This mission could have easily been very good. It's about a dispute between two trade businesses. One thinks the other is steeling the other's cargo, and both are hiring guards to protect and fight each other, which is cutting into the bottom line. You're called on to negotiate a peace.
At that point the scenario falls apart. All you do is, literally, run from one side to the other, going back and forth reading what these two guys say. You don't actually do any negotiation. Then comes a point where investigation would make sense, since one of them offers to allow you to check their records, then the other says to check that guy's cargo. So, predictably, instead of using your brain, you hit F on some boxes and the mission is quickly over.
Very disappointing, more so because the story is almost a story, but isn't strong enough on its own to support the time taken.
There's one glaring flaw, you're called to negotiate, but you're actually negotiating to get the guys to negotiate. You shouldn't bother beaming down until you figure out the complaint's and establish terms of negotiations, in order to avoid the pointless running around. The point of that should be to establish cooperation in an investigation, since it's apparent no one actually knows anything.
The first brother knows his ships have been going missing, but not who has been making them go missing. One part of the mission should be to track down and investigate the ships. I know, I hate those missions too in this game. That's why, the mission should have it so the first brother had sent out one of his own ships with no cargo, in order to track and scan his ship's remains. His results should be that low quality Breen weapons were used, the kind any cheap mercenary might use. He takes that to mean his brother's mercenaries men are responsible, because his brother is a tightwad, but he never checked the second brother's mercenary's weapons.
The most obvious general suggestion is to have multiple questions for each statement. However, unlike other games, where you can go back and say something different to the same question over and over, you get only one chance for each stage of negotiation. Each suggestion, question, and proposal would push the situation into another level, where the brothers become more likely to either come to terms, or fight, still with room to mess up dramatically. That covers the negotiations that were missing.
Another idea is to have actual records with clues as to what is going on. That way, when the other brother suggests looking at his records, you can actually do it, and cross reference it with the attacks on the first brother. The situation really needs parts where you, the player, can ask the characters, can you prove this, and let you and them figure it our, rather than them giving you everything with no though. However, considering how obvious the situation becomes in the very end, you don't even need to cross reference anything, so the story itself could use some work.
The second brother bought his stolen supplies directly from Nausicans. What is bad about this is the second brother is the one who suggests it was Nausicans who stole the first brother's supplies rather than himself. At that point, it should have immediately occurred to him that what he bought might have been stolen from his brother. Because of that, I think that angle of the story needs to be removed, or modified. There is actually a Ferengi who asks you for help in the negotiation, so if it turned out he was the one who bought stolen merchandise and never told the second brother, that would offer an interesting twist while avoiding the stupidly obvious connection that should have been made.
Back to the first suggestion; if you get into a fight, it should probably involve both parties fighting each other on the ground, and you beaming back up. Once on the ship, you leave, but then receive a message that Nausicans are attacking both businesses. You head back, help the cargo ships fight off the Nausicans, then stun everyone on the surface, beam up the Nausican's weapons, and beam down to demand their surrender. The Nausicans fight anyway, unarmed, and they go down easy, but there are lots of them, so it's still tough even with the brothers' help.
Over all there should be several ways to solve the situation: you can use pure negotiation using rhetoric based on their brotherly bonds, or investigation, or fighting, or combinations of any of them. There might be several paths within those options as well. For instance, you find inconsistencies in the timing of the attacks and hiring of mercenaries by the second brother, or you find out who certain goods were bought from, and expose the dishonest worker. Or, you just scan the second brother's goods, which match the first brother's missing goods, which leads to a fight, unless you combine it with scans of the second brother's ship's weapons, which show he couldn't have attacked the first brother's ships.
Thanks, I just wish I had any confidence in this being used to improve the current plots. There's a small chance future plots will use these and other ideas to increase quality, but it's hard to see that happening, too. I think there's strong resistance to going back to change stuff that is already considered finished, and since any future stuff will be considered finished once it's released, we won't have a chance at usable constructive criticism.
I was about to post something similar about this mission, and then decided to hit the search function - voila, here we are.
I agree with all of the OP's points, and I firmly believe this mission, in particular, squandered the opportunity to make this MMO distinctly Star Trek in tone. Perhaps something as basic as a level-able Diplomacy skill for your Captain could solve this? A couple of extra dialogue trees for the NPC's based on your Diplomacy success or failure, and suddenly you feel like you've made more of a difference.
Conversation trees sound good..I'm not too certain about having diplomacy as another skill. It would suck to get a diplomatic mission and be unable to complete it because of skill ranks - not to mention the fire it would add to the whole skill cap thing.
ChargerIIc - perhaps solving a diplomatic mission using diplomatic skills would provide more skill points as reward than solving it with your phaser? That way you're not stuck if you don't have the skill, and you can still shoot your way through it if that's your preference.
I agree i was disapointed to, and all i could think while doing it was QUIT HOLDING MY HAND, seriously
let me talk to the people, ask some question, let me look through crates, ro check computer logs etc, atleast let me feel like im doing something, but every step of the way your BO is telling you what to do, and its like STFU im the captain and i know what im doing if i want your advice ill ask for it!.