I just filled out a web form, which was suggested to allow us to give our opinion about the game in order to improve it. As I had the impression the multiple choice questions were more a marketing analysis than any real means to give our feedback about the game, I feel like giving a detailed description of my suggestions and hopes for the ongoing development of STO.
I know some of my suggestions would mean wide reaching changes of the game (from the perspective of the developers out of any reasonable feasibility right now, but I think of these suggestions as a possible long term goal, where the game could lead to) and I will not start crying and whining if they are not implemented in a year or so from now on.
Actually, I would not start whining even if not one of my suggestions or areas of improvement I name here will be addressed by the developers – I would feel sorry for the game, but I do not see any advantage about whining about things one is not satisfied with. Unconstructive criticism is of no use to the game, only to the individual who wants to let out his anger about the game in a destructive manner. The “best” what can come of this behaviour is that other people are incited and join the unconstructive environment leading to a general bad sentiment towards the game and an increase of people ending their subscription. By that the developers would be stripped of the necessary financial support to improve the game, contributing further to the unsatisfying state of it.
That said, I like to ask you to only give constructive feedback in this thread (and in general).
Now I want to elaborate my suggestions.
A) More diversion and variety in missions and interactions
Right now STO is a fun game. Space combat is I a fine thing and makes fun and especially fleet actions can make a lot of fun (of course there are exceptions, see later). But as I see it, the game will become boring after some time as it does not give enough diversion. The missions can be classified into 3 subcategories (in the same way applicable for ground missions and space missions) which are always solved the same way:
I) Scan/Interact x times with “object” (The most boring subcategory as you only run from one object to the next while hitting in between “v”)
II) Kill enemy x times
III) Scan/Interact x times with “object”, which is guarded by enemies
There may be some minor variation like killing a Pseudo-Boss at the end or to escort an indestructible vessel during the mission but essentially it comes to the three mission types listed above.
This is especially boring in exploration missions and patrol missions, as the former is generic and the later consists generally of simple missions lacking a strong story.
STO excels at the story missions, which penetrate the mission boredom with a nicely told story. Still the story missions base on the same 3 subcategories, the only difference is a better told story line and more complex missions stringing together different subcategories in a story driven row.
The developers should concentrate on more story-backed missions (also at minor side missions like patrols or exploration missions) but also try to introduce more gameplay variations (= subcategories). The developers should try to play with their implemented gameplay features to create sort of mini-games or such like (one example going in the right direction was the “Doomsday-Machine” mission on your way to romulan space). A good example how to do this gives World of ********: starting with addons many mini-games were introduced like allowing the player to take control of a critter which is as strong as a raid boss or simply used the engine in a creative new ways to allow new gameplay (siege engines in WoW). STO would gain enormously by widening its gameplay.
Possible gameplay suggestions:
I) Mine clearing with tactic (self replicating mines which can only be eliminated when killed in the right order/moment, perhaps for the mission your weapons get calibrated to different frequencies (every beam/ phaser to different one), and only destroying the mines with the right frequency (colour coding?) without taking too long for taking out a mine cluster will finish the mission. Perhaps the mines should change their susceptibility during the mission to make it more tricky (on the other hand it should not be too hard to frustrate players; adjustable difficulty?)
II) Teamplay missions: missions where more than one player is needed to complete a mission as every team-mate has to do his own part of the mission (like in the online game Battleforge). E.g. away team mission: one team partner hast to destroy the 4 tractor beam generators of a borg cubus while a second one has to destroy force field generators, which protect the tractor beam generators. A third player could be important to defend the tractor pinned ship from boarding borg drones.
III) Cutting a borg cube/sphere from the hive and taking remote control of it to fight a huge fun battle.
IV) Boarding as klingons an enemy ship instead of destroying it and some fun fight with the whole crew (1000 crew man of a cruiser), where every enemy is killed by one shot (in Pvp except the other player and his Bridge officers). But fun because of the pure mass of enemies which have to succumb to 5 klingons…
B) Story missions are fine but please be true to Star Trek
Star Trek is much much more than simple warfare and space shooting. Star Trek always tried to take on morals and conflicts representative to problems relevant for present day politics and social aspects. (Examples: prime directive, following it or ignore it this one time? Is there a right choice?; even if in a Star Trek episode the protagonists act against normal Starfleet/federation policy the whole episode outlines the conflict of this decision, coaxing people to think about it without necessarily giving an formulated answer: “it was right/wrong to do this”)
I am missing this part of Star Trek strongest in the game. I was really disappointed at one mission (*story spoiler* if you have not done the romulan space yet):
The story was something like the romulans and hirogen want to meet in a system and possible form an official alliance, which would be a threat to federation. The mission’s goal was killing the scouting ships of both fractions to deter the diplomats of entering the system and meet each other. The system was in romulan space (federation was an invader), there is no official war between the Romulan Empire and Starfleet. In any reality this would have been a pre-emptive strike triggering war with the romulans and the hirogen instead of preventing an alliance. And what should hinder the diplomats to meet in another system which is safe from Starfleet…
The mission goal was totally against starfleet policy and without any described moral conflict (the quest giver saying something like: “don’t trouble yourself, sometimes things have to be done even if it is against our morals…”). One could argument: the Undine have taken control of starfleet’s major decisions in order to destabilize the quadrant, but as long as oneself is no Undine one should as true Starfleet officer disobey these orders.
There should be moral decisions with short (perhaps even long) term effects on the further story.
C) War is good for business…?
In my opinion it is in general too much war/warlike situation. The klingon war would have been nice for something like a campaign but no fixed thing dominating the whole game. Star Trek also lives from its shifting alliances between the great imperia. I fear such shifts are impossible as Klingons are now fixed for Pvp and if they would ever make peace with the federation or even become allies again, whom to Pvp? (one solution would be the introduction of another fraction which would then take on the role as enemy, but there would apply the same limitations like now with the klingons)
I would like more missions not taking on the war but some immediate problem of a newly encountered species or some deep space encounter of a unknown life form and the contact with it. Perhaps even allowing an own episode-campaign.
Another nice idea would be missions given to you from your crew:
I) Engineering is calling – “the warp drive is failing and the ship is stranded” – how to solve this problem?
II) A mysterious accident killed a crewman… investigate!
III) A Ferengi thinking it a good opportunity to open a bar on your ship ;-) which has many business proposals and often causes his own part of trouble on your ship.
…if they would be more interactive. (*Story Spoiler* if you have not finished the first sector block)
A nice mission is the one in the Celes System (Starbase 114) where you identify the true saboteur on a station. It is a nice story which is told here, but effectively you just run from one location to the next scanning and talking to a few persons, without any decision making. The story is set, so you cannot make a mistake or fail the mission – you probably would have the same fun or even more, as it would cost less time, if you would read a short story about these happenings instead of moving your character from A to B. New Dialogue missions should allow more decisions (adventure-like) or some mini games like proposed in A)
E) Another part of the game which is no fun is traveling…
It is some strange thing that in most computer games especially MMOs your character/ship or whatever has to travel long distances. This is time consuming and as there is nothing to do, except clicking and waiting, it costs you time, boring you - at best you can go to the toilet or such like, if the travel does not need your guidance. Simply put, travelling is extremely boring (regardless if its in missions like scanning 5 times the same thing in an away mission or simply travelling from cardassian space to memory alpha then to Sol for some tweaking of your officers, then you think to check if “The Great Dig” is now working properly and then you go back to the cardassian space. Such a round would cost you perhaps 30 minutes of travelling time, where you achieve nothing and you also have no fun.
There are several possible solutions for this problem:
I) The easiest solution would be a quick travel function (without a cooldown) allowing you to travel quickly into every sector block, better even every sector, instantly. This would be a function already found in many games with a comfortable interface. I don’t see any argument against implementing this option as there are no klingons which would curse because their prey simple transwarped away 1 light year before they could catch them and also the enemy signal contacts “hunting” the players are either wanted by the players to be encountered or the player is slightly nerved by again landing in a deep space encounter he has to warp out directly.
II) If there have to be long travel times, the developers should think of some things you could do while travelling or which could happen:
a. Abolish the sectormap you have to fly yourself, simply give the order where to fly to (the captain has only to give the order, the details are left to his navigator)
b. In the meantime the captain could wander his ship interacting with his crew, solving missions on his ship
c. Give us a holosuite, where you could simulate any space and away team encounter as a holodeck encounter (no xp or so, but you could have fun until at some time point your navigator calls you: “Captain to bridge, we are nearing XY”)
d. Random (but with good story) space encounters giving you missions on the fly
e. Enemy signal contacts: give a warning so you can decide to engage them or evade them.
III) Implement some Minigames like tetris, bejewelled, lines, asteroids or such, which you can play while autopiloting from A to B
E) Fleet Actions are great… most of the time
I enjoyed my first fleet actions enormously they were fun big fights, where you could compete for the first place in the scoreboard.
One thing to do better would be like in Pvp to prevent high lvl chars to compete with low ones (if a newly promoted captain wants to test out his new ship in starbase 24 he should not compete against the normal players making the fleet action, the price for first place should not be matched to higher levels, as the first fleet actions are fairly simple and would lead to item farming).
One thing the developers should take into account for fleet actions can be seen in the crystalline entity fleet encounter: in principle I like the encounter because it needs tactic and teamwork. But you have to see, that a fleet encounter is a random group encounter with almost always people who do not know the boss and probably have deactivated the zone-chat to prevent seeing the spamming in this chat. This means, there will almost always be someone who takes the encounter on the wrong way. So a fleet action must be conceived to allow winning it even with some inexperienced/slow-learning people or people who actively try to let the fleet action fail… The crystalline entity fleet action does not assure this: A single person not knowing/learning that large shards “kill” mines and not vice versa (by that creating small shards which will heal the entity) can push the whole fleet 20 minutes of invested time back. This should be altered: mines should do damage to the shard but do not count as collision for the shards.
In my personal opinion large shards should have less health or there should spawn fewer as without a very coordinated group it is near impossible to eliminate the large shards quick enough to prevent a cascade of small healing shards arriving at the entity pushing it again above 33%. An alternative would be a maximum number of shards active at one time (would allow kiting-strategy) or that after some time the shards self-destroy without creating small shards. If mines would detonate large shards without setting of small shards it would ease the mission extremely, too, but probably so much that it would be no challenge at all then.
Sidenote: I read many posts about the crystal entity, sometimes these stated killing large shards (or normal shards) in any way would heal the entity: this is wrong, when you see the entity regaining 4% of its life every 30 seconds or so that is her normal “hull repair” as the entity is in a way just a ship. Large shards form small shards only when hitting a player ship, a mine or a heavy plasma torpedo.
I have not encountered another fleet action with such a problem yet (I am Cpt.7 with my main char), but as that, there are not so many others accessible yet (missing The Big Dig, Defend DS9)
F) Some minor thing…
You command a spaceship so you should think you should be able to freely manoeuvre through space. I think the limitation here is an inheritance of the Cryptic engine, but spaceships cannot tip more than perhaps 60° either up or down, so it’s not possible to fly a looping and especially escorts have a hard time when drastic height differences are encountered.
G) Ground combat
I personally think the ground combat could be improved in many aspects, the fights are not tactical enough, enemies are down-zerged and the officer commands are almost only necessary if the AI is stuck. More intelligent enemies, cover, better distinguished weapons, critters with special attacks, bosses which need special tactics and so on would be necessary for a more tactical approach.
Of course more possibilities to interact with the environment during away team missions like generally suggested in A) to open up new gameplay features would also make it more interesting.
The time to call turrets, generators etc. for engineers should be reduced. It takes far too long to build up ones defences. If the ground battle becomes more tactical the construction times would probably be okay, perhaps they should even be increased then, if the constructions give a real tactical advantage. But right now with this very fast ground combat, an engineer with constructs just loses the first 15 seconds to call up all his devices not firing once. With a little exaggeration: the tactical captain is at that time point already looting.
I could probably find some more suggestions and ideas but for now these things are the most important to me.
Feel free to give any constructive feedback or more wishes for improvement.
You know, I was watching an interview with Matt Damon once on how he said he prepared to play Jason Bourne. He was talking about how he met with an ex-military guy to study and he noticed something funny, that the guy always had a funny heroic turn to his body so he always had this kind of regal stance. And when he asked him why he always stood like that, they guy said, "well it's a body position thing, just force of habit from the military. I always turn my body into people near me so that the whole length of my body is between the person I'm standing next to and my gun."
After which Matt said, "I think there's just a million little things like that in acting. These scores of unconcious little things that reveal whether or not an actor is doing a good job. Like I'll be sitting around with my friends and we'll get out of a movie and they'll ask me if I thought so and so did a good job acting or not. And sometimes I'll say, 'noooooo, but I can't quite put my finger on the reasons why.'"
Your article helped me a little but then today I wanted to really understand why I'm beginning to just be so horribly bored of this game already. No end game is one thing but I'm not even having fun leveling a new alt and I was an altoholic in WoW for a long time. Keep in mind, I"ve been playing this game since closed beta and I"m a huge Trek fan. Not a Trekker, but definitely a huge fan - meaning I want this game to succeed badly. I"ve submitted at least 50 tickets detailing endless problems and general feedback.
So I bit the bullet and pulled down EVE online yesterday. Huge gamer dork and space advocate and Trek fan but just never bothered with it. Had never played it before. I just wanted a basis for comparison, even if it isn't fair to compare such a mature game to this new one. After 2 hours playing EVE, and really liking it no less, I see now why STO bothers me. It's a million little things that add to the illusion, just like Matt Damon said. Just to rattle of a small list of things I can now see bothering me:
- Expansive galaxy maps that are 3D and provide a sense of real exploration instead of these chinsy Explore X Cluster maps and the now repulsive to me Sector Space horribleness
- The endless instancing versus clean lines between systems. I can't get over how much better EVE is at this. Especially when planets leave you slowly and then all of the sudden.
- Seperate scaling with objects during space travel. It's tremendous to have a planet scale and then the station to scale seperately as you approach it.
- The ability to travel to multiple planets in a solar system freely.
- The less-cartoonish feel of space objects. For instance the Anomlous Readings in STO now feel very child-like to me.
- The thought of following multiple career paths is exciting. In EVE I can be an explorer, a business man or a military expert. In a Trek game I'm forced into blowing up EVERY MAJOR POWER in the alpha & beta quadrants all the time. The tought of that actually makes me laugh now.
I mean and so much more. And from a non-comparisson standpoint just little things that have urked me in the last few days:
- Being shot by ships that fly inside of objects that you can't shoot yourself. Especially like in the borg resource battle ground where the spheres prevent you from completing mission objectives cause you can't complete a scan while being shot.
- Sudden and unexplainable lag in equipping/un-equipping items.
- The ground combat #2 shot animating or even not, doing no damage and still killing your cooldowns.
- Some clowns in PVP running obvious client side exploits to double the amount of available drones and be untargetable.
- The tab targeting not selecting the closest targets. There can be 20 items in the distance and it will never select the one guy that's under 5km from you who's attacking you.
- And for that matter, setting the "Maximum Target Distance" to anything higher than 0 just makes tab targeting stop working completely. Has since open beta.
- Not being able to bind Numpad 9 or 0. Then figuring out by pure accident that you can only bind them with the numpad numlock turned off. Submitted that ticket a 100 times with the always generic response.
- Crafting being an utter joke.
- Nearly, zero in game insight into how skills impact one another (like I REALLY hated this about CO as well which I bought a 6 month subscription to and quit playing after 4 weeks which only lasted that long cause I was traveling in Asia and had nothing better to do at the hotel at night). LIke where in the world as a new player would I ever have learned that Aux affects turn rate if I hadn't have read it in the forums? Horrible.
- The PVP queues being so horribly lopsided.
Well, enough said. I really hope this game improves. I wouldn't write this long post if I didn't care. I can't bring myself to quit, but I'm pretty sure my in game activity will die down from everyday to once a week a most for some time. I just feel myself not being as interested in it anymore already. Sad thing for me considering my 6 closest friends and I didn't put down WoW for over 6 months after we were done with Open Beta. And it's not even that I think WoW is better, it's just more expansive and engrossing. There's just more to do.
Not even gonna read your long post, I am sure you have 100 great idea's and if it were up to me I would make you the lead designer for Cryptic and come back in a year and it would be a better game. The sad fact is Cryptic sucks at mmo's, champions online failed, city of hero's failed and now STO is failing as well. It is the designers fault no one elses the fact that they use the same techniques in STO as their previous games tells me they will never go beyond a below average MMO. So if that is what people want Cryptic is your company, for those of us who want something better then WoW, guess we have to keep waiting.