Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
In the latest Ask Cryptic, the concept of a First Officer was raised. I recalled a couple of ideas way back from closed beta. The first is Samy's split mission idea (found here: http://forums.startrekonline.com/showthread.php?t=43149), and the second is my two characters idea (found here: http://forums.startrekonline.com/showthread.php?t=43431 - not sure if everyone can access those, pretty sure they were in the closed beta forums).

General Idea:

Anyways, the general concept is this: in most episodes of Star Trek, the action is split between two places. You see what the away team is doing on a planet, while the rest of the crew does their thing back on board the ship. Right now, we have both of these pieces of action, but they're not "split"; rather, the Captain does both of them.

One way to add a First Officer, AND make players feel as if they're playing the whole crew, rather than just the Captain and a bunch of accessories, would be to actually split the missions up. During the mission, if you have an away team, you must choose carefully - the people you send on the away mission won't be available for the space portion, and vice versa. You would still play both parts, but they would be happening at the "same time." You would play with one set of 5 officers on the ground, and your other officers in space.

Controlling Two Characters:

So how would a First Officer fit into this? Well, you have to be controlling someone, no matter where you are. When you choose your away team, you can choose whether the First Officer or the Captain is in charge. When you beam down, you get to play as the one you've chosen. When you control the space portion of the mission, you are controlling the other one.

Implementation:

This would mean that the Captain and First Officer are both player characters, with customization and powers to match. There are two ways this could be done.

Option 1:

In my opinion, it would be best if we got to create both of them at the very start of the game, and the First Officer controlled the ship while we are on the mission to the Khitomer. There are a few reasons this is beneficial:

1. It allows players to have a sense of ownership of both the First Officer and the Captain.

2. Players are immediately introduced to the concept of playing two characters.

Of course, it might not be that great for a few reasons:

1. It could confuse people.

2. It would probably require some sort of overhaul to the game's character creation, the way player characters are defined by the servers (although the devs have mentioned that a "player" is actually the entirety of the crew), and the display of characters at login.

3. The tutorial would need to be changed. I'm thinking a pop up communication to the Captain while on the Khitomer "we're under attack!" followed by a message from your First Officer saying "everyone's dead, I'm in charge now." At the end of the ground portion, you get a message from the Khitomer's transporter chief saying that your ship is out of range for the moment, and you'll have to wait to beam up. A pop up explaining the idea of split missions comes up, and you cut to space, where the First Officer is receiving a message about how he/she is in charge now following an attack, until the Captain gets back. You fly around, picking up refugees, eventually returning to the Khitomer to pick up the Captain.

Option 2:

The other way this could be done is by promoting an existing BO to the position of First Officer, or creating one a few levels into the game. A few pros:

1. It's probably easier to implement.

2. It doesn't introduce crazy things in the tutorial.

Cons:

1. If you promote an existing BO, players probably wouldn't feel ownership of the new First Officer.

Powers, Skill Points, etc.:

So, either way you do it, we've now got two characters to control. The question becomes: what powers do they each have? From a story point of view, the First Officer should have less/weaker powers than the Captain. But players wouldn't want to feel "gimped" for half of a mission. In my opinion, it would be best to just have the First Officer and Captain have equivalent powers - i.e., if you have a Tac/Eng combo, the Tac would get the class specific powers for the player's rank, and the Eng would get their class's powers for the player's rank.

Of course, your First Officer can't outrank you, so this would essentially make them, for example, a "super" Commander, if your Captain was actually at the Captain rank. But they are the first officer, so that's alright. Your Captain would still be the one to beam down to Spacedock, and take part in ground Fleet Actions, and PvP, and things of that nature.

Your rank, the one that defines how far you've "leveled" stays the same. You would gain the same amount of experience points, since you would be doing the same amount of stuff - you'd just have a First Officer controlling some of it.

This does bring up the issue of Skill Points, and how they would be implemented. I suppose you could just get SP and "First Officer SP" in equal amounts... or perhaps this is where the First Officer being a lower rank comes in - they get less SP.

I don't want to split the SP in half, since that would gimp a Captain in things like PvP, or Fleet Actions, which only have one type of combat. For example, if you split SP up between a ground-based Captain and a space-based First Officer, any time the Captain did something like the Crystalline Entity or a space PvP map, they'd be at a disadvantage compared the space-specced Captains.

So that's my idea. Thoughts?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
06-21-2010, 05:37 PM
Nothin', huh?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
06-22-2010, 06:57 AM
Ehhhhhhh I'm not so sure about this since STO seems to follow more the 'Original Trek' format in terms of missions in regards to why the captain (your player) is on all away missions).
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
06-22-2010, 07:25 AM
I like this idea, particularly since in STO we're usually playing as our crew or a whole away team and not just our captain.

It brings up interesting issues as you've stated, i'd probably look into those more but i'm about to head to bed so the 'ol brain is in standby mode at the moment, but i certainly think the basic premise has merit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FredCasden
Ehhhhhhh I'm not so sure about this since STO seems to follow more the 'Original Trek' format in terms of missions in regards to why the captain (your player) is on all away missions).
I'm not exactly sure what it is you're saying here, care to elaborate on the 'why' bit?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
06-22-2010, 04:20 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by FredCasden
Ehhhhhhh I'm not so sure about this since STO seems to follow more the 'Original Trek' format in terms of missions in regards to why the captain (your player) is on all away missions).
That's true, but even in TOS there were people on the ship doing things while the captain was on a planet.

Allowing us to do split missions would make the game feel more trek-like, in that we'd be able to have "episodes" that followed both the ship and the ground action. Basically stick a giant "Meanwhile" in between ground and space segments, and have a different set of officers.

It would also help people connect more with their bridge officers (one of them, anyway). A fully customizable first officer would add a lot of depth/immersion, not to mention add more play specific customization.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
06-22-2010, 07:19 PM
I would love to see something like this, even if only for a couple of missions.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
06-25-2010, 05:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by knight9477 View Post
I would love to see something like this, even if only for a couple of missions.
There's a lot of things I feel the same way about. "If we can't have it all the time, can we at least get it for a mission or two?"
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
06-25-2010, 06:30 PM
my thoughts are i agree

unless they had it where when you first join your a first officer

and then when someone else joins they are a first officer

but i don't know how that would work

how about they get a shuttle for pvp or something
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
06-25-2010, 06:40 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cormoran View Post


I'm not exactly sure what it is you're saying here, care to elaborate on the 'why' bit?

Think about it: if you're like me and read every single think that appears in the game, while you and the away team is on the planet, occasionally there are things happening out in space that you have no control over. Some of the Explore mission have a 'enemy ship arrive' and beam there teams down to the base that you're exploring while your ship is dealing with their ship. This is a format seen in a few of Original Trek episodes such as Errand of Mercy and Friday's Child
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
06-27-2010, 10:16 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by FredCasden
Think about it: if you're like me and read every single think that appears in the game, while you and the away team is on the planet, occasionally there are things happening out in space that you have no control over. Some of the Explore mission have a 'enemy ship arrive' and beam there teams down to the base that you're exploring while your ship is dealing with their ship. This is a format seen in a few of Original Trek episodes such as Errand of Mercy and Friday's Child
This is true. However, the format of several TNG episodes was as I suggest - seeing the action both on the ground and in space. One of the best examples is "Contagion," where Picard even ends the episode noting how much fun it was to finally go on an away mission.

I just think that, rather than constantly having a linear form of control over the events in an episode, we could occasionally have a split mission, with events that occur "simultaneously."
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