This thread is being created as a general 'what works, what doesn't' for the STFs I've done: namely Infected, The Cure and Khittomer Accords. I'm not going to speak on Terradome in here simply because I've not done it.
A lot of this is from the perspective of a PUG STF runner. While I am aware the 'official' word is STFs are not PUG content, I think that ignoring any quality-of-life issues for the PUGer is foolish. Despite any official word, PUGers will attempt these and most will fail. Anything to make failing a little more pleasant is good, especially if it can be done without making the actual challenges easier.
This is not a 'too hard!' thread - there are pleanty of other threads on that topic as it is! I'm also aware that there are 'easy mode' versions of the STFs on the way. If anything, this is going to make further changes more important - since the STF content will become more accessible to less tolerant players.
Please don't use this thread to shout 'too hard!'. There's enough threads on that, and difficulty levels for STFs is currently in development.
TL;DR summary is at the bottom. It is one paragraph.
This issue crops up in all the STFs. If a person has to drop out for whatever reason, the state preservation mechanic does not allow them to easily find a new team unless the new team is at the exact same state. I recognise it is an issue with the tech, but the ability to assist a team who are at an earlier state (not necessarily the beginning) without compromising your own progress would be very nice.
Suggestion: Split the STFs up into chained missions, so a section can be 'replayed' while a latter section is in progress. Change reward missions to meta-missions (a bit like the PvP missions) so they can retain a time-based lockout. The missions themselves could then be repeated more frequently for no reward.
All three STFs I've played have a lot of trash that just needs mowing through. The challenge is there initially, but soon becomes repetitive. These extend the STF length out without adding significantly (or at all) to the challenge. This means the content becomes barred to players who are interested in non-PvP content with high skill requirement but don't have hours to throw at it due to other concerns. Less trash, more time spent trying to work out how to overcome intersting challenges.
Suggestion: Reduce health/resistances of some of the trash so they die faster, while retaining current DPS and abilities to retain challenge level. Remove some of the spawns and spread out the remainder.
Rebecca Simmons Final Stage
The speed at which Rebecca Simmons wipes a group who are not aware of the 'intended' strategy is extremely fast. Combined with the difficulty of reaching this game state initially, this becomes a high frustration point for many players. However, making her simply do less damage means people will DPS-burn her down without recognising a new strategy is required.
Suggestion: slower recharge and more obvious 'you are about to get blasted' animations/FX/audio, possibly combined with some kind of temporary invulnerabilty to curb group DPS despite the fight taking longer.
This is the biggest gripe with this STF, and it isn't new. The cost for failure of a late-stage shield generator is ludicrous in its incredible boring-ness. The addition of the respawns of Borg guards to transformer sets that have already been overcome yet lie on the path between the last respawn and current challenge is just insult to injury. This is probably the main source of frustration for groups that are struggling, and becomes more exacerbated because a group that isn't struggling doesn't even see this issue.
Suggestion: Once a shield generator is destroyed, any borg encounter groups associated with the problem should be prevented from reactivating. Additionally, more respawn points please!
I stated it earlier, but I'm putting it here again for emphasis. Too much! I've never seen KA completed in under 4 hours, and the primary reason is the amount of completely uninteresting trash that has to be cleared. This is a shame, because I really like the challenges themselves in this STF. I enjoy the initial space section (it's probably my favourite challenge), but I dread the number of hours of investment that means before getting to fun-with-generators further in. Once you know how to shoot an interlink node and take out the associated Borg, it just becomes tedious.
Suggestion: Remove some of the corridor spawns and space out the remainder. Leave the 'multiple nodes' split level room - it is a nice challenge. Reduce the number of borg in each spawn in the generator room so they die faster. Reduce the number of borg that spawn after the generator puzzle is complete. Alternately, reduce borg health for some of these spawns (especially the 'old' borg) so they die faster.
State Progression Tracking
KA is the worst of the lot for state progression tracking, because it does not allow a person to join the group effectively. If someone has to beam out in the middle of the ground section, they are placed back into the mission at the start of the second space section - complete with borg cubes to destroy. This means if someone suffers a glitch or error that is best solved by a beam out/beam in (not uncommon!) they are given a slap in the face of having to have the whole team drop what they are doing to organise a 'back into mission' exercise. It isn't challenging, but it is extremely frustrating.
This applies a second time for the final space section. I've seen people bug out and not get the 'warp to Donatra' option twice now, which typically means everyone having to bail out and in again to solve it. It is very frustrating - and putting in frustrating bugs or things that are obviously game-errors like this in content that is already frustrating the heck out of many players is a sure recipe for some extremely angry customers.
Suggestion: Find a way to ensure a person (re)joining a group who is at the same 'hard' state save is put with the team, not put back in content they may already have personally cleared on this run.
Fifteen Minute Lockout
I'm not sure why this exists. It seems an arbitrary punishment for teams that fail the initial section. Reducing it to five minutes provides enough time for some spleen-venting and strategy discussion. Reducing it to 1 minute seems more logical if lockout is required for technical reasons.
The fact that you have to re-clear the initial space mobs for a re-attempt is punishment enough.
I'm fully aware that many of these issues are primarily tech-related, and as such a challenge to fix. I take my hat off to Gozer for what tricks he has pulled within the confines of the engine; being able to do tricks that the programming team didn't expect or anticipate is one of the hallmarks of a good designer. However, I am not awarding the twinkie of awesomeness quite yet because of the issues above.
Difficulty is fine. Unnecessary duration, excessive punishment for failure, lack of clarity in terms of what you did wrong and unusual or non-standard game engine behavior resulting in unwanted setbacks is not.