Grinders: The Future of the Foundry
So, I'm sitting here looking at the "top rated," browsing a list of what has essentially become:
Short, repeatable, and storyless missions, aimed to help players fill their buckets.
Now I take a look at Cryptic's old and new "content" via the FvE queue:
Short, repeatable, and storyless missions, aimed to help players fill their buckets.
Can we really complain about "rumbles" and "accolade hunts" and "farming," when those types of missions essentially match the dev content of the last two seasons? Is it any wonder that players downgrade our missions for making them read or think? They are here to blow stuff up, collect their tokens, and ask no questions. They are here to get quick rewards, not for reading or feeling immersed in the universe of Star Trek. They are playing Star Trek Online, where the goals are stuffz. Collect your stuffz to trade in for stuffz. That is the game.
Can we also complain about the quality of design, when "No Win Scenario" is now played far more often than "Everything Old is New"? Seems to me that it's the exact same case for a slapped together grinder trumping a mission that took 80 hours or longer to make.
If we're sad that these types of missions are dominating the listings, then we're sort of mourning for what the game used to be at launch, when players looked for story, played story, enjoyed story, and felt rewarded from story (as terrible as the stories were most of the time).
That is no longer the case in STO. Players get to max level before even leaving the Romulan front. No incentive really to keep going in story, unless they need a special item.
So, yeah, these grinders may be the future of the Foundry, because of what this game has become. It's not necessarily about exploits.
The players are meant to play the game this way in general. That is why the "top rated" is what it is.
Well, to be fair, a lot of the story missions take a long time to play (1+ hours straight, sometimes multiple parts), so I generally leave those for the weekend. For "grinding" and loot, though, I play STFs. (Given you get at least 50 Omega Marks for completing an Elite, that's at least 500 more dil than you'd get playing a mission.) I always enjoyed the Nagus Dailies, back when they helped count for the wrapper, and am sad to see they no longer do.
Not sure what to do about the "popularity" of the grinder dailies ... maybe "play" them just to give them the lowest rating possible, and those lower their overall rating. :D
No a rating war would not be good, not when we've complained so long and hard about the one-star bandits. Gotta take the high road... up to a point anyway.
Still I think we need to draw Cryptic's attention to this - because as we know they rarely pay attention to this forum. Believe it or not KF, it's even worse if you look in the under five reviews section. So so so many grinders and rumbles and whatever clever name they apply to their attempt to get ahead in the laziest way possible, all struggling to get out of purgatory.
So, I think we need to start tweet spamming every Cryptic @handle with images of the "hot list" all full of grinders and use the hashtag #IsThisWhatYouWanted
And Cryptic may fix "grinders" but that only means something else will be designed to alleviate the material pressures of all the grinds they keep introducing.
Perhaps all this is like Ferris Bueller's sister, who spent an entire day fuming about how much fun her brother was having and how unfair it was, that she forgot to have fun doing her own thing and not worrying about her popular brother.
Problem is - from day one (including the original 2009 beta); only a fraction of the players played for 'story'. Most of them used the old DSEs (Cryptic's initial fix was to put a 10 minute cooldown on them resetting, forgetting players could just change instances, etc.) to PL to max level as quick as possible - and then complained about:
- No real end game content
- No real end game gear sets
- No real game economy
So, as the game has grown/progressed, Cryptic has focused on more end-game content, and added other content that requires commodities and other stuff, stimulating an in game economy, etc; but again, make no mistake, those that play just for the story (be it Cryptic's or the stuff in the Foundry) were few then - and still are now.
The removal/reworking of the console clickers to no longer reward anything had little effect, as those who used to just use them for the quick 1440 Dilithium have sswitched to the farming missions. They never played the Foundry for story, so were never a factor.
What's really hurt non-spotlighted missions in the end (IMO) are:
- Spotlighted mission now give better rewards overall for time spent; and they've also been vetted by the community - meaning that if you play one, it's because a lot of players (and Cryptic) thought it was good enough to BE spotlighted; thus, less chance of being bugged out, having horrible grammar/spelling, or having badly done NPC encounters, etc.
- 'The "Investigate Officer Reports" wrapper now has a 30 minute cooldown; rewards more Dilithium per single play through (you used to have to play 3 to complete it - and then wait 20 hours before it rewarded again.)
The result? There's now MORE incentive to farm the Foundry for Dilithium and drops (until you reach the drop limit); and I think because of the faster cooldown and more temping rewards, some (not all but a few) who used to just say (I'm going to just do 3 mission today for the 1440 dilithium) are more temped to farm; and after one or two 'Battleship Royal Rumble' runs, want to do something not Foundry relatated.
Lastly, there's the fact that new 'in review' missions no longer count for the Investigate Officer Reports' - so others that were willing to go in and give these a try have virtually ZERO incentive to do so (and honestly this can't be changed because if these missions did give rewards off the bat for the first play though, it opens the Foundry up to the 'exploit' they're trying to fix - and would just lead to Foundry AKF farming - IE sit for 20 minutes, leave, profit.) Thus it makes it WAY harder for any new perspective Foundry author to get a new mission out there unless he has in game friends/fleetmates willing to do no reward reviews to get the mission qualified.
Now, some might say - "Hey missions have been spotlighted for over a year now, why would they really garner more plays or pull players away from the 'rank and file' Foundry missions?"
My answer: Before Season 7, Foundry Missions were spotlighted on the main STO site and other STO gaming sites. And although many won't believe this is the case - the majority of the STO players (or any MMO playerbase) don't bother with the official site after signing up, or go to 'fan' sites. They just play STO. Thus, because the Foundry interface has been changed to default to the 'spotlighted missions' tab; more likely then not, that type of player will pick something from that list first.
(And I'm NOT trying to say 'that's unfair' or 'it shouldn't be that way' because honestly, what Cryptic considers 'the best' should be shoved in a player's face first. [And no, I don't have a spotlighted mission on the list, so no personal bias on my part in saying this.])
But again, the overall end result (especially as the list of spotlighted missions grows); it'll end up that the regular rank and file stuff will see an order of magnitude drop in plays overall. The current overall rewards setup of the Foundry (IMO) has really shifted to promote farming over story by making the 'Investigate Officer Reports' mission a 1 run for reward/30 minute cooldown; AND adding all the new dilithium sinks (Fleet Starbases and Rep system, etc.) <--- which will only increase as the game moves forward.
The fact is; there is so much needed in game to advance various things; that those who really didn't plan to farm/or know about 'farming', are slowly drawn into it as they see other players with endgame gear and ask, "Hey, how do I get that?" -- and before they realize it, they're now farming (in various ways, not just using the Foundry) to advance. Thus, in the end, even those that started playing the Foundry to find 'a good story', start to use it more as just another advancement tool - and maxing 'reward' for time spent becomes the goal.
Unfortunately, I don't see things getting better for non-spotlighted Foundry authors; or Foundry Authors that haven't already gotten an in game rep for producing good missions; and overall that's sad, as I think it means they'll be less and less players interested in really trying to make good, story driven Foundry content as time goes forward.
To do something good in the Foundry does take a large mount of time, effort, and attention to detail; and it's always nice when you see a person, who played, and enjoyed your mission enough to take the time to write a comment (or enough to leave a Dilithium tip, especially these days in STO). <---- Unfortunately I think that will be happening less and less for non-sptlighted/non-farming Foundry missions as STO goes forward.
Have a separate flag/filter for grind missions. I don't mind that they exist -- I DO mind that they push everything else off the listings.
I also mind that the current system means I can't get anyone to look at my missions.
I'm honestly with Drogyn on this one.
Tweet the heck outta every Dev you can.
Bug report them.
Go back and do it again the next day until something is done about these.
The truth of the matter is that these grinder missions are actually economy breaking, and not just for the value of ec either.
These are something that needs to be addressed by the people at Cryptic, if they have any sense toward the long term survivability of the game's economy , on multiple levels.
Annoy the crap out of them with tweets about it.
Send Report after report through all available channels. In and Out of Game.
This current trend is actually worse than the One Stop shop of the clickies.
That's not saying I want those back.
Just saying that Cryptic designers REALLY need to take a look at what the long term effects of these missions are going to be.
I agree that few people remain interested in the story, which is sad as it is one of the few things Cryptic has done a good job of. The turning of "story" missions into XP grinders is the obvious cause; people SHOULD have to play through the whole storyline to reach VA (although if they don't have to bother with all those old system patrol missions that annoyed everyone I'm okay with that.)
I hate to say I told you so, but well, nobody really hates that, it's a silly saying. I predicted a lot of this would happen when this whole minimum time thing appeared on tribble, and low and behold. I agree completely its shifted the problem, not solved it, and it may have made it worse. Honestly the clickies were pretty unobtrusive compared this grinder crap we got now.
Heck, I never wanted the Foundry to have rewards at all, I knew it would result in things like this. I'd go back and find my posts on it, but it's so far in the past its all Archived Post now and would be impossible to find. My predictions were not 100 percent of course. Nostradamus, I ain't, but I said it then and I'm saying it now that adding rewards has done more harm than good.
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