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Career Officer
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 953
# 2311
02-19-2013, 06:00 PM
A critical review of the systems and game-play in Star Trek Online

Before I begin I'd like to address the recent posts and response from Dan, firstly this goes beyond Fleet Marks and poor communication from the developers the recent dissatisfaction is merely the expression of long standing disenchantment by a number of players.

I'm not going to give figures or estimates of just how many players feel this way, it is likely several factors more than those that are actually posting about it.

With regards to Dan's statements in the past few pages the failure to communicate honestly is shown once again. I understand it's difficult; businesses usually do everything they can to put up walls to stop customers from knowing the true workings of the organisation especially if the truth might be less than savoury. I also understand Cryptic as a subsidiary organisation may not have the kind freedom required to make changes that even internally they may want. The following is not an attack on the team or Dan personally but an honest assessment of the state of the game by many of us players.

So let me start by saying that this review is about a problem many players perceive with the way the game currently is. Many of us feel that it is no longer enjoyable to play. We may all be from a similar demographic or perhaps not but I know as a person who works hard and has family commitments that ultimately I may only be able to play every few days. On the weekends I have more free time and in Season 6 I really enjoyed spending a large chunk of my weekend playing, the game was fun and I made a lot of friends. I didn't really feel corralled into doing things I found boring.

On to the analysis:

Some argue the number of currencies in game is a problem, perhaps it is but for most of the reality is the problem is to do with volume of currency available divisible by the amount of time it costs to acquire them and enjoyment of the tasks that we have to do get those currencies.

Most of us are time limited, as you will know a large proportion of your premium demographic are in their middle-age usually work full-time and have a family. This makes them grind averse and consciousness of gameplay that feels unrewarding for the time spent.

I'm going to treat Dilithium separate from the other currencies as it's unique in its form in comparison to the others. For now let us look at the various marks in the reputation systems for personal and fleet.

The main issue with the Mark currencies at the moment is a triangle of desperation, at one point we have lack of supply, at the next boring repetitive and buggy content that must be grinded to achieve the Marks and at the final point; unbalanced and overly expensive inputs that magnify the problems of the first two parts to create a perfect triangle of despair for players.

With the personal reputation systems we can also add in the extra element of time gates and other expensive item inputs that require EC farming.

Whilst I understand that the development team is small and there has been little in the way of story content and what I would call deep level content (especially in comparison to other big franchise MMO's) I do not believe you have got the balance right. We understand that because you have a low content game you want to elongate the content you do have so players don't get bored too quickly equally if you make the game to much of a grind without a good reward or enjoyment factor then players will also leave from grind fatigue.

You have failed to get the balance right across all areas of the end-game content. As a result many of us find that the few areas of the game that we do enjoy have to be sacrificed if we wish to progress through the grind. The result of this is that when it comes to the weekend and I have free time instead of associating STO with fun and enjoyment I associate it with tedium so I no longer log on. This is the case for a great many of us and the underlying issue is a lack of supply, over demanding inputs and boring repetitive content. Indeed this is why exploits have arisen (though I would call them player developed fixes for unbalanced game mechanics) like the auto farming on the foundry.
Dilithium is also something that needs to be addressed because frankly for a currency based on time it is unacceptable that there is no automatic timed rewards, so if you play for an hour you get say 250 Dilithium, it also suffers from the issues that the other currencies suffer from.

So for us players who have lives and are often cash rich and time poor the game is horrifically unbalanced.

Alongside the lack of balance is the lack of enjoyable content in game. As it stands the game feels very beta still, with large areas of the game effectively not fit for production, an example being both the KDF faction and PVP. These are two areas in which players could find an opportunity to enjoy refreshing gameplay and stave off game fatigue but both are woefully undeveloped.

Game fatigue and apathy would also be greatly reduced if the missions that have to be grinded were more enjoyable, the old STF's both ground and Space are fine, but the Fleet Mark missions are seriously poor and boring to play, also with the 20 man space event the lag is usually unbearable and for 30 minutes of play time the rewards for that very boring event are pitiful. The Romulan Mark missions also suffer from element of boredom but the most shocking issue with them is also the pathetic amount of currency that is rewarded for completion of them.

Alongside this we have the compounding issue of the development team offering no real compelling content for a long time. New Romulus as it stands is really part of the game that is a sandbox for children the mini-quests like tagging and the like are not fit for endgame players and I perceive the way it is currently structured to be a huge waste of potential for an adventure zone. There is so much that could be done with New Romulus and more importantly other planetary destinations like Andoria for example. Once again a whole portion of the game which frankly feels and practically is alpha release content.

The lockboxes are clearly no more than a way for you as a team to acquire sales in a quick and easy way playing on human nature and addictive personalities. While in the short run this may be of great financial benefit if you continue in the current development style this game will become less and less appealing to more and more of your core demographic.

Finally, there a several UI issues that makes this game less enjoyable than it ought to be and they are easily fixable. Firstly and I cannot stress this enough we need to be able to save ship layouts in a reliable way so that when I play Temporal Ambassador for example my tray isn't ruined by flying the Enterprise C. That was the main reason why I only played that mission once that and the belt was terrible, especially the laziness of having a federation belt as a Klingon reward.

Secondly the fact that we do not have greater searchable metatags in the exchange and foundry makes both an annoyance to use especially when searching for traits or powers with boffs on the exchange.


Then there is the whole issue with fleets and your current system which kills small fleets and hurts the game in more ways than you can imagine. I was feeling a bright future in Season 6 and has set up a fleet and was in the process of building a website and advertising my fleet. I felt this was the next step up for my end of game content a whole new area to progress in. Season 7 killed my fledgling fleet and scattered its members to more advanced fleets or out of the game completely. Such was the lack of balance in the game that now T1 and T2 fleets find it practically impossible to attract players. This situation is clearly unacceptable. You must find a way to make starting a new fleet attractive and to give some positive encouragement and help to small fleets especially as many out-game friend groups tend to create small fleets that they don't want to enlarge. It is unacceptable that nearly all other MMO's cater to that guild style and you have not found the creative ability to incorporate this into your game.

Thus in closing you can see that practically every area of the end-game and many other parts of the game are unbalanced, half-finished and have fast lost the fun factor especially after the last round of unbalancing in the horrific Season 7 changes.

Alongside the glaring problems with the game we have the attitude and you the developers towards your customers. The way in which you treat your customers is frankly distasteful, often condescending arrogant and dismissive of people who are in reality your best tool for improving this game by using our feedback and time that we freely spend quality testing your product, especially in lieu of the fact that you have no Q&A department at all.

Simply put your communication is appalling and your ham-fisted attempts to foister unpopular and damaging changes to the game on a population of players who are keen to ramifications on their free time and in-game enjoyment have in the 8 months that I have been playing left me with a view of the company and game that ranks you well below your peers like Turbine (Who may I add employ in game GMs and have a good a customer support division unlike PWE whose current online ticket system has been broke since I started playing and STO that has no in game GMs)

Overall my experience in game and out of game has been steadily getting worse and I believe my opinion is echoed by others here. Despite all this there are parts of the game that I enjoy and I love Star Trek and those things have kept me coming back but honestly there are just to many negatives outweighing the positives at the moment that my time in game is incredibly diminished.

How do you fix this? Simple, solve bugs, add in-depth content, fix those half-finished parts of the game, design more enjoyable PVE grinds, increase rewards and freeze or lower input costs, fix the UI and above all take on the advice of your players and offer us the basic respect we deserve for having invested time and money into your game and your wallets.

Executive Summary (tl:dr)
  • Increase supply of currencies
  • Fix legacy bugs and sort out major bugs
  • Ensure boring content is updated or that we have grind less of it to get rewards
  • Freeze or decrease currency input costs
  • Fix several UI issues
  • Ensure lockboxes are ancillary to the aim of developing real content
  • Fix the major issues with small fleets and fleet scaling
  • Treat your players properly

That should bring back the fun.

Last edited by thisisoverlord; 02-19-2013 at 07:33 PM.