I am very critical of MMORPGs. I have high expectations which are rarely met. When I examine a MMORPG and find success in design only part of my expectations are achieved. Not a single MMORPG ever produced has ever received anything above a personal C+ grade. This is because I am a burgeoning MMORPG designer myself. No game I have ever played has had the depth and scope of my personal designs. Does this mean those MMORPGs I have played are bad MMORPGs? No, not at all.
The ultimate defining point for the success of a MMORPG design overall is if it is fun. The second main defining point for the success of a MMORPG design at launch is potential. STO threatens to be a B-, but at this point, only threatens. The reasons for this are it is simply fun and I have never seen a MMORPG with such potential as I see in STO.
STO has the most fun assemblage of game-play mechanics I have ever experienced, with the exception of the current “crafting system”. Now, keep in mind when I say STO has the most fun assemblage of game-play mechanics I mean specifically what is present in STO. Not “what could have been” or “should be” in STO. I am looking directly at what is there, and only that. I look at it this way because this is what Cryptic has offered us in a Star Trek MMORPG. The could-have-beens or should-have-beens are out the door. This is what in a Star Trek MMORPG right now.
The potential of STO is seriously immense! I really appreciate this a grate deal. However, I am not banking on the idea that Cryptic will be moving in a direction that will yield fulfillment of that potential. In fact, I believe the opposite will happen. I don’t think STO will devolve, as SWG did, but I also don’t think STO will evolve. Looking back through the history of MMORPGs I have never really seen a MMORPG actually evolve. What I have seen is refinement of existing systems and mechanics. In other words, MMORPGs typically only become more of what they are at launch rather than what they could be. History has set the standard, a standard that has yet to be broken.
This post is not intended to elevate or bash STO. It is intended to point out that Cryptic has an opportunity to make more of what is here beyond adding quest content, beyond adding factions, beyond adding new zones. I am pointing this out to and for Cryptic, not players or Star Trek fans.
As I view STO I see the capacity for adding new vocations beyond combat-captain, which I see as a singular vocation with three subclasses. I see the capacity to ad quality of life features beyond just new races, factions, costume sets, and rendered ship sections. I’m talking adding features that will expand STO into offering noncombat options and non combat-captain options of game play such as improved crafting via actual crafting vocations, deepening of the trade system via creation of a trading vocation (or crafting sub class). I see a LOT of room in offering fleet managed structures such as stations and even colonies that could/would include actual player housing instead of a shallow offering of “ship as player housing”.
This post is intended to let cryptic know they have an opportunity to create a new paradigm of development process. This new paradigm of development is setting up a base system and actually evolving that base system to be more than the initial offering rather than simply refining of what is there. If they can step up to this challenge the bad reception of the reconfigured Cryptic will become the foundation of a process newer companies will copy. STO may not be the much desired and true “next gen” game but it could be the game and the company that leads to it.
I say to Cryptic: Don’t fall into industry patterns of the past. Don’t fall back and dig the trench every other MMORPG studio has. Charge forward and really make STO what it could be rather than what it is.
I also see plenty of potential, which involves polishing certain things, and maybe even adding a wieghted reward system with a slightly difficult to determine answer tree in diplomatic missions.
The duologue tree concept is prohibitively expensive and not as effective when included in a game-play system post launch. It works for single player games very well but not so much for MMORPGs. TOR will have such a systems but TOR is more-or-less Diablo in the SW universe; a single player game with multiplayer aspects.
I see providing tools for players to expand and generate a living culture constructed by players achieving much the same thing you want here. For this I look to SWG and a bit of Vanguard. The merchant/crafting/house/city system in SWG does just that. It allows for players to make decisions that will effect game-play via decisions without bogging down development resources with infinitely branching quest content and "consequence" mechanics.
To a degree, I am hoping for direct dev response through this thread or PM. I would like to talk with them personally to get a feel for what is going on behind the scenes with STO so that I may offer more constructive input. Hell, I'd sign a NDA that would land me in jail if I violated it for the chance to actually help them out. I've spent the last 12 years studying MMORPGs and am about to finish up a MA that focuses on MMORPG world-constructed narrative. All I want to do with the remainder of my life is either make an awesome MMORPG or help make one that exists become more.
Sadly, because I am providing something other than an extreme opinion on either side of the general perceived argument, this thread will probably fall below the active thread fold and get lost in the sweet-and-sour mix.