Please please please Cryptic.. don't follow your normal MMO model with STO. This game has far more potential then any of your earlier releases and with Millions of Trek Fans out there, you have a responsibility to do everything you can to make it something special.
Before I proceed. I would like to say I'm not having a pop at Cryptic for previous games. I thoroughly enjoyed CoX and spent almost 4 years playing it. CO wasn't so good, but that is largely because of personal preference. After playing CoX for so long. When CO came out, i was disappointed at how heavily the game seemed to be geared toward being shiny graphics with no game-play. But that's another story,
Cryptic's usual model for an MMO is to be light on High end content, relying heavily on the term "It's not about the destination, it's about the journey". But to be honest, the journey gets pretty dull when its the same 5 mission templates, over and over again.
At the moment STO is on the line. The missions do start getting samey round about Commander level, but luckily the grind to admiral isn't such a steep curve that you lose motivation.
The difficulty in MMO design, as with any Game, is finding something that people will be happy to continue doing, even when there is nothing to be gained from it. For Example in WoW, there are people who have maxed out their gear, in both their main spec, and their off-spec, but continue to take part in raids, even though they have nothing to gain from it at all.
Understanding that WoW and STO are entirely different beasts, does of course count for something. But you also have to bare in mind, that most STO players have X-Pollinated from other MMO's. And with that comes a certain expectation.
STO is still really in its infancy, so we have to make some allowances for that, But as well as making allowances for time, you have to keep pushing, and saying what it is you want to see. No game Dev, no matter how big or small, or how "In tune" with their player base, is completely aware of what they need to do to keep people playing. Prime example: Mission architect on COX. People were harping on about wanting it for years, and it completely destroyed the game as it basically gave Pro-Pl'ers and Gold sellers everything they needed to run their business, and for several months, the game was unplayable for the spam in Atlas park, and the /Tell's trying to get you to go to websites and such.
My point of course being that Neither the player, nor the developer can afford to sit on the fence in an attempt to keep everyone happy. Say what you want, and tell us if we can't have it.
That in mind here are some of my suggestions for content improvements.
There are a small percentage of players, who are just happy plodding along, pretending they are Jim Kirk, flying around aimlessly, and fighting deep space encounters all day. Then there are the RP'ers who spend a lot of time, sitting on their bridge, or in Quarks not really doing much, (that's not all they do I am sure but that's the exposure that most non rp'ers get), But the average player is neither of the above (Sorry but it's true)
The average player spends their time as captain hovering around nebulae, doing "Explore the X nebula/expance/belt", praying to all that is holy that Captain James Kurland will call them with a new mission in the next grade, and that the mission he gives you will yield enough skill points, that you dont have to repeat the same nebula mission too many times before the next one.
The average player, wants to get to admiral as fast as possible to get that shiny ship they have been eye-balling since they first walked through the shipyard.
We have all seen some of the shows and would like to think we could accomplish stuff like they did in X episode of X franchise. And whilst we know it would be far more effort then its worth, to add an engine to support going down to engineering and talking to Our eng officers about recalibrating the deflector array to emit a high frequency blah blah blah. I'm fairly sure that people who run a Deep space science vessel, want to be able to explore deep space, and do science vessel type things, such as monitor spacial phenomenon, and not just run around planet Gamma Theta beta pressing the F key when they get near one of 4 glowies.
ALL of your current skills are centred around Combat. Engineers don't do any engineering and scientists don't do any science. That is something that will very likely never change. But it wouldn't take much effort to add a few new mission templates so that you aren't constantly doing one of the following:
Analysing 5 anomalies in system x
defend base from X number of enemies
scanning 5 "Shipwrecks" and maybe fight off a couple of patrols
Defeat 5 patrols in X system
clicking 5 glowies in X base
Click 5 glowies and fight a few patrols
no doubt I've missed a couple there, but that's the list that i seemed to encounter most during my time.
Admittedly i havent finished grading up, i still have a couple of grades to go until i'm maxed out. But it seems to me that there are many avenues that have yet to be explored.
Class specific content.
An engineer is much more then someone who diverts power to X system at the captains command, or transports in a small turret to regenerate shields. They design new systems, maintain and optimize old ones, repair damaged systems, maybe even work with cybernetic life forms (Geordie spent most of his career with a screwdriver in the back of Data's head)
A Scientists is far more then someone who jams targetting sensors and heals the sick. i wont even bother listing all of the important roles that they play in real life as well as the Trek universe.
Whilst it is understandable that Cryptic wanted to stick fairly close to the typical MMO team mechanics of Tank-Healer-DPS, there is no reason that a brilliant scientist couldn't develop a shield array for smaller vessels that makes them uber enough to tank, or impulse engines powerful enough to make a cruiser move like an escort. and with the extra weapon slot, a cruiser could easily pump out high dps.
I would dread to think (and i fear its already happening a little from other threads I have read) that STO would turn out like WoW in that there is only one cookie cutter role for each class, and deviating from that makes you automatically a "N00b"
Back to the suggestions.
As much as we all want to see epic high end content, its impossible for it to go on forever, and so pushing that stuff aside you need to take a look at the games current engine through a looking glass and say "What are people going to do with themselves, once they have finished our new "Killz teh B0rg Queenz Face" mission?"
This leans back to the thread i made about the R&D system, as well as adding new repeatable content, or even just expanding the universe to the extent where people can go off and do a Picard and explore new systems and witness new phenomenon, or run around like a loon trying to work out why Q has stolen your shoe laces, Or do a Jayneway and get yourself lost in the far reaches of the galaxy, and annoy everyone trying to get home. Maybe even add something which im sure everyone would love to be able to do, which took Cryp a loooooong time to add to CoX and that's Fleet bases. that can be built from scratch and upgraded and maybe even raided by the opposing faction.
Anyway to end my rambling here ill sum up.
Dont just focus on shiny new High end content, remember that it has to end eventually. Add more stuff to do when the dust has settled and people who dont want to roll a new alt, can occupy themselves indefinately. also add new mission templates. The journey is no fun if you run around in circles.
Agree wholeheartedly with the need for high-end contents with much better rewards. Currently, whenever I finish STFs, I feel like I am playing Hardmode of Minesweep. Somewhat challenging with pathetic rewards/no rewards at all.
And here I thought this was another "Please make STO F2P thread". Good thing I read it; you make some good points. And while I don't agree 100%, as the journey is just as important as the destination in an MMO; I do believe there needs to be some balance. Very few MMOs on the market manage to make that balance; and that is why they are very popular and the others fail.
I do see STO as heading in the right direction; but there's still a lot of work to be done and I think Cryptic is very capable of pulling it off.
Yes I agree with what everyone has added. Cryptic do have the ability to pull it off, and I am 100% certain that they don't want to screw the pooch after the amount of money that they must have had to pay for the license. And yes High end content is equally as important as the levelling content.
What i have personally witnessed, particularly in the biggest MMO's out there at present, is that dev's tend to ignore low-mid range content in favour of just adding shiny new High end stuff that amuses people for a few weeks, causes lots of arguments over rare-drops, and then its back to the same old grind.
As i said before, High end content has to end at some point, and then you are left with the feeling or "Oh right what do i do now then? re-roll or repeat that same patrol mission?"
I dont doubt at all that in time there will be new things added to the game which allow a more diverse experience. Perhaps they will make the R&D system worthwhile, or add new sectors to explore.
Creating a game based on such a huge franchise is both a blessing and a curse. You have all of the background story to bolster you up, so you don't have to worry about the past. However you are also wide open to attacks from anyone who may find a dis-continuity.
Also you can take into account that STO is set decades after Nemesis, and so new ships are something that can be looked into without breaking any rules.
I couldn't agree more with the ideas put forward here. This game has so much going for it already and so much potential for future development and expansion. I think that the repetitive nature of the missions is an issue that needs to be addressed and is going to be improved upon in Season 2 from what I have read. It could very well be the shot in the arm that we're asking for. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Like every trekkie out there, I want to see this game succeed.