Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
I recently downloaded the demo of Star Trek Online and had a few suggestions to improve the overall experience. Warning: long post ahead.

First, I was kind of expecting a more "academy" style experience to learn the ropes instead of being thrust straight into a true combat situation as a full fledged commissioned officer. Now, I understand Cryptic's need to make the first impressions of STO as exciting as possible, but it just didn't seem very realistic to me. Short of building a whole new "academy" type of intro/learning experience (which I know is out of the question), my first suggestion would be to use the existing demo, but start all characters as 'fourth year" cadets on the cusp of graduation. The dialog in the intro could be changed to reflect the fact that you were on board the (insert chosen ship name here) with other cadets as part of your final space/starship operations experience. Just after beaming aboard, an urgent distress signal was picked up from the Vega colony and all available ships are ordered to the area. (I would cut out the step in the character generation section prior to this which allows you to chose any uniform you wish, replacing it a standard issue 'cadet' style uniform for your appropriate career path (tactical, science, engineering). You may later chose any uniform, as usual, once you reach Earth Space Dock - see below).

Secondly, I was a little disoriented when I first zoned in and appeared to be in a giant observation lounge aboard a starbase. What happened to the fleet battling the Borg? Oh wait, I see a huge Borg cube out the window, the starbase must be under attack as well! Shouldn't someone be doing something?! Hmm, everyone is just standing around calmly discussing stuff. Well, there are a few people -strolling- through the room, but no one really seems all that concerned - that's strange. My next suggestion would be to make it more clear that you were still onboard the (insert chosen ship name here) and that you are in the ship's equivalent of "Ten Forward" (not some generic 'mess hall') when the ship came out of warp next to the Khitomer. (Again, this could all be easily accomplished through a few lines of written dialog while the action sequences are being shown). I would also remove all NPCs in the room except for the one standing next to the turbolift beckoning you over. That way only you, and possibly a few other cadets (other player characters in the tutorial), would be in the room, adding a correct feeling that the rest of the crew was busy during the Borg attack (the single NPC being your chaperone/guide). In fact it would be he/she that tells you the captain wants to see you on the bridge (not a hail) and to take the turbolift there.

Thirdly, the encounter with the captain is a bit disjointed. He states that the ship is moving to assist the Khitomer when I clearly saw, just a few moments earlier, that our ship was parked right alongside her. Also confusing is the viewscreen showing a perfectly intact Khitomer, when, from the action sequences, she was heavily damaged and burning. Speaking of the viewscreen, when the captain orders you to make contact with the Khitomer a bit later, why isn't the communication with the EMH displayed there? The pop-up dialog box (here and many times later) is very distracting and un-Trek like. The captains dialog is also a little behind current events as he mentions moving to help the fleet and that the Khitomer is coordinating the defense, when obviously we are already there and the Khitomer is in no shape to coordinate ANYTHING. In addition, he should have a better dialog concerning sending you over to the Khitomer. Something along the lines of, "We have already beamed boarding parties over to help repel the Borg invaders and are now very shorthanded. You are the only one we can spare at the moment. I'd like you to assist the Khitomer's EMH if you're up for it cadet. Report to the transporter room where you'll be beamed directly to the EMH's coordinates." The demo continues as normal from here until reaching the EMH on the Khitomer.

Fourthly, the EMH apparently has a slight program malfunction as he states that none of the personnel around him have any medical training - when they most obviously do (from visuals and chat bubbles). And why does he tell you to scan an injured crewmember when several of the closest ones are already on bio-beds and being looked after? I would suggest changing his dialog to say that he is desperate for more assistants and that even a lowly cadet - you did receive some basic medical training at the academy didn't you? - can help. Start by scanning one of the injured crewmen not currently being helped (of which there are quite a few). The demo again proceeds from there as normal until reaching the point where the choice for selecting the first Bridge Officer is presented. Obviously a cadet is not going to be put in charge of already commissioned Starfleet personnel, so a field promotion to Ensign is needed during this part (ideally it would come from Admiral Quinn, but as he doesn't make an appearance for sometime, Commander Davis can do so, making an entry in the ships logs citing your heroic acts under fire as the cause. And heck, you were about to graduate the Academy anyway right?).

And lastly, almost the entire rest to the Demo continues as it is now until reaching Earth Space Dock and talking with Admiral Quinn in his office. At this point you should have 1200 xp; just 100 points shy of a promotion. Admiral Quinn (and not just the 'tip' box) should tell you to use your acquired knowledge now to hone your abilities (skill up). Only at this point should he offer you command of the (insert chosen ship name here). He then says, "However, I can't offer command of a starship to a mere Ensign can I?" This is where the dialog from the "A ship of my own" comes in (and should be the first dialog choice in dialog box). He then states, "Due to your outstanding performance during the Vega colony defense, I hereby promote you to the rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade. Congratulations Lieutenant! The (insert ship name here) is lucky to have you as her new Captain." and the current 'Welcome to Earth Space Dock' reward window comes up (which probably should be renamed 'Promotion and Command'). The 300 xp given here will be enough to bring the character from Ensign 2 to (strangely) Lieutenant 2 (bugged?). The Admiral should remind the player to skill up immediately to make the promotion official and to then visit the tailor on the deck below for a new uniform. After all, it wouldn't do to have a brand new Lieutenant (and ship’s captain) still running around in a cadet's uniform...

To end, there are a couple other little things I thought could be changed to make the Demo a better Trek experience. The "Ship is under attack" voice over during space combat would be better as just "Red Alert" (after all, I usually begin combat - not the enemy). Also during the Azura rescue, is there some point to helping any of the injured crewmen scattered around? It didn't seem there was. They probably should be included in the requirements for finishing the mission (as it isn't very Federation/Trek-like to leave them all on board when the ship blows...)

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading - my hope is STO will continue to get better and better.

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