, plot pacing, technical mechanisms of the gameplay, etc - is just as important.
The only thing that really bothered me about the series was the final chapter.
I think they missed a huge opportunity with the introduction of the new enterprise. Somehow, after never mentioning that the new enterprise had even been launched, they show up. the officer says "ship coming in, it's the enterprise!" and really, why weren't we expecting the enterprise E at that point.
It wasn't ever mentioned in game that the new enterprise was being commissioned. they never say that the andorian had been assigned to it and they just glossed over what could have been the biggest moment ever in game for real star trek fans.
What should have happened, is they should have been talking about the new enterprise being completed and ready for shakedown throughout the entire series. There should have been some build up to when they showed up. Maybe the captain had her out on her shakedown cruise and diverted to assist, maybe they pulled it out of space dock before the shakedown to get another ship on the front line. Either way, it should have been an event.
I know there was a lot of hoopla about the odyssey, but the Enterprise should have had a ceremony of some kind.
On another note, where did that klingon ship come from that crashed on DS9 while we were space walking. Unless i missed a cutscene or something, it seems like one tiny BOP tries to make an assault on DS9 with no help whatsoever. Why exactly would it do that?I
It would have been the same if in the middle of the fight inside the station, a Devidian showed up and started killing jem-hadar all by himself until he was quickly killed. No mention of what he was actually doing there or why, but it makes some cool special effects..
Anyhow, I'm going to play through it all again and make sure i didn't miss a cut-scene or something.
Bajor was exactly what I expected it to be.. Boring.
They need new leadership to maintain the peace and bring some order.
Lets face it...without real management, the Bajorans are lost.
Then... can you say Reconquista? Let the other powers over-extend themselves while we hoard 'the good stuff', of which you have merely a tiny sample...
I agree that cutscenes just don't work in any MMO. In STO they're especially ugly and awkward with the dorky emotes. Voice acting doesn't change that, only reinforces it by doing things like putting that never-before-seen redshirt on my shuttle without any explanation whatsoever, and also by making me sit there and listen to stuff I've already read.
I agree on all story points the OP raises, and I especially agree that throwing the new Big E at us in this way was thorougly underwhelming. I do appreciate that it puts us players in our place - of course there's bigger hero ships out there, nice to see that in game. But both the ship and the captain could have done with a better introduction. Like others said, at least hint at the Big E being commissioned. I like that the Captain is neither human nor someone we know (Data), but he also could have needed a better introduction instead of being an aggressive a-hole during the first mission and losing his ship in the last one. Not exactly someone I'd think of deserving to command the Enterprise.
Also, the Jem Hadar BOFF is thrown at me without any explanation or even a hint as to why a Jem Hadar would suddenly like to serve under me.
Here is my take on this new series -
Things I liked about it:
Andrews - I thought she had good character and probably the best voice acting on the series. Would have been better if her death hadn't come so early in the series
Facility 4028 - The look, the feel, and the attention to detail really made this place seem "real" for me. I also loved that we got to see some of the villains we've faced in past missions and what happened to them.
Using shuttles in OP:Gamma - I finally have a reason to use my Delta Flyer again. Took me a few weeks to craft it and I rarely ever use it. Glad to dust it off and have a purpose for it again.
Doff usage in Second Wave - Glad to see the doff system be apart of story missions. I wish Cryptic had done this more throughout the series, but good on them for trying it out.
Spacewalking - Probably my favorite part of the series. I can tell a lot of time and effort went into the art and visuals for this part of the mission.
Things I didn't like:
Lack of consequences - This applies to whether you chose to kill the Ferangi or kill everyone in the facility. Cryptic has made episodes in the past that took into account of which chose you made, why not these?
Villains - The villains (female vorta and the jem alpha) just didn't feel right to me. I wasn't sure what their goals were and after finishing Of Bajor, there was no real reason for them to stay on the station.
Sense of danger - Unlike the past series, I didn't feel like there was any real "danger" to anyone or anything in this series. Okay, the bad guys took over DS9. And that's it.
Capt Whoever of the Ent-F - When the Ent-F made its debut at the end of the series, I thought, "hey, that's kinda cool." But when I saw the captain, I honestly didn't remember who it was.
Random Jem BO - Okay, I like getting BOs that aren't vanilla Starfleet officers. But why did a Jem join my crew. I don't even RP, but I do like hearing why strange aliens are on my ship.
So things they could have done differently:
-Don't kill Andrews right away. Let us get to know her more so her death means more to us when it happens.
-Make the stakes higher. The resurgent Dominion fleet just took DS9 and didn't do anything else. Have them attack other worlds, or better yet, try to restart the Dominion War.
-Give a reason why a Jem soldier would join my crew. We've had a Breen join because he found his conscience and a Remen freedom fighter join because of our ideals. Why is there a Jem on my ship shooting things?
Also, agree that the ending could have been better, I was expecting Karu'kan and his fleet to bug-out and form the core of a revitalized True Way, one that's an even larger threat to the peace than the original was...and that has under-the-table support from the Dominion. Could have opened up a whole lot of opportunities for a new storyline, especially if the new True Way chose to pick a fight with the Klingons instead of the Feds.
On the disposable peoples of the week...not so disappointed. It's actually kind of Star Trek the way they show up and get presented as someone important to the plot and then die fifteen minutes into the episode.
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