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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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).
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".
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.
EBA: We’re making a game, not a space simulation.
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" ...?