Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,365
# 1 An Alternative Approach
03-20-2013, 01:59 PM
The question everyone wants to answer is what should happen so cruisers and science vessels are more desirable by the playerbase? Right now all the content can be completed by any mixture of ships and that in and of itself is a very good thing. I applaud the Dev team for the decisions they have made to allow this. After all, how many of us truly want to be forced to wait around for the 'perfect team' composition before we play the game? Do we want to be forced to bring a specific ship or combination of ships to have any hope of success? Speaking for myself the answer is no.

But their is a problem with the current state of the game. Everyone wants escorts, they want to fly an escort and they want their teammates to fly escorts because escorts are perceived as being simply 'better' at completing the content thanks to their high DPS. And here I will provide an alternative approach to making all three ships desirable primarily via a Force Multiplier approach. It is long, and the changes are all connected and must be viewed as part of a whole instead of individually. Also even if you have no input beyond 'that would be awesome' or 'that would suck' please share your view.

NPC Modifications
  • Increase Energy Damage Output
  • Decrease Projectile Damage Output
  • Increase Base Defense
  • Add Passive Shield Distribution
  • Change Exotic Resistances

Right now NPCs deal ton's of projectile damage, usually in large bursts, and a minor amount of energy damage. This makes shield tanking too effective, hull tanking ineffective, and leads to one shots. Many of them seem to have little to no defense score making accuracy less important and most do not distribute their shields.

In addition Exotic effects (Grav. Well, Viral Matrix, Etc) which are balanced around use on players tend to be under performing against the swarms of NPCs, and the bosses are simply immune. Their needs to be a three tier system with the NPCs when it comes to these things.
  • Minion: Double duration/effects (negative resist)
  • Standard: Standard
  • Boss: Halve duration/effects (positive resist)

Immunity is bad. Look their is no difference between a ship tanking the boss damage with impunity, shredding it's shield in seconds, or debuffing the boss so it has no shield or does little damage. I don't think it will be game breaking for a tac cube to loose it's guns to a viral matrix for 3 seconds, or even 9 seconds really. It is supposed to explode in the end anyway. The escort pilot feels powerful as he shreds the things health, let the sci vessel pilot feel powerful at the same time.

Sci Boff Abilities/Vessels
The NPC changes listed above will do leaps and bounds to improve Sci. Remember when you loved having a Sci in your STF so they could turn the boss into a kitten? Good times. But I want to go a step further.

Shield Stripping abilities must apply a penalty to the target's shield resistance. This would be a huge boon to any group with them. And not via Doffs please this is a basic capability that needs to be on the abilities.

Debuffs Added to current abilities. Wouldn't it be great if Gravity Well applied an additional defense debuff on top of the speed penalty it kinda sorta applies? Things like that, and they can be doff related.

Sensor Analysis should benefit the entire group. Even if it is only a 1% damage boost per stack that would be a nice little beanie I would think.

Eng Boff Abilities/Vessels
Again the NPC changes above will help out tremendously. Hull tanking is what cruisers are good at (in theory) and the armor slot would only improve that. Note though that I don't think they should be required to tank things, just have an easier time doing it via hull. In addition boarding parties will become useful (maybe) and aceton beam might not be junk if 2/3rds of the NPC damage was from energy weapons.

That's not enough though. When I think about a cruisers role in an engagement, beyond the silly notion of space tank anyway, only one thing comes to mind and that is command and control. Which then reminds me of bards (EQ) and paladins (WoW) or Auras.

C&C abilities could be attached to the ship, or to engineering boffs. They would be simple group buffs that could increase anything from damage, power levels, shield regeneration, and so on. This would bring a smile to your face when you enter an STF and a cruiser warps in behind you activating their 'Co-ordinated Targeting Subroutine' granting you a 5% boost to accuracy and critical severity.

New Abilities for engineering boffs would also be nice. If you want cruisers/engineer to fill a support role they need abilities that help out the entire group either directly or indirectly. Aceton beam is a good example of indirect aid and don't get me wrong extend shields is amazing but how applicable to a PuG setting is it? Instead something that works like Nanite Health Monitor in space would be great. So would a 'launch repair shuttles' ability that launches say three shuttles that then go to the ally with the lowest hull automatically with a short delay. Things that do not require special keybinds, quick reflexes, or an ally's co-ordination but still provide support is what we need.

The purpose of these suggestions, the point I am attempting to drive home, is that we should not be forced into roles or required to bring any ship type to group content. That would hurt the game I think. Instead we should be looking for ways to want those roles in our groups. Desirability is good, forced is bad.

I also really think something needs to be done to reduce the gap between those who min/max out a build and those who casually put one together. This gap simply continues to grow and it is a Bad Thing if you ask me.

Abilities that are taken on every ship with every build should be closely examined such as Tactical Team, Emergency Power to Shields, and Hazard Emitters. This is not to say the abilities need nerfed, they might they might not. Perhaps the game mechanics need adjusted and that will have an effect by indirectly nerfing them such as by reducing the effect of shield power on shield regeneration, or by adding the ability to auto fire shield redistribution.

And on that note the UI may need examined as well. I can make a keybind in a minute that will allow me to hit CTRL + 1 to 4 to spam all my heals on ally 1 to 4. That gives me a massive advantage in say a PvP spider heal engagement over someone who does not have those keybinds. Not to mention the shield redistribute issue.

Finally that brings us to beam arrays. Now don't get me wrong if you push your 'hidden weapon power reserve' to about 50 over and use the rommie beam typically on an A2Bat build possibly even tossing in DEM for the doff you can get good milage out of them. But the average player? Yeah. Best solution is to simply make them fire only twice during a cycle as that helps out the average player immensely without making them any stronger for the min/max player such as myself.
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 73
# 2
03-20-2013, 02:33 PM
You, sir, are on the right track!!!

The end result of the damage changes should be higher DPS from NPCs with lower burst - this will make tanking and healing more important.
Starfleet Veteran
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 1,223
# 3
03-20-2013, 02:33 PM
Part of the problem is that each profession is over-specialized at their roles -- Tac skills deal damage, Engi's have major defensive buffs and heals, and Sci have heals + CC + AoE. Since this game is very DPS-oriented, Tac skills tend to deliver the best performance, particularly in Fleet actions where DPS metrics are all that matter. As a direct result, Escorts running the most tac-skill slots easily outperform their engineer and science counterparts.

As mentioned above, certain skills should be shared across all professions -- shield auto-balancing like that given by Tactical Team is one example. I would like to see other new be considered, like rotating weapon frequencies, adjusting shield harmonics, and other canon-like abilities that all professions can slot (exact funtions TBD later). This will allow for better rounded ship builds so that different ship types have better performance parity. While I did suggest this a while back, many adamantly opposed it. Now that we have the present scenario of "STO = Escorts Online," I'm hoping more people will at least consider shared profession skills moving forward.
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,449
# 4
03-20-2013, 02:34 PM
Well I must admit I love this idea, the only thing I disagree with is your idea of adjusting EPtS as it is a lifeline for everyone I think a better idea would be to extend the secondary buffs of the other 3 EPtX skills in line with that of EPtS (both length and amount) making EPtW a direct counter which would in turn make them a force to be reckoned with in both PvE and PvP.

I would also like to expand on your idea of C&C for cruisers maybe making them carrier command style giving an offensive buff a neutral buff and a defensive buff.

Otherwise however, love this idea
Tacofangs is (genuinely) the best dev ever and the forumites adore him
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,365
# 5
03-20-2013, 03:33 PM
Originally Posted by adamkafei View Post
Well I must admit I love this idea, the only thing I disagree with is your idea of adjusting EPtS as it is a lifeline for everyone
And is it a good thing that it is a semi-required lifeline? Or does that highlight the problems within the mechanics? Such as the strength of shield power in general, importance of always on resistance, squishiness of ships without those two things, and so on

Just trying to open up the conversation is all. And thanks for the support of the ideas guys.
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,449
# 6
03-20-2013, 03:52 PM
Originally Posted by bareel View Post
And is it a good thing that it is a semi-required lifeline? Or does that highlight the problems within the mechanics? Such as the strength of shield power in general, importance of always on resistance, squishiness of ships without those two things, and so on
No it is not a good thing but a buff to NPC damage would only serve to make it even more required so why not counter balance (certainly in pvp) by using it as the standard for the other EPtX skills, thereby making EPtW a direct counter and making EPtE worth something to cruisers rather than having an effect for only 5 seconds.

If EPtS was brought back in line with the other EPtX skills it would be better to use twin TSS' and EPtS would become a shield heal and it's use phased out. I also agree with those saying shield distro should be added to ET and ST allowing ships with low numbers of tac slots to slot something more useful to the team.
Tacofangs is (genuinely) the best dev ever and the forumites adore him
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 3,677
# 7
03-20-2013, 03:55 PM
As usual Bareel, we get good sense from you. Other than the occasional fart in the air ducts, most of what you say is good concrete material. However... like many good concrete ideas, this one will be ignored. After all, Mr Rivera made it very clear the game is fine as is. But again, I like the ideas here, most of them anyways, and the ones I don't like aren't worth arguing about to me, so keep up the good work, as pointless as it is.
It is said the best weapon is one that is never fired. I disagree. The best weapon is one you only have to fire... once.
Why the Devs can't make PvE content harder. <--- DR proved me wrong!
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,751
# 8
03-20-2013, 04:24 PM
I think you're wanting the wrong things. Instead ask for sci vessels and cruisers to be more in line with the current metagame. I would almost bet that every sci and cruiser ship released in the future will follow the recent trend of the Vesta, Ambassador, and the Chel Breen ship. From now they will have a better overall boff and console layout so that they have superior DPS abilities, occupy a clear niche (such as the ambassador is a better sci cruiser than a starcruiser), or are effectively hybrids.

This won't really help players who currently own the older ships but will likely make thigns better overall going forward. Of the recent sci vessels and cruisers hardly anyone complaints, its mostly the older designs.

Edit: It would be wise to consider what a rework of the ship system will mean to STO's finances. Even mighty Blizz prefers to leave in imbalances and not make things work more smoothly because they KNOW what wide ranging changes will really do to their bottom line. This is why you see Cryptic realease ships more suited to the way the game is now, but again... fans of the older ships are mostly SOL.

Last edited by skyranger1414; 03-20-2013 at 04:26 PM.
Career Officer
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1,221
# 9
03-20-2013, 06:16 PM
Originally Posted by hereticknight085 View Post
After all, Mr Rivera made it very clear the game is fine as is.
It's been my experience as a long time MMO player and surveyor of forums that devs often say those things when:

A: they don't want to admit to he public that they messed up and will then be required to fix the game

B: they don't want to spend the resources on making balance work properly because they are already using personnel on other projects that will most likely bring in new revenue.
MMO's of 2014 where normal gameplay is considered an exploit and the eastern billing model is celebrated by apologists. smh
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 18
# 10
03-20-2013, 09:27 PM
From the point of view of diversity, I think the most interesting PvE encounter in the game is the Starbase Blockade. As long as you're competent at what you do, almost any approach works for protecting freighters: you can kill the pursuers, you can cc them, you can heal / buff the freighter. Killing the pursuers is not even the most efficient way to accomplish the goal (cc is probably the most effective, because if you do it well, you can fire and forget it and head off to protect a second freighter; fighting them locks you into combat, which takes longer to complete). Still, it shows that encounters can be designed in such a way that damage is not the only solution.

I agree entirely that supporting diversity (in everything -- powers, builds, classes, ships) is highly desirable for the long term health of the game. If one thing is clearly "the best", people will gravitate toward it, and game play becomes much less involving as a result. But that topic is worthy of its own essay.

I think there has always been a thread about (Federation) cruisers not doing enough damage, and another thread about tacs doing far more damage than everybody else in space, but the recent outcries about beam arrays being too weak, about tacs being the only useful character class in space for PvE, and about escorts being strictly better than cruisers are all new themes. Very little has changed in s7 with regard to beam arrays in PvE, and very little has changed about the PvE enemies they are being shot at -- almost all the recent changes can only have increased the damage of beam arrays in PvE, in fact. I suspect these are largely spillover from PvP perceptions, as the value of beam arrays has definitely changed in PvP.

I can think of several factors that might have changed these overall perceptions and possibly the reality of the situation, but I find it difficult to put my finger on any single cause. Possibilities that come to mind include:

- a general increase in durability of all ships from gear and reputation passives in s7, giving escorts "enough tank" to increase their on target time instead of needing to maintain high speed and defense for survivability. The effect on PvP seems even more significant, but I'm trying to focus primarily on changes in PvE

- the slight nerf in Fire at Will damage, combined with the removal of 100% accuracy for Fire at Will (compounded further by the recent discovery that weapon qualities are not applied for Fire at Will, but this has a much greater effect in PvP than PvE)... this was a long time before s7, but it may have contributed to FaW not being used by many up to date cruiser builds

- the increase in doffs that reduce power cooldowns of all sorts, increasing tac power up times. Although there are now many hybrid ships with Lt Cmdr tac stations, escorts of course have the greatest access to tac stations, which are the only ones which provide powers giving direct increases to damage. Perhaps escorts benefit the most from the use of CD decreasing doffs.

- large boosts to crit rates, from boffs, consoles, and reputation passives. These provide a multiplicative boost to damage overall.

That's quite a few changes, but I wonder if I'm missing something. What else could have affected the value of beam arrays, cruisers, and the effectiveness of tac officers since s7?

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