I was talking to a fleet-member on how the Federation in STO seems somewhat bloodthirsty, and yet we both knew that its an MMO so it had to be fun, so suggestion of going around negotiating or scanning things didn't seem feasible. But, I did have an idea for more missions OR tweaks of missions online now that -- while not necessarily negotiation etc -- avoids the Terran Empire problem
The issue is basically I think:
- Destroying Klingon Birds-of-Prey, Borg etc makes sense. Its war and they are attacking you militarily. What about races that you haven't declared actual war with, like Romulans, but whom you kill at every encounter?
- Destroying ships (ie killing whole crews) for offenses such as 'smuggling' or 'illegal mining'. It sets up a Federation where every offense is apparently a capital crime. "Hey, they're taking rations. Let's irradiate the crew and blow up their ship killing them all."
1. Some add'l missions (more common than now) where the goal is to DISABLE the ship. It provides the same mechanics as its still fighting, but at a certain point, the other ships just stop functioning and become harmless. The next step could even be "beam to brig" etc. So its the combat without requiring EVERY encounter to end in a killing stroke to every ship. In fact:
A GOOD dynamic that forces more strategy and thought from the players is (1) once disabled, you are notified either by (or all) text/std computer voice/animations on the enemy. But the system doesn't STOP you from still destroying the ship.
However, if you do -- either through accident (not paying attention to the notifications) or malice (non-Fed behavior), you lose credit for that kill / have a certain % of merits deducted from the reward (smaller reward) / get a bit of a scolding from your mission contact (aka Sulu says... good work on finishing the mission, but you were directed to disable not destroy the [x] ships. Remember you are a Federation officer, we're not Klingons!').
GROUND: Obviously, a solution would be to have stun settings and have some missions where you need to rescue somebody etc SOMETIMES requiring non-deadly force. The Treasure Station example is one where STUNNING the drunken rowdies at the bar probably makes better story sense then going slaughterhouse on them -- yet it wouldn't actually change the gameplay dynamic.
I want to note that I'm NOT suggesting eliminating blow-em-up missions, but to either supplement with more fight-but-don't-kill missions, or adjusting some so that where deadly force wouldn't normally seem appropriate, the "disable" mechanic is employed. It actually also adds depth and challenge to not just zombie out and kill in every case.
In my suggestion, a big criteria I set myself is nothing that would actually eliminate the fun or require cut of the "combat" dynamics. Its just perhaps a fallacy in thinking that "combat" = "FINISH HIM!" necessarily.