Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
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# 21
03-31-2009, 06:29 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flatfingers View Post
TTH: [T]here are over a dozen different classifications or configurations are what we call them, of ships within the game. So you have your basic Miranda type, your Akira configuration, your Galaxy configuration.

A dozen configurations for each faction (if that's what Craig is really saying here) could make sense. Three "classes" of ship (escort, science, engineering) times four tiers equals twelve configs, plus a few extras for variety or because they don't seem to fit the game-defined escort/science/engineering classification model.
Our starter ship could in fact be a "no real specialty" configuration ...

Quote:
EBA: A player who wants to take a support role will choose different skills and equipment than one who wants to be on the frontlines.

As my cat might say, "Mrrrrptt?" This is the first I've heard that players will be able to choose to actively play the game in either a "front-line" (presumably combat-oriented) mode, or a behind-the-lines "support" mode. What kind of gameplay is available when we're acting in a support role? Is that just a code word for non-combat gameplay, or is there some distinctive gameplay being developed that's specific to supporting other players in combat and non-combat activities?
Obviously I'm not one of Cryptic's people, but I can see this very easily, FF. Picture this scenario: you and I are teamed up. You've got your Tactical-path Captain in a nicely-kitted-out Oslo-class escort; I've got my Science-path Captain in a well-equipped Oberth. In a combat situation, you are the front-liner, and I am playing in a "support" role.

How do I "support" you? With buffs on you, with debuffs on the enemy. Maybe with an "aura" ability that reflects superior senors and fire-control data. All the sort of "information and treknobabble" stuff that science officers probably bring to the table.

Which is not to say that I'm not firing phasers and torpedoes, nor having weapons fired AT me. It's just ... while your contribution to victory is "amazing DPS", my contribution is "giving us both multiple added tactical advantages". Maybe I can interfere with their propulsion systems, slowing them down so that we can more readily maneuver into their weak arcs. Maybe I can create some "sensor ghosts" of your ship, so that they don't hit you as often as they might have - letting you shift more power from shields, to weapons. Maybe I can inhibit the regeneration rate of their shields, so that more of your damage "sticks". Maybe I can use my more-precise sensors to locate weak points in their defenses - spots where their shields don't quite overlap properly; key systems to target; etc - and can relay that directly to your tactical officer, allowing him to pick better targets for your weapons (reflected in a damage increase, or a higher hit% for subsystem targeting).

Lots of ways I can choose to support the DPSer.

And the cool thing is - those're all useful for ME, too, when I'm operating solo. I may not have the firepower to take advantage of those little nudges the way you can - but they're still things I'll use when on my own, too.

Quote:
TTH: So generally you'll know what role that ship is playing whether or not it's more of a support role, or whether it's more of a DPS role you can kind of tell that by looking at somebody's ship.

Ouch. In all honesty, this sounds to me exactly like starting with the crusty old combat-oriented tank/DPS/support+aggro mechanic and slapping a coat of Star Trek paint on it.
As I've said to you before, IIRC: I think you're reading too much into the use of those terms. The terms exist because they really DO define archetypal roles in an MMO. In any RPG, really.

There are three aspects to any character, in combat, within an RPG: ability to deal damage; ability to endure damage; ability to alter the parameters of the encounter.

That is to say: DPS, Tank, Buff.

Seriously.

For a starship, what aspects do we have, at the uttermost basic-est level? Firepower, Defense, Other.

Federation Escorts: +Firepower. In other words, DPS.
Federation Explorer: +Defense. In other words, Tank.
Federation Science: +Other. In other words, Buff/Debuff.
Keep in mind: just because, say, an Escort is especially good at DPS, doesn't mean it's completely devoid of defense of buff/debuff. In Cryptic's prior product, City ofHeroes, any character can solo. Any mix of characters, regardless of class/archetype, can form a viable team.

I doubt they'll throw that sort of design principle out the window for STO.

Quote:
Why should the ships of Starfleet in particular be classified according to whether their primary value in the game is dealing damage, taking damage, or healing damage? What does that have to do with exploration? How does defining ships in terms of how they fit into some artificial, fantasy-based "role" system meet the goal of starting with Star Trek and finding fun gameplay that highlights its most iconic elements?
First off, "support" != "healing". It can also include buffs and debuffs.

Second off, those roles are not exclusively Fantasy. World War 2? The medic is a Support character. The guy with the LMG is a DPSer. The guy driving the armored vehicle is a Tanker (quite literally, perhaps).

Quote:
This latest mention of STO ships being defined by "support" and "DPS" roles does not make me more excited for this game -- just the opposite. I might be misunderstanding or missing some virtue of this approach, though, so I'm open to other thoughts on it. But right now... meh.
I didn't get that the SHIPS were being defined in those roles, so much as "ship + captain + crew".


Quote:
This isn't really a "bad thing" per se, but it does leave me wondering: why would we ever compose the four NPC members of our away team (when we aren't playing with other humans) of anything but Tactical, Engineer, Science, and Medical?
Who sys ground missions will be solely and exclusively combat? Besides, even if I do expect combat ... I'm bringing a medical officer, and an engineer.

But I suspect, you'll generally want a broad range of specialties - and occasionally, you'll have an idea that you need more of X or Y skillset in your away team. For example, beaming over to a Borg cube? Sent an extra tactical officer, keep the medic at home - if anyone gets stuck in the neck, the medic can't help them ANYway.

Quote:
EBA: We’re making a game, not a space simulation.

Grrrrrrrr.

Was that really necessary?
Yes, it was. After all, how often have we chided the rabid-Trek-Sim-or-Bust people "This will be a Trek game not a Trek sim" ...?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 22
03-31-2009, 06:31 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zombie
It could just be because GDC09 is this week. Cryptic is probably there or just riding the wave of MMO hype it's stiring up.
No no no. Fingers in my ears, chanting "beta beta beta".

Spoil my fun, willya

Pavel Bester
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# 23
03-31-2009, 06:37 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by _Pax_ View Post
Our starter ship could in fact be a "no real specialty" configuration ...

Craig mentioned in the Dev chat that your starter ship will be a Nebula I believe. Or was it Miranda? Regardless, it was a specific type of ship.
Lt. Commander
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# 24
03-31-2009, 06:38 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loekii View Post

Craig mentioned in the Dev chat that your starter ship will be a Nebula I believe. Or was it Miranda? Regardless, it was a specific type of ship.
Just listening to the MP3 now... he said Miranda "configuration".
Lt. Commander
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# 25
03-31-2009, 06:46 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loekii View Post

Craig mentioned in the Dev chat that your starter ship will be a Nebula I believe. Or was it Miranda? Regardless, it was a specific type of ship.
I meant in terms of Escort/Explorer/Science. If we ALL start in the SAME type of ship, that supports my hypothesis perfectly.
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# 26
03-31-2009, 06:58 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by _Pax_ View Post
I meant in terms of Escort/Explorer/Science. If we ALL start in the SAME type of ship, that supports my hypothesis perfectly.
Well he just said what *you guys* are starting in, but nothing about the Klingons.

Probably will be a small basic BoP style ship.
Lt. Commander
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# 27
03-31-2009, 11:05 PM
Those were fair responses all the way around, _Pax_. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by _Pax_ View Post
In a combat situation, you are the front-liner, and I am playing in a "support" role.
I see this as a strong possibility as well... but look closely at Craig's actual words:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zinc
A player who wants to take a support role will choose different skills and equipment than one who wants to be on the frontlines.
As I read that, I don't get the impression that he's necessarily talking about small group ops. I'm reading it more as "combat-oriented ships/characters up on the front lines do the actual fighting; support-oriented ships/characters behind the lines do stuff like crafting and resource-hunting exploration to keep the war effort going."

In other words, I'm seeing "support" as meaning supporting one's faction, not necessarily as supporting another individual ship in a group of ships.

Am I completely off base here, or is that a potentially valid read of what Craig said?

Quote:
Originally Posted by _Pax_ View Post
As I've said to you before, IIRC: I think you're reading too much into the use of those terms. The terms exist because they really DO define archetypal roles in an MMO. In any RPG, really.
We have gone round on this before, so probably best not to do so again in this thread.

I'll just say that my objection is based on two things:

1. I don't believe that the tank/DPS/support+aggro mechanic is inherent to MMORPGs; I consider it primarily a quick hack to get around the problem of decent collision detection eating too many CPU cycles in early online games. Why perpetuate a mechanic that's no longer necessary just because other games do it? That's cargo cult thinking.

To support the idea of twisting the well-understood Star Trek roles (Science, Engineering, Tactical, Command) into the tank/DPS/support model of other games, I'd need to see that it was clearly superior to alternative grouping designs that could be a better fit for a Star Trek MMORPG. Why not light weapons/heavy weapons/special weapons (no "tank" type needed)? I could accept those as role competencies for ships and characters in a combat context -- so how is that model (or any other) necessarily worse than the tank/DPS/support model that just happens to have been cloned by other MMORPGs?

And precisely how is aggro, on which the whole "tank" concept rides in particular, in any way whatsoever a play mechanic that is naturally inherent in the very concept of a MMORPG?

If it's not, then why does this game need it and the tank role that flows from it?

2. Regardless of the above, I'm philosophically opposed to basing the gameplay roles of ships or characters in a Star Trek MMORPG, which ought IMO to promote exploration as its core value (especially for Starfleet ships/characters), on roles that are based exclusively on suitability for small-group combat gameplay.

As noted above, however, I'm perfectly fine with saying, "We've based our ships and character roles directly on the roles we've seen for forty years in Star Trek -- now, here how those roles work in a combat context; here's how those roles work in an exploration context; here's how those roles work in a scientific/engineering context; here's how those roles work in a diplomatic context." In other words, in what I would consider the right design for this particular game, combat would be just one context among several -- it wouldn't be the single starting point for ship and character design (as seems to be the case now), where all other contexts just have to settle for being second-class citizens at best.

/shrug

Old argument. I don't expect it to persuade anyone who likes the familiar combat-centric tank/DPS/support mechanic until some developer just says the hell with it, implements something different, and proves with an actual playable game that something different can work just fine....

Quote:
Originally Posted by _Pax_ View Post
Yes, it was. After all, how often have we chided the rabid-Trek-Sim-or-Bust people "This will be a Trek game not a Trek sim" ...?
I believe the correct answer to that question is "far too many times."

"It's not going to be a simulation" is a horrifically cheap way of avoiding serious and valid questions about whether modeling some aspect of reality might make a game more fun for more players. Asking about the possibility of modeling in a limited way some individual real-world or IP-based feature is in no way, shape or form a rabid demand for "a" simulation. So quipping that the game isn't going to be "a" simulation just targets a straw man; it doesn't address in a direct and honorable way the limited questions being asked.

It's bad enough when gamers do that sort of thing as a kind of shorthand for "I personally don't want the feature you've just suggested." I expect better from game designers.

Meh. Another old argument that we won't be resolving here. :p

...

At any rate, I'd like to stress again that most of the things Craig said today sounded pretty good to me. I stand by my concerns about a few things he said, but they're the minority of my takeaways from today's interview remarks.

--Flatfingers
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# 28
04-01-2009, 06:14 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flatfingers View Post
Am I completely off base here, or is that a potentially valid read of what Craig said?
I don't know ... but I look at what he said, and what you got, and .... Underpants Gnomes, Step 2.

Quote:
1. I don't believe that the tank/DPS/support+aggro mechanic is inherent to MMORPGs; I consider it primarily a quick hack to get around the problem of decent collision detection eating too many CPU cycles in early online games. Why perpetuate a mechanic that's no longer necessary just because other games do it? That's cargo cult thinking.
The thing is ... Tank/DPS/Support roles in Team-based gameplay predate the internet. Seriously, they're from Dungeons and Dragons style games. And before that, even, in wargaming. Even in non-class-based game systems (and I'm still talking non-Computer games, here), the skills you pick generally will determine which of those roles you have, within the game.


Quote:
To support the idea of twisting the well-understood Star Trek roles (Science, Engineering, Tactical, Command) into the tank/DPS/support model of other games, I'd need to see that it was clearly superior to alternative grouping designs that could be a better fit for a Star Trek MMORPG. Why not light weapons/heavy weapons/special weapons (no "tank" type needed)?
Well, here's the thing. Bob has "Light weapons" - as such, his damage output is lower than Sarah, who has "Heavy weapons".

What does Bob get to compensate him for having less damage output? Or, alternately, what did Sarah have to give up, in order to acquire her relatively-speaking improved damage output?

...

Usually, lower damage output ---> higher endurance. So, Bob is the "Tank", and Sarah is the "DPSer".

When Brian shows up, with his "special effects" / "special weapons" ship - he takes a "Support" role, using the effects of his weapons to leverage both Bob's higher endurance, and Sarah's higher DPS.

...

How do YOU expectyour "Light/Heavy/Special" setup to work?

Quote:
And precisely how is aggro, on which the whole "tank" concept rides in particular, in any way whatsoever a play mechanic that is naturally inherent in the very concept of a MMORPG?
It's inherent in the way the AI works. Until we have true, smarter-than-people, self-aware AI ... expect there to be some mechanism by which the AI determines who to be aggressive towards.

Remember though, "tank" need not include any inherent ability to acquire and hold aggro above and beyond what anyone else can. In City of Villains, Masterminds were often tasked with Tank roles - and had ZERO "aggro management" abilities of their own. Heck, smart masterminds tried to AVOID direct aggro (they had the personally lowest HP in the entire game, at all levels); instead, they tried to get their PETS out on the pointy end. Their replacable, don't-quit-the-team-in-disgust-when-they-faceplant-repeatedly, pets.


Quote:
In other words, in what I would consider the right design for this particular game, combat would be just one context among several -- it wouldn't be the single starting point for ship and character design (as seems to be the case now), where all other contexts just have to settle for being second-class citizens at best.
We - both you and I - have no real evidence except lack of direct mention of any other scenario that combat is "the single starting point" at all.

I think you're being a bit of a Chicken Little just now. No offense, mind.
Lt. Commander
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# 29
04-01-2009, 06:18 AM
Vorcha!
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# 30
04-01-2009, 11:42 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by _Pax_ View Post
I look at what he said, and what you got, and .... Underpants Gnomes, Step 2.


I'm not sure that reading Craig's comments as indicating that STO will offer non-combat ("support") gameplay that's distinct from combat is a leap equal to jumping from "1. Collect underpants" to "3. Profit!" But it's an interpretation that's open to question, I'll definitely agree with you there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by _Pax_ View Post
The thing is ... Tank/DPS/Support roles in Team-based gameplay predate the internet. Seriously, they're from Dungeons and Dragons style games. And before that, even, in wargaming. Even in non-class-based game systems (and I'm still talking non-Computer games, here), the skills you pick generally will determine which of those roles you have, within the game.
All I can say is that my experience, which dates back to Chainmail and the original D&D, differs. There was no "aggro." If you were in a narrow corridor, the DM and everyone else simply understood that "collision" was happening: you were the one who was going to get hammered on. Otherwise everybody picked a target (including the DM, who would generally choose PC targets for all attacking NPCs using an aesthetic "what's the most fun gameplay" basis) and went to town.

Based on my recollection from that time and after, aggro -- and from aggro, the notion of a "tank" role (and the later "crowd control" role) specifically designed to manage aggro -- showed up only in computer games. The fundamental problem was and is that computer make sucky DMs. They have no aesthetic sense. So programmers have to come up with code that tries to mimic a good DM's ability to run NPCs like intelligent/adaptable/goal-oriented beings.

So far, they haven't done a very satisfying job of that. Aggro is better than nothing, but it's still nowhere near as good as a human DM can do.

I'd like to think that our progress toward that goal will not stop with "aggro" (and its handmaiden roles) out of a mistaken belief that that mechanism is a desirable end in itself. It's not. It's one means to an end -- good DMing -- and as such MMORPG developers ought to feel free to replace it with some better means as gaming and communication technology improve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by _Pax_ View Post
Well, here's the thing. Bob has "Light weapons" - as such, his damage output is lower than Sarah, who has "Heavy weapons".

What does Bob get to compensate him for having less damage output? Or, alternately, what did Sarah have to give up, in order to acquire her relatively-speaking improved damage output?
Yes, I thought you might go there. It's the correct question to ask.

Lower damage endurance is, as I've said before, an obvious way to go if you're a programmer under the gun to make combat work in a big, complex gameworld.

But mobility is another viable option. Dedicating a higher proportion of skills or hull space to heavy weapons or special weapons could mean fewer skills (from a character perspective) or less speed/agility (from a vehicle perspective) for adapting quickly to changes in the battlespace.

The opposite historically holds true as well. Horse cavalry is a classic example of choosing to accept a reduced damage-inducing potential in exchange for an increased tactical maneuver capability.

So with all the advances in gaming technology since the days when the "aggro" hack was deployed, why can't we consider improvements or reductions to mobility -- with all the tactical gameplay goodness that flows from such a feature -- as a viable alternative to aggro?

More importantly, mobility is merely one option for gameplay-oriented plus/minus tradeoffs that seem natural if we wanted to design combat gameplay around light/heavy/special weapons roles. Those roles are just examples I pulled out of the air as alternatives to the tank/DPS/support roles to demonstrate that there's nothing sacred about the latter role design and the aggro notion that inspired it. I expect we could come up with even more alternatives if we put our minds to it.

And we're not professional game developers. (Or at least I'm not.)

I think it's reasonable to expect Cryptic to do what they've said they were going to do: start with Star Trek and develop gameplay (including combat roles) from it -- not the other way around.

To be fair, it's possible that that's exactly what they've done, and that Craig is just trying to describe the unique combat gameplay of Star Trek Online in terms that will be familiar to today's online game players.

If so, it's an understandable marketing decision. But it does carry a potential danger if, when the game launches, combat turns out not to be the simple tank/DPS/support+aggro that the use of those terms in interviews led people to expect.

If combat in Star Trek Online isn't about aggro management, then I think Craig would do better not to use "DPS" (for example) as a way to describe that gameplay.

On the other hand, if he does use the term "DPS," then perhaps aggro management is indeed what combat in STO is being designed around, just like in all those other MMORPGs... in which case all of my criticisms of that choice for this particular game stand as given.

Quote:
Originally Posted by _Pax_ View Post
We - both you and I - have no real evidence except lack of direct mention of any other scenario that combat is "the single starting point" at all.

I think you're being a bit of a Chicken Little just now. No offense, mind.
No offense taken. You might be right.

If utility for killing things isn't the single starting point around which character skills and ship functions have been designed, I'll be happy to admit that my concerns on that score were unfounded.

If.

--Flatfingers
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