First of all I think the game in its current state is very solid and its development is very promising. In the following however I will address a couple of issues that range from nagging to close-to-game-braking.
The Player-Skill System itself is rather solid but parts of it are lacking behind. Foremost it is overly complicated to find out which abilities (and I mean all the abilities) a skill is affecting. You’re giving two as an example but to see all of them I have to through my whole set of skills from my PC and my BOs. Why not list all of them from the start.
Second it is completely unclear to what extend a skill is affecting my ability. What does +xx to Sensor Array mean for my “Scramble Sensors” ability? If you were to list all the affected abilities you could also add the buff the skill provides to them.
As a last point I might ask for a redesign on a more fundamental level. Right now we only have skills that work like “do x% more damage” and alike. Normally, in RPGs, the skills that are giving new effects or change a mechanic are the most “interesting” ones but, correct me if I’m wrong, STO currently has none of them. I’m not asking to get rid of all the “+x% Damage” skills but some variety would be nice.
I know you’re working on how the BOs are working right now and all my wishes might come true in Season 4 anyway but let me give you my thoughts about the current state.
As of now it is entirely pointless to ask the player to invest points into his BOs because you can easily max out all of their skills anyway. I haven’t reached the cap for too long but I could replace my entire set of BOs thrice or so without running out of Starfleet merits.
As a matter of fact I do like that I have to skill my BOs but again, choice is the thing that is missing. Maybe we could combine the current System with a new one. Take the current set of four ground and space skills that are interchangeable at some cost with but let each ability be maxed out (i.e. only one level of each skill to start with) and give us maybe a classic, branching (->choice) skill tree with effects similar to the traits we currently have or even those “lame” “+x to whatever” skills. Of course, because of the masses of merits everyone already owns, the latter would only make sense if the skills where one-level-only. You could for instance have multiple branches (best if class dependant) for things like shields, sensors, weapons,… and open up a new, more expansive skills with each promotion.
You already stated that one of your future goals is to make the game feel more trek-like and I think one important area where you have to work on is the aliens in this game. I’m not talking about the canon ones that are already ingame but about the “random” ones you meet for instance in exploration areas. I admit they do look “alien” but certainly not “StarTrek-alien”. Remember when we had “The Nose of the Week” in Voyager? – might be a bit lame, but that’s how StarTrek aliens do look like in most cases.
UGC aka “The Foundry”
You really nailed it with that one! With the changes and improvements to it you already promised somewhere else on this board there isn’t really much to criticize from a technical and creative point of view. However there are three major things that need to be addressed.
The first one is a bug so to say and you already said this is under investigation but I can’t stress enough how important this is: fix BO path finding! Seriously, it’s absolutely horrible right now and completely destroys several good missions.
On to my second point: rewards. I’m not really asking for better rewards and I know why you are so stingy with what is handed out at the end of each mission. But there is one thing, I think you didn’t take enough into account. When The Foundry goes live of course everyone and his dog is going to play those missions just because they’re new and fresh. But what happens one, two or even more months from there on? Especially players at cap aren’t really rewarded for doing these missions and my fear is that players will eventually lose interest and might only drop by to play a single mission or two from time to time. But the answer to this problem is rather simple: dailys (or a similar system). And to prevent people from abusing the system you *could* like assign (a) random (maybe with a minimum score) mission(s) to each player every day and give them emblems or something in exchange for that. Some people might reply things like “I’m rewarded with the stories told through these missions” , but do you honestly thing this will be enough two months from now?
My last point concerning UGC is about the scoring system itself. I don’t know if it’s bugged right now but it currently isn’t giving an average but more like a sum of all scores. That way mediocre missions are ranked very high and new good missions are likely to be missed out because even with a full score from the first reviewer they only get like a +1.5 or so overall. I can see why you don’t want the average to be the only measure to judge a missions quality but as of now the system is really borked. Better have some people play a missions whose initial score is +5 but that really isn’t that great but to discourage the creator of a *real* +5 mission that is missed out.
This is more of an idea than a complaint. Logically we’re (more or less) restricted to the most powerful ships for end game content and a person who would like to fly his TOS Constitution can’t do this for obvious reasons. But there is a solution already in the game. Couldn’t you make it possible to use holoemitters of old ships on your new ones (an excuse why Starfleet would do this isn’t that hard to come up with). Just to keep you from having bad ideas: I’m talking about permanent emitters by the way and not those utterly overpriced and useless latinum ones.
And while you’re at it make it so that players can turn of this feature (so they always see the real ship) to not cause turmoil here because somebody will surely have something against this idea
End game rewards
Would it kill you (financially) if players were able to exchange some sort of ingame currency (emblems?) for Cryptic Points, or directly for stuff from the STO-store? With a 1:1, 1:2 or 1:3 conversion rate it is enough of a grind for players to be occupied with for a loooong time but not too much grind to be not worth it.
Final note: please excuse bad English in parts of the text, good luck in 2011 to everyone and do what I tell you
wow that was an impressive post. I whole heartedly agree with most everything you said.
however I for one would love the ability to go back and advance our older tier ships to end game material or perhaps just rerelease all the older ships at max tier (and scaled up) for a player to choose from. (Original series movie era enterprise FTW!) So aside from your holoemmiters idea I am totally on board with your 'constructive ranting'.