Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 1 Ground Mission Suggestions
08-04-2010, 02:06 PM
I have some suggestions for making ground missions more interesting. The changes I propose are pretty sweeping; it equates to an overhaul, but I think it'd go a long way towards improving both the fun and the 'Trekiness' of the ground game:

1. Allow captains to choose how many and which officers to take on each away team. We should have to read what the mission is about and decide what's needed for the mission. This could open up the possibility of having 'Ambush' missions where you're actually ambushed, and have to win a losing battle, so to speak.

2. Give our away team bridge officers some actual non-combat functionality. If my science officer wants to scan a plant, she should go scan the plant herself. My captain is a tactical officer - if he scans the plant, all he's going to be able to tell is that it's a plant. It makes no sense for the captain to do all the work on away missions. I would much rather order my science officer to scan the plant than scan it myself. It'd be even better if she'd do it herself when the coast is clear. I thought that was the point of having bridge officers in the first place - the captain isn't supposed to do everything him/herself. Now, if the player's captain happens to be a science officer, then by all means, allow him/her to scan the plant him/herself. The basic idea is that you should need the right kind of officer for the task at hand.

3. Reduce health values across the board so that 3-4 regular shots will incapacitate anyone if their personal shields are down. Right now, players and NPCS alike can take a ridiculous amount of damage when their shields are down (particularly at the higher levels - this makes ground battles take an insanely long amount of time). It feels like weapons are far too ineffective compared to what you see in the series and movies. To compensate, make personal shields a bit stronger across the board so that people aren't losing their entire shield in one or two hits and aren't killed off too quickly. Basically, I think your personal shields should be your best line of defense, and without them, you should be screwed in relatively short order (i.e. armor shouldn't help much).

4. Add a cover system. It doesn't need to be a system where players have to press a button to enter/exit from cover (although that would be ungodly cool), but something like a significant increase in the difficulty to hit you when partially occluded by a rock or a building would be awesome, based on how much of your body is occluded. Of course, AI would have to be tweaked to take advantage of this.

5. Significantly decrease accuracy and slightly decrease difficulty to hit while moving. Why? It's harder to hit someone while you're running, and it's a little harder to be shot while you're moving as well. The end result is that we should have no more battles of people running around in the open. Running around while firing should equal wasted shots and getting shot yourself relatively quickly.

6. To add a sense of tactics to missions, add a time limit to apply CPR on a fallen comrade - wait too long, and they get automatically beamed back up to the ship for emergency medical treatment, thus making them unavailable for the rest of the mission. If the player doesn't get treated quickly enough and has to be beamed back to the ship, he/she should have to restart the mission. In short, if you go in guns blazing, and don't take the time to think about how you want to approach a particular group of enemies, you should have to suffer some consequences.

7. To add another twist to #6 above, only allow science officers a 100% chance to revive a fallen comrade with CPR. Engineer and tactical officers should have a random chance to revive a fallen comrade using CPR, but it should definitely not be guaranteed since those types of officers would have less knowledge of medical treatments. So, if you have a downed officer and your medic is either not present or is down as well, you might get lucky, or you might have a problem.

8. Except in special, story driven cases (where something like transport inhibitors are in place preventing transport), allow a player to beam his/her entire away team out at any time (even during combat, because yes, it happens in the shows/movies), for the cost of having to restart the whole mission. This could get you out of a losing situation if you need to, and prevents it from being a 'get out of jail free' card.

9. To add a small sense of accomplishment for non-combat missions (i.e. to give the player some sense that they're not just following their tricorder from one objective to the next) and to tie into my first and second suggestions above, require the appropriate types of officers to be present on a mission for it to be completed as easily as possible. Come upon a strange alien device without an engineer in your away team? You'd need to send someone back to the ship and have an engineer beam down to replace him/her. Unless, of course, something blocks transport. In that case, you'd have to play some sort of mini-game to determine whether one of your available personnel can do the job themselves. The difficulty of the mini-game would be determined by the difficulty of the task for that particular officer, so if you beam down with nothing but tactical officers and are asked to disable a centuries old alien beacon, you should have pretty much no chance of finishing the mission without beaming down an engineer, who can do it automatically. On the other hand, if you had a science officer present on your team, they might be able to preform the same task with a bit of difficulty. This could even pave the way for collaborative objectives, where you need one of each to finish the task.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
08-04-2010, 04:54 PM
These are all great ideas. Let me respond to each in kind.

#1 - A system that makes you carefully choose your load out of Boffs is essential to ading depth to ground content. Which leads us to #2

#2 - THIS IS THE BEST OF THE IDEAS YOU'VE PUT FORWARD.
Adding non-combat functions of Boffs would be a game changer for grond mission. When I first heard about Bridge Officers back in pre-beta this is EXACTLY what I imagined Buoffs would be used for. Personally, I'm surprised that neither the devs nor community have been talking about this.

I imagined missions where you'd, for example, have to hold off gangs of marauding klingons / romulans / borg ... etc to allow your engineering boffs to repair a transporter or you have to combine the talents of a science officer with a tactical officer to figure out how to operate an ancient alien weapon system ... etc.

#3 - This has been a common complaint ... either HP needs to go down or damage go up. I'm not sure which is the best way to handle this problem.

#4 - From my understanding it's very difficult for AI to "get" cover without someone going in to every map and marking every possible way the cover can by used. The human mind can say, "if I'm behind the big rock the bullets can't get me" but computers just don't naturally get the concept of collisions like we do. Collision detection can be, unfortunately, processor intensive. The current system is about the best you can hope for without Cryptic having to blow a a huge load on significantly beefing up it's hardware.

#5 - Again we run into technology limits here. I don't see these happening as they would require significant changes to the game engine. The engine was lifted - though modified - from Champions where there is no real accuracy. Shots always hit it's just their damage that gets adjusted by the situation. Though a damage nerf when moving might be a workable adjustment that would simulate this sam affect.

#6 & #7 - I like this idea, though I modify this so that the resuscitation time was something like a minute or so, if you didn't make that then the Boff was out of play for something like 5 minutes instead of for the entire mission. This is a nice example of "non-combat" actions for boffs. If we ever get to assign ****les to our Boffs maybe the Chief Medical Officer could have a special extended duration that they can resuscitate people in as a bonus to go with the fancy ****le.

#9 - This is really just a restatement of #1, that you need to read your mission text and choose your Boffs carefully if you want to be successful.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
08-04-2010, 06:36 PM
Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I appreciate it; at least now I know I'm not the only one who wants some of this stuff. I know none of it would be easy to implement; particularly anything that changes the way the AI works. I would definitely like to see the devs at least try to improve ground AI though - having a bunch of aliens bunch up out in the open and/or run around like chickens with their heads cut off is inappropriate and unrealistic. I know, I don't ask for much, do I?

If it requires that damage be modified instead of accuracy or a chance to be hit for a cover system to be implemented, so be it. I'm fairly certain the effects of a cover system could be approximated by modifying damage. I just assumed that since weapons can have a bonus to accuracy, there has to be an accuracy stat somewhere, which means that hitting your target is not guaranteed, unless accuracy works a different way than I think in STO. I don't think it's unfeasible, as some of it is already coded in the space game - moving, for example, buffs your defense, and something similar could be applied here, it should just also kill your accuracy.

I intentionally left the CPR timer open ended cause I have no idea what would be appropriate, especially if the rest of the changes I am suggesting here are adopted. One minute sounds a little too long to me for the game as is, but who knows? It may turn out to be barely enough time.

Anyway, right now, I'm just crossing my fingers that a dev reads this and likes the ideas enough to start talking internally about them.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
08-05-2010, 12:50 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by TantalusOmega
I intentionally left the CPR timer open ended cause I have no idea what would be appropriate, especially if the rest of the changes I am suggesting here are adopted. One minute sounds a little too long to me for the game as is, but who knows? It may turn out to be barely enough time.

Anyway, right now, I'm just crossing my fingers that a dev reads this and likes the ideas enough to start talking internally about them.
Yeah, I just pulled one and five minutes off the top of my head as examples. Really the only way to know what times work best would be to implement those changes on a test server and just play around till you fine tune the duration to get the effect you want.
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