Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
The following is a letter I sent to a PC gaming mag here in the UK. Please feel free to let me know if you agree, or any other comments you may have on it:

---

Although I feel obliged to write about the recent launch of Star Trek Online, I am torn as to which letter to write, one slamming cryptic for releasing an unfinshed game, or one that hopes to preempt the enevitable bad review that both the Internet, your last preview and my experiences say is coming and emplore people to give it a chance.

I won't begin to slam STO for it's early technical hiccups and trouble meeting CS demand. It's software, it's complicated stuff made even more so by the online element, I expect bugs, and even servers not meeting early demand. What I can't accept from Cryptic is the obvious cut corners from questing content, making the game appear as a rush job - I could understand if it was a November/December release, but it's feburary, there's no gift giving season to rush for, no reason why not to polish for an extra few months and toss out an incomplete game.

In an mmorpg, some content holes are not just okay, but good a visible unused dungeon, city, etc; showing the developer indeed has a plan for the future, but sto has gone well beyond this, leaving gaping holes that could fit a Borg cube.

At lieutennant commander 6 I was offered no storyline missions, just automatically generated ones, and no idea if I was in the right place. Whilst putting the focus on pvp for Klingon seems very in character, the lack of tutorial (forcing fed play first) and limited PvE smaks of a rush to deadline.

Randomly generated missions are a great idea, but in practice too many of these appear to be placeholders - running around an uninhabited area with no enemies pushing F isn't any more rewarding than killing quillboars - there should be something more here (an oblivion/fallout 3 style minigame on each mcguffin mitigated by your Teams skills?), and dumping 10 mcguffins on a previously unknown planet without finding at least who those people are seems to be a clear breach of the prime directive, never mind dull.

But when it's good, as your march issue article indicates, it's amazing. The story missions blow WOW's well out of the water - (spoilers) rescuing Miral Paris, saving Spock's backside (so he can save yours later), and answering the "why do Klingons in kirks day look different?" question - that's not a quest arc, that's one well written quest, and there's more of similar quality. Space Battles are fun and cinematic, with epic beasts like the crystaline entity not made easy to beat just because it's a game (ok, maybe that one is too hard). I won't even bother to compliment the amazing space scenes.... Okay, they put the real thing to shame. Warping past a system just to get a distress call from it is just one of the many ways STO is great at making you feel you are this era's kirk/Picard/Cisco.

But at the moment, STO remains windows Vista to it's Win 7 potential. Perhaps gaming magazines should have a "score refused" option for reviews, because the "smart kid who never tries" potential of this game doesn't deserve a 6 or 7 out of 10, but it's current state doesn't deserve any better.

To my fellow readers, If you were thinking of trying sto before the reviews, please still do; hound someone for a guest pass, just so you can look in and see the potential. Try to see the diamond that still could come from the coal.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
02-26-2010, 06:14 AM
Just for the record, I'm still playing, and still having fun. But that doesnt mean I cant see the holes, and just because I can see the holes doesnt mean I'm posting a "Cryptic bend to my whim in the next 4.5 seconds or I will cancel my account and short sell your stock" screamer.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
02-26-2010, 06:27 AM
dont forget to put in the benjamins
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
02-26-2010, 06:31 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by chickenhawk View Post
The following is a letter I sent to a PC gaming mag here in the UK. Please feel free to let me know if you agree, or any other comments you may have on it:

---

Although I feel obliged to write about the recent launch of Star Trek Online, I am torn as to which letter to write, one slamming cryptic for releasing an unfinshed game, or one that hopes to preempt the enevitable bad review that both the Internet, your last preview and my experiences say is coming and emplore people to give it a chance.

I won't begin to slam STO for it's early technical hiccups and trouble meeting CS demand. It's software, it's complicated stuff made even more so by the online element, I expect bugs, and even servers not meeting early demand. What I can't accept from Cryptic is the obvious cut corners from questing content, making the game appear as a rush job - I could understand if it was a November/December release, but it's feburary, there's no gift giving season to rush for, no reason why not to polish for an extra few months and toss out an incomplete game.

In an mmorpg, some content holes are not just okay, but good a visible unused dungeon, city, etc; showing the developer indeed has a plan for the future, but sto has gone well beyond this, leaving gaping holes that could fit a Borg cube.

At lieutennant commander 6 I was offered no storyline missions, just automatically generated ones, and no idea if I was in the right place. Whilst putting the focus on pvp for Klingon seems very in character, the lack of tutorial (forcing fed play first) and limited PvE smaks of a rush to deadline.

Randomly generated missions are a great idea, but in practice too many of these appear to be placeholders - running around an uninhabited area with no enemies pushing F isn't any more rewarding than killing quillboars - there should be something more here (an oblivion/fallout 3 style minigame on each mcguffin mitigated by your Teams skills?), and dumping 10 mcguffins on a previously unknown planet without finding at least who those people are seems to be a clear breach of the prime directive, never mind dull.

But when it's good, as your march issue article indicates, it's amazing. The story missions blow WOW's well out of the water - (spoilers) rescuing Miral Paris, saving Spock's backside (so he can save yours later), and answering the "why do Klingons in kirks day look different?" question - that's not a quest arc, that's one well written quest, and there's more of similar quality. Space Battles are fun and cinematic, with epic beasts like the crystaline entity not made easy to beat just because it's a game (ok, maybe that one is too hard). I won't even bother to compliment the amazing space scenes.... Okay, they put the real thing to shame. Warping past a system just to get a distress call from it is just one of the many ways STO is great at making you feel you are this era's kirk/Picard/Cisco.

But at the moment, STO remains windows Vista to it's Win 7 potential. Perhaps gaming magazines should have a "score refused" option for reviews, because the "smart kid who never tries" potential of this game doesn't deserve a 6 or 7 out of 10, but it's current state doesn't deserve any better.

To my fellow readers, If you were thinking of trying sto before the reviews, please still do; hound someone for a guest pass, just so you can look in and see the potential. Try to see the diamond that still could come from the coal.

Maybe you should actually watch a star trek episode and see it's spelt Sisko not Cisco!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
02-26-2010, 06:33 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by CMDRSAVEK View Post
Maybe you should actually watch a star trek episode and see it's spelt Sisko not Cisco!
I don't remember seeing a name plaque on his desk at any point (and I've got better things to do than watch credits).
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
02-26-2010, 06:40 AM
You're letter is well thought out and cordial.

I do however disagree. Giving game companies "the benefit" of refusing scores based on shoddy gameplay only encourages more mediocrity. Warhammer and *** launched to great fanfare and with the development philosphy of "launch now, fix later". Funcom has had to merge servers and has had large swaths of their staff fired, while Mythic has not been shy of their large firings, the trimming of content, and the plethora of server merges. Sure, those games might be "prettied up now"... unfortunately those companies do not have the luxury of "fixing it later" to grand successes.

People make the mistake of saying "well, all MMO's are like this at launch... give them a break". That is a flawed business notion fueled by media speak. The cold hard fact of the matter is:

Games are judged according to what is available NOW... not according to how well/badly their competitors launched.

Sure it is to be expected that there might be a certain level of "issues" that arise out of an MMO's launch... however the magnitude of the backlash against STO speaks volumes with regard to communal sentiment. We all bought into the hype, and were sorely underfed with a mediocre product that is ultimate an affront and disservice to a much loved franchise.

Why must we buy into the mentality of being forgiving of game company's that cut corners and so obviously make money grabs? My RESPECT to BioWare who is decidedly taking their time to develop their MMO. Kudos to Turbine who launched LoTRO relatively polished, and full without any huge problems... now an award winning MMO with growing subscription rates. And props to CCP who continually takes time to develop innovative and rich features for their game, and do so with top notch QA.

STO is nothing but a copy and paste MMO with nothing new to offer (seriously, I can't think of a single thing it adds to the genre).

I hate to be harsh on this. And I certainly am not a hater. But Cryptic and/or Atari really dropped the ball. This game could have been so much more at its launch, but its not - decidedly. It is a bare bones, bare minimum work. Stuff like this in the gaming industry shouldn't be washed over so easily. Thats my opinion.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
02-26-2010, 06:41 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by chickenhawk View Post
I don't remember seeing a name plaque on his desk at any point (and I've got better things to do than watch credits).

/facepalm......seriously?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
02-26-2010, 06:43 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlownSi05 View Post
/facepalm......seriously?
Yes I seriously have better things to do that watch credits. Is it not normal to skip the bit with all the names and instead take a comfort break, or otherwise move my attention to another task until the next programme starts.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
02-26-2010, 06:44 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by chickenhawk View Post
I don't remember seeing a name plaque on his desk at any point (and I've got better things to do than watch credits).
maybe not but if your being published it's only the decent thing to make sure you spell names correctly, a small search on imdb would have solved the prob in seconds
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10 So...
02-26-2010, 06:45 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by chickenhawk View Post
I don't remember seeing a name plaque on his desk at any point (and I've got better things to do than watch credits).
So, you took the time to make such a well-written review and you seem to have excellent writing skills. Yet, you are not bothered with ensuring that details are accurate?

Lazy.
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