Scoodians. Those damned Scoodians are attacking again. Wait, who are the Scoodians anyways and why are they hostile?
This question needs an answer, I think. Why are these hostile aliens hostile? We do exploration missions and randomly encounter various aliens, but we never actually meet them. We never make first contact with them, but we should. We basically get thrown into a battle with them while they are totally unknown to the player, even though our BOs seem to know this alien species is going to be hostile.
My suggestion is a large one, but hopefully a simple concept. We need first contact missions for all those strange aliens we meet with exploration content, but not only that, it should act as a gate to all the exploration missions with those aliens in it. This undoubtedly would be a big task, but it would add a lot of depth to exploration content, so we understand and know why these hostile aliens are hostile. It would say to the player, "Okay these are the Scoodians. This is why they don't like you. This is why future encounters with them will be hostile."
So to give an example, lets take the Scoodians. First make a new first contact mission for them. Lets say the Scoodians are initially peaceful, but we make a huge, unforseen diplomatic mistake when making first contact that they declare war. Maybe the science officer scanned a sacred plant or something. It doesn't need to be complex and involved, just something to introduce us to the aliens and set their tone for us, so we know why they are hostile (or peaceful).
Next, tie it into the game in such a way that we should never see Scoodians in exploration content prior to doing this mission. The mission itself would come up randomly when exploring, but once we've done it, then it unlocks all other missions with Scoodians in it. This would introduce us to the new aliens and set the tone for all the future encounters with them.
Then, repeat this for every new alien culture.
I'm sure its not simple, but I think it would add a lot of depth to exploration content.
if it involves anything more than pressing the F key i reckon you are out of luck.
Seriously though, there are threads and threads of suggestions for how to make the content more involving and immersive.
For me, the first step should be this.
The mechanism exists to have some klind of non-linear episodes, where the outcome at the end needn't be the same for everyone. The diplomatic mission with the miners shows that this is the case, since we are asked TRUE/FALSE questions about the miners problems, hence a decision tree is possible.
Now, I can't say anything about missions added since the OB ended, or those at Commander and above (since I never played that far in the OB), but the miner diplomacy mission seems to be the only one to date that uses the decision tree mechanism. I think that this has been an opportunity missed.
That's not to say that excellent missions cannot be created with just the F key mechanism. I loved the whole "City" storyarc. That was lots of fun.
But since I'm a schoolteacher, I'll put it in a schoolteacher way...Cryptic, your report card says B...you could do better. Lets hope the forthcoming year sees more effort put into immersive episode design.
I wasn't clear, maybe. I don't have any illusions that it would be deterministic, branching episodes that might have the Scoodians end up being friendly to us. While it would be nice, that would take a lot more work.
My thoughts were simply that the Devs write up a linear story and let us play through it to introduce this new alien culture to us, before we have to start killing them every time we meet them. The Scoodians are already a hostile exploration alien race, so what I want to see Cryptic do is to explain why with a short episode for the various aliens in exploration content.
I've noticed running into the same alien species multiple times in exploration content, as though they were the designated alien species for that cluster. I can't pick any names off the top of my head, but I've run into the same race enough times to know that it wasn't coincidence.
I would like to see First Contact missions as well, they'd make exploration content far more immersing. Afterall, I imagine that some people, not just myself, wouldn't mind getting 'lost' in the exploration content running through what could be a randomly generated, yet endless, sequence of chained missions that make you feel like you're really involved in not just an 'episode', but an entire 'season' with the species.
I'd like to see randomly generated chained missions, as well as first contact. Granted, it's not easy, but I know a few other games have done something similar.
The reason I think this is that, whenever I think of exploration content, I think of Voyager lost in Delta Quadrant. Not only are there endless hostile encounters with the Borg, but there's numerous encounter with races like Species 8472.
It'd also be interesting if we could 'choose' our relationship with the species by having the First Contact mission branch out between two options... say "insert positive action here" and "insert negative action here", the latter could eventually lead to a possible diplomatic mission where you pick up x diplomat from y federation system and bring them to z location, where either aliens act all friendly, or get all shooty.
Either way, there's a lot of stuff I feel can be done with the exploration content that would make it immersive enough to make people want to get lost in it.