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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
The War on Ignorance
Lately, there has been significant disagreement on the relative power of different abilities and the resulting balance or imbalance of PvP. While some concerns are fundamentally legitimate, other issues only appear at certain levels of player knowledge and team coordination (or lack thereof). For example, Jam Sensors and unstacked Target Shield Subsystems seem wildly out of balance at lower player skill levels simply because people have no idea what they are being hit by, and even less idea what to do about it.

Therefore, I believe that an important part of the PvP balance solution is to fight the war against ignorance. Winning this war would improve the average player skill level, increase PvP enjoyability, increase player retention rates, and allow Powers designers to focus their efforts on refining gameplay within a tighter scope of player ability.

Forum fighters (i.e. STO's flame warriors) have taken it upon themselves to offer their "assistance" in various ways, but no matter how many well-written stickies they produce, such an effort can only hope to reach a small sub-population of players, as Cryptic posters have mentioned on many occasions. Therefore, the only party capable of making a game-wide improvement is Cryptic itself.

I propose that Cryptic should join the war on PvP ignorance, and their primary weapon should be the game's own UI. The Season 1.1 patch brought the first improvement in this department by creating a combo buff+debuff indicator on the UI (previously, it only showed buffs). This is invaluable to players who already know what to look for and only needed a convenient way to locate the information. However, the war cannot be so easily won.


Supplemental Status Notifications
Part one of the problem at large is that people don't know the mechanics of the game well enough to know what is going on. I propose that Cryptic can counteract this problem through the addition of supplemental notifications, such as via the ship's computer (voice), for key PvP situations. These notifications should be tied to system-level mechanics, not individual abilities.

For instance, subsystem power warfare is common in PvP, yet one of the most commonly asked questions on the forums is "How did he turn off my shields?" followed by "How do I stop that?" A simple way of guiding players to the right answers would be for the ship's computer to simply say, "Power drain detected" as soon as any subsystem power drain debuff goes into effect. Flash a small indicator in the subsystem power window next to the subsystems that are being drained. Have the HUD blip out or dim momentarily - anything that would suggest that the ship's power levels are being affected and YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTION OR BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN.


Visible Teamwork Incentives: Teamwork on Display
You'd think that winning would be the most obvious feedback mechanism for what constitutes good play versus bad... but then you'd be quite mistaken. Human psychology is generally not in favor of ascription of responsibility to oneself; instead, the blame gets passed to as many external factors as the subject can imagine.

But that is beside the point. People know they're losing, they simply don't have any idea why in many cases. Again, the war on ignorance demands a solution at the game level. Many alternative PvP scoring systems have been suggested, but most efforts have focused around fairness of points, rather than conveying necessary information. Indeed, the current system of "do damage or heal hull" is quite misleading with regard to what ACTUALLY wins games.

Therefore, I propose that the game end scoreboard should also be used as a tool for pointing people in the right direction. In addition to the changes already planned (counting shield heals), and others proposed (e.g. crediting people who perform map-specific objectives), I would suggest that a new column be added specifically to address the "teamwork quotient" that is the single greatest contributor to winning matches in STO PvP.

Teamwork quotient would be quite simple to calculate:
  • Every action (firing a weapon, using an ability) is classified as "team" or "self"
  • Offensive abilities are "team" if they target an enemy that at least one other player is also targeting (i.e. encourages focus fire and debuff stacking)
  • Defensive abilities are "team" if used on another player, and "self" if used on oneself
  • Interacting with a map objective is always a "team" action
  • Teamwork quotient is the ratio of "team" actions to "self" actions taken during a fight, capping at 1.0 or 100%
  • A player's effective score for reward purposes would be multiplied by their TQ at the end of the match

Note that a TQ of 100% would already achievable simply by focus firing while spamming self-heals, so it is NOT hard to achieve. The metric is simply there to guide players who have not yet mastered even the basics of team play, and the name alone is meant to guide them in the correct direction. A scoreboard tooltip that gave a general indication of TQ being "Earned by coordinating attacks and using support abilities on teammates".

Advanced players will recognize that this system is still quite imperfect, as it does not account for tactics like baiting, debuffing in anticipation of a target switch, forked damage, or "assassination" burst targeting. The system is not directed at these players, as they are not in need of guidance. Any player at this level of experience already knows that focused fire and team support abilities are vital. The low ceiling for TQ (1.0 = 50% of all actions are on teammates or focus fired targets) ensures that such players are still very unlikely to suffer any ill effects.


Summary:
  • PvP balance disagreements stem in part from lack of information
  • Forums do not reach enough people to win the "war on ignorance"; in-game changes are required
  • Supplemental UI notifications like "Power drain detected" and a dimmed HUD could help players recognize what is happening so they know what countermeasures to take
  • Adding a Teamwork Quotient to the end-of-match scoreboard will encourage team play
  • Winning the "war on ignorance" will benefit everyone in the STO community by increasing retention, increasing the level of play, and allowing designers to work with a more focused set of constraints
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
05-12-2010, 11:45 AM
I love this post. It offers constructive suggestion for changes to the UI to provide the yarn necessary to herd cats.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
05-12-2010, 11:55 AM
It is not up to cryptic to provide the "carrot on a stick" method for pvp, it is up to the player. It is an invalueble lesson that can only really be learned through getting your ass handed to you alot.

that said, I would love for the UI to say "power drain detected" for a faster reaction time.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
05-12-2010, 11:56 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darksided View Post
I love this post. It offers constructive suggestion for changes to the UI to provide the yarn necessary to herd cats.
Good post indeed, and i'd support it 100%, but i am afraid if they were capable or at least willing to significantly improve this lacking(and seemingly outdated) interface, they would have done that by now.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
05-12-2010, 12:04 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by faithborn
It is not up to cryptic to provide the "carrot on a stick" method for pvp, it is up to the player. It is an invalueble lesson that can only really be learned through getting your ass handed to you alot.
Yet, when this happens repeatedly and players DON'T learn, it might be prudent to start giving tips instead of hard knocks alone. The STO player base isn't large enough for an exclusively culling-based learning curve... some cultivation is required.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
05-12-2010, 12:08 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edgecase View Post
Yet, when this happens repeatedly and players DON'T learn, it might be prudent to start giving tips instead of hard knocks alone. The STO player base isn't large enough for an exclusively culling-based learning curve... some cultivation is required.
the curve in any game with pvp is exceedingly sharp. Without a desire to improve then theres very little that anyone - even cryptic - can do. one of the things that most people when they start pvp'ing miss, is that its not 5 1v1s, its a 5v5; glaringly obvious but people still miss the idea that teamwork is necessary to win.


also, cryptic could make a giant rainbow blinky light that says "USE TEAMWORK IT WINS" on the loading screen and people would miss it.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
05-12-2010, 12:13 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by faithborn
the curve in any game with pvp is exceedingly sharp. Without a desire to improve then theres very little that anyone - even cryptic - can do. one of the things that most people when they start pvp'ing miss, is that its not 5 1v1s, its a 5v5; glaringly obvious but people still miss the idea that teamwork is necessary to win.


also, cryptic could make a giant rainbow blinky light that says "USE TEAMWORK IT WINS" on the loading screen and people would miss it.
Well then lets just push for an improved interface for the sake of player comfort and not having to look at something that seems to be 10 years old and naively implemented, while playing this game, how about that ?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
05-12-2010, 12:19 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by faithborn
the curve in any game with pvp is exceedingly sharp. Without a desire to improve then theres very little that anyone - even cryptic - can do. one of the things that most people when they start pvp'ing miss, is that its not 5 1v1s, its a 5v5; glaringly obvious but people still miss the idea that teamwork is necessary to win.


also, cryptic could make a giant rainbow blinky light that says "USE TEAMWORK IT WINS" on the loading screen and people would miss it.
The desire is there initially; it falls away when the curve becomes too steep. It's in Cryptic's (and our) best interest if people don't lose interest in PvP, therefore smoothing the curve is a logical step to take.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
05-12-2010, 12:25 PM
remove engineering teams ability to be cast on self
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
05-12-2010, 12:45 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edgecase View Post
The War on Ignorance


Supplemental Status Notifications
Part one of the problem at large is that people don't know the mechanics of the game well enough to know what is going on. I propose that Cryptic can counteract this problem through the addition of supplemental notifications, such as via the ship's computer (voice), for key PvP situations. These notifications should be tied to system-level mechanics, not individual abilities.

For instance, subsystem power warfare is common in PvP, yet one of the most commonly asked questions on the forums is "How did he turn off my shields?" followed by "How do I stop that?" A simple way of guiding players to the right answers would be for the ship's computer to simply say, "Power drain detected" as soon as any subsystem power drain debuff goes into effect. Flash a small indicator in the subsystem power window next to the subsystems that are being drained. Have the HUD blip out or dim momentarily - anything that would suggest that the ship's power levels are being affected and YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTION OR BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN.

This is so key...it appears the devs have forgotten that these are crewed ships, not single pliot fighters with push button specials that happen to have a person's face on it. A great Captain has to really on a great crew. A crew that provides timely and pertitent information to the Captain so he can make sound choices. We dont get any of that in game...our crew just sit there, mouths closed waiting for you to electro-shock them at the push of a button to initiate a special.

As a Training Captain for a regional airline, one thing I cant stand is a timid and quiet First Officer(co-pilot). Crew should always be at least one step ahead of the Captain to be effective...not the other way around. What good is a crew memeber at helping you out if they arent already anticipating your needs, planning or developing contingencies ahead of time while you Command?


Visible Teamwork Incentives: Teamwork on Display
You'd think that winning would be the most obvious feedback mechanism for what constitutes good play versus bad... but then you'd be quite mistaken. Human psychology is generally not in favor of ascription of responsibility to oneself; instead, the blame gets passed to as many external factors as the subject can imagine.

Therefore, I propose that the game end scoreboard should also be used as a tool for pointing people in the right direction. In addition to the changes already planned (counting shield heals), and others proposed (e.g. crediting people who perform map-specific objectives), I would suggest that a new column be added specifically to address the "teamwork quotient" that is the single greatest contributor to winning matches in STO PvP.

Team work needs to be encouraged in STO...its true nothing the Devs could do would teach teamwork, but they can highlights its worth to direct players in the right direction to improve and learn it themselves. For instance, why does the first taste of team work have to come in PvP. Why arent there PvE content that encourages teamplay with faction NPCs against a threat?

Yeah there is already some PvE players can plat together but sadly its usually just a place where multiple players just happen to be, its not team work. Its a group of lone-wolves who just happen to be in the same place...still lone wolving.

We should have some sinlge-player oriented content that specifically introduces and requires coordinated efforts by the player with NPCs...just to expose them to the possibilities and inherit benefit of such play


Summary:
  • PvP balance disagreements stem in part from lack of information
  • Forums do not reach enough people to win the "war on ignorance"; in-game changes are required
  • Supplemental UI notifications like "Power drain detected" and a dimmed HUD could help players recognize what is happening so they know what countermeasures to take
  • Adding a Teamwork Quotient to the end-of-match scoreboard will encourage team play
  • Winning the "war on ignorance" will benefit everyone in the STO community by increasing retention, increasing the level of play, and allowing designers to work with a more focused set of constraints
Just brilliant...see my comments in orange
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