Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
I've been thinking a lot about exactly WHY both ground and space combat are too easy in PvE (PvP is a blast), and I've come up with a theory that I think pretty much nails it; I'm wondering if anyone else has the same thought, and if so, how it might actually be fixed without totally throwing the game out of whack.

Much has been said in other threads about how "easy" individual mobs are in combat, which usually leads to comparisons with other MMOs. "A single normal mob can't kill you in WoW!", people will say. And indeed, in most games, even boss mobs can't kill you outright - you just need to use more skills / heals to defeat them. So why does combat in WoW feel more taxing? Why is PvE play more likely to result in your untimely death in other games than in ST:O if the mobs are at equivalent difficulty one by one?

Simple: the spacing of enemies and the need to manage "aggro", that is, the range it which enemies will rush towards you and try to beat the daylights out of you.

In the standard mold for MMORPG design, mobs are arranged spatially in four ways: individual static mobs standing still or moving in a small radius; "roamers", individual mobs with a wide range across maps; "patrols", large groups of enemies; and "clusters" or "camps" of enemies. Most maps are designed so that patrols and roamers pass through camps and past static mobs, and so that individual mobs in a camp will wander just a little outside the "aggro radius" of the rest of the camp. This adds a certain strategic element, the "pull", in which players endeavor to grab the attention of only the number of enemies he / she can handle at once, usually 1 or 2, rather than the full camp. Pulling too many at once or ignoring the fact that you're sitting right on a patrol route results in death by beesting - individual mobs don't NEED to be strong to increase game difficulty, because they're arranged in such a way that strategic missteps by the player provide the challenge.

ST:O breaks this trend by spacing enemies in a uniform way across ALL maps. The groupings themselves come in one of three variants (3 attack craft, an escort, or a cruiser) and are all 20 clicks or so away from each other. There are no roving mobs in space combat, no patrols, no hidden enemies. There's never even the slightest danger you'll pull more enemies than you can handle unless you intentionally kite one group all the way to the other. The result is combat in which the challenge level is always the same no matter what you do in relation to the objectives of the map itself, and in which your survival relates entirely to tactics rather than any kind of strategy. Kill, rinse, repeat, in mechanical succession. Ground combat is a little better - there are patrols - but they're dumb as a bag of rocks, and the enemies do so little damage on the ground that it's likewise too simple.

What I'm proposing here is that the problem with combat is NOT the enemies. The enemies are fine, on par with the difficulty in any game. The problem is the MAPS, which are designed in such a way that the enemies are never present in sufficient quantity / never follow routes which will take them across the path of the player. Cryptic needs to re-jigger the way combat works, not by adjusting enemies, but by adjusting their placement.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2 Here's an idea
02-21-2010, 07:05 PM
A fellow in another thread was tired of how easy the game was, so he decided to handicap himself to increase the challenge.

He removed personal shields from himself and his away team.

He plays in " balanced" mode in space.

These two changes alone were enough to increase the general game difficulty to his own satisfaction.

There is much that is within the control of the individual player to increase game difficulty. Perhaps it would be more efficient to explore those possibilities, than it would to convince the DEVs to completely retool the game.

I feel constrained to point out that there are no doubt many players who find the game tough enough as it is. Why break the game for them just because you think it's too easy?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
02-21-2010, 07:26 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by WOWrefugee
There is much that is within the control of the individual player to increase game difficulty. Perhaps it would be more efficient to explore those possibilities, than it would to convince the DEVs to completely retool the game.
So, we should not use all of the equipment and abilities available in the game so as to intentionally gimp ourselves to make the game easier? How completely ridiculous is that?

The game is way too easy. That much is certain.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
02-21-2010, 07:38 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by WOWrefugee
A fellow in another thread was tired of how easy the game was, so he decided to handicap himself to increase the challenge.

He removed personal shields from himself and his away team.

He plays in " balanced" mode in space.

These two changes alone were enough to increase the general game difficulty to his own satisfaction.

There is much that is within the control of the individual player to increase game difficulty. Perhaps it would be more efficient to explore those possibilities, than it would to convince the DEVs to completely retool the game.

I feel constrained to point out that there are no doubt many players who find the game tough enough as it is. Why break the game for them just because you think it's too easy?
I challenge you to find "many players" who have been playing the game for more than a few days / have reached Tier 3 and find PvE (not PvP!) combat too hard. I am generally quite sympathetic to newbies, so this comment is sort of uncharacteristic, but... if you're dying often in PvE space combat, you're doing something very, very wrong.

Furthermore, I think a tweak in terms of mob patrol behavior would be less of a "complete retool" than many other approaches. Again, individual mobs don't need to get any hard. They just need to be distributed in a more intelligent way, so that players can pull / not pull them as they please to increase the difficulty a bit, and so that there's a little more sense of peril.

I'm not even saying the game should be punishing or "hardcore". People used to go on and on about how WoW was far too easy on players; I *liked* it. I don't favor harsh death penalties or steep increases in enemy health. I just want there to be more possibility for failure in each engagement based on how well we control the space of the map.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
02-21-2010, 07:49 PM
I just hit Rear Admiral last night, so I think I've played enough to finally have an opinion on this.. and I got to say, I agree with WOWrefugee. The game difficulty is fine as it is. If anything, there are a lot of points where ground combat is overly difficult. This is not due to smart tactics by the AI but rather a huge HP pool + exploitive game mechanics, such as ignoring behavioral/threat control AI and focusing solely on the player no matter what.

If they were hard to beat because of their tactics and such it would be an enjoyable challenge. Right now it is just an aggravating experience and they should be toned down until Cryptic can find a way to make them have different layers to combat rather than zerg the player and reset, with huge HP pools. They really need to fix how a player is able to control aggro and how enemy NPCs respond to threat generation before they start creating advanced situations.. because right now it doesn't matter if you sit far away from the battle and do nothing, sending your BOs in; more than half of the time the enemy group runs past your BOs and zergs you.

The game is plenty difficult and making it more so right now would make it tedious and aggravating to play. The only way Cryptic would hardwire your difficulty increase would be via handicapping you and increasing the enemy stats. It won't make them smarter. You can accomplish this type of change in difficulty on your own by removing equipment or not running at optimal settings.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
02-21-2010, 08:29 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lennan View Post
I just hit Rear Admiral last night, so I think I've played enough to finally have an opinion on this.. and I got to say, I agree with WOWrefugee. The game difficulty is fine as it is. If anything, there are a lot of points where ground combat is overly difficult. This is not due to smart tactics by the AI but rather a huge HP pool + exploitive game mechanics, such as ignoring behavioral/threat control AI and focusing solely on the player no matter what.

If they were hard to beat because of their tactics and such it would be an enjoyable challenge. Right now it is just an aggravating experience and they should be toned down until Cryptic can find a way to make them have different layers to combat rather than zerg the player and reset, with huge HP pools. They really need to fix how a player is able to control aggro and how enemy NPCs respond to threat generation before they start creating advanced situations.. because right now it doesn't matter if you sit far away from the battle and do nothing, sending your BOs in; more than half of the time the enemy group runs past your BOs and zergs you.

The game is plenty difficult and making it more so right now would make it tedious and aggravating to play. The only way Cryptic would hardwire your difficulty increase would be via handicapping you and increasing the enemy stats. It won't make them smarter. You can accomplish this type of change in difficulty on your own by removing equipment or not running at optimal settings.
Ground combat is a bit more complex than space combat, I'll admit. I still don't die often, but I agree that the HP / shield pools are ridiculous, and some mobs - Romulan Commanders come to mind - take forever to kill, even if they don't put so much as a dent into you. Space combat is an entirely different story; the encounters always play out the same.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
03-06-2010, 01:35 PM
Good challenge: Tactical officer playing Escorts with cannons/heavy cannons. Everything else is too easy.
Im always the one getting punched in the face, and it doesnt seem thats gonna change untill theres a good way to control aggro, besides sitting there doing nothing.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
03-06-2010, 01:42 PM
Duck into the infected episode.. Alone.

Scoot over to the gate and experience the Borg mobs there.

Tell me if your complaint still stands after this.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
03-06-2010, 02:27 PM
I am of the opinion that space in general is too easy while ground can be too hard at times.

Roaming hostile spacecraft would be a huge move in the right direction for space, but things like Romulans attacking from cloak would be even better. they should have a huge aggro radius/roaming pattern, and you wont see them til they fire. (science ship obviously would negate their element of surprise.

The bridge officer pop up window is giving way too much information about a mission upfront. If I cant see them on my sesnors how am I suppose to know I need to defeat 5 squads. Having them tell me that they picked up impulse trails in the system or anything subtle like that is far more engrossing.

Not everyone is a Klingon. Most races will surrender or try to flee when heavily damaged. Pirates by nature will not engage a superior warship and that mission should be a chase them down and board them.

Starfleet starships will not blow away defenseless ships with their crews on board. There are some exceptions of course, but for the most part, they will beam the survivors aboard or attempt to board the crippled craft.

When protecting disabled ships make it possible to lose that ship to hostile fire, losing the mission as well.

Gather data missions need variety of drama added to them. It can be hostile enemies or some kind of natural event, such as being hailed by the planet your orbiting and having them ask for aide.

Ground Combat.

Some of the above applies-like fleeing or surrendering when severely wounded.

Too much crowd control - this is by far the biggest pitfall of the game. Just how many games cannot balance crowd control. All of them. Its a crutch and a source of frustration throughout the gaming genre. Every time I see a borg cast a root/hold I cringe. The borg do not root. Standing helpless while watching the little red bar tick away is not fun. Playing wack a mole with your counter cc abilities is not fun. Get rid of it.

The bridge officer pop up window is the most dangerous enemy to your team in ground combat. This window dose not need to pop open with quest information everytime I click an item. Important details can be explained to your captain at safe junction points during a mission.

Enemey awayteams should not be just standing around idle. Have them concealed from the mini map and have them pop out of buildings or beam down on a hill overlooking my team, etc.

Where are all the creatures? Be it nasty monsters or gentle tribbles, we should be encountering new lifeforms.

It sure is lonely here. Access 4 computers equals run an entire base that is a ghostown. Either have all the computers in one room and make them a puzzle for the captain to figure out or add a random drama event to your stroll. If its a sudden beam down by a ship that just warped in, make them beam down near you.

Sometimes diplomacy works. We should have it in our power to talk our way out of some fights. Not everyone is a Klingon. Maybe they want something, maybe they need help. It would be so refreshing to have an orion away team ask me to help them get rid of a nasty monster that has set up shop in their base.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
03-06-2010, 03:31 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrax73
Enemey awayteams should not be just standing around idle. Have them concealed from the mini map and have them pop out of buildings or beam down on a hill overlooking my team, etc.
Outstanding point. I understand that in PvE the opposition is AI, and therefore will never act as they would if being played by people. Having them pop out of buildings or from behind cover would add a lot more realism. Every time I set up my away team to create flanking positions in plain sight of the enemy who just stands there watching me do it, I cannot help thinking how stupid it seems.

But I remind myself this also happens in EQ and other games. You are killing mobs in a room with 50 others present, but as long as you stay outside of aggro range, they ignore you, which obviously would not be the case if those 50 NPC's were played by people.

I suppose it could be set up so that as soon as you are seen / detected by the enemy, they immediately attack or take up defensive positions. Naturally they will report your position, which means some reinforcements will arrive in X amount of time. Additionally, all the enemy troops in the area are put on alert, but except for reinforcements, all will stay to guard their positions. This could lead to the creation of additional skills, such as fabricating devices to jam enemy communictions within a certain radius. I am not familiar with the Stealth related skills, but they would be even more useful. You sneak up on the enemy, then fabricate a comms jammer, preventing the enemy from sounding the alert, then attack. If the devs really want to get technical, they could set it up so that any enemy troops within x-distance from the battle will hear the sounds of exploding grenades, mines and mortar shells, and sound the alert.

I think that sure beats just walking up the road in full view of the enemy and setting up flanking positions while they just stand there and watch.[/quote]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrax73
Where are all the creatures? Be it nasty monsters or gentle tribbles, we should be encountering new lifeforms.
Great point. Occasional encounters with predatory creatures (plant as well as animal) while searching for alien artifacts or crash survivors would definitely spice things up. Other creatures may not be predators, but if you get too close to the nest, they might attack. Some you might have to kill. Others might run away at the first phasor blast. Others may just wander by in the distance, making strange noises./QUOTE]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrax73
It sure is lonely here. Access 4 computers equals run an entire base that is a ghostown. Either have all the computers in one room and make them a puzzle for the captain to figure out or add a random drama event to your stroll. If its a sudden beam down by a ship that just warped in, make them beam down near you.
Encounters with life-forms that took up residence in an abandon ground base wouldn't be a bad idea. All you need is the data from that last computer, but when you find it, you see a very large web on which are the webbed-wrapped remains of the last team that was looking for that computer. Or in space, perhaps another ship arrives and beams down their own team who want the same thing you do. Do you fight it to the death? Or perhaps arrange some kind of trade? Solving some kind of puzzle or riddle is a good idea. To me, that represents the fact that you have to work around some security system or protocol on that computer to get the data.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrax73
Sometimes diplomacy works. We should have it in our power to talk our way out of some fights. Not everyone is a Klingon. Maybe they want something, maybe they need help. It would be so refreshing to have an orion away team ask me to help them get rid of a nasty monster that has set up shop in their base.
There is a post in the forums on a Proposed Diplomacy System. Some kind of ability to talk vs shoot would definately be great.
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