Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
I think there are lots of mixed feelings about the current state of the game as a whole, and I feel that I should throw in my two cents concerning my take on the game and my feelings as a both a consumer and a player.

The game, as it stands, is very difficult to judge. The most important faults suffer from what seems like two completely divergent visions of what the game is trying to be in an attempt to compromise with each other.

The movement in space is very fluid; the arcs and directional shields lend to a very dynamic interaction between position and maneuver. That is, if it were not for the completely arbitary implementation of a "z-axis" tilt limit. Having to "spiral" upwards to reach a ship directly above you, especially when you're in an ungainly cruiser, completely breaks the immersion of space being 3D.

The skill system, as it is currently implemented, is very flexible and really allows a captain to model how he picks up practical knowledge in the field to strengthen himself as a more seasoned officer. Anyone can see that the skill system is meant to be cap-less, which is perfectly fine, as a captain should grow more esoteric in his knowledge as he travels the galaxy, so why implement the skill cap the way it's currently done? A hard cap makes absolutely no sense with the current skill tree. I can understand the reasoning behind limiting the player's progression so future content can be more satisfying, but a skill cap is completely the wrong way to go about it. At least, if the skill cap is here to stay, then certain skills need to be adjusted and tweaked to stack with each other, such as lower tier cruiser captaincy skills stacking with higher ones.

The bridge officer system is also a very exciting feature. Watching your retinue of fellow officers evolve and grow as you do is very gratifying. However, the arbitrary limits on what skills you can and cannot train seem to discourage diversity and heavily punishes players who mix and match their personal role with their ship role. For example, the decision to forbid engineering officers flying escort ships from having bridge officers with tier 3 skills seems very poorly thought out.

The ground combat, though eclipsed by space combat, still has a few excellent things going for it. The flanking and exploit/expose mechanics are ripe for tactical flexibility, and really encourages teamwork. However, the geometry glitches, simplistic mission design, and the game's infatuation with having the player mash one button to get things done makes ground combat a complete chore.

The episodic nature of the quests is also an excellent take on player progression and really meshes in with the Star Trek universe. Having a series of related plot linked together by above-par writing encapsulated in an "episode" is very appealing to me. The promise of adding more of these episodes every couple of weeks excites me even more. But after playing through a few of them, I started realizing how repetitive they seem to be. The writing is great, don't get me wrong, and there are some episodes which feel downright trekky, but the gameplay counterpart to these episodes always pan out the same way. Go to system, exterminate resistance, beam down to planet, exterminate resistance. I understand that this is an MMO and that this type of gameplay is par for the course, but the writing seem to belie something much more. I really wish Cryptic had taken the time to explore the gameplay possibilites as much as they explored the plot possibilites. It would make episodic content much more... well... episodic.

However, with that said, I truly believe that at the core, Star Trek Online has something great going for it. When you strip the game down to its very basics, you can see a glowing gem there, and I believe the potential for a truly unique and excellent example of the genre is very much within reach. It's in the build up, the fleshing out of the details, and the implementation where things become rotten. It feels like certain developers and designers have a very clear and stoic vision on where the game is suppose to go, but there are certain other developers and designers who try to do everything they can to drag it the other way. And this dichotomy, I feel, needs to be addressed before the game can truly take off.

With that said, and from what I've seen of how past Cryptic products have evolved, I believe that there is talent within the Cryptic design staff, and the company does have a history of improving upon and building upon their products. And therefore, speaking purely for myself, I will remain a customer and subscriber, because despite the flaws, the game can be enjoyable at times, and that enjoyability is enough to warrant my business.

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